In today’s interview, I am excited to introduce you to Syed Balkhi, an award-winning entrepreneur with several 7-figure online businesses, who was recognized as the top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by the United Nations. Syed Balkhi shares his views on WordPress, Wix, blogging and website monetization.
- Victoria Galperina: Hi Syed. Thank you for taking your time to share your story with our blog readers. To start off, could you please tell our blog readers a little bit about yourself and what you do?
Syed Balkhi: My name is Syed Balkhi, and I'm the founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site. Aside from that, I am also behind several popular software companies such as OptinMonster, Envira Gallery, WPForms, and more.
Fun fact, I also created a very popular YouTube channel (List25) and it has more than 2 million subscribers.
- VG: You are involved in several businesses, but it is difficult to give your 110% to all of them equally, so which ones take priority in your life?
SB: OptinMonster is our biggest business, so that gets more of my attention compared to our other properties. But I work with a talented group of people who make sure that each business is well taken care of.
- VG: Please describe your typical work day. How do you manage your time?
SB: I wake up quite early. 4 - 4:30 a.m in the morning. I break down my tasks in focused batches and try to stick to them as much as possible. Although sometimes I do get distracted.
To help with productivity, I use the Pomodoro technique. I love using Time Doctor because it helps me monitor my progress. I shared a sample of my weekly calendar here.
- VG: What role does affiliate marketing play in your overall marketing & monetization strategies?
SB: Affiliate marketing plays a huge role in our marketing strategy as well as in our monetization strategy. For our product businesses, we have awesome affiliates who evangelize about our product and constantly send new leads. On our publishing business, we partner with top companies like SEMRush to help our readers find the best tools while earning a small commission for those referrals.
- VG: What are your top 3 pieces of advice to someone, who is just starting out with blogging, looking to make it big online?
SB: This is a loaded question. If I have to break it down to only three advices, then my first one would be to be consistent with your output. Plan your content strategy and execute it like a science project (methodically). My second advice would be to not get caught up in the comparison game. Don't compare your chapter 1 with someone else's chapter 18. They have a head start on you, don't let that bring you down. Stay motivated and build your legacy. Lastly, always be kind and helpful. The interactions you have today will shape your future.
- VG: You are obviously an expert in building websites using WordPress, but what are your views on Wix?
SB: I think Wix is a great platform and definitely makes it easy for beginners to start. However I don't like the closed nature of Wix. For me, WordPress is about freedom. The freedom to run your website the way you want to. The freedom to add features that you want. And more important, the freedom to migrate my content away should a better platform come out.
- VG: Do you have a mentor or a role model who you look up to?
SB: Yes I do have mentors that are in different industries that I'm in. I also have tons of amazing friends who have helped me grow. I believe in learning from other people's experiences so I can only make new mistakes.
- VG: Do you think that entrepreneurship is something that one should be born with or is it something that can be learned?
SB: To answer this question, you have to define what is Entrepreneurship. In my mind, it's taking risks to solve a problem that you're passionate about through some sort of innovation. That's a learned skill.
- VG: What was the toughest decision you had to make in your life? And what did you learn from it?
SB: I think a tough decision I had to make was deciding between my business vs my parents wishes for me to be a doctor. I knew that my decision will disappoint them but I also knew that if I did that, I'd be unhappy. I think everyone involved will say that I made the right decision. The biggest lesson from this is that deciding on the right things, isn't always easy. You have to take risks.
- VG: What do you do for fun? How do you like spending your free time?
SB: For fun, I like to play basketball - swim - play catan - and hang out with my family.
- VG: Are you working on any new projects at the moment? What can we expect from you in the near future?
SB: Yes always. Earlier in the year, we acquired the popular Google Analytics by Yoast plugin which runs on over a million WordPress installs. We rebranded it to MonsterInsights and will soon be coming out with a major revamp with tons of new features.
Thank you for sharing your insights with us, Syed!
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