Interview of Michael Kwan on Building a Great Blog

Let’s welcome Michael Kwan from Vancouver, an independent freelance writer and content creator at Beyond the Rhetoric. Since 1999, he has been producing high-quality articles on a variety of subjects, such as blogging, freelancing, technology, food, travel, parenting, and many others.

Are you interested in finding out more? Let’s get started with the interview.

Interview of Michael Kwan

Michael Kwan

1. Hi Michael, It’s great to have you here. Could you please tell our readers a bit about yourself?

My name is Michael Kwan and I’ve worn several hats over the years as a writer, editor, and online content creator.

These days, food and fatherhood are major themes in a lot of my writing. Nevertheless, I’ve written a lot about other topics as well, including blogging, freelancing, working from home, technology, video games, words and language, entertainment, and so forth.

I’ve authored two books and co-authored one book. I sometimes joke that I live on the internet and am fueled by caffeine and Wi-Fi. In reality, I live in the suburbs of Vancouver, BC, with my wife and two children.

2. You started blogging in 1999. How has been your blogging journey so far?

The Internet landscape in general, and blogging in particular, have undoubtedly changed dramatically over the last two decades.

Before creating a modern blog, I started with a manually curated email newsletter.

Regarding my blog, not the blogs I’ve written professionally for other businesses, I’d say Beyond the Rhetoric has always reflected what was going on in my life.

Early on, it might have been more about movies and video games, but now I talk about parenting, existential crises, goal management, etc.

As the blogging landscape changes, we must adapt. This includes expanding beyond the core blog onto YouTube, Instagram, and other social media platforms.

3. How would you describe your most significant achievement other than blogging?

I’m not sure that I would use the word “achievement,” as it doesn’t quite feel right, but the first thing that comes to mind is that I am very proud of my role as a modern, engaged father.

Michael-Kwan-Workstation

I feel like many dads get a bad rap, and there are certainly some deadbeats out there, and there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Still, I hope that by continuing this conversation, we can shift that narrative and change things for the better for ourselves, our partners, and most importantly our children.

4. Is there anything readers should know about all the stuff you’re doing right now?

Unless you’re actively involved in professional content creation, it can be difficult to recognize how much work goes into making it all happen.

Trying to juggle a day job with parenting responsibilities and regular “adulting” is hard enough.

The self-imposed commitment to post on Blog, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter on a regular basis is a huge responsibility. Blogging can easily be a full-time commitment in and of itself, from ideation to planning and research to execution.

5. What’s your #1 advice for a new blogger?

It sounds obvious enough, but the most important piece of advice is just to get started. We often fall into the trap of analysis paralysis, waiting for the right conditions or until we learn about this concept or optimize for that factor.

As with many endeavors, blogging and marketing are best learned through “on-the-job training”. Put yourself out there, even if it’s imperfect, and learn from your mistakes.

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6. If you start over again, how do you choose a niche?

It depends on what your goal or objective is.

If you’re purely coming from a financial perspective, as in how much money you can make. In that case, it’s much harder to sustain any level of motivation when the numbers aren’t quite what you expect.

That’s why I would recommend you start with a niche you’re authentically passionate about. It should be something you’re interested in writing about and creating content around, even if you never make a small amount of money.

The niche should be large enough, so you have enough to cover, but small enough so that you don’t straddle too many topics.

7. What would you do with $100,000 to grow your blog?

I would say there are three broad areas where I’d consider investing in the blog if I wanted to grow it.

First, I would likely look into a site design refresh.

There’s nothing wrong with my current blog design. I like it very much, but it’s worth giving it a proper shake, both from a visual and a technical standpoint.

Second, I would look into working with a branding expert to address any opportunities for improvement through logos, brand messaging, brand colors, social media bios, and so on.

Third, I would hire a media or public relations professional to help promote who I am and what I offer, as well as to look into brand collaborations and sponsored content opportunities.

8. What are the golden rules of blogging according to you?

Be true to yourself.

We may compromise our core values to align with what a sponsor wants us to say or bend to the will of emerging trends.

Integrity comes above all else. When you lose your authentic voice as a blogger, you lose the uniqueness of who you are and what you do.

9. You’ve been blogging for a long time now. What blogging mistakes cost you a lot?

I’m not sure I would call it a mistake, per se, as it was somewhat intentional.

Beyond the Rhetoric doesn’t have a specific niche, because it reflects who I am and what I’m doing now.

If I were to approach it more from a commercial standpoint, it would’ve been smarter to niche down early on.

Similarly, I tied the blog and my freelancing writing services in a domain, but the blog may have served better if it existed in its own domain.

10. How is your typical work day structured? What do you enjoy doing when you’re away from your laptop?

I have a day job as a web editor and content strategist for WordFinder.

The main part of my day revolves around meetings, content planning, writing and editing, and everything else.

My freelance and blogging work comes in after that, usually in the late afternoon. I’ve tried to make it a habit not to work after dinner; some days are more successful than others.

I enjoy exploring all the culinary delights Metro Vancouver offers when I’m not at my computer. I often share via social media as part of my identity as a food blogger.

I spend almost all my non-work time playing with my family and kids. I’m also an avid reader. I enjoy a good game of tennis when I don’t read.

11. Do you have a separate blogging office or work from home? Can you share some pictures of your workstation?

I work from my dedicated home office for my day job and the various things I do as a blogger.

I don’t have a picture of my workstation handy (it’s a bit of a mess at the moment), but you can catch glimpses of it in some of my older vlogs on YouTube.

I don’t think my workstation is anything particularly special: a desktop PC, dual monitors, mechanical keyboard, webcam, and other components and accessories.

12. What are your future plans?

If there is anything I’ve learned as a blogger, it’s important to have goals and plans, but it’s even more important to be quick to adapt.

There’s no saying what the world of blogging might look like next year, let alone several years from now. For the most part, the plan is to keep doing what I’ve been doing, perhaps giving more weight to where I’m getting more traction.

As mentioned, I’ve got the core blog. Still, I’m also very active on Instagram and will continue to post content on YouTube and the podcast. The content is interrelated in some way.

13. Is there a blogger you admire and why?

I admire a few different bloggers for different reasons.

From our #5DadsGoWild crew, James Smith of SocialDad.ca is utterly tenacious as a dad blogger, growing a significant audience that resonates with the content he produces.

The creativity and storytelling of David Pierre always blow my mind. Additionally, I believe Tara Jensen of BC Mom does a fantastic job of building and maintaining a community of people who care about the same things we do.

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Final thoughts about Michael Kwan’s interview

Michael has always had an interest in writing, so pursuing a career as a writer and maintaining his blog seems like a natural fit.

Beyond the Rhetoric is Michael’s blog about professional development, stress management, grammar improvement, entrepreneurship, and personal entertainment.

What was your favorite part of Michael Kwan’s interview? Do you want to ask him a question? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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About Author

Rohit Pandey loves to follow and cover the digital marketing industry. Rohit's background in software development gives him the uncanny ability to make complex topics seem simple.

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