Ready to learn how a superhero content marketer lives, works, and plays? This time around, Kevin Duncan, editor of Smart Blogger, is gracing our Content Hacker Spotlight!
Kevin has been blogging since 2005 – first for fun, and then to make his living. Before he turned into a full-time blogger, he was first a teacher, then a web developer with a Master's in Computer Science. It was fate that made him turn to blogging as an income source in 2014, but he's been unstoppable ever since.
Kevin has been featured on OptinMonster, CoSchedule, NeilPatel.com, JeffBullas.com, Rainmaker.fm, and Smart Blogger. In fact, Jon Morrow has said he's "in the top one % of bloggers."
In our interview today, Kevin is sharing his journey to blogging, sage words of advice from his years in the industry, and how his role as a dad and husband takes precedence over, well, everything (I dare you not to "aww" when he talks about his wife and daughters).
Onto the good stuff!
Content Hacker Spotlight Interview: with Kevin Duncan
Q: When did you get started in marketing, and why?
A: I started blogging in early 2005. At the time, I was working as a teacher while I went to graduate school. In May, with the school year winding down and my Master's degree finally in hand, I suddenly found myself with a lot of free time on my hands. In short, I got into blogging because I was bored and needed something to do!
Q: What's your favorite part of what you do today?
A: I love all of it. For years, Smart Blogger was my favorite blog to read. For years, I wanted to quit the rat race, work from home, and spend more time with my family. Today, I get to run Smart Blogger's blog. I'm a fan who's been given keys to the kingdom. And I get to do it all from home, just a few feet away from my lovely wife and beautiful daughters. So, yes, all of it. My favorite part of what I do is "all of it."
Q: What's one of the biggest challenges you have overcome in your work as a marketer?
A: Arguably my biggest challenge was learning how to say "no." You can't say yes to everyone. You can't be active on every single social media platform. You can't jump head first into every latest, greatest marketing strategy or hack. There are only so many hours in the day, so you have to prioritize what matters. Say yes to everyone and everything, and you'll drown.
Q: How has the industry landscape changed since you started?
A: Gosh, a lot has changed in 14 years. Social media wasn't really a thing when I started. "Blogrolls" (a list of blogs and websites displayed prominently in people's sidebars) were kingmakers. There's been a lot of innovation. Lots of changes. The biggest landscape change is probably the uptick in competition. There are so many bloggers, entrepreneurs, etc. out there competing for the same space. Back in the day, it was a lot easier for someone to stand out.
Q: What does the future of marketing look like to you?
A: Like most, I think video will continue to grow in popularity. As a result, some people will foolishly abandon "blogging" and dismiss it as a relic from a bygone era. This might concern you if you're a writer, but it shouldn't. The written word will always have a big place in content marketing. Less competition means it will be easier for good writers to stand out.
6. What key traits or skills does it take to be a marketing leader?
A: The ability to inspire people is one of the key traits of any leader, marketing or otherwise. Being able to empathize with your audience is crucial too. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, I think the best leaders are humble. They're confident, yes, but they know enough to know they don't know everything. Which means they're hungry and anxious to keep learning.
7. What are some of your favorite tools or hacks for marketers?
A: I never splurged for it when I was a solopreneur, but now that I'm with Smart Blogger I often wonder how I ever lived without Ahrefs. Quuu Promote, G Suite, Slack, and Trello are other favorites, but Ahrefs is my must-have tool.
8. Do you have any daily habits, hobbies, or rituals you couldn't survive without?
A: My daughter is an early riser. Every morning, before my work day begins, she and I have "daddy-daughter time" so my wife and other (younger) daughter can get a little more sleep. We open the curtains, grab a quick breakfast, and watch YouTube videos together. I've seen more episodes of "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" and more scenes from "Frozen" than I can count.
I know someday she'll outgrow it. Someday, she'll start sleeping in or decide she's too big to watch cartoons with her Dad. But until that day comes, I'm going to cherish every morning. It's our daily ritual together, and it's one of the best parts of my day.
9. Coffee or tea?
A: One of my all-time favorite TV shows is "NewsRadio". In one episode, after giving up coffee for a single day, a character on the show had this to say about the magical elixir:
"I'm not sure what exactly it is that caffeine does for you, but I'm pretty sure without it your head caves in."
This quote perfectly describes my feelings. Coffee or tea? Coffee. Always coffee. All the coffee.
10. What are some great blogs we should be reading or people we should be following on social media?
I love the work Tim, Joshua, Si Quan, and Rebekah are doing on the Ahrefs blog. Neil Patel, Brian Dean, Henneke Duistermaat, Syed Balkhi, and Adam Connell are favorites too. And I highly recommend my friend Jaime Buckley. He's a father of 13, an illustrator, and an author of fantasy stories for kids. A modern-day Renaissance Man.
Follow Kevin Duncan for More Content Hacking Wisdom
Thanks so much to Kevin Duncan for sitting down and answering our questions!
Follow Kevin Duncan on Twitter @kevinjduncan to stay up to date on his guest posts and blog life (in particular, we love his recent Smart Blogger post, 21 Beginner-Friendly Tips for Landing Freelance Writing Jobs.) You can also find him at the helm of Be a Better Blogger.
Don't forget to check out our other Content Hacker Spotlights for more tips, advice, and stories from the amazing marketers we've got lined up for exclusive interviews!