Expert Interview: Gerard McGarry

I recently got in touch with Gerard McGarry, someone I’ve quickly come to know online and respect, and he was up to sitting through my amateur interviewing process.

Check out the full interview below.

Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy life to answer some of my questions.

1.) First things first, tell me a bit about yourself. Who is Gerard McGarry?

In my online life, I’d describe myself as a blogger, web designer and social media enthusiast. I run three successful blogs with my wife (Lisa) that have been growing well over the last two years. Offline, I’m an IT Manager and a father of three, although not necessarily in that order! I love listening to music and discovering new bands, which I write about in my music blog.

2.) A little off-topic, but something the Ireland fanboy in me can’t resist. What is it like living in Northern Ireland, and find a way to relate it back to the Internet or technology somewhere in there if you can?

Northern Ireland’s always been a great place to live. I was fortunate enough to grow up on the North Coast with its rugged and impressive scenery. You take it for granted when you live there, but over the years you start to appreciate the beauty of your surroundings and the interesting history behind it all.

As a matter of fact, my wife and I are working on a guide to Northern Ireland, written partly as a blog and partly as a resource site. We spend a lot of time touring the countryside at the weekends and decided to write about our experiences. Hopefully people will enjoy what we’re doing and share their own experiences of life and travel in Northern Ireland.

3.) What do you think of blogs and blogging? Is it a sustainable business? Do you enjoy it?

Blogging as a sustainable business? Increasingly less so.

I love blogs. I’ve loved them since about 2004 when I created my first (short-lived) Blogspot blog. For me, they’re an opportunity for expressing yourself with a potentially unlimited audience. I’m worried that blogs are losing their momentum though – a few years ago, we were breaking down conventions with controversy and insight. Are we more concerned with traffic these days than sharing ideas and opinions?

Blogging as a sustainable business? Increasingly less so. Personally, I think the way forward is for consolidation and partnerships rather than trying to run the whole show on your own. There’s potentially less profit in that approach, but the end result will be better blogs with a wider reach.

I enjoy the process of blogging so much, although like many others, I get easily distracted by comments, statistics, AdSense performance. But when I’m focussed on blogging, I get a real buzz.

4.) Who have been your idols online when it comes to blogging, be it running them, writing on them, monetizing them?

Perez Hilton. Seriously. This guy is what blogging’s all about – opinions. He’s built it up by being controversial and not through SEO. I mean, look at some of the titles on his posts. But people keep coming back. I think sometimes writing with SEO in mind can totally stifle your creative output.

On the other hand, Darren Rowse would be my safe answer. He’s written the book on professional blogging. But then again, Perez proves you tear up that book and still be successful!

5.) If you had one tip for a novice blogger, what would it be, and why?

Break the mould. There are too many ‘nodding dog’ blogs out there saying the same thing. Think different and become famous for that. Be controversial. One of my favourite blogs out there right now is Violent Acres, for precisely that reason.

You won’t be remembered for parroting what every other blogger is saying.

6.) Lastly, if people are interested in finding out more about you, as well as all the great posts you’ve written, where can they find you? And is there anything else you’d like to mention? (a special shout-out, tip, project you are working on, work you are looking for, etc..?)

UnrealityTVI’m all over the web: I do a bit of writing about web design and social media over on Scribble Designs. If people are really nice, sometimes I’ll design websites for them.

Our most popular website is Unreality TV, which is definitely the biggest reality TV blog in the UK right now. We’re also working on spin-off blogs for music and mainstream prime time television. The best bit about these sites is the attention they’ve got from the mainstream media. We’ve got a lot more gossip about the major shows now, and we get invited to a lot of launches and shows. This week, we’ve been invited to a channel launch at Richard Branson’s house!

Lastly, an emerging site is The Northern Ireland Guide. I’m planning to build this into a major resource that will show the richness of culture in Northern Ireland. We’ve got so much cool stuff going on over here that’s been eclipsed by the ‘Troubles’, that we really need to shout about. I’m confident our site can achieve that in time.

Thanks again for taking the time to answer all of my questions. I look forward to following your continued success.