Do you know that SEMRush has recently organized a blogging contest in India? And one of my good friend and talented blogger Ankit Main has won that SEMRush Blogging Contest beating many top content marketers.
In this Blogger Interview Series, I am inviting Ankit Main on my blog to share his success story of SEMRush contest with his blogging journey till date.
So far I have featured 2 awesome bloggers on this column. I hope you have already read their blogging journey.
Hello Ankit, kindly introduce yourself and your blog.
Thanks, Santanu for this opportunity to share my story.
My Name is Ankit Main, a mechanical engineer who is now pursuing a career in digital marketing.
I love engineering and technology from my childhood. But honestly, I was not too fond of the schedule in the automobile industries – shifts work, no freedom, and limitations to express ideas.
After working for a couple of years, I said Goodbye to the mechanical job to create something that I didn’t plan for.
I don’t have any business background or financial support so leaving a job to start a blogging career was really a difficult decision.
There are several pros and cons of being salaried vs. starting your own business.
However, I always think that God has blessed us with a beautiful life and why not to live it in our own way.
I started my blogging career from free Blogspot platform, learned a few things, later moved to self-hosted WordPress by borrowing my friend’s credit card.
During the Cyber week of 2016, I started WebsiteTipsTricks, learned many things related to blogging, SEO, Social Promotion, Affiliate Marketing, and much more.
In between, I worked in a couple of network marketing and direct marketing companies where I observed how marketing & sales process works at the ground level.
Currently, I’m working as a full-time digital marketer and managing a total of 12 successful blogs including WebsiteTipsTricks and consulting businesses on how to create successful growth strategies that make money.
I hustled a lot, failed several times, lost many things which were close to my heart.
Yes, I cried when no one was around me but didn’t give up, and now I’m a winner, an achiever, and a motivator for my own life.
You can know more about me at the About section of my blog.
2. Many of my readers may not know that you have won the recent SEMrush contest in India. Would you like to share some details about this contest?
Yes, we have won the first-ever SEMrush big blogging contest in India. It’s definitely one of the happiest and proud moments for us.
However, I think every person who has supported us knowingly and unknowingly is a part of this win.
SEMrush organized a big blogging contest in India to push their brand forward using a content marketing event.
It was a golden opportunity for content marketers and agencies based in India to showcase their knowledge and skills.
SEMrush kept it simple.
Participate in the event, create a valuable piece of content using one of the predefined topics, promote it, and get maximum engagement.
You can find more details at SEMrush.
3. Who all have participated in that contest and what is the difficulty level? Feel free to share a few of the big names you were competing with.
Since the event was targeted to all content marketers and agencies in India, I was expecting some big names and brands to compete with.
I can say many contestants including Pardeep Goyal, Chintan Zalani, Arkin Khemchandani, Sandeep Mallya, and even my blogging buddy, Shafi Khan, everyone has written an amazing article, and you should read all of them.
It was definitely not easy to rank on the top of the list, but we did it.
4. Which article did you submit for that contest and how did you plan for that?
When I saw an email from SEMrush regarding this contest, I thought to give a try to it.
I visited the landing page to see what actually the contest is all about.
After going through everything and confirming my entry, I picked my topic – Marketing Automation, Meet Customer: Driving Engagement on Autopilot.
It was a quite difficult subject due to heavy competition in SEO as well as in PPC and the vast scope of the subject itself.
However, I know about how automation works and how it can benefit SMBs to grow online.
Then I researched a few keywords to target using some free as well as premium tools, read more than hundreds of articles, statistics reports, case studies and reviews on reputed sites.
Also, I watched videos, experimented with the tools I’ve mentioned in my article, and created a content structure for my blog post.
I was going as per my content schedule and completed my first draft in 5 working days (5000+ words).
Later, I improved it, added relevant images, created an infographic, and published it.
SEMrush again helped me by delivering a webinar – How to win the SEMrush India Blogging Contest which was hosted by Mr. Rohan Ayyar (Regional Marketing Manager at SEMrush), with a couple of contest judges as panelists – Craig Campbell and Dawn Anderson.
I feel lucky that I submitted my article to live audit so that I could find my mistakes and improve my post.
After a few days, I updated this article with a few more points which were highly relevant to marketing automation.
You can read this article here: Marketing Automation, Meet Customer: Driving Engagement on Autopilot.
5. What was the key content marketing strategy you followed?
When I completed my article, I focused on promoting it.
I created a planner in Google Sheets to organize my content promotion. Initially, I used Facebook ads to reach to maximum people quickly.
Then, using some automation tools and organic promotion strategies, I made it viral on social media especially Facebook and Pinterest.
It helped me get thousands of referral traffic and social shares – one of the winning criteria too.
Many people also showed their appreciation by commenting on this article.
I was thinking to build some links using blogger outreach, but this campaign failed miserably due to a small bug in email tracker that was directing my article link to its landing page.
I learned a lot from that incident to be extra careful no matters how small the task is.
6. Would you like to share the strategies to get so much share & engagement on your content?
Normally, I don’t push my contents much because the entire content marketing process is a bit complex to be carried out by a single person.
For other projects including my money sites and clients’ business site that I manage, we use multiple growth hack modules of content marketing in integration with automation tools.
For this particular post, I joined more than 250 social communities, interacted with people regularly, and asked them to read my article. Since I have crafted it well, I was confident about the engagement including the social shares and comments.
You might have observed it on some Facebook groups you are a part of.
In addition to that, I used Pinterest automation using Tailwind app to schedule my Pins.
These two examples can get you an idea of how to promote content to drive maximum engagement.
7. Do you use SEMrush? Please share some key things you found while using this tool. I am sure many people don’t know how to utilize this tool to get more benefit.
Honestly, I don’t rely much on SEO tools because every tool gives different results.
However, SEMrush, Ahrefs, and various Google products provide relatively accurate data.
Yes, I use these tools to research profitable keywords, spying competitors, and find growth opportunities.
These tools have significant potential if you know how to use them effectively.
E.g., SEMrush has more than 25 different modules to improve your digital marketing experience, but only a few people know how to use them.
Recently, they have started a webinar series to educate people, which is definitely a good move and will bring them good results in terms of leads and sales.
If someone requests me to create a tutorial on any particular tool, I’ll be more than happy to work on it.
8. Who are the people judging this contest? And how they actually found you as a winner? Feel free to share the complete story.
Since this event was held all over India, SEMrush had invited a panel of top digital marketers who have seen how web contents have evolved from static HTML pages to AI and AR.
Here is a list of judges of SEMrush big blogging contest.
- Harsh Agrawal – A renowned Indian blogger and founder of ShoutMeLoud
- Chad Pollitt – Co-founder of Relevance
- Dawn Anderson – MD of Move it Marketing, a content marketing agency
- Craig Campbell – SEO expert from the UK
- Malhar Barai – Head of Marketing, HiTech Vertical (Tech Mahindra)
- Nitin Manchanda – Global Head of SEO at Trivago
Luckily, all of them are part of my social network, and I learned many advanced things in digital marketing from them.
You know, I have written 7000+ words of insights on marketing automation including every aspect of digital marketing, from marketing research to email automation, from ad targeting to personalization, and beyond.
Plus, I tried my best to drive maximum engagement by using the strategies mentioned in the post itself which might have impressed them to consider our article as winning entry.
9. Who are the other winners and what was the prize of this contest? Did you receive the prize?
SEMrush has awarded five more people for their content marketing efforts. Arkin Khemchandani (PRMention) and Pardeep Goyal (CashOverflow) won the second and third spot. They have received 12-months and 6-months of SEMrush Pro Subscription respectively.
Amit Ghosh, Pranjali Singh, and Dr. Amrita Basu secured 4th, 5th, and 6th position to receive a free entry to SEMrush meetup in India.
As a winning prize, we also received a Macbook Pro and currently, I’m answering your questions using it.
10. How do you see this win in the long run? Just a laptop or something bigger? Feel free to share a few of the key things you have learned after participating & winning this contest.
Currently, I have three machines, and I can purchase if I need one.
Yes, winning MacBook Pro was my goal but not just as a notebook, but as an opportunity to showcase my skills.
You may not know, but I was a victim of imposter syndrome and fear to share my knowledge. I saw this event as a perfect time to come out of my fear and compete with myself.
Here are a few things I learned from this event.
- Learn, implement and share what is working for you.
- Don’t be afraid to criticism; it’s a part of growth.
- Start small, scale to big. Don’t limit yourself.
- Don’t rely on tools excessively because a small error may ruin your entire campaign. Or, at least test it yourself on a micro-level.
- Success is nothing but using your expertise in the right direction.
- Track your competitors and improve yourself every day; it’s the best way to grow your business.
- Network with the maximum like-minded people.
- Experience creates the expertise; expertise creates authority; authority creates a brand.
- Build an active community for your business, it’s one of the major assets for any business.
11. I asked so many things about your journey to get the 1st Prize in SEMrush contest. Would you like to share more about your blogging journey?
I have talked about my journey in the first point itself.
Before positioning myself as a successful digital marketer, I have tried many unconventional things, worked overnight, compromised on my festive celebration, and much more.
You don’t have to go through the same phase.
However, keep yourself streamlined with your goals wherever you work and hustle to achieve them.
Get a good mentor who can get you to success using the right methods. I missed this opportunity in my earlier days, but you shouldn’t.
12. Are you a full-time blogger or part-time? How do you manage your time?
Yes, I’m a full-time blogger and digital marketer. I have 7 different websites, and also I handle five business websites including content creation, promotion, maintenance, and ORM.
I rarely get time to write on WebsiteTipsTricks, but now I’m focusing more on creating some remarkable contents for this site and building my Facebook Group.
I have also planned to rebrand my website, and you’ll see a new address for your favorite blog.
For time management –
I wake up early in the morning and give most of my time to myself including exercise, learning new things online, browsing social media, and creating a schedule for the entire day.
Often, I take heavy breakfast which keeps me energetic throughout the day (Just kidding).
Yes, I’m particular about my lunch and dinner time no matters wherever I am.
Although I work from home, I stick to my schedule and try to complete all tasks within a specified time-frame.
During my free time, I prefer playing games and watching YouTube videos. I spend at least 2 hours a day with my friends and family without any discussion about my work.
Here is a small tip to improve your productivity.
Create your schedule and stick to it, don’t get distracted by anything. You’ll see excellent results in just a couple of months.
13. Do you think this Win will help in your blogging career?
Yes, winning such a big contest is definitely a remarkable achievement. This win has made me work better.
I have also received a couple of job proposals for the position of full-time content marketing specialist. Even, SEMrush has asked me to work as a freelance writer.
However, I said NO because of my existing projects.
If any brand approaches me in the future for content marketing collaboration (not for a job) and wants to discuss a few things, I’d love to work with them.
The last but not least, after this event, people have started connecting with me which is ultimately the biggest achievement for any marketer.
14. How do you keep yourself updated with the latest things of blogging & digital marketing?
I read popular blogs including NeilPatel.com, SEJ, SEL, Backlinko, SPI, Buffer, SME, and many, listen to digital marketing podcasts, watch videos, and have signed up for hundreds of newsletters where I get new contents to learn.
Similarly, the niche relevant Facebook groups, Pinterest and Twitter are the best places to learn blogging and digital marketing.
I keep experimenting on my blogs to see how the particular strategy/process work.
15. I asked so many questions. Feel free to share anything if you think I have missed, but you want to share with the readers.
I’m not any content marketing Guru or an expert; just a part of this large internet marketing world, who loves learning new things every day.
Here is a small tip.
Don’t fear to fail; failures often teach us many things that success would have never taught.
Wishing the best luck for your bright career.
A little bit of promotion…
If you want to connect with me, then you can follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn or join our Facebook group to learn new content marketing hacks.
Rajesh Chandra Pandey says
Read the interview with my breath held for about 15 minutes or so. Learnt many things. Shared in my Twitter group. Ye dil mange more
Santanu Debnath says
Thanks, Rajesh for this encouraging comment. I will try my level best to share more such articles.
Ryan K Biddulph says
Awesome! So great to see him winning a prestigious contest.
Santanu Debnath says
Thanks Ryan. He has done tremendous work by beating some professional content marketers.