Blogger Interview: Dan Norris from Web Domination Launches Inform.ly

Dan Norris, it’s great to have you here for the Blogger Interview Series to talk about what you’ve been up to – including your new podcast, your website and I’m really excited to talk about the launch of Inform.ly. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s back up for a minute…

My Interview With Dan Norris

Q. Please introduce yourself and let everyone know a little bit about where you’re from and say a few words about how you got started in the online world. 

Dan NorrisThanks for the opportunity Ms. Ileane.

In 2006 I started a web design company because I was bored with the corporate world (after 4 whole years!). I worked on that business for 6 years with a lot of ups and downs and in 2012 decided to sell it and move on to Inform.ly. While in my last business I built up my blog to a point where it was ranking number 1 in Australia for ‘website design’ and a lot of other big keywords and got a bit addicted to producing content.

Q. I’m a fan of your podcast Web Domination and I know from listening to it that you are a designer and you sold you design site and business. It’s a very intriguing story can you share it with us? What made you decide to sell the site?

I guess I battled for a lot of years really trying to work out how I could make it into something more than just a smallish agency and I never quite figured it out. I never really felt that it was the best business for me to be running and always dreamt of running more of a product business where I could focus 100% on product and content and not on ‘consulting’ (which I’m no good at). There’s only so many WordPress sites you can build for small businesses before you want to do something a bit ‘bigger’.

Q. Now, let’s chat about the podcast. It seems like podcasting is a really hot trend right now but I find that many of my readers are intimidated by the idea of getting behind the microphone or learning a new skill. Can you give us a some advice and talk about what it was like for you to start a podcast. Did you hire a coach or did you have some past experience with podcasting?

Yes, I thought about doing a podcast for quite a while and then one day I decided to do it and the following day my first episode was live. I’ve written this Beginners guide to podcasting which will hopefully help others through the initial hurdles. Like most things it’s very easy to start once you decide to it’s just not that easy to keep going. Lots of people start podcasts, not that many finish them so I made sure I was serious about it before delving into it. I didn’t have any experience with podcasting and I thought I would be terrible at it, which I am but every episode you do you get better and better. I was very nervous the first episode I did and I still get nervous but it’s amazing how much you improve after just 20 odd episodes.

Q. One of the other hot trends these days is outsourcing. Specifically, let’s focus on your design website – did you do any outsourcing and when did you know it was time to outsource? Also, how did you find good people to work with?

I don’t really think of it in terms of outsourcing. In my design business I had a team made up of people in Australia, the Philippines, Europe and the US. Some were employed full time (Australia and Philippines), some were service providers like web hosts etc and some were contractors (design) but they were all part of the team and the word ‘outsourcing’ doesn’t really capture that for me.

I’ve tried everything to find good people to work with. The number 1 thing I do is I never employ anyone before giving them a trial first (if I can help it). So with all of the employees I ended up with, they all did paid trials before I employed them. With most of the service providers I tested them out in some way before engaging them – often just seeing how responsive they were to emails etc before I signed up.

Inform.ly

Dan Norris Launches Inform.ly

Q. It’s really time we start talking about Inform.ly now. Please tell everyone what Inform.ly is and why you decided to create it?

Well I built Inform.ly for web savvy small business people who want a quick way of viewing stats for their business. They can connect to their favourite services like Google Analytics, MailChimp, AWeber, Xero etc. and Inform.ly will show them a dashboard of simple stats all on the one page.

It has a bit of a long history which I cover in this Inform.ly launch case study. But the short version is I knew my clients in my web design business in general couldn’t understand the complex reports that were generated by Analytics and other services so I built a tool that I could use to email them simplified versions. This meant I was at the forefront of their minds and I could them value each month without doing much myself. After a while I figured it would be more than just my clients that could use reports like this so I decided to focus on building something available to the public.

We are currently working on the agency version of Informly which will let users send these reports to their clients but for now it’s just available to individual business owners.

Q. I’m a blogger and I do email marketing and affiliate marketing how can Inform.ly help me and others like me compared to a small business owner or someone selling their own products and hard goods? Would we use it differently? What’s your vision for how people will use Inform.ly?

Yes, I think you will probably get more out of it because more of your important information is in the cloud. For example you can view your newsletter stats, your web stats, information on the impact of your blog posts etc. We are also working on more services that will show your affiliate earnings etc. The more services we integrate with the more useful it will become for people.

Q. How many people do you have working on the Inform.ly team and what was the hiring process like – did you ever have to let anyone go because they weren’t up to snuff? Any good behind the scenes gossip you can share? We can change the names to protect the innocent of course :) I imagine that launching a start-up has it’s fair share of ups and downs.

It’s me, 2 full time developers and contractors or service providers for other stuff (design etc). One of my developers came across with me from my last business and I have employed the other one since starting Inform.ly in August. I’ve had to go through maybe 10-20 trial runs with others to find them, some of which I’ve employed and they’ve left or I’ve let go. My 2 developers are great and it’s amazing what they have been able to build in a short amount of time. Not sure about other goss?

I’m only 4 months in so I’m sure there are more ups and downs to come!

Q. You also have a blog for Inform.ly – I’m sure many of my readers will want to check that out and some of the writers here might be interested as well. What are the topics you plan to cover there and are you opening the blog up to guest authors?

I want the Inform.ly blog to become a world class destination for any small business owner looking to dominate online.

The blog currently includes a number of in depth ‘guides’ on things like Google Analytics, Podcasting etc, and we are working on more. These are typically very detailed, specific actionable posts often 2,000-3,000+ words. I’ve also got 2 podcasts, Infographics, video training and a few less than serious business videos. The blog is going to be the only way I market the standard version (non agency) of Inform.ly other than through natural product coverage so I’m 100% committed to making it great.

In the 4 or so months since starting I’ve written over 80 posts (this includes the videos, podcasts etc) and it’s now getting more traffic than my old number 1 ranking web design blog. I’ve also done a lot of guest blogging on other blogs like Problogger, ThinkTraffic, Softwarebyrob and Firepole Marketing.Dan Norris at work

Q. What’s next on the horizon for you Dan Norris? Can you tell us anything specific we should be on the lookout for like new features coming to Inform.ly or any other projects you have in the works?

At the moment we are working on an improved mobile app as well as the agency version that will allow web design companies to handle all of the reports for their clients.

I’ve just launched my new Agency Talk podcast to help draw attention to the agency version. We are also working on a lot of new services for the normal version and will continue to add these at the same time.

Thanks so much for having me and well done with your site, I’m a huge fan of content marketing and the more we can do to get people creating value instead of wasting it on advertising that doesn’t work the better!

Q. It’s my pleasure Dan!

Here’s The Introduction To Inform.ly Video

 

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54 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. Interesting start up. From what I’ve read in this interview I think inform.ly will attain the desired success, as Dan is really putting passion in what he’s doing.

  2. Great interview of Dan Norris. I have to admit and apologise that I have not heard of Inform.ly before. But now that I have, will make it a point to check it out. As far as podcasts are concerned, Ileane is classic, her soothing mellow voice is almost like a lullaby. I personally think she should be a host on a radio show. I am certain, she can beat Dr Frasier Crane in a popularity contest. Thanks for directing us to the beginners guide to podcasting. I will find that very useful. Thanks for the tip on outsourcing.

    • Shalu, I don’t know what I would do without your support. You’re so kind. Thanks for the lovely comment and for all the retweets and shares too. Chat soon!

  3. Great interview! I can definitely relate to him too. I’ve been doing web design for a few years now, and I’m so tired of all the consultation time that goes into it. Good for him for breaking away and creating his own product that he can solely focus on. I don’t really have a problem with the analytics though. However, it may be nice to have an all-in-one version connecting my lists with traffic stats, and so on. I’ll definitely be looking into this, thanks :).

    • Hi Joseph a lot of people who start apps are ex web designers. But at the same time a lot of people fail at it. The best thing about being in the web design space is everyone wants a website so at least the demand is there. It’s a proven path. I’m in unknown territory at the moment!

  4. Awesome interview Ileane.

    Good point Dan,

    Using a trial first is the best way to vet any offshore workers.

    It’s easy to say you can do something it’s hard to actually do it.

    • Yep it’s not just offshore workers I have the same approach to local workers if possible. If the person is able to make a 4 hours appointment, why not give them real work to do for those 4 hours. It’s much better than an interview.

  5. Deny Saputra

    Wow! It was very impressed to read such great interview. I am amazed how you got started, it’s a big step.

  6. Nice interview done with Dan.

    It is nice to see a nice product that can further help simplify your needs to see what needs to be seen.

    You touched a little on the outsourcing side, outsourcing can be a viable option in regards to help simplify things.

    Once again, I hope everything goes well for you Dan!

  7. Very impressive Dan, (and inspiring!) I had heard of inform.ly but was not sure what it was exactly. It sounds like a wonderful product to simply the needs of small businesses. I wish Dan the best with it and will have to check out his blog too. Thanks Ilene for sharing this info and interview with us.

    • Thanks Lisa and thanks for sharing the interview on Google+ too. One of my big pushes for the next little while is going to be to try to encourage people to share stuff more. I get about 1% of readers of my articles actually taking action and sharing it and I’d love for people who take the time to product content to be rewarded more by having it shared. I’m sure Ileane appreciates it too.

  8. What an inspiring idea, and I know many of my blog engage clients would love to know what the traffic and ROI is for the blog engage service. Tracking stats has always been hard for me and hard to show a ROI for my clients. to bad we didn’t have a connection like this to help us as it’s something we need within 2013 to maintain the growth of our business. Great interview Ileane very well done and great answers!

    • Hi Brian! How are you and how is the little one?

      Please give Inform.ly a try and let me know what you think of it. I think you’ll like having handy access to your Google Analytics and PayPal accounts all in one place. You can also track the impact of posts on the blog which should make it easy on you when you are having contests – which is just about all the time.
      Happy Holidays Brian!

    • Thanks for the comment Brian. Give it a go and feel free to get back to me if you have any feedback on the service. There is still a lot of work to do so I’m keen to get as much feedback as possible. Thanks for the tweets too.

    • Ashley, that’s so true. It does take a lot of hard work and Dan has really applied himself to making this project a success. I jumped at the opportunity to interview Dan because I wanted people to be inspired by what he’s doing.

      It still amazes me how people think they can put up a website or blog one day and have instant success the next. Then when it turns out that they don’t make all sorts of money, they blame everyone else.

      Thanks for your comment Ashley.

  9. Very nice interview and Great interview of Dan Norris.I can definitely relate to him too.It sounds like a wonderful product to simply the needs of small businesses

  10. Hi Dan,

    Why .ly (Top-level Country-code domain name for Libya), why not .COM ?
    If Inform.com was not available, why not something else (meaningful) with .COM Domain?

    Wish you BEST Of LUCK for your new venture:)

    • Nandita, I think Inform.ly has a better sound to it than Inform.com – besides that domain is already occupied.

      Have you signed up yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts. They released the iPhone app a few days ago.

      Chat soon!

    • Hi Nandita, the app name is Informly so if I was to get the .com the domain would be informly.com which is taken but it’s also 3 characters longer than inform.ly and not as cool – at least I don’t think so ;). I may acquire it one day if I can get in touch with the owner but I’m not that worried about the .com.

      When I launched at that domain a Google search for ‘informly’ got automatically corrected and you had to manually change it back to search for my name. Now it’s got quite a lot of authority do I don’t really think I need the .com

  11. Hi Ileane, you’re doing so great on interviewing other and I’d love to be on here one day. Informly, this is the first I have seen it and when I signed up to it. I really want to help promote this tool for my readers because it’s just too great.

    Thanks – Ferb

    • Hi Ferb!

      I can’t wait to see your Inform.ly review. Come back and leave a link to it when you publish the post. I’ll be sure to leave a comment there as well.

    • Thanks for the support Ferb, I hope you like it. But if there are things you want improved please let me know. I’m working on a couple of things that Ileane pointed out and I’ve got a fair bit of feedback since the launch that we are working through as well.

    • Hi Anurag, did you sign up for Inform.ly? You can sign in with Twitter, Facebook or Google + so it’s really simple to hook it up. Let me know.

      Thanks for visiting the blog!

  12. I seem it’s a successful interview, Dan Norris is great. I had no idea about the interviews on basic blog tips before, so I’m pleased to see it. You touched a little on outsourcing which can be a most viable option in regards to help the needs of small business.

    • Hi Koundeenya, did you try Inform.ly yet? What services did you hook up to it? Let me know what you like or dislike about it.

      Look for a YouTube video from me soon showing the interface of Inform.ly

  13. Superb interview Ileane, I’d never heard of Dan before reading the interview, certainly like the sound of Informaly, I’ll have to check it out ;)

  14. Thank you Ms. Ileane for the wonderful interview and for the privilege to meet one of the great blogger online. the way you asked the question and the way it’s been answer make it unique to read it all despite that the interview is long but the message worth reading. thanks for sharing

  15. Conversion indeed is the name of the game. Blogging is never easy affair especially those who are tyros like me. This indeed in an eye opener and I can continue with the game as detailed so authoritatively by you

  16. The value of the outsourcing is an important thing for rescue here, this interview are nice for learn a few tips, interesting!

  17. very nice interview BBT,
    this kind of interviews always motivate the newbies like me.., I’ve gain so much after reading this interview. it empowers me to apply my all efforts in this field.
    thanks for the article :)

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  1. Blogger Interview: Dan Norris from Web Domination Launches Inform.ly…

    Dan Norris sold his web design business and launched a brand new start-up called Inform.ly. Now we can get simple stats from our favorite cloud services in one dashboard….