An Interview with Jon Phillips of Freelance Folder

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to interview Jon Phillips, who runs Freelance Folder and Smart Wealthy Rich. Freelance Folder is a multi-author blog that focuses on issues related to freelancing, entrepreneurial topics, and working from home. Only about 3 months old, Freelance Folder has experienced huge growth recently (which you’ll read about throughout the interview).

freelance folder

I think Jon has a lot of knowledge and experience that we can all learn from, and hopefully implement into our own projects. Here’s the interview.

Freelance Folder has really taken off recently. When you first launched the site it seemed like it was kind of a side project for you, but not so much anymore. Where do you see Freelance Folder going in the future?

You’re right Steven, at first Freelance Folder really was a side project, I wanted to start a business blog and have contributors and guest writers, but I wasn’t expecting it to get such awesome response/feedback and as much interest from social media sites. But it really took off recently, I’m quite happy with the results so far, especially since the blog is less than 3 months old.

In the short/medium term, I plan on adding some features, like a social media section, where bloggers/writers would submit stories that readers could vote for and comment on. I also plan on adding a portfolio showcase section soon (working on it).

You recently released your first WordPress theme, Simply Valid (which I really like by the way). Is that something that you plan on using in the future to promote your blog? What are your observation so far about the benefits of releasing a theme?

I’m happy you like Simply Valid :) I will definitely release more free themes eventually, Simply Valid was my first one, and I had a lot of fun creating it. That theme was downloaded around 420 times so far, which I guess is pretty good considering it’s not on the WordPress Theme Viewer. It’s really a great way to promote a blog, get more incoming links and potentially more readers. I released this theme on SmartWealthyRich, but will certainly create one that I’ll launch on Freelance Folder soon.

You’ve had huge amounts of traffic from social media. Is there a particular source that you think has worked the best for you?

I have to say StumbleUpon has been awesome so far for both my blogs. I’ve never been a big fan of Digg, but I started using it a little more recently, and after 3 posts on the frontpage and over 180,000 visitors to Freelance Folder, in less than 3 weeks, I guess I’ll keep Digging! :)

But StumbleUpon is still one of my favorites. Along with community sites like BlogCatalog and MyBlogLog. I’m also really happy with traffic from CSS galleries like CSSMania, and others.

Do you have any advice for our readers who are interested in getting more traffic from social media?

Sure I do! Getting traffic from social media sites ain’t difficult, the real power is in friends and contacts. The first thing to keep in mind is that it’s called “social” media for a reason, you have to get out there, thumb up, review, comment, digg, tag, submit articles to social media sites, build a profile. There are many smaller sites like DailyHub that are great for finding more niche specific content too.

One mistake a lot of people do is to always submit only their own posts, and nothing else. There’s absolutely nothing wrong in promoting your best articles, but stumbling and digging other people’s posts will go a long way, and simply e-mailing a blogger to say “thanks for the stumble/digg” can also make a huge difference, as this person will remember it and probably return the favor.

I think the key with social media sites is to not worry too much about the traffic, but use those sites more to find interesting content to read (and potentially link to), vote, comment, and make friends. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to add links or buttons to sites like StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, Del.Icio.Us and others, at the end of your posts, or use the “send to friends” features on those sites (with moderation though).

One of the changes that I’ve noticed on Freelance Folder is the addition of the Digg button on each post (at least I don’t think this has always been there). Do you think that having the Digg button on the post has had a big impact on the number of Diggs a post receives?

You’re right, I added the Digg button to some posts (not all the posts though). I do this when I see a post has been submitted to Digg, or when I see one is getting a lot of traffic from other social media sites, especially StumbleUpon.

Having the Digg button on posts that are already getting a lot of traffic definitely helps getting more votes on Digg, and bookmarks on I could also point to one of your post about the domino effect, which was excellent :)

A lot of bloggers feel that social media traffic is useless for long-term growth and that those visitors will not stick around and subscribe. I’ve seen from my own experience that althought the conversion rate of visitors to subscribers may be low, it’s still a very effective way to gain a lot of subscribers in a very short time. It certainly seems that Freelance Folder has experienced this on an even larger scale. What’s your view on the real value of social media traffic, and what factors make them decide to subscribe rather than just moving on to the next website.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that this type of traffic is useless, and depending on your goals, I guess it’s true. A link and mention on a high-profile blog can increase your RSS subscribers count by a lot! Sure a post on the Digg frontpage will help get more subscribers fast, and you shouldn’t neglect that, but if you get 400 more readers after a Digg, chances are 50%-60% of them will unsubscribe shortly after, that’s just the way it is. That’s where writing great content comes in.

There are a lot of reasons for which a visitor will subscribe to a feed. The design definitely plays a big part, but content is still King (with a capital K), combine both and you have a winning formula. Add a great headline and you’re really in business.

People coming to a blog from a highly popular site will spend more time and click more links, it’s like a personal recommendation coming from the site owner saying “check this blog out, it’s worth it”, as opposed to social media sites where people click just outta curiosity (I guess). Again, neglecting either one or the other means missing out on some great exposure for your blog. Balance is everything. :)

I think a number of my readers would really be able to contribute to (and benefit from) Freelance Folder. Are you still taking article submissions from new writers?

Of course! I am always looking for contributing writers, or writers interested in getting involved more in the development of the blog and write on a regular basis. If you think you can contribute to Freelance Folder, definitely drop me a line. :)

Thanks so much Steven for the opportunity, I really enjoyed the interview.

Please click-through to Freelance Folder and see what Jon and the other writers have to offer. Jon is one of the most approachable people I’ve met since I started blogging. If you have experience with Freelancing or working from home I would encourage you to contact him about the possibility of writing for Freelance Folder.

I’m sure Jon will be visiting this post, so feel free to leave questions for him in the comments.

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8 Responses

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  • Maki, October 14, 2007

    Nice interview.. I’ve definitely been seeing Freelance Folder a lot on Digg lately.. looks like the network strategy has been working well for Jon.

    Glad to see a fellow blogger get some much deserved attention from the masses. :)

  • Jon - FreelanceFolder, October 15, 2007

    Thanks a lot for the interview Steven! :)

    Hey Maki, yeah I’m happy too! :D

  • Acopic - Web Designers, October 15, 2007

    Just goes to show the power of Social Media sites. 180,000 hits in 3 weeks ain’t bad!!

  • Vandelay Design, October 15, 2007

    Maki and Acopic,
    Thanks for the comments on the interview, and Jon, thanks for the great info!

  • Sofna, October 17, 2007

    Wow, brand new blog and 180k hits in 3 weeks?!?! Very nice, I am new to social media sites and it looks like they can be very powerful if you write well.

  • Christine OKelly, October 17, 2007

    Jonathan is awesome – I always learn something new from him! Freelance Folder and SWR are two of my most favorite blogs. He is definitely a go-to guy when it comes to social media – great interview!

  • Jon - FreelanceFolder, October 19, 2007

    Hi Sofna and Christine, thanks a lot! :)
    Yep social media sites are quite powerfull, that’s a lot of traffic, but it’s even nicer when you look at how many links it can get you :)