How to grow your online audience with Danny Iny
Meet the “Freddy Krueger of Blogging”…. Danny Iny from Firepole Marketing is a content marketing who is doing amazing things out of Canada. I had the pleasure of interviewing him about how to grow an audience online. In a matter of 2 years, Danny has grown his blog to 37,000 monthly views and 22,000 email subscribers.
Adam Franklin: Hello viewers it’s Adam Franklin from Bluewire Media, and I’m here today with Danny Iny from Firepole Marketing. He is a man who caught my attention when Andy Crestodina mentioned him. I’ve been following him like a hawk ever since. He’s wrote a book called ‘Engagement From Scratch’, which he’s co-authored with many of the big names in the marketing world like Brian Clark, and Guy Kawasaki. He has a podcast, he has plenty of free resources on his website. He does a massive amount of guest blogging, and he’s got a heap of paid courses as well. So he’s a man who’s doing a whole heap on the internet. Thanks so much for joining us today Danny.
Danny Iny: It’s absolutely my pleasure to be here, thank you so much for having me.
Adam Franklin: You’re welcome. Now, I’ve mentioned all these different things you’re doing on the web at the moment, or at least some of the things you’re doing on the web. Can you please share with our viewers what is working particularly well for you at the moment?
What’s working well right now
Danny Iny: So the stuff that is working really well for us at the moment in terms of traction, in terms of growth is a lot of the stuff that we’re doing around partnerships. We do a lot of partner type promotions. We put together live online events, workshops, webinars that a partner will invite people to come and attend, and it’s a great way for us to connect with a lot of new people. So that’s something that we’ve been doing a lot of lately.
It’s important to emphasise though, this is not what I necessarily advocate for someone who’s just kind of starting out. There’s something very important that I’ve learned figuring out how to build this kind of business is that different strategies really make sense at different stages of growth. And what we’re doing really makes sense at this scale, but before you’ve built the relationships, and the credibility that we’ve built in the industry it’s very hard to implement this kind of strategy effectively.
Advice for people starting out
Adam Franklin: And so what would you recommend for people starting out in this marketing journey?
Danny Iny: What I usually recommend is kind of a three step, three tiers of strategies of growth. So the first strategy is to participate in somebody else’s community. And it’s important, this is like a crawl, walk, run, process right? So you’re not going to be taking these enormous strides right out of the gate, but it’s sustainable, and one builds on the other.
So you’re going to start by participating in someone else’s community. Leaving comments on their blog, interacting on their forum, all that kind of stuff. And you’re not going to grow a giant audience doing that, but people are going to start knowing who you are. They’re going to see that you’re credible, and your audience will grow, but it won’t become huge.
Once you’ve done that for a little while, people start to know who you are. You’re a recognised, respected face, and voice in those conversations then you can get up a level. You can go to the point where you’re contributing to those communities, writing your own leading threads on forums, writing posts on other major blogs, guest content for other people, and this lets you borrow their microphone briefly. It raises your profile, raises your credibility, more people will discover you, more people will go back to your site, and your audience will grow. Will it become enormous, you know, thousands, and thousands of people? No, but you can get to a thousand people pretty quickly doing it that way. When I say people I mean people who have given you their name, given you their email address, indicated that they want a relationship with you. So we’re not just talking about like fly by night traffic.
After you’ve reached that point where again you’ve contributed all over the internet, people know who you are, they recognise you as thoughtful, and credible, that’s when you probably have the relationships that will allow you to start doing these larger scale, more collaborative kind of projects. If you’re brand new, and nobody knows who you are, and you say ‘Hey, you know I would like to put on an event for your giant audience of 100,000 people’ they’re going to say like ‘ Who are you? Why would I take that chance on you?’ You’ve got to earn those opportunities.
So the process that I teach it’s not as sexy as some, because it doesn’t promise overnight riches, but it really does work, it really is stable, and sustainable. It doesn’t do the stuff where you’re trying to skip so many steps that it will work once in a blue moon because you got really lucky, and were in the right place, at the right time. But all the rest of the time it doesn’t work, you fall flat on your face, and you lose a lot of credibility in the process. So that’s what I would recommend.
Firepole Marketing’s journey
Adam Franklin: Thank you, and how long has it taken you in your journey so far?
Danny Iny: Firepole Marketing basically started at zero on January 1, 2011, so just under three years ago, and we share our numbers publicly, so I can share all of that. In the first year of Firepole Marketing 2011 we generated hardly any money from the site, from the blog. It was mostly supported by my offline consulting type work. We made, I don’t know, couple tens of thousands of dollars from the site, from the blog. In the second year, in 2012, we did a little over a quarter of a million dollars in revenue, and this year we’re looking at close to three quarters of a million.
So you can grow very quickly, relatively speaking. It’s not you know, magic, overnight kind of stuff, it’s very fast if you follow the process in a way that is sustainable, and stable, and makes sense. If you lay that foundation that you can then stand on instead of trying to, you know its like if you want to get to a top of a house, you can stand, and try to jump as high as you can – you’re never going to get there, but if you work to build the ladder you can get there pretty quickly.
Growing your subscribers
Adam Franklin: I noticed on your website you’ve got over 37,000 email subscribers. Can you share with our viewers some tips on how you’ve grown that database for such a size in such a short amount of time?
Danny Iny: Sure, well so first of all 37,000 regular monthly readers, we’ve about 22,000 email subscribers now. Which is also an important number, it shows that relative to the amount of traffic that we’re getting we have an awful lot of people that subscribe because people come, they stick, they come back in very high numbers. Our bounce rates are a lot lower than what a lot of other people are doing, and for starters you just need really good stuff.
Nobody’s going to come, read, enjoy, come back, return, read again if your stuff is not good. So I mean people talk about like epic content, and you know what epic content won’t get you anywhere, but it’s a hygiene factor. You can’t do well without it, but you can’t just play at this game, you can’t succeed in this space without it, but it’s not enough to make you stand out, because everyone’s got to have epic great content if they want to have a chance.
Beyond that you want to be really clear, and specific about who you are, what you stand for, why that’s going to be compelling to the people you want to relate to, and be very clear about serving very specific people, not trying to like blanket reach everyone in the world. Have a really clear, and specific target audience, and custom tailor everything you’re doing for them.
The rest is tactical, you need a mechanism to make them aware of what you’re doing, and give them an opportunity to connect, and engage, and so all the things I’ve just described fit that bill. Someone can read a comment that you’ve left on a blog, click back to your site, and decide to engage with you. They can read a guest post that you left, and click on a link, get back to your site, they can register for a live event with you, and discover your work that way.
But in all cases it’s just about finding a mechanism that works at the scale you’re at, through which people can discover who you are, what you’re doing, and then you’ve got to have a compelling reason for them to want to begin that relationship with you. In our case we give away my book ‘Engagement From Scratch’, but it’s not hard to create good content that will be attractive, and worth that small leap of faith.
Turning your blog into a business with revenue
Adam Franklin: And Danny, how do you take that transition from, I guess, having people coming to your website, and reading your book content, subscribing to your email newsletter, and then getting them to part with their money in terms of actually being able to grow your revenue like you have?
Danny Iny: Well I’d start by re-framing it a little bit, because it sounds like the way it’s presented, and this is how a lot of people actually think of it right? You know you’re giving all this content, you’re giving all this content so people come to you, and then you want to make them part with their money. You’re trying to like pry that money out of their hands, and that’s not the case.
The relationship that you want to be building with them is always on the premise that you’re going to give them things of great value, greater value than the cost to them. And cost is not always financial, cost can come in the form of their time, it can come in the form of their attention, it can come in the form of their energy, the investment of their hopes and dreams in what you’re doing, their trust. Money is one of those things, but it’s not the only thing. If people are already committing to you, and already finding that what you’re doing is of great value, it’s more than worth it to make that commitment, then having a paid offer where you do the same thing, it’s just more of the same. It doesn’t have to be that different in kind.
Adam Franklin: So every step of the way delivering value, delivering I guess, a return on their investment, whether it’s time, or money, or attention.
Danny Iny: Yeah, and all steps in this process demanding commitment. It doesn’t have to be financial commitment, but I’m very clear that I’m looking for a committed audience. I’m looking for an audience that is as interested in being committed to their success with our help as we are committed to their success in collaboration with them.
If someone just wants to come, and you know harvest some information, download some stuff to their hard drive, and move on, I mean they’re welcome to do that, but that’s not my audience, because I’m not looking for people who are not super committed to what they can achieve. I want to help the ones who are committed, and I want to be reciprocally committed to that success.
Where to start
Adam Franklin: And so for our viewers who are committed, where would you recommend that they start out? What piece of content on your website would you like them to go and download, or read?
Danny Iny: I think it will vary a lot depending on what matters to the person that’s watching this interview. I’d suggest going to FirepoleMarketing.com, and there’s a ton of content, just browse around. Pick what really connects with you. We’ve aggregated everything just recently into our engagement toolbox. You don’t have to register for this, and register for that. You join our community once, and you have access to everything. Literally like my book, my manifesto, free video training course, a set of technology tutorials that we have written. We’ve got like a dozen different special reports about building engagement for different types of businesses. There’s a massive, massive amount of content there, plus access to exclusive Q and A with me, and all kinds of really great
stuff so, it’s all there. Just go to FirepoleMarketing.com, and browse around. See what tickles your fancy, because it’s all there for you.
Andy Franklin: Fantastic, thank you so much. I really enjoy the Naked Marketing Manifesto that you’ve got on your website. I may even share that with our subscribers if that’s okay with you, and link them back to your website.
Danny Iny: Absolutely, but thank you very much, and thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to watch, and to listen to this. I’m grateful for the gift of your time, and your attention, and I hope this has been valuable. And if there’s some other way that I can be of help or support to you, I mean just reach out. I’m an email away, I answer all of my emails, and within 24 hours in most cases, so thank you.
Adam Franklin: Thank you so much Danny. I think you are our first Canadian guest…
Danny Iny: Awesome.
Adam Franklin: …and we really appreciate your time on our show, and I’ll look
forward to talking to you again soon. Thank you.
Danny Iny: Awesome, thank you.
Download Danny’s book for free
On Twitter follow @Danny Iny or drop by FirepoleMarketing.com. Download his Engagement Kit and read the free digital copy of his 241 page book Engagement from Scratch featuring Guy Kawasaki, Brian Clark, Mitch Joel, Corbett Barr, Derek Halpern, Gini Dietrich, Jeff Bullas and Marcus Sheridan.