Aigars Silkalns, the founder of Colorlib, is a top-performing WordPress developer, blogger, and business owner who is hugely passionate about what he is doing. More than that, Aigars has been one of our top affiliate partners since the very beginning, which makes Colorlib and TemplateMonster not only two leading companies in the same niche but also loyal friends.
What's his story of success? How did Aigars Silkalns manage to grow his business THAT big? What's the contribution of affiliate programs in the growth and development of his digital project? We have reached Aigars for an interview. Here is what he has shared.
TemplateMonster: Dear Aigars, thank you for accepting our interview suggestion. We are sure this post will be exciting to read and bring more insights about your personality and Colorlib success. You are a top achiever in business administration, web design, and marketing. How do you manage to keep the work-life balance and maintain a healthy lifestyle?
Aigars Silkalns: I am very competitive, which keeps me going and pushes me to work longer hours than anyone should. However, over the years I have dealt with numerous burnouts that have taught me a lesson or two about work-life balance. My first successful effort to achieve a balance was by scheduling a run or a workout every evening at 6 PM. That way I got a reason to get away from work sooner than I otherwise would. Another trick I have used to achieve work-life balance is scheduling longer trips a year in advance. That way you have no excuse to have some time off. Otherwise, I feel like missing out on the work I should be doing.
However, the major improvement in my work-life balance came when I met my significant other. That was the first time in my life when I felt that work is not all there is to it. She changed my life and my outlook on life for the better. For those thinking they are too busy for a relationship, I recommend trying it because you will always find time for the right person. The happiness you get from your relationship will make you way more productive and you won't need to spend long nights working to achieve the same results. I couldn't be happier giving her a chance to change my life.
TemplateMonster: We know that sports play a great role in your life. What other hobbies do you have? How do you prefer to relax?
Aigars Silkalns: Aigars Silkalns: I do long-distance running (my main disciple is half-marathon), calisthenics, snowboarding, DH mountain biking, and various other sports whenever I have a chance. I can ride any board there is, like a skateboard, longboard, wakeboard, water skate, and so on. Have been involved in extreme sports for a very long time. Lately have found a passion in Autosport as well. I never like to sit down and relax. I much better prefer to walk around or do some sports instead.
TemplateMonster: Recently, you have not been as active on social media as before. Did you leave due to lack of time, or too many spam messages? Can we expect a triumphant comeback?
Aigars Silkalns: I use Twitter and LinkedIn to follow industry experts in web design, web development, WordPress, and SEO. Occasionally, I think about contributing myself, but for the maximum benefit it must be an ongoing effort, and that's something I still need to find a way to commit to. You can always reach me via social media and I will be happy to discuss.
TemplateMonster: Everybody knows that you have cool and catchy content at Colorlib. Who takes responsibility for it? Where do you find authors and writers for your blog?
Aigars Silkalns: At the very beginning, I did design, development, support, and content creation and slowly gave away most of the tasks. However, I still generate all content ideas, but I no longer write. My English has never been excellent, but with a good proofreader, even an untrained monkey can be a professional writer 🙂
TemplateMonster: When you just started, did you think that Colorlib would grow into the top web design blog in the industry?
Aigars Silkalns: My initial plan with Colorlib was to learn web design and WordPress theme development, document my journey and showcase my work. Once I saw how well my WordPress themes were received, I had to do something about it. It took a while to figure everything out but mixing good content with free themes and templates is what got Colorlib this far. Never could have imagined that it will grow so big.
TemplateMonster: What have you been doing before dipping into the WordPress community?
Aigars Silkalns: I worked as an HR researcher/headhunter for several years. I started working there while at University where I studied Business Administration.
I continued to work part-time in HR until Colorlib turned three years old. At that point, I knew that I would never need to look for another job. I'm not saying that Colorlib will last forever (I hope it will), but I know that my experience and knowledge will help in any business that I might come up with along the way. I never have a shortage of new ideas.
TemplateMonster: Colorlib is on top, WordPress competition is one of the highest from the SEO perspective, it is almost impossible to outrank someone for the most popular keywords like ‘business WordPress themes.’ What is your advice to the newbies who would like to join the niche?
Aigars Silkalns: With each Google Core Algorithm update, brand-new sites are getting harder and harder to rank. Google values authority over everything else. The easiest way to get started is by looking for untrapped niches with very little competition. When it comes to WordPress-related search terms, it is nearly impossible to rank for broad terms because most sites, including Colorlib, have millions of backlinks. The best approach would be to target long-tail keywords. For example, instead of ranking for “WordPress themes”, try to rank for “eCommerce WordPress themes with Elementor integration”. Establish a topical authority and then grow from there.
Generally, the WordPress niche from an SEO perspective is one of the most oversaturated. I wouldn't try to jump into it unless you can publish at least 30-60 high-quality articles monthly. A better strategy would be to create your WordPress plugin or service and leverage all these popular websites to get traffic and sales. For example, if you launch a WordPress backup plugin and get it listed on Colorlib and other popular WordPress plugins, eventually you will become a topical authority on “WordPress backup plugins,” and it will be sufficient to post just a handful of articles on your website related to WordPress backups to make in rank organically on Google.
There is still a huge potential in the WordPress ecosystem, but I wouldn't recommend jumping into it without your own WordPress product because chances of succeeding on SEO alone are slim to none.
TemplateMonster: Currently, most blog posts on Colorlib are updates of the existing content. Does it mean that all topics have already been covered and the site has reached its upper limit? What are your plans for thematic expansion?
Aigars Silkalns: We update hundreds of articles every month and publish only a few dozen new ones making it appear that there is very little new content. However, that's not the case and we always find new topics to write about. We'll focus on web design, development, WordPress, and website templates and not going to expand beyond that. We have tried expanding into other topics like graphic design, mockups, and other templates but that didn't go well as our core content got diluted and Google didn't appreciate it. WordPress is always evolving and there will always be something to write about and there is never going to be a shortage of new topics.
To achieve topical authority, you need to cover the topic in-depth. For example, a popular health-related website healthline.com has over 360 articles with “apple” in the title. That helps them to achieve the topical authority on how apples are helpful for your health. There is no way that anyone else will become a topical authority in that category unless they go even more in-depth. That's how Google determines which websites to rank and not by counting the backlinks like in the old days.
TemplateMonster: You are a master of long reads and huge product showcases. Most of your posts get 10+ backlinks almost immediately after they go live, can you share your secret backlink strategy?:)
Aigars Silkalns: The main reason for success is the continuous effort over the last 10 years. There have been ups and downs, but that hasn't discouraged us from publishing more content and updating the existing one. Over time, we have published over 5,000 articles on WordPress and web design achieving topical authority. Whenever a new WordPress product or theme category comes around, we are the first to publish a roundup. For example, we had the first roundup of “crypto WordPress themes'' and that first-mover advantage is big for Google and better rankings. Publishing content on a brand new topic ahead of your competitors gives you a huge advantage when it comes to backlinks and we have leveraged it to our advantage.
Another strategy we leverage to get more backlinks is by giving away free products. Our free website template, WordPress plugins, and themes have generated countless mentions on many web design-related websites in any language there is. Free products do come with a lot of burdens because you need to maintain them but if you look at them as a marketing tool, they are totally worth it in the long run.
TemplateMonster: What SEO, marketing, or analytic tools do you use on a daily basis?
Aigars Silkalns: By far my favorite tools are Ahrefs and Google Search Console. Occasionally I use Similarweb to get a quick overview of how much traffic a particular site gets. For beginners just starting in SEO, I would say that Google Search Console and Google Search are sufficient to do most SEO tasks. The most overlooked things in SEO are the “People also ask” and “Related Searches” sections on Google SERPS. That's the best place to find new keyword ideas and understand what people are searching for.
Never invest in fancy SEO tools unless you have a real use for them and can make a good ROI on them. Most of the information is available for free via a basic Google search.
TemplateMonster: How do you monetize your website?
Aigars Silkalns: Mainly affiliate income and advertisements in the form of AdSense ads and direct banners and other contextual ad sales.
TemplateMonster: What is your general opinion about affiliate programs? Which affiliate programs do you take part in?
Aigars Silkalns: My favorites are TemplateMonster, Envato (Market & Elements), Elegant Themes & Bluehost. I have signed up for dozens if not hundreds of affiliate programs, but I try to concentrate on as few as possible. That way you know what you recommend and are consistent with your recommendations instead of jumping to ones that offer the best deal for a specified period. I never use custom link trackings, banners, or anything else offered by affiliate programs. I need a plain URL, and I take care of the rest.
TemplateMonster: Please, tell us a few words about your partnership with TemplateMonster. How long have you been working with the company?
Aigars Silkalns: I have been with TemplateMonster since 2014, and I'm delighted with our partnership. While TemplateMonster is a big company, I like that they still maintain a personal approach with their partners.
TemplateMonster: TemplateMonster Affiliate program. Which affiliate tools do you use? In your personal opinion, what are the strongest points of the program?
Aigars Silkalns: I never use any of the tools provided by affiliate programs. Simplicity is the key, and that applies to TemplateMonster. You don't need to generate any URLs manually. You need to know your affiliate ID, and you can create the links that you need without accessing the affiliate area. That's how all affiliate programs should be, and I love that TemplateMonster has nailed it.
TemplateMonster: During the last several years affiliate sales in most niches have moved to social media. Has it influenced your business considering that most conversions come from the web?
Aigars Silkalns: Social media does play a crucial role in affiliate marketing and eCommerce. However, I don't think that most sales have moved to social media. For certain categories, like beauty, consumer electronics, and supplements most of the affiliate revenue now goes to social media influencers. However, not all products are social-media-worthy and will remain in written form for the time being. However, keeping an eye on the latest trends is important to take advantage of the latest opportunity and avoid getting left behind with dinosaurs. With that said, should people start a blog or vlog? I would say that creating a vlog would offer much more opportunities going forward, especially doing short-form videos on Youtube, TikTok, and Instagram.
TemplateMonster: What would you recommend to web design bloggers who are just starting their way into affiliate marketing? Which affiliate programs and promotional tools would you advise?
Aigars Silkalns: Never think about monetization in the first place. Start a blog only if it is your passion and you have already annoyed everyone talking about this particular topic nonstop for years. You need to be entirely into what you will write about and not money because there is a huge chance that there won't be any for years if ever. You won't be able to motivate yourself if money is your primary goal with your blog. I didn't make a single cent in the first two years since I launch Colorlib. I started to monetize when I reached around 300,000 visitors a month.
TemplateMonster: During the last 10 years, thousands of blogs tried to repeat your success. Why did most of them fail?
Aigars Silkalns: Consistency. We have been pushing out new templates, themes, and articles for over a decade even when we got hit by Google Core Algorithm updates. That's when most website owners give up, but we didn't and the results show. Another key part is that we do our own thing and never try to copy our competitors. When copying, you are always a few steps behind and there is no way to get ahead.
Come up with your own concept, define your target audience, create your own content strategy and keep on writing and creating and the results will come.
TemplateMonster: How big is your team now and how to become a part of Colorlib? I am sure that some of our readers would love to join you one day.
Aigars Silkalns: Currently, we are a small and completely distributed team of 8 people. We are constantly looking for WordPress developers, content writers, SEO specialists, and editors to join our team. On average, our team members have been with the company for over 5 years, which you don't often see in this kind of business. We have big plans for the next several years and would like to find the best people to achieve these goals together.
Right now everyone on my team reports directly to me and as the team grows, it has become extremely taxing. Therefore, I would happily have a Project Manager and Content Team Lead join the team to accelerate the growth. There is only so much one can do and I think that I am constantly over that limit physically and mentally.
TemplateMonster: Can you predict the future of the WordPress industry for the next 5 years? The WordPress search trend has already decreased to its level of 2007. Will website builders hog the cover and does it make any sense to stay in the niche and withstand fierce competition?
Aigars Silkalns: WordPress will be around for way longer than the next 5 years and will be a dominant CMS. There is no way someone will jump in and one-up all the efforts. I have seen so many “WordPress killers” come and go, yet no one has achieved the network effect that WordPress has. It is true that fewer people create blogs than before and instead focus on building a social media presence. Still, businesses will always need a website and WordPress is a great and cost-efficient way to build and maintain one.
WordPress is evolving and the recent introduction of full site editing and the success of Elementor Page Builder keeps it relevant. There is nothing you can't do with WordPress that you can with Wix or Squarespace and you can do that cheaply. These are key things that will keep WordPress relevant for the next decade. It is hard to predict beyond that because we might interact with the world and web differently by then. The time will tell, but right now there is no better all-around CMS than WordPress and any newcomer will face a major uphill battle to dethrone such a huge community.
TemplateMonster: What are your plans for the near future? Expand your awesome collection of WordPress themes or start some completely new projects?
Aigars Silkalns: I am committed to Colorlib and know there is still a huge growth potential. I have several other websites in the web design niche focused on admin dashboards, WordPress plugins, and website templates. With hopes that they can become as big as Colorlib is.
However, I am always looking for new opportunities, and starting or acquiring new businesses is something I'm passionate about. If you have a product in WordPress, web design, or a similar niche, please hit me, and let's see what we can do together.
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