Blogger Interview – Todd Fratzel


I have known Todd Fratzel for almost 2 years through social networking sites like Twitter. When we first met on a social networking website (Plurk I think it was) there weren’t too many bloggers in any of the construction/DIY/contracting fields, so we communicated with each other often, sharing articles, brainstorming future ideas, and became ‘friends’ on many networks.

Todd is the Principal Engineer for a large construction company in New Hampshire. He is NOT an ITEX barter member. As far as we know, he has no plans to join ITEX or any other barter company even during this economic slump. He runs their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. Todd is also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. So, as you can see from those home improvement credentials, he writes about something he is actually an expert on.

Todd has a blog in the DIY niche, which has become a very competitive niche over the last 2 years. He also has a blog about Green Construction that he writes on frequently. Some of his more popular topics/articles include:

  • Insulating – Todd covers a variety of topics in this category and it is probably his most viewed topic.
  • Coupon – Here Todd simply wrote about a 10% off coupon on purchases over $5k (which is a nice discount) so if you are planning a project, go print your coupon. There are also a couple of other helpful links there.
  • Tool Reviews – Todd is also lucky enough to get lots of cool tools to play with and review on his site! How fun is that!
  • Giveaways – Todd ocassionally has giveaways and writes about other sites having giveaways like this

And there are many more topics, just about anything you can think of that has to do with home improvement, remodeling, and DIY. So, now that we have gotten to know Todd a little, here is my interview with him:

How did you start blogging?

I actually read an article while flying to Los Angeles three years ago about a guy who quit his job and made a living blogging. At the time my wife and I were searching for ways to make some extra income. When I started it I thought it would just be a hobby of sorts. As it turns out it’s turned into an incredibly successful business venture that continues to grow today.

Who influences you (then and now)?

When it comes to blogging my #1 influence from a blogging point of view has got to be Darren Rouse ( ProBlogger ). I read his site daily and find great inspiration from his continued success. Within the niche I’m driven from my own professional successes and sites like This Old House . I was fortunate enough to be featured on an episode of Ask This Old House several years ago at our first home and I witnessed first hand the power of getting solid advice from professionals. I hope my sites will one day inspire DIY’ers in the same way.

How long did it take for your blog to earn over $100 per month?

This surely is a test of my memory skills! If my memory serves  me I would say it took well over 18 months of blogging almost daily before my site started generating that kind of money. Today it earns several thousand dollars a month. I think it’s extremely important for new bloggers to realize the success takes time and so much patience.

What mistakes have you made that you would change if you could go back? (blogging)

I truly wish I had started blogging on the WordPress platform from the get go. Last year I revamped the site and moved from Blogger to WordPress. The move was lengthy and stressful to say the least. I also highly recommend buying a domain from the very beginning as well. Trying to move from a free domain to a paid one isn’t all that fun either. Domains are so cheap today and hosting isn’t bad either.

How have you promoted your blog, and what do you feel has worked best?

This is an area I think I’ve neglected frankly. Most of my success comes from over 3,000 visitors per day from search engines. This is due to the large amount of content on the site. I’ve tried social media with limited success. One of the sites that I found some good networking on was www.houseblogs.net which is a site for house bloggers and other DIY’ers. I’ve made some great connections there. Promotion is something I hope to work on more for 2010 especially as we role out some new features on HCI.

What are you future plans for your blog/other blogs?

I’m really hoping to expand on a few things in 2010. Last year I created Front Steps Media which is my company that publishes several blogs.

In the next week or so we’ll be rolling out the HCI forums . Forums have become so popular on most of the DIY and home improvement sites that we want to offer the same benefit to our readers. I’ve teamed up with a friend of mine that does programming and he and I will be launching the forum shortly. I’m hoping it will create a great community of DIY’ers that can share their experiences and questions.

Also, in the next couple of months I plan on rolling out a new site called Tool Box Buzz. Last year on HCI we tested and reviewed over 50 products, mostly tools. The idea is to publish all the tool reviews on that site in one place for people looking for information on the latest tools.

Todd’s Sites:
Tool Box Buzz

Conclusion:

The main reason I wanted to interview Todd, was to show that it takes hard work and dedication to make money blogging, but also that it is possible.


14 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Corporate Blogging Information

    Very nice interview, I am following Todd on Twitter :) already!

    Your blogging niches is so very competitive! I can imagine the time before you start earning from blogging, it toke you over 18 months. for me it was kind of faster than that, but I was dying on the laptop :)

    This post is officially retweeted, dugged & blogEngaged and also monetized on our MMO social network :)

    January 11th, 2010

  2. Keith

    Thanks Hesham, I finally got the MMO vote button on here too…

    January 11th, 2010

  3. Hesham

    WOW! that’s really cool :)

    January 11th, 2010

  4. Brandon Cox

    Awesome interview, and what a way to execute on the SEO! It’s funny – 70 – 80 % of my own traffic is via social media, while for other guys it’s flipped entirely. To each his own and whatever works!

    January 11th, 2010

  5. John Sullivan

    Keith if I was you I would be doing my best to build a LONG TERM relationship with this guy Todd
    1 He’s not a liar.
    2 He’s down to earht
    3 He’s a hard worker
    4 He’s open to do stuff :)
    5 He’s a success
    Nice work :)

    January 11th, 2010

  6. Uttoran Sen

    good interview, the initial days are always tough for any bloggers and most quit at that time, good to know that you kept patience for 18 long months, which is why you are pretty much successful now.
    wish you luck with your new venture and hope your home improvement blog becomes even bigger :)

    January 12th, 2010

  7. Keith

    I have already, we are going to be collaborating on a few things this year and I am really looking forward to it!

    January 12th, 2010

  8. Keith

    Same for me on this site Brandon, but my fence products site is 75% search traffic. Depends on the niche and how it is promoted…

    January 12th, 2010

  9. Mitch

    I love reading interviews of people and how they started blogging, and this one is no exception. His recommendation about getting your own domain from the beginning is always the best one, and the first thing I tell people. I’m glad his niche works for him as well. Good job with the interview.

    January 16th, 2010

  10. Sheldon Lincenberg

    When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?Thanks

    January 19th, 2010

  11. Keith Bloemendaal

    @Tiger Woods, I am trying to see where you commented but I don’t see it, you can simply click on the unsubscribe in the email and it will take you to a page that lets you unsubscribe from the comments. Let me know if it works.

    January 19th, 2010

  12. Keith Bloemendaal

    Thanks Mitch, it was my first and I really respect Todd, so that made it a little harder…

    January 19th, 2010

  13. Nathanael Vento

    It awesome to stumble on a little extra knowledge for doing renovations (or planning too). If you are looking for a few expert tips, I also highly recommend checking Masterrenovator.com, the site is full of great info on things that I never even thought of.

    May 12th, 2010

Reply to “Blogger Interview – Todd Fratzel”