This is an interview with Danny Iny from Firepole Marketing. He’s returned to Kikolani to talk to us about how he wrote 80+ guest posts on major blogs in less than a year, earned the nickname “The Freddy Krueger of Blogging”, and skyrocketed Firepole Marketing to success with his Write Like Freddy blog writing training program (aff link).
1. A lot of the readers here at Kikolani would love to get more traffic, subscribers, and sales (as you say), but don’t know where to start. What are they missing?
Well, in my experience, most people are missing one of two things.
The first thing is that Content is King. The truth is that a lot of people make things much more complicated than they have to be; “traffic” becomes this mysterious thing that you try to “drive” to your blog. Every day we stumble onto a new “strategy”, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, SEO, Pinterest, or whatever. We never completely understand how this “strategy” is supposed to “drive” the “traffic”, other than having a vague sense that there’s a lot of traffic on this or that platform, and that somehow you might be able to siphon some of that traffic off to your site.
The truth is a lot simpler than that. Forget about “driving traffic”, and recognize that you’re dealing with people. Real live human beings, just like you. That’s where inbound and content marketing come into the picture. Human beings respond to content, because it’s a way for you to share a glimpse of who you are and what you’re about, while teaching something valuable. That’s how you build a real relationship, and that’s why content creation in general, and good writing in particular, are so critical to succeeding with a blog-based business.
Now, a lot of bloggers actually do get that, but they miss the second thing…
The second thing is that the King can get awfully lonely. See, we’ve all been fed this myth about how things go viral online. I tell three friends, they each tell three friends, and those friends each tell three friends, and pretty soon my server crashes from all the traffic, right? Except that in real life, that’s not how it happens; I tell three friends, and of those friends, one doesn’t listen, the second one isn’t all that impressed, and the third one mentions it to one friend who does nothing.
The network model for things to go viral can still work, but it’s a lot harder than people like to pretend, and it depends on a certain critical mass that most blogs just don’t have. Which means that if you want to build awareness and exposure, you can’t count on the traffic coming to you; you need to put your content where people are already going, and that usually means guest posting on other, bigger blogs.
So in a nutshell, that’s what people are missing: good content, and a guest posting strategy.
2. Why do you recommend writing and guest posting instead of, say, social media, or networking on Twitter, or Pinterest, or something else?
In general, social media is a lot of noise. People follow hundreds of content producers on Twitter, Facebook is a never-ending stream of status updates and shares… you get the picture. Sure, it’s easy to get in front of people, but only for a fraction of a second, and when they aren’t really paying attention, anyway. And even when they do notice you, you’re just another voice in the crowd.
When you go the content and guest posting route, everything changes. For one, you’ve just offered them something useful and valuable, and you offered it in a place where they know that the content is good, so they took the time to pay attention. Which is to say that you’ve got their attention, and you’re credible. That’s huge, and really hard to do in the online world these days! And not only do you get attention for a moment (like you do on Twitter), but you actually get attention on an ongoing basis – a guest post on a major blog can continue to deliver traffic (and credibility!) for weeks, months, and sometimes even years after first being published.
The other great side of content marketing and guest posting is the relationships that come with it. If you write a smash hit post for another blogger, you better believe that’s going to have a positive impact on your relationship with them. Sooner or later, you’re going to need those relationships to really grow your blog to the next level, and writing + guest posting is the cheapest, easiest and most effective way that I know to do it.
3. What would you say is the single biggest obstacle preventing people from doing the writing and guest posting that you describe?
Without a doubt, it’s the writing. This is the train of thought that goes through most bloggers’ heads when they consider the idea of writing and guest posting as a strategy:
“Grow my blog through guest posting? But I’m having trouble keeping up with the posts on my own blog… do I really have time to spend another ten hours writing a post for somebody else? And who would I write for, anyway? What if they don’t like the post? What if they don’t want to publish it? Does that mean I’d spend the ten hours for nothing? And I don’t have ten hours to spare, anyway… Besides, what if they do want to publish it… how many posts could I possibly write? Where will I come up with all the ideas? And the time to get it all done? This just feels like so much hard work, with so much uncertainty…”
A lot of it comes down to fear of writing, and the real reason why people are afraid of writing is that they don’t have a system for doing it well. Here are some truths about writing:
The thing is that all these truths are only true if you’ve got a system that allows you to make it all happen.
4. What do you mean by “a system”? I don’t believe in stuff like article spinning or content scraping, and I know that you don’t either – so how can people create all this content, so quickly?
Good question – and maybe system isn’t the best word. Maybe “process” would be better. See, it all comes down to having a process that you can follow, step-by-step, to go through all the stages of the writing process. These are the stages that a good process should take you through:
- Figure out where you want to post, and why. Are you writing on your own blog, or for someone else (because you need traffic, credibility, relationships, or all of the above)? If it’s for someone else, then where do you find them?
- Figure out what topic you’re going to write about, by researching the target blog to find the overlap between what their readers want and what you have to offer.
- Find a winning angle for your post, based on research into what has performed well in the past.
- Write the headline, based again on what research tells you will work with your chosen audience.
- Write the hook to grab the attention of readers, and keep them spellbound throughout your post.
- Outline the post’s key sections: the problem that you’re going to solve in your post, the underlying cause of the problem, the solution, and how to implement the solution.
- Add an engagement-building question and by-line to get people involved with your post, and back to your site.
- Apply any necessary tweaks to maximize link-love, relationship-building, and so forth.
A good process takes all of the guesswork out of it, and lets you focus all of your energy on creating real, valuable content. This whole process shouldn’t take more than an hour or two, tops – but only if you know how it really works, and how to apply it.
That’s how I wrote 80+ guest posts in a year (posts averaging 1,200-1,400 words… you do the math), got on the radar of people like Brian Clark and Guy Kawasaki, wrote a book, grew our blog, etc. – it was all by writing, using the process that I developed and teach in my Write Like Freddy training program.
5. I know that your training is great, but I also know that my readers are wondering about this, so I might as well ask: how can a blogger justify paid training when their blog isn’t making any money?
That’s a great question, and it really depends on the situation of each blogger, and their priorities.
Imagine you’re trying to fix a car that isn’t working (and we’ll assume you aren’t a mechanic, because then the question becomes moot). Do you monkey around with it and try to fix it yourself, or do you take it to a garage to get it done?
Well, it really depends on the situation, right? If you’re fixing up the car as a hobby, then you probably want to do it yourself, and figure things out as you go. There’s no rush to get anywhere, and you can take your time and do it yourself.
But if it’s the car that takes you to work every day, then you need to get it fixed quickly, and you can’t afford to risk that you’ll mess it up even further. So you take it to the garage.
I think bloggers really have to ask themselves: is my blog a hobby, or is it a business? What do I want it to be? What is the cost of not fixing my problem, and what is the benefit of getting it fixed? If I was able to get dramatically more traffic and subscribers, for example, what would that give me? Would it just be an ego boost, or would it matter to my business, and to my financial life?
Depending on the answers to those questions, you can decide whether to pay for the help you need, or keep browsing around for free information, and tinkering with your blog. If it’s the latter, then more power to you. But if it’s the former, I’d love to see you inside my Write Like Freddy training program.