Oct 17, 2017
Episode 80 – Social Guru Dustin Stout Reveals All to James Laws
Play • 56 min

James Laws welcomes Dustin Stout as his co-host for the episode, kicking things off by measuring the size of their respective Twitter followings. Dustin won, and so he should, given that he is a social marketing consultant who now sells a successful social media product, Social Warfare. If we could combine James and Dustin, at a genetic level, into one man, he would be called Justin. Justin Lout.

As a young adult, Dustin left small-town Pennsylvania and headed for the bright lights of Hollywood to become an actor but, after a few years, became disillusioned with how the industry actually works (no mention of whether he met Harvey Weinstein), so, he went to work as Youth Director for his church. Determined to connect with young people on their own terms, he learnt as much as he could about the newly emerging world of social media.

Inspired by meeting some of the leading lights in the social media space, he started blogging about what he was learning. This encouraged others to approach him for advice on how to expand their audiences and, after just a couple of years, he became known as one of the Ten most influential people in the space, opening the floodgates to work as a consultant, his own agency for a while and, now, his current product, Social Warfare.

How Dustin got into the product space by needing to certain functionality for his church. James observes that both their businesses are similar in the sense that their church activities played a key role in their journey. They talk about Jesus Christ for a bit, probably a good bet that they’ll both get a sweet spot in heaven, while the rest of us will spend eternity screaming down in Hell, being forced to use Joomla.

James shares his own minor acting experience, Dustin discusses how that sort of experience can help a lot in promoting your business.

Dustin discusses his surprise and delight at the acclaim his blog has received, James reveals that Dustin’s articles are considered required reading within the Ninja Forms marketing team.

They discuss the wondrous writings of Seth Godin. James, feeling guilty about the woefully neglected state of his own blog, begs Dustin to lay out his process for producing valuable content.

Dustin’s Writing Process:

  1. Be cognizant of who you are writing for, and the questions that come up for them on a day-to-day basis.
  2. Be on the lookout for problems that crop up for other people, and take notes.
  3. You need a place to gather those notes, Dustin uses the ToDoist app.
  4. When reviewing those notes, he starts writing around the ideas he feels most passionate about.
  5. Write. Write as much as you can, don’t worry about editing, just cover as much ground as you can.
  6. Write to someone. Dustin writes to his wife, who is not a social media person, so, which has the beneficial affect of forcing him to avoid jargon.
  7. Then he walks away. Slowly. Like a cowboy.
  8. He returns later to edit it, just to hone it and remove mistakes. He uses Grammarly to help with that.
  9. He does some keyword research, using a tool called Ahrefs, and takes the time to look at other high-ranking posts covering the same subject, making changes to his own piece accordingly.
  10. While writing, Dustin leaves placeholder words for images he’d like to later insert in various places, so, his final step is to go find those images and, also, create the promotional images for the post, usually around 4 or 6 images per article.
  11. He uses the Coschedule marketing calendar to plan out 30 days of social media promotion, and he has written an article, link below, about how he uses it.


Dustin says that many SEO experts believe that the most effective length for an article is over 2000 words, so, Dustin aims for around 2,500. The whole process, as outlined above, takes between 8 and 10 hours. The thought of spending that much time on an article almost gives James an aneurysm.

James asks if Dustin himself losing interest half-way through, Dustin shares a tip given to him by an old Jedi knight: start by writing your conclusion.

Referring to how his product, Ninja Forms, entered the already over-crowded market of WordPress form plugins, James points out that Dustin entered possibly the most saturated of all markets, social media plugins. Dustin explains that this didn’t scare him, he was actually angry about the existing plugins: how slowly they loaded, how poorly they performed and how bad they looked. He found a technical friend, Nick, and asked how hard it would be, if Dustin designed elements that looked better, for him to make it work, and another friend Jason.

How another social media plugin, that was well-known even before Social Warfare entered the market, directly ripped off their code, how they found out, and how they exacted a revenge that the tears of multiple generations will never erase.

James mentions that his company, Ninja Forms, love using Social Warfare.

What Dustin is doing next: his first online course, about creating visual content for social media and blogs, is now in the pre-enrollment stage. He chose this subject because he is passionate about creating beautiful visuals.

Dustin discusses his other ventures, in varying stages of development, and they both discuss the frustration of not being able to do things faster.

Why Dustin needed to migrate from Woo Commerce to Easy Digital Downloads, and how he felt that Woo Commerce was holding his business back.

What are the biggest social media marketing mistakes Dustin sees product companies making, and how would he recommend they approach it?

The more value you can give away, the more your audience will trust you, and the more they’ll pay attention to you, and the more they’ll interact and engage with you

Why James has not bothered to create a presence for Ninja Forms on LinkedIn.

Dustin discusses the “paradox of choice” as it pertains to share buttons on your website.

How does a product company decide which social networks to focus upon?


Dustin Stout’s personal website:

Dustin’s Twitter:


Dustin’s more business-oriented blog: (note the missing “i”)

Dustin is also one of the 5 remaining people using Google+:

Dustin’s social media product, Social Warfare:


James Laws’ personal blog:

James’ Twitter:


James’ bread n’ butter gig, Ninja Forms:


The app Dustin uses to store his ideas and research notes while gestating articles:

Ahrefs, the tool Dustin uses for keyword research:

Dustin’s article about how he uses the Coschedule marketing calendar:

Why Coschedule is One of the Best Marketing Investment you can Make 

Dustin’s new venture, a course on Visual Content Mastery for your blogs and social media posts

The service Dustin uses to monitor where the keywords he is most interested in are being discussed on social networks and elsewhere online:

Jesus Christ:

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