Making The Impossible Possible: How I Created A Full Time Blogging Income With No Qualifications

Image via Flickr user Susy Morris

Image via Flickr user Susy Morris

This is a guest contribution from freelance writer Stacey Corrin.

It was a dark day in November 2012 when I first began to blog. Rain lashed the windows of the home we’d just moved into. Removal boxes lay strewn across the floor and the cries of my newborn twins rang shrill in my ears.

I felt trapped, with no escape plan.

Being a new parent can do that to you. It can make you feel like the only person in the room. It can sap your energy, your personality, your identity. Yet it can also put you on a path you might never consider possible.

Today I want to share how I got from that wretched point to my life now. Three years later, I’m now a successful ghostwriter, blogger and full time freelancer.

 

It Began As A Cry For Help

My foray into blogging began like most peoples does. It was expression, even a cry for help. Most importantly it was an outlet for the turmoil and confusion of young parenthood.

I set myself up with a free WordPress blog and proceeded to spend any spare time, jotting down my thoughts. Off they would go into the ether and I’d feel a little lighter, a little more relieved for having let it all out.

Little did I know that there were people reading my musings. They introduced themselves, faceless entities going through similar situations. They provided support, insight and friendship I’d never found offline.

These people introduced me to a whole community I never knew existed. People from all walks of life were doing just what I was doing. They were baring their souls to the internet and finding comfort in the practice. What’s more, they were making a living from it too!

 

I Immersed Myself In All Things Blogging

That realisation was a revelation to me. Immediately I set about learning all that I could about blogging, SEO, and how to build an audience. It wasn’t an easy process. I learned some terrible blogging habits along the way but I also found that there was so much help out there if you knew where to look.

I discovered sites like this one. I haunted the big names on Twitter and Facebook yet also took stock of the little ones who were making waves. Sites like Blogging Wizard who at that point was still fresh and new.

What was it that made them so successful? What were their secrets? What made them stand out?

And then it dawned on me. These people stood out because they didn’t follow the crowd.

Well, I knew a thing or two about that. Always the oddball at school, I spent the majority of my teenage years sticking out like a sore thumb. So how could I do that with my own blog? How could I stand out and make a living at the same time?

By this point I’d spent two and a half years figuring this blogging thing out. My twins had grown to the point that afforded me more freedom, so one evening I sat down with a notepad and wrote out the things I was good at.

Three things stood out at me:

  • Writing
  • Blogging
  • WordPress

A thought began to blossom. What if I did something drastic? What if I started all over again and built a new blog from scratch? This time I’d do so with the aim of sharing everything I’d learned over the last few years. At the same time I’d market my skills to those who needed them – my blog a testament to them.

 

How I Turned My Passion Into Profit

I realised that through helping others with their own blogs, I could show off what I’d learned along the way. Let’s face it, not everyone has time to write blog post after blog post, on a daily basis. Unless of course like me, you love to write. Thus blogging about blogging and offering my services as a ghostwriter seemed like a smart move.

Through the power of Selz, a simple and free eCommerce platform, I was able to create product listings for my services. People could buy these from my new blog. With a few clicks of a button they could get a ghostwritten blog post and within a matter of days, have it land in their inbox. All attribution would go to them, no strings attached.

The services I offered included:

  • Ghostwriting
  • WordPress content management
  • Virtual help
  • Social media management

These were things that people needed. I knew I could provide them as I did those things every day and over time the word spread. Recommendations came in, people gave great testimonials and I built a small client base.

That was over three months ago.

In that time I’ve written over 80 blog posts of 900 words and over (excluding my own). My blog has grown from zero traffic and shares to posts with over 800 shares alone. I’m now in a place where people want to read what I’m writing. Not because they sympathise, but because they can learn something valuable from my words. Needless to say the clients have poured in too, coinciding with an income that’s sustaining five people.

How did I do it? I listened to what people wanted. Then I promoted the pants off what I created.

  • Jump into Facebook groups and Quora discussions related to your niche and listen to what people are talking about.
  • Talk to people on Social Media instead of just link dropping
  • Offer up solutions through your blog posts, which answer people’s most pressing questions
  • Forget word counts when you’re writing. A post should be as long as it needs to be, to get your message across.

When promoting your content:

  • Join places like Triberr and follow tribes with similar interests. Here you can connect with influencers who will help your posts reach a wider audience.
  • Use the power of imagery with networks like Pinterest. This can be a massive source of traffic if you create excellent visuals to go with your posts.
  • Don’t forget your email list! Provide incentives like content upgrades for subscribers only. Follow up with personal emails that provide value to your list.

The best way of exposing my blog to new readers, was to guest post for other blogs. This has been my biggest source of repeat clients and traffic. By keeping some of your best work for other people’s blogs, you’re making a bold statement. You’re telling people that you care about quality, that you’re not just about self-promotion.

 

It’s Been A Humbling Experience

Looking back to that November day, I don’t recognise the person I was. Blogging lifted me from a hopeless situation into a life that’s rich, vibrant and full of opportunity.

If I can offer any advice to anybody, it would be this:

Always believe in the impossible. No matter how hard it might seem, there is always a way if you’re willing to dream big and work for it.

Stacey is a Ghostwriter and Blogger who creates content for influencers in the digital marketing and WordPress community. When she’s not blogging elsewhere, she hangs out on her own blog, sharing visual content and blogging tips.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Making The Impossible Possible: How I Created A Full Time Blogging Income With No Qualifications


@ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where I’ll be Speaking in 2015

I’ve had a few people asking in the last few weeks where I’ll be speaking in 2015 – I can’t believe the end of the year is so close!

I love speaking and am excited by some of the opportunities next year. I hope you’ll consider joining me both here in Australia and Internationally.

World Domination Summit 2013: Photo by  Joshua Seaman

World Domination Summit 2013: Photo by Joshua Seaman

Next year I’ll be speaking twice internationally (so far):

1. March 25-26: Social Media Marketing World in San Diego.

I’m really excited to get to Social Media Marketing World this year. I’ve jealously watched it from afar the last couple of years as many of those that I admire have attended and spoken.

All that I’ve spoken to who attend say it’s one of the best organised and most practically helpful conferences that they’ve been to.

Here’s a little recap of what attendees thought of last years event!

It was a real delight to be invited by Mike Stelzner to speak in the blogging stream this year.

What a buzz it’ll be to attend an event with 2500 bloggers and social media enthusiasts!

$ 500 Off! Social Media Marketing World

Until Friday you can grab a ticket to Social Media Marketing World at a whopping $ 500 off!

Note: I am an affiliate to this event but am also genuinely endorsing it (I wouldn’t travel for close to 24 hours to attend it otherwise).

2. May 9-14: Chris Ducker’s Tropical Think Tank in Cebu, the Philippines.

I’ve not been to the Philippines for 12 years so I’m really looking forward to this one.

Chris has assembled a great lineup of speakers for this intense but intimate event (there are only 50 attendees) – I’m honoured to be one of them.

I’m told there are a handful of tickets left – join me at TTT here.

In Australia: ProBlogger Event

My main focus in speaking next year will be within Australia. I’m still in talks with a couple of conferences and hope to announce them shortly but many ProBlogger readers have also been asking about our ProBlogger Event.

We hope to announce more details of dates and venue for our main event before the end of the year but I can tell you that it will be mid August 2015 and we will be in a new venue that will allow us to grow beyond the 550 attendees who attended last year.

I can also tell you that we will be running a full day event this year in Perth on Saturday 21 February. We hope to release tickets for this event by early in December.

Lastly we will be running some shorter events in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane in March.

To be notified of all of these Aussie events the moment we have more news to share please join our Aussie Events email list here:

Need a Speaker for Your Event?

9226361525_3dc3aa965e_b 2I am open to speaking at a small number of other events in 2015. I particularly enjoy keynote style presentations but have a variety of workshops that I can run also.

I’m comfortable speaking to audiences of thousands right down to smaller groups and would love to discuss how I can serve those attending your conference.

If you have an event that you’d like me to come to please check out my speaker page for more information and some examples of me speaking.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Where I’ll be Speaking in 2015


@ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How Bloggers Can Make The Best Use Of Their 24 Hours

Image via Flickr user Thomas R Stegelmann

Image via Flickr user Thomas R Stegelmann

This is a guest contribution from entrepreneur Charles Crawford.

Whether your parents believe you or not, there are ways to make a living off of being a blogger. And with as many benefits that come with blogging, who wouldn’t want to at least check out this lifestyle? After all, you get to be your own boss for the most part, so you don’t have to worry about a lot of the hindrances that come with a typical 9-5.

However, being a blogger isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Instead, it’s a job where you’ll have to work hard if you expect to get paid. And if you don’t work, then you might want to give your old employer a call and see if they’ll hire you back.

Another obstacle that bloggers must overcome is being able to manage their time appropriately. Because you won’t have a boss breathing down your neck every day, you get to decide when you want to work and what clients you want to work for. Therefore, it’s important that you ensure that you make the most of your day, in order to be as productive as possible. Here is a look at how bloggers can make the best use of their 24 hours each day.

Have A Plan

The first thing that any blogger will want to do as they look to organize their day is make a planned schedule. If you quit your job and became a blogger with the hopes of ditching a scheduled lifestyle, you may want to rethink things. Sure, you won’t have to be at your desk from 9-5 each day, but having a schedule for your blogging will be imperative if you plan to be successful. Even if the schedule changes from day to day, knowing what you want to get done will help you organize your less-traditional lifestyle.

Not only should part of that plan include time for blogging, but you’ll also want to accommodate for your personal life as well. Unless you plan on sitting in front of a computer all day long and blogging, you’ll also want to account for time to hit the gym or even hang out with friends.

Knowing when you have to work and when you have time to yourself in a schedule will do wonders for your time management as a blogger throughout the day.

Stay Focused

One of the toughest parts of being a blogger is going to be staying focused. Lets face it; there is a lot of stuff on the internet. For some bloggers, they may be looking on a website for information, but next thing they know they’ll look at the clock and two hours has passed by. When you spend two hours look at talking animals on the internet, it can really cut into your blogging time. Therefore, be sure that you stay focused and take the necessary precautions to avoid being distracted.

Keep Networking

Part of your blogging efforts should include time that you spend networking with other people. The more people that you meet in the blogging world, the more likely it is that you’ll learn from their advice and have more success individually. However, if you fail to meet the right people, you may struggle when it comes to your ability to get recognition for your blogging efforts.

Adapt To Your Plan

That plan that was mentioned earlier is a great starting point, but keep in mind that things might change over time. For example, you might need to arrange time in your schedule to contact new people about blogging opportunities. You may also need to check your email or social media accounts to communicate with other writers. The more that you can crunch into your work day, which will be easier if you have a schedule, the more productive you will be. And if you can easily work in changes into the schedule, you’ll be even more efficient.

Stay Informed

Part of your time while adapting to your schedule should also include staying informed on new technology, programs, or applications that can make your life as a blogger much easier. There are always new options to consider learning, or new niches to capitalize on, and doing so will help you to be more productive. Keep in mind that bloggers who work smarter, rather than harder, will likely see more success.

Know When To Stop

When you work as a blogger, the internet is always going to be at your fingertips. With that mindset, you might have a hard time turning your computer off and taking time to yourself. However, it’s equally as important that you know when to rest during your 24-hour day. If you fail to get adequate sleep, then you may have a tough time with being as productive the following day.

Being a blogger has plenty of rewards and it’s certainly a vital option for making a good income. But if you really want to be able to have your efforts pay off, then you’ll have to put in the work for it and make the most of your 24 hours each day.

Charles Crawford is a high-level entrepreneur and co-founder of Invisume. Charles has been studying internet marketing, web design, and tech start-ups for years, and he has been successful with multiple business ventures such as affiliate marketing (where 98%+ of people never make money).

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

How Bloggers Can Make The Best Use Of Their 24 Hours


@ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Did Your Blog Have a Tipping Point? Here’s How My 2 Blogs Grew

Time for another reader question from a recent member webinar on ProBlogger.com.

Did you experience a “tipping point” in readership at some point or was it just steady growth?

This is actually a question I often ask full time bloggers who I meet because I love to hear the back story about how their blog broke through to have enough readers to make a living from.

What I’ve found in asking the question is that there are many different pathways to full time blogging.

This can perhaps be illustrated by sharing how my two main blogs grew in terms of readership because they could not really be more different.

Let’s start with ProBlogger

I wish I could show you an actual traffic chart of ProBlogger’s growth but when I started it back in 2004 I didn’t have Google Analytics installed (it didn’t come along until 2006, from memory).

However if I were to recreate it’s growth the chart would have looked something like this in the first couple of years.

blog traffic ProBlogger

You can see the first few months were particularly slow but within the next two months things boomed very quickly.

This ‘tipping point’ came as a result of me mentioning (without any forethought) in an interview that I’d reached a level of being a full time blogger and earning a six figure income from my blogging.

This caused quite the stir back in 2006. While blogging had been around for a few years and the idea of making money online was not new – there were not too many bloggers experimenting with making money from blogs.

The interview in which I mentioned making a six figure income from blogging went viral and was linked to from a number of big sites (one in particular was Slashdot which sent hundreds of thousands of visitors in a day).

Some people saw making money from blogging as controversial (blogging was seen by some as ‘pure’ and not to be monetised) and it also stimulated a lot of other bloggers to become interested in making money from blogging.

ProBlogger was the only real place to talk about making money blogging so subscribers shot up almost overnight and the term ‘ProBlogger’ quickly became a term those making money from blogging began to use to describe what they did.

While I didn’t set out to cause the ‘tipping point’ with that interview my blog here at ProBlogger was never the same after doing so.

A Different Story at Digital Photography School

Digital Photography School was a very different story to ProBlogger in terms of traffic growth.

If I had to chart the first two years it’d have looked more like this (in comparison to the yellow line of ProBlogger).

blog traffic comparison

It took around 2 years to get to the point where dPS was larger than Problogger (today it is 10 times bigger than ProBlogger is) and there was no real ‘tipping point).

I didn’t have Google Analytics on dPS until 8 months after the site began but here’s how growth has looked since that point (this is monthly visitors).

traffic-blog-dps

You can see that there were certainly some months were traffic spiked a little but the growth was fairly steady with no real breakout month that would classify as a tipping point.

The spikes in traffic were usually the result of being featured on other large blogs (usually the result of me networking and pitching other bloggers with links that their readers might find useful) or getting lucky with getting to the front page of sites like Digg or Reddit.

However it is worth saying that while spikes in traffic like these are fun… they rarely convert to long term traffic and are quite fleeting.

As I’ve written about in the past – this gradual but steady growth really came about as a result of a number of different factors:

    • Regular useful content: Daily “how to” posts that solved problems, showed people how to achieve their goals and improve their photography. This has been the main focus of the site since day 1 (I’d estimate over 90% of the content I’ve published fits into this category).
    • Shareable content: Content that I knew was more likely to be shared (inspirational posts, breaking news, humor, controversy (I didn’t really focus on this), grand list posts, and so on. This type of content has never been my main focus but I have mixed it into the publishing schedule at probably around 5% of what we publish.
    • Community: The other 5% of posts was more focused upon community activities like reader discussions, giving readers a chance to show off their photos, debates, polls, etc. We started a forum in time, too, to build this community further.
    • Email newsletter: If there’s one thing that grew the site more than any other, it was that we started collecting people’s email addresses early and began sending them weekly updates/newsletters. Email now sends a bit spike of traffic every Thursday night when we send our newsletter. Read more on how I use email to drive traffic and profit here.
    • Promotion: I defined who I wanted to read my blog and did the exercise of asking where they gathered. This lead me to sites like Flickr, other blogs, and some social networking sites where I developed presence, was useful and in time shared our content. Facebook is the #1 source of social traffic to the blog as a result of some of the strategies I’ve previously written about here and here.

SEO – I’ve never put a massive effort into search engine optimisation but one of the flow on effects of producing daily helpful content, regular shareable content, building community, and actively promoting dPS has been that the content we produce ranks well in Google. This doesn’t happen overnight but naturally grows as you add more content to your site and as your site becomes an authority in the eyes of Google. Knowing some basics of SEO helps but most of it for dPS has come about very naturally simply by trying to create the kind of site that people want to read (which is what Google tries to rank highest).

Further Reading On Content that Drives Traffic: I’ve talked a fair bit about content above – here is a post I wrote on ProBlogger last year that analyses 5 posts I published in the first year that generated a heap of traffic since that time which will illustrate the kind of content that has generated great traffic on dPS since the beginning.

How Did Your Blog Grow?

As you can see – my two blogs have had quite different journeys. Most full time bloggers I meet tend to have growth more similar to dPS than ProBlogger but no two are the same.

What has your blog’s growth been like?

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Did Your Blog Have a Tipping Point? Here’s How My 2 Blogs Grew


@ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blogging with Intention: Creating an Income from a Successful Blog with Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom

Crystal Paine is the founder of the amazingly successful MoneySavingMom.com, which sees 1.5 million visitors each month, and employs 13 full time staff. Born of a blog series that turned into an ebook, which then evolved into an e-course, Crystal realised her readers were hungry for a real-life guide to living frugally, but well; be it slashing their grocery bill, using coupons, or finding ways to run their home on less.

Crystal had been looking for ways to create an income while she was a stay at home mom, and realised she could make a healthy business meeting her readers’ need for such information. With forethought and intention, Crystal created and monetized the site, but was still surprised when it outdid their expectations – by a long shot.

In our interview, we chat about the plans she made before MoneySavingMom.com went live, the things she did to make it a success, and how they kept that ball rolling to create the main source of income for her family today. Crystal also shares her ideas on revenue streams, how long it actually took to make a consistent income, and tips that will help you be more intentional with your efforts to succeed.

Blogging with Intention: Creating an income from a successful blog with Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom

The Beginning: Blogging Goals and Direction

You started Money Saving Mom after a blog series turned into an ebook, which turned into an ecourse. What dreams did you have for the site, seeing as you’d already covered so much of the content elsewhere?

I realized that I had barely touched the tip of the iceberg with the ebook and e-course I wrote on cutting your grocery bill. My vision for MoneySavingMom.com was that I was going to be sharing specific deals you could find at your local drugstores and big box stores (such as Walmart and Target). I also planned to share deals I had gotten locally, as well as ways our family was living on a small budget. As there are new sales every week and I’m always finding great deals and bargains, I knew that it wouldn’t be too hard to come up with new material to blog about each week.

 

Step Two: Creating an Income

You were very intentional about monetizing the site from the start to help supplement your family’s income while you were a stay at home mom. Did you have an idea going into it how you would monetize? 

When I started MoneySavingMom.com in 2007, I had already dabbled into monetization on a mommy blog I had. I knew I could make money with sidebar ads, as well as sharing some affiliate links. Back then, the options were fairly limited, but I kept researching, watching what others were doing, and slowly started experimenting with new ideas. One of the best ways to monetize in the early days of the blog was by becoming an affiliate for coupon printing sites (such as Coupons.com). They would pay me per print session. So if I posted about a great deal on toothpaste at Walmart and shared a printable coupon on Coupons.com that could be paired with the sale to get an even better discount, I’d get paid for every person who printed that coupon. While it was only a small amount per coupon printed, since I posted quite a few coupons each week, it quickly added up! To this day, getting paid per print for sharing great printable coupons is one of our highest earning affiliate income sources!

Do you think creating a monetized blog from the get-go is much different to monetising an established blog? (I have heard some people say it is easier to start with monetizing in mind rather than then try and turn a personal or other type of blog into something that makes an income – I was wondering if that was your experience.)

Great question! I think it’s always wise to be strategic and to go into any venture with a long-term plan. That plan can always change as circumstances and opportunities change, but I think it’s important to have a destination in mind when you start out on any road. Otherwise, you may end up just going around in circles because you don’t have any clue where you’re headed.

That said, I still believe that Content Is King. You can have the best monetized blog in the world, but if your content isn’t helpful and relevant, all the monetization strategies aren’t going to make much of an impact. So I always encourage beginning bloggers to start by establishing yourself as a voice people want to listen to. Provide great content, write about topics that are relevant, format your posts in an organized manner, and share your posts on social media in a compelling manner. Focus on solving problems and meeting needs in what you write, build up your credibility, and slowly also work on creative ways to monetize your blog.

I am told a lot that some people really wrestle with the idea of monetizing, although they ultimately would like to. What advice would you have for them?

I know there are definitely camps who believe you should just write because you love it, not because you’re getting paid for it. I think you should do both. I’m of the opinion that if you’re going to spend so much time producing great content, you should also get paid for your time.   One of the best ways to monetize your site is to be a person of integrity. Write about things you are passionate about and be very particular in what products and affiliate links you promote. Never sacrifice your integrity in the name of a quick buck. When people trust you, they will put much more weight in what you promote.

For example, I rarely wholeheartedly endorse a product. I might talk about pros and cons, share what I liked about a product, but it’s rare that I’ll say that I LOVE something. Why? Because I want my words to have weight. If I “LOVE” everything, it becomes meaningless quickly. So honesty is paramount when you’re considering promoting a product. Always have your readers and their needs first and foremost. Analyze every opportunity in light of: will this benefit my readers? If it only benefits me or if just mostly benefits me, I always choose turn down the opportunity. By doing so, I can, in good conscience occasionally really wholeheartedly endorse a product, site, or service — and my readers will know that it is something really worth checking into.

What kind of mindframe do you need to be in to make a blog a financial success? Do you need to treat it like a business as early as possible? Or can that come later?

I think one of the greatest keys to be successful as a blogger — both in terms of building a readership and making an income from your blogging efforts — is consistency. If readers know they can count on you regularly posting great content, they are much more likely to regularly show up.   This doesn’t mean that you always have to post the same number of times every week, or always post at the same time each day, or that you can’t ever take a break from blogging, but it does mean that you treat your blogging seriously. If you are employed somewhere, you are expected to show up to work and complete your work in a timely manner. If you don’t, there will be fall out — you might miss out on that promotion, you might not get that coveted opportunity, or you might even lose your job.   It’s the same way with blogging. You need to do all you can to keep your commitments to your readers — or don’t make the commitments in the first place. You need to place priority on producing great content. And you need to show up regularly. When readers know they can count on you, they feel much more invested in you and connected to you.

Someone asked me not too long ago what the secret was to my success. My answer: “There are no secrets; just hard work.” I have blogged almost every single day but Sunday, every single week, every year since I began blogging in 2005.   That’s a LOT of blogging. And trust me, while I truly love blogging, there were days when I would have rather been doing something else. I have stayed up late at night, gotten up early in the morning, and worked on Saturdays and holidays. There have been grueling and exhausting seasons, but the commitment, drive, and consistency have paid off in big ways.

Related: Crystal’s extensive list of resources and information of how she makes money blogging.

The Elusive Blog/Life Balance

What advice would you give to moms or parents who were much like you in the early days – trying to get a blog off the ground while balancing that with the needs of your home and family?

My best advice would be to not follow in my footsteps and bite off way more than you can chew! Instead, I encourage you to write down your goals. Where do you want to be in six months from now? A year from now? 5 years from now?   In considering your six month goals, write down a list of everything that needs to happen in order to achieve those goals. Then, pick the top 3 most important to-do items on your list as your first priorities.

After you’ve chosen your top 3 action items, consider how much time you realistically have to invest each day. Maybe it’s just 30 minutes or an hour. That’s okay. Start there, but remember that if you don’t have much time to invest, you may need to scale back your expectations for how quickly you accomplish your goals.   Break those three items down into bite-sized steps and then make an appointment with yourself for your 30 minute or 1-hour time block (or however much time you’ve committed) and make it a priority. Set the timer. Start in on one of the steps and keep going until the timer goes off.   While you might not accomplish as much as you’d like as quickly as you’d like, you probably be surprised how much you can accomplish in 30 minute to 1 hour blocks of focused effort.

Strategy

You have said before that you and your husband just wanted to “see where this goes” in the early days of your blog – did you have a particular timeframe, or certain goals that would help you decide to continue?

My goal was to make a part-time income (I was aiming for around $ 1200 per month.) I knew that this amount would help not only supplement our income, but would allow us to be able to save and give more.   It took me around 2.5 years of hard, hard work, to hit that amount on a consistent monthly basis. And there were many months in the beginning when I wondered if I was just chasing after some really unrealistic dream. But eventually I started to not only hit that goal every month, but then to exceed it. Pretty soon, I was consistently doubling that initial goal, and then tripling it. It was so gratifying to realize that all those early months where I was doing well to make $ 2-$ 3 per hour paid off! I’m so glad I didn’t give up when it felt like my efforts weren’t really going anywhere.

When did you realise the blog was actually going to be successful?

When I started MoneySavingMom.com in 2007, I truly pictured that it was just going to be a little off-shoot of the mommy blog I had started in 2005. So, you can imagine my shock when, within a few months of starting it, I was getting 14,000 to 16,000 pageviews per day on it! It blew my mind!   And it just kept growing… until we finally got to the point that I was having find a hosting company that didn’t cost an arm and a leg and could sustain the traffic that the site was generating!

Support Networks

How important is your husband’s support in your work?

Honestly, I doubt I would be blogging if it weren’t for my husband. He is my best friend and biggest cheerleader. When I was initially considering starting my first mommy blog, he believed in me and encouraged me to do it. When I was considering starting, MoneySavingMom.com, he said, “Go for it!” I’m positive I never would have had the courage to hit “publish” on so many posts if it weren’t for him reading through them with me and saying, “Yes, you need to publish that. Someone needs to read it.”

In those moments when I’ve doubted myself, wondered what I was thinking, or even considered quitting, his voice has been there speaking words of motivation, reminding me of the why behind what I do: to inspire and impact people. He’s prodded me out of my comfort zone so many times. He takes care of the kids so I can write. He runs our household when I’m out of town on business trips. He serves as a sounding board when I have difficult situations come up.   He takes care of all the legal and financial aspects of the business. He’s always reading through contracts for me, helping my team with legal questions that come up, working with our accountant to make sure all the books and payroll are taken care of (spreadsheets give me hives!), and working with me to dream for the future and make sure we stay accountable to our business goals.

Branching Out: Evolving the Blog

You now employ 13 people – what’s the most difficult thing about being a boss rather than a sole blogger? What is the best thing?

I never would have envisioned that I’d someday be running a business with multiple people working for me, not just a blog that I write on! It’s been quite the adventure and I’m so very grateful for the wonderful folks who are on this road with me!   The hardest thing about managing a team has been trusting my gut and actually being the one to be leading the team. I’ve grown a lot as a person through running a business and have been blessed to have some really wise people mentoring me along the way.

One of the pieces of advice I’ve received was that I need to be the one who sets the course. I need to decide the direction we’re going and then encourage and inspire my team to help me be successful in heading in that direction. My tendency would be to be all, “Whatever you think is best.” Or to just not communicate a clear-cut vision for where we’re headed. I’m learning and growing in this… but I’m still very much a work in progress!

The best thing about having a team working with me is that it’s not only a lot more fun to be in this with such brilliant and wonderful people, but we get so much more done because my team members are much, much more talented in so many areas than me. Plus, my team is committed to helping me only do what I do best and to take all the other projects, details, and work off my shoulders. It’s a humbling thing to have such fantastic people working together with me to further the mission I have for MoneySavingMom.com. Often, when we’re working on a big project and brainstorming about it, I’ll step back and just look at the amazing brilliance represented in the room and think to myself, “I cannot believe that I have the honor of working with these incredible people!”

Related: You can read more of Crystal’s story in her post: This Crazy Journey I’ve Been on the Last 10 Years (and Yes, You can Make Money Blogging!). 

So what do you think? Are there strategies Crystal used that you can now take into your own blogging experience? I know personally I got a lot from her forward-thinking and intentional decisions to create a successful site. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the gal behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Blogging with Intention: Creating an Income from a Successful Blog with Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom


@ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Six secrets to Six-Figure Product Launches with Jeff Goins

NOTE: We are running a free webinar with Jeff over at ProBlogger.com in two days (November 19), where he will talk about the Four Keys to Building a Powerful Audience Online. Normally the full webinars are only available to paid members of the site, but there will be a few big names in the next few months sharing their knowledge in our free sessions. You will need to create a free account (more info on how to do that here), but it’s very simple.

Please head to the webinar page, and and click “register”. A popup box will appear with a button to create a free account.

Screen-Shot-2014-10-27-at-10.54.31-am.png

Click it, add your details, and click “continue” to log in. You will receive an email confirming your registration, and another reminder email as the webinar approaches.

Without further ado, here’s Jeff to explain how to totally nail any product launch with his six secrets. Thanks, Jeff!

 

A few years ago, when I was just getting started with trying to monetize my blog, I met a successful online entrepreneur. When I asked her how I could start making money off my blog, she asked how big my email list was. I told her, and she said that was a six-figure business.

I laughed and explained to her that it was more like a three-figure business. I had run a couple of ads that had made me a total of about $ 400 in the past six months. I did not have a business.

“No,” she said. “You’ve got at least six figures there. You just need to leverage your influence and get your audience to buy from you.”

It turns out she was right. In fact, that advice didn’t just help me build a six-figure business in a year. It taught me how to start doing $ 100,000 product launches — not only for my own business but for other people’s businesses, as well.

I stumbled on to some secrets, thanks to the advice of that online entrepreneur and a handful of other mentors over the years, and I want to share them with you.

Secret #1: You Have to Want It

Okay, so I want to acknowledge the elephant in the room. I know this might sound out of reach to you. Pie in the sky sort of stuff. And I totally get that.

I remember reading Darren Rowse talk about his first year of blogging and how he “only made $ 30,000.” When I read that, I was working a job that was paying me a salary of that same amount, and making 30K online sounded like a dream.

So trust me when I tell you that nobody is more surprised to hear me talk about things like “six-figure product launches” than me.

But after doing this for a couple years now, I’ve realized an important truth about business: more income means more impact. Or as Walt Disney once said, “We don’t make movies to make money. We make money to make more movies.”

If you are like I was and tend to think of business and income-generating strategies as greedy or “evil,” I want you to reconsider your stance.

First, consider the income. What would $ 100,000 mean to you and your loved ones? Could it be a means to more freedom or a chance to travel the world or see your kids go to college? Maybe it would be a way for you give to all the charities and nonprofits you’d love to contribute to.

Then, consider the impact. If you sell a $ 100 product, $ 100,000 in revenue means you’ve just made an impact on 1000 people’s lives. I don’t know about you, but personally impacting 1000 people sounds like a lot of work. But a scalable product, especially an information product, allows you to do that.

It might sound hypey to talk about $ 100,000 launches, but I promise you: what I’m about to share with you is a series of practical principles I’ve seen proven over and over again. And they’ve allowed my friends and clients to not only live their dreams but to help a lot of people in the process.

The same could be true for you, but you’ve got to reconcile your relationship with revenue and get focused on the goal. This isn’t about just making more money. It’s about making a difference.

So let’s look now at what it takes to pull off a six-figure launch.

Secret #2: Having a Great Product Is Not Enough (But It’s a Start)

We can’t overlook this step as it is so important to creating a brand with integrity and building a loyal customer base. You’ve got to create what Michael Hyatt calls “wow” products and experiences.

Why? Because frankly, your customers deserve the best work you can possibly do. And because this is the kind of work that people talk about.

Apple is one of the the biggest brands and most successful companies in the world not because of their marketing (they spend a fraction of what their competitors do on advertising), but because of the experiences users have with their products. If ask a Mac fanatic why they love all their iGear, they will tell you, “It just works.”

That’s what wow looks like.

But having a great product is not enough. In fact, it is the basic requirement to even enter the market. Once you have something you are proud of, something the world needs, you have only just begun.

Secret #3: It’s Not About Having a Big List

A lot of people mistakenly believe having a big email list is necessary to monetizing your audience. They think they need something like 20,000 subscribers just to make a living.

Try telling that to Carol Tice, who launched her quarter of a million dollar business with only 1000 subscribers. Or Tim Grahl who has already started replacing his income running a successful book marketing company with digital products that he launches to his list of less than 10,000 people.

It doesn’t take a big list. It takes a willingness to sell.

My friend Stu McLaren, cofounder of Wishlist Member and Rhino Support, once told me that if you want to make more money, do one of the following:

  1. Increase your market size. If you have a smaller email list (less than 10,000 people), then you will want to either: a) rapidly grow the list, or b) partner with affiliates who can help you reach more people now (as opposed to spending the months or years it would take to organically grow your own audience. Firepole Marketing founder Danny Iny told me, “The key to the big launches is the groundwork that goes into building the relationships that make it happen.”
  2. Increase your price. This is often the easiest tweak to make and frankly the most common error I see bloggers and online entrepreneurs make. We are notoriously bad at valuing our own services and offerings and therefore tend to price ourselves lower than we should. The market will always sustain more than you think it can. Remember that, and when in doubt, raise the price. You’re worth more than you realize.
  3. Increase your sales frequency. Another problem people face is being unwilling to sell too hard. They don’t want to appear pushy or salesy, and end up unintentionally sabotaging their business. Look. You don’t have to be pushy or slimy or do anything unethical to sell. Selling is serving; it’s helping your audience connect with an offering that will truly help them (remember: you’re starting with a great product). So when it’s time to sell, sell hard. Make a case for why this is the very best thing out there, and let people know. And when you aren’t sure what to do, send another email.

A big email list is great, but having a lot of subscribers in and of itself won’t guarantee you a ton of sales. You need to understand the finer points of business: how to identify what a market wants, what they’re willing to pay, and how to get them to buy.

Which is what we’re going to cover in the next section.

Secret #4: Sell Like You Mean It

When you’re doing all of the above and people still aren’t buying, then you don’t have a strategy problem. You have a selling problem.

If you’re doing all the right things, and people still aren’t buying, it’s probably how you’re selling. You’re probably missing three important triggers, which author and entrepreneur Carrie Wilkerson talks about:

  • Scarcity.
  • Urgency.
  • Awareness.

If people aren’t buying, it’s often because they feel like they can buy at any time, or that there will always be enough, or they simply aren’t aware something is for sale.

So when you feel stuck, try the following:

  1. Only sell a certain number of units per launch. This feels scary, because you could be limiting your potential revenue, but really what you’re doing is creating a sense of exclusivity (which equals value in the customer’s mind). Warning: if you use this strategy, don’t create false scarcity. If you say you are only going to sell 200 seats to your online workshop, then close registration when you meet your quota. Otherwise, people will find you out for the snake oil sales person you are.
  2. Offer a time-sensitive deal. (i.e. “Save $ 100 when you buy this week!” of “Don’t miss these three bonuses — buy today!”).
  3. Talk about your launch — a lot. Send more than one email (best practice is to do one on launch day and two on the final day).

Secret #5: Give People Options

When Chris Guillebeau gave Nathan Barry (who incidentally doesn’t have a huge list and is killing it with online product launches) a simple piece of advice, it literally made him hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What was this simple piece of advice?

“Selling in multiple packages has worked really well for me.”

He said it in typical Guillebeau, off-handed humility. But in that statement was a ton of value that made Nathan more money than any other piece of advice he’s ever received.

Nathan estimates that having multiple price points for each product has allowed him to make two to three times as much money as he would have made, launching at just one price point.

Putting It All Together

The other day I was chatting with a friend who recently started an online business. He was telling me all about his next project, which was another online course he hoped to create, launch, and sell by the end of the year.

“Dude,” I said. “What are you doing?! How much money have you made off your course so far?” He admitted it wasn’t much. He thought, as many do, that the solution was to create the next thing. But he was wrong.

I then proceeded to walk my friend through the process I’ve shared with you, encouraging him to keep selling what he had already built. He planned his next launch and it ended up being bigger than any other launch he’s ever had.

He was made a believer. And I hope you are, too. The secret to a successful product launch isn’t just about the product. That’s a given. But good products, as Guy Kawasaki once told me, don’t sell themselves. You’ve got to launch them well.

When I was struggling to monetize my blog and figure out how to make a living off my email list, I decided to start listening to what all these smart people were telling me:

  • I reached out to people who could help my reach more people. Some became affiliates while others just helped spread the word.
  • I raised my prices, basically every time I did a new launch.
  • I leaned in and boldly promoted a product I was proud of.

And it all worked like a charm. Each launch, more people bought than the last time, and I made more money. But it wasn’t just the income (sure, it was nice to be making 10 times what I was making at my day job), but the satisfaction of knowing I was helping thousands of people was amazing.

It’s about the impact.

Taking the Next Step

So what does this look like for you? Here’s a recap of all of the above:

  1. Decide you want this.
  2. Commit to a plan and set a launch date.
  3. Build something awesome that you are proud to promote.
  4. Connect with people who will help extend your reach.
  5. Launch with scarcity, urgency, and awareness in mind, all the while building trust and delivering value along the way.

And watch the magic happen.

For more secrets to successful product launches, check out this page I put together just for Problogger readers.

Jeff Goins is an author, blogger, and entrepreneur who lives in Nashville. He loves helping writers and bloggers get the attention their messages deserve. Tweet at him @JeffGoins and get a free product launch resource here.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Six secrets to Six-Figure Product Launches with Jeff Goins


@ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Promote Your Blog With Content That Will Grow Your Traffic, Links, and Shares

This is a contribution from Gary Dek from StartABlog123.com.

Starting a blog is easy. Step-by-step tutorials to creating a blog and one-click CMS installations have ballooned the number of online blogs to over 200 million. But creating a blog isn’t the part you should worry about.

Unique and creative content can be hard to develop, especially when you are writing for a wide demographic. Am I producing something interesting, practical, actionable, valuable, and shareable? Would another blogger actually choose to link to it in the sea of other content available online?

Concerns like these are not uncommon when learning how to create a blog. All amateur and professional bloggers should evaluate their business strategies on a regular basis. It’s what drives us to constantly improve.

Fortunately, if you analyze some of the most successful bloggers online, it’s not that they are employing tactics or strategies that me or you can’t. There is no secret recipe or special club that builds traffic.

It’s the little things. Successful bloggers consistently execute on the little things that make their content relatable, shareable, and linkable.

Below, you will find a checklist of writing tips to help you create great content, increase your traffic and promote your blog. Don’t expect overnight results, but in the long-run, you and your readers will notice the difference. And to be more targeted, we’ve divided up the list between general writing advice, B2C, and B2B best practices.

Create Content To Promote Your Blog

Best General Writing Tips

  1. Start with a good headline. A good headline makes people want to click and read your content. Impart a sense of urgency, be dramatic, promise better results, or use a big number like “101 Ways…” Readers will be enticed out of curiosity.
  2. Write a good introduction. Your headline can get readers to click, but your intro needs to hook them to continue reading. Make an outrageous statement. Ask a difficult or relatable question. Tell them how the article is going to improve some aspect of their life.
  3. Have a conversation. Do you talk to your friends using 15-letter words or long, complex sentences? Readers don’t want to reference an online dictionary every other sentence, nor do they want a subject matter so complicated, they don’t understand what they are reading. Make reading easy by using simple words and sentences, which also makes for more shareable content.
  4. Talk directly to the reader. This is similar to the above point. Don’t alienate yourself. Use words like “you” and “I” freely. Write as if the reader were in front of you.
  5. Don’t BS. Don’t ramble to meet a word-count. Delete the fluff and unnecessary discussions. The sooner you make your points, the longer you will have them engaged.
  6. Write short paragraphs. No offense, but readers have short attention spans. I probably lost half the readers of this blog by now. There is no hard and fast rule, but generally, 5 to 7-sentence paragraphs are easier to comprehend.
  7. Break up your content with subheadings. Subheadings help organize content, making it easier on a reader’s eyes to scan the page.
  8. Use images. Start your post with an interesting, relevant image. Research shows that images increase click-through rates, shares and links. In fact, images (charts, graphs, spreadsheets, graphics, etc.) can often facilitate the transfer of information better than text.
  9. Tell a story. Everyone loves a good story. Don’t just present facts and figures. Share how the topic of discussion has changed or influenced your life or someone you know.
  10. Connect with your readers. You’re a human being with character, personality, and experiences. Allow your readers to relate to you and build a stronger connection.
  11. Write a good closing. Don’t leave your readers hanging. Just as a good intro hooks them, a good closing makes them feel that they didn’t waste their time.
  12. Proofread and fact-check. The facts and statistics you use to support your opinion/argument need to be accurate if you want to be seen as credible. Similarly, one or two typos is acceptable, but an article littered with poor grammar and incorrect spelling won’t get shared.
  13. Make social sharing buttons visible. It’s hard to expect social shares when you make the act of sharing difficult and tedious. If you are a B2B blog, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook are your top platforms. If you are a visual B2C brand, such fashion or foodie blogs, you will want to leverage Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. Research your target demographic and be active on the social mediums they utilize.

Tips For Business To Consumer (B2C) Blogs

  1. Be timely. Timing is crucial to earning exposure. Write news when it breaks, not days after.
  2. Be consistent. If you’ve been blogging for a while, you have undoubtedly developed a loyal following. Don’t let your readers down by posting randomly. If you don’t post on a daily basis, make sure your readers are aware of your editorial calendar. Furthermore, there is an SEO benefit to posting fresh content regularly.
  3. Keep up with pop culture. Consumers keep tabs on pop culture, and if you want to get their attention, you have to keep yourself up-to-date. Read, listen, and watch so you can write about current trends and make your content relevant and relatable. This is especially important if your target demographic is Millennials.
  4. Rotate between evergreen and trending content. Trending content can last a few weeks or months, but evergreen is timeless. Intersperse your content with both. It’s the equivalent of diversifying your investment portfolio between equities and bonds – one can offer huge upside, while the other is more consistent and stable. Combined, they offer balanced growth.
  5. Use videos and images freely. A creative or beautiful image at the start of a blog post can really draw in a reader, especially if it organizes information more effectively and clearly than a textual description. This is especially true with B2C writing because consumers often don’t like to read long, in-depth articles.
  6. Experiment with different types of content. Text may be the backbone of your blog, but if Upworthy and ViralBuzz have taught us anything, don’t underestimate the power of well-curated videos and images.
  7. Tap into emotions, but don’t exploit them. Consumers are prone to emotional stimuli, the most popular of which are humor, wonder, and empathy. But don’t exploit it and purposefully tug at the heart strings of your readerships. You will build a bad reputation of being overly emotional.
  8. Respect your readers. Be honest, open, and treat your audience like you would family. Even if your blog is instructional in nature, don’t talk down to them. Present concepts thoroughly, but assume a certain basic level of intellectual sophistication.

Tips For Business To Business (B2B) Blogs

Writing for business requires you to make slight adjustments. One positive is that B2B audiences are more focused and willing to spend money if your product or service genuinely solves a problem and furthers their professional interests.

  1. Use credible headlines with statistics. Headlines still need to be catchy in B2B writing, but business people are more likely to want data-driven analysis and results. For example, “How I Grew My Email List By 329% In A Week” explains the benefit of reading the article. However, don’t be full of it and use outrageous claims – they will hurt your brand and reputation. No one wants to feel duped.
  2. Narrow down your topics. Ever heard of “inch wide, mile deep”? This concept suggests you limit the scope of each article, but thoroughly and comprehensively cover every aspect of the subject matter. Businesses don’t need general information. Instead, B2B readers want very specific, actionable content that addresses an issue or problem they are dealing with.
  3. Write more evergreen content. Evergreen content is timeless and will always be relevant. For instance, “How To Start A Business” gets 40,500 monthly searches in the United States alone. A focus on this type of content will bring you consistent traffic for years.
  4. Provide credible supporting evidence. Use white papers, government figures, research studies, and professional publications to prove your point. Business people don’t want unsubstantiated opinions, but arguments molded by reputable sources.
  5. Offer step-by-step solutions to problems. To build a reputation as an authority in your niche, you must demonstrate that you understand the factors, issues and obstacles facing the industry. Delivering reliable solutions via free content builds trust and confidence so when you eventually want to sell a product/service, your readership sees the value in working with you.
  6. Show personality and liven things up. Veer away from the stereotypical dry, boring B2B content. Crack a joke now and then. Share an anecdote. Business people are human, too, and are not immune to humor.
  7. Highlight your achievements. Credibility is paramount in B2B writing. Use an author profile somewhere on the page, and craft a story that showcases what you have achieved. It’s not bragging. It’s telling the audience that you know what you’re talking about.
  8. Always over-deliver. It’s a matter of developing goodwill. Instead of selling a guide or eBook and earning a quick thousand dollars, give it away for free. In the long-run, the loyalty and brand value you build is worth far more.Don’t ever forget that blogging is your business. When running a business blog, remember that you not only represent yourself, but your company’s brand. As such, maintain some level of professionalism and always emphasize great customer service, support, and satisfaction.

Final Word

Content creation doesn’t need to be a difficult process. Many successful bloggers don’t even consider themselves great writers. The key is to focus on finding your place and unique value-add to the internet, and you’ll develop your own niche and loyal community. Incorporate these writing tips and you’ll already be ahead of the curve.

What other ways have you leveraged to produce great content?

Gary Dek is the founder of StartABlog123.com, which provides a free step-by-step tutorial on building and growing a blog.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

How To Promote Your Blog With Content That Will Grow Your Traffic, Links, and Shares


@ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Ways to Grow Your Blog Without Relying on Google Traffic

This is a guest contribution from Jerry Low.

Google is a b*tch

Like so many things on the web, the world of Google is constantly evolving – and while that flex can lead to good things, it also creates a volatile environment for bloggers and websites that rely on their search rankings – which, is pretty much all of them.

The short of it is that, while 90 percent of internet experiences begin with search – but of those, only a small fraction will move beyond the first two pages of results. Needless to say, there’s a reason so many people have invested in SEO to boost their ranking – but that volatility we were talking about makes that a huge risk as all of that work and investment could go out the window overnight should the algorithm changed. Which has happened many a time.

Google Penguin threw the SEO world into frenzy… and you’d think we’d have learned. But they did it to us again in September with the Panda 4.1 update – so much so that some sites are seeing more than a 70 percent loss in search visibility. As ever, we don’t know exactly what the algorithm changes were – only that they work to better hone in on quality content.

You need Google-less approach to build blog traffics

All of this having been said, Google’s algorithms are constantly changing – so it’s important to build your blog’s success in other ways. You know that saying, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket?” Apply that here.

Relying solely on Google’s organic search to drive traffic to your blog is simply not a good business model – you need to diversify. In this article, I am going to share a few strategies that work well for me – these are the mainly how I quadruple my site traffics ever since it got hit by Penguin in April 2012.

Strategy #1: Blog Commenting

First off, commenting on blogs is quite possibly the most overlooked method for building blog traffic – mostly because people suck at making quality, meaningful conversation with strangers (myself included). However, blog commenting is a quality method for building traffic that also happens to be free – can’t argue with that!

Blog commenting, NOT spamming

Let’s back up for a moment – I’m not talking about dropping a link out of the blue or spamming the blog owner with a “nice post – thank you” comment… those aren’t relevant, nor will they get you anywhere.

I’m talking about leaving a quality, helpful comment that intrigues the blog owner and their readers, making them want to learn more about you – which means you need to give other readers a reason (in your comment) to learn more about you.

Effective blog comment marketing

There are two golden rules to blog commenting:

(1) Always write a quality comment – meaning, if you don’t have something meaningful to add to the discussion, don’t leave a comment (Read: Do not leave “Thank you – great post” comments… they’re useless); and

(2) Only drop a link where appropriate – don’t spam, no matter how tempting it may be; it will backfire on you. While not a golden rule, perhaps, it is important – if you leave a link, don’t just give your blog’s URL – instead, link to a relevant post of your own that contributes to the original post and discussion… that relevancy is key.

Real life scenario: Blog commenting done right

Here’s a great example of someone who has done it right:

problogger_comment

For starters, Mr. Miller goes into some detail, offering unique perspective relevant to the original post while also letting readers know about him and his relevancy to the topic. By sharing his own experience, he displays his own expertise in the search field, earning my attention and drawing me to learn more about him… so much so that I clicked on his Moz profile and now follow him on Twitter.

This is how it works… and did I mention that it’s free?

Strategy #2: Freebies marketing

This one is fairly straightforward – after all, who doesn’t like getting something for free?

You, the blogger, will provide readers with an incentive – something free in exchange for joining your email list, subscribing to a newsletter, submitting a giveaway entry… you get the idea.

However, not all freebies are good on their own – you need to think outside the box when you promote them so that you provide the public and other bloggers a reason to talk about your freebie and link back to your blog… the whole point is to get traffic, after all. Beyond that reason, you need to think like your audience – where does your target audience hang around? Where can you best reach them? Venue is just as important as getting your freebie out there in the first place.

Use freebies as a reason to reach out

Also, when you launch your freebie, don’t just sit on your laurels and wait for the visitors to come – you need to stay active, reaching out to influencers to let them know about your giveaway; otherwise, you’re leaving too much up to chance and missing opportunities.

As for your actual freebie – it doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg; what it does need to do is hold relevancy and value to your target audience.

For example, if you are selling your cooking ebook no your blog, you’ll likely want to stay active on mommy blogs or other cooking blogs where your target audience is likely to reside – giving away free recipes on those blogs is a great way reach that audience and intrigue them to learn more about you (and your own blog).

Real life scenario: Free icons at Web Hosting Secret Revealed

Another example – my core business at Web Hosting Secret Revealed (WHSR) is promoting hosting services.

Rather than squeezing into the crowded Google SERP, I’ve found better odds targeting web designers who likely have use for my hosting advice… to land a seat with that audience, I’ve created loads of freebies. Those loads of free icons? Yep – freebies targeted to my primary audience. The free icons actually earned substantial attention from the blogosphere, bringing in new visitors and social followers. If you’re interested, these are just a few of the blogs that featured our free icons:

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

Strategy #3: Crowd Sourcing Post

Crowd sourcing is a way of playing in the sandbox with the other kids.

You’ll leverage the reach of other bloggers, customers, business owners, etc., getting a seat in front of their audience for your blog.

The best way to get this moving is to invite others who could benefit from the cross promotion (or simply want their link on your website) to publish their opinions or tips on your blog. The get for them is that they get their own backlink while also getting to establish themselves with your audience – and, since they’re likely to want to share their being featured as an expert outside of their own site, they’re likely to share your post with their own audiences.

Real life scenario: How I did it?

For example, to create this crowd-sourcing post, I reached out to roughly 30 bloggers, asking for their past blogging mistakes. The response was overwhelming and led to tons of new traffic, social media shares, and blog mentions… for free!

Like I said – playing nicely in the sandbox with others.

Strategy #4: (Creative) Social Media Marketing

Social media is a no-brainer – it’s free and a great way to find and grow your audience.

That said, sometimes making that social media endeavor a winner is a bit of a puzzle.

Remember that quality content is key to social media marketing success.

Key to success: Quality content, timing, headlines, creativity, connection with influencers

Before you can drive traffic to your blog, you need to give readers a reason to follow you; the best way is to provide quality content. Take a stand and don’t be afraid to speak your mind – then, write a quality post about it. Here’s a great example from Sean Davis about his frustration creating web forms with Aweber. It’s relevant to a specific audience, it has a voice, and it’s identifiable – net, net; there’s a benefit.

Secondly, timing is everything. Your audience is bound to have peak times and low times that they use social media – time your posts accordingly by applying intel learned from Simply Measured free tools.

problogger_ajkohnWhile a book can’t be judged by its cover, that cover certainly catches eyes – so make a point to write interesting headlines. UpWorthy has a rule that, for each post, you should write 25 headlines – the idea is that your thinking will evolve and you will better hone your message as you let your ideas filter and play on one another. Whether 25 is your magic number, I don’t know – but I do like and stand behind the idea.

Next, don’t forget the value of images. Use as many as possible – not just to add color to your page or because “you’re supposed to,” but to actually add value and make your content more digestible and appealing. Ditch the clipart and instead look to infographics, flow charts, memes, and scenery – they’re evergreen and a great way to attract a social media following. Also, in my own experience, I’ve found that using tall graphics and writing meaty content improved my Google+ engagement rate by 8,400% in one of my recent posts… yes, that’s right; 8400%.

Finally, be fun and creative. Take the lead from AJ Kohn’s Google+profile… okay, yes – people follow him anyway for sound SEO advice, but I bet there are also many followers who were attracted by his beautiful scenery photos.

 

Strategy #5: Q&A Platforms

Forums are another great place to get a seat in front of your relevant, interested audience. The trick is to monitor ongoing conversations in your niche so that you can chime in when you have something helpful to say (and no, not every post is going to be an opportunity – but some will). You’ll need a good feed reader, such as Feedly, to make this work.

Not finding an exact fit or enough on-the-dot opportunities?

Create some custom content relevant to a particularly hot conversation. For example, if someone asks how to do something with .htaccess code, you could write a tutorial and post it to your blog – then, in the Q&A section of the site, respond to the requester with a teaser, linking them to your blog to get the full codes and demos. Odds are that if one person asked the question, others have that same question – and your forum answer and link will live on to advise them as well when the time comes.

Real life scenario: Where to start?

In terms of which Q&A platforms to use, I recommend Quora, Klout, and Yahoo! Answers – these are three of the best general Q&A platforms out there. If you are a publisher selling programming books, StackOverflow is right up your alley – at a minimum, ask your writers to stay active on the site. For travel bloggers, I highly advise staying active on Trip Advisor.

Bonus: Sponsor, speak at, or organize an event

Here’s something that lots of people overlook: you can market your blog offline. Events are a great opportunity to establish yourself as a leader in your space and to promote your blog in the process.

Real life scenario: ProBlogger Event

Take for example Darren who created Pro Blogger to fill a void. Initially created as a roundtable concept for bloggers, the event grew substantially in just two years – so much so that more than 30 speakers had access to an audience 550+ strong. Can you imagine getting to speak to a relevant audience of that size – and directing those attendees to your blog? That’s potentially 550 new hits in just one day.

15067474775_1d79f98176_o.jpg

Some events will invite speakers, whereas others take submissions. Do some searching and see what you can find – odds are there’s a relevant opportunity for you, but in the off chance there’s not, take a page from Darren’s book and launch your own. And when you do get that opportunity, don’t be shy – shamelessly shill for your blog, Pinterest boards, Twitter handle – you name it. Be a real resource and offer attendees a way to continue getting value from your experience.

What’s next?

One thing often overlooked: getting that traffic is only a part of the game – you still need to know what to do with it.

Remember that you’ll need to focus on maintaining that traffic – so focus on creating an ongoing conversation and way to continue the dialogue. Landing pages are key here, providing you a quick way to get information from and to your reader.

When your visitor lands on your landing page, make it clear what you want them to do – that could be signing up for your newsletter, following you on Twitter, commenting on your blog – the list goes on. The point is, be clear and direct – this is not the time to be coy. Also, take the opportunity to include a sign-up form that collects their email address; this is a seamless way to grow your brand and create remarketing opportunities.

There are plenty of ways to grow your blog’s traffic – without relying on Google. Better yet? Most of them are free!

Have a method I missed or questions about one I included? Please share your thoughts below.

 

Jerry Low is a geek dad who enjoys building web assets. Get his best blogging and growth hacking advice here.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

5 Ways to Grow Your Blog Without Relying on Google Traffic


@ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Never Too Soon: Using Your Blog to Generate Sales During the Holiday Season

Another holiday season is fast approaching, and that means websites are scrambling to ready killer campaigns (or have already launched them) that will generate North Pole-sized sales. For those fortunate enough to have a wealth of resources at their disposal, this will mean lavish advertising campaigns that will feature them prominently on the most highly-trafficked sites on the net.

Those with more moths in their digital wallet than Benjamins will need to rely on other assets, one of their most prized ones being their blog. While blogging and SEO have always been valuable tools in the online marketing arsenal, the paradigm is shifting, and quality content is now more important than ever.

There’s two reasons for that. On the one hand, Google’s search engine has evolved to put less emphasis on keywords and more of it on other aspects of a post’s content and quality. These changes will continue to happen as Google’s crusade for an unadulterated Internet only increases. And on the other hand, search engines and SEO are no longer the primary method to attract eyeballs in the first place. Instead, social media and social sharing have become a prominent means through which content is found and consumed.

That, more than anything else, is why quality is king. While search engines can still be tricked, real people can’t; or at least not quite so easily. Your blog post has to strike a chord with readers, a powerful chord; a “this post was so cool I just have to share it with my friends” chord.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 11.59.00 am

At the same time, your post has to be a little self-promotional. It’s not entirely enough just to get people there, to read your post and depart. You need them to read your post, love it and share it themselves, but to also draw something from it and become interested in what you’re selling. That is a very difficult balancing act.

 

The Art of Sharing

 

 Firstly, you need to understand what content is being shared. Contrary to popular opinion about the attention spans of the internet hordes, long-form content is shared far more often than short-form. In fact, the longer and longer it gets, the more likely it becomes that it will be shared. Sharers clearly respect the effort put into longer pieces, and that effort is finally being rewarded by the internet.

 

Meanwhile, on the emotion front, readers tend to share awe-inspiring or humorous posts more than anything else. 46% of all shared posts were deemed to be either humorous, joyous, or amusing, and 25% awe-inspiring, according to a study conducted by OkDork. People want to share pleasing content, not something that will bring their friends down.

 

The easiest of those emotions to hit is probably humor. While it’s hard to inspire awe or joy in some subject matter, you can always sneak humor in (like I could put something funny in this bracket right here if I wasn’t so lazy; don’t be lazy!).

 

Tying it All Together With a Pretty Bow

 

In the end though, it all needs to tie-in with your product(s), encouraging your now-joyous readers to either look into other information on your website, return later for more information, or head straight to your checkout so your online payment processor (and hopefully you have a good one that won’t butcher that final, crucial step and will also be cost-effective for you) can rack up another sale for you. All of these are crucial to succeeding in an online sale. Your blog content can drive them there, but your inefficient and non- user-friendly shopping cart can drive them away just as quickly.

 

The content needs to be engaging, but also self-promotional. In this sense, your blog post should almost borderline on a sales letter masquerading as shareable content with a catchy title, a very personable (and personal) feel, and laden with humor. It should skillfully extol the virtues of your product or service in a way that feels fun and non-aggressive. Finding something shareable to talk about in your industry should be quite simple to not only come across, but to write about in an educated manner. After all, you are an expert in your industry, and your customers will surely think of you as such should you deliver consistently as both a content provider and retailer.

 

One possible way to pull this off is to compare your product to another comparable one, but not a direct competitor. Say you’re selling a motorized skateboard, instead of trying to attack other products in that niche, take a shot at regular skateboards instead with your blog post “5 Reasons Why Pushing a Skateboard with Your Foot is soooo 1990’s”.

 

You’ve just created an article concept with the potential to be a fun, viral success, while innocuously touting your own product and generating interest and potential sales for it. Congratulations. Now get to it; these blog posts (and the jokes in their brackets) don’t write themselves. Good luck!

 

Owen Andrew is a tech journalist and Apple enthusiast. When he’s not writing or drooling over the latest Apple announcement, he’s usually hanging with his kids and doing family activities. Feel free to give him a shout on G+ or Facebook

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Never Too Soon: Using Your Blog to Generate Sales During the Holiday Season


@ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free Webinar: How to Start (or Reboot) Your Blog Right: 8 success factors that determine your blog’s future

This coming Tuesday/Wednesday (depending where you live) I’m running a free webinar with Chris Garrett.

The time of the webinar is:

Los Angeles: 5pm Tuesday 28th

New York: 8pm Tuesday 28th

London: 12am Wednesday 29th (sorry my UK friends!)

Singapore and Perth: 8am Wednesday 29th

Cape Town: 2am Wednesday 29th

Melbourne and Sydney: 11am Wednesday 29th

Note: we will record the webinar but you need to register to receive access to it.

The title of the webinar is – How to Start (or Reboot) Your Blog Right: 8 success factors that determine your blog’s future

Chris Garrett is long term blogger, the co author of the ProBlogger book and Chief Digital Officer at CopyBlogger Media.

Here’s a short description of what will be covered:

The world of blogging has gone mainstream, and this has introduced both opportunities and also challenges. Today you need more than passion and technical know-how, you need a plan.

How can you break through the noise and get started in 2014? If your blog is stumbling, how can you get it on the right track? In this webinar, Chris Garrett takes us back to fundamentals and talks us through the planning and research that lead him to his new forthcoming blog.

Normally our webinars are for paid up members of ProBlogger.com only but as this topic is so applicable to a wider audience we thought we’d open it up for free.

To register you’ll simply need to sign up for a free account to ProBlogger.com and register for the webinar.

Here’s the process:

1. Head to the webinar page here.

2. Click the ‘register’ button.

Screen Shot 2014 10 27 at 10 53 24 am

3. A popup box will appear with a button to create a free account. Click it.

Screen Shot 2014 10 27 at 10 54 31 am

4. Add your details and click ‘continue’.

Screen Shot 2014 10 27 at 10 45 03 am

5. You’ll be now taken back to the webinar page where it should show you’re now registered for the webinar. You’ll get an email confirming your registration and another reminding you of the webinar as it approaches.

Can’t wait to see you in the webinar later this week!

Remember, we will record this for those unable to make the live webinar but you’ll need to register with the above process to gain access to it.

Note: your free account on ProBlogger.com only gives you access to upcoming the live ‘public’ webinars including one with Jeff Goins next month and one with Elise Cripe in December.

Paid up members also unlock a heap more in ProBlogger.com and gain access to recordings of all webinars (currently 31 in our archives), future monthly private webinars, our ProBlogger plugins, a private forum area etc.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Free Webinar: How to Start (or Reboot) Your Blog Right: 8 success factors that determine your blog’s future


@ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment