While I was nomading I joined a lot of Facebook groups, and in one of them I met Danny Flood. Danny told me about his array of businesses, including OpenWorld Magazine which has generated an abundant amount of visitors per month! I decided it would be great to feature him on DNQ.
Check out our interview below:
Danny Flood on Blogging and Traveling Full-time
Sharon: Tell us about yourself!
Danny: My name is Danny Flood, I’m an author and entrepreneur from Del Mar, California.
Sharon: When did you take the leap to become a digital nomad? Did you do any freelancing or did you jump into creating your own business? Did you start the business before you left or during your journey?
Danny: I never made the leap to become a digital nomad. In fact, I had never heard of the term “digital nomad” until my friend Cody McKibben, whom I met in Chiang Mai, started to use the term a few years ago.
I guess I was just a guy who wanted more from life. I was inspired by the notion of adventure and romance in far-flung corners of the world and looked to whatever role models I could find.
I started out with an internship doing design work for a nightlife promotions company in San Diego. While in college, I was also running my own party business with a few friends. We would book limo buses to the hottest clubs in downtown and made $10 for each person we brought.
Afterwards I started freelancing, taking on any jobs I could. For example, one of my first jobs was to create a logo for the San Diego District Attorney’s office. I kept learning new skills such as Dreamweaver, SEO, and so forth, and created a digital advertising business called LavaLink.
I cut down my client roster, built strong relationships with my biggest clients, and booked a one-way ticket to South America. After a few years of this I sold that business to one of our vendors and began work on my first book, which is called “Buy Your Own Island”.
I’ve been a full-time freestyle traveler for about six years now.
Sharon: I want to learn more about OpenWorld Magazine. When did you start it and what is your goal with it?
Danny: I started my blog back in 2014 at the same time I was working on my book. It was sort of a companion for the book, with similar type of content, and an outlet where I could include features and stories that didn’t make it into the manuscript.
Sharon: Do you use WordPress?
Danny: Yes. I’ve been using WordPress for many years. Back in 2011, I also founded an online training business called “The WordPress Design Institute.” It’s no longer online but you can see an archive.
Sharon: Was it difficult building traffic for it? What techniques helped you gain traffic, and what channel was your main driver? (Social media, SEO, etc.?)
Danny: Traffic isn’t something that concerns me, because it’s a rather fickle metric. There’s an expression coined by Gary Bencivenga, the legendary copywriter, that website “HITS” = “How Idiots Track Success.”
At the end of the day, if there’s one metric you should track and measure, it’s the balance in your bank account. If you focus on that metric, it will guide you to make smarter decisions about how to invest your time.
In any given quarter of the last two years, I’ll have around 8 – 10 active income sources. This wouldn’t be possible if I was devoting most of my time trying to increase my blog’s traffic.
But, if I have to offer one “channel” about how to increase traffic, it was not a channel at all. Whenever I post our annual “Top 30 Adventurers Under 30″, it always increases the web traffic by 5x. Typically, the web traffic will increase to 50,000 – 60,000 visitors the month I post that article, then steadily drop to 40k, 30, 20k over the following months.
Sharon: How does this website generate income? How much passive income does it generate for you, if you don’t mind me asking?
Danny: The blog does not generate any direct income. Surprise! However, indirectly it helps me to generate a lot of income because I have services that complement what I’m already doing.
For example, I never made much direct income from my first book – however, it gave me access to bookings on 40+ podcasts. It was easy to start a PR service after that, and connect other publishers / authors to podcasts and publications.
Same thing with Instagram – I have 30,000 followers, but I never try to monetize them. Instead, I created a complementary service called Productive Panda where I help other businesses to growth hack their social media channels. I like this model best because it’s a recurring revenue model, much of the work is automated, and all I have to do love my clients to death and deliver the results I’ve promised them.
Same with my mailing list – I have over 12,000 subscribers from my blogs and books, but the only time I monetize them is when I offer them complementary products, like my “Elite Freelance Package”. When I first published this to my list (along with an early bird coupon code), I made nearly 200 sales.
Sharon: Where do you find the people you interview, and what qualifications do you look for?
Danny: I look for people who inspire me. I don’t care about qualifications. I’d rather have people who have no qualifications but who beat the odds. One of the most popular episodes I ever published was titled “From Homeless to Retired at 32: World Nomad Justin Alexander.”
Sharon: What other products or services have you released? What generates the most income for you?
Danny: I’ve written five books (and published six) on Amazon, now I’m writing my sixth book. I’ve released online courses, get affiliate commissions, and have productized services too. But this is only the tip of the iceberg.
I’m also on Airbnb, iTunes, Vayable, Gumroad, Clarity.FM, Rakuten, Udemy, YouTube, and so on – I have a hand in many different cookie jars to create extra income sources. My philosophy is to go to the source: go where the users are, and use those sites to drive leads and customers.
I honestly do not care that much about income because I often have to turn away opportunities if they will interfere with my life too much. For example, I turned down an equity stake in a very promising startup (which could have made me a multimillionaire) recently because I didn’t want to sacrifice my lifestyle. For me, income translates to experiences.
If I want to ride a horse across Mongolia, how much will that cost? If I want to cycle around Taiwan, what’s the budget I need to set aside for that? For me, money matters in the context of experiences like these.
I have explored my relationship with money quite thoroughly over the last several years. When I first went to South America, I did not know to budget, which hindered my ability to do cool things. Then when I went to Asia for six months, downloaded the app “Trail Wallet,” and could clearly project my daily and monthly expenses / budget.
It’s important for each person to have an evolving relationship with money, to make it work for you. I’ve found that an “abundance mindset” is best for making smart decisions about the long-term while scarcity locks us into thinking only about immediate concerns. There’s a saying that “a wealthy man has many concerns, a hungry man has only one.”
That said, a “scarcity mindset” is great for getting things quickly. Sometimes I try to create an environment of false scarcity, or “practicing poverty” in order to keep myself hungry. I never want to become too comfortable, so austerity is important to me.
A classic example is Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the great Russian contemporary novelist. Whenever he became comfortable off the royalties of his books, he struggled to write a single page. So he would gamble all his money away, which forced him to produce great literature. Interestingly, he wrote the book “The Gambler” in 28 days to pay off a gambling debt.
Sharon: What are some marketing strategies you’re implementing today?
Danny: Rather than focus on specific strategies, I take a long-term holistic overview. Right now, I’m a complete minimalist in terms of physical possessions, however I want to own as much digital real estate as I can possibly manage.
So my long-term play is to build a lasting, enduring brand over time. Build a large mailing list and social media following. Build a network of contacts, users, customers, and clients.
I’m also investing a lot – in apps, software, virtual servers, and so on. I often do “group buys” with friends to drive down the cost of these and allow me to purchase more tools for my online business in a shorter time span.
If I had to recommend one specific strategy, I would suggest automation. Computers and automation will replace many of our jobs of the future, and I welcome this change.
Many of the most successful internet marketers I’ve met personally (who are REALLY crushing it) have found loopholes, often by automating things.
Sharon: What is your ultimate goal with your business(es) / with life?
Danny: My ultimate goal is to live before I die. I’d like to live to be older than 100, as it will give me more time to do everything. It’s entirely possible. They’re already performing successful experiments with telomere extensions.
Sharon: Do you have any advice for those who want to start their own business or blog?
Danny: Your success depends on you, more than any marketing gimmick, luck, or chance. And often success has nothing to do with hard work; more likely it’s about making the right decisions.
There’s nothing worse than doing something exceptionally well that shouldn’t be done in the first place. It is better to be decisive than to be correct. It is better the do the right thing than to do things right.
So, how do we become smarter entrepreneurs and make better decisions? You have to get your hands dirty and execute. You have to be relentless on yourself – never settle for less than your best. You have to be consumed with passion with what you do. You have to be willing to talk to as many people who are relevant to your business as possible – leads, clients, partners, industry leaders, etc. and have an actual conversation with them.
You have to be willing to be above and beyond to become a rockstar – someone who is indispensable to whomever it is they hope to influence. That means putting in a little extra effort and do things that no one else is willing to do. It means a willingness to be “weird” – when necessary – unless you aspire to be mediocre.
For fuck’s sake, get out of your comfort zone. You don’t have to lay on the ground in public but find a way to put yourself in the public eye – where people can judge you however they like – and do it all with a grin on your face. As for me, I’m always street dancing in public.
If you’re a nomad (or even just an entrepreneur), it’s extremely important to have a routine. Set aside certain days of the week where you can “batch” activities – this is the key to getting the hard things done. For example, you can have Marketing Mondays, Writing Wednesdays, and Followup Fridays (where you review your processes and see how you can improve them / or what you can learn).
Richard Sandler (founder of NLP) says that our minds go in directions, so we have to set that direction and begin the forward momentum. Once we have that momentum, it’s crucial that we don’t stop and keep going. The best practice in general, in terms of productivity, is to set aside half days exclusively for certain tasks.
I could write several more paragraphs of advice, but I’ll turn you to my books if you want the extended version.
And stay tuned cause I have a hot new title on the way which will blow the other ones out of the water. 🙂
It was a pleasure interviewing Danny Flood and learning more about his current businesses, lifestyle, and future goals. I love that he’s taking life by the horns and really getting out of his comfort zone, having traveled 6-7 years now. I also love the idea of working towards building a solid, lasting brand!