An Interview With Ann Smarty

How did you get started in the Internet marketing industry?

My passion has been English philology for as long as I can remember. I used any opportunity to practice my English skills. So when, during my final year in college, I was looking for a job, I was very happy with the opportunity to work for a small ecommerce site as an English-speaking customer support manager. I didn’t see it as a permanent job. At that time my future was already clear: My diploma teacher was taking me as a post-graduate student in English philology. I was going to be an English teacher in my college. That was a dream…

But a quick customer service opportunity seemed quite fun!

We were working in the basement; it was hard to call it an office. But I loved every minute of it. Seeing my passion, my boss started giving me various marketing tasks… Well, you can’t really call it “marketing”: I sent donation emails requesting to put our links and did a bit of a forum link dropping as well 🙂

It did work and our rankings were steadily increasing. We ended up expanding, finding a cool office, growing our team (that’s the time when I met Sana by the way, my partner at MyBlogGuest). I dropped the dream of becoming an English teacher and stayed with those guys (that also seriously freaked my parents out)…

One day my boss invited me to the office and while browsing Jim Boykin’s and Rand Fishkin’s blogs, said: “I want you to become as smart and well-known as those guys“… I am still getting there but by myself: I quit that ecommerce site shortly after I got pregnant and decided to become independent.


What did you do before?

I was a college student in Ukraine dreaming of the English philology career 🙂

You have been published on some of the biggest names in our industry (Moz and Search Engine Journal), what advice would you give to someone looking to become an authority figure in their industry?

I followed a pretty classic path of becoming known in the industry:

  • I started my own blog and got excited
  • I joined a couple of niche website maintenance communities and did my best to add value
  • I worked DAYS on each blog post I wrote for my blog
  • A few weeks later I started getting guest post invites which I was happy to accept
  • After contributing for a couple of smaller blogs, I was brave enough to approach bigger platforms
  • I was accepted everywhere I applied because I was honestly looking to add value.. You cannot fake authenticity….

That’s a good proven way to build your personal brand I’d recommend everyone…

What should Internet marketers focus on for search engine traffic (from todays date!)?

The focus should always have been the same: Good content and your brand name.

What should be the main focus point for creating new inbound links (again, from todays date!)?

That would be linkable assets. I’ve always said: The point of link building is not to get one or two good links; The point is getting links flow on their own, however hard it may seem.

Should you hire a content writer for your blog posts? Pros and Cons?

Yes, unless that’s your personal blog that aims at building your personal brand.

I don’t support hiring ghost writers though. I think if you hire a real person signing that content with his/her name, you have lots of benefits:

  • Authors tend to make their best with writing if they know the content will be signed by them
  • Authors are eager to promote those articles, thus drawing their following to your site and building natural trust

The only disadvantage that many businesses are asking about is that those authors may quit taking their personal brand with them – which is not an issue to me as their signed content will stay on your site, so your brand will always be associated with the trusted author brand even if you decide to part ways.

Whats the key to promoting blog posts?

First is always creating good useful (or trendy) content. Then use all the channels you can. I love using re-packaging to broaden the scope of channels you can reach.

You have a large social following, what advice could you give to increase followers and keep them following you?

In my case, the reason is actually “rich gets richer”, to be honest. I am an early adopter on Twitter so I got followed quickly. Now, thanks to common connections, people just keep coming. To build the initial following I suggest that you do the essential basics:

What marketing data do you study to improve your SEO techniques?

I am not doing too much of studying currently. I am more focused on creating content and building relationships rather than doing anything specific to website maintenance services.

You have been asked this at least a hundred times! Whats next for MyBlogGuest?

I guess it’s too early to say… We said we’d keep it as long as the community needs it. For now, that’s all I can be sure of.

Are there any new projects we can expect from you in the near future?

Yes, we are launching a new content marketing community and training tool, hopefully, in early June. That should be fun! That’s what we wanted to re-brand MyBlogGuest into in 2013 but we were too late. I guess it will be best of we launch it as a separate project now to avoid brand confusion.

Whats the best advice you could give to a new business looking to get established on the web? What should new business avoid when starting out in Internet Marketing?

Don’t look for shortcuts. Getting quick results is really tempting but the problem is, the quicker results, the less reliable your positions are. In case they are gone, it will be really hard to get back on your feet. So make sure to target quality and thus stability.