3 Lessons I Learned Building 4,000 Subscribers in 12 Months

A guest post from Glen ViperChill.

I’ve read a lot of blogging success stories in my four-year blogging history. Sadly, they’ve always been about other people, rather than me. And, when I do see them, although they are real, I get a sense that the owner didn’t have to work as hard as I have. I see people getting big on Digg yet my domain is banned for no reason or linked to by Seth Godin and getting ‘famous’ overnight. I don’t want to sound bitter, but it just seemed like success was happening to everyone else.

Once I had this realisation, I decided that if I wasn’t going to get featured on Digg or Delicious for my new site, I would work on:

  • Being the most authentic blogger in my niche
  • Providing the best content that I can
  • Interacting within my community as much as possible.

And what happened? In one year I managed to build my blog to just over 4,000 subscribers. Sure, it isn’t the success story that everyone else raves about, but it’s realistic and it is attainable. Or maybe I’m being hard on myself, because I don’t see that many blogs reaching these numbers either.

1. Getting 500 Subscribers is Much Harder than 1,000

Some of you might be completely confused by that statement and to others it will make perfect sense; let me explain. When I look at my own stats, I can see that it took me 5 months to reach 500 subscribers (which isn’t a bad rate of growth at all). Can you guess how many it took to reach 1,000? Just two.

You see, when I first started out, I was a complete nobody in my niche. I was fairly known in the internet marketing industry but totally unheard of when it came to personal development. Because of that, I had to establish a brand. I went with a logo people would remember, a unique design, and a desire to focus on content that simply helped people be who they want to be. Everything I would write would have the focus of helping people get what they want out of life.

From there I started commenting on other blogs, being active in Twitter and writing the best articles I could. I worked hard, but within a few months I was at the 500 subscriber mark. Once you get to this stage, things start getting much, much easier because when you’re trying to promote content that has no audience, you have to find people who might want to read it and show up where they are. Once you have an audience and write great content, they’re going to start sharing it for you.

If you’re struggling to get your first few hundred subscribers then don’t worry, as they’re far harder to get than the next few hundred. With the 5 months left in the year I managed to grow my site by another 3,000 subscribers. How’s that for exponential growth.

2. If You’re Going to Guest Post, Vary Your Audience

I have been one of the most active guest posters on the internet in the last few months and for one simple reason: guest posting works. It gets you out there in front of a new audience and just as importantly, an audience that understands blogs and what they are all about. If someone subscribers to another blog in your niche, there’s a good chance they will subscribe to yours if you’re writing great content. One thing I have noticed some people do is “piggyback” off a certain blog and try to write there as often as possible.

This is usually for big blogs which can help you get a lot of traffic and subscribers quite quickly, but things will soon die down. If someone has seen you guest post on a site 5 times and still haven’t subscribed, they probably won’t when you write your 6th article. There are a few benefits to varying your guest posting which include:

  • Reaching a new audience: If you’re going for the same sites all the time, you’re going to reach the same readers. By varying your activities you can reach new eyeballs that want your content.
  • Creating new connections: Guest posting shouldn’t just be thought of as something you can do to benefit your own site, but also something you can do to help the author of another site. Most bloggers love free content in return for a backlink so if you can help as many people as possible, there’s no harm in that

3. Find Ways to Collaborate with Others

As a blogger, I’m quite sad about the rise of Twitter in a way. Instead of the hundreds of backlinks a good blog post could get a few years ago, it will now get hundreds of tweets. Sure the tweets can bring you traffic, but they are not going to help your post move up the ranks in search engines. Even as a way for collaboration, people are focusing on twitter communication rather than working with people via their blogs. Usually these writers are coming from the scarcity mindset and if they link to other bloggers they’re going to lose readers and help their “competitor” grow.

First of all, if you think of other bloggers in your niche as competitors then you have a totally backwards mindset. Secondly, I’m here to tell you that collaborating with other bloggers in my niche has been one of the best things I have done. To begin with, I created a list of the top Personal Development Blogs. This ranks all of the blogs by their statistics and of course helps my site visitors find other amazing blogs to read. This page has been linked to by hundreds of websites and it has helped put me in touch with tons of other bloggers.

On top of that, I also ran a series called the Personal Development face-off. I had the idea thanks to Daniel Scocco doing this in the blogging niche and thought that the content generated here would be excellent. Even though I was featuring two other bloggers on my site every week, hundreds of people emailed me to say how much they loved the series. This positioned me as someone who was at the top of my industry because I had all of these top bloggers taking time out to work with me and because I was sharing the best content in the niche.

Don’t be afraid of promoting other bloggers. These days, I try to promote great content on other sites as much as possible. It will come back your way.

Glen is the author of ViperChill, a blog on Viral Marketing. He aims to help people create remarkable websites that others just naturally want to talk about.

Why Stress Can Kill Your Success Or Help Your Blog Succeed Wildly

Today’s post by Rob McPhillips of Stress Management and Beyond.

If you knew that your blog was vulnerable to hacking or some similar security breach, would you take the time to secure it?

I ask, because I want to warn you about a greater, yet almost unknown threat to your blog’s growth and success.

That threat is stress and as today is National Stress Awareness day in the U.K, I would like to share with you why I believe how you respond to stress is perhaps the most critical factor in determining the future success of your blog.

We’re all gathered here because we share a common goal. To grow our blogs to be more successful. And what’s at the core of a successful blog, is a Blogger that has developed a high level of skills at;

  • Traffic generation
  • Community building
  • Writing attention getting posts
  • And the other tasks involved in a popular blog

Put more bluntly, a Blogger with 100 Readers and averaging 3 comments a week is at an entirely different level of skill and capacity than one with 1 million Readers and 3,000 comments a week. The difference isn’t just luck. If you have the skills and capacity of a successful blogger than success is only a matter of time.


However, in the case of most of us, success is a journey of mastering these skills. That doesn’t mean we are less worthy, less capable or have any less potential, only that we need to develop new skills that we haven’t yet developed. Isn’t this why we read Problogger?

And as any journey involves uncertainty, risks and hazards, so too does our journey to success. In order to grow our blog, we have to grow our skills to a higher level. In the course of this, it is natural that you will experience stress because you are stretching beyond your comfort zone and developing new or refining existing skills.

In fact if you don’t experience stress on a regular basis, then you either don’t care enough about what you are doing or you aren’t coming close to your potential.

Re-framing Stress

Let me give you a new way of looking at stress, that will be more useful in aiding your evolution as a Blogger.

rapidsStress is like the river between two lands. On one side is your current situation. On the other, is the end result that you dream of. If you refuse the risk of getting to the other side, success will forever evade you and you will have to resign yourself to this being as good as it gets. But if you are successful in your attempts, you get to live your dream.

Therefore the key to your success (and that of your blog) is going to be entirely determined by how you respond to stressful challenges.

Every stressful situation is actually an indicator of where you need to upgrade your skills in order to be more successful. You only feel stress because the road to your goal is blocked. And when you are capable of overcoming the block, the stress will dissolve. And you are closer to reaching your goal.

Let me try to make this clearer with some concrete examples. Say your stress seems to be about dealing with negative comments or wondering if your next post will be popular.

Sometimes negative comments or unpopular posts are helpful because they guide us back when we get off-course.

Mostly though, negative comments are just someone who isn’t really our audience reading or someone misunderstanding. Equally unpopular posts are often those too simple or too complicated for our Reader’s level of understanding so that they don’t see the relevance in it.

These only really bother us, when they hit upon something we doubt in ourselves.

What it’s really about is gaining the clarity to know what your purpose is and who the right audience is for you. When you gain conviction and clarity in what you believe and what you are doing, it is like standing a flag in the ground and so the Reader’s that are right for you will gather around it.

If instead, you are all the time only seeking praise and approval from everyone, then there is nothing solid, consistent or certain about your blog and so ultimately it will never gather a sizeable core of die hard fans. Only drive by Readers who scan a post and never look back.

Or maybe, most of your stress comes from having too much to do and too little time to do it in.

In this case, your success depends upon you resolving this conflict. Which ultimately means identifying the critical core tasks, finding more efficient ways to get them done and being capable of doing all that needs to be done.

The Mistake Most People Make In Dealing With Stress

Typically people see stress as an irritation that interrupts them. And so almost all stress management materials are focused on stress relief. Go for a walk, exercise, breathe deeply etc. These are all tactical ways to deal with stress. Which is perfect if you are stuck in the swampland of stress and need to get some perspective. But tactical stress management, in itself will never lead to growth and development.

What if your stress is caused by the problem above, of too much to do and too little time to do it in. Well feeling stressed about it, is only going to make things worse and so you’ll end up running around like a headless chicken and getting nowhere.

Relieving the feeling of stress will be helpful, as it can enable you to look at the situation more clearly.

But the only way of resolving the situation, once and for all, and so growing your blog, is by getting clearer about what should be done and becoming more productive.

So as a Blogger looking to evolve you are really needing to develop your skills at strategic stress management.

What Is Strategic Stress Management?

Say you are struggling for ideas to write original posts. Tactical stress management would try to dull the pain or ease your emotional discomfort about the situation.

Yet the fact that you have a problem bothering you, indicates a deeper problem that it is critical to your success. So changing the way you feel is only part of the problem.

Strategic stress management focuses on identifying what caused the problem and why. In addressing the root core of the problem, you not only overcome the emotional discomfort, but you become a stronger and more evolved person. Which in the case of your blogging leads to a more successful blog.

How can you use this new perspective on stress to grow your blog?

We are as successful as our limits allow us to be. And so as we remove our limitations, we become more successful. Stress is an early warning indicator of a problem, or problems, that will limit you, or your blog, from growing.

  1. So take a few minutes to think of the most stressful issue in your life.
  2. Then you need to separate your feelings from the issue. It is getting stuck in strong negative emotions that pulls us into the grip of stress, from where we can see no resolution, which is why many people get great results from coaching and consulting that they cannot achieve alone.
  3. Now try to identify and analyze what limitation is causing the issue.
  4. Solve that limitation and your potential for success is much greater.
  5. Repeat for continual growth.
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Does Price Impact Which Affiliate Products You Promote?

When it comes to affiliate promotions do you tend to promote big ticket items or small ticket items (or both)?

I ask the question because while at lunch with a few bloggers recently the topic came up and I discovered that the answers to the question varied quite a lot.

  • On one hand some bloggers exclusively promoted big ticket items which could bring in large commissions for every sale. They didn’t get many sales but when they did it was certainly worth their while and they saw healthy commissions.
  • On the other hand where bloggers who did a lot of promotion of smaller ticket items. They tended to make more sales but the commissions were smaller.

My Approach

My approach is somewhere in between. I don’t base my choice on which products to promote on price – but rather the quality of the products I’m promoting and their relevancy to my audience.

  • For example last week I promoted a series of great photography e-books on DPS. Each e-book was only $5 and the resulting commission for each sale was only $1.50 – however the quality of the books was fantastic (I’ve had heaps of readers emailing me to thank me for recommending them) and the number of sales was great (we’ve sold over 2000 of them already). Some of my blogging buddies wouldn’t go near a product with that small a commission but the $3500+ won’t go astray.
  • On the other hand I’ve promoted a rang of other products lately including some one product that paid a $20 commission (I promoted it via email as outlined in last week’s post). This product has not sold as many copies (over 400 in a few months) but has brought in double the money (but over a longer period of time).
  • As a last example – when I promote bigger ticket items (like membership courses or training programs) for which the commissions can be several hundred dollars per sale the sales numbers tend to be quite a bit lower – but even a small number of them can earn several thousand dollars.

For me promoting a variety of quality products at different price points seems to work well. I find that in doing so I seem to be able to attract buyers at different price points and levels and the commissions tend to add up to collectively be a worthwhile exercise.

What about you? If you’re promoting affiliate products I’d be interested to hear whether price is one of the factors that you consider when choosing a product to promote?

Getting Over the Blogger’s 6 Month Itch

A Guest Post by Annabel Candy – Get In the Hot Spot

In marriage they talk about a seven year itch. It’s the time when people get restless and think about giving up on their relationship.

For bloggers that itch and desire to give up comes sooner. In fact, most bloggers give up on their blogs after only 6 months.

I’ve been writing my blog for 6 months now and I can relate to people quitting at this time. It seems as if you have put a lot of time and effort into your blog, but it’s still to early to reap the rewards of that hard work. It seems as if you’ve made every mistake in the book but you still have so much to learn about blogging.

According to psychologists having grit, or persevering with a project, is more important than intelligence or any other personality trait when it comes to success.

With that in mind, I’d like to tell you why you shouldn’t give up on your blog and how you can find the motivation to carry on.

Why you should carry on blogging after 6 months

  • You’ve already invested a lot of time and energy into your blog.
  • Your blog may not have been ranked with the search engines yet.
  • You may have been working hard but there’s still a lot to learn. It would be impossible to learn everything there is to know about blogging in just 6 months. Even pro-bloggers are still learning and many of them have been writing blogs for years.
  • Your readers are growing slowly but steadily.
  • Your content is also growing and the more content you have on your blog, the better it will rank with the search engines.

How to find the strength to carry on blogging

  • Enlist help. Talk to friends, colleagues and relatives. Get their advice and feedback. Actually watch them using your blog. Set challenges for them to find a certain piece of information on your blog and see how easy it is for them. This will help you learn what improvements you can make to the blog to make it easier for your readers to use.
  • Relook at your goals for the blog and reassess them if necessary. Have your blogging goals changed? If so how? What did you readers enjoy best? Which were your least popular posts? Make adjustments to your blog based on these findings.
  • Do a survey on your blog. Ask you readers for feedback. What would they like to read about most? What topics have you covered that the would like to read about more?
  • Play to your strengths. Do a skill swap. If you’re great at writing content but the technical side of blogging frustrates you, find someone with the opposite skills to you and trade off. You’ll both end up with a better blog and a blogging ally too.
  • Stay motivated by using Twitter or the power of co-motivation with a like-minded blogger.
  • Understand that success will only come from preserving. Most businesses make little or no income in the first year and your blog may not either. To gain benefits from blogging you need to carry on for more than a year. Congratulate yourself on how far you’ve come with your blog so far and resolve to keep up the good work.
  • Stop comparing your blog to other people’s. Rejoice in their success, congratulate them on it and see what you can learn from them.
  • Compile a testimonials page with all the positive comments people have left on your blog. It will cheer you up and impress new readers too.
  • Learn from your mistakes. We all make them. Successful bloggers learn from their mistakes and press on regardless. They don’t give up blogging at 6 months and neither should you.

Look at anything you’ve achieved in your life. It probably didn’t come easily. There may have been times when you wanted to give up. But you’re glad you didn’t. Take heart from that and carry on blogging.

Press on writing and improving your blog for another 6 months and then another 6 months after that. It will be worth it in the end.

Annabel Candy writes Get In the Hot Spot: a blog to inspire and inform people on how to live their dream. If you dream of travel, writing, self-employment, or just being happy then Get In the Hot Spot by email. If you know someone who dreams of change or wants to be more daring with their life, please tell them about it so they can stop day-dreaming and start living their dream.

Annabel has four obsessions: writing, travel, Internet design and helping people follow their dream. Annabel ran a successful Internet marketing company in New Zealand for 10 years before following her dream and goofing off to Central America with her husband and three kids. After 18 incredible months in the jungle the Candy family moved to Australia where Annabel is now doing what she does best: writing  and exploring.

An Important Question to Ask Before Hitting Publish on Your Next Post

Here’s a question I’ve learned to ask on a daily basis at the completion of every post I write:

“Would this post work better if I split it into two (or more) posts?”

While the answer is usually ‘no’ for me I do semi-regularly get to the end of a blog post and realise that what I’ve actually written is probably better if it is split into parts.

For me the reasons that I split posts this way generally fall into these categories:

  • Length – some posts just contain too much information to digest in one sitting.
  • Multiple Topics – sometimes a post meanders too much across multiple topics. While they might all relate they also might require readers to make too much of a leap from one topic to another and run the risk of losing readers halfway through.
  • Theory and Practical – Sometimes I like readers to have time to digest the theory behind something before following it up with something more practical or ‘how to’ in nature.
  • Depth – occasionally I’ll get to the end of writing a post with multiple points in which I know I could have gone a lot deeper for each point. To do so would make the article too long so I make the choice to take what I’ve written for each point and expand upon them in separate posts.
  • Momentum – sometimes you write a post that you just know will connect with readers and that is actually a good enough idea to sustain interest and build momentum on your blog over a longer period of time (a prime example of this is 31 Days to Build a Better Blog which years ago started as a single post with 31 brief ideas in it).

The word of warning that I’ll give on splitting posts into parts is that you don’t want to do it for the sake of it and to cut down on your work as a blogger. While it’s a nice feeling to realise a post you’ve written can easily be split in two and that it gives you a day off writing tomorrow – if you cut posts down too much you could also end up with something that just isn’t meaty enough to really be worthwhile posting. Price Rise Coming in 1 Week – Lock in the Intro Price Today

Update: The introductory offer ends at 1pm (Eastern US time) on Monday 16 November.

A number of people have been asking how (the new community section of ProBlogger) has been going since we launched a month ago – so today I thought I’d give a bit of an update – including giving some news on the new price which will go live 1 week from today..

Some stats:

  • As things currently stand we have 2080 paying members.
  • In the first month the forum has had 1,400+ threads of conversation started and 15,000+ actual posts.
  • Less than 1% of those who registered for the first month decided not to renew their subscription.
  • The section with the most new threads in the first month was the ‘Critique’ section where members post a link to their blog or something that they’ve done and ask for others to review it.
  • The section with the most posts/responses (apart from the ‘general chit chat’ area) is the ‘blog promotion/finding readers’ section.

Here’s a quick screen grab of the different areas (taken a few days back pretty late at night US time so not a lot of people in the forum at the time).

problogger com.png

As you can see the topics being discussed are far reaching and in most areas there is a fair bit of discussion. The new(ish) Tutorials area is an area I’d like to see a bit more action in and I’m going to recruit a few experts in different fields of blogging to contribute some tutorials here in the coming months.

We’ve passed the point where most members have had the chance to stop their subscription if they choose to. As mentioned above we’ve had just under 1% of people decide to leave. While I’d love everyone to stay it’s not feasible to expect that the site will suit every need.

We did have a few issues with the subscription renewals at the end of the month which caused some confusion but along with a few other growing pains the first month of has been well worthwhile and I’m getting a lot of really great feedback from members.

As with all membership sites it is those who are throwing themselves into it most who seem to be getting the most out of it.

The Price Rises in One Week from Today

Now that we’ve achieved the 2000 member mark and retained that amount of members we’re moving towards ending the introductory price of $1.95 a month. Anyone who has signed up at this price already (and who signs up in the next week) and stays a member is locked in at this level.

However in a week’s time we’ll be putting the price up to $5.95 a month for new members. This gives everyone a chance to get in at the introductory price – so if you’re thinking of joining – now’s the time to get locked in at $1.95.

$5.95 is a price that we still feel is accessible to many but will enable us to make the site sustainable.

You have one week to get in at this price before we raise it – your time starts….. now.

New Feature – Social Groups

Now that we’re at 2000 members we’re starting to see enough bloggers in different niches to make the collaboration area of the blog more and more useful as there are now little ‘clusters’ of bloggers in different topics.

To help with this collaboration we’ll be adding the ‘social groups’ feature in the coming week. This will enable bloggers to group themselves a little more and set up areas to discuss common interests.

I foresee this ‘social groups’ feature to be used in a number of ways:

  • Niche Based Groups – for example the gadget bloggers might find it useful to set up an area where they can all come together to work together, discuss their niche, ask for and offer help to each other. Groups for Mommy Bloggers, Photography Bloggers, Sports Bloggers…. etc
  • Location Based Groups – for bloggers from a particular city, region, state, country who are interested in talking about issues of their part of the world.
  • Platform Based Groups – for bloggers who want to talk about a particular blogging platform or tool. I could foresee a group for WordPress bloggers, for Joomla bloggers, for bloggers….

Really the way that these groups can be used is only going to be limited to the imagination of members. I hope that they provide bloggers with the ability to find others like them but also discuss some of the more obscure topics that might not be relevant to everyone.

At first we’ll be choosing the topics for these groups but would like to soon open it up for anyone to start one.

New Feature – Weekly Chats

We will also be adding a weekly chat session for members in the coming couple of weeks. This will not go live until after the price rise but will give members the opportunity to interact live with one another on a weekly basis in a chat room – the hope is that we’ll nominate a topic each week to focus the chat around, do a little quick teaching at the start and then open it up for discussion.

Other Benefits

Discounts – The 50% off the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog offer has been used by many of our members. Getting $9.98 off the workbook effectively gives those members 5 months free membership.

I’ll be extending this offer indefinitely for members and also offering discounts on future ProBlogger resources (expect to see another one released in the next 2-3 months with more to follow).

I’m also talking to a number of blogging related companies about them coming into the forums to offer special discounts on their products to members. More on this in the coming weeks.

Guest Experts – as mentioned above – I want to beef up the ‘tutorials’ area of the forum by bringing in some special guests to provide some teaching around different topics. This will not be a formal curriculum or syllabus but rather regular input from people with experience in different areas of blogging and the opportunity to pick their brains a little.

Do you Write Outlines for Your Blog Posts?

Do you plan your posts or do you just write them free flow as they come?

This is a question that one of our members at (Mark Dykeman) started off a conversation with in the last week.

Mark talked in the thread about how he does both (sometimes he uses bullet points for his main points and then writes on each point while other times it just comes) – but I thought it’d be an interesting question to open up to everyone.

What’s your approach?

My own approach is mixed and sometimes starts with one approach and ends up as the other but in general the way I work depends upon the type of post:

Pillar Content – in most cases if I’m setting out to write what I refer to as ‘pillar content’ (or a big post that is on a central theme of my blog) I generally like to have some kind of plan before I start. Like Mark I’ll usually start out with a list of points that I want to cover that I’ve brainstormed (and perhaps a quick note or two on each). Then I work systematically through the points one by one and write a paragraph or two on each.

Other Posts – other posts that are not quite as structure in their form tend to be written in a more freely written way. For example if news breaks on something relevant to my niche I will generally bounce off a press release or another blogger with a few of my own thoughts. If the post is like this one and is more of a ‘reader question’ type posts I again will usually write it without a formal outline.

I should say that often my posts are a bit of both. Sometimes I’ll be halfway through writing a free flow/non outline post and I’ll suddenly be hit with inspiration for about 5 other things that I’ll want to say in the post. I generally stop writing at this point and capture the points that I want to cover and in doing so write a bit of an outline for the rest of the post before coming back to where I was.

Other times I might be writing a post that I’ve got an outline for and the post will evolve in a direction that makes a lot of the points I’ve outlined irrelevant and I’ll scrap them (or at least put them aside for a future post).

What about you?

Are you someone who plans posts in detail? Or do you write best when you’re writing in a more freely flowing style?

Blogging is Rocket Science

Today’s post is by Kevin Sanders of Strong and Fit.

Do you ever have those moments when seemingly random, unrelated thoughts kind of merge together in your mind? This happened to me a couple of weeks ago.

I remembered a documentary I watched on the space shuttle years ago. Something was said about the percentage of fuel it burns within the first two minutes of liftoff. It stuck in my mind and I tried to find the information on Google. No luck. Then I remembered that one of my family members (Dale Hutchens, Ph.D.) works with NASA. He is a chemical engineer who was directly involved with developing the shuttle’s solid rockets. He gave me a quick estimate:

For launch, the solids provide the vast, vast majority the total LAUNCH thrust. The solids burn out in 2 minutes and 12 seconds, if memory serves. Each solid holds 1.1 million pounds of propellant. Therefore, in the first minute, you probably burn something more than 50% of the solids, or 41-ish % of the total fuel. A more certain number is that in 2 minutes and 12 seconds you have burned all the solids (2.2 million pounds) and close to 380,000 pounds (out of 1.6 million pounds) of the liquid, for a total of 67% of the total fuel.

The space shuttle burns most of its fuel within the first two minutes of flight! The science geek in me thinks this really cool.

What does this have to do with blogging? Stay with me.

I began thinking about some things I’ve learned on this blog. A few weeks ago Darren said is kind of in maintenance mode (my paraphrase). In other words, it doesn’t require the same amount of work it used to. John Chow said something very similar in his video seminar—he now works about two hours a day.

But both bloggers spent a lot more time and energy getting things started.

In some ways, blogging is like the space shuttle—a great deal of effort is required to get it “off the ground.”

Think about some of the steps a typical blogger would take during the first six months of creating a new blog:

  • Choosing a topic (big one).
  • Choosing a platform and design.
  • Choosing a name/domain.
  • Writing/creating a hundred posts (assuming an average of four posts a week).
  • Registering with digg, stumbleupon, twitter, etc.
  • Participating in forums.
  • Leaving comments/backlinks on other blogs.
  • Writing guest posts for other bloggers.
  • Registering with directories (such as blogcatalog).
  • Spreading the word on social networks (facebook, etc).
  • Developing a core of followers.
  • Setting up a newsletter.
  • Printing business cards with your blog address.
  • Telling your friends about your new blog.
  • Finding appropriate affiliate programs.

These are just a few steps that come to mind. When you think about the cumulative effort, it’s a lot of work.

Maybe this is one reason some blogs never make it very far—some bloggers just don’t realize the initial effort that’s required on the “front end.” Or maybe they don’t realize things will get easier (or at least more productive) over time as their blog gains momentum.

As I’ve mentioned before (both here and on the forum), it took about six or seven months for me to see significant traffic on Strong and Fit, my fitness blog. It still requires effort, but I’m now seeing more results with less work (in terms of traffic and income).

OK, I’ll admit it—blogging isn’t really rocket science. But we sure can learn from it.

Six Ways To Make More Money As An Affiliate

By Johnny B. Truant

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that affiliate marketing is the easiest way to make money online. You don’t have to create a product or develop a service, you don’t need huge amounts of focused traffic the way you do with AdSense, (I started using AdSense a year ago and just recently passed the $100 minimum payout), and you don’t need to do a ton of advertising or SEO to make it work.

All you really need is an audience to whom you can refer products and services.

Of course, the above statement is true in the same way it’s true that you only need food, water, and shelter to live. It’s technically accurate — but personally, I’d like to have Netflix and a few Twix bars, too.

I made around $20,000 in my first six months from affiliate marketing, and the following are a six tips I’ve found that will take you from bare bones to a legit affiliate income.

1. Establish trust

Technically, you can make a few bucks here and there even by tossing out links to people who don’t know and/or like you. I think of these as “cookie toss” sales, because most affiliate setups dictate that each time a person clicks on an affiliate link, that affiliate’s cookie (which identifies the customer as “belonging” to that affiliate) overwrites any previous cookies on the customer’s computer. If you’re on Twitter during a launch and toss out a bunch of affiliate links for the product that everyone is promoting, there’s a chance that your link will be the last link someone uses before buying. You didn’t really refer the sale; you lucked into it.

A far better way to go is to actually have some credibility with your readers, audience, and peers. If you have a blog, work on building bulletproof trust with your readers. If you’re on Twitter, tweet with some integrity, and be a real person rather than a selling drone. If your people like and respect you, they will believe you when you say a product or service is worth buying.

2. Promote only products you honestly believe in

Don’t be a shill. Once you start promoting as an affiliate, you’ll quickly discover how many things are out there to promote. If you hop on every one, your people will turn away because they’re always being sold to. Worse, they won’t believe that your recommendations have any merit because you’ll recommend anything. There are plenty of good things out there, so be a true “raving fan” of a product you like rather than a hawker.

3. Don’t promise the moon (i.e. tell the truth)

No product or service is perfect, so don’t pretend it is. There is a strong tendency (especially in online marketing) to oversell. Everybody’s course will triple your income in two days; every program is guaranteed to whiten your teeth and wax your new Ferrari while filling your hot tub with supermodels. People are smarter than to believe the BS, so don’t feed it to them. (And as a bonus, if you tell the truth, you’ll sleep better at night.)

If you want to go really nuts with this principle, you can take the contrarian’s approach like I did when I promoted a course by pointing out its foibles and the fact that you may well totally fail online. (By the way, I ended up being the top-selling affiliate for that course.)

5. Disclose your affiliate relationships

This really isn’t a bonus item anymore, actually. The Federal Trade Commission is now saying that bloggers must disclose that they will make money if people buy through their affiliate links.

The good news is that disclosure can be a good thing if you’ve established trust already. Loyal readers won’t care that you’ll benefit if they believe that your praise of the product is honest, or if they were planning to buy anyway.

6. Offer bonuses

This is a great one. Recently, I offered to give my $297 Zero to Business program to anyone who used my affiliate links to buy Copyblogger’s Teaching Sells course, which I honestly think is spectacular. Because my course added almost $300 in value to their purchase, customers loved it. And because the commission for Teaching Sells exceeded the price of Z2B, I loved it.

I think the biggest, simplest key to affiliate marketing is honesty and integrity. If you lie, yes, you may make sales — but those people who were lied to will never buy through you again. If on the other hand you build relationships and tell the truth, affiliate marketing results in a natural synergy. You refer people to good products that they will enjoy and benefit from. When they buy, you benefit, too. And when they benefit, they come back to thank you from the referral. In all likelihood, they’ll trust your future recommendations in the future — and then everyone benefits again.

Hey, it beats a plain old “food, shelter, and water” existence, right?


Johnny B. Truant writes about online business, turkeys, and occasionally SpongeBob SquarePants’ pet snail at He invites cool folks to join his laid-back Jam Sessions call series and to connect with him on Twitter @johnnybtruant.

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