Dan Henry on blogging and content marketing

dancityHi! My name is Dan Henry and my site is DanHenry.org. I started blogging in 2011. Prior to this I was a web developer and pitchman (yes I was that poor soul demonstrating the knives that don’t dull in Sam’s Club). In 2012 I become extremely successful with blogging. I was even interviewed on the Huffington Post as an expert blogger.

My most successful blog was about electronic cigarettes. This was when e-cigs were the new hot thing. I eventually sold the site in 2014 for a lump sum, but I made a good living off of it from 2011-2014.

I monetized the blog through affiliate marketing. I reviewed different electronic cigarette brands, and if the reader clicked through and purchased one, I got a commission. It did so well that I left my job and stopped taking on web clients so I could focus on my newfound success in affiliate marketing.

Please tell us something about yourself. Is blogging your profession or just a hobby?

It’s my profession. Although, I needed a break from it as staring at a computer screen all day is not the most exciting life. So I took a break in 2013 to open some nightclubs. It was a change of pace, and I did really well with them, however I have since flipped them and as of July 2015, I have re-dedicated myself back to blogging. No more babysitting drunks for me!

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When did you get an idea to launch your own blog and how important is it for you be online?

Well, I want to be clear, I got into blogging to make a living. I heard you could do that and I thought, “Sit on my butt and earn a living with a laptop? Yes please!” Of course it wasn’t that easy back then. There were not as many resources in 2011 to learn how to make money with a blog as there are now in 2015. My current blog is about my journey with my first blog, and specifically how to make a living with a blog. What actually gave me the idea to start Mass Blog Profits, was talking to my customers in my nightclub.

See, I have a baby face. I look really, really, REALLY young. So I would get asked probably 4-5 times a day, “How the heck can you own this club? Where did you get the money to open it? Your parents?“.

No not my parents, it was from blogging. That’s how I earned the money to open my clubs, buy a brand new camaro, buy my first house cash, blogging! When I told them this, their eyes got as wide as silver dollars and they always responded with the same question. “Can you teach me how?” Well, at the time I was running two nightclubs, so I simply didn’t have time! So a year later when I sold my clubs, I decided to do a local seminar to talk about how to make money with a blog. I didn’t do any advertising, I simply mentioned it on Facebook. I rented out a cheap motel conference room for 50 bucks, and invited anyone that wanted to learn.

I assumed only a few people would come, but to my surprise, every seat was filled! It was crazy! It was at this point I knew I should start a blog on how to make money blogging. So that’s how I got the idea.

646Did you have someone help you make the website or did you do it by yourself?

I learned basic html when I was 16, then I just kept learning until I could customize WordPress themes, plugins, and build my own apps. So since I already had built a bunch of websites, I of course built my first blog myself. I don’t trust anyone else to do it right!

The right domain name is important. How long did it take you to come up with the domain name for your blog?

I don’t actually believe the domain name is that important. If you are looking to develop a brand, then sure it is super important, but not for SEO or traffic purposes.

Look at sites like Fivver. Did I spell that right? Do I even say it right? Who knows, but that site is insanely popular. If you provide excellent value on your site, your domain could be DontVisitThisSite.com and you can still rock it. My domain name was really stupid (puffweb.com), yet I generated over $350,000 from that SINGLE blog.

What kind of Theme do you use on your blog and what are the “must have” plugins for a blog?

Well being a developer, I hate stock themes. I modify everything. I like to start with a basic bootstrap theme, and go from there. I think using bootstrap is a “must have” because it is mobile friendly out of the gate, and it is almost impossible to make something look bad with bootstrap. As far as plugins, I really only use Yoast. If I need a popup, I code it myself using the bootstrap modal framework. When I needed a mini course for my site, I coded it myself with php so I had ultimate control over it.

I realize this is not for everyone, but as a coder it is hard to just use someone else’s stuff without wanting to modify it. I recommend Yoast for sure, but I try not to use many plugins if I don’t have to, as they can slow down your site.

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What CMS (Content Management System) do you use on your blog? How hard is it to navigate within your CMS (making a new post, inserting images, moderating comments, etc.)?

Wordpress. You have to use WordPress. I can’t imagine using anything else. It’s just too perfect for blogging. It’s super easy. If you can’t figure out WordPress, I suspect there is laziness involved.

How much time do you spend blogging?

Well, currently I have 3 projects going on. I just launched Teesane.com, I have an audio/filmmaking blog, and of course Mass Blog Profits. So I work about 15 hours a day, which my wife hates right now. When I had my old blog I would say maybe 3 hours a day. You work more in the beginning. Once everything is set up and you have an audience built, the workload goes way down.

How do you promote your blog? Do you use social media channels to attract more visitors to your blog?

I promote the usual way yes, but I find that some less common ways are really effective.

First, I join several popular Facebook groups in my niche, get to know everyone in the group over several weeks, then share my posts. This has resulted in staggering traffic numbers with very low bounce rates.

Below is a screenshot from Clicky Analytics for one of my posts that I promoted in a Facebook group. This shows the traffic I received only a mere hour after I promoted it via the Facebook group.

I also promote offline. Yes I promote like crazy offline. Holding free workshops is super effective.

Guest posting and interviews work really well, both ways.

But mainly, publishing great content that people care about is the #1 way to promote. Once you have an audience, promotion almost takes care of itself.

Is there a way to monetize (make money) through a blog?

I would not blog without making money. I know there are a lot of people that do it and don’t monetize, but I think that is crazy.

Let me break down 3 different ways you can monetize a blog, and which one is best for your type of blog.

Affiliate Marketing: Simply put, start a blog where you teach people how to do something. Research the tools needed to do what you are teaching, and sign up for affiliate programs with companies that sell those type of tools. Within your blog posts, mention these paid tools or resources and include your affiliate link.

So for example, let say you start a dog training blog. You put together a fantastic post on How To Train Your Dog In 30 Days. You mention a special type of leash you use. You then link to the Amazon product page for that leash, with your Amazon affiliate link. If the person reading your How To Train Your Dog In 30 Days post clicks through and buys the dog leash you recommended, you get paid a commission by Amazon!

Selling your own product: Did you know you can make crazy money selling courses online? Let’s stay with the same example of a dog training blog. In your How To Train Your Dog In 30 Days post, you provide some insanely practical tips on how to train your dog. This impresses the reader, and builds trust. At the end of the post, you offer them something for free if they sign up to your email list.

Subscribe and I will send you my free report, 7 Hacks That Will Improve Your Dog Training Overnight!

Now, they just got insane value from your post. They are impressed. They probably want to know what those 7 hacks are dammit! So they enter their email. You set up an auto responder to automatically send them the free report.

Once again, you provide INSANE value in that free report. Now the trust level is peaking. Wait 2 days. Send them another email and let them know about your course “Dog Training Made Easy”, which you charge say, $147 for. You will be surprised how easily your course will sell once you have built trust.

See the funnel? You build trust, you actually help them FIRST, and then you pitch the sale.

Don’t have a course to offer? No problem! Neither do I . . . yet. I am currently working on my first course, which will cover exactly how I made over $350k with my first blog.

What am I doing in the meantime?

Building my audience, and my list. See on my site, if you opt in to my email list, I send you a free 3 day mini course on how to get started with making money with a blog. It’s free, but once I finish creating my paid course, I will reach out to everyone that subscribed and tell them about it.

It’s important though to not hold back with your free training. You still need to provide awesome free resources before you try to sell paid training.

Display Advertising: Okay this one is a bit different. Essentially, you are going to write a TON of posts, and make money through Adsense or directly selling ad space.

Here are some examples . . .

Check out this post from Lifehack.org, 100 Life Hacks That Make Life Easier.

I don’t see any direct affiliate links, but I DO see a lot of Adsense ads and display advertising. Now on a site with only a few thousands uniques, this would generate almost no income. My e-cig blog only had about 10,000 uniques a month, but they were targeted visitors ready to buy.

These visitors are just random people interested in life hacks, but look at the numbers! This post has been shared on social media almost 200,000 times! According to SEMrush, this one post gets over 17,000 uniques a month. You know how many posts are on Lifehack.org? Thousands!

So what does this mean? It means that if you have an insane amount of traffic, you can make good money from basic display advertising and Adsense. But you need ALOT of traffic.

How much money? I read somewhere that in 2009, Lifehack.org reported $60 Million in advertising revenue. That was 2009, it’s 2015. I don’t even want to think about how much they are making now!

How about the Huffington Post? Yet another blog with an insane amount of posts, usually political. According to the New York Times, the Huffington Post generated $146 million in revenue in 2014.

Yeah, that’s a lot.

Would you encourage other people to make their own blogs?
Of course! If you do it right, it an be a very lucrative business with very low responsibility. The thing I love most about blogging for a living, is that I can sleep in till Noon if I want. I can stay up late. I can take days off. I don’t have to report to anyone.

When my wife and I have our first child, I will make EVERY baseball game. I will attend EVERY recital. I will be there for the birth, graduation, everything.

Money is not everything, but money without responsibility is EVERYTHING. When you can make a living AND enjoy your life, you have made it.

Please give us some advice for new bloggers and for people who are still not sure if they need a blog of their own?

Find a Problem: Want to know the secret to success in literally any industry? Find a problem, provide a solution. That’s it! Figure out a problem you can blog about, and make the blog the solution.

Example: There are tons of dog owners that have trouble training their dogs because they are busy. That’s a problem. Create a blog that teaches busy people how to easily and quickly train their dog. Done!

Get started now: Don’t procrastinate. Start your blog today. Don’t freak out over the domain name. You can always 301 redirect it if you change your mind, and as long as you use Google’s change of address form, you won’t lose any search engine traffic.

Don’t worry about making money: Seriously. Don’t worry about this yet. Focus on building an audience and creating a great blog first! If you do it backwards your site will show you are all about the money!

Build 5 Pieces of Fantastic Content: No one likes an empty blog, so create at least 5 pieces of epic content before you tell anyone you exist.

Create an Email List: Sign up to Mailchimp an get an email list set up. There is an old saying, the money is in the list. It’s true! You need an email list, go get it set up.

Create a Freebie: Why would someone join your email list? Well, because you offer an incentive of course! Create a really really useful pdf report, and offer it for free if your readers subscribe to your list. Guess what? You just created a sales funnel!

Monetize: Pick some affiliate programs to promote, or start developing your own course. Promote these things in your blog posts, free reports, and email list.

Guest Post: Now please, please don’t do what 99% of people do and guest post to get backlinks. Seriously, don’t do it. Find a popular blog, and offer an AMAZINGLY EPIC piece of content as a guest post. Like, offer something better than what you would publish on your own blog. Seriously.

Why? You want to impress the HECK out of that blog’s readers. This builds a NAME for you and your blog. Ever notice some blogs come out of no where and are crazy popular over night? That’s how they do it!

PRO TIP: Write the post first, before you even contact them. Publish it as a **page** on your blog, but make it password protected. Don’t publish it as a post, because it may show up in your recent posts archives. A page will not. You can easily do this in WordPress as shown below:

I like to use the website’s name as the password, so they know it is just for them. If they are not interested, you can always change the password and contact a different blog.

Send them the post url and password for review, and let them know that it is private, and you will delete it once they publish it on their site. They will want to know once the post is published on their site, it will be unique to them. Once they accept the post, delete it from your site.

To make life easier on them, you can send them the raw html of the post via pastebin. This way they can copy and paste right into their site. Bloggers hate to do more work than they need to, so make it easy on them. They will appreciate you for it. Make sure to set the pastebin link to expire in a couple days.

I want to thank Valentina from FirstSiteGuide here for inviting me to do this interview. It was a pleasure.

Have questions? I promise I will respond promptly in the comment section!

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