The Aha!NOW Chat With Ana Hoffman [Interview]
She’s no self-proclaimed queen of traffic generation. In fact, we all have crowned her because she really deserves the crown!
Yes, I’m talking about Ana Hoffman, who brought her blog in the under-20k Alexa club in less than 6 months.
She didn’t stop there but went on to achieve 12k Alexa rank within 8 months and under 9k Alexa rank in just 1.5 years.
Now, she might not be the only one to do it, but isn’t this a remarkable feat!
Do you agree she deserves the title? Some people also call her a Mad Russian and Tzarina of SEO, and they too have a reason.
SEO seems to be her second nature, and she passionately understands traffic generation like her soul. She’s one of the leading SEO consultant, Internet marketer, and traffic generation strategist of current times.
Of course, she’s a professional blogger and makes a living through her blog.
So, without wasting any time, let’s start the interview with +Ana Hoffman, this month’s special guest on the Aha!NOW Chat.
As with all the interviews in this series, today’s friendly chat too will give a glimpse of Ana’s personal, family, and professional lives and views.
Interview with Ana Hoffman
Q1: Welcome to Aha!NOW. Ana, or shall I call you the “Queen of Traffic Generation”, I want you to have the honor of introducing yourself and tell my blog readers about what you do. 🙂
Ana: Thank you for having me, Harleena.
I am the founder of Traffic Generation Café – a blog that talks about different ways to drive free traffic to websites, whether it’s social media, referral traffic from other sites, Google, or any other third-party platforms.
Q2: You’re not alone or the only guru in the field of traffic generation. What makes you different and stand apart from the rest?
Ana: I value my readers’ time. I only write about things that are practical and don’t take an expert to implement.
Q3: One fact that makes you different is that you were a Russian before you became an American. How was your life and growing up in Russia? I read that you had a tough life there at home and outside too. Will you share your story? I’m sure it’ll inspire those going through rough patches of life and living in the dark corners of the world to believe that it is possible to change your life and your world.
Ana: Even though my past has shaped who I am today, I prefer not to dwell on it. It’s way too easy for us to start blaming who we are on external circumstances and influences: our upbringing, parents, financial situation, education, etc.
It’d be easy for me to blame my alcoholic parents, abusive childhood, lack of basic necessities of life, like food and shelter, and allow them to keep me back, but that would be like taking rat poison hoping to kill the rat.
We are the product of who we decide to be.
Q4: Now that you’re also a mother to a lovely daughter, how do you try to be a good parent? What are your best parenting tips to raise kids?
Ana: I don’t insist on trivial things that truly don’t matter, like what she’s going to wear, how she wants to decorate her room, whether she wants to have one pony tail or ten. Lol. That gives me more leverage to stand firm on things that are important without resentment on her part.
I also try to remember what it was like to be her age and apply higher standards to her than I would to myself.
Q5: What is your secret formula for a happy marriage? Like any other relationship, you must have had your share of problems. How do you resolve those? What “strategy” would you suggest to those who undergo relationship problems?
Ana: God is the glue that holds our marriage together. When things get rough, we know whom to go for help to.
Q6: There aren’t many bloggers as multi-talented as you. You also tried your hands at modeling. Tell me, what do you think makes a person beautiful? What tips would you share to build an impressive personality?
Ana: Putting others before ourselves. We live in a society that tells us we need to make ourselves happy, yet the only true way to do it is by making others happy. Stop talking and start listening. Pick up that piece of trash on the street. Hold the door open for someone. Giving always has bigger returns than receiving.
Q7: You lived a corporate life, were a model, and now have been blogging for quite some time. Which career fascinated you more and how has your professional journey been? Do you think you might change your career further or have you finally found the purpose of your life?
Ana: I definitely love being a blogger by far. The amount of impact is incredibly greater; the creativity, the originality that goes into running a blog are like nothing I’ve seen in any other profession. The sky is truly the limit, even though it’s a long way to reach the sky.
Q8: You had a rough patch in life when you and your husband were unemployed. How did you deal with those difficult times? I know you tried your hands with Internet marketing and met failures too. What lessons did you learn and what mistakes do you think most Internet marketers make while trying to make big money?
Ana: When we see others make money online, we only see the end product of their hard work over many years – their success. Thus, our expectations of our own success are very faulty.
When getting into online marketing, whatever the niche, we need to be in it for the long haul; otherwise, we end up quitting right before we start seeing results.
Q9: Circumstances made you learn the proper way to market a business. Please share your marketing tips with the readers of Aha!NOW. What is the best promotional strategy for bloggers and for Internet marketers?
Ana: The best promotional strategy is the one that works best for you and your business at any given point of time.
What I mean is this: what works for me, might not work for you and there’s no easy formula to figure it out.
However, here’s a tip I can offer to the readers: start working the traffic sources that seem to be working well for your competitors.
Go to Alexa.com and run your competitors’ website stats. You’ll get a general picture of what they are doing to get traffic. The logic behind it is if it works for them, it’s a good traffic source for your niche.
I am not saying that you should do the same thing your competition does. What’s the fun in that, right? But it’s a good starting point.
Also, focus on one traffic source at a time, don’t divert your attention. If you decide to start with Google+, stick with it for a while and give it all you’ve got before you declare “it doesn’t work for me”. Same with any other traffic generation strategy.
Q10: How do you define success? What are your achievements as a successful marketer?
Ana: To me, success is much more intangible than bank account balance.
It comes down to value – how being in blogging business makes me feel at the end of the day, the kind of respect I feel when interacting with others online, the amount of help I can offer to others, etc.
Q11: You say that you’ve devoted your life to Jesus Christ. What made the transformation in your life? Besides being religious, are you spiritual too? Please share your views on life.
Ana: I am neither religious nor spiritual. I love God with all my heart, strength, and understanding, because He loved me first, even when I was pushing him away. He loved me when I couldn’t love myself; so much so that He died to pay for everything I’ve done in my life so that I don’t have to.
Q12: You’re the queen of bringing traffic to blogs, and we can see you do that very well for your blog. But what do you do for bringing happiness into your life. What is your concept of happiness?
Ana: To me, happiness is peace, content, and joy. My ideal afternoon would be sitting with my husband outside on a deck, looking at the tree tops and the ocean, enjoying a glass of full-bodied jammy zin, listening to my daughter sing a silly pop song while on a swing down in the backyard.
Q13: Your personality reflects in your work. We’re all fascinated by the quality of your posts, the beautifully worked-up images that you use, and the in-depth and extensive information you gather for your marketing skinnies and other posts. How are you able to do it ALL? It must be taking considerable amount of time, so how do you balance your work and family? Are you able to follow a fitness routine to take care of your health?
Ana: I wake up at 5 am and go to bed late. My idea of working out is vacuuming, which I do every day – I am very much obsessive compulsive about cleanliness.
I think the biggest thing I’ve got working for me is the fact that I absolutely love what I do. When someone asks me what I do for fun, I say I blog. Can’t wait to get to it at night and don’t mind waking up for it early in the morning.
Q14: If you hadn’t taken to Internet marketing and blogging, what would you’ve done? Did you find Internet marketing as the easiest option to earn quick money or was it the last option? How do you make money blogging online now? Why did you drop consulting for affiliate marketing?
Ana: I knew nothing about online marketing, so I took it as a challenge to learn. Once I got the hang of it, I loved it more and more. I don’t think there was any other option for me.
I make money exclusively from affiliate sales through Traffic Generation Café. I made a lot more doing consulting, but there was one thing I didn’t like about it: dealing with people. There’s a reason I hide behind my computer screen. Lol
Money was never a strong enough driving force for me to do something I strongly dislike, thus I decided to forgo consulting and stick with very passive affiliate marketing. Not nearly as much money, but I am happy.
Q15: What would you recommend – writing a killer post once in a week or ten days that goes viral, or updating your blog twice a week? Do you feel the rank doesn’t suffer or gets better if you write less but provide quality posts? I ask as I see many bloggers put up posts daily or every alternate days, thinking that their PR or Alexa would shoot up!
Ana: I’ve done it both ways. About two years ago, I decided to post almost daily to see what happens with traffic. Of course, there were in-depth posts by any means; more like quick tips.
My traffic did go up; unfortunately, the quality of that traffic went down. The bounce rate was high, conversions low, and I was exhausted!
Now I can definitely say from experience that sticking with less frequent quality posts is the way to go.
Q16: Ana, I was really worried when you were missing from the blogosphere for some time, though later got to know it was because you were doing up your new house. How hard was it to take your blog back to the earlier heights in terms of ranks? What strategy and tricks did you use to spring back? Are you back with any new plans and things to offer?
Ana: That’s the pleasure of working for ourselves – being able to step away when life hits us on the head.
Getting back after an almost 4 month absence wasn’t easy. I was behind on a lot of things, so I took the first couple of weeks to simply catch up and hang out on Google+ listening to the buzz and adding value when I could.
The beauty of building long-term relationships on your blog or elsewhere, like social media, is the fact that you are welcomed back with open arms. That’s exactly what happened. My readers came back, shared my content, and helped me get back on my feet – Traffic Generation Café was back to the same traffic level within a month.
Q17: With your comeback, you’re BIG on Google plus. You highly recommend using it for promotion and engagement. As a blogger, I know it’s difficult to take out time for everything. Would you suggest a blogger like me should put in more time on Google plus at the cost of other social media promotional activities, like Facebook or Twitter?
Ana: I think the return on G+ is far greater that it is anywhere else as well as the kind of folks that hang out there. Influencers are in great supply there and when they find your content to be of value (shouldn’t be any other way, should it?), they will end up citing it and linking back to you, which might be worth dozens or even hundreds of mentions elsewhere.
Even more importantly, you have a much better shot at becoming an influencer yourself on G+.
Q18: You’re this and you’re that, you’ve done it all, and seen it all! After all these years of knowing and understanding yourself through the ups and downs of life, how would you define Ana in one sentence?
Ana: Jane of all trades, master of none. 🙂
Q19: Last, but not the least, how do you like my blog Aha!NOW? What strikes you most about it? Now, you don’t have to feel obliged to say good words to please me or my blog community! 🙂 Would you recommend it to others?
Ana: To be honest, I don’t read personal development blogs. Personally, I don’t think anyone can teach you how to be happy.
That aside, I think Aha!NOW could use a better defined direction. I see blog posts about relationship tips, home safety for seniors, prayer, how to be a better parent, and many many more very broad topics.
With such a broad theme, it’s hard to build repeated readership since very few people want to read posts on all those topics.
Thank you Ana for taking out time from your busy schedule to inform and inspire us with your awesomeness! 🙂
I’ll also take your suggestions and views about my blog with reverence and value them. Aha!NOW was basically a personal development blog, and I recently added the niche “Blogging” into it on popular demand.
I knew I should’ve kept it a focused niche blog, and that’s what I tell other bloggers to do. In fact, I too was surprised when my blog community voted for Aha!NOW to remain multi-niche in a readers’ feedback survey.
I hope you took a few lessons from the life of a professional blogger.
Thanks for being a sport and reading the interview with Ana Hoffman. Wasn’t it enjoyable and lovely?
Okay, I’ve a special announcement. Many companies, entrepreneurs, authors, and bloggers approach me to give or send out free offers of all kinds to the readers of Aha!NOW.
From now on, I’ll be sending all such offers in my newsletters, starting from tomorrow! So, subscribe if you haven’t already, or confirm your subscription, if you’ve already subscribed. 🙂
Over to You –
What fascinates you most about Ana? What did you learn from her? Share in the comments.
Photo Credit: Ana Hoffman