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How I Use Email Newsletters to Drive Traffic and Make Money

Yesterday I shared 6 reasons that I find email newsletters to be a more effective way of driving traffic to and making money from blogs than RSS.

Today I want to show you exactly how I do it.

Firstly a word about technology – I use Aweber to deliver my emails (I talk about why here). However you can use pretty much any email newsletter service (many also choose and highly recommend MailChimp) for the process I outline below as long as it allows you to set up an auto-responder or sequence of emails.

I should also say that the process I’m about to share has evolved over time. It started out very very simple and has slowly developed with time – in fact it continues to develop as I learn more and by no means is where I want to take it…. yet.

Lets start with a visual on how my process looks (click to enlarge) before I explain the elements:

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Reader Subscribes

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Because email newsletters are such an important part of my site I put a lot of emphasis upon getting this conversion moment with those who come to my site. There are a variety of places around the blog where I attempt to get readers to sign up – some are more subtle than others. Some are anything but subtle including a popup signup box that readers see 20-30 seconds after they arrive on the blog.

The pop-up is set to only show once per visitor (unless they’re blocking cookies) and while it is intrusive and I was very hesitant about adding it – it’s incredibly effective at getting readers to signup.

I switched to using this Pop-Up signup technique just on a year ago and at the time wrote up how it took me from getting 40 confirmed signups a day to 350 over night here. Since that time subscriber numbers have continued to climb – I now get around 500 new confirmed subscribers a day. This adds up to around 180,000 a year which is exciting growth. It does annoy a handful of readers (I get an email or two per month) but for the payoff it’s something I’ve decided to continue with.

Welcome Email

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When someone signs up and then confirms their subscription by clicking a link in an email they’re then sent (double opt in is required by law) the new subscriber is immediately sent a welcome email. This email is all about making them feel good about subscribing and giving them a quick introduction to the site.

I’m presuming that most people who sign up for the newsletter are new to the site so it’s a great opportunity to introduce myself, show them around and help get their expectations right about the site.

This welcome email has a site logo, my picture, some links to key parts of the site like the forum, some suggested reading for catching up on key posts in our archives (I send them to a few ‘sneeze pages‘ that send them deep within the archives and get them viewing multiple pages) and shares what the subscriber will receive in the coming weeks in terms of future emails.

The email also asks people to add the email address that emails are sent from to their white list/contact list to help ensure emails are delivered.

It’s written in a personal and friendly style and seems to connect as I get a lot of replies to this email from new subscribers thanking me for the personal welcome.

Weekly Updates

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As you’ll see from the chart above – weekly updates are what readers get the most. They’re largely updates on what has happened on the blog/forums in the past week.

You can see one of my more recent ones here (although it loses some of the formatting in the web version) where you can see that these emails have a bit of a structure. I usually have the following sections in these weekly updates:

  • Welcome: usually just a sentence that intros the week. If there’s something important I’ll often highlight it here. Sometimes I’ll also do a quick update on something cool that happened on the site during the week (record day of traffic, milestone in terms of subscribers, a mention in the press – this kind of update seems to build morale/momentum among readers)
  • Quick Links: here I share the weekly assignment, any discussion oriented posts/polls, any competition announcements and occasionally a ‘featured post’ that I want to especially push traffic to etc
  • Tips Tutorials and Techniques: new blog posts of a more general nature
  • Recommended Resource: in this case it’s an affiliate promotion (a great product) but occasionally I swap this section to be a ‘message from our sponsors’ and have it as a sold ad position.
  • Post Production Tips: updates from this section/category of the blog
  • New Gear, Tips and Reviews: again, updates from this section of the blog
  • Hot Forum Threads: a bit of a summary of key threads happening in the forum
  • Reader Images: Being a photography site visuals are important and the images get clicked on a lot. They also give readers some incentive to post images in the forums as they could get featured in this newsletter that goes out to over 200,000 people..

I do mix things up a bit. Some weeks I’ll run a little promotion of our Twitter of Facebook accounts, other weeks I might throw in some older posts form the archives that people may not have seen and sometimes I’ll run a promotion encouraging readers to forward the email onto a friend. Really anything can go in these emails as long as they’re on topic and useful

The main goals of these weekly updates are to:

  • Drive traffic to the site
  • Build Community, reinforce brand with readers
  • Make money through the promotions

Readers love these newsletters because while they’re largely links to the site the links are all content rich and useful resources. I title these emails ‘Photography Tips for Your Weekend’ and that’s how many of our readers use them – as a spring board into their weekend with their cameras.

Note: these emails are manually put together. They take me an hour or two a week to do. There are tools that will send out automated update emails (Aweber has one) but I prefer to do it manually to ensure that the emails are tailored for maximum impact and usefulness.

Themed Updates

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I’ve written about this concept once before here on ProBlogger in a post titled How 24 Hours of Work Will Send Millions of Readers to My Blog.

The idea really came about when I realised that the majority of my blogs thousands of pages of content was going largely unseen by new readers to my blog. While I would occasionally link back to key posts most of my archives don’t get a lot of traffic.

These ‘themed updates’ are all about sending readers back to old but useful content around a single theme. Here’s how they work.

I use the ‘auto responder‘ or ‘followup’ feature of Aweber to set up these emails (Mailchimp also has an auto responder service). This means that they go out at pre-determined intervals to readers a certain number of days after their last scheduled email.

The first email in the sequence is the ‘welcome email’ that I mentioned above. 8 Days after that email goes out the subscriber receives the first ‘themed’ email. The topic is ‘portraits’ and is a newsletter that contains a short intro to the topic and then some links back to some of our most useful portrait photography tips. It also has a few recommendations of good books on portraiture (with affiliate links).

30 days after this portraits email they get another themed email (remember they’re getting weekly updates in between). This email is about ‘exposure’ (pictured right – click to enlarge) and contains links to some of our best posts on subjects like Aperture, Shutter Speed etc. It also contains a couple of recommendations to good books on the topic (with affiliate links to Amazon).

30 days later they get an email on composition (same format as above with links to archive posts and books). 30 days later they get another themed email.

The main goals of these themed updates are to:

  • Drive traffic to the site – particularly older posts
  • Make money through the affiliate links – while they’re not big ticket items they do convert

These emails do take some time to set up but once they’re set up they become automated and go out every day without me ever having to think about them. With 500 people signing up for my newsletter every day I know that 500 people are getting each of these emails on a daily basis. I have 6 of these emails set up in a sequence at present and add more to the list every now and again so I know 3000 people in total get them each day of the week – forever.

Promotions

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Screen shot 2009-10-29 at 3.05.59 PM.pngThis is the most recent addition to my sequence of emails and I’m still perfecting their use but the signs are very promising already.

I use the auto-responder sequence mentioned above to deliver these (they’re going to go out every month or two) and the content of these emails is to highlight a resource or product that I recommend to readers.

The products are affiliate products that I take a commission from any sale of. We disclose that relationship in the email and get a lot of positive feedback on the disclosure from readers.

The key with these promotional emails is to choose products that you genuinely recommend. The reason for this is that at any point subscribers can leave your list – if you push too hard or recommend dodgy products they can leave (with a bade taste in their mouth).

It can be hard to find quality products – I’ve found there to be a lot of junky products in my niche for example – but when I recently found a product that I believed in (123 digital imaging) I knew I had my first product to add to the sequence.

I only sent this first promotion email 17 days ago so it’s yet to go out to everyone on the list but it’s generated 500 or so sales and will continue to sell as long as the product is on the market as it goes to another 500 people every day. In many ways it’s become a nice little passive income with a few sales every day being generated.

When we release our first ebook in the coming weeks it will also be added to the sequence of emails in a similar way.

The main goals of these promotional updates are to:

  • Make money through the affiliate links – the money these earn starts with a bang when you send it out to the bulk of your list on the first day but after that it becomes a steady trickle. The cool thing about it is that once you have a few of these set up in your sequence you can be having a number of affiliate promotions paying off each day.

Summing Up

All in all I find that the above mix of emails that we send out to our list gets very positive results. I work hard to keep them a ‘win/win’ for both our readers to get useful and relevant information but for me/the site to generate income. So far I think I’ve got the balance right – I regularly get emails from readers saying thanks for the newsletter and if I’m even an hour or two late sending it get people emailing to ask where it is. On a revenue front it’s increasingly profitable – between the sales of products and the ad revenue increases from the increased traffic it certainly has become a central part of my income stream to have this email list.

With the cycle as it is readers do occasionally get 2 emails in a week – however it’s never more than that and on most weeks it is just the one weekly email. I make it clear when they signup that it’s at least weekly to get this expectation right as I don’t want them feeling duped into signing up.

I also use Aweber’s scheduling feature for the auto responder emails which allows you to specify what days of the week they can go out. I schedule the sequenced emails (the themed and promotional ones) so that they never go out on a Thursday or Friday (the same day as the weekly ones).

Lastly I generally focus my efforts with this list on HTML emails. Aweber does give you the ability to send out a text email as well for those subscribers whose email system doesn’t allow HTML. For the text version I usually just send out a short email that links to a HTML version of the email. I did use to send out a full plain text email for these people but found that when I switched to a shorter email linking to the HTML version that most readers clicked through and appreciated seeing the images (this might be particular to my niche).

So that’s how I’ve set up my email newsletters on DPS. It takes a fair bit of work to get some of it set up but as I mentioned in yesterdays post – the pay off has been great and continues to grow as we recruit new subscribers to the list.

6 Reasons Why You Need to Consider Email as a Communication Strategy on Your Blog

Email is back!

Earlier in the week I mentioned that one of the emerging themes in the monetization sessions at Blog World Expo was the idea of membership sites as a way to make an income from a blog.

The other theme that emerged in a number of the sessions was that many bloggers were placing increased attention on the medium of email as a way to communicate with readers.

Email is back!

Actually email never really went away – but it’s back on the radar of many bloggers after a swing over the last few years away from it in favour of other mediums such as RSS.

RSS feeds are far from being dead as a way to communicate with readers but while some saw the advances in feeds and feed readers as an email killer many entrepreneurial bloggers are now realising that perhaps they should not have given up on email.

I shared on at least one of the panels that I was on at BWE how email on my photography blog is much more effective than RSS on a number of fronts:

1. The Numbers Speak for Themselves

On DPS I currently have a total of 340,784 subscribers. 223,081 of these subscribe via email – 117,703 of them subscribe via RSS. That’s a 2:1(ish) ratio. While this ratio will vary from site to site considerably (depending upon the niche) I’d guess that on most blogs it’d be similar – the exception possibly being sites with a more techy/social media focus.

2. Email Drives Great Traffic

The days I send out Newsletters are the biggest days of traffic on the site. I shared this graphic a few months ago but here’s the traffic to the blog area of my site on newsletter days (it’s pretty obvious which days the newsletters went out):

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RSS certainly does drive traffic – however it is less – probably because most people read the content in their feed reader.

3. Email subscribers are monetizing better than other subscribers with onsite advertising

One of the interesting things that also happens on newsletter days is that the rate that people seem to click on ads also seems to go up slightly. This was a surprise to me when I first saw it because I would have thought that subscribers who visit the blog each week would become blind to the ads but the CTR (click through rate) on my AdSense ads goes up on newsletter days. Here’s a quick screen grab of total AdSense revenue on the DPS blog – again you can see the rises for newsletter days.

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4. Email Also Monetizes Better with other Income Streams

Not only does AdSense income increase on newsletter days but I’m finding that other monetization strategies also work well in the newsletter. Three come to mind:

  • Affiliate promotions have worked really well in newsletter for me. I’ve tested this a number of times by posting a blog post about a product I’m promoting and sending an email about the product. In every instance that I’ve tested it the newsletter wins hands down. The best performing affiliate promotions actually work best where you do a blog post AND an email promotion – but without the email component I find I’m definitely leaving money on the table every time.
  • Product Launches - if you have your own product to launch I find that in a similar way to how affiliate promotions work best in emails – so too does selling your own stuff. Again – posting both on your blog and via email (and in other places like twitter) can help increase sales further but email is crucial in driving sales.
  • Direct Ad Sales – lastly the few times that I’ve sold ads in my newsletter to direct advertisers I’ve had very good feedback from the advertisers. We ran a big promotion both on our blog and in our newsletter earlier in the year for a big computer brand and the feedback we got was that the campaign was most effective on newsletter day from clicks from within the email.

5. Email is Personal and Builds Community

There is something about a regular email newsletter that just seems to make people feel more connected to you. I find it hard to put my finger why but there’s something about receiving a good email that just seems more powerful than reading a good blog post via an RSS feed. It just seems a little more personal, more special.

Perhaps it is because RSS is generally read in an RSS feed reader where there are hundreds of competing posts to be read or perhaps it is because an email is delivered into an inbox filled with more personal communications or perhaps it is because when someone signs up for an email they have to give you something personal – their address – whereas with RSS they don’t have to reveal anything about themselves.

I’m not sure WHY it is the case – but every week I get people emailing me to thank me for the emails I send them. I’ve never had anyone thank me for my RSS feed….

The newsletters I send do more than drive traffic and make money – they seem to make people feel as though they belong. To get an email someone has to sign up – they become a member of sorts and this is reflected in the emails that they send me that talk about ‘our site’.

6. Email is more Accessible

I only really started to experiment with email because someone in my family asked me how they could get updates from my photography blog. When I told them about RSS they stared back at me with a blank face. I added an email option and they immediately subscribed.

If you only offer RSS as a way to access your site’s information you’re excluding my family member and probably a lot of other people too.

For this reason I advise giving people a variety of ways to get updates whether it be RSS, daily emails, weekly emails, Twitter updates…. whatever is relevant for your audience.

Don’t Forget about RSS

I don’t want this post to be seen as writing off RSS. It’s an amazing technology and is still really important to my own sites. It too drives traffic, makes money, reinforces brand etc – all I guess I’m arguing is that bloggers take a 2nd look at email.

My personal approach is to have multiple points of connection with readers which reinforces what I’m doing on my sites and maximise the impression that I’m able to make upon them.

How I Use Email

Tomorrow I want to continue this focus upon email to talk about how I use email newsletters to achieve some of the above things. While you can set up tools to just automatically send out emails at predefined intervals to those that subscribe to your blog you can actually take it to the next level and set up a system that is much much more effective.

Tomorrow I’ll walk you through the emails that I send to my newsletter list and share with you some of the techniques that I’ve found that work to drive traffic and make money.

UPDATE: part 2 is now live at How I use email newsletters to Drive Traffic and Make Money.

How I Diversify My Site and Income

In this post I want to present some visuals on how I’ve expanded one of my blogs and diversified its income streams.

  • How do I expand my blog?
  • How do I move beyond the basics of making money with AdSense on my blog?

I’m asked these two questions a lot and in this post I want to share, with some visuals, how I do it on one of my own sites.

While at Blog World Expo last week I was asked to present to a small private group on how I make money blogging. As part of the presentation I put together some basic graphics that attempted to visualize how Digital Photography School works. With the permission of the clients I presented to I’d like to share them here.

Lets start with a basic rundown of what the site is made up of – or at least where I’m interacting with readers both on and off the site:

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The site started as a simple blog. In time I added a forum and a newsletter. The forum added a more communal element to the site while the newsletter both gave a secondary connecting point with readers, drives significant traffic across to both the blog and forum but also opens up other ways to market to readers. In more recent times I’ve started using social media by creating a Twitter account and Facebook page.

In this next visual I highlight four of the main tasks that I focus my energies on with DPS. While there are other things that one must do to keep a site going, these are the main things I focus my time upon at present.

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  1. Creating Compelling Content – this is the foundation of the site and particularly in the early days of DPS was what I spent most time doing. Ultimately it is about creating useful content that solves problems and meets needs for people.
  2. Build Community – getting a reader to your blog is hard so it makes a lot of sense to work hard on keeping the readers you have and doing whatever you can to keep them visiting again and again. One of the main ways to do this is to give them a sense of ‘belonging’.
  3. Monetize – a site with great content and community is fantastic – but unless you can monetize it in some way it isn’t sustainable. As a result a percentage of my time and resources goes towards making money from the site.
  4. Marketing – to make money from a website you need people to read it and to have people reading it you need to step outside of your own site and market yourself in some way. Great content and community is not enough. I’d include SEO in this category as it’s largely about driving traffic.

There are obviously other tasks that a blogger needs to work on (such as design, maintenance etc) but broadly speaking these are the four things I’m working on each day in some way or another.

Lets see how the two graphics above interact with one another. Below is a visual of the four areas of the site and the four ‘tasks’ that I do – it shows WHERE I’m doing each of the ‘tasks’ on the site.

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OK – so I’m doing everything everywhere.

The reason I include this graphic is that I hear people talking about how certain types of media are only suited to some goals.

For example I heard one presenter at BWE talk about how social media is just for marketing or community building – however I think it can be used for monetization also. An example of this was when I launched the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook. I did launches for the ebook both here on the ProBlogger blog and also on Twitter – Twitter generated over twice as many sales as the blog.

While social media may not be as effective for everyone when it comes to monetization there are certainly ways to do it. The same goes with other mediums.

I won’t go through how each of the four areas achieve each of the four goals or tasks but the take home lesson here is that if you have a variety of goals for your site that there can be multiple ways to meet them.

Lets move onto monetization. The next visual highlights the four main ways that I make money off DPS (or at least the four ways it will make money shortly).

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  1. Ad Networks – in some circles these are looked down on as an inferior way to make money but on DPS they work. Running AdSense and Chitika in particular have been very profitable for me on DPS. Sure you share the revenue with the network but when you’re unable to fill your inventory with directly sold ads they can still work out for you. You should be looking to expand your focus and diversify but don’t write it off altogether – keep testing the options to see what converts on your site.
  2. Direct Ad Sales – the obvious advantage of selling your own ads to an advertiser is that you’re not splitting profits with Google or some other ad network. The downside is that it can take time to find advertiser and negotiate with them to really get the return that you could get. This can get a little easier when you’ve got significant traffic but depending upon your niche and where the economy is at it can also be difficult – particularly to attract the bigger brand advertisers unless you have relationships with them or are well positioned in the advertising sales game.
  3. Affiliate Marketing – this is something that I didn’t focus upon a whole lot on DPS except for using Amazon’s Associate program. However lately there have been a few quality photography products launched that have opened up opportunities on this front.
  4. Products – this is the ‘soon to be’ element of the monetization mix on DPS as I have two ebooks in development – one to be released in the coming weeks. I’m still yet to see how well products will work on the site but there’s significant potential if we can convince readers that paying for some content is worth doing (I’m sure I’ll write more about this in the coming weeks).

You’ll notice that there are other monetization streams that are not mentioned and that I don’t do at DPS – such as text link advertising, paid reviews etc.

Here’s one last graphic that overlays the monetization streams with the areas of the site.

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Once again you’ll see that each of the areas of the site are involved in at least two of the monetization streams – although not all. Some of the exceptions are simply that I’ve not had time to try them but some I’m not sure will ever happen (either because I doubt that they’ll work or because they can’t – such as Ad Networks in Social media).

Again – the reason I include this graphic is that opportunities do exist to diversify income streams between mediums. For example newsletters are a great place to monetize. While you can’t run AdSense in a newsletter you can sell an ad to an advertiser. You can also use a newsletter to do affiliate marketing (in fact I find it works better in newsletters than anywhere else on my site).

I hope the visuals above are a little food for thought and make sense without the context of the rest of the presentation.

A few Take Home Lessons:

Let me try to pull together a few of the main take home lessons that I’ve been learning:

  • Know your goals – having identified that main tasks that I want to be involved in has given me a structure and helped me develop strategies to take my site forward.
  • Expand and Diversify – Adding different areas/mediums to your blog can help to make your site multi-dimensional and opens up new ways to achieve your goals. It is also good in turbulent economic times to have a site with a variety of different areas but also income streams.
  • Don’t Ignore AdSense – ad networks have their pros and cons. If you write them off completely you could be leaving money on the table. The key is to have an open mind, test what works best and revisit your decisions over time as different monetization streams will suit your site differently at different stages of its life cycle.
  • Don’t get lazy and rely upon AdSense – many bloggers get lazy and rely upon the same old way that their site has always made money to continue to do so. Keep testing, hustle to find new advertisers, test different affiliate products to promote, watch what your competitors are monetizing with and consider launching your own product.

The Power of Being Personal on Your Blog

personal.pngOver the last few weeks I’ve been exploring principles that are evident in many successful blogs. So far we’ve looked at Listening, Trust, Usefulness and Community. Today I want to get personal with you and share a story with you.

The Day I Was Jumped On By a Reader

Last week while at Blog World Expo I was coming down off the stage after presenting on a panel when out of the corner of my eye I noticed someone moving towards me – fast.

Within a second of seeing the movement I was literally jumped upon and found myself in a tangle of arms, hair and tears – I was being hugged within an inch of my life.

I didn’t know what to do at first – I didn’t know who was hugging me but while a bit of a shock at first I could tell the person was genuine and so did the only thing I could think to do – I hugged back.

After a few seconds of hugging the person pulled away. I had expected it to be someone I knew but realised pretty quickly that this was a stranger (or at least she had been a moment or two before). She had tears in her eyes and was obviously emotional – I didn’t know why until she began to talk.

For the next 4-5 minutes my hugging assailant (a reader as it turns out) talked, almost without taking a breath. She told me about the first day she read my blog (she remembered the first post), she told me about how it had helped her, she told me about the ups and downs of her blogging, she told me about her family, she told me about my family, she told me that she’d bought my book, joined my community, bought my ebook, she just talked…..

She talked as if we’d known each other for years – I guess in a way we had…..

Gradually my new friend began to slow down (and breathe) she suddenly began to become a little more self conscious. She began to blush a little as she realised how what she’d just done. I assured her that it was totally fine and in her flustered state she said:

“It’s just that I feel like I know you.”

As we continued to speak I realised that here was someone who I had previously not known had existed (she’d never left a comment or said a word on my blog in over 3 years) who ‘knew’ me – at least to some degree.

Here was someone who’d not only read something that I’d written daily for years – but someone who had watched my videos, had noted when I’d become a Dad, had seen when I’d travelled, had observed my disappearances from the blog when I’d been unwell.

She didn’t know all this stuff because she was a crazy stalker (far from it) but because I’d allowed myself to blog in a way that was personal.

Not that ProBlogger is a ‘personal blog’ as such (not in the sense that I blog about the movies that I see, the things I eat or the everyday experiences that I have) – but I inject something of myself into this blog:

  • I use my real name
  • I share images of myself from time to time in posts and on key pages
  • I share videos where people can see my face and hear my voice
  • I include details of what’s happening in my life and family (usually in passing and by way of illustrating something)
  • I try to use personal language (I blog in the first person most of the time)
  • I write in a style that is similar to the way I would speak to a person face to face
  • I tell stories about my experiences as they relate to my topic
  • I use personal examples where I can to illustrate what I’m saying
  • I’ve done live streaming question and answer sessions via video

By no means am I the most personal blogger going around. Everyday I see opportunities to be more personal in fact – but I’ve made a concerted effort over the years to inject something of myself into what I do – and it’s paid off.

It’s paid off not just in terms of being jumped on by strangers when overseas but also in creating the kind of site that people want to come back to, the kind of site that people recommend to others and also the kind of site that people want to spend their money on (remember my friend has bought everything I’ve released – she said she did so because they were ‘mine’).

I know being personal on a blog is not something that everyone feels comfortable with and that is in everyone’s style – but it is one thing that I’ve seen exhibited in many successful blogs.

How about you? Do you take a personal approach with your blog?

PS: one piece of advice – when it comes to being personal I’d suggest bloggers think a little ahead about what they will and won’t reveal about themselves, their family and their lives. Having some boundaries in place for personal safety can be a worthwhile thing – this doesn’t mean you’re not being personal, just that you’re being smart and exhibiting some personal safety.

Discover How to Build Profitable Membership Site

200910272027.jpgAs mentioned a few days back – the popular Membership Site Mastermind Course has just reopened its doors to new members for the last time in 2009 – for 3 days only.

In short – Membership sites are where you sign up readers to pay a monthly subscription to receive teaching, tips, community, coaching or some other benefit from you. They don’t suit every niche and they do take a lot of work – but if you get them right they can be incredibly profitable.

A $100,000 a month example – at Blog World Expo I managed to catch part of a session of Timothy Sykes whose TimAlerts membership site pulls in over $100,000 a month. He built this off the back of a free blog (which he still runs) and with really affordable software (he uses WordPress) and mainly free plugins.

So yes – membership sites can be very profitable when you get them right.

Bonuses for Fast Action – If you signup in the next 24 hours Yaro is including some fast action bonuses including presentations on:

  • buying and selling websites
  • building profitable blogs
  • using video in online marketing
  • conversion points in online marketing

If you want a taste of Yaro’s style and the direction of this course grab this free report which is a great introduction to the topic and contains some great information on the topic whether you do the full course or not.

Again – the doors for Membership Site Mastermind close again on Friday at midnight. Also, as usual Yaro has a money back guarantee on this teaching – if you sign up and then find it’s not for you you can always get your money back.

If a membership site is on your radar as a potential way to extend your blog then this course is well worth checking out. Sign up Here.

Yes! A Great Book for Bloggers

Over the last few days I’ve been digging into a great little book called Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive.

I’m only halfway through it but of the 25 or so chapters that I’ve read so far I have jotted down 50 or so ideas for my own blogs – both ideas for content, ideas for next time I try a promotion and just general ideas. You see being persuasive is something bloggers of all kinds could do well to be whether it is

  • persuading people to subscribe to your blog
  • persuading readers to take action on a post you’ve written
  • persuading readers to buy a product you have
  • persuading readers to buy an affiliate product you’re promoting
  • persuading another blog to link up to you
  • persuading a reader to pass on your content to their own network

Not everything in the book will apply to every blogger but there’s plenty in this book to draw on as you develop your blog.

Tell Me What You Thought of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook

31days1.pngIt has been a few months since the launch of the 31 Days to build a better blog workbook and so I’m hoping that those of you who have had an opportunity to digest the 31 days of teaching and challenges in it.

If you’re one of the thousands of people with the workbook I’d love to hear your feedback on it!

  • What did you like about it?
  • What did you find too challenging?
  • What would have made it easier to digest?
  • What impact did it have on your blogging (what results did it have)?
  • How did you use it?
  • What would you like included in future editions?

This feedback will be used both to improve the e-book and help me develop further resources and write future blog posts. A few of your comments will also be used as testimonials (with credit to you) in presenting the e-book to others in future sales pages.

Your constructive feedback long/short and positive/negative is greatly appreciated – please leave it in the form of a comment below.

How To Get Past The Blank Page By Creating Urgency

In this post Roman from How this Website Makes Money shares some suggestions on how to create urgency to get past bloggers block.

Sunday morning.  You have everything ready.  Hot coffee on your right side, a crisp bagel on your left, computer on and ready.
 
You have the whole day to write.  All week the post has been forming in your head and now all you have to do is write it down.  Word processor opens, fingers posed over keyboard.  Go.
 
A few minutes pass and nothing happens.  The page remains blank.  The post that was so clear in your head becomes fuzzy.  What is the point of it again?  How was it going to start?
 
Ten minutes have passed and the word processor is gone – you are now doing your online banking.  Then you check the news, read an email from grandmother, and finally you scan your favourite blog for tips on how to write good posts.
 
Half the day gone and you have not started to write. 
 
The blank page is a major stumbling block for most writers.  Including me.    And the worst part is I know that if I just start writing and fill the page with words then my writing will begin roll.  It is just a matter of getting past the blank page and writing the first few paragraphs.
 
Over the last couple years I have come up with some techniques to get past the blank page.  The techniques work on the principle of creating urgency.  Not an illusionary sense of urgency – real urgency.  I create a situation in which I need to get words on the page or else something bad happens.
 
Here are a few suggests that you can use to create urgency and force yourself past the blank page.  
 

Hold It In Just A Little Bit Longer

The worst thing that can happen when you are writing and on a roll is to be interrupted by bodily needs.  Your rhythm and train of thought can be lost by the ritual – walk, do, flush, wash, sit.  To avoid this you usually go to the bathroom before you start writing.  But if you want to conquer the blank page  this is a mistake.
 
To create urgency drink two large glasses of water.  Wait a half hour or until you feel a slight tinge in the bladder.  Sit down at your computer and promise yourself that you will not go to the bathroom until you have written at least one page. 
 
At first you will stare at the blank page, but as soon as the tinge turns into a pinch you will start writing.  And as more time passes you will write faster and faster.  This method creates a direct relationship between time and urgency – the more time that passes the greater the urgency. 
 
With this method you won’t be doing your best writing, but that is not the point.  The point is to get past the blank page.  A bloated bladder will force you to write.  After you return relieved you can peacefully recheck your work and continue writing.
 

The Evil Eye At The Mom and Pops Coffee Shop

It has been said that J.K Rowling wrote parts of Harry Potter at Starbucks.  Not hard to believe – at Starbucks you see lots of people with their laptops.  Starbucks provides a nice cozy place to write away from the distractions of home.  The atmosphere is pleasant and the employees think nothing if you spend half a day there sipping a Short no sugar, no cream, coffee of the day.
 
But that is also the problem with Starbucks – no urgency. Nobody cares if you sit there all afternoon staring at a blank screen.
 
You need to go to a small mom and pops coffee shop, preferably while the owner is working behind the counter.  Order a coffee and sit down at one of the three tables in the shop.  Open your laptop and promise yourself to write one page before you leave.
 
Bringing out your laptop you will receive your first sour look from the owner.  The owner does not like you.  For her the faster a customer drinks their coffee and leaves the better – people who occupy a table for hours sipping a single coffee are bad for business. 
 
After half an hour you will begin to feel the evil eye – this is good.  Hopefully all the other tables are occupied and people are forced to hover around with no place to site.  At this point the owner will detest you.  At any time she might come to your table and ask you to leave – a confrontation you desperately want to avoid.
 
In this situation is it impossible to obliviously sit motionless in front of your laptop.  This is urgency creation at its finest.  You will be writing like mad to get the hell out of there.
 

First Thing In The Morning

When somebody says they will do something ‘the first thing in morning’ they are lying.  Morning begins when you open your eyes.  The first thing you do is get out of bed, go to the bathroom, have a shower, coffee and get dressed.  It is after all these things are done that you begin to do the ‘first thing in the morning’ tasks.
 
If you want to get past the blank page then do not lie about ‘first thing in the morning’.  Do your writing  first thing in the morning.  Open your eyes and go directly to the computer.  Regardless if you are in the nude or sporting a nightcap, go directly to the computer.
 
You are not in your best form – your brain is still sleeping.  But with little crust chunks in your eyes and the taste of plaque on your teeth you will be typing away so that you can do all the second thing in the morning stuff.
 

Smoking Can Cause Writing

If you have an addiction you are in luck.  Addictions make it easy to create urgency.  Smoking is a great example.
 
Lets say you are sitting at home watching TV.  The urge comes – you want a cigarette.  You could simply light one up and fill your blood with nicotine, but why throw away this great writing opportunity.  Instead of lighting the cigarette, sit down at the computer and place the cigarette in front of you.  Promise yourself that you will not light it until you have written a page.
 
People who are otherwise rational and respectable will stand in the freezing cold behind a dumpster for a cigarette.  Addictions are powerful, you need to harness that power to get past the blank page.  Your body will be begging you to light that cigarette.  Tell your body – yes you can have it as soon as I finish writing a page.  Every cell in your body will be helping you write that page.  Like an old teletype machine,  words will start to appear on the screen.
 
Don’t smoke?  No problem, I am sure you have some other addiction.  Use its power to create the urgency you need to fight the blank page.
 

Create Your Own Urgency

These are just some techniques you can use to create urgency.  Besides situations you can create yourself there are also those that come unexpectedly.  You need to learn to spot them and take advantage.
 
A good example is the method I used to start writing this post.  A few weeks ago I woke up with the flu, sore throat, fever, and runny nose – I felt like crap.  All I wanted was to have hot tea and lay wrapped up in my bed covers  mumbling incoherently.
 
Although I was far from being mentally healthy, I did not miss this rare opportunity to create urgency and triumph over a blank page.  I wrapped a blanket around myself and sat down at the computer.  “I promise to write at least one page before I lay down, put a bag of ice on my head, and drink my tea.”

How Do You Overcome Bloggers Block?

It hits every blogger at some point in their blogging – bloggers block.

Whether it’s not being able to come up with a topic or whether it strikes midway through a post in which you just can’t seem to find a way to express yourself – bloggers block sucks.

So how do you over come it?

I once wrote a series of tips on the topic of battling bloggers block – but I’m interested to hear your own techniques for getting through these tough patches on a blog – what advice would you give a blogger struggling with it?