Interview with Gregory Ciotti from Sparring Mind


Interview with Gregory Ciotti from Sparring Mind  This is the third interview that I’m publishing here on BlogPreneurs.

Gergory Ciotti, runs a number of high trafficked blogs in various niches. He is also a regular contributor on various popular blogs including DailyBlogTips, ProBlogger, Bufferapp Blog, HelpScout Blog, etc.

Thanks to Greg for taking the time to answer my questions !

Can you tell readers a little about yourself? How did you come to owning a popular music blog?

Certainly! So, I am Gregory Ciotti and I run a small selection of successful blogs in some interesting niches, I help small businesses in the Tri-State area with my First State SEO consultancy, and I am also the content strategist for a few excellent startups, one of them being HelpScout.

Last but not least, I also blog at Sparring Mind, where I take a look at the science and psychology of smart content marketing.

As for Sophistefunk, it started with my sincere love of electronic music. I had seen blogs like ThisSongIsSick really out there changing lives, impacting musicians in a way that I wish I could.

The decision to start it was driven by this desire to help musicians in a genre of music that I loved.

It was also going to be a great experiment for me because I’ve never previously run a “tumblog” before (blogs that focus on short updates & media content).

So far it’s been an incredible learning experience and I’m happy to say that I’ve already received heartfelt emails from musicians saying that I’ve really helped them start to get exposure, what more could a music blogger want. :)

What is your experience with content marketing & electronic music?

When it comes to content marketing + electronic music, I’ve discovered a few key things.

The first is that it pays to be first.

That is, music blogs thrive on getting “premieres” of new song or album releases, so a lot of my time on the site is spent behind the scenes in my email chatting with musicians and labels.

The other thing I learned is that readers (just like in any other niche) want personality in their blog, and many music blogs just don’t give it to them.

That’s why I specifically positioned Sophistefunk to contain a lot of my personality with longer articles, artist interviews, and putting ‘me’ into the blog like few music blogs before me have done.

My general advice in this regard is to look at what works in your industry, and what’s lacking, and try to crush both. ;)

How do you stand out amongst other similar blogs?

I mostly addressed this above, but I try to look at what the competitors are doing, and then do something different (and better).

Easier said than done right?

Well, a couple of examples show that it’s not as hard as you might think.

Readers have, for instance, complimented me on how “easy to browse” my site was.

That was interesting to me, but I soon realized why: my competitor’s sites were often magazine-style layouts with way too much clutter.

The simple, “classic” layout of my blog was actually refreshing rather than dated!

I try to focus on the “soulful & mellow” side of electronic music, which practically all other blogs in my niche avoid.

All of my competitors focus on dance tracks & club tracks, I purposefully started posting about downtempo & mellow glitch-hop (crazy genre names in my niche ;)) to attract readers who just weren’t getting what they wanted from these other sites.

What is your marketing strategy for Sophistefunk blog?

Marketing for Sophistefunk mostly consisted of positioning and being different from my competitors, but I also had 2 other general strategies:

  1. Operate a YouTube channel where I post songs released for free
  2. Interview musicians, they have large followings and always post the interviews

Number 2 was a really big strategy for me when I realized it.

I had musicians reading my site with 10k+ Facebook fans, and I finally figured out that if I interviewed them, they would probably share the article with their fans.

Guess what: they did. All of them.

It’s been a crazy useful strategy for me so far, all musicians are looking for good press, and I’m always searching for interesting music-related content, so it’s a win-win for both of us.

How do you monetize Sophistefunk blog?

Currently Sophistefunk is monetized with ads (private and ad networks) as well as promotional posts that are paid for behind the scenes by small to medium sized record labels.

I also have a lot in store for the future of monetizing Sophistefunk, but I can’t talk about it just yet!

What future plans do you have for your music blog?

Immediate plans: I’m going to be expanding Sophistefunk into the podcasting arena just like I’ve done for the Sparring Mind podcast.

This is because there currently isn’t any good podcasts out there that interview musicians in my niche, and I’m looking to be the first (and best).

I also really enjoy listening to a lot of podcasts, so I’d like to start creating them myself more often for my own sites, as the exposure on iTunes can be really rewarding.

Lastly, I’ve already “kinda-sorta” have expanded on Sophistefunk by launching a sister blog called That Space Bass, where I cater to the crowd I’ve formed that likes dubstep, a genre I don’t post very often on Sophistefunk.

It’s only been 2 weeks and we’re already up to 300 uniques a day and climbing, so it can really pay to launch a sister site to a successful main site, if the opportunity should present itself.

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  1. Thanks for sharing this interview. Surely a lot to learn from Gergory.

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