Close
Close

If You Missed the Last ProBlogger Newsletter – Here’s a Sneak Peak

One of the strategies that I use on each of my blogs these days is to have a newsletter (I use Aweber to send them) that is associated with each blog. On my photography blog this newsletter is a weekly affair (I send them each Thursday) but here on ProBlogger they are monthly (ish).

I sent this months email yesterday – but if you are not yet subscribed you can get a sneak peak of it as a html version (the formatting doesn’t convert perfectly from the email version) at:

October ProBlogger Newsletter

If you like what you see and want to receive future editions via email you can sign up by adding your email address here:


Free Bonus

As a small thank you bonus for subscribing – on the thank you page for subscribing there is a link to a one hour podcast interview that I did a few months back with Denise and Patsi from The Blog Squad. In it they interview me about my journey as a blogger and I share a lot of tips on how to improve your blog.

This is not available anywhere else on the web for free so the only way to get access to it is via the newsletter. Enter your email and you’ll have immediate access to the podcast.

Lastly – I’m hoping to expand ProBlogger later in the year. I’ll be inviting those subscribed to the newsletter to beta test the new features before everyone else. So if you’re interested in getting access before everyone else the only way is to be subscribed.

8 Tips for Affiliate Marketers on Using Twitter

Twitter-Affiliate-Marketing-Tips
Two days ago I asked Does Affiliate Marketing belongs on Twitter. The conversation that has emerged from that question has been rich – thanks for your contribution.

At the end of that post I said that I would post some tips today for affiliate marketers on how perhaps they should engage in the practice on Twitter (if at all).

As I mentioned in the previous, post I’m not anti affiliate marketing or doing it via new media – but I think the ‘method’ and ‘attitude’ of the marketer is very very important. It can mean the difference between conversion or not – it can also mean the difference between keeping followers and losing them.

Before I get into some Twitter specific tips let me share a previous article with some general affiliate marketing tips for bloggers.

Let me also say that I’m still not convinced that Twitter is the best place for affiliate marketing. However if you do choose to do it on Twitter here are some starting points:

Tips for Promoting Affiliate Products on Twitter

1. Relevancy is Key

One of the things that I noticed earlier in the week about those who were promoting the affiliate product on Twitter (an AdSense tips product) was that quite a few of them were not normally writing about anything to do with AdSense. Adding a link to an affiliate product that has little to do with what you normally write about on Twitter is not smart. For starters it won’t convert and secondly it potentially will annoy your readers. If you’re going to directly promote products from Twitter make sure they are relevant to the followers you have.

2. Personalization Matters

Another obvious flaw in many of the tweets that we saw in the example mentioned in the previous post were that they were identical to everyone else’s. We saw Joel Comm set up a system where he pre-populated tweets with a script that simply told those reading it to go download a product. Joel actually stopped by my previous post and reflected (among other things) that those who personalized their messages converted better than those who did not. I think this says a lot. A personal recommendation is going to get a much better response in terms of actual conversions and it is far less likely to hurt your relationship with your followers as the tweet will be in your voice and hopefully out of your experience with the product.

3. Genuine Recommendations

My policy with affiliate marketing is to only recommend products that I have used or have had someone close to me who I trust use and recommend. This is again something that will add weight to your recommendation and increase conversion – but it’ll also help your reputation and stop you from promoting products that are rubbish. Recommend a product that doesn’t work and your own reputation and any trust you’ve built up with those who follow your advice will suffer. Don’t sacrifice your own brand for the sake of a few quick dollars.

4. Be Conversational

I have used affiliate links directly on Twitter on three occasions (from memory). In each instance they were Amazon Associate links and they were a part of a conversation that I was having with other Twitter users (from memory they were at times when followers asked me for recommendations on products). The links that I left were relevant, the conversations were started by others and they fit naturally into the conversation. From memory I declared that they were affiliate links on at least two of those occasions. The opposite of this ‘conversational’ tweeting is the ‘cold call’ tweet which comes out of the blue.

5. Link to Affiliate Products Indirectly

If I were to recommend one tips above others it would be this one. I think it would be much more effective and less intrusive with the culture on Twitter to tweet a link to a post you’ve written on your blog that includes an affiliate link – than to tweet the affiliate link directly. Write up a review of the product on your blog, give a balanced review, share why the product is relevant to your readers, tell them who would benefit most from it etc. And THEN tweet a link to the review. The problem with Twitter is that you’ve got 140 or so characters and to really do the product you’re promoting service and to give your readers a well balanced review you need more than that.

6. Moderation is Important

In any affiliate marketing (and perhaps all types of marketing) those who you are speaking with will begin to ‘switch off’ and become blind to your promotions if you hit them too many times with marketing messages. This will especially be true on Twitter where I see the audience is highly skeptical to marketing messages, are attuned to transparency and where they can very quickly opt out of receiving future communication with you. Not only can they opt out when your messages get too much – they often subscribe or follow you on the basis of what you’ve already written. If all you ever do is promote products (or yourself) you’re unlikely to grow a readership or become anyone with any kind of influence on Twitter.

7. Listen to Your Followers

The thing I love most about Twitter is that it a listening device. A lot of people use it and promote it as a broadcasting tool (which is can be useful for) but I’m increasingly finding it to be a fantastic way to hear what people are thinking – both about life in general but also you. If you engage in affiliate marketing on twitter make sure you stay in tune with how people respond. This doesn’t just mean watching what people ‘reply’ to you but also means watching what happens to subscriber numbers after you tweet and also watching what people say about you without using your @username (you can set up an RSS feed on Twitter search to watch for keywords like your name).

8. Be Useful

This is a fairly general Twitter tip but it applies to affiliate marketing. If you’re going to promote a product on Twitter make sure it’s highly useful to your followers. This is connected to being relevant – but goes beyond it. I find that the more useful my Twittering is the more positive feedback I get from followers. The same is true from blogging and interestingly enough it applies to the products I’ve promoted over the years. The best feedback that I can possibly get after an affiliate product campaign is from someone who bought the product and thanks me for recommending it because they found it useful. To me this is the ultimate feedback because it means I’ve not only made a little money, but more importantly I have a reader who is happy, who remains loyal and who is perhaps even more loyal than they were before I made the recommendation. This really comes down to smart selection of products to recommend – make sure that they are the best!

There you have it – my guide for Affiliate Marketing on Twitter.

Have Your Say about Affiliate Marketing on Twitter

I’m aware that some will still be pretty anti the idea of promoting affiliate products on Twitter (and I remain unconvinced except through the indirect method of promoting links on your blog rather than direct ones that I mention above) but IF you’re going to do it – those are my starting points.

I’d love to hear more discussion on this topic though. Marketing on Twitter (and all kinds of social media sites) will only continue to happen more and more so the more we discuss it the better!

update: Get more posts like this at my new blog TwiTip: Twitter Tips.

How Much Do Bloggers Earn? [Survey Results]

Read Write Web today published the results of some research that they’ve done with Top Tier Tech Bloggers and Social Media Consultants regarding how much they earn in that work.

To get the information they approached 20 top-tier tech bloggers and social media consultants, half of them responded (so this isn’t a massive sample).

While the sample size is small the results revealed:

  • Most bloggers getting paid about $25 a post (with the full range being between $10-$200 a post).
  • In house/Full time bloggers earn annual pay of between $45,000 to $55,000 (with benefits) and up to $70,000-$90,000 with bonuses.
  • The real money seems to be in consulting with hourly rates not below $150 an hour and $300 an hour the most common rate named.

Read the full report and analysis at How Much Do Top Tier Bloggers and Social Media Consultants Get Paid? We Asked Them!

Win an Ultimate Digital Training Day Prize [AUSTRALIAN RESIDENTS ONLY]

Let me make this very clear up front – this competition is for Australian residents only. I know this cuts out the majority of you but it is for charity and every other competition I’ve run is for everyone – so please forgive me for this localized focus. Having said that, I would still encourage you to get involved in Blog Action Day and visit Learn About Poverty for some great resources and info .

I’m excited to announce today that World Vision Australia and more specifically their blog Learn About Poverty (a blog that they have specifically set up for Blog Action Day which contains some fantastic resources for all bloggers wanting to participate in that very worthwhile project) are offering one Australian ProBlogger reader the chance to travel to Sydney on 29th October for an amazing day of Digital Training. This prize is quite amazing and I’m actually quite disappointed I can’t win it myself!

Please don’t just read the prize details – also read the rules to put yourself in the running to win!

The Prize

The prize includes multiple parts of a day of digital training on 29th October.

1. Flights to and from Sydney from your nearest capital city (you need to get to the airport yourself), accomodation overnight and transport on the day are all provided for you. I’m sure they’ll probably buy you lunch somewhere along the way too :-)

2. 4 ‘classes’ of digital training. The classes are:

Class 1 (10:30am-11:30am) Microsoft Surface

Spend an hour with the only Microsoft surface machine and experts in Australia.

Class 2 (11:45-1pm) Digital Strategy & Creative

Learn about the trends and attitudes that drive the one of the premier digital agencies in Asia Pacific: Amnesia.

Class 3 (2pm-3pm) Yahoo!7 SEO Training

Tutorial with Yahoo! 7′s SEO and SEM expert.

Class 4 (3:30pm-5pm) Google Australia

Finish off the day at Google’s Sydney office. Dialogue session with the digital experts at Google Australia.

3. It’s important to note here that World Vision has been able to provide this incredible prize through the generosity of the organisations providing the associated prizes. They have not needed to spend a dollar, and these organisations should be congratulated for their involvement.

The Rules

To put yourself in the running to win you need to do the following:

  • Be in Australia and be willing to get yourself to a capital city (or major airport).
  • Leave a comment below in this post that helps about how World Vision Australia can develop a better blogging and social media strategy. I’ve included some more information from World Vision below to help you with this.
  • The winner will be chosen by World Vision based upon your comments. So make them as helpful as possible and make sure you look over what they’re already doing and what their goals are (see below).
  • Entries need to be received by 5pm Melbourne time on Thursday 16th October. The winner will be announced in the days that follow.
  • Please confirm that you live in Australia in your comment.
  • Please use the word ‘poverty’ in your comment – this will help us make sure comments don’t get filtered into our spam filter

Information About World Vision Australia and Learn About Poverty to help you in your entry

The blog Learn About Poverty has been specifically set up for Blog Action Day (happening later this month). It is one of World Vision’s first blogging efforts and is being developed to give bloggers video and other types of resources to help them with their posting on Blog Action Day.

Here is some information provided by World Vision Australia that might help you in giving them the most helpful advice in your comment:

Goals as an organisation: We’re really trying to help ignite a social movement. Poverty is such a massive issue, that no one product or campaign will solve it, so our focus is very much becoming how we can help create/participate in the momentum already happening in society. This is a key for us moving forwards.

General direction of online: We’re moving towards a place where we can better tell our stories with anyone out there. We have a huge number of latent stories and information that circles around World Vision – literally, we walk past people in our office how are changing the world. We’re trying to come up with how we, as a large organisation, can begin to show people more of the amazing stuff we do. I’d be keen to hear how your readers think we might be able to do this and still remain authentic at the same time.

What kind of ideas: We would love ideas on how World Vision could implement more blogging and social media activities. Blogging for us could be tricky, as in some cases we can’t talk openly about our work for fear of putting governments where some of our staff and stakeholders work off-side, bringing about obvious safety issues. This has been especially tough with Learn About Poverty. But we realise we need to be much more connected with the public, in order to better communicate the urgency of the issue of global poverty. We’re really keen to hear from the probloggers our there how we could tailor a social media/blog strategy to help ignite a social movement that acknowledges this.

There you have it – please let me know if you have questions and good luck to my fellow Aussies!

update: This competition is now closed. I’ll post the winner once the team at Learn About Poverty shoot me a note with who they have selected. Thanks for everyone who entered!

Get 30-40% off BlogMastermind Courtesy of a Weak Australian Dollar (Until Monday)

Blog-Mastermind-1Regular readers of Problogger will know that I’m a big fan of Yaro Starak’s Blog Mastermind coaching program (you can read about it’s recent relaunch here and see six student reviews here).

This is just a short note to say that until next Monday you can get an unofficial discount of around 35% off the price of the course – simply because the Australian Dollar sucks at the moment!

Here’s why.

Yaro set up the price of Blog Mastermind in Australian dollars rather than US dollars (he’s an Aussie living in Canada). At the time he did this the exchange rate between the two currencies was almost dollar for dollar (the AU$ was slightly less).

Over the last couple of weeks the Australian dollar has quite simply taken a nose dive! Yesterday it hit $0.66 USD (as I write this it is 0.67)!

This means if you buy Blog Mastermind today you’re getting between 30-40% discount (depending upon what financial markets are doing at any given moment). Instead of $97 USD for the month it is actually around $65 USD.

This ends on Monday as Yaro is switching to charging in USD (and I can understand why – the Australian dollar is not a good one to be earning right now). He is also ending the month by month payment option for those who sign up after Monday.

Is Twitter Selling Links and What in the World is a ‘Promotion’

Yesterday I logged onto Twitter and find a little addition to their sidebar. It says ‘Get some Perspective’ and contains a link ‘Watch Hack the Debate‘.

Here’s how it looks.

Twitter-Promotion

So I have two reactions to this.

1. How much more politics does Twitter need?

I’m sick of the ‘election bar’ that continues to appear when I visit Twitter. I’ve closed it many times but it continues to appear. I thought perhaps it was just me or at least just a frustration that other Non US Twitter users had seeing that Election promotion – but when I tweeted about it I only had 2-3 out of 50-60 responses that were positive about the election bar (including US Twitter users).

WIth the election bar and now a sidebar link Twitter seems to be moving away from their ‘what are you doing’ type focus. Sure a lot of the world is ‘doing’ elections but a large number of the world is also sick of them.

I do think that the US election is important but I’d love to see them give us the choice to opt out of this type of ‘promotion’ or at least to know if it’s an ad or not. But maybe that’s just me?

2. Is this a partnership, paid link… or?

My first reaction when seeing the link was that it looked a lot like an advertisement. There’s no marking of it as such but it does seem a little odd to just have an unexplained link to a political site just sitting there on the sidebar of a social media site under one’s stats.

When you look at the ‘source code’ of a twitter page you see that the link is tagged as a ‘promotion’ (click to enlarge the source code):

Twitter-Promotion-2

Interesting…. but what is a promotion?

On the site it links to (Current.com) it says that Current and Twitter have ‘teamed up’ – so it looks like some kind of ‘partnership’ but that doesn’t really explain it fully.

Now I’ve got nothing against Twitter monetizing with advertising, but I’d love for them to disclose whether that is actually an ad or not. If it is – they might want to ‘nofollow’ it or they might just find themselves penalized by Google for trying to game them (or for helping someone else game them at least).

What do you think?

Update – Evan Williams from Twitter has kindly commented below clarifying the situation. You can read his comments here. The most important clarification (in my mind) is that the link is not a paid link at all but a voluntary link. Thanks Evan!

Affiliate Marketing on Twitter – Does it Belong?

Twitter-Affiliate-Marketing

What do you think about affiliate marketing on Twitter?

Lately I’ve noticed more and more affiliate marketers getting onto twitter. There’s been a real buzz about it actually in many internet marketing circles – almost like it’s the latest ‘new’ thing (I guess it is relatively new).

The unfortunate thing is that the model I’m seeing some internet marketers use on Twitter is quite spammy. Some have spammed Twitter so much directly that they’ve been booted off.

Today I got an email from Joel Comm. I’m one of his affiliates and have promoted some of his books and ebooks previously. We’ve met in person and I admire his knowledge of internet marketing greatly. However todays email didn’t really sit that well with me and I’d love to hear your opinion on it.

Joel is currently promoting an AdSense Secrets ebook. I actually like his writing on AdSense and some of what he teaches helped me a lot in the early days of getting into blogging.

I’ve promoted his AdSense stuff before and would probably do it again – but not in the way he’s asking his affiliates to do it this time.

The promotion he’s asking people to do is to Tweet a link to his book. Not only has he asked us to tweet about it (something I wouldn’t be anti doing to some extend) he’s given his affiliates a link to make the whole process automated.

All you have to do is click the link and it sets up a tweet in your own twitter account (if you’re logged in) and it embeds an affiliate link into the tweet automatically for you so you can earn money if people make a purchase of one of Joels products as a result of clicking on your link ($10 a month for each month they stay in his program).

Looking at Twitter Search just now it seems that his tactic is working – to some extent.

Picture 4.png

I wouldn’t call it a raging success (yet) but with 30 or so people tweeting about it (largely using the automated script Joel’s provided) there’s been some take up of it.

Now on some levels I don’t have a problem with Joel’s campaign. I am not against affiliate marketing, I’m not against promoting products in new media – however there’s something that has been playing on my mind about this all day.

To be honest I’m not completely sure why I don’t like it (as I say above I don’t have a problem with some of the principles behind it) but there’s something that doesn’t sit well with me about this.

Risky Behavior and Spam

I think one of my main problems with it is that it almost seems like Joels asking others to engage in a little risky behavior for him and putting them a little at risk. Twitter is pretty anti spam and while he’s not done it directly the search results do look quite spammy when you line them all up and see the exact same message over and over and over again. I wonder how Twitter will respond to this and who will suffer? Joel or those who tweet it?

Impersonal Marketing

Another thing that I am reacting against with this strategy is that the tweets Joel is suggesting seem very impersonal.

“Download Joel Comm’s Adsense Secrets For FREE! “

This just doesn’t resonate with me as the type of message that would do well on Twitter. A message out of the blue about someone encouraging a download. I’m not sure it’s where affiliate marketing is going online either.

My own experimenting with affiliate marketing over the last few years is that it works best out of relationship and trust with those that you recommend products to. I find that promoting products do best when you are able to give an honest review of them, when you’re able to tell people who they are best suited for etc

This is actually why I think blogging is an ideal message for affiliate marketing. It’s a great place to build trust, fully review a product and give a balanced recommendation – 140 or so characters just doesn’t seem enough to do much to do most of that.

I guess what I’m coming to is that a tweet like this doesn’t really sit comfortably with my style of affiliate marketing.

What do you Think about Affiliate Marketing on Twitter?

But that is just me – what about you? Does affiliate marketing belong on Twitter? If so – how would you do it?

To be clear – I’m not wanting to start an anti Joel Comm thread of discussion here – like I say, I like the guy and don’t have anything against his products, but I am interested to hear what you think about the topic of affiliate marketing on twitter (and other forms of social media). Over to you….

How Affiliate Marketers Should Use Twitter?

It’s pretty easy to say you don’t like affiliate links on Twitter and not say anything constructive. So tomorrow I’d like to attempt to put forward some ideas on how Twitter (and other social media sites) could be used by affiliate marketers appropriately and effectively. Keep an eye on my RSS feed over the next 24 hours to see when the post goes live.

Aweber to Add Twitter Updates Feature

I just found out that later this week Aweber (the newsletter delivery service that I use) is adding a new feature that will allow their publishers to automatically send an update to their Twitter account when they send a new broadcast/newsletter. The tweet will link to an online version of the newsletter so that your twitter followers will get to see what you’re sending out to newsletter subscribers.

This new option will appear in the ‘Syndicate’ section of the admin area of sending out new newsletters.

Picture 1.png

It’s a cool little feature that should help publishers extend their newsletter reach.

5 Ways To Optimize Your Blog and Capture More Repeat Visitors

Today Rich Page shares five tips on how to optimize websites to capture repeat readers.

You may be a blogger that thinks they have a pretty popular and well created blog – if so, well done. But remember every blog is a work a progress, and there is always room for improvement. Here are 5 great ways to help optimize and improve your website, and inspire new visitors to become repeat visitors:

1: Track your Internal Search Results

One of the easiest ways to gain insight into your blog and improve it is to track your internal search results. You can easily do this using Google Analytics (learn how to track this), or use this cool wordpress plugin. It’s very important to identify your top searched keywords – it helps you identify what’s popular with your visitors (write more content relating to these), and also, just as importantly, what visitors are failing to find on your blog (look for keyword searches that have zero results and create a post about them – as long as you can make it relevant to your blog). The more relevant internal search results the user finds, then the more chances of them signing up to your feed and coming back for more!

2: Reduce the Bounce Rate of your Articles

The best way to stop someone from leaving immediately after reading your blog articles (i.e. bouncing) is to expose them to as much of your blog’s great content as possible, or by getting them to sign up to your feed. And what is the best way to do this? Immediately after the visitor is done reading the blog entry they arrived at (and remember, most visitors don’t arrive at your homepage – they get deep linked in from search engines or other blogs), at the bottom of the article place prominent text links to subscribe and links to read related content (problogger.com actually does a great job of this). Just don’t fail here and bury these important links away on the right hand column, or at the bottom of your comments, like I see so often.

3: Survey and Learn from Your Website Visitors

What’s another great way to improve your blog? This one is simple, yet many blog owners don’t do it – you need gain feedback from your visitors! Simply sign up for a free survey tool like 4Q, and get to know your visitors better. It allows you to ask your visitors questions in the form of a non-obtrusive pop-up survey. Here are the 3 main questions you need to ask your visitors in order to gain insight for optimizing your blog:

  • What was the reason you came to this blog?
  • Did you find what you were looking for?
  • What else would you like to see at this blog?

Asking these questions allows you to gain some real insight into your visitors and their needs – and remember, a blog that doesn’t meet the needs of visitors could spend all the money in the world to get new traffic, but it wouldn’t get many repeat visits (way cheaper) because the visitors aren’t finding what they want. And don’t just survey your visitors – act on what you find! It can often be very revealing…

4: Build a Community into your Blog

Want to get as many repeat visits as possible, without having to rely on RSS feeds to pull visitors back? Then build a community for your blog, and engage not only yourself with your readers, but allow your readers to engage with each other. This is particularly a great idea if you are niche blogger and you have a small but captive audience. There are a number of ways to create this community for your blog – the basic way is to setup and install ‘MyBlogLog‘ or ‘BuddyPress‘ as a widget on your blog. The more advanced way to build a community is to create a social network around your blog using Ning or KickApps. Both of these are free and allow you to fully customize, brand and create your own community, and use your own blog feed as a main ingredient of the community. Win-win situation for you and your readers!

5: Setup Goals and Begin Testing to Improve Them

Lastly, one of the most important things to remember for blogging success is to set goals and try and beat them. And for blogs, your goal is likely to get as many readers as possible. But be more specific and actionable. For example set a weekly goal for new readers, i.e. 100 new subscribers per week. Then, test elements of your website (using Google Website Optimizer) to try and improve your subscribers and reach your goals. One of the best things to test is the ‘subscription’ area, usually found to the top right of your blog – where your RSS feed links and newsletter signup form usually is. Test different calls to actions, different images and different copy. See which one drives the most goal conversions. And for the goal conversion to work, you will need to tag your thanks page with tracking code (which is easily done if you use AWeber to manager your feed readers). Here is a cool plugin to help you use Google Website Optimizer on your blog. Also, if you are selling a product or giving away something like an ebook on your blog, you can track that as a goal and test to improve sign up rates.

So there we have it. And remember, don’t ever think your blog is ‘done’ – always keep striving to improve your blog. If you don’t, before you know it, a competitor will appear out of nowhere and start stealing away your beloved visitors. For more ideas on how to help improve your blog (and websites in general), and to find ways to stop wasting so much money on online marketing, consider checking out my new free ebook all about this.

So, what are you waiting for? Use these tips and start improving your blog right now – and who knows, it may end up being as successful as ProBlogger one day!