Throughout the years I learned a lot from Brian Dean and his insanely detailed and actionable blog posts and guides that led to increased revenue for my clients and the growth of my projects. If I could only follow one person to learn SEO, it would be Brian Dean.

Here’s my interview with Brian Dean sharing his most influential habits, Pomodoro obsession, and life-changing experiences.

Who Is Brian Dean?

Brian Dean is the founder of Backlinko, an SEO training company that helps professional marketers get higher rankings and traffic. His work is praised by top publications like Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur and attracts millions of readers to his blog.

What Are the Most Influential Habits in Your Life?

The most important habit for me has been daily "Maker Time."

This is a concept from Paul Graham. He wrote about this approach in this 2009 blog post.

The idea here is that, as a creator, you need a block of time cut off from distractions. And trying to juggle both maker and manager time all at once is going to kill your productivity.

As someone that runs a blog and has a team, this approach has been HUGE for me. I used to wake up and check my email so that I could help my team with tasks they were working on. But I found it really hard to switch into writing mode after that.

Today, I dedicate the first 3-4 hours of the day to writing and creating. Then, I have "Manager Time" in the afternoon. This has been an absolute game-changer for me.

How Do You Manage Time?

I'm a Pomodoro nut. In fact, the most visited website according to my browser is TomatoTimer, LOL.

Other than that, I manage to-dos on Google Calendar. I set up each to-do the day before. And I add a number in front of each task so they're in order of importance. For example:

0. Work on a new blog post
1. Send draft to 2-3 people
2. Review designs for an upcoming guide
3. SEO-optimize SEO tools post

For me, having goals set out the day before helps me focus on the most important stuff. And (largely!) keeps me off of Facebook and Twitter.

What's Your Work Process and Thinking Behind It?

As a control freak, my work process is to try to do everything myself. This is something that I need to work on. So I'm trying to transition into "Touch everything that's important to the business. But you don't need to actually do all the things."

Another big part of my thought process behind work is focusing on the most important things. I actually used to be better at this. Since the business has grown and more "opportunities" have come up, I find myself a bit more stretched out than before.

In fact, I've been re-reading this excellent collection of advice from successful entrepreneurs to help me remember to focus. It's amazing how many say that “focus” is largely the key to success.

How Do You Train Your Body and Mind?

Body: functional training (kettlebells, lunges... stuff like that).

Mind: reading and going for walks. As someone that works from home, I used to only leave the house when I was meeting someone or needed to run an errand. Now, I always hit 10k steps/day no matter what. There's probably a “body” benefit in there. But to me, walking is valuable because it helps clear my mind.

How Do You Meet and Connect with People?

I initially connect with people online. Then, if I think someone would be cool to meet, I'll reach out to them.

Because my blog has built up a sizeable audience, I'm in the fortunate position that I connect with lots of people online. So I usually just reach out to people when I'm in their city to grab a coffee.

I used to go to conferences to connect with folks. But it wasn't worth the travel and hassle just to maybe meet one or two cool people.

What Are Your Sleeping Rituals?

I've been blessed as a great sleeper. I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow! And I very rarely get up during the night.

I usually go to bed at 10:30 pm and wake up at 7:30 am.

What Are Your Investing Habits?

I invest in online courses.

Books have probably helped my big picture thinking more than courses. But courses have helped me blast through roadblocks and master specific skills faster than if I tried to learn them on my own.

In fact, I think courses are an underrated way to learn something new. They give you structure that blog posts and YouTube videos don't have.

Plus, courses are way more expensive than books. So to me, they're more of an “investment” than a $10 book!

What's One Question That Helped You Understand the World Better?

“How can this be better?”

The world has more than enough mediocre products, articles, blog posts and sites.

So I'm always thinking of how we can make our stuff better so we don't fall into the trap of mediocrity.

What Books, People, Experiences Shaped Your Thinking?

The biggest thing that shaped my thinking was backpacking in Asia for 18 months.

Before then, I'd never traveled into a different time zone! This taught me that hard things aren't as hard as you think. And that you can figure out pretty much anything that comes along. These were 2 huge lessons for an aspiring entrepreneur.