Blogging Your Way to Traffic, Subscribers, and Sales with Danny Iny

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:

  • Writing shouldn’t take a long time.
  • Coming up with ideas shouldn’t to take long, and you shouldn’t run out of ideas.
  • The vast majority of your guest posts should be accepted.
  • Putting together a post shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours, at the most.
  • Writing is EASY!

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. Find a winning angle for your post, based on research into what has performed well in the past.
  4. Write the headline, based again on what research tells you will work with your chosen audience.
  5. Write the hook to grab the attention of readers, and keep them spellbound throughout your post.
  6. 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.
  7. Add an engagement-building question and by-line to get people involved with your post, and back to your site.
  8. 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.

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Comments

  1. says

    Content is how someone gets to your website. Content is what keeps readers
    coming back. Content is what gets shared. Having good content is what gets
    shared on social media, and that’s all very true.

    However, when you have someone that comes to your website, maybe for the first time, and you have a terrible web design, they immediately start to form a first impression and they start to immediately distrust what you have to say.
    Shamelle just posted The Important Keyword Research Question That’s Often Ignored By Bloggers

  2. says

    Another amazing interview Danny! And am so glad you asked these wonderful questions Kristi!!

    Wow! You do have a way with words that just seem to flow so effortlessly Danny, and go right into our heads! I understand all that you said and you are so right about the wonders of guest posting! That rising graph says it all I guess :)

    I liked the question about social media versus content, though I feel somewhere a combination of the two may be required too so that you remain connected with people on the social media. And you are so right that the content is what stays longer online and remains ever fresh rather than the few minutes on the social media. But yes, you do need to time yourself and focus on the other important work in hand.

    Haha…I loved your excuse you made on our behalf for not guest posting- so true :) I know we need to break that and come out with those or any others that we may be making to get started.

    The last question of course is what most people would surely be wondering to which your way of explaining through the car was well understood. I guess those have their blogs up for professional reason or business should go in with the training, as that would surely help out.

    Great lessons learnt once again Danny & nice to see you here as well :)
    Harleena Singh just posted Steps to Resolve Family Conflict

  3. says

    This is an excellent post! I am already doing some of what you site, but learned some rings I am not – Excellent! I signed up for your email list. Good content!

  4. says

    Such a great post! I totally agree, although social bookmarking, and social media are really nice tools for advertising a site, the most efficient traffic generating methods are really the the good content (interesting and keyword optimized) and the guest posting.
    Julie just posted dental implants

  5. says

    Hey Kristi and Danny,

    Thanks for a great Q&A post. These are all excellent points to keep in mind, but my favorite part is the “system” in #4. Having a process is really the key to doing this on a regular, consistent basis … and I know because I often fall off the process wagon. ;)

    This will be a very helpful guide for me and I’m sure countless others. Keep the valuable tips flowing!

    Cheers — Hunter
    Hunter Boyle just posted How to Survive the New World of Social Sales – 16 Minutes With Brian Solis

  6. says

    Danny!
    Excellent post. I took a look at your blog and bookmarked it instantly. I see you’ve owned it for only 2 years and 7months and it’s already a solid PR4 !
    I started my health blog http://www.Kodjoworkout.com for about a year and 4 months now (already PR3), and my goal this is to climb to PR5 by the end of this year. I’ve already posted 80+ articles this year thus far through 3/28/12. Shooting for about 600 articles total for this year.

    Thanks for reemphasizing the importance of good content
    Cheers,
    Kodjo
    Kodjo just posted Tips to Reduce your Coffee Addiction

  7. says

    Great post Danny!

    At the end of the day, it’s all about starting and doing the work in the trenches. You’ve proven through your graph that hard work is what got you all the subscribers.

    Most people just need to get over their fear and start doing. And keep doing consistently.
    Eric Siu just posted How To Kill It At SEO Like Zappos

  8. says

    The reality is that all the traffic in the world doesn’t do anything for you if there is no content for that traffic to absorb. First focus on creating good content. The practice that you get writing for your own blog will give you plenty of practice when it comes time to guest post. When you have plenty of rich content on your own blog, then figure out your traffic strategy. That way you are bringing traffic to your blog that will stick around and read your content.
    Richard just posted Save Money With Affordable Health Insurance

  9. says

    It’s really refreshing to see this post and going back to basics which is creating good and engaging content without having to resort to all the grey hat SEO strategies like spinning content and litter the web with it. It is also amazing that in spite of all the latest changes in the Google algorithm, the sites that did not get de-indexed from the Google database were usually the sites that presented a good user experience. In the long run these kind of strategies that Danny presented will keep you out of trouble and help you get some good rankings.
    Joe just posted Choosing Window Treatments in Los Angeles

  10. says

    Hi Kristi & Danny,

    Great interview! I especially like how you went into the typical fears of bloggers and why they can easily be overcome! I’m looking forward to starting my guest posting campaign next month! All of your emails and posts are very helpful, Danny.

    Thanks!
    Stacy
    Stacy just posted 5 Plugins You Should Use But Probably Aren’t

  11. says

    Fantastic Q&A! And I liked seeing the traffic graph with actual numbers (not that I’m, uh, comparing my traffic to yours or anything ;-) )

    I’m trying to figure out how to put some of these principles into practice in a niche where blogging and guest blogging aren’t really “done.” (There are lots of websites and some forums, but not really many high-traffic, comment-rich blogs). Maybe posting choice stellar content every so often in forums could have a similar effect…

    And to be honest, I’m still struggling with #5. The breakdown between hobby blogs and business blogs is helpful, but not all business blogs are successful or profitable even with investment and lots of effort. I’m building mine “on faith” that it will make money someday, and trying to walk that fine line between investing financial resources in its success yet not pouring tons of money into something that’ll never pay off.

    Of course, maybe I also need patience – my blog’s 3 months old :-p (and actually doing pretty well with traffic, even if no sales yet!)
    Shayna just posted 15 American slang expressions you can use at work

    • says

      Thank you, Shayna, I’m so glad you found it valuable!

      I think that posting “choice stellar content” in forums every so often is a good place to start, but I think you have to go further – if there aren’t large blogs in your niche, what about large blogs targeting your audience?

      As for struggling with #5, it might help to get an outside pair of eyes on your blog and your strategy. Shoot me an email to danny (at) firepolemarketing (dot) com if you want to explore that. :)
      Danny just posted Productivity Interview: Erin Blaskie of BSETC.com and ErinBlaskieInc.com

  12. says

    Great post! :)

    I really enjoyed your point about how we expect things to go viral just because we are ~oh so funny~ and our comments are just ~very insightful~. You make the right point in suggesting that although we may care about our work so much, chances are that even our best friends do not care as much as we do.

    I also liked the idea about social media vs content. It’s important to remember that the two can work together too. The content remains on the website and in your archives. The social media keeps regular readers in touch with your site. It is important to have a strong back-log of content in order to keep new readers interested and old readers up-to-date.

    About your point for guest blogging, I know it’s hard to motivate yourself to write for your own blog… let alone for someone else, but you just have to remember that even though they may not like it, you can always use it on your own site if they reject it! Most people I’ve met in the guest blogging world are very nice about their sites though and I’ve only had one rejection out the hundreds that I’ve written.

    Anyways, really good post. It’s so nice to be able to talk about the different blogging approaches! :D

    • says

      Thanks, Paul, I’m glad you enjoyed the interview.

      I think you’re bang on about social media vs. content, and they really do work well together, I just think that the content has to be the ultimate driver behind it.

      I don’t agree with you about the guest posting vs. your own blog thing, though – I actually don’t recommend people submit whole posts to new blogs, but rather focus on just pitching ideas. That way if the post isn’t accepted, not much is lost. :)
      Danny just posted Productivity Interview: Erin Blaskie of BSETC.com and ErinBlaskieInc.com

  13. says

    Number 4 on your list is particularly important.

    When you think of a system, your natural instincts would lead you to believe that there is some kind of automation or shady tactics going on. What it really means is being organized in your approach like you have stated.

    I find that following the exact same system every time works best and by that I mean posting comments to a recent article, tweeting the article, submitting the rss feed of the article to other blogs etc. and then mixing up the process.

    You really can build a powerful wheel of links pointing to whatever you want if you just take advantage of web 2.0 and all of the advantages that they offer!
    Judah Hamilton just posted Bug Out by Scott B. Williams Book Review: It Sucks Don’t Buy It

  14. says

    The greatest thing you can learn from this article is the fact that you are trying to attract human beings. People forget that huge factor and the lose the quality of the content and don’t strive to make real relationships to bring in traffic. Instead, they try all the tips and tricks they read in articles.
    Steven Papas just posted Webhosting Plans

  15. says

    Hi Danny, I’m very quickly becoming a fan of yours, been seeing you on several of the blogs I’ve visited over the past week. I certainly like the fundamental philosophical principles from which you come to address the human side of this issue. I’m sure I’ll be checking what you have to say for a long time. Thanks for sharing.
    Tom Hudson just posted Interested In Creating Reciprocal Links

  16. says

    More and more, I am agreeing with you that social media is just a waste of time. When my 10,000 + Twitterfollowers retweet only 3 or 4 times a week, despite my immediately reinforcing any RT or mention, it seems like a waste of time.

    I am convinced that the main value of social media is the opportunities to visit other like minded people and chat with them. If you are not closely interacting with other individuals, you are wasting your time.

    That said, you present a strong case for guest blogging. That seems to be a very powerful way to get noticed.

    Of course, quality is always king. The guest blogger needs to focus on keeping the readers interest. You gave some great tips on how to accomplish that.
    David Sneen just posted Lights, Camera, Inaction; No Way to Earn Money Online

  17. says

    Nice Danny,
    Awesome I enjoy whole post, this is not your first post which i reading all are nice explained by you, key points which you mention really mind blowing…
    thanks for sharing with us..
    Brainpulse just posted callback

  18. says

    Hi Danny,
    Guest posting is certainly one of the best ways to get more traffic, build relations with influential bloggers and build quality backlinks, I have wrote a few guest posts but I certainly should guest post more frequently, is one of my priorities for this year and I certainly should invest more time on this, thanks for sharing your insights…
    Kostas just posted Get Traffic With Free Reports