Brian Dean of Backlinko.com has been one of my favorite bloggers for several years. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to ask Brian some in-depth questions about his experience and journey to success. He got serious about blogging in 2013 but been working hard growing internet companies since 2010. His main source of income comes from Backlinko.com which focuses on internet marketing and SEO. Since this blog is a private company he will not disclose any income numbers but says that it does well enough and is growing.
Now, let’s get into the real in-depth questions…
Q1 – How long you have been blogging? (Possible Year)
I got serious about blogging in January of 2013.
Q2 – What blog or site is your main source of income? What is the main focus of that blog?
Backlinko.com is my main source of income. That topic is about internet marketing, with a focus on SEO.
Q3 – How much do you make online (average) from your blog a month?
Since Backlinko.com is a private company I don’t reveal income figures. But the site is doing well and growing.
Q4 – Starting out online can be very difficult and you’ll face many hurdles. What was the biggest challenge you faced when you started out? How did you overcome this hurdle and do you think if people are facing this problem today that they can still use the same strategy to overcome their challenge?
My biggest issue was mentality.
When I first started out my mentality was “how can I make money online?” It took me years to figure out the best way to make money online is to provide value online. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a particular strategy that I used to get over it. It was just something I learned by failing over and over again.
In many ways, the amount you make in life is proportional to the value you bring to the table.
Q5 – These days it’s very hard to find things to write about and create new content? What would you say is the best strategy you have used to create awesome content? What would you recommend new bloggers do if they suffer from writers block?
The Skyscraper Technique is a reliable way to find awesome content ideas.
The basics 3-step formula is:
- Find content that’s worked well in your niche (or a related niche)
- Add your own spin to it/make it better
- Promote the content to people that are interested in the topic
If you want to see how this work in real life, this case study will help you out.
Q6 – Experience and time does teach you many things. What do you wish you knew back then when starting out that you now know has helped your blog grow and become successful? If you can give us your Top 3-4 valuable lessons, that would be awesome.
Lesson 1: If you want to make 6-figures provide 6-figures of value. As I mentioned, your success is proportional to the value you provide. So the more value you can bring to your target market, the better you’ll do.
Lesson 2: Content marketing only works if you publish content that makes people say “wow”. Having a blog full of 500-word posts doesn’t work anymore.
Lesson 3: When it comes to SEO, stay WAY ahead of the curve. Don’t follow the pack or else whatever strategy you’re using will come back to bite you.
Q7 – There are many ways to monetize your blog some which have worked and some haven’t. How are you making money through your blog? What other strategies would you recommend to monetize your blog?
I monetize Backlinko through a premium training course called SEO That Works.
Since I first got into IM in 2008, I tried almost every monetization strategy under the sun – from Adsense to CPA. I’ve learned that building an email list is by far the #1 best strategy out there.
If you don’t have an email list, you don’t have a business.
Q8 – I know when I started blogging there were a handful of blogs I read on a daily basis? Do you have any mentors or blogs that you read on a daily basis that provide you with knowledge and guidance when you need it from day-to-day?
Q9 – There are several tools & plugins that can help you build momentum when people are on your blog, for example, social share plugins, SEO plugins and many others. What plugins do you think are essential in growing your blog? What Tools & Plugins do you think every blogger should have on their site?
There are only two that I’d consider must-haves:
SumoMe: This (free) plugin has two awesome features: a high-converting opt-in form and a Highlighter that’s a click tweet button.
WPSmushit: Makes image file sizes MUCH smaller
Q10 – Many people have often asked me about the shift in blogging from previous years (Negative or Positive). What is the main difference you have seen while blogging since you started? What do you think will be the change going forward and how can you save yourself from being effective from this change (Positive or Negative).
The major shift is that there are A LOT more active blogs out now than there were before. To most, that’s a negative (more crap you have to sift through). But it’s a positive for bloggers that are willing to put in the work of creating content that stands out.
Q11 – I often hear bloggers talk about creating a brand online. What are your thoughts on creating a brand for yourself and what is the best way to brand yourself?
I’m a big fan of personal brands. Even big brands today do their best to add a face to their brand. The fact is: people want to but from other people…not logos.
Branding is a bit too much to cover in a single interview, but it’s basically answering the question: “how are you different than what’s already out there?”
Q12 – Much of the knowledge & motivation I’ve picked up is through other blogs and reading books. We discussed your favorite blogs in my previous question, however would you recommend any books that motivated you during tough times or provided you more insight into creating a successful blog?
The Four Hour Workweek was really influential for me. Before that book I never considered owning a business. Even if you’re not interested in becoming an entrepreneur, it’s still a great read.
Q13 – How important is writing high quality content in blog success? How often do you publish fresh new content on your blog? Is it weekly or monthly?
Quality is a must. As I mentioned earlier, there’s more content today than ever before. So you need to publish amazing stuff that stands out.
I publish about once per month. That’s how often I can publish content that I consider to be word-class in my space.
Q14 – What are the Top 3 most effective link building techniques that you would recommend over your years of experience? You can include ways to generate traffic to your blog.
The Skyscraper Technique is one I already mentioned. Broken link building and infographics would be the other 2 that I’ve had a lot of success with.
Q15 – In my eyes, you’ve been a pioneer in creating some of the best products, content and are a true blogging success story. Can you name some of the products that you’ve created which can help bloggers out? How can they be purchased?
I actually only sell one product now… It’s Backlinko’s flagship product: SEO That Works.
Registration will open up in the next 2-weeks or so. Here’s a page where you can signup to get on the waiting list: http://seothatworks.com
Q16 – How can we get a hold of you: Please include email, social network profiles and Others
That concludes our interview…
Thank you very much Brian for taking the time out of your busy schedule to provide us with your advice. I wish you nothing but success moving forward.
I hope that you enjoyed this addition of our interview series!
To learn more about other bloggers, visit our Bloggers Interview Series