5 Blogging Lessons From DragonBlogger

Recently I had the privilege of interviewing Justin Germino (a.k.a. DragonBlogger). Now, I don’t know Justin personally, but I had always found him to be helpful and courteous when crossing paths with him in blogging communities (like Blog Engage), as well as Facebook, and Twitter (Don’t miss the #SocialCafe Twitter Chat with Justin Wed, 1/16 at 3p EST).

In a world where image is important, almost essential to some, it was refreshing to “meet” Justin via the video interview and find that Justin is not just an image, but he is truly genuine. I know, you may be thinking, “Yeah, right. You can tell that from an interview?” My response? “Yes, I think I can.” But, don’t take my word for it, watch the video interview and see for yourself!

Not only was I impressed by how authentic Justin was, but I found that he has so much to offer, as lessons for other bloggers, even in his own example and his personality, which is a personality that exudes “sharing” and helping others. Justin is not the type to discover successful techniques and horde these discoveries as heavily guarded secrets just for himself and for his team. No, this blogger shares what he learns, positive and negative, helping other bloggers to find that path of positive progress and success and warning them against techniques that may have detrimental effects on their efforts. He challenges his audience to try it for themselves, and even improve on it if they can.

 Interview with Justin Germino DragonBlogger

 

DragonBlogger Lesson 1: Authenticity

DragonbloggerJustin is the real deal. He does not shy, or reel in fear, from being real. That takes courage, but it also causes people to be drawn to that authenticity and find a camaraderie in the “realness” or scratch their heads and say, “What makes that guy tick.” Either way, it is a non-threatening approach that draws people into the community. Interestingly, it is actually very effective as a business tool, but the irony is that it doesn’t work if it is a tool, because it would lack authenticity. Authenticity starts with looking in the mirror, understanding oneself, understanding where there is room for improvement, and saying, “That’s ok.” Or, more simply put, discarding the “fake,” put-on, and allowing your true self to shine. That is what Justin has figured out and it is working for him!

Action Step: Don’t fear being “real” with your audience. (It is actually fun!)

Videos clips:

Key To Success” in full video.
Sharing and Transparency” in full video.

DragonBlogger Lesson 2: Share

It has already been said, but one of the things that Justin does is to share what he has learned and what works and what doesn’t work with his efforts. He also follows through on his commitments and does his own analysis, and then shares that with his readers so that they can take his experience and improve on it with their own efforts (hopefully sharing, again, with the blogging community).

Action Step: Share with your audience. Share a bit of yourself, and also, share some tips, and lend a helping hand.

Videos clip:

Finding What Works and Doesn’t Work” in full video.

DragonBlogger Lesson 3: Pick Yourself Up and Look Forward

A subtitle that came to mind for this section was, “Own Your Efforts / Take Responsibility.” I really appreciate how Justin is candid about the Google Page Rank loss that he experienced. He doesn’t make excuses. He calls it what it is and he explains how he lost the page rank and also shares how he regained the page rank. Just like the first lesson, he was authentic, and as with the second lesson, he shared what “didn’t work” in this case. He also continued to support his community and showed that the loss did not impact his traffic. Oh, page rank may be important, but part of the reason that Justin did not suffer the loss to the extent that others may feel they would experience is because he didn’t let it get him down. He picked up right where he was at and continued to do what works. And, he showed us that picking yourself up and walking forward IS successful.

Action Step: Hit a roadblock or a bump? Don’t let it stop you. Move through and past it. Don’t waste time with complaining about the mishap, take your last look in the rear-view mirror and move forward.

Videos clip:

Justin Talks About Google” in full video.

Join us on Wednesday, January 16, 2013, as Justin is the featured guest at the #SocialCafe Twitter Chat at 3pm EST. Recommended tool: TweetChat.

DragonBlogger Lesson 4: Find Your Personality

You have a personality. Your blog has a personality. Sometimes it is the same personality. Sometimes it is not. Many people, including me, including Justin, started with some vague lines of what “fits” within a particular blog, but as we grow as bloggers, the blog personality started to emerge (if we let it). Beyond determining the niche and core pillars of his dragonblogger.com blog, Justin also defines the personality of his approach to reviews. He chooses to approach it as positive as possible, with an analysis of ROI (return on investment), but taking into consideration that if the investment is low, the feature set is understandably low, as well. This is an example of how Justin has not only defined the niche (which includes offering reviews on his blog), but how he approaches his reviews (personality of the blog). He does not strip his dragon blogger team of their personalities, but rather has a clear sight of what dragonblogger.com is and what it is not so that the diversity of the team highlights that niche and personality of the blog.

Action Step: Take some time to determine what your blog(s) would define as its niche and personality.

Videos clip:

Justin’s “Philosophy on Reviews” in full video.

DragonBlogger Lesson 5: Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

Keeping with the personality of sharing, Justin does not horde credit. As an example, in his contests, he finds ways to share and to highlight those bloggers who help him out with the contest, featuring them on his blog home page and “giving back.” Even the other day, I “overheard” Justin saying some nice things about me on Facebook. Hey, you know what? That feels good! And, it is an honor that Justin allowed me the privilege to be the first one to interview him via video.

Action Step: Don’t fear sharing the credit. It doesn’t always have to be about us. Share… it usually comes back. And, what would the world become if we tried to out-share each other?

Videos clip:

Dragon Blogger Contests” in full video.

That said, is it any small wonder that talking to Justin inspired me to do the same and give credit, with this article? To learn more about Justin and his team, visit dragonblogger.com.

About 

Deborah Anderson (@SocialWebCafe) is the host of Social Web Cafe TV and co-host of the iHeart Talk Show, Marketing Momentum w/Charles & Deborah. She also blogs on her own blog, SocialWebCafe.com. Her Google+ Hangouts Training, "Hangout Queen," keeps her busy with helping companies, brands, and individuals to take their Hangouts to the "next level."

134 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. I really enjoyed this interview and the tips that were offered. I can really connect with the 3rd lesson learned. It’s always important to keep moving forward, trying new things, and having a positive attitude!

    Great lessons!

    • I agree with you Eric. I also find #4 and #5 very important. It takes time to find yourself and to realize that not everyone is going to like you or what you have to say and you can’t please everyone but for those you are able to help it’s all worth it. Making sure to acknowledge those that have helped you get to where you are and those that are still helping is just as important and being “real”.

      • Thanks Ron and Eric, I am big on learning through mistakes, how can I review something and say it works or doesn’t unless I try it. I have reviewed most of what others promote and share my own experience, I also realize that my experience isn’t always what others, this is why some blogging programs work for some and not others. They may not be bad, but either didn’t work well for me or did and may not for somebody else.

        Some mistakes can have long lasting consequences, in my opinion the one mistake bloggers can’t make is being fake, or not genuine to audiences. If you lose your reputation or authenticity, this is very difficult to recover for the people who knew you were disingenuine reputation is critical and one mistake that can’t be easily recovered from. Don’t sell out and promote something you don’t 100% stand behind and believe in, and don’t try to lie or deceive for a sale.

        I am an ethical blogger before I am a money making blogger.

        • Ooh… I like that… realizing that not everyone is ncessarily going to like you (and that is ok!)

          And Justin.. kudos.. love this–> “I am an ethical blogger before I am a money making blogger.” Very quotable!

    • I agree 100% Eric, trying new things is a must, don’t just read & learn, write and apply your knowledge! keep going and soldier on through.. i’v herd of ‘writers block’ but there should be a term ‘bloggers block’ for those days when nothing comes to you!

      Darcies

  2. I thought was a nice assessment of Justins character.When I first started blogging Justin was one of the first people to lend me a helping hand and give me actual useful advice.Thanks for sharing this

    • Thank you Marty, it is good to look back through the 4 years and see that I have personally assisted, helped nearly 3 dozen bloggers with advice, support and just general tips whenever asked. I continue to keep this mentality and support as many as I can with my limited blogging time.

      • oh wow I didnt know you would actually read this.But your welcome I meant every word.Heck I plan to be writing about you in my own blog you were so helpful so please keep up the good work

        • I always try to subscribe to articles where others showcase me, and respond to every comment that I can. Speaking of that, @Ileane on your blog you have replyme only, but I can’t subscribe to entire conversation thread?

  3. Just going through the motions of learning how to create a blogging community online, I’m really amazed to learn of people like Justin who’ve put in the hard work to get themselves recognized online as internet marketers. It’s rediculous how much effort one needs to put in just to get a website to be slightly visible !

    I’m +1′ing tip #3 :)

    • I did most of it without buying banners or AdWords, most of my growth comes through social media growth and from just being lucky in that many of my articles rank okay in Google SERP so that 70% of my traffic comes from there.

  4. HI

    I thorughly enjoyed the video. I came to know of Justin few days back only via blogengage, I visited his blog and could see his great work.

    Thanks

    Sapna

  5. Hey Deborah,

    I`d like to thank you for sharing such a informative post, after commenting going to watch your video.

    Seems you already started practicing Dragon Bloggers`s lesson 2 :)

    will watch and then reply here back….

  6. Dragon blogger is a great blog one ting i like that his visiters are engaging and like to comment. One more thing I learned is organizing is beneficial for both blog owner and participants :)

    • Hi Syed, Good point. Dragonblogger does have a great community, credit to Justin and his team in building such an engaging environment and credit to those who are a part of that community.

  7. Wow, this 8 minute video is awesome, greatly thankful of Deborah for sharing dragonblogger interview and such an informative post for all the bloggers. I was following blogengage , but from now I am going to follow dragonblogger too :)

    • Thanks Praveen, glad to reach peer bloggers who I hadn’t yet connected with, anyone can reach out to me on Facebook or Twitter anytime, I generally am very responsive and try to help others where I can.

      • oddly I can attest that this is true he does answer every question even for begginer.When I first started I asked a bunch of dumb questions and I didnt expect him to respond and he took the time to go to my site and give me step by step help it was amazing

  8. Actually your audience is the right person to share your ideas with, let them know that they are important to you and work add in helping them resolve their difficulties. No matter what come your way, you must learn to be focus and keep trying until you succeed doing such things.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I agree and ask readers often what they want to see more of, if they like a new logo, if they like a giveaway what other products they want..etc. I consider myself a very adaptive blogger, when you have a smaller following the audience sample sizes isn’t enough to adapt or change yet, but when you start growing into the thousands and receive feedback it helps shape the direction you should go with your site.

  9. Nice tips, especially the part about relevance. Sometimes it can be hard to find good blogs about a niche, but bridging the gap between your topic and the target blog is a good way to enhance relevance for you. For some reason I’ve never done any guest posts, but I think I’ll be working on that in the coming weeks.

    • So, true, Saanvi. I think that is a challenge many people find. Just like Justin, my very first blog was sort of a compilation of everything. I then branched it out into many more blogs, being niche-related. Granted, it means maintaining them because a different sort of challenge, but I think it is less confusing for the visitor.

  10. Hadley

    It’s important to use social media properly in order to share your content with your audience. Finding your own personaliity and really getting off the ground with a good topic you know about I think is the hardest.

    • Social Media, particularly Twitter and Facebook are crucial to my engagement with my audience, I have more interactions and conversations on these mediums than my blog and helping others in real time has it’s own rewards and benefits.

    • Good point, Hadley. And, in finding one’s personality, it helps to be true to yourself, and your own personality and not try to be something one is not. I think everyone has a beautiful personality potential and can let that shine. Ok, I’m an optimist ;)

  11. Yes i am totally agreed with you when you will put your own effort in blogging after learn something good about blogging then you can present yourself via your blog stuff which will be give you nice advantages in online marketing.

  12. hey
    these are some great lessons shared by you through that interesting interview with Justin. It’s not only about hard work but also the zeal and vigor very often which comes in handy with lesson 2.
    And i couldn’t agree more with lesson 5, giving credit is of utmost importance especially when there’s a great need to work together.

    Thanks for the great share, now i have my eye on Lesson 4

  13. Nice tips and good interview i enjoyed reading it all the tips are great but “tip No 5 Give Credit Where Credit Is Due” i liked it the most, often most don’t give credit to others and its not a nice thing to do so we must do it where it is due…

    • I agree with you, I am very quick to point out if I find an article or conversation interesting and learn something new who was the one who provided that info because if I found them helpful others might, so if my goal is to share info and tips with others why wouldn’t I also share those who helped me or I learned from too. Hoarding readers or information, or worse stealing and then trying to pass it off as your own is a big no-no.

      Now, with tech bloggers there are product specs, showcases…etc dozens of sites covered all the gadget news of CES 2013 for example, just because 10 sites covered the Razer Edge doesn’t mean they ripped each other off, they just all pounced on the same unveiling and source info. But if one site verbatim copies anothers, this is a problem. This is why I don’t like doing articles that are just product spec heavy, I try to add a lot of my own feedback, impressions and opinions to separate them out from just spec news which are bland.

    • So true, Jawad! And, have you ever found that you see something blip on your screen (especially in this day and age with social media!) and you think to yourself, I’m going to go thank that person… It is like, if you don’t seize that moment, it is sometimes easy to get distracted. Social media gives us so many more opportunities to give credit where credit is due, but it also gives us many opportunities to get off-track, no matter how well-intentioned we may be at the time.

  14. I totally agree with these lessons. From my own experience, people tend to engage more when I share something useful and that has a powerful impact on the visitors.

    • Thanks for joining the conversation, I have found that readers respond to personalities more than entities/sites, this is why many companies hire celebrities and in many cases those spokespeople become associated with the corporations.

    • Hi Julian, Yes, sharing something useful also provides that opportunity for further engagement. A conversation point, if you will, as well as a benefit to the recipient. And, it is good that we have the opportunity to learn from each other and further that engagement.

  15. Thank you for the most humbling article Deborah, I find it very rewarding to be part of the blogging community and really do my best to inform, educate or at least entertain my readers and fellow bloggers with the limited time I have to do it.

    I may not be able to make the Tweetchat today, serious commitments at my day job prohibit me from taking a lunch break this week like I normally do for these type of one-off events. I will try to be on however and at least responding to Tweets when I can.

    • Hey Justin, Thanks for the kind words. And, thanks for enough advance notice that I could reschedule the 1/9 event to (actually today) 1/16. Another example of how much can be accomplished with proper communication.

  16. Absolutely. If right Credits are given and Sharing Options are used properly then one can get a good traffic easily. Moreover it helps to build more connections which can be useful to learn new things. Thank You Justin for the awesome Video

    • Thanks Ravi, it was fun and Deb gives me far too much credit, I don’t preach nor claim to tell people do what I do and you will be successful as I am still just a tiny player in the tech blogosphere, but I love doing it as a hobby and learning and growing and sharing what I learn.

  17. I am really inspired with your writing talents as smartly as with the structure in your blog. Is this a paid subject or did you customize it your self? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to peer a great blog like this one nowadays..

  18. Fantastic post and video interview, Deborah. This was certainty an inspiring piece. I especially liked how authentic and transparent Justin was in his interview. I believe that those two things are some of the most important characteristics to have as a blogger. It helps to build up a loyal community and a strong brand. Thanks so much for sharing this post with us. I appreciate it!

    Ti

  19. The Dragon Blogger is an awesome guy! He has found a great way to build a community around his blog and succeed. This is something we should all mirror.

    • Thanks Wade, I think what makes it most enjoyable is I don’t really try, I don’t set out with the mindset of “MUST GROW followers” or have to build, grow. I just write, do what I love to do, share and help others and the growth comes naturally. Sure others can do it faster, better but considering this is my hobby and I do it as such there is no pressure for me.

  20. Thanks for putting this together Deborah good job.

    It’s encouraging to see that being authentic is the path to success.

    Too bad too many IMers think FAKING it until you MAKE it is the best way to go.
    Have you seen some of these claims? If they are true the US treasury needs to use some of these “secret techniques” the government could use the money. lol

    • No matter who it is or who endorses it, anything that tells you to buy into a program and you could make $$$ is just a sales pitch, a true review doesn’t ever tell people to buy into anything, it is purely a review with option to buy later but never a sales pitch. I may not be as good an affiliate marketer, but I can stand behind everything I recommend and not feel like I filched a reader if they bought what I reviewed or recommended.

    • Hi Jacko. Oh, definitely! The “faking it until you make it…” The only people that are not really benefited by authenticity are those that are not looking for it and are not likely to be authentic themselves.

  21. I am with Dragon. You can’t be fake you have to be true. If you write long enough your true personality will show through. Your beliefs will come through in your writing

  22. Hi Deborah,

    This Dragon Blogger really inspired me in his video and by his words. I am currently building my 2nd blog and i hope it will be more successful then my first one and a 3rd tip says just that..don’t give up. And I think I wont cause everyday I read inspiring stuff.

    Thanks for the inspiration.
    Grega

    • I like inspiring others, but you would think I would have been as successful in my subsequent blogs, but they all were marginal. My first blog DragonBlogger is the only one that really reached audience and traffic, all my smaller projects (I build 11 blogs over the years) never found footing. Though I will honestly say for me it is very hard to vest all the time an energy into promotion for more than one site, so they can’t grow as quickly. Also the niche of my smaller sites puts them at less potential audience than my main site which is not really a niche site.

    • Grega, good for you! And, like you heard Justin say, he could do it again, even more efficiently (quicker), since he has the experience. We all learn as we journey. Glad that you are on that journey with us ;)

  23. These are great tips to remember Deborah! There are times when some bloggers want to have all the share of credit when in fact some ideas come from other people. I also believe that sharing credit/information/ideas invite good returns as it was evident on a lot of successful people in blogging and other industries.

    • Thanks, Barney. I think it is a balance. Definitely give credit where credit is due, but being careful not to be “so quiet” about your own gifts that you are a wallflower. I think there is a balance to being your own person and giving credit where credit is due. If that balance is off, it affects the flow of the community, as well.

    • I don’t consider myself a genius by any means, nor smarter than any other blogger. What I tell others and follow seem like common sense to me, like isn’t it commons sense to always be professional, courteous, respectful….etc.

      Like so many others, we all want to monetize our blogs only a few of us go into blogging for the sole purpose of sharing our words without any way to earn some extra income to either supplement our day jobs or replace them altogether, or maybe grow income because of a recent lay off. So you just have to balance and say from the start, I will try to monetize without ever selling out, without deceiving readers, without trying to sell a product I don’t know inside and out and can stand behind if someone purchases it and hates it and I can’t defend it.

    • Hard to believe huh, in 4 years of blogging, Deborah in my 4th year did my first video interview. It is all about me finding the time, very hard to fit blogging in around my day job and family life.

        • No, I average about 20 hours per week that I put into it, most of that time is social media communication, more like 5-6 hours per week into actually writing articles, conversations/responding to comments, social media takes up more time as my following grows, this is why I now have a team of writers to help contribute content as well so I can focus more on engagement, this doesn’t stop me from writing 20+ articles per month myself, but allows me to make sure the conversations with people in real time and on social media aren’t neglected.

  24. Hey , I would alos , like to know if you could suggesst me on how to fill up or make my blog’s sidebar more interactive and good looking. It look’s way too monotonous. :(
    Hope you would help.

    • You have a fairly wide sidebar, I would but a 300x YouTube video embed for a featured video, either one of your own or something like that. Maybe some social media follow buttons like the WP MashSocial Wigdet is a good option. That banner is in the right place though for premium slot, keep it above the fold. If it underperforms then try replacing it with something that is CPA and you can get more from 1 sale than an impression count. When your site gets enough traffic, BuySellAds works pretty well, but I would wait until you have 50k impressions per month.

  25. Sharing your knowledge or what new you learn with other fellow bloggers and your readers is a good way to be in the good books of people. It benefits the blog as well. You also learn a lot in return. The other I feel good about is giving credit. Be it a picture, a video, some piece of content or a phrase, give credits for it.

  26. very basic tips may look simple when we read the title, but do we follow these or not question should be asked to make it valid. :) motivating lessons seriously.

    Robin.

    • Good point, Robin. It is one thing to read it and another to comprehend, analyze, decide whether it should be applied, and apply, as the case may be, for each lesson or suggestion.

  27. Good video, and thanks for introducing us to Justin. Just followed him on his Twitter and looking forward for more of his insights as well as joining him with his Twitter chat.

  28. Great piece as TI said. I like the 2nd lesson which is “share” because this is the key for me to be a successful blogger. You have to share what you have learned and what you know on specific niche and help people in some way to make them come back again.

    • That is a good point, Ehsan, on sharing on your niche. We can’t expect to be experts in all things, but we can share what we are good at, and learn from others in areas where we need improvement (which is technically all areas ;) ).

  29. As a beginner, this posting is awesome. I’ve got many insight from this posting. Beside that the video give great points for me. Thanks for Deborah for share this posting

  30. Hi,
    True that Justin has done a lot of hard work ! He has did a giveaway of laptop last year and he got a lot of traffic from there as well.
    Thank you

    • That laptop giveaway did very well, the Google Nexus 7 giveaway did almost as well and the more fans that learn about my gadget giveaways, the more that enter and the better each subsequent giveaway does so far. I enjoy giving back to the fans.

  31. I appreciate those who are willing to share and help others bloggers. I think I can not make any progess in blogging without their helps, ideas and motivations. They inspire me how to build my blog to be more creative and useful for the readers and visitors. Thank you very much for this great posting.

  32. Great list not only does this apply to blogging, but in my opinion to the web in general. You really have to be authentic in what you are posting. People can spot a fake, and it is just common courtesy if you are sharing something, give people the credit they are do, not only will it will help everyone out.

  33. Inspirational and great lines from lesson 3 “Hit a roadblock or a bump? Don’t let it stop you. Move through and past it. Don’t waste time with complaining about the mishap, take your last look in the rear-view mirror and move forward.”

    Nice work Deborah, We look forward similar post ..

  34. I thoroughly enjoyed the video interview, I have been a fan of Justin’s blog for a good couple of number of years and is one of the few blogs that I still return to in order to read the income report.

    • I actually had a lot of negative feedback about my income reports, I didn’t do one for December 2012 and was thinking of removing them. I had more negative feedback and complaints from people who didn’t want to see them.

      It seems I have a conflict between my tech/gaming audiences and my blogging related audiences in this matter, maybe I put it to the fans to vote on the fanpage.

  35. I don’t know Justin personally but I have come across his articles on many occasions and have to admit that he has very good tips. There are few bloggers who shares the secrets but we can say with confidence that Justin is one of those who shares them.

    • Thanks Frank, always very appreciate that people think I am worth taking the time to follow. I just write what I write, share what I learn and think and the first goal when I write any content is, how can I provide value to someone who reads this.

  36. 3 and 4 were the most interesting points to me….Without being able to look forward, a blogger doesn’t really exists. He surely has to take care of his health and work as harder as he can…Adding sweat and blood in this business will never turn him down…Looking forward too see more from you Dragon Blogger…

  37. I love this! I met Justin briefly and I really appreciated his support on my blog. Now, with this article, I’m totally impressed with his honesty and authenticity. I have even more respect for him and his success. Someone to aspire to. Thanks Deborah!

  38. Nice to see an interview with him.

    I know his blog and I think he has done a great job with his blog…

    Keep up the good work Justin!

  39. Giving Credit to one who is Applicable for it and yes giving Credit to the person for his work gives good feeling to us and as well as to that person and it makes him to work more and more with his heart.

  40. The interview is awesome and I like it a lot. I believe that to be a good blogger it takes shamelessness because that trait clears the path for authenticity. Also, I like your last bit about a world of people trying out-share one another. :) Thank you for this blog post and the interview with Justin, Deborah.

  41. Hey Deborah,
    Nice post and Thanks for sharing this interview with us as this post and I really enjoyed this post while reading. I have learned some great lessons from this interview and i really like the video you share with us.

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  1. 5 Blogging Lessons From The Dragon Blogger…

    5 Blogging Lessons From Justin Germino aka Dragon Blogger. He shares the secrets behind the success of his wildly popular tech and gaming blog….