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Ten Awesome people to check out in the blogosphere
This guy is TEARIN’ IT UP right now! Ryan is rapidly moving into the Social Media space. A guy with strong opinions and excellent ideas, he is an up & coming blogging and Social Media “rockstar” of the future! Ryan “gets” the Social Media thing and what it is actually for, and is eager to engage with people and chat. Ryan is more about passion than profession, that’s what I love about him. Expecting big things from him this year. So check him out!
Danny is a really friendly guy with an excellent knowledge of marketing, communications and business in general. He has given me some amazing advice and support since I connected with him. Danny is friendly, approachable and knowledgeable, and an excellent connection to make. It is scary to think that he’s only been properly blogging a little longer than me and is already killing it out there!
My man Jk manages to balance a full-time job with a highly successful blog (sorry that rhymed!). His posts are awesome, real, highly relevant and based on experience. Jk is well known in the blogosphere for his insightful comments as well as his great posts, and has built a thriving community at Hustler’s notebook. On a personal note, he is a friendly guy that is happy to help and support the community he participates in.
Jon really cares about his blog and his readers. He has extensive experience working in various online businesses and his knowledge is amazing. Particularly if you’re new to online business, check out JonAlford.com and I guarantee you’ll learn a heap of great stuff for free. Jon and I have spoke over Skype a few times and we get on great. What I love about Jon is although he takes his business very serious, he doesn’t take himself too seriously. We always have a good laugh when we chat!
Mark is a seasoned businessman who has been consulting companies for years, from working with start-up cable and telecom companies before many people believed they would work to working with successful PR companies of today. He is another dude with an extremely in-depth understanding of the “Social Web”, and is also a very friendly and helpful guy who really knows how to build relationships, hence his big online following.
Like Jk (Stu and Jk are good friends through blogging), Stu also has a busy schedule and a full-time job, but manages to run Unlockthedoor.net, and very well. I think that Stu is a blogger through and through, his posts are amazingly high quality. I connected with him on Skype not too long ago, we get on really well. Stu has some great advice and is another helpful guy. His recent Value 101 post series killed it, and he managed to connect with and feature some BIG online names.
The Sales Lion is already making a mark in the blogosphere, a really big mark! He has a very successful swimming pool company in the States, as well as a blog that has gone from strength to strength, particularly in 2011. Most of his blog posts have 200 or more comments on! What I love is that Marcus takes the time to respond to all of his comments. I love public speaking, and Marcus rocks at it! He is currently establishing himself as a renowned public speaker. Marcus recently suggested we have a Skype call, I was honoured to be asked because we don’t know each other that well yet and also I know how busy he is. Looking forward to having a chat with him.
Marlee is a very accomplished businesswoman, and she normally uses a combination of text and video posts, which I think are absolutely great. When you read posts on Marleeward.com you see her business expertise shine through. She’s also very friendly and helpful, and has built a great following at her blog. No wonder she has so many happy coaching clients! Marless is highly sociable, I can tell she’s a great networker, so pop over for a chat!
Out of all the guys I connect with, I have to say that I think Paul is one of the most passionate about blogging and writing. You can see this in his posts. Paul is another excellent businessman, with a very successful bass guitar site. What I like is that he takes a different but highly effective approach to most when it comes to business. I know he’s one to watch out for, definitely going from strength to strength both in terms of blogging and business.
Benny knows how to blog. You can tell he spends time on his posts to ensure they are of the highest quality. He is also very honest and talks about past experiences, both good and bad. This makes for a very effective blog. Again, Benny has not been on the scenes for too long but is already doing really well and eager to hear feedback from his readers. Definitely another guy to keep an eye on and check out!
Not only is Mark Harai a really nice guy and awesome blogger; as far as I’m concerned he is the “go-to” guy for Business Development. It’s unbelievable to think that Mark only set up his blog this year, if you look at it and look at the amazing community he’s already built there you will think that he’s been blogging for years! Mark and I had a great chat, we talked about his extensive and impressive background consulting companies, his work at Dime Labs, his awesome blog and the importance of building high quality relationships online, as well as a few other things.
His experience, expertise and in-depth understanding about the “Social Web” shines through in this interview. He also taught me a little about PR!
If you want to learn more about Mark, check out MarkHarai.com and have a listen to the interview below.
Robert: If we start with you telling us a bit about your background. I understand that you’ve spent a great deal of time consulting companies, and you’ve been interacting on the Social Web for the last few years?
Mark: Basically, early in my career I was involved with the cable television and the cellular industry; back when I was around 21 years old. Back in those days, a lot of folks didn’t really believe that people would pay for television. Because at the time, television was free. It was initially a bit challenging to get investors, believe it or not, and the same with the cellular industry – they didn’t see everyone having a cellphone. I participated in the financing of those markets. Today they are gigantic industries. These are industries I stayed with, telecommunications, wireless technology and the cable industry. This is where I carved out my experience and background. Lots of the stuff I learnt in those industries is pretty applicable to any business, in terms of getting a subscriber base, getting customers to pay for your product or service, and taking that from a local footprint to a national footprint to a regional footprint. There’s a way that it all evolves. I also have some experience with the call centres, which was a natural progression. Not only did are they relevant in big industry, but back in those days they literally built the subscriber base.
I was a bit of a guinea pig with Social Media. I originally got involved on Twitter. I have been consistently built relationships on there for the last three years.
Robert: Is that what led you to form MarkHarai.com?
Mark: Yeah, well I never really considered myself to be a writer, and writing and blogging go hand in hand. I did have a free platform where people I connected with could learn more about me. The 1st January this year I ventured into blogging. One of the things that I learnt was that you don’t necessarily need to be a professional writer to blog. You need to have an opinion, a unique insight and provide value. You don’t need to write perfectly, I write how I talk. I share some of my knowledge and insights through my blog. It’s been a rewarding experience – deeper relationships and more connections. Conversations can be very targeted and deeper on a blog.
Robert: Great point about conversational tone. I think it’s easier to engage people writing how we speak. If we just go on to talk a little about your work with Dime PR and Dime Labs.
Mark: Dime PR is owned by Timothy Williams, whom I’ve known for about 5 years, and worked with him over the last year. I have referred clients to him for PR work over the past few years. He did a very good job for those people. We started talking about 18 months ago. He’s a PR professional. He’s done it right. He can pick up the phone and speak to journalists whether it be journalists from the NY Times of Wall Street Journal. He’s very good at coding so he could also make blogs etc for his clients. Long story short, I’ve been helping him with the development and growth of his company. We now outsource lots of the work he used to do full-time. He now has about 7 full time staff and teams for tasks such as app development.
The Dime Labs is something that fits more into my skillset. I’m more of a business development guy – coming up with concepts, putting together and growing business. Dime Labs helps companies to get off the ground, and we also have PR assets. I do most of my work with Dime Labs.
PR is an interesting industry. You have to have the right story and know the journalists you’re dealing with pretty intimately – who they write about, who their audience is. Tim does things in the right way.
Robert: You can apply that to any business. Anyone you’re dealing with, you’ve got to know them and understand them to form that connection – to form an effective business relationship.
Mark: It’s the same with anything, even Social Media. It’s all about the relationship and the strength of your relationship. Do you have credibility? Have you established trust? Do people take your calls? Taking time to build relationships goes a long way in Social Media, business or whatever you’re doing.
Robert: Definitely. Is there a level of interaction between what you do at Dime Labs and your blog?
Mark: Obviously I’m not trying to monetize. I’m most interested in meeting interesting, like-minded people and building relationships that go beyond Social Media. As a result of being involved in Social Media for almost three years I am involved in a number of projects outside Dime Labs. I have built some trust. I’m not a spammer, I’m not a douchebag. I have some skills and knowledge. I’m helpful. There are things people see when they interact with me, which have led to a number of opportunities. It’s amazing how you can make connections that become real relationships that end up getting real things done, built or initiated. That’s what my blog is for – what does this guy believe? How does he think? People can look at my view and that can lead to real opportunities.
Trust is earned. Building relationships takes time. There’s no way of getting from A-Z any sooner than it takes. It’s a process, which can be rewarding and meaningful process if you’re doing it for the right reasons. If you just throw a blog up and you’re trying to monetize with heaps of affiliate links, it doesn’t really get you anywhere. It says “all I’m interested in money”. It’s amazing, some people must make money from it, but it can’t be many.
What’s interesting Robert, is that we frequent the same communities online – we’re involved with some pretty cool folks! People are aware of our communities, even if they’re not directly involved and participating. It may not be new, but it’s certainly raising eyebrows and creating a lot of interest. I think we have a really cool community, it’s very supportive. As a result, lots of things are happening – people are forming partnerships and making money from uniting and getting things done.
Robert: I think there are some very kind and genuine people within the community, who all have good intentions. When people look at it from the outside I think that some of them feel compelled to join in. There are some great opportunities and people. It takes time but it’s worth every second.
Mark: I get some amazing feedback from people that are new to Social Media and/or blogging. They are just amazed at the realness and genuineness of people, and the qualities that you just pointed out. It’s a great experience for everyone joining in the community.
Robert: Definitely. If we just move on to talk about a recent post you wrote that got an awesome response: “5 Tips on How to Become an A-List Blogger” can you tell us more about this?
Mark: Basically it’s about things I’ve been experiencing and seeing through my five months of experience in blogging. As I’ve been participating on the social web for a while, I think that helped me get some traction before I started. In the post I listed things that were important to me. One of those was the power of you and being yourself, obviously there’s not enough of that in the blogosphere. Be genuine, talk about things that you know and things that you have experienced, then share it with others. Additionally, some people are obsessed with numbers – number of followers and Likes you have. It’s important, but it’s way more powerful to build relationships – 150 to be exact. Connecting with that many people can take up lots of your time. They know you and trust you, it’s much more powerful than having 10,000 you don’t know, and there’s no value in that in my opinion. Most of us aren’t famous, so we don’t automatically have thousands of followers. People need to concentrate on engaging and quality posts and relationships. It’s a little intimidating for some people to jump into conversation. But that’s where you need to be to see the magic that can happen by forming these real connections.
Robert: You can’t put a price on these real relationships.
Mark: Yeah, you really can’t. It’s not a matter in investing 6-8 hours a day. It’s about getting involved with 30 minutes a day. It’s about that consistency. It’s building that social footprint. The more consistent you are, the more people will recognise you and communicate with you.
Robert: Can we talk a little more about the concept of a “Social Footprint”?
Mark: When I talk about a social footprint, I mean that everything you do and say on blogs and Social Media is pretty much on the internet forever. If somebody wants to find out about you they can find out about you – is he business guy? Does he cuss like a sailor? When I see some of the things that teenagers write, it amazes me. It’s really important to be conscious of everything you do on the Social Web. People will see everything you’re about by what you do online. You’ll be judged by it.
Robert: You’ve got to think about consequences, particularly if you’re in it for business reasons. Maybe if you’re feeling emotional, you may need to take a day off and start blogging or tweeting the next day when you have a calmer head. Like you said, people will remember one bad thing you do forever.
Mark: I’m all for transparency. In the spirit of transparency I cuss now and again – but not like a sailor per se. I’ll usually keep it clean and have a good attitude. Sometimes it’s relevant, but do it in a constructive way – not just to get attention. It certainly won’t help you to get ahead in life or to get jobs.
Robert: I’m so tolerant to swearing but I just don’t see the need to use it on my blog so I don’t use it. Guys that use it now and again that’s fine. In most cases it is unnecessary. I don’t think it says anything good about a person if they need to use it too much online. We have a saying in England: “Everything in Moderation!” How important is community to you in blogging?
Mark: Community is about the relationships we form. I think it’s important to anyone that blogs. Many of your buyers or customers are not the ones that comment on your post and get involved in your community, but it’s where they get all the information about you before they decide whether or not they will spend money for you. They can choose if they like you or not. Community for me is essential in blogging, that’s how the instrumental relationships take place. Some people start off timid, but you’ve got to get past that to get to the next level and provide value to others. I could have been blogging a couple years ago if I didn’t have this thought in my mind about how you have to be a great writer.
Robert: In the last month it’s clicked with me that blogging IS community. Some people starting out feel inertia when they start out. The guys such as yourself that I’ve connected with are really nice, receptive and are willing to help you out if you have good intentions and are like-minded. I’ll do the same for them.
Mark: Absolutely. I call it “social equity” so to speak. Those relationships are what you’re going to get out of what you’re doing. The quality and depth of those relationships are what is going to determine how much value you are getting from all this. Money part aside, relationships and community are essential. If you do that part right, then it will lead to financial rewards. It doesn’t happen overnight, but if you do some of the stuff we’ve been talking about and you’re thoughtful – engaging, building relationships, focussing on quality can really become valuable for your future.
Robert: If we just wrap it up with the last question. Can you tell us about your future plans for MarkHarai.com and your work with Dime Labs?
Mark: The future is very interesting. I’m involved with many different businesses aside from the Dime Labs situation. Right now at Dime Labs eventually we’d like to bring in some companies that have great ideas but are super smart, hard-working and “need a little gas to get down the road”. Also plugging everything into the PR side of the company, Tim puts a spotlight on the company. All of a sudden everyone wants to know who you are!
There are some other projects from connecting with people from Social Media efforts. You’ll see things coming out in the next few months, projects involving super smart myself and people that we both know, some projects that are helping deliver value small businesses. I’m also setting up a sponsorship for Blogcast FM from Dime PR. Srini is a great guy.
On MarkHarai.com you’ll see some of those things. I’m sharing a peace of my mind, my experience in all of this as I go. Things I’m learning, discovering, what projects I’m involved with. That’s what my blog will be. It will never become an affiliate or money-making site. It’s a place for people to learn about who I am and do business with like-minded people.
Robert: Sounds good. Looking forward to seeing what you’re up to these next few weeks and months. I’ve got some projects coming up these next few months as well. Mark, it’s been an absolute pleasure to talk to you; I’ve learnt a lot about you and it’s been great to build our relationship in the process.
Mark: Thanks for having me Robert. I’ve learnt a little about you as well. The future is bright. Look forward to building a stronger relationship as we move together in our communities.
Stu is a great guy. I noticed we were commenting at many of the same spots, so I thought I better check out his site (Unlockthedoor.net). When I did, I was overwhelmed with how awesome his blog was, and immediately approached him for an interview. He was happy to help. We got on great, hence the interview lasted over 40 minutes!
He really knows his stuff, and is a blogger through and through – all focused on community and conversation, and a truly excellent writer, as you’ll see when you look on his blog.
It was Stuart’s first audio interview, he did a great job! It was also my first time interviewing someone that was also from the UK! Sure you’ll enjoy this interview and get to know a different side of the great guy that is Stuart Mills! You have two options: You can listen below or read the (concise) transcript underneath the link. Enjoy!
Robert: If we start with a bit of history and background about you.
Stuart: Unlockthedoor.net was founded in October 2010. Initially was very difficult. After a few weeks of having the blog, Jk Allen from HustlersNotebook.com commented on the blog, and also told Stuart that he would give him any help that he needed. Connecting with Jk, his readers and other bloggers meant that Stuart’s blog really started to take off. This really encouraged Stuart and started the momentum for his blog.
Robert: What were/are your aims with unlockthedoor.net ?
Stuart: Unlock the door comes from a scene in the Matrix where Morpheus says to Neo: “I can only show the door, you must go through it.” That made me consider openthedoor.net, but unlockthedoor.net was more appropriate because I wanted the blog to help people unlock the doors in their minds. Personal Development seemed the most natural path to take, to genuinely help people with no expectations in return.
Robert: Can you tell us a bit about your awesome “Value 101” series of blog posts, I understand that Value 101 Part 8 has just come out?
Stuart: Something big involving a lot of people needed to happen on the blog. I asked the question “How do you provide value?” It’s a very open-ended question. I sent the question and a quick explanation to over 50 bloggers. On the whole, people came back with an answer to how they provide value. The project started getting big, so I did it in parts. Amazingly, this project has connected some of the bloggers involved in the project. They’ve seen what the other featured blogger is about by looking at how they answered the question. It’s been very rewarding, there are four more parts to come out, and I think I will be making an ebook! I’m going to move on to another big project soon.
Robert: I see you recently had a guest post on the famous Problogger.com titled: “How to Blog Without Comparing Yourself to Others”, which was an amazing post by the way! Congratulations on that! Can you tell us a bit about the post and then explain the story surrounding it?
Stuart: About a month and a half ago I wrote a post for Problogger and sent the title and a quick description through the contact form on the site. They soon got back to me saying the post sounded great but unfortunately wasn’t relevant enough for the site. I wasn’t giving up that easy. I wrote a new post and titled it “How to Blog Without Comparing Yourself to Others”. I now had an email address I could forward it to as an attachment. They loved it and told me they’d be featuring it on April 13th. A bloggers dream come true. I promoted the post. I’ve had immense response and over 150 comments, I also got a load of new traffic, readers and subscribers. I think that every blogger should aspire to write a guest post for an authority blog such as Problogger. I think that a lot of times people get put off, but the reality is: all you’ve got to do is try. If your first one gets rejected, dust yourself off and try again! The first thing to do with anything is just try. It was the same with the first guest post I ever did for a blog called Make it Happen. I liked what I saw, wrote up a post and it got accepted! It felt very liberating to know that someone else was willing to take me on board and trust me to write on their blog.
Robert: Many things get overcomplicated. It’s not actually that hard at all to get a good guest post on a blog, as long as you take the time to write a high quality post that will appeal to the blogger and THEIR readers.
Stuart: The quality of the post will shine through. Don’t worry about the hurdles. Even if one big blog rejects your post, send it to another, they might accept it! Just because it’s not accepted doesn’t mean it’s a bad post.
Robert: It’s just getting yourself out there, too many people get caught up on the little complexities. I see you regularly guest post yourself as well.
Stuart: Don’t be put off aiming for the bigger blogs when you start guest posting. For example Rob, your first guest post was on Firepole Marketing.
I’ve done about fifteen guest posts now. It’s all about practice. The more you do something the better you’ll get at it.
Robert: How important do you think that community is in blogging?
Stuart: The two great treasures of blogging: Community and Conversation. The community is one of the greatest things that has happened to me, not just for my blog but for my life. I’ve met so many like-minded people who also want to provide value, and to see my own blog grow, just from community. The possible benefits that you can get from community are just astounding – blog commenting, guest posts, swap guest posts, interview another blogger jointly over email as I did with Bryan from Elevation Life, do an audio interview. If you go to places like Blog World, you can connect with people that you already know online. Without community and conversation I wouldn’t be blogging at all. Communication = communicating in unity. There’s no fun in blogging without community and conversation.
Robert: I’ve definitely realised how important community is these last couple months.
Stuart: Some of the biggest blogs out there have turned off their blog comments for time management reasons, but I’d find that very hard to do, because community and conversation is the lifeblood of my blog.
Robert: Definitely, I know what you mean. We’ll cross that bridge when it comes! Who are some of the coolest people you’ve connected with so far?
Stuart: Marcus Sheridan recently did a post about time management and having a huge community on his blog.
Robert: Who are some of the coolest people you’ve connected with so far?
Stuart: Massive shout out to Jk Allen, he was the first blogger that reached out to me without him asking. He helped me out a lot when I started, he’s been an absolute inspiration to me. Marcus Sheridan, he inspires me because he puts out amazing posts whilst also focussing on community. John Sherry, he was actually the first blogger I hooked up with face-to-face, and we got on great! Brian Thompson from Elevation Life, I’ve known him for months. There are also great people from the more business-focussed blogs like Mark Harai, I hooked up with him not too long ago and got a lot of inspiration about community as well. There are also others with bigger blogs who still find the time to connect, like social media bloggers Danny Brown and Ingrid Abboud. There’s just so many. The weird thing is there have also been people that I’m not really in contact with any more, for various reasons such as lack of time and just finding other blogs. I’m grateful that I still talk to Jk, Marcus and Bryan, and it’s been great seeing their blogs grow. It takes time to build a relationship, but it’s nearly always more than worth it.
Robert: It’s all about finding a balance between not having too much on your plate and connecting with enough people and growing sustainably. There are loads of people that I want to connect with but haven’t got round to doing so yet. Moving on…what tips do you have for someone starting out online?
Stuart: The single most important thing that I think you can do when it comes to blogging is connecting. Some people start their blog and expect people to come to them without doing any networks. I have to go to other blogs and raise their awareness of me. Even if you’ve never left a comment before, head over to a blog that is similar to your own or in the same niche and just leave a comment saying: “Hey, this is my first time at your site. I really like what this blog’s about. I thought this was a great post, really enjoyed reading it. I’ve got a new blog which is similar to your own. I’ve just recently started it. I’m a little unsure of what to do. Any tips or advice will be greatly appreciated.” More often than not that blogger will respond in kind. The more you do that, the more people will come and check out your new blog! You won’t have that unless you get yourself out there; leave comments and send a few emails asking for tips. Raise their awareness of you as much as possible. You need to give people a reason to come to your blog.
Robert: Absolutely. I understand you have an “Offline” day once a week, can you tell us why you decided to do it and where you got the idea from, and what the benefits and drawbacks of doing it are?
Stuart: Due to external commitments including an amateur dramatics group, taking a course and working it was kind of forced upon me. I thought, “Why not use this to my advantage and a break from online activity. It gives me a chance to engage in other beneficial activities that are not online. My offline day is every Tuesday. I still check my emails on a morning, but that’s about it. As much as I love blogging and commenting, it’s good to take a step back from it, take a break and look at it from a different perspective. It gives me a chance to refresh, and go back in with new vigour, energy and ideas. If I had a choice to pick a day, I would probably pick Sunday, as it’s supposed to be a day of rest! It does take a bit of adjustment, but I love my day off now. One blogger has taken an extended break from blogging because it had taken so much out of him. It’s an extreme situation, but it can happen.
Robert: I think that when people see that guys such as yourself do it and can still have a successful blog, they may consider doing it themselves. It’s good to recharge your batteries and engage in other activities. Finally what are your future plans in the coming months for Unlockthedoor.net?
Stuart: I’ve taken a “Zen” approach to my blog. I don’t have a specific set of plans. I just want to keep growing it and keep producing quality content. I’ve ditched the high targets; huge numbers would be very hard for me to obtain without it being detrimental to my health! I’m not worried about getting 100,000 subscribers or 100 comments on every post. It’s like the Alexa ranking, I don’t use it because my blog could be doing well, but my Alexa ranking can dip. I measure my blog by the amount of people that are aware of it and the amount of great conversations taking place within it. All I ask for is that I keep doing what I’m doing, and do it well. To me, I would rather have 100 subscribers who are loyal, who connect with me and that I have great conversations with; rather than 10,000 subscribers that I hardly ever talk with. Community and conversation are the two great treasures, numbers don’t compare at all!
Robert: Exactly. I don’t much care for Google, StumbleUpon or Alexa. Sure, they may help you get traffic, but they will never subscribe, leave comments or share your stuff! It’s all about quality over quantity. So we’ll wind it up there. Stu, it’s been great talking to you and I hope this has given your readers and the people you connect with a great insight into you. It’s been great talking to you, thanks a million for agreeing to this!
Stuart: No problem Rob, and it’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you and being here.
Robert: Excellent Stu thanks, speak to you soon.
A massive thanks to Jon Alford from JonAlford.com for making time in his busy schedule to do an interview with me. We quickly established a rapport and the thirty minute interview flew by, it’s full of great content!
A bit about Jon: Jon has considerable experience online, and although his blog is relatively new, his excellent knowledge of Internet Marketing really shines through in his great quality blog posts. I highly recommend you check out his stuff at JonAlford.com. He also offers a number of different services for people starting out or struggling with their online businesses. Here are some of the things he has experience in: “From eBay businesses and affiliate marketing, to informational product sales, and now content marketing and social media engagement I’ve gathered a few nuggets of wisdom to share.” So Jon is certainly in a position to educate many of us with our online businesses, and he presents his content in an educational and non-patronising manner.
As aforementioned, the interview lasts about thirty minutes, but Jon focusses completely on providing value and the content is darn good…definitely worth a listen!
What we talk about in the interview:
Jk Allen, from Hustlersnotebook.com, very kindly agreed to do an interview for BeliefandAction.com. I’m honoured to say that this was his first blog-related interview! Jk is a really cool guy who has a unique perspective on things. His blog is less than 12 months old and doing really well. It mainly covers personal development and business, and he focusses on providing high quality, value-adding content. , I’m sure you’ll learn something and appreciate his content. “You can check his posts out here“
In the interview we talk about all themes covered on my blog – business, blogging, and personal development.
Some of the cool stuff I learnt from Jk:
I’ve just finished an excellent interview with Peter Vogopoulos, the other half of the great team over at “FirepoleMarketing.com“. Peter is a marketing strategist, business coach and certified Guerilla Marketing Coach who does a great deal of work with local businesses. Peter is also a seminar leader, sought after speaker on marketing and small business, and is a faculty lecturer of entrepreneurship at the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University, one of the top business universities in Canada.
Peter and Danny are both great guys with an amazing knowledge of the fundamentals of business. Most importantly, they are humble and down-to-earth guys. We share much common ground on our ideas about starting a business and the “Make Money Online” Industry. It was brilliant to speak to Peter today, I learnt a great deal from the Interview, and I hope that you guys will too. If you feel that you need help with your business, speak to these guys today, they are very friendly, helpful and approachable.
Peter and Danny have brought out The Firepole Marketing Audio Coaching Program. As far as I’m concerned, this is a MUST for anyone starting out in business. This program allows you to develop an understanding from the very basics up to advanced business and marketing strategy. I don’t endorse many products, but I’ve made an exception for this one, the content is AMAZING! (The guys very kindly let me check out some of the program). “Here’s my affiliate link to the Program“. I really wish I’d had access to this when I started out last year, it would have saved me a great deal of time and money, and I’m sure it would have MADE me money as well! The price is very reasonable, considering you are getting weeks’ of coaching and consultancy from the two guys.
Back to the interview! You can click the link below to listen. It’s about 25 minutes long, Peter gives some awesome tips and pointers for starting out in business. I have found Danny and Peter an absolute pleasure to speak to. I hope to work with them at some point in the near future, and wish them every success in the future. They are definitely people to keep your eye on this year. “Check out their blog here”
“You can listen to the interview here“(You may need to turn your speakers up! )
I hope that you enjoy it, please leave me some feedback below!
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I recently came across a great blog called “imarketinghacked.com”, and the guy behind that blog is Ryan Critchett. He also has a personal blog “RyanCritchett.com“. Ryan is both an IT Technician and an Entrepreneur. He focusses on the psychological and mental aspect of online blogging, something that is disregarded by many people who make a living online.
What Ryan says about himself: “I’m really into mental performance, psychological experimentation and how the mind relates to everything else.” He has a healthy obsession not only with experimentation, but also with tracking data to see the implications and results of the experiments.
Ryan and I actually have a great deal in common, and I really enjoyed talking to him. He’s a really cool down-to-earth kinda guy, an original thinker and very intelligent. He is very contactable, approachable and open to networking. If you want to connect with Ryan, just head over to one of his blogs. I’m sure that you will enjoy this interview.
Click the link below to listen, the interview is just over 30 minutes long, I promise its worth it!
Please leave any comments you may have below.
Below you will find the second part of the Great Interview I did with Danny Iny. You can find the first part ”here“ if you haven’t read it yet.
Robert: I think a lot of people are under the illusion that an online business is immediate passive income, you just set up a site and you get visitors and make money.
Danny: Exactly. It’s passive income in the same way that owning a restaurant is passive income. Online businesses still require management. A restaurant business becomes passive when you can afford to hire a manager. Your website will generate passive income when you can afford to have someone do all the work for you. The work doesn’t disappear. If it was as easy as some people make out, then everyone would be doing it! Why would all of your friends have 9-5 jobs when they could be sitting on the beach drinking Margherita’s and checking their PayPal accounts? Most people don’t have that option. We’re actually running a guest post on Firepole Marketing in a couple of weeks, titled “Do what others won’t for a year, then live how others can’t for a lifetime.” I think that’s very apt, but you’re going to have to work your tail off for a year, possibly longer! It’s a huge amount of work, you can’t do it if you’re putting in three hours’ work a week like a hobby.
Robert: Great point, a good friend of mine who is an Internet Marketer said that to me when I started out, if you treat it like a hobby you’ll make little or no income, but if you treat it like a job or a business, you’ll make a decent income.
Robert: Can I talk a little to you about the blog aspect of your site? Say people have a blog that they want to grow and eventually monetize. What would you class as an effective blog post?
Danny: There are a few criteria. Firstly, people have to enjoy reading it; they have to enjoy it enough that they will come back to your blog the next time you post something. That’s the very least. Secondly, getting people to engage, sign up to your email list and share the content with other people. There’s no such thing as a ‘neutral effect’ post, it’s either helping you or it’s hurting you. I’d definitely recommend reducing your post frequency if it’s coming at the expense of post quality.
Robert: Definitely, I know that many bloggers advise people to post once a day, but if the posts are decreasing quality, then it’s better to post a couple of times a week or even once a week. As you said earlier, it’s about building your readership rather than just getting people to visit your site once.
Danny: Exactly, it’s about keeping them. Now, that being said, posting frequency does matter. If the posting is good and you post more, people are going to want to come and read it. Here’s a strategy that works best when you are starting out. Firstly, write some great posts and have a good looking blog. Then if I come to your site, you give me reason to stick around. The worst thing that you can do is have a massive promotion for your blog, then I click through to your site and there’s a lousy post waiting for me on the homepage. Secondly, find blogs that you like, but not the huge authority blogs, because you won’t stand out there. Find the blogs who are in your “boat”. They will be small, getting between 5 and 15 comments on a post. That’s an important number, if they have zero comments on all of their posts, they have zero audience and they’re not really engaging anyone. If they have 5 to 15 comments, then they have a small audience and must doing something right, that audience will grow. Try to look for blogs with an Alexa ranking of over half a million. Even if the blog is small, look for quality. If you find good content on some of these sites, send them an email and say “I really like your stuff, I’d love to share it with our audience, would you like to write a guest post for my blog?”
Robert: There’s a hierarchy in blogging just like there is in any space. If the guys at the top are getting hundreds of emails a day from lots of people with small blogs, it seems very unlikely that they’ll reply to your email.
Danny: It’s actually not as hard as people think. This is something I’ve learnt since I started doing a lot of guest posts. People see a barrier that isn’t really there; it’s really quite accessible. Problogger runs a new post every day, meaning they need about 30 posts a month. They need a good supply of content. That’s something I really like about this ‘inviting people to guest post on your blog’ strategy. Firstly, it builds a relationship. They’ll be excited to tell people they know to check out their guest post on your blog, giving you more exposure. Secondly, you can post more frequently because you now have this influx of content. Thirdly and very importantly, it frees up your time. For example, if you want to run 3 posts a week on your blog, if 2 of those are guest posts, it frees up your time. You could be doing guest posts for other bigger blogs.
Robert: That’s very well spent time, increasing your exposure.
Danny: Exactly. You’ve got to have good content. This is pretty much the boilerplate template email that I use when I reach out to a blog: “Hi, I really like your stuff. I’ve been thinking about writing a post about [subject]. I thought that it might be a really good fit for your audience. Here’s an example of a headline that might work: [headline], but I’m open to suggestions. What do you think about running it as a guest post? For sample of my work check out my blog [myblog.com] or my latest guest post on [thelastplace youguestposted.com]. What do you think, should I write up a draft?” It’s that simple. Big blogs have almost always said yes to this. The trick is pitching them an idea you know they’ll like. Write a subject and a headline they’ll jump at, and their readers will respond to!
Robert: That’s a great tactic, keeping your message short and to the point, to show the person that you respect their time. It also makes it much more likely that you will get a reply quickly.
Danny: Make sure that you address all the key things they want to know. You can’t just say “Are you open to guest posts on your site?” The key thing is that you’re going to write something that their audience will want to read, and write it well.
Robert: Definitely. I mean saying everything that you need to say but in a concise format. Now is there anything that you’d advise people against when blogging?
Danny: Yes, there are two things I would advise them against. One is this sense that they are anonymous online, treating traffic as if they are faceless numbers instead of remembering that they are people. A good benchmark is that any action you’re considering, if you wouldn’t be comfortable and proud to tell your parents and your kids about it, don’t do it. I borrowed that from Guy Kawasaki’s book. It doesn’t matter that your online, the rules of the game are not different. If you would not be proud of doing it, don’t do it! Secondly, don’t jump between tactics and strategies, the whole ‘shiny object’ syndrome. There are good and bad strategies, if you want to know mine, you can read the “Why Guru Strategies For Blog Growth DON’T WORK…” post, it worked well for me. Any strategy you pick will work better than a quarter of each strategy.
Robert: I think that to a certain extent, the strategy itself is immaterial. The most important thing is that you follow it through, although I know a lot of people jump between strategies when starting out, I was a victim of this myself. Every week you’re following the latest craze or buying the newest product.
Danny: Exactly. It’s very understandable why people do this, because when you’re starting out, you don’t really know what works and what doesn’t. They say in an argument, whoever has the stronger frame wins, so if it’s you versus the “guru” of the week, the “guru” always seems to know better. You’ve got to just pick one strategy and stick to it, to the point where you can track and measure what’s working. Be very hesitant to change strategy before you have reached this point.
Robert: That’s brilliant advice. Most people give up before they can measure their results. I’d like to ask you about how you promote your site, do you use any Social Media?
Danny: I do my promotion almost exclusively on other blogs. If I find something that I like I’ll share it on Facebook and Tweet about it, and do the same whenever we have a new post on our blog. That is the extent of my activity on Social Media. Everything I do is reading and writing on blogs. That isn’t to say that Social Media isn’t good, there’s tons of potential value. I know someone who grew a very successful audience for an event through Twitter, and he did it very quickly. Personally, I have not found a way to intuitively fit Twitter with my work and what I’m doing. One tool used well is going to do a lot better than any seven tools used poorly.
Robert: Exactly, I think that people should pick the strategy that works for them and stick to it.
Danny: Yes, people need to invest their time where it will have the best returns. If Social Media works for you, then great.
Robert: Excellent advice. Now, are there any guys that you recommend we check out?
Danny: There are tons of them out there. In terms of big blogs I read Copyblogger and Problogger, but I think that the mid-level and smaller blogs are the better ones to follow because you don’t need to know what’s happening from a 10,000ft view, you need to know what’s happening a little bit ahead of you. A few I can recommend are JonAlford.com, MarleeWard.com and Marcus Sheridan at TheSalesLion.com, there are loads of good blogs out there. For a bigger list, you can go to Firepole Marketing and look at our “Best of the web” feature, which we run every couple of weeks. You will find lots of links to great blogs and articles.
Robert: Thanks Danny, will have to check that out. Now, to wrap up, what future plans do you guys have for FirepoleMarketing.com?
Danny: We’re just going to keep growing it. This is our opportunity to give something back. We want to make it available to as many Entrepreneurs as possible, which is why our focus is currently on growing an audience of Entrepreneurs and small businesses. We want to keep increasing our numbers of students; this is a business that scales very well.
Robert: I think it’s great that many online businesses are easily scalable, as long as you put a great deal of work in at the beginning.
Danny: It takes a significant amount of investment, whether it’s time or money. Peter and I put in over 2,500 hours to create the Firepole Marketing Training Program. It’s not passive, we just front-loaded as much of the work as we could.
Robert: Wow! That is some work! I hope that goes very well for you both. Ok Danny, I’m going to wrap up the interview now. I just want to say thanks so much for sparing me all this valuable time. Head over to FirepoleMarketing.com if you want to learn more about Danny and Peter and what they do. I hope the guys listening have learnt as much as me!
Danny: Peter and I read all our own emails, and will get back to you within 24 hours, so if you have any questions just ask.
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this interview, more to come in the following weeks.
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It is rare you meet such a nice guy that not only possesses great business knowledge, experience and advice, but also has a willingness to share some of his best content completely for free. If you’re a start-up that needs affordable expert advice, speak to these guys.
Danny very kindly agreed to do an interview with me, and it was both an honour and a pleasure to be able to speak with him, and it is great to be able to share this content with you guys. Let me introduce you to Danny Iny, one half of the team over at FirepoleMarketing.com. Whatever I had expected from this interview, Danny completely OVERDELIVERED, as you will see below.
Robert: Hey Danny, great to have you on the call.
Danny: Fantastic Robert, thank you very much for having me on the call with you.
Robert: I suppose the most logical place to start is to talk about the beginnings of your Entrepreneurial journey.
Danny: I’ve been an Entrepreneur pretty much all my life, I quit school when I was 15 to start my first business, and I’ve been an Entrepreneur since then. At the time I was involved in outsourced educational technology development and a telecommunications start-up, which was a lot of fun but didn’t really go anywhere because I was sixteen and didn’t really know anything about business. So I’ve been involved in a lot of different companies, a lot of different start-ups, many of them in the education and training space. Over time my career path kind of split in two directions, there were the start-ups I was running, and I’m a writer by trade, I published a book about effective communication in writing several years ago. I began a copywriting process, and that over time extended to the marketing and business strategy consultancy that I run today, which is, for the most part, how I pay the bills. The way that dovetailed into Firepole Marketing: Peter Vogopoulos is a friend of mine, we’ve known each other for three or four years now, and we connected somewhere on the networking circuit.
Robert: Tell me a little more about good networking
Danny: Good networking isn’t “Hey here’s my business card, I’m going to bomb you with emails over the course of the week”. Good networking is “Hey, it’s nice to meet you, I like the chemistry, we’re getting along, it sounds like you’re doing interesting stuff, lets meet for breakfast or grab a cup of coffee, I want to learn more about what you’re doing. Building a network properly is not about “Hey can you be my customer”, it’s much more about how can I add value to you, so that further down the line when an opportunity presents itself for you to refer me, it’s going to be intuitive for you to do so.
Robert: Yes, I think it’s all about what value you can add to people
Danny: Exactly. So Peter and I connected, we sat down and got to know each other, and we saw that we really saw eye-to-eye in terms of our values and our contribution, and in terms of marketing. Marketing is one of those spaces where everyone who has taken a University Course or read a book about marketing, thinks they are a marketer. People latch on to a few buzz words, like “It’s not the features it’s the benefit.” They think that if they say that then that makes them a marketer, that’s not the case. We just recognised the shared competence and being on the same wavelength.
Robert: That’s a great point, a lot of people focus on the theory side of things without any real world experience.
Danny: Absolutely, I think that both are very important, I think that book learning or academic learning is not very practical or applicable without being seen through the lens of real life experience. But, at the same time, learning only through experience is a slow and painful way to learn. There are two quotes I like very much “They say that good judgement comes from experience and experience only comes from bad judgement” and “An expert is the guy that has made all the mistakes in his field”, and by that definition I can call myself an expert!
Robert: That’s great. Can we talk a little about the challenges you have faced with both Firepole Marketing and other ventures?
Danny: Peter and I quickly realised that a lot of the people that need our help, really can’t afford our services. They very much need the help, they need business and marketing 101. They need a real foundational understanding of marketing that they can apply to their business. That’s what led us to create Firepole Marketing.
Firepole Marketing was a lot easier because one or both of us had made the mistakes in our previous lives. We still made mistakes, but the inventory of them had kind of been exhausted!
Robert: What about your personal challenges?
Danny: The biggest challenge I faced was when I launched a start-up called Maestro Reading, teaching kids how to read. That’s a fairly complex space, as the software is for children, but they don’t have much buying power! Business models are very complex in a situation where your customer and your end user are not the same person.
Robert: Wow, I’d never thought of it like that!
Danny: I had no idea going into it. It didn’t occur to me! This is my experienced post-mortem analysis of why it didn’t work out. That experience really gave me a lot of insight into understanding who is the customer, and why they are buying from you. It’s not enough to have a phenomenal, exciting product. If you don’t have it, it’s a problem, but if you do have it, it doesn’t, make your day.
Robert: There are many more parts to the puzzle; a good product is just one part
Danny: Yeah, many more parts. Another important lesson I learned with another business, it is very important that you are doing something you care about and are passionate about. When I lecture to business students, I like to tell them that: “Any successful business is going to die four times before it comes to life for the fifth time as a great success.” If you don’t care about the business enough, you’re not going to stick through all those deaths, it’s just too hard!
Robert: Excellent point, it reminds me of the saying, “Success is on the other side of failure.” Most business and successful entrepreneurs have faced failure and adversity before they discovered success. I know you guys at Firepole Marketing are trying to help small businesses and start-ups find the right steps.
Danny: It’s a week-by-week course that runs six months. It is designed to be digestible within the context of a busy entrepreneurial schedule, and gives practical, useful stuff you can do every week to tune-up your business, and its priced to be affordable within that context. That’s why we built it, and that’s why we blog. We put a ton of content out there for people, for free. We really make a lot of effort to source as good content as we can. The Guy Kawasaki interview is one example, but there are many others. We put a great deal of time and energy into writing good content. There’s actually a fantastic interview coming out next week with Randy Komisar who is the author of a couple books including ‘Getting to Plan B’. Part of the reason we put so much effort into the content is because in the past when we had successes, there were people further along the road helping us out, and voluntarily offering their advice and support. The same had happened for them; it’s a “pay-it forward” kind of dynamic. There’s a ‘reciprocal going forward’ relationship involved here. You keep helping people as you move forward, and as you grow, you’re in more of a position to give back to the people that helped you to begin with, to the extent that they might need it.
Robert: I’ve used a number of blogs to help me out, and soon I should be in a position to give back to them. If it’s alright I’d love to talk about the Guy Kawasaki interview, I know that was a big moment for Firepole Marketing.
Danny: That was a fantastic thing for us. The interview was great for Firepole Marketing and myself, and I’d like to think that it was a good interview! It’s not so much the interview itself, but everything around the interview combined with the interview, that really did a lot of good stuff for us. I think there’s an important lesson in there for people starting up. You’re not going to have one campaign or activity or event. There’s no such thing as ‘push button profits’ or you do this one thing and suddenly everything takes off. It’s a flywheel effect. You keep pushing, and each push adds a little bit of momentum. Some of the pushes may be more visible or flashy, but they all combine together. I actually guest posted on Problogger explaining the whole flywheel behind the Guy Kawasaki post. You can view that post here.
Robert: So what happened when you posted the Interview?
Publishing the interview was great, the content was great, and our audience loved it. We pulled out all the stops promoting it. It occurred to me the day before the interview ran: ‘Maybe I can milk this!’ I looked for other people online that I’d like to interview. I sent them all an email saying: “Hey, I really like your stuff, I would love to share it with our audience, would you have time to do an interview? This week and next week we’re promoting our Guy Kawasaki interview, but after that we’d be happy to run any time.”
Robert: A great bit of name-dropping there Danny!
Danny: You know, it helps! If I had this great opportunity, I was going to get as much as I possibly could out of it.
Robert: I think interviewing someone is not only a great way to connect, but also a case where you know their story, but let them tell it in their own words. That all comes from good research.
Danny: Absolutely. It’s also a great way to connect in the sense that the questions you ask can really show someone that you ‘get it’, and you’re interesting. Especially if they have a lot of interviews, if you do a really good interview, you stand out. How else am I going to get Guy Kawasaki on the phone for 45 minutes? We promoted it as much as we could, and I got a few more interviews from the requests I’d sent out and I wrote the guest post about it on Problogger. That worked great for Guy, because I exposed his work to about 170,000 more people, but it worked great for me, too. That was probably our biggest traffic spike ever. That has led to more things, but it was the whole combined effort and on-going effort. Nothing magically happened; you’ve got to keep finding those opportunities.
Robert: Definitely. The effort adds up, but it’s got to be made on several fronts. Can we talk a little about Internet Marketing in general, it’s a space very filled with hype. What are your thoughts?
Danny: Frankly, it’s a kind of ‘scammy’ space. The reason why there’s all that hype is because we live in a very instant gratification society, so people want to find that instant, magical switch that they can flick or button that they can push that’s going to make dollar bills fly out of their CD-ROM drive. Since that’s what people are looking for, that’s what a lot of the big “gurus” are selling. I don’t know how some of these people can look themselves in the mirror! However, many of them are well intentioned people. They do want their students to gain financial freedom and the lifestyle they want. They give advice with the best intentions, and they have built success for themselves, so they do know what they are talking about. For all of these steps, the strategies work, but there’s a certain critical mass necessary to make them work. Some examples: create a viral video, create a viral report, write great content, then show it to three people, everyone will share it and it will snowball.
Robert: I think that we both know from experience that in reality this doesn’t happen.
Danny: No, because it works as a mathematical model, but in practice, if you show it to three people, one won’t look, one will read it and do nothing and another one might tell three friends and their three friends might not listen. So, viral content works, but you need a certain critical mass. We’ve done two ‘viral’ initiatives on Firepole Marketing. In January, we did a ‘viral content contest’, so we had seven blog posts about selling, great posts so go check them out. The viral aspect was that we ran a contest through January, we’ve got these seven posts, you’ve got to subscribe to updates on the seven posts and leave a comment answering the question at each of the several posts, and you’ve got to share each of those posts somewhere like email or twitter. Everyone who does all those things is entered into the contest, and we gave away some really significant prizes, we gave away almost $13,000 worth of prizes!
Danny: That was one. The second viral campaign that we ran was this “Why Guru Strategies for Blog Growth DON’T WORK…and What Does!” Check the post out here. This was very carefully timed. We gave away tons of content, and a whole framework of what works, and is applicable for pretty much anyone trying to grow an audience online. We timed it so that it went up the day before our guest post on Problogger. So anyone who comes to our site sees that post first. It was there to take advantage of the traffic spike, and it was content that was particularly relevant to the Problogger audience. We promoted it to everyone we knew. We had an offer where you got everything on a one-page hand-out you could print and put on your wall. We experimented with this ‘Pay with a Tweet’ service to make it viral. What we found with both of these campaigns is that if you do it right you get your traffic spike. But the traffic spikes are irrelevant! There are two concepts when you are measuring the results of a marketing campaign, the bump, and the ramp. The spike is the bump, but what you really care about is what the baseline visitor number is back to after the spike. These two campaigns basically DOUBLED our baseline. Now on the one hand that’s great, but it means that if you’re doing 20 unique visitors per day, at the end of your spike you’ll be doing 40 unique visitors per day, which is much better, but you’re not making millions from 40 unique visitors a day. You have to realise it’s a process you have to keep ramping up and it takes time. Having a business online involves trading lower starting costs for more difficulty in reaching people. If you open up a store front, some people are going to walk by, you will get some walk in traffic, and that doesn’t happen with a website.
If you enjoyed what you read head over to FirepoleMarketing.com to learn more about Danny and Peter.
“Click here“ to go to Part 2 of the Interview
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