As much as I love writing blog posts for you full of blogging, search engine optimization, and Pinterest tips, it’s also important to me to build a platform that helps other bloggers/digital business owners grow as well. As a blogger it’s important to always find new ways to be visible online and to find opportunities to be discovered by new readers. That’s why I decided to start a recurring item on She Can Blog called Meet the Blogger! I will interview bloggers/digital business owners about their blogs/businesses and experiences. Who are these bloggers/entrepreneurs, what type of blog/business do they run, what drives them, how do they drive traffic to their websites and what else can you learn from them?
Would you like to be featured as well?
Send an e-mail to [email protected]!
Featured on this Meet the Blogger:
Shane McDaniel from The Country Executive
Who are you and what type of blog do you have?
My name is Shane McDaniel and by day I am a municipal government technology executive. In my free time, I run a rural themed leadership and development blog called The Country Executive. The underlying premise of the site is based on the lessons gained from a life of embracing change beyond my rural roots. My career has taken me on an incredible journey around the world and back to small town Texas. I use the experience gained from whatever life threw at me to create content for the site and social media channels.
Through my work, I sit on the Board of Directors for Texas’s local government technology organization. I am also the proprietor and champion of a little thing I like to call Country IT (Information Technology), which I define as a means of conducting business with simplified elegance in the technology industry. I have had the privilege of being featured in magazines, case studies, podcast interviews, have won numerous professional awards, and more. The experiences, lessons learned, and resulting thoughts of the decisions made to overcome significant obstacles in life are shared on my site.
Why did you start blogging?
A few reasons. Having been born and raised in a small town in Texas I could not wait as a young man to go see what the world had waiting for me. I left my one stoplight hometown two days after graduating high school and spent over twenty years living and working in places such as Los Angeles, the Silicon Valley, Washington DC, and the UK. In 2018 I came full circle in my life by accepting a position to oversee technology for a rural city in Texas.
For many years I thought technology had closed the gap between the culture I grew up with in small town Texas, that feeling the great opportunities in life were limited because they were intended for others. I was surprised to learn that I could still sense the overtones that one cannot accomplish their dreams. I have never subscribed to that thought and know from direct experience with hard work, a positive attitude, and a can-do spirit anyone can accomplish that they set out to do. With the onset of Covid-19, the timing felt right to venture into creating a website to share content, something I had been considering for quite some time.
What makes your blog stand out compared to other blogs in your niche?
My blog is genuine. I write how I speak, and my content derives from direct life experience. I am a technology executive, but I am still very country in my ways and the manner in which I express myself. There is no monetization to date, so the website is a labor of love. Starting out I said if I could help a single person overcome any self-inflicted doubt in what they have to offer the world I would call the experiment a success. I know there are other great rural themed blogs, but I have yet to come across one centered on leadership and professional development. I believe the fact that you won’t find ads on my site extends the authenticity. It really is content I put out to the world hoping it may open the path to success for the reader.
Which aspects of blogging do you like the most? Which aspects do you dislike?
I enjoy the creative aspect the most. In my attempt to positively impact the world each post is an opportunity to better myself through the website. The most surprising aspect of content creation for me has been it is therapeutic. I suppose it’s similar to writing in a journal, except you do so to share with everyone. It’s not lost on me that in my attempt to help others that may relate to my story I wound up helping myself just as much along the way. Winner winner chicken dinner as we say around here!
If there is a part of blogging I don’t enjoy as much it is the constant nature and care of everything in and around the site. I don’t blog for income so it is neither here nor there for me, but my stated goal is to publish two quality articles a month on The Country Executive. Being the type of person that takes pride in everything I do, I want the site to look and perform well. I promote the site a little on social media and do actively work on the overall performance when time permits.
Facebook is by far my most popular social media platform with a little over 2000 followers, although I do some things on Twitter and Pinterest as well. All told I have about 2400 followers on all The Country Executive social media channels and I honestly cannot believe it. I’m from a town of less than a thousand people, and more than double that follow the site in some capacity. I didn’t have a specific goal in mind when I started all this outside of being an advocate for positivity. To think I may be able to positively impact that many people brings me great joy!
And how do you leverage these platforms to attract blog traffic?
When I publish something new I always post it on Facebook and Twitter for followers. I’ll create a few pins for Pinterest and that’s about it. When I collaborate with others I’ll generally share that on social media as well. I am in a public facing role professionally and will be in the occasional magazine, case study, or will do an interview on topics such as cybersecurity and evolving technology in rural America. Since my profession and personal website intersect one another I’ll share the things that come up in my day job on social media that make sense. I enjoy posting whatever I can to bring positivity to my city and rural America in general. I take great pride in being an advocate for growth and development.
Which strategies do you use to get more eyes on your content?
I know this is counterintuitive to many bloggers out there, but I don’t do anything special to get more eyes on my content. I focus on writing authentic quality posts and whatever happens happens as they say. Where the site goes from there as far as performance I’m fine with it. I purchased the domain on April 1, 2020. April Fool’s Day felt appropriate to me for whatever reason, and since then I’ve had more than 13k views. I got off to a slow start with viewership probably due to new guy SEO mistakes. Countryexec.com is up 58% in page views so far in 2021 so I think something has clicked.
Which SEO tactic has helped you the most to improve the SEO of your website?
I still use the basic Yoast plugin on WordPress. It took me a while to figure out how to maximize SEO when writing. Fifteen months into blogging I believe I’ve worked that out pretty well. I can write posts today and get them to the “green” SEO state fairly easily. As someone that has been working in the technology career field for 25 years many aspects of creating a blog site did not come easily. I had to learn quite a bit, and I am still figuring things out as I go. It was only a couple of months ago I learned I could optimize site tags for SEO. I was legitimately surprised about that. I have much admiration for those bloggers that have really dug in and figured out all the little nuances to establish a successful site. It truly is impressive!
The Country Executive is the number one result on Google for a few keyword searches so I know something is working. I’m not fully convinced it was anything special I did. I believe the theme and overlying message relates to a lot of folks out there. Whatever it is, I’m appreciative of all the support! One of my prouder moments with blogging was when I first realized my site was at the top of Google search results. I kept searching over and over playing with the keywords to make sure it wasn’t a fluke! It definitely made my inner tech nerd smile that day.
Any advice you’d like to pass along to beginning bloggers?
If you have the desire to create content and share it with the world I say follow your heart. It can be an extremely rewarding experience. Personally I am proud to be The Country Executive. It has become part of me and I am so glad I pulled the trigger and decided to go for it. Despite living and working around the world, I was always that guy from East Texas. I am proud to be an advocate for growth and development for people that can relate to my story in any capacity. Through the site I feel I also bring change through positive vibes and belief that anyone can be their best selves.
There’s no reason why whatever is motivating you to throw yourself out there as a blogger will not result in a similar sense of gratefulness, appreciation, and pride. I have found that success in life can be predicated on what I like to call “getting after it.” Head down, give it your best shot and see how it all shakes out. Embrace the change necessary to be successful in what you do. Success is waiting for you, go get it!
What’s in store for the rest of 2021? What can readers expect if they start following you?
The Country Executive was recently nominated for a 2021 Encouraging Blogger award by Daphne Reznik from FreeAt50, so I’ll be doing a few things with that. Part of the nomination is to pay it forward. With She Can Blog being one of my personal favorite blogs I’ll be doing some work to nominate this site as well. You’re welcome Angie!
(Angie: Thank you so much, Shane! I’m honored!)
As far as The Country Executive website, current and new followers can expect much of the same. If people like the country undertones that manifests through my writing then there will be plenty of that to enjoy with any new content published. I keep a running list of topics to write about that is several pages long. Definitely no shortage of things on my mind as it pertains to leadership and development.
I’ve received so many compliments on the site’s logo I’ve been toying with the idea of creating t-shirts or stickers and selling them through the site’s Facebook page. Maybe I’ll do it, maybe not. I don’t know, but that’s part of the fun with all this too. Where you can take your vision is endless! At the end of the day I’m going to keep doing what I do and wherever it takes The Country Executive we’ll find out together.
Other bloggers to follow
Thank you so much Shane for this amazing and inspiring interview! I really enjoyed reading it, and your blog is one of my favorite blogs out there! That’s why I already featured The Country Executive in my blog post about 21 inspiring bloggers to follow in 2021 earlier this year. So, if you enjoy reading blogs, make sure to check at all the other amazing bloggers on that list as well!