10 Ways to Exponentially Grow Your Traffic in 30 Days

This is a guest contribution from Marcus Taylor of Venture Harbour.

In Western cultures, there is a prevailing belief that you ‘work your way to the top’, ‘climb the ladder’, and make slow and steady efforts to achieve success.

This way of thinking is undoubtedly a smart approach, particularly for bloggers. However, there is an equally smart, yet opposing, belief that’s more common in certain Eastern cultures: leapfrogging straight to the top.

1-exponential-trafficAt the beginning of 2014, I decided to get smart about my blogging. By concentrating on the things that made the biggest difference, I managed to exponentially grow my traffic, quadrupling it within 90 days.

How to grow your blog exponentially

Exponential growth happens when you’re effective, which is very different to being busy. We know from Pareto’s Law that 80% of results are often driven by 20% of our actions. To grow your blog exponentially, you’ll need to Identify the 20% of the 20% of the 20%, so that you’re always focusing on the one thing that will have the biggest impact.

Below are 10 examples from personal experience that can lead to exponential increases in traffic. While not all of them will be relevant to your situation, my hope is that they’ll help to get your creative juices flowing and enable you to come up with some ideas that will enable your blog to grow at a faster rate.

1. The aggregation of marginal gains

In 2010, David Brailsford had the tough job of coaching Great Britain’s cycling team for the Tour de France.

He believed in a concept called the ‘aggregation of marginal gains’, which states that if you make a 1% improvement in everything you do, they will compound into incredible results.

He started by improving the obvious things, such as the rider’s nutrition, training program, seat ergonomics, and tire weight. But he didn’t stop there.

2-aggregation-marginal-gains

David went on to discover which pillow offered the riders the best sleep, and taught them the most effective way to wash their hands to avoid infection. He searched for 1% improvements everywhere.

To cut this fascinating story short, the British team went on to win the Tour de France after just three years of using David Brailsford’s strategy.

If you made a 1% improvement in every aspect of your blogging, from your headline writing skills, to your email signup rate, and page loading speed, you’ll soon notice a compounding effect on your desired outcomes.

2. Only 30% of the World population speak English

It’s estimated that 30% of the World’s population speak English. This implies that more than two-thirds of the planet speak (and search) in non-English languages.

There is, unsurprisingly, a disproportionate amount of blogs competing over English-language traffic. This represents a huge opportunity for bloggers wanting to target traffic in non-English speaking countries.

One of my favourite case studies on exponential blog growth is of a blog that reached 1.4m visitors in under six months by targeting Japanese search terms. The strategy was simple: there are relatively few website targeting Japanese, which makes it easier to rank for competitive keywords.

A client of mine runs the site BinaryOptions.com. After noticing that his market was growing in the Middle East and Asia, he decided to translate his website in Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, and a handful of other languages using the WPML (WordPress Multi-Lingual) plugin.

Within a matter of weeks, his traffic from non-English speaking countries had almost doubled. That’s not bad for 30 minutes work installing a translation plugin.

Ideally, your content shouldn’t just be translated, it should be localised by someone with a cultural understanding of the countries and languages you’re targeting. However, in the interest of effort and reward, translation plugins can be an effective short-term solution for exponentially increasing the size of your audience.

3. Systems are the secret to scalable results

If you want to see exponential growth, you need to become ruthless with your time and build systems that run themselves. This is the only way to shift your focus away from low-value tasks towards the high-value work that you’re great at.

For virtually all of the projects that I run, I have a degree of social media automation using a combination of tools like IFTTT and Buffer, with a virtual assistant.

I’m also a huge fan of using email autoresponders and marketing automation tools to keep the communities active even when i’m not. One of my sites has had very little attention for over two years, but they still continues to grow due to ‘evergreen’ autoresponder chains that keep the community engaged.

3-email-auto-responders

 

4. Look Forward to Google’s Algorithm Updates

The majority of webmasters fear the unpredictability of algorithm updates. If your strategy is aligned with Google’s mission to deliver the best and most relevant result to users as quickly as possible (and increase their shareholder value), then they can be an event to look forward to.

One of my sites that I haven’t touched in over 18 months doubled in traffic during last month’s soft panda updates. Why? Because four of my main competitors all got wiped off of the search results for being overly short-sighted with their strategy.

4-double-traffic

While SEO is a complex area with hundreds of constantly-changing ranking factors, it can generally boiled down to a few simple principles:

  • Create the best content you can – and proactively promote it.
  • Offer the best user experience you can. Make your site beautiful, fast, and easy to use.
  • Think long term – build a brand and become the authority on your topic.

The next time Google prunes its search results, will you benefit from the short-sighted websites dropping in the ranks, or will you be one of them?

5. Could you increase your content output tenfold?

One of the most obvious ways to exponentially increase your blog’s traffic is to exponentially increase the amount of content you produce.

When growing KISSmetrics, Neil Patel found that each additional blog post he added to their blog increased weekly traffic by 18.6%. What if instead of publishing one blog post per week, you published 10, or 20?

Or, what if instead of increasing your posting frequency, you increased the length of your content?

This point ties in nicely with point three about building systems. One of the big leaps that many bloggers make is moving from it being ‘their blog’ to building a system of writers and contributors that fuel the content engine. Is it time for you to boost your content output with a team of writers?

6. Could you improve your content quality tenfold?

One counterpoint to the suggestion above is that instead of increasing your content output, you could just improve the quality of your content, multiplying its effectiveness.

While content quality is somewhat subjective, it’s fair to say that the more time we invest into a piece of content, the better it will be. Let’s say you currently spend three hours, on average, writing a blog post. What if your next piece of content took you 30 hours?

By definition, we remark upon things that are remarkable. Any blog post that takes 30+ hours to create is likely to be quite remarkable.

Ask yourself whether the last 10 posts you wrote represent your very best, and if not – would it rock the boat to write a few extremely well crafted blog posts?

7. Could one person transform your blog’s success?

“Relationships help us to define who we are and what we can become. Most of us can trace our successes to pivotal relationships” – Donald O. Clifton, and Paula Nelson.

When I first read the quote above, it hit me like a tonne of bricks. In my case, virtually all of the significant events in my career to date are owed to five or six people. I imagine this trend is true for a lot of us.

Choosing the right professional allies is incredibly important. As a blogger, you’ll unlikely achieve great success without some good allies. I recommend spending some time to identify the relationships and alliances that could skyrocket your blog’s success. Invest in those relationships.

8. Could one blog post transform your blog?

I recently discovered that Mashable wrote one article in February that generated more links and shares than 87 of their articles written in 2013 combined. Imagine if, instead of writing those 87 articles, they had written just ten of those mega-successful articles?

One of the common responses of successful bloggers when asked what they’d do differently if they started again is that they’d work smarter instead of harder.

If there was one blog post that could completely transform your blog’s success, what might it be?

9. Should you zoom-in or zoom-out?

A few years ago I met Gary Arndt during one of his trips to Melbourne. Gary is the man behind Everything Everywhere, which is generally considered to be one of the earliest travel blogs.

He told me that most travel bloggers fail because they’re too late. According to him, it’s near impossible to be a successful travel blogger starting out nowadays, as there’s just too much competition.

I agree. I think it’d be extremely difficult to be a successful ‘zoomed out’ travel blogger i.e. a travel blogger who covers every type of travel, every country, or every aspect of travelling. However, there’s probably a lot of opportunity to be a ‘zoomed-in’ niche travel blogger e.g. one who specialises in glamping, Fiji travel, or travel for yogis.

A good question for many bloggers to ask themselves is are they too zoomed-in or too zoomed-out? When your blog becomes a big fish in a little pond, it’s often healthy to expand the size of the pond – and enter additional niches.

When you’re a small fish in a big pond, it’s usually more sensible to swim in a smaller pond – and completely own that pond for a while.

10. Ten minutes planning saves one hour in execution

Brian Tracy wisely said that “every minute spent planning saves 10 minutes of execution”.

When I analysed how successful blogs such as this one, Mashable, KISSmetrics, and ConversionXL reached millions of readers, I noticed a common theme among several of them: planning.

Nick Eubank’s case study perhaps highlighted this the best: in six months he reached 1.4 million visitors by using analytical models to identify tens of thousands of keywords that were uncompetitive yet high in search volume. Through extreme planning he was able to reach an enormous audience in an incredibly short space of time.

In Summary

It’s said that there are no shortcuts to success, only direct paths. I think that, more accurately,  some direct paths are shorter than others.

Despite some of the outliers, growing a blog takes time. It will be an ongoing sequence of plateaus followed by growth spurts, followed by plateaus.

I hope that some of these ideas will translate into the next growth spurt for your blog’s traffic. If you have any thoughts on any of the ideas mentioned, or have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or reach me on Twitter.

Marcus Taylor is the founder of Venture Harbour, a digital marketing agency that specialises in working with companies in the music, film, and game industries. 

 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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Top Tips to Help You Nail That Blogging Job Application

Image via flazingo.com

Image via flazingo.com

This is a guest contribution from Steff Green, of WorkflowMax.

Recently I wrote a post about my experiences as a company looking to hire another blogger for our team. Today I’m putting on my blogger hat and I’m looking at what the experience taught me about how a blogger can improve his/her chances of landing a blogging job at a company.

Who am I? I’m Steff. I used to be a freelance blogger, but one of my clients, WorkflowMax – a cloud-based project management software for service businesses – offered me a full-time position as a blogger, I jumped at the chance.

The advantages of a permanent blogging job

Quite often “make money blogging” gurus focus on the advantages of being a freelance blogger – working for a variety of clients, being in control, multiple income streams, creating passive income through products, etc – while playing down the 9-5 lifestyle. I’ve done them both, and can say that the 9-5 lifestyle definitely has its advantages.

I love blogging, but I didn’t love the 100 emails a day, the client stress, the 80+ hour weeks and the managing of the business itself that came with being a freelancer. By blogging for a company, I get to do what I love – write – all day, about topics that help small businesses succeed, and come home in the evening and work on my own projects.

Part 1: Finding a Blogging Job

“And that’s all very well, Steff” I hear you say, “but where ARE these mysterious blogging jobs? I hang out on the Problogger job boards all day, and all I see are freelance positions.”

That’s probably because you’re not looking in the right place.

A recruiter is not going to advertise a salaried position on a job board for freelancers. That would be silly. She is going to advertise in the same places she usually advertises – on local and national job boards, on internal listings, on the company’s website. A salaried blogging job ad will look just like any other job ad.

One thing to do is to look at companies you would love to work for. Look at tech companies, larger retail shops, tourist attractions like museums and galleries, B2B service companies – these are the types of firms that might employ a blogger. Check out their website – do they have a blog? Is it awesome? Could it use a little TLC?

The type of marketing software a company uses can also provide a clue as to their content needs. For example, a company using Hubspot is probably going to have a huge focus on inbound marketing and content creation, which means there’ll might be an opportunity for you there.

The key thing to remember when trawling the job ads is that your dream blogging job might not actually include the word “blog” in the title. Companies aren’t looking for “just” a blogger – they are looking for a writer who can own a wide variety of communications, of which a blog may play a large role. As an employee, a blogger might be dealing with general copywriting for web and print, creating ebooks or whitepapers, managing a team of content creators, or updating social media. When looking at job titles and keywords, you’ll find roles like: content creator, copywriter, in-bound marketer, SEO-outreach writer, digital communications, digital marketer, etc.

For example, I am a “marketing copywriter”, but because our blog is a huge part of our inbound marketing strategy, blogging and creating ebooks is a significant portion of my job.

Keep a close eye on the career pages for a content creator position. You can set up alerts to email you whenever jobs are posted that meet your criteria – that way, you will always see the latest job posts as soon as they go live without having to check back every day. Contact the marketing department and ask about guest-blogging or freelancing opportunities. If they are underutilizing their blog, offer to take over its management on a contract basis. Make yourself an indispensable resource. If you’re already on the radar when an opportunity for a job comes up, they’re gonna look to you first.

 

Part 2: The resume

So you’ve found an awesome-looking blogging job at a cool company. Now you’ve got to prepare your resume and send that in.

Here are some of my resume tips, based on what worked for me, and what I noticed in the resumes I vetted in order to find the right writer for our job:

  • If you’re applying for a writing job, your spelling and grammar better be PERFECT. So check your resume a hundred times, and then have a friend or relative who’s nit-picky about grammar have a look over it. A fresh pair of eyes will catch a few things you’ve missed.
  • Create a structure for your resume. The standard structure is to begin with your education, working backwards in time, and following this with your work history. I don’t want to see it all jumbled up (and yes, we did receive resumes with literally NO structure – just a list of random qualifications and descriptions).
  • You need to demonstrate that you are versatile and able to take on a variety of jobs. Companies aren’t just looking for a blogger – the role you’re applying for may cover both print and web/social media, and may include elements of SEO, web copy, PR, internal communications, and many other elements.
  • If you’ve been freelancing, simply list it like another job: The time period, the types of the projects you’ve worked on, results you achieved, and some of your clients. On my resume, I have a section where I highlight three clients – I explain the work I did for them and the results I achieved, as well as a short testimonial. It’s powerful stuff.
  • I want to see links to samples! Please don’t make me ask for them.
  • If you list your personal blog, I am going to check it out. Don’t list it if you don’t want us to read it and then talk about it in the interview. (Erotica writers and political columnists, I’m talking to you!)
  • I really liked the resumes that include a three-sentence “mission statement” at the beginning of the document.
  • Blogging is very results-driven, so we want to see some of your results. One of the mistakes many candidates make is focusing on their responsibilities. We’re more interested in learning what you achieved. For example, saying, “I managed the blog at WorkflowMax” is weak, but “I increased the visitor to lead conversion rate from 3% to 5.5%” is very powerful and specific. Have you landed a guest post on an A-list blog? Doubled a client’s traffic? Wrote something that went viral? Increased social media likes or improved the bounce rate? We want to hear about it.
  • When choosing samples, choose around three of your best pieces demonstrating your skills. It helps if they are aimed at a similar audience or from a similar industry as my company, but it isn’t essential. Choose different types of writing, such as a blog post, a chapter from an ebook, and a website page or EDM. When I look at samples, I want to know – can this writer grab my attention? Are they technically competent? Does this piece offer something different, or is it just the same-old rehashed info? Is the writer versatile? Can he/she get results?

 

Part 3: The Cover Letter

Alongside your resume, I’ll be reading through your cover letter. While your resume proves your writing experience, your cover letter showcases your voice and your personality. So what makes a cover letter stand out?

  • Again, if I see spelling and grammar mistakes in your cover letter, I’m not going to be very forgiving, as you are applying for a role as a writer.
  • Don’t just rehash what I’m going to read in your resume. The cover letter is a classic example of a piece of writing that benefits from “show, don’t tell”. Don’t tell me you’re awesome, SHOW me. Impress me with your writing skills, your results, and your personality.
  • Tailor the cover letter to each job you apply for. Often, candidates are applying for several jobs at once, which is fine, but I only want to give this job to someone who really wants it. Highlight specifics that demonstrate you’re the right candidate for THIS job. And spell my name correctly. This really helps.
  • Depending on the company, don’t be afraid to showcase your creativity. You are being hired for a creative role, after all. One of the candidates for our job wrote her cover letter in the style of a typical blog post. There was a catchy, SEO headline, sub-headings, lists, and a call-to-action at the end. It was really clever and definitely made her stand out. She went on to the interview stage.

 

Part 4: The Interview

You’ve impressed the recruiter with your resume and cover letter – and you’ve been invited for an in-person interview.

Some companies, like ours, might preface the in-person interview with a quick phone interview with the recruiter. The recruiter will assess whether the candidate demonstrate passion for the role and the company, and whether the candidate will be an asset to the company based on the brand values. Think of this as another opportunity to show how excited you are about the job, and you’ll be invited in for the interview.

How do you make the best impression as a blogger? Here are some tips and things to remember for the interview:

  • We know you can write. We know you’ve got the right experience. The interview is all about seeing if you’re a good fit for our team.
  • Take the time to get to know the company before the interview. We are going to assume you know something about the product or industry you’re going to be writing about. If you don’t, we’re going to think you don’t want the job. Come prepared to answer the question, “So, what do we do?”
  • It should go without saying, but it helps to show up on time and be nicely dressed.
  • Remember that the interview is your opportunity to interview us, as well. If we offer you the job, you are going to need to decide if you want to work with us. So don’t forget to ask questions – come prepared with a few. We were asked about our company culture, what the team was like, what kind of work a candidate would do in a given week, what opportunities were there for professional development.
  • Bring a copy of your resume and some writing samples to show us.

 

Part 5: The Writing Sample

We asked our candidates to complete a short writing test (it’s common in our company to have developers, etc, complete a test, so it made sense to get our candidates to do the same thing). Here are some tips on writing a company-specific sample:

  • It should go without saying, but read some of the company’s content. If you’ve been asked to write a blog post, then read some of their posts. Look carefully at the style, the tone, the layout.
  • Read the instructions carefully; make sure you understand what you need to do.
  • The sample doesn’t have to be ready-to-publish perfect, but it should be close.
  • Go the extra mile on a blog writing sample by including links to other resources or other articles on our blog, an image suggestion.
  • Have a grammar-hungry friend or family member read over your sample before you send it in, to catch any mistakes. Spelling and grammar mistakes count heavily against you when applying for a writing job.

 

Part 7: References

You’ve impressed at the interview and I’m thinking you’re the perfect candidate for our job. Now there’s only one thing standing between you and an awesome full-time writing gig – your references.

  • You’ll need to supply at least two solid references. If you were previously in paid employment, these need to be your direct managers. Human Resources want to talk to people who you’ve worked closely with and who can speak to your performance.
  • If you’ve been freelancing for a while, you’ll need to approach two clients about operating as references. It helps if you can choose two clients with more of a corporate structure – many freelancers work with small business owners, who aren’t as appealing to HR. Look for clients where you had more of a direct reporting role – perhaps working closely with a brand manager, marketing exec, etc. These make great references as they speak the lingo the HR department is looking for.
  • We want to talk to references from recent positions. Don’t include details for employers / clients that are several years old. Their data on you is no longer relevant.
  • Talk to your references before including them. It’s awkward when the HR rep gets your reference on the phone and they have no idea why they’re being asked for a reference.

With more companies using blogging as a way to generate buzz and target customers, bloggers now have the option of seeking permanent employment doing what they love. With a bit of preparation and some common sense, you could ace that interview and be on your way to becoming a company blogger!

Steff Green is the content manager for WorkflowMax, cloud-based job andproject management software that tackles everything from leads, quotes, time sheeting, invoicing, reporting, and more. You can find her writing business advice for creative agencies, architects, IT companies and other business that bill by time on theWorkflowMax blog.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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Top Tips to Help You Nail That Blogging Job Application


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5 Key Elements for a Successful Women’s Blog

Image via Flickr user Liquine

Image via Flickr user Liquine

This is a guest contribution by Renee from Beautifille.com

This year marks 10 years of my blogging career, and after starting several women’s blogs (some successful, some not), and being an avid reader of them myself, I’ve learn the key elements in what makes a blog “make it” or not. Here they are.

Key #1: Make Sure Your Blog is Visually Great

I usually try not to generalize, but let’s face it: women like pretty things. We notice, pay attention and are attracted by how something looks. Having a good blog design is vital because at the end of the day, your blog design and layout is the first impression for a reader (who is very happy to click that X button right away). 

So what makes a good-looking women’s blog? In my opinion, it’s simplicity with a feminine touch. A minimalist layout with pinch of feminine color palettes work very well (lilac, reds, pinks and pastels), as shown in these top blogs for women:

cupcakes-and-cashmere-blog

Cupcakes and Cashmere has a very clean white, gray and pale pink color scheme.

 refinery29-blog

Refinery29 has a bold yet feminine look with a color scheme of black, white, mint green and salmon pink. 

brit-co-blog

Brit.co also has a clean site with subtle primary colors, keeping her site light and airy. 

The second thing that makes a blog look great are the photos. Great photos will go a long way on blogs, but even more if your audience is women. Always start your blog post with a nice, attractive photo, and make sure your photos are big; small photos do not capture attention enough in my opinion. Your photo don’t have to look super-professional or “glossy” like in fashion magazines (mine never are) but make sure they are visually attractive; i.e. no blurriness, basic composition and bright, good colors (this can be edited on your computer). Picmonkey.com is a great free service that many of the top women bloggers use to make your pictures visually better. It allows for cropping, color correction, and sleek layouts.

Key #2: Find your “niche women demographic”

Sure, “women aged 16-24” is a demographic, but rather than age, I found it best to have a “niche women demographic” – find your group of women (or your “tribe”, as they say these days) within that fashion community. For example, you could be a denim fashion blogger. Or a punk-rock fashion blogger that writes about edgier stuff, or an “indie” fashion blogger. Likewise, instead of just another beauty blog, make it a cruelty-free beauty blog or an “over 40 women’s beauty blog.” Finding an even tighter niche than just “all women”; will allow you to properly find an even tighter community and thrive in that area. Not to mention, this is also great for branding your blog. 

free-people-blog

Free People’s blog does this well: their blog covers a range of topics, but for a certain type of girl: one who lives a “care-free”, natural, Earthy lifestyle. 

Key #3: Offer value to your readers

This is a continuation from the point above, but in your niche demographic, you should still strive to not be like everyone else. It’s important in this day and age in the blogging world – because there is literally millions of competition – to offer value to your readers. Personal style posts are great, but they’re a dime a dozen these days, and after awhile, people get bored. Same with beauty blogs that just review a product in every post. Make sure to not only show your outfit posts or beauty posts but also offer something of value. Share your personal style tips with your posts, offer honest thoughts on the product, or give personal shopping recommendations on where to get the best bargain. You need to stand out, offer value and make your site different than the others. 

Key #4: Present information clearly

Shopping posts make up a fair bit amount of blogs for women no matter what the niche (what women doesn’t love to shop?), so make sure your “shoppable” posts are done right. Keep them clean and easy to see. Personally, for my shoppable posts, I number the items in the collage clearly (make sure there are no fancy artist work, fonts, or cluttered images pasted together) and number the links immediately underneath. Also, I link to shops that offer international shipping so it’s even easier for my readers. 

 js-everyday-fashion

A blogger who does shopping posts well is J’s Everyday Fashion. As shown above, there is nothing else to distract from clearly showing the reader what she is clicking through, and from where. 

Key #5: Stay away from the drama

It happens with every niche, but I have witnessed some not-so-favorable behavior behind some women bloggers. After all these years I’ve managed to keep myself out of it, which would be my tip on taking your blog to the next level: just stay out of it. There is nothing that will make your blog (and “brand”) look unprofessional and gain a bad reputation than getting involved in drama, gossip or cliques. Stay out of it, and watch your words too: no “bitching” or complaining (even passive aggressively) on blog posts or social media. This is especially vital with negative comments you may receive – do not lash back or be rude. Always be graceful with all your dealings on your blog, whether it’s on the front page or behind the scenes. 

Renee is the creator of Beautifille.com, a beauty & self-improvement lifestyle site for women. Subscribe for free emails to learn how to improve your confidence, build your true, inner beauty and get the best “naturally you” beauty and style tips.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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5 Key Elements for a Successful Women’s Blog


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Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Putting it All Together and Getting Started

Untitled design (4)

 

You have decided to work with brands on your blog to create a little income. Congratulations! You’re joining hundreds of thousands of others doing that very thing, and more than likely having a great time doing so. You’ve read all the advice, and you’re keen to get started. Let’s put it all together and get the wheels in motion.

Step One:

Just like we discussed in the post about media kits, get your ducks in a row. So that means knowing what you and your blog stand for, what you’re comfortable monetising, and you’re in the right headspace to do so. It wouldn’t hurt to have a pretty slick About Me page, a page for potential sponsors and advertisers to find information (a “Work With Me” or “Advertise” or “Sponsor” page) and consistent branding across your social media channels. You can get a logo cheap as chips these days, and makes you look just that little bit more professional and ready for action.

Step Two:

Make a list of the brands you love and/or would wholeheartedly recommend to your readers. There will be times when you will be contacted by brands, but until that day comes, be proactive. Reach out to your favourites (remembering to make contact with people in charge of marketing, rather than generic email addresses or social media accounts, if you can) with your pitch and your media kit. You can specify what kinds of collaboration you’re interested in (Nikki discussed those here), or see what they have in mind. It’s always a good idea to go in with a few ideas of your own.

Step Three:

Reach out to brands, small businesses, or other bloggers and let them know you have advertising spaces available. Sweeten the deal with a 10% off if they sign up that month. Offer discounts for advertising packages (say, 15% off if they buy in three-month blocks), and let your newsletter subscribers (if you have them) and your social media followers know that you’re open for business. Maybe think about doing a swap deal with other bloggers so you both have some advertising spaces filled, which is always a good look. Re-read this post about what size ads work well, and where to put them. Have a look too and see if any of those ad networks would be useful to you (I know plenty of Australian bloggers who also use and recommend Passionfruit Ads), or go about installing Google AdSense to get your advertising off the ground.

Step Four:

Keep doing your thing. Write great posts from the heart. Participate in the blogger community. Be kind. Share your posts on your social media outlets. Share others’ posts. Chat to brands, and let them know when you’ve featured them. Get yourself on lists that are open to brands and PR reps looking for bloggers to work with. Enter competitions. Buy ads on other blogs. Stay true to yourself. Be passionate. Learn your craft. Value your reader. Blog like you don’t care about the money. Try not to get too caught up in the monetisation rat race. Remember why you started.

Step Five:

Once you have made the first forays into monetisation, by all means branch out. You might like to have a look at this post Darren wrote recently about how he makes his income (spoiler: it’s many different streams that roll into one river). The possibilities are pretty much endless.

Go! Do!

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Putting it All Together and Getting Started


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What You Need to Know About Your Stats if You Want to Work With Brands on Your Blog

This is a guest contribution from Louisa Claire of Brand Meets Blog, a blogger outreach agency marrying brands with the bloggers who want to work with them. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by last week’s Partnering with Brands theme week, this might give you just the inspiration you need…

When bloggers start working with brands they tend to be full of excitement about the opportunities that come with it. 

One of the biggest challenges for businesses is how to determine the ROI (return on investment) with bloggers. For every dollar they spend on marketing their business, they are looking for a corresponding return. Sometimes this comes in awareness and they will measure it based on reach only, other times they are tying it to sales. To work out the ROI they look at how many people they reached through blogging and compare that number and the cost involved with how many people they would have reached through traditional advertising or PR activity. We are also increasingly seeing agencies also compare potential blogger reach with how many people they could reach via targeted Facebook advertising. 

The whole way it works is complicated and, to be honest, a bit nonsensical because unlike with traditional media where you can know how many people bought the publication but not how many people actually read the bit about your business, you can measure exactly how many people clicked on a link about your post, how long they spent reading that post and what they did after they read it (comments, clicked away, clicked on a link to the business etc…). And of course, with bloggers brands are not just getting eyeballs on them, but a personal introduction through a trusted voice.

Unfortunately many bloggers have bought into this idea that what matters most is the number of hits your blog gets. The holy grail of blogging is more people looking at your site today, than yesterday and seeing that number going up and up and up.

What I would like to suggest is that bloggers who want to experience success working with brands and earn a solid income from it, need to focus not on having the most people visiting their site, but the most relevant and interested people reading. If you can begin to understand where your readers and visitors come from, what they do when they come to their site and what that means about their interests then you can ensure you work with brands that fit not only with your own interests, but with those of your readers. Of course, having this information isn’t just useful when working with brands, it actually gives you great insight into what is and isn’t resonating with your readership generally – golden!

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The impact of search

The amount of search traffic your blog gets from places like Google and Pinterest has the potential to significantly impact how you understand the nature of your blog readership and the influence your blog has. I think this is a big one given the recent rise of highly searchable industries like health and wellness, and of course, Pinterest. 

If you blog regularly about things such as a meal planning, recipes, birthday party ideas,  fitness, beauty etc… then you are most likely going to generate a solid amount of search traffic. Some bloggers might even find that a large percentage of their traffic is going to one specific post every day. 

Let’s look at some numbers to understand this: Let’s say your blog has 50,000 users per month but 25% of your traffic goes to the amazing recipe you wrote about pumpkin and lentil soup. A further 25% of your traffic is coming to other posts you’ve previously written meaning that though you have 50,000 users a month only 25,000 are truly likely to see the latest post that you have written – that post you wrote for a brand, for example.

Now let’s consider where those users are coming from – are they local to you or global? If you’re trying to appeal to brands and advertisers in your country then the geographic location of those users will be really important. 

Can you see how if you told a brand that you had 50,000 users that you might create a situation where the brand was disappointed by the results that came from working with you? If you had told them that you had 50,000 users overall but 20,000 that were relevant to them as a brand then they would have been able to go into the working relationship with you with appropriate expectations and likely have been delighted by the results.

There are a couple of other things you can take notice of that will give you the edge when working with brands.

Take the time to understand your Uniques vs Pageviews (or Users and Pageviews as they are now called in Google Analytics)

I think that bloggers are sometimes afraid of their stats – that they aren’t “good enough” or need to be presented in the best possible light in order to be appealing. It’s true that stats matter to brands, but it’s equally true that many brands understand that a bloggers true value is in the personal connection they have with their readers and they are open, even eager, to understand how working with bloggers can help them.

The key point to understand when looking at your stats is that if you look at your pageviews in isolation you will get a skewed (but probably attractive) picture of your blog traffic and if you look at the uniques you will get an equally skewed (and what might feel like a less exciting) picture. The truth is that these two numbers hold a lot of information in them when you look at them together.

I’ve previously written a more comprehensive overview on the issue of Unique Visitors vs Total Pageviews which will help anyone struggling to understand the significance of these two numbers being view together.

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Bounce Rates and Pages per Session

Bounces rates relate to how many people leave your site from the same page they landed on (ie they only look at the one post) and Pages per Session shows you the average number of pages that your readers look at when they visit your blog.

My experience tells me that bloggers with strong communities and influence have a high ratio of pageviews to users and sessions. That is people who visit their blog tend to look at a lot of posts while they are there – giving them a lower bounce rate and a higher page per sessions figure. If you’re not getting at least 2-3 pages per session on your blog right now then my suggestion would be to stop focussing on increasing your pageviews and start putting some energy into increasing this number – not just because you want to work with brands but because you want to form deeper relationships with your readers.

If you’ve spent the time getting a good understanding of how your uniques and total views per month work and what your bounce rate is then you’ll be able to give helpful information to brands that demonstrates your influence and value to them and I can tell you this, it will give you a great advantage when you start talking to potential brand partners. 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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What You Need to Know About Your Stats if You Want to Work With Brands on Your Blog


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Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Marketing Yourself

 

marketing-yourself-theme-week.jpgAre you a blogger who has thought of maybe doing some sponsored work on your blog, but are wondering where all the opportunities are? Do you see other bloggers collaborating with brands and think there must be some magic list you need to be on to have these opportunities land in your inbox?

Well there might be lists you can get on. But one of the best ways of getting yourself on a brand’s radar is to make the first move and to speak to them yourself. Be the person who starts that conversation about collaboration, and you’re well on your way to creating and cultivating long-standing blog-brand relationships.

But where to begin? Ah, let me help.

First Things First:

What do you represent?

Who are you? What is your blog about? In order to sell yourself to potential sponsors and advertisers, you need to know what you have to offer. What is your niche? What are your blog’s topics? Who are your readers? What is your essence? If you were to describe your blog to someone, what would you say? What kinds of things do you like to write about, and what kinds of things do you like to feature? Narrow down who and what you are.

What do you want?

Think about the types of brands you would like to partner with. Think about the ways in which you’d like to do that (We covered options in the earlier Ways to Collaborate and Earn an Income on Your Blog post). Think about the products and services you use and love every day, and would have no trouble recommending. Think about what your audience would benefit from.

Get all your ducks in a row:

Ensure you look consistent (and reasonably professional) across all the social media outlets you use. Maybe think about repeating your branding across all sites for continuity. Update them regularly, and ensure the information about you is current. Check your LinkedIn and make sure it’s up-to-date and informative.

Make A Move

The next step once you’ve done a little housekeeping, is to start the conversations. Reach out to brand representatives on Twitter. Find out if they have hired a PR agency, and who to speak to there. Find a contact in the brand’s marketing department, and target them. It’s best to find an actual person in charge of marketing decisions (and budgets!) rather than just throwing all your info at their social media and hoping something will stick. Pick up the phone and say you’ve got a great idea about collaborating with them, state your case simply, and offer to back it up with your media kit.

Things to keep in mind to make the best impact:

  • Make it all about the brand. Too often I see posts that centre on what the blogger needs rather than what they can offer a potential sponsor. If that makes me tune out, imagine how it looks to someone who is considering finding legitimate and professional-looking bloggers to partner with. Detail what’s in it for them – they want a return on investment, as anyone would, and are looking for an attractive package that helps them get the word out about their product.
  • Make it easy for them. Nobody wants to fish around for extra information you should have included in the initial stages. It’s likely they’ll pass on you in favour of someone who has provided everything they need to know in order to make their decisions. They might like you and intend to follow up, but get caught up elsewhere and forget… make it easy for them to choose you by giving them a well-thought-out plan, several options for campaigns, the obvious benefits to them, and perhaps an example where you’ve done something similar before and how well it went. Pretty much the only thing you want them to have to do after reading your pitch is say “yes”.
  • Be positive. Your language and how you frame your pitch is incredibly important. Negative language is never going to be as convincing as a positively-worded pitch. Never run down competitors – theirs or yours.
  • Be personal. Let the person know you’ve been interested in their brand for some time. Maybe mention in your opening email that you’ve held a membership at that gym for years, or you took that soap with you to the hospital when you had your baby.
  • Be observant. If you follow your contact on Twitter or elsewhere, mention in your email their photos of their recent trip to Croatia were beautiful. Or you hear they’re coming to Melbourne next week and you recommend that little place on Lygon street for excellent coffee. A little friendly conversation about something you’ve noticed will be a welcome change to the standard pitches they receive a hundred times a day.
  • Be organic. If you have blog buddies who have done work with the company, don’t be shy to ask for a contact, or an introduction. Do the same for other bloggers who might like to work with companies you have affiliated with. There’s much to be said for good blog karma – it gets you much further than being competitive, secretive, and sneaky.
  • Be human. Remember there’s an actual person on the end of these conversations. Especially when they say no. Don’t get snarky, or petulant. Say thanks and maybe another time. Don’t burn your bridges!

Get Your Pitch in Their Hands:

Get together a brief media kit, type up a succinct, positive pitch, and email it to your brand. If you have a mega-huge campaign in mind, maybe take it one step further and send them a press release. There are plenty of examples online you can look at (I wouldn’t fill in the blanks of a template here), and customise to suit yourself. Find the person you to whom you need to send your pitch directly  (by calling the brand’s information line, or asking whoever is manning their Twitter or Facebook accounts), and send it off. Or call them, explain your idea, and follow up with emailed information.

If you don’t hear from them, send them a follow-up email about a week later and ask if they received your initial email. Do not be a pain here, and keep your language friendly. Don’t ask them to make a decision on the spot, rather just serve as a discreet reminder you have contacted them. Maybe make an effort to chat on Twitter if they’ve been posting there.

Be Social

One of the easiest ways to get on brand radars is to interact with them on social media (with the added bonus of a higher chance of them having heard of you when it’s time to pitch!). If you’ve written about them on your blog, tag them in your tweets or Facebook status about the post. Tag them in your Instagram pictures showing you using the product, or how much you enjoy it. Comment on their status updates about the things they’re posting. What marketers are looking for is conversations around their product or service – facilitate that conversation. Be part of it.

Be Natural

It’s good to be keen, but don’t be desperate. Your readers only want your legitimate recommendations, and brands want people who recommend their product to be believable. Weave product mentions into your regular writing and build your readers’ trust. Don’t be one long advertorial – when you’re trying to market yourself as an expert in your area, or as a major influence in the brand’s target audience, it has to be infused with your personality and your humanity. That’s what gives blogging the edge over traditional forms of advertising. Do it well.

If you have any questions, I’m all ears – what would you like to know about approaching brands and marketing yourself to them?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the blogger 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

Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Marketing Yourself


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Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Ways to Collaborate and Earn an Income on Your Blog

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So you’ve been blogging for a while and have built up a solid readership and community because you consistently deliver useful/inspirational/entertaining content?

There is a fair chance if you have included a contact email address on your blog that before long an email from a brand, a PR or digital marketing agency, will land in your inbox.

You will either be surprised and delighted, or offended, that your little blog has been noticed by said brand.

It’s the surprised and delighted among you that I’m keen to talk to, because that first email could be the start of a potential commercial relationship.

That first email signifies that as a blogger you need to get very clear on your publishing guidelines.

Maybe you already mention brands as a matter of fact in your content. Maybe you haven’t. Either way, that all changes when someone is potentially asking you to mention their brand.

Only you can decide how you respond, but having a brand-publishing checklist in place will help you to make the decision that is right for you.

Brand publishing checklist

1. Is this a brand you already know, love, and use?

2. Is this a brand that you are confident that your readers either already know, love, and use or would like to know, love, and use?

3. Is this a brand that you could work in to your regular blog content in a way that is seamless? Not in a non-disclosed kind of way, more in a way that would not be out of place to what your readers expect from your style of content.

4. Does aligning yourself with this brand conflict with brands you’ve previously aligned yourself with?

5. Do you feel excited at the prospect of potentially working with this brand or does it give you an icky feeling? I know icky is not a technical term and can’t really be defined, but intuition or gut feeling is a great thing to draw on in this situation.

Working with brands

The PR pitch

Most – but not all – approaches from a brand or its agency will be for “earned” mentions on your blog. This is the traditional way that brands and their PR agencies have worked with mainstream media.

The idea here is that the PR is pitching you an idea that has some kind of newsworthy content or relevance to your blog’s audience. They are simply pitching and you do not at all have to publish anything just because they have emailed you. You may, however, find that what they are pitching could work as a part of particular blog post you’re working on, or have planned for now or in the future.

This is not something the brand would pay you to do. It is your choice when and if you choose to include the pitch on your blog. The same applies if the brand has sent you a product – unsolicited – to consider using or mentioning on your blog or social media networks. You are in no way obligated to feature the product.

Relationships

Many of my now paid commercial brand alignments have come from building relationships with brands directly or through their PR agencies. I’ve incorporated their products into my posts and have built up a relationship with that brand. The brand trusts what I do on the blog and they can already see how my readers respond to their brand.

I didn’t go into those early earned PR relationships thinking that one day I would be able to get a sponsorship from that brand, but I did start my alignment with those brands based on the five things I listed above on the brand publishing checklist. This ensured that the relationship was one I felt comfortable with from the beginning.

More and more PR companies are also including budgets for paid blogger campaigns as part of their contract with the brands they represent, so how you respond from those early approaches is becoming more and more important.

Also know that a PR pitch cannot specify to you when and how you publish content about the brand. They can’t tell you to use a certain hashtag, they can’t tell you that you need to publish a certain number of social media posts, and they can’t tell you what day you need to publish. They would NEVER ask a journalist to do the same because the only content in mainstream media that can be guaranteed is paid for – and it’s called advertising.

I see this approach happening more and more. And as a former journalist it really disappoints me. It gives the good PRs a bad name and assumes that the blogger will happily do as they are instructed without any remuneration for exposure to that blogger’s audience.

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Events

One of the trends for ways in which brands engage with bloggers is through events. These events are either hosted by the brand and the brand’s PR invites selected bloggers to attend or the events are hosted by third party brand-blogger consultants who are contracted by brands to get bloggers along to the event in the hope of potential exposure.

Either way, a blogger’s decision to even accept an invite to an event can be seen as a brand alignment. Even if that blogger doesn’t publish any social media or blog posts, the blogger could be photographed by the brands or event organiser and therefore associated with the event and seen to be endorsing it.

Once again it comes back to the brand publishing checklist above. Consider if you are happy to be associated with the host brands or brands in any way before saying yes to attend.

And, like a PR pitch, a blogger should not be coerced or expected to post anything in return for attendance at the event. The should be free to do so if they want to, not because they’ve been invited. Just as a journalist would do.

Paid brand alignments

At some point in your blog’s growth you need to take stock and put a value on the time you put into your blog and the readership you have built. Once you’ve established a set value for your blog, I suggest you review this every six months or every quarter depending on the scale in growth of your readership.

Your readership is your currency when it comes to being appealing to brands. Brands mostly want to see the numbers. The number of unique visitors to your blog is the main number they’re looking at. Why? Because it’s the number that most equates to the numbers game of mainstream media. It’s the equivalent to circulation figures in print media and ratings numbers on TV and radio.

Clever brands and agencies will also look beyond the numbers to engagement and influence. They will also look at the demographics behind your numbers – particularly if they’re wanting to connect with readers in certain locations or of a particular age or sex.

When I talk to bloggers about valuing their time and their blog’s audience, it seems quite an arbitrary thing to suggest – and in many ways it is – but increasingly, bloggers are sharing what they are getting paid for brand alignments and this helps us all to establish that value.

I suggest that $ 150 should be the minimum payment for a sponsored post – and then bloggers should scale up according to their readership and influence.

Why $ 150? If you are working as a consultant then the minimum hourly rate is usually about $ 100 an hour. Most sponsored posts take longer than an hour and a half this to create and compile. For 5000-10,000 unique visits to your blog a month, you could charge $ 1550. For a blogger with 30,000-50,000 unique visits a month, $ 3000.

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Ways to earn money from brand alignments

Sponsored posts: This is the most common form of commercial alignment between bloggers and brands. It works most successfully when the blogger is given creative control to write the post in the same way they would write a non-paid post to their readers. Keeping the authenticity of your voice is key – as is being upfront to your readers and labelling it as a sponsored post at the top. This is not a legal requirement, but it is practice that is very much worth embracing. You want to keep your readers, not dupe them. Being upfront has seen me grow my blog readership since I started writing sponsored posts – not have it disappear.

Social media posts: Being paid by a brand to promote their product or message via social media can be part of a sponsored post campaign or separate to it. One blogger talent agency has been reported as charging out up to $ 750 per brand mention on an Instagram image. With the growth of Instagram, particularly for fashion bloggers, this has become an attractive alignment for brands looking to harness its power.

Ambassadorships: Ambassadorships are the strongest way in which a blogger can align with a brand. They usually represent a long-term commitment between the blogger and the brand – six, 12 months or longer. This is a win for the blogger in regards to steady income, but it’s an alignment that needs to be fully considered before making because of the longevity of the association. A word of warning: many brands will try and “buy” bloggers as ambassadors with product only. Be careful with this because once you’ve received the ambassador title, you’ve more than cemented your alliance with that brand and don’t leave the door open for a commercial arrangement.

Television commercials: Bloggers are being included as the “talent” in television commercials and infomercials, usually as part of a wider sponsored post and social media campaign. This has come because audiences are proving more responsive to “real” people as opposed to celebrities or actors.

Blogging for a brand on their site: All bloggers know that good, solid content builds a blog’s readership. Brands have also realised that they too need good solid, relatable content on their sites to increase readership, brand awareness and sales through their sites. Who do they turn to? Bloggers who can not only create that content but bring an audience with them to the brand’s site.

Reader events: a win-win for bloggers and brands is when a blogger can offer something of value to their reader either through valuable/useful content or a giveaway. When that giveaway includes a chance to meet the blogger and attend an event that will add value or entertainment to the winning blog readers, then it’s proving to be a successful way for a blogger to align with a brand.

Event appearances: As I mentioned above, a blogger’s attendance at an event is a sign that the blogger is endorsing the brand. So it’s little wonder that bloggers can now obtain an appearance fee to attend an event. Often a certain number of social posts using a specific hashtag may be attached to this commercial arrangement.

The bottom line

Your blog hasn’t just appeared from out of thin air with a solid, influenced, and engaged audience. It’s taken long hours at the keyboard, dedication to your blog’s topic, and an extreme passion to communicate and connect with your readership.

You need to remember that whenever there is an opportunity presented to you to work or align yourself with a brand. Make good choices, disclose those good choices, and create brand content that still represents who you are and what your blog is about.

Do all this and your blog will continue to grow, as will your blog-business income.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Ways to Collaborate and Earn an Income on Your Blog


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9 Powerful Tips To Help Freelancers and Bloggers Sell Digital Products

This is a guest contribution from freelance writer and inbound marketer, Jawad Khan.

Freelancing can be a liberating career choice. The number of freelancers all over the world has increased dramatically over the last few years, with more people choosing to work on their own terms. If you’re reading this with interest, chances are that you’re a freelancer yourself or someone who’s seriously considering this career path.

But, in order to create an income safety net and truly enjoy the benefits of freelancing, you need to combine freelance client work with your own digital and information based products (eBooks, training courses, guides, tools). This can significantly reduce the pressure of finding client work all the time, which can be difficult at the beginning.

With so many great online tools and services available, creating digital products is much easier than before. But as a result of that, there are a lot of mediocre and sub-standard products floating around the web as well. To ensure that your product stands out from the crowd, you need to do things differently.

Here are 9 tips to help you create better digital products and sell them more effectively.

Note: This post assumes that you know the importance of a mailing list and already have one. If you don’t, read this awesome post on list-building.

1. Create Your Buyer Personas

9 powerful tips

In order to create a product, you first need to identify the right target market and the people who would willingly buy your product. What are their needs and what solutions could persuade them to pay immediately? Begin with creating your buyer personas. Buyer personas are examples of the people who would, or could buy your product. It lists all the characteristics of your ideal buyer including demographic details, income bracket, interests, career level etc. Try to be specific about your buyer, it will help you create a better product. For example, for a freelance writer, the ideal buyer persona might be the owner of a small business between 30-50 years of age, with an annual marketing budget of 30 to 40 thousand dollars looking to generate new sales leads from within the USA using his website, blog and social media profiles.

2. Identify The Right Opportunity

Once you’ve developed your buyer persona, analyze the major problems and needs of your buyers. Match them with your skill set and see how you can address them. Take the same buyer persona and identify the different ways you can help this buyer achieve his goals. List down all the different possibilities and then go for the one that falls in your strongest area in terms of skill set and has comparatively less competition.

3. Create a High Quality Product

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The quality of your product will play a key role in determining its success or failure. If you want repeat customer and referral sales, your product needs to be top-notch. For this, analyze your competitors – other freelancers and agencies – offering the same solutions with their products. Find their loopholes and make sure your product doesn’t have any of them. In simple terms, a high value product is something that exceeds customer expectations with tangible solutions and gives them immediate value.

But apart from the content of your product, its packaging is equally important. It’s just like the headline of a blog post. If the headline is attractive, people read the full blog post. The same goes for packaging. For this, you can also use the services of other freelancers on websites like Elance, 99designs, Freelancer etc.

4. Price Your Product Intelligently

Pricing is another critical part of product selling. If you get it wrong, your sales numbers can be depressingly low. Pricing depends on several factors including your brand image, the size of your mailing list, the level of engagement in your online community, your social media strength, your network and, of course, the quality of your product. You would also need to see the kind of pricing strategies your competitors use.

In general, there are two options for you when it comes to pricing. You can either go for a high priced product that a few people can buy, or you can go for volume based selling and keep a relatively low price. Another option is to create multiple packages with different prices, targeting different buyer personas. In my experience, multiple packages work better than the first two models. Here’s a snapshot from the landing page of Tom Ewer’s, a freelance blogger, PaidtoBlog course.

9 powerful tips 35. Create a Memorable Buying Experience

This is where many freelancers fail to make an impact. A poor buying experience can ruin all your hard work and cause buyers to go away without making a purchase. To be more specific, buying experience refers to your sales landing page, the product selling service you’re using, the payment modes you accept, the checkout process etc. All these are critical elements of the buying process.

To create landing pages, I’d recommend using LeadPages. Before the product launch, use your landing page to create anticipation.

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After the launch, fill it with compelling content, repeated calls to action and testimonials.

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For payment processing and product selling, you can use services like E-Junkie, Shopify or Selz. I personally prefer Selz because it also helps you create high quality audio, video and image previews for your products that are as good as full-fledge landing pages. It allows you to accept payments with Master Card, Visa and PayPal, and simultaneously builds your email list by integrating auto responders like MailChimp and AWeber. It’s really a complete package for digital selling.

6. Target The Right Marketing Channels

If you develop the right buyer persona, it’ll be easy for you to identify and focus on the right marketing channels for your product. For example, if your ideal buyers are business owners, higher management professionals and corporate managers, LinkedIn publishing platform, LinkedIn groups and websites like Quora would be great places to start the promotion of your product. Similarly, with a clear identification of your target buyers, you’ll be able to identify the right blogs where your target users can be found and approach them through guest blogging. Once you’ve launched your product, marketing should continue to consume the majority of your time. Here are a few ways you should continue to promote your resource.

  • Blogging – Mention your resource regularly in all your blog posts and link back to the sales page. Before the launch, create anticipation about your product by mentioning it in your posts and on your blog. After the launch, remind people about it through relevant references within your content.
  • Guest Blogging – Identify the most relevant blogs where your potential buyers can be found. Approach these blogs with high quality guest posts and link back to your product page in the author bio.

Note: Read this to learn more about guest blogging on popular blogs

  • Networking – Use your contacts and the strength of your network to spread the word. Connect with influencers in your niche and ask them for recommendations. Triberr and LinkedIn are great places to do that.
  • Social Networks – Posting and paid promotions on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest can all be very effective depending on your target market.
  • Email List – There’s nothing more effective than a healthy mailing list in helping you sell more products. Without becoming too annoying, regularly send special offers and product deals to your subscribers.

Note:Read this super post on Jon Morrow’s blog about list-building

7. Begin With a Soft Launch (with a deadline)

When it comes to the product launch, never dive into the deep waters immediately. Instead, go for a soft launch and share your product with a limited audience. You can even choose to go with a reduced version of your product initially. To further accelerate things, give your buyers a deadline after which the product you’d take the product down. The objective here is to get a feel of how your target audience responds to your product offer. The limited number of sales that you get, will tell you a lot about the weaknesses and potential improvement areas of your product.

8. Gather Data and Identify Loopholes

To take real benefit from your soft launch, make sure you have sufficient data gathering tools in place. Use live chat services like Olark on your landing page to directly get in touch with your buyers. When someone makes a purchase, send them an email or give them a call to ask about the reasons why they chose your product. Similarly, ask those who bounce back from the landing without making a purchase, about the reasons for their decision and what would they want to see in your product to change their decision. Use survey tools like Survey Monkey to run quick surveys to gather all this data. This can provide you valuable insights for your full scale launch.

9. Launch on Full Scale (with a deadline, again)

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Once you’ve made the required adjustments to your product, launch it aggressively on full scale. Announce it to all your subscribers, social media and marketing channels. However, just like the soft launch, define a deadline after which the product will be taken down again. This is a great way to accelerate your sales (Neil Patel is a big advocate of this approach). When the deadline arrives, take the product down, gather more data, identify improvement areas, make more adjustments and then launch the product again after a few months with more value.

Conclusion

Successful product selling requires adequate preparation, a quality product, aggressive marketing and timely product enhancements.  When you get this combination right, there’s no better way of boosting your income and enjoying the real essence of online money making. As a freelancer your own product would not only give you breathing space in terms of monthly income, but also build your brand image and help you attract more high paying clients.

Jawad Khan is an experienced inbound marketer and a freelance blogger. He helps small businesses, tech startups and entrepreneurs strengthen their brand image with high quality blog content. Follow him on his blog, Writing My Destiny, Google+ and Twitter.

 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

9 Powerful Tips To Help Freelancers and Bloggers Sell Digital Products


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Blogging Like a Shark: 10 Secrets to Bootstrapping Your Blog into a Business

This is a guest contribution from Matthew Capala of SearchDecoder.com.

Shark bloggers are experts in their field of choice. However, they rarely call themselves experts or gurus. Skilled blogging pros, such as James Altucher, establish their authority on social networks and search engines by creating immensely authentic and valuable content, establishing strong connections with their readers.

1 - James Altucher 2

James hardly resembles a shark, but make no mistake. Think more in terms of a “pool shark” versus a voracious eating machine. Shark marketers are at the top of the promotional food chain but not because they use force or deception.

2 - shark definition

In today’s competitive times, bloggers need to bootstrap intelligently to stand out from the scores of new blogs and brands with million dollars content-marketing budgets. Your objective as a bootstrap blogger should not be praying all day for one kill. Your aim should be the top of the food chain.

3 - predotorty shark

Predatory Marketing Tactics Dont Work Anymore

Shark marketers rarely if ever address themselves as “experts.” This crowd is too busy helping and connecting to pat themselves on the back. Think of yourself as a center of distribution. As you disseminate more helpful content to a growing number of people an inflow of leads, opportunities and money flows in to you.

Contrary to popular belief, the idea of bootstrapping is not based on using free marketing to spread the word about your brilliant idea. According to dictionary.com, bootstrapping means “relying entirely on one’s own effort and resources”.

Play to your strengths by leveraging your time and talent. Growing your blog usually requires a minimum injection of capital to build momentum, combined with persistent, intelligent labor. For example, hiring a designer may be a good idea – online readers tend to judge the book by its over before they commit any attention to what you are saying.

5 - time money talent ven

Unlike the monstrous, ferocious predators which roam the infinite online seas, whale sharks don’t need to use predatory tactics to promote their businesses. They use great content marketing to attract the visitors to their blogs like a magnet.

Today’s intelligent buyer will be repulsed by hard-charging, competitive marketing tactics.  Operate on a creative plane of thought to attract people like a magnet. Shift from a competitive to a creative mindset and you will win big on the Internet.

Stop stalking. Start connecting. Turn your marketing into a conversation.

6 - magnet

Market with a Magnet

Web users are tuning out marketing noise. Click-through rates are dropping like a brick. Visualize marketing with a magnet instead of the old, worn out sledgehammer advertising approach. 

7 - sledgehammer vs magnet

Use pull marketing to employ the principle of attraction versus the old school push marketing tactics that turn off today’s sophisticated consumer. Create value to become valuable.

8 - Own your ZMOt

Own Your Zero Moment of Truth

80% of consumers search for a product or service before purchasing it. Ranking your blog on Google for quality keywords can turn your blogger status to a rockstar overnight. 

Place a heavy emphasis on nailing down one of the top positions on Google for your desired keywords or key phrases. Keep in mind that only 15% of search results are the old-school ’blue links.’ Estimated 85% of Google search results are social media, videos, images, maps, and the knowledge graph. Fish where the fish are.

Increase your click-through rates by designing attention-grabbing page titles and headlines. Include thought-provoking or funny images in your blog posts to stand out and boost engagement. 

Owning your zero moment of truth inspires you to increase organic search engine click throughs by improving your ad creative writing skills. It’s a win-win.

9 - personal branding

Personal Branding Is Branding

Beginner bloggers often ask me: How do you draw a line between your business name and your personal brand?

You don’t. It’s one and the same.

Steve Jobs built Apple, not the other way around. You have built your own company, You Inc. However, being a blogger is much different from being a CEO. The first is a hobby, the latter is a job.

Consider using SlideShare to tell your brand’s story, including the problems you are solving and why people should care about your brand. Readers like eye candy. Creating a visually appealing tale forms an emotional bond with your target audience.

 

10-media company

Every Business is a Media Company

Blogs serve as one-stop shopping for any website visitors. Post articles, reviews, podcasts and videos on your blog to brand your business. Companies that blog get 55% more website visitors and B2C companies that blog get 88% more leads per month, according to Hubspot. 

Yet many businesses fail to achieve desired results blogging. They fail and give up on content marketing because they don’t operate like a media company.

11 - optimize blog content

Frequency is key to success. Blogging regularly encourages your audience to know, like and trust you. Build your blog on WordPress for increased functionality. Use plugins to capture subscribers and improve your presentation. Position sharing button beside each blog post to leverage your presence. Sharing buttons like the Floating ShareBar can increase sharing by up to 30%. Details matter.

Open your blog to guest posting and build strong business relationships. Join blogging communities, such as Triberr, to build solid relationships with fellow niche bloggers.

12 - startegy

Win Your Battles Before the First Shots Are Fired

Understand the difference between content marketing and content strategy. Content marketing is the creation and promoting of content to attract a targeted audience. Content strategy is the creation of scalable and repeatable content for a built-in audience. Content marketing is like baking a cake while content strategy is similar to owning a bakery. 

13 - cake bakery

Developing a content strategy requires intensive planning. Create content based on researched user needs, deliver this content through various mediums such as video and podcasts and promote along channels which resonate with your target audience.

14 - healthy heartbeat

You Need a Healthy Heartbeat

A healthy, vibrant blog looks similar to a healthy heartbeat. Imagine the steady, predictable ticks on an EKG meter measuring your heartbeat. Engaging through social media channels like twitter and Facebook creates tiny ticks. Sharing Infographics, videos and blog posts creates a larger spike which creates a big impact with a small hit. PR and branded content creates massive spikes. The large hits which make big impacts target news outlets and other large audiences through macro content campaigns.

15 - Heartbeat

Build your inbound marketing campaign on being disciplined. Work your system on a daily basis. Set up a content calendar. Starting at a calendar can inspire you to create content even if you don’t feel like working. Use this motivational strategy to hold yourself accountable.

16 - lead genertion

Invest in Lead Generation at the Outset

Create in-depth, thorough content you could sell for a handsome profit and give it away for free. This approach might seem counterintuitive to bloggers looking to monetize every click, but karma ensures that the value you offer will return to you in some way, shape or form. Use your free giveaway as link bait. 

Build your email list through this exchange of value. In return for your helpful, free giveaway subscribers will gladly offer their name and email address. Use tools like “Pay with a Tweet” to increase social sharing. Users can access your free giveaway by tweeting your giveaway link. This expands your presence and gives visitors a quick and easy way to access your free product.

17 - be interesting

To Be Interesting, Be Interested

Successful shark bloggers follow the teachings of famous behaviorists, such as Dale Carnegie. They generate interest by expressing interest. 

Expressing genuine, heartfelt interest in other bloggers will result in similar reaction towards you. Focus on helping others who need help. Engage in genuine conversations, add value wherever you show up and answer questions to gain the trust of your target audience.

Use social media tools like Topsy to find your audience. Run searches to connect with interested parties through twitter, blog commenting, and everything in between.

18 - marathon

It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint

Take a big picture approach to blogging. Each seemingly tiny step taken leads to solid if not spectacular results in the long term. If only you don’t give up to see it.

Work your way through temporary frustrations by visualizing yourself achieving great things. Professional athletes employ this technique. Clearing your inner world can motivate you to succeed. 

Shark bloggers are a driven, dynamic, and focused bunch. However, they combine high-octane enthusiasm with a significant dose of planning, tools and preparation to stay focused and play a long-term game. 

It might not be easy to be positive every day when you grow a blog from its infancy but doing so can provide you with immense returns in the long run.

Good luck!

Matthew Capala is an inbound marketing strategist, personal branding coach, Internet entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and author. He is an Adj. Professor at NYU and Head of Search at Lowe Profero. His free personal branding e-book, Away with the Average, has been widely praised. A leading voice in the start-up community, Matthew founded SearchDecoder.com, a venue for SEO ideas for entrepreneurs. You can find him on Tiwtter at @SearchDecoder.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Blogging Like a Shark: 10 Secrets to Bootstrapping Your Blog into a Business


@ProBlogger

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Is It Still Worth Starting an Online Publication Today?

With the millions of blogs, web sites, and online publications to be found today, is it still worth your time to join the fray? Or is too late to join the game?

Question

Source

The answer is actually simple: yes.

The point where it gets complicated is what you mean by “worth it” and the reasons you want to enter the world of online publishing. There are a multitude of reasons one might want to start an online publication at this point.

One, you want to make it big and be rich like famous probloggers.

Two, you need an online platform to reach a wider audience for your business, no matter what size, brick-and-mortar or eCommerce.

Three, you just want to have a place online where you can write and share your thoughts, with the hopes of building an audience with profit not being the main goal.

Whichever reason you may have (it may not even be one of those three), I do think that there are enough justifications to support anyone who wants to start an online publication.

Let’s say you want to make it big.
What’s wrong with that? The thing is, the scene is so crowded that it isn’t that easy to make a name for yourself online anymore. That’s not to say it is not possible. A few things that will definitely help you:

  • Choosing a niche where there is a gap. For example, if you are in Africa, and you’re involved in the startup scene, it is a good time to cover it. Don’t be a TechCrunch copycat trying to get the attention of the whole world. Instead, create something that might turn out to be the TechCrunch of your region.
  • Speak up – with your own voice. Reporting the news is well and good. That’s how the Internet echo chamber works, and it does work for bigger sites. But if you want to establish yourself, you have to stand out. And one way to make yourself be heard above the din is to criticize when you need to, praise when you have to – even if it means going against the flow.
  • Find the scoops. Going back to the echo chamber – you won’t make a dent if you’re just repeating what has been published by the usual suspects in your niche. Find sources that will give you fresh news, fresh perspectives, and new players. This may even be offline sources.

What about the money?

Money

Source

Yes, there is always the money issue. If you’re starting out on your own, and you don’t have a lot of money to start with, is it possible to start an online publication? Of course!

There are free platforms, free domains, and even free hosting available. If you just want to test the waters first, don’t pay for anything if you can find it for free. When you have validated your idea – that is, your publication gains traction – then you can start thinking about spending money on the site.

And, here’s the thing about money looking at another perspective: if you focus too much on making money from your online publication from the get go, the chances are that you will be disappointed; and then you’ll get the avalanche effect of being demotivated…

The fact is that there is nothing stopping you from starting an online publication. It is always worth a try, whether you’re looking for money or a wide readership. At the end of the day, the tools are available. If you don’t know how to do certain things, tutorials abound online. Articles are available with a few clicks. It is up to you to make your dream a reality if you really want to.

How about those of you who have been in this business for a while? Do you agree, or do you have some other thoughts?

Here is some helpful related reading:

Networking & Insight – Absolute Necessities for New Bloggers to Improve their Blogs in 2014

How to Start a Blog or Website: Step-by-Step

Colors, Fonts, and Layout: How Do You Get Started with Blog Design?


BloggingPro

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