Hi folks well it’s that time again where I cast the spotlight on yet another popular blogger, and in this interview it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you Justin Germino from Dragon Blogger! I’m sure a lot of you already know Justin through the blogosphere, social media and of course his tech and entertainment blog over at Dragon Blogger, but for those who don’t, you’re in for a real treat.
I want to thank Justin for taking the time to complete this interview, truly appreciated my friend I know you’re a busy man, so without further ado, let’s get the interview rolling…
#1. Welcome to Magnet4Blogging Justin, firstly tell us a little a bit about yourself and your background and where you’re from?
My name is Justin Germino, I have been working with Technology for the past 15 years in various forms, and started blogging back in 2008 with DragonBlogger.com being my first and largest blog property to date.
#2. Cool, so what inspired you to start blogging?
Originally it was to make a second income to help fight growing bills and debt. I needed a second source of income where I didn’t have to spend more time away from my kids and wife, I already worked a 50 hour a week day job. I needed something that I could do at night while at home, while the family was sleeping.
This is the worst way to start a blog or any online venture, and it should be about the passion of what you are doing instead. However I soon started to realize after that I had a passion for the niche I was blogging in, so it all fell into place nicely.
#3. How did you make your first dollar as a blogger / entrepreneur, and what was the feeling like?
Well when you do sponsored post opportunities and start, often your first earnings are held on a NET30 or delayed until you reach the payout minimum, so when my first $100 payout minimum came 90 days after I started DragonBlogger, I was psyched. Consider that I put only about 15-20 hours per week into my blogging, I make a decent part time second income from it now, but the perks I get are worth more than the income.
#4. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned so far as a blogger?
Being honest and genuine early on, never try to sell something you don’t believe in and stand behind. Your reputation and personality are your biggest assets, learn what you are promoting inside and out so you can literally answer any question about it as if you were the author of the product if you are an affiliate marketer.
To be successful you have to love engagement, as in two way communication with people who enjoy connecting, finding out what people need so you can fill that void with a product that is right for them, that won’t disappoint. In my case I offer information and entertainment, I am not a direct affiliate marketer, I passively sell products via Amazon and other opportunities but don’t directly outright affiliate market.
Fabrizio: I absolutely agree with you Justin and I hope our readers are making notes on this one, building trust and strengthening your reputation is so important in blogging, just like any other online business venture. Build your audience, gain their trust, understand their needs first, then create your products to cater their needs, that’s the mindset I put myself in before creating my own eBooks.
#5. OK Justin, share with us three things that you do to encourage relationship building on your blog?
Social Media in particular, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and especially YouTube are important as it shows who you are, people can see, hear and get to know your personality and mannerisms.
You need to embrace these methods not just as an extension of your blog but as something else entirely you keep up on and put unique and original content on. Engagement happens more on the social platforms than the blogs in most cases so you need to engage there and vest time there.
#6. What are your 3 favorite, or I should say, most useful WordPress plugins that you’ve found and used?
- Author hReview does excellent Micro-data mark up and makes your review posts look very professional, it is indispensable when doing product reviews for me.
- EasyAzon (aff) is another one that is crucial and helps easily optimize your posts for Amazon Affiliates.
- Formidable Pro is my favorite contact form plugin and is so flexible, it allows you to do hooks directly to PayPal and so much more.
#7. Asides from blogging what other content marketing platforms are you using to promote your brand?
YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus. YouTube we really are expanding and I get nearly as much traffic on our YouTube Channel as the blog.
#8. OK Justin, so what area of ‘blogging’ do you consider yourself to be an expert in, or at least knowledgeable in?
I am not an expert in anything, I merely have a passion for providing technology, gaming and entertainment news, reviews and run gadget giveaways. I enjoy connecting with an audience and sharing brands and brands products with the fans, when I get a chance to give fans an opportunity to win something like an Android Tablet or other cool prize I always have a good time.
#9. OK Justin, let’s say someone comes up to you and says; “I want to start a blog to make money, I want to succeed like you”, if there was one single piece of advice you could give them, what would it be?
Know what your goals are, and define success for yourself. Is success reaching a certain audience? Is success a certain amount of earning per month? Define what you consider success and what goals you have. You then have to decide how you want to earn from your blogs, affiliate marketing is probably the best way to earn with the least amount of traffic, it is very difficult to earn a lot through passive marketing means like AdSense, Amazon Affiliate compared to if you find a product you really love and build a niche around it.
Don’t go creating your own product to sell if you are not an expert and have something to offer that can rival competitors, you will end up disappointing your customers and ruining your reputation. Too many bloggers try sell eBooks about blogging, making money online…etc. When they themselves are too new and barely have experience. Finally my last piece of advice is start a mailing list early on, Social Media is great for engagement but the mailing list still drives more traffic on single newsletter runs and is all powerful for affiliate marketing.
Fabrizio: Good advice Justin 🙂
#10. Cool, so asides from Dragon Blogger what other websites are you currently working on or running Justin?
Besides DragonBlogger.com, I also run:
WPCypher.com which is a WordPress, Web Design, Blogging related site specifically. I started it when DragonBlogger became more focused on Technology, Gaming and Entertainment so I had to put more blogging/Wordpress articles on a different site.
JustinGermino.com is my personal blog and 2nd most successful besides DragonBlogger.
WandererThoughts.com is my personal poetry blog and has over 1300+ original poems, this is more of a hobby and artistic outlet than an income generator.
GiveawayContests.net is my latest project which helps promote others sweepstakes/giveaways and is growing rapidly. It already has nearly 9k Facebook fans.
TheChefsCookbook.com was my wife’s food and culinary blog which she started back in 2009. She put hundreds of original recipes, cooking tips and more. My wife is a chef and a nutritionist so she started this blog to share that information and also to try and capture the income success I had with dragonblogger. After 2 years she gave it up and was going to shut down the blog becoming bored and realizing she was more interested in doing hands on work and not in typing and writing articles online, she lost interest and the site never did make much income. I couldn’t let it go so I took over the site and now run it as my own, but as I don’t know how to cook I hire people to write original recipes for the site from time to time finding them on Fiverr or other sources. This site only has a few new posts per month but still brings in $30 – $50 in revenue per month so it pays for itself to run.
I have run many other sites that I shut down including WeightLossBelts.net an attempt at affiliate marketing a niche, BTOwners.com which was a Boston Terrier themed dog site, Cyborgism.com which was a bio-tech medical and robotics themed site and more. I was spread too thin with 9 blogs and had to strip the ones that didn’t make enough income to justify their existence, now I honed it down to the 5 primary ones I run.
#11. OK cool, so tell us which social network site or sites are you most active on?
Facebook is still where I get the most engagement, Twitter I have the most following but do not see the engagement level like I do on Facebook. YouTube I get the most views outside of my blog but less comments since they cut over to the Google Plus commenting system for some reason and there is less two way engagement with comments on YouTube.
#12. So who are your top 3 most influential bloggers / entrepreneurs and why?
In 5 years there have been so many bloggers I have followed, met, and respect so it is hard to list and narrow it to 3. The ones that have inspired me the most have done so for different reasons.
Hesham Fathy the founder of famousbloggers.net and author of many WordPress themes and plugins is one I respect most. He is creative and a prime example of a successful online entrepreneur.
Nile Flores from Blondish.net and Kim Castleberry from just-ask-kim.com are both extremely knowledgeable in WordPress and go out of their way on Social Media to help answer questions and share knowledge. Kim also does a great job taking advantage of her mailing list and capitalizing on opportunities.
Jason Evangelho is a tech / gaming blogger who writes for Forbes magazine as well as his own site, he does amazing video card reviews and detailed technology product reviews, his style and thorough evaluations of gadgets, games and products is among the best I have read.
So many more I should mention even though that was 4, there are so many other greats.
You notice I didn’t mention any famous bloggers like really famous ones? This is because I follow peers who started like me small and achieved success in a relatively short amount of time, I don’t follow the giants except for one and that was Chris Brogan who I always found to have sound advice. I was never really into affiliate marketing and online sales which is what the many of the big bloggers were pitching, I was into creating an online entertainment and information platform.
#13. I need to ask Justin, would you encourage your kids to start blogging, and if so, at what age do you think is right?
Yes, both my kids who are aged 7 and 10 have blogs but only write articles occasionally, they are bored with the writing platform.
Both of my kids have active YouTube Channels and do game-casting however, where they record themselves playing video games and talk/narrate through while they play. This is a phenomenon among kids and my kids adore YouTube Celebrities like Skyy, Tobey Gains and more as their heroes. They don’t follow movie or TV Show stars the way most people do, to them YouTube success and millions of video views are where it’s at.
All kids should be encouraged to learn WordPress, YouTube and be content creators. They get writing skills, basic entry into creating titles, tags and optimizing descriptions. They get comfortable talking on mic and camera, walking readers through what they are doing which builds presentation skills and comfort talking to an audience. These are all skills that build character, help them expand and grow their personalities and pick up a few skills that will round them out later on.
#14. If you could start your blogging journey all over again what would you do differently?
Start a mailing list from day 1, I waited 2 years thinking I had to build a successful site first before I started a mailing list and this was a huge mistake.
Mailing lists still generate a lot of potential sales, clicks and are an affiliate marketer’s best friend. With Facebook wall posts only reaching 3-5% of their audience without promoting, and the same with Twitter you really need a mailing list which is much more permanent and static. Don’t abuse it however, grow and only provide information to help solve people’s problems or offer products that will benefit them if you use it as a sales platform.
Fabrizio: I’m with you on this one Justin, I made the same mistake I guess like so many other bloggers. I waited around a year and a half after I started Magnet4Marketing before I decided to invest time and effort into building an email list. Great advice to those who haven’t yet started list building.
#15. Cool, so what has been your biggest achievement so far in blogging or entrepreneurship would you say?
I would have to say it has been growing large enough that companies now send us products to review instead of me having to buy all the games, gadgets and tech stuff like in the early years.
Companies have recognized the strength of our following and partner with us now to giveaway things like tablets, PC accessories and more to fans because they recognize how we can help raise brand awareness for them and drive sales. One of my partner companies Anker has sent us about $400 in products to review and keep over the past 2 years and we have sold over $4000 of their products with our Amazon affiliate.
Fabrizio: Wow that’s really impressive Justin, and inspiring too.
#16. So what’s the next move for Justin Germino?
Grow the YouTube channel, I want to see it reach a million views by end of 2014. I really want to grow from 300 videos to 1000 published videos and continue to expand here. As I say, my YouTube Channel gets about as much traffic as my blog and does drive a considerable amount of clicks to my Amazon affiliate from links in the description so this is a focus for me.
#17. OK and finally, where can Justin Germino be reached?
I am dragonblogger on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, YouTube, Pinterest. You can also reach me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org anytime.
Fabrizio: OK Justin thanks so much once again for doing this interview, I’ve been totally inspired and learned some new things, I know the readers will agree with me.
Don’t forget you can visit Justin’s blog over at http://www.dragonblogger.com
If you want to read more inspiring interviews like this, check out our blog interviews category.