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Ditch the Job Mentality and Develop an Entrepreneurial Mindset

This guest post is by Caz Makepeace of y Travel Blog.

Having success in the blogging world is attributed in large part to your own thinking and the mindset that you bring to this new avenue of making money.

Most people arrive here wanting to break free from the rut of a nine-to-five job that they’re no longer passionate about. The hours are long, the work is never-ending, and the pay is poor. Huh! On second thoughts, it sounds very similar to the beginnings of blogging.

What many people don’t realize is that the major hindrance to success in their blogging niche has nothing to do with technique or value, but with the job mentality that they have brought along with them.

Crossing over from a job to blogging is not just a physical move—it also involves a complete change in your mindset. It is a completely different world to what you’re used to in the cubicle farm. I often see arguments break out online which immediately make me wonder whether the people involved have an entrepreneurial mindset or a job mentality.

To cross over to the entrepreneurial world, you need to adopt the following ways of thinking.

Change is evolution

Job people become stuck in the way things are done, and always have been done. They are used to rules, schedules, and procedures. When they cross over into the blogging world, they discover that the rules have changed—and often, they can’t handle it.

Entrepreneurs understand that in the business world, the rules are always changing and if you don’t evolve with them, you’re going to die.

The major arguments that always emerge within the travel blogging community arise between those from the journalistic world and those bloggers whose success has had less to do with their linguistic ability than with their ability to market and network.

Really I just want to shout, “Listen up! The rules have changed. You are not in the journalist world any more. You are in the online world. The place where degrees and awards don’t matter. Anyone can start a website and have massive success with it. Whether you like it or not, doesn’t count. This is the reality of online marketing and building your own business. You either become an entrepreneur and adapt to the new world, or you sink—fast.”

How many highly successful entrepreneurs do you know who were never great at school and didn’t get a college degree? Let’s see. There’s Bill Gates, Andrew Carnegie, Walt Disney, Richard Branson … They have gotten where they are because of their entrepreneurial mindset. Entrepreneurs don’t try to fit the square peg into the round hole—they become a round peg instead.

Think big

Entrepreneurs think big and focus on the ultimate vision of what they are doing. They think outside of the box to look for new and unique ways to be successful and make money. They do not follow the herd. They watch and learn, and then say, “How can I make this better? How can I do this in a different, yet bigger way?” When you think outside the box, you create things that make you move above the crowd.

Job people concentrate only on the tasks at hand, and follow what most other people are doing. They are not used to focusing on the bigger picture as it has never been their vision to worry about. Bringing that limitation over to the entrepreneurial world can stifle your creativity and restrict your ability to handle and solve the many challenges that will arise.

Quitting becomes an easier option. Entrepreneurs know that the road to eventual wealth and success can be long and difficult, and the bigger vision helps move them through that period.

One of my favorite Donald Trump quotes is, “If you are going to be thinking anyway, you might as well be thinking big.” If you think small, you receive small.

We began our travel blogging world with the intention not to make a few ad bucks here and there, but to look towards a bigger picture that can lead us to earning vast amounts of income from many different sources. This bigger picture has an impact our strategy.

We haven’t made much money from our blog yet, and we’e okay with that. We have had success with the bigger picture we have focused on: building our brand and online presence, building a strong community, and networking with the right people. That will become our springboard for future projects that will bring in bigger rewards.

Self-promotion

I know people who are afraid to hand out their business cards, or tell people who they are and what they do. When you are able to do that confidently, you have made a big jump over into the entrepreneurial mindset.

No one is going to promote you for you. No one is going to care about what you have to offer more than you.

If you want to have success in an entrepreneurial world, you have to learn to promote yourself. Think of all the big brand people you know: Richard Branson, Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey. What are all these people good at? Self-promotion.

Entrepreneurs are willing to do whatever it takes. Hand out those business cards, shake that person’s hand, and speak confidently about what you do and how you can offer value to others. Invite people to check out your website and connect with you via your networks. Share your work and successes.

You are guaranteed to receive criticism for doing this. Concentrate on your bigger picture and understand the criticism comes from those who want to do what you do, but have not yet broken free from the job mentality.

Networking is vital

Job mentality people tend to call this a “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of deal, and in some ways it is. But, in my entrepreneur mind, I never see it as being the case that if I do something for you, you have to do something for me in return.

It has more to do with building relationships and from those, interacting with those you like and trust. A natural extension of a relationship with someone you like and trust is to read their work, use their products, and recommend them to others. People do business with those they like and trust, just as they are friends with those they like and trust. There’s nothing shady about it.

Entrepreneurs immediately start building their networks of professional and business contacts. They understand the power and truth in the saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

Networking is not just about what others can do for you, but what you can do for others. Being an entrepreneur means helping out others and providing value when you can. It means creating a mastermind group of people you can share and bounce ideas off of. You don’t hold your cards to your chest for fear of losing out and having others rise to the top over you.

Learn from those you want to be like

In the job world, we are taught that to move up the ladder and get that much-desired promotion, we need to prove we are better than the rest. It becomes a dog-eat-dog world: the knives come out and we are prepared to stomp all over those beside us in order to get to the finish line first.

Entrepreneurs have the intention to be the best at what they do; they are competitive and like to win. But, they know they don’t have to destroy others in the process. They understand that we each have a unique perspective or value that we can offer.

They understand that the best way to get to the top is to learn from those who are where you want to be. They don’t look at the person in the mansion on the hill and feel jealous. Instead, they find out that person’s name, they give them a call, and they say, “Hey. I really like what you have achieved. I want to be like you. How can I learn what you know?

And usually that successful entrepreneur replies, “Well, how about we meet up for coffee and I can go over a few things with you?”

Entrepreneurs understand the concept of abundance. They understand what it takes to get to the top and they are more than happy to take the time to help someone do the same. As with everything in life, there will always be anomalies, but I have never met an entrepreneur yet who I have not had an interaction with that’s similar to what I have just described.

Making money is a good thing

“I think it’s scammy … dirty. I don’t want to ask for it. I feel funny asking for freebies.” These are just some of the comments I hear thrown around in the blogging world when it comes to making money.

I recently stayed in a hostel in Sydney free. It wasn’t really free, because in return for that I tweeted about the hostel the whole time I was there. I wrote a really great review of the place. I also wrote a couple of other spin-off articles on my site that linked to that piece. I promoted it through my social sites.

I had at least six people say to me that they would definitely stay in this hostel when they come to Sydney. That was on the day it was published, and from those who spoke. But let’s keep it at six and say that for one night’s stay in the dorm room where it costs $40, the hostel would earn $240. It cost them $140 to give us a private room for the night. We made them money.

Entrepreneurs think like this. They believe they can offer value and know they deserve to be rewarded for it. Because of this, they are not afraid to ask for the money and they don’t believe it’s dirty when they get it. They approach all transactions from a win-win perspective and there’s nothing bad about this.

On a similar level, I hear many bloggers say they feel they are selling out on their readers by selling advertising. Really? If your readers expect you to spend countless hours every day writing valuable content that informs and entertains, without receiving any compensation for it, then you need to get new readers.

Do you think they feel the same way when they pick up a magazine, a newspaper, or turn on the TV? Why do people think that when you enter the blogging world, suddenly you should start writing and work for nothing? If you have a job mentality then you may not get past these uncomfortable feelings of “selling out.”

You are doing this for the passion—yes! But you are also doing this for the income you originally craved so you could start living your life by your desires.

Think like an entrepreneur: “There is nothing wrong with making money. Making money enables me to move forward and grow, so I can in turn provide more value.”

If this article has struck a raw nerve with you, then ask yourself, “Could this perhaps be a sign that I have not yet crossed over?” Well … have you crossed over?

Caz Makepeace has been travelling and living around the world since 1997. Along with her husband Craig they are the founders of y Travel Blog. You can visit her Facebook Fan Page or sign up for herRSS Feed.

Third Tribe is Closing to New Members—Join Us Before Friday, April 1

No, it’s not an April Fool’s joke: we’re closing our flagship community, the Third Tribe, to new members on April 1, 2011 at 5:00 PM Eastern Time (U.S.).

If you’re not familiar with Third Tribe, it’s a community that I co-founded in 2010 with Brian Clark (Copyblogger), Sonia Simone (Remarkable Communication), and Chris Brogan (ChrisBrogan.com). We built it to provide a learning and networking opportunity for internet marketers who wanted cutting-edge information about how to grow their sites—without the high-pressure hype or “black hat” techniques you see on some other sites.

We took the most effective techniques from Internet marketing and blended them with the content-rich, community-building style of the social media crowd.

Learn more about Third Tribe.

What can you get from Third Tribe?

  • Each month, you get at least one audio seminar on an essential marketing or business technique. We talk about SEO, social media marketing, blog monetization, affiliate marketing, and heaps more. Implement what you learn in the seminars and you’ll start to see real growth in your business. Full transcripts are provided, as well as “Next Action” worksheets that will give you the next steps to take.
  • Each month you also get two Q&A sessions with Tribe founders. These are fantastic “mini consulting” sessions where you can get specific advice that relates to your own business. Imagine stopping any of the four founders in a conference hallway and getting five or ten minutes of our undivided attention to address your business question. That’s what the Q&A sessions do for our Tribers … twice every month.
  • 24/7 access to a thriving community of online marketers. Ask questions, get feedback, form JV partnerships, or just ask your pals for a “Like” on that Facebook page. When things get tough, it’s great to know you have peers and friends who have your back.

If you’d like a taste of some of our seminar content, we’ve prepared a “free sample” for you. This case study was a bonus seminar for this month, with Sonia Simone grilling Third Triber Shane Ketterman on how he grew his niche site from zero to 10,000 unique visitors a day … in seven months.

Zero to 10K: A Case Study.

Even if you don’t join the Tribe, do yourself a favor and download the case study. It’s filled with lessons you can apply right away to your own sites. (For example, he has a nice technique for using AdSense to quickly find the most profitable corner of your blog.)

So why is the Tribe closing down?

It’s not really closing—it’s being transformed into something bigger and better. And … yes … more expensive.

That’s why this is great opportunity to come into the Tribe. Join today and you’ll get in at the best possible price, plus you get instant access to more than 24 hours of archived seminar content.

No, the Tribe isn’t the cheapest resource you’ll find. But if you’re serious about treating your blog as a business, it’s an investment that can repay you many times over.

I hope you’ll come join us in the Third Tribe today. Remember, the site will close to new members on April 1, 2011, at 5:00 PM Eastern (U.S.) Time. Don’t get locked out—you’ll never be able to join at this price again.

8 Strategic Blog Home Pages that Draw Readers Deeper

This guest post is by The Blog Tyrant.

One of the hardest tasks a blogger can face is getting readers to stick around. In actual fact, its one of the most important things you’ll ever learn to do. Why? Because unless those visitors delve deeper into your site you are essentially wasting your time with all that amazing content, social media effort, and SEO work.

Bloggers often forget that we need to use things like design, layout, colors, format, and so on to help visitors delve further in to our sites.

In this post I’m going to show you eight blog home pages that make readers click deeper. Hopefully it will give you some ideas for your own.

8 Home pages that draw readers deeper

I wanted to start off by letting you know that each of these pages was chosen for a different reason. Now, I’m not saying that these are the best blog home pages in the world. What I am saying is that each one does something extremely well that encourages new visitors to become more loyal readers.

1. Mashable

Mashable is one of the world’s biggest blogs and has a massively high page views. The main reason they are able to do this is through social proofed elements of their layout. Let me explain.

Social proof is where you provide some kind of assurance that other people have used your service. Testimonials, for example, are a common form of social proof. These things reduce anxiety in the reader but also serve to encourage a group mentality whereby people want to be involved in what other people are doing. It’s just human nature.

Mashable is all about social media and you see items like the “most shared this week” and the number of Facebook “likes” featuring prominently. The “buzz” this creates gets people to go deeper in to the site—people want to read articles that hundreds of others found interesting.

2. Digital Photography School

Digital Photography School is Old Man Rowse’s biggest blog. It has hundreds of thousands of subscribers and is one of the most heavily community-based blogs you’ll ever read. The activity in the comments and the forums is really quite wonderful.

I remember when Darren first released the new DPS design; I was blown away by how efficient and enticing it was. The old site was a straight up one column blog but this is a multi-level blog that divides the areas up by different sections of interest. Want to read about photography? Just go to that section. Want to read about equipment? Go over there.

This is a fantastic way to ensure photographers find areas of interest at the home page. It gives very little room for people to get bored and move on.

3. Huffington Post

Huffington Post. The blog turned worldwide news source. Sigh. Whatever you might say about the quality of the news that comes out of the site, the layout is extremely captivating. And it’s not because it’s pretty. Here is an example of a site on which the visuals aren’t necessarily pleasing, but they are very effective.

The area of the home page above the fold is dedicated to the most shocking current story as well as a pop up bar that asks you to get involved. It also uses a series of highly placed headers to show you what news is trending at the moment. Again, this is done to capitalize on people’s need to know what other people are interested in.

Scroll further down the home page and you see more engaging items like author profile photos to build loyalty, huge comment counts on featured articles and a mix of featured articles from different topics.

4. Zen Habits

Leo from Zen Habits is one of the nicest guys in the world. A few years ago he gave me some free advertising space and helped me launch a new blog. His new design is totally minimal and fits in extremely well with the branding of the site. Lots of space.

This type of strategy works extremely well for a blog with amazing content. Why? Because it is entirely focused on that content. You read that first amazing article and you feel compelled to delve deeper.

This is a brave design that takes a lot of courage because if each and every post that appears on the homepage is not amazing, you will see a lot of people drop off.

5. Smart Passive Income

Speaking of nice guys, Pat from Smart Passive Income is one of the nicest. Recently when I was setting up my podcasts he gave me a lot of time-saving tips. And that is a big theme in Pat’s design: help.

See the top level of menu items? Each one has a sub heading that gives you more information about what to expect inside. I remember the first time I visited Pat’s site, I spent ages clicking through each menu item to browse the contents. That is something I don’t normally do. The navigation is extremely “sticky”.

Similarly, there is a little space below the menu where Pat gives little random messages or tips. This takes the “tutorial” vibe of his site even further and definitely makes the experience feel more personal and intimate.

6. Tumblr

The guys at Tumblr are extremely good at design. In my article on the 12 Best About Us Pages I confessed that I thought theirs was the best one of the lot. And while the blog homepage isn’t right up to that standard, it is still worth a look.

The reason I included Tumblr in this list is because they use simple graphical elements to draw the eye down. Each post is very simple and usually only includes a picture or a bit of text. And each alternating post has a different background. Mixed with the fact that the emphasis is on showing which staff member wrote each post and you have an extremely addictive blog home page.

7. Fail Blog

Fail Blog, in case you have been living under a rock, is part of the LOL Cat empire. These guys build sites with funny pictures of cats and dogs and people getting hurt and make a small (read: large) fortune out of it.

Again, the homepage design is not beautiful, but it is extremely addictive. You can navigate through all their sites from the top as well as getting in on the action by voting for the best fails. They also have a little “random fail” generator, which is the kind of gimmick people on this site love to use to waste more of their day.

One of the cleverest ideas here is the fact that every can have a go at re-captioning the fails. This builds on the community in a massive way by getting everyone interacting with each fail multiple times. People write new captions and then come back to see what other people are saying about it.

8. The Onion

The Onion is quite literally one of the funniest websites on the Internet. And aside from hilarious content, great titles, and a home page that lets you see a plethora of content all at once, one thing they do really well is have an interactive and changing header that gives you access to new information.

Normally blogs just have a static header but this one moves and changes based on what’s going on at the blog. Sure, they still have the same logo and colors to keep the branding recognizable but they also use the variation to get people involved in new areas. Very clever.

Lessons to apply to your own blog

So what are the take-aways from these eight blogs home pages? What are some concrete things you can apply to your own blog today to increase the amount of pages people view?

  • Focus on social proof.
    Make sure your homepage always has elements that relate to social proof. Use testimonials, popular articles, high comment counts, and social media followers to show that your blog is busy. This is something that you should never underestimate.
  • Know your audience.
    It is really important to know who is coming to your home page and why. Are they coming for this topic or that topic? Do they want to read articles or listen to podcasts? Make sure your navigation allows them to find what they want instantly.
  • Let your story show.
    Make sure you use photos or text to tell your story. Let people become loyal to you and your message. Tumblr does this with staff profiles, Pat does this by showing himself with his baby, etc. You want to make sure people feel like you are different from everyone else they’ve seen today.

As I mentioned in the post about the best about us pages, it is a really good idea to occasionally take a look at what the big guys in the industry are doing. Quite often they are doing it for a reason. The most important thing, however, is to make sure you don’t leave it as an idea but apply it to your own blog right away.

What draws you in?

I’d like to open up the floor now and find out what parts of a website’s home page draw you in deeper? Is it something to do with the layout, the content, the colors—or something totally different? Please leave a comment and let me know.

The Blog Tyrant hasn’t revealed his name yet but we know that he is a 25-year-old guy from Australia who works from home and has sold several blogs for around the $20,000 mark. Now he’s teaching you how to dominate your blog. Subscribe by email to get his free eBook on capturing 120% more email subscribers overnight or follow him on Facebook.

The Unsexy Truth about Finding Traffic for Your Blog

Last week I tweeted that I’d not checked my Google Reader account in a month. Well, it turns out that I’m not the only one.

Within minutes, I started getting tweets back from others saying that they rarely check their RSS feeds any more. Instead, people were finding content from other sources including:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Paper.li
  • email subscriptions
  • apps (some drew in RSS feeds, but others were recommendation engines)

The decline of RSS?

It struck me just how much things have changed over the last two or three years.

It wasn’t long ago that bloggers were promoting their RSS feeds above all other methods of subscribing to their blogs. Email was dead and RSS was going to be the number one way that people would connect with you.

RSS does continue to drive traffic (at least, my Feedburner stats seem to indicate that) but as I look at my own statistics to see where people are arriving on my sites from, the percentage of those coming from RSS/Feedburner seems to be on the decline. The decline is only slight, but in comparison to the steady increases I saw a few years back, it’s been declining (as a percentage of overall traffic) for me, at least.

Fluctuations in social media traffic

What I do notice is that some sources of traffic fluctuate quite a bit from year to year.

For example, different social media sites have been rather inconsistent. Some months, Twitter can be good, but other months it can be down. Facebook, StumbleUpon, Digg, and other social media sites have provided great influxes of traffic at times; other months, they’re very low.

Some of the traffic levels will depend on the types of content we’re writing, but in other cases, it’s more to do with the rise or decline of the sites themselves (for example, Digg seems to have suffered a lot lately).

Overall, I’ve seen traffic levels from Twitter and Facebook rise, but this has varied from month to month, and despite quite a bit of effort in building my network, the percentage of my overall traffic coming from social media has been relatively small (less than 10%).

Steady growth in…

So RSS seems to be in decline (for me) and social media traffic has been fluctuating … but overall traffic has been continuing to grow.

So what is performing? Is there some new, sexy form of traffic that I’ve been focusing on?

I’m afraid not. If anything, the traffic sources that I’m seeing steadily grow have been a little, well, retro. There are two of them:

  1. Email. I keep seeing people talk about how they’re giving up on email, and that it’s a technology that’s dying, but I’m just not seeing that. Perhaps those at the cutting edge are giving it up, but “normal” people certainly aren’t. It’s increasing the traffic to my sites through newsletters, and continues to bring conversions when it comes to sales.
  2. Search Engines. Also regularly reported is that search engines are under threat from social media as more and more people use social media sites to search and find content to read. I’ve no doubt that there’s some truth to that, but search engines are by no means dead. Again, “normal” people still head to Google to find content. I’ve not put a lot of time into SEO or particularly targeted search traffic, but one of the side-effects of adding daily content to a blog is that you naturally build up the pages being indexed by search engines, so search traffic will naturally grow.

Conclusions

By no means am I suggesting that social media isn’t worth your time and effort, or that you should kill your RSS feeds and solely focus your attention on email or SEO. These observations are my own, from my four blogs, and they may not be typical.

I think the key take-aways for me are these:

  • Do some analysis of your own traffic and where it’s coming from. Doing this analysis myself today has challenged me to think about how much time and energy I do put into social media, and whether it’s really paying off as much as if I’d made other choices for my focus!
  • Don’t throw all your efforts into just the new, “sexy” forms of marketing (like social media). They have incredible potential, but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
  • Keep in mind that the average internet user doesn’t always know and use new technology like the social-media savvy bloggers that you and I are. It’ll vary from niche to niche, but good old email and search engines might be good places to focus your efforts!

I’d love to hear some analysis of your own sites’ traffic sources. Have you seen any shifts in the sources of your traffic? Do they correlate with where you put your time and energy when it comes to marketing?

How a Tiny Blog Landed Guy Kawasaki (and Copyblogger!)

This guest post is by Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing.

On March 8, 2011, Guy Kawasaki released Enchantment, his latest book.

There was media attention befitting his star status. There were reviews on periodicals like Forbes, and major blogs like Startup Nation and Brazen Careerist.

Oh, and an exclusive interview on Firepole Marketing.

What? You haven’t heard of Firepole Marketing?! Well, that’s no surprise, because unlike Forbes, Startup Nation, or Brazen Careerist, whose subscriber count numbers in the hundreds of thousands, Firepole Marketing’s subscribers number in just the hundreds—no thousands.

So how did a little fish like Firepole Marketing land a giant ocean liner like Guy Kawasaki? It all started with Jon…

Jon Morrow, that is. Jon Morrow of Copyblogger.

Step 1: Being nice

Back in 2008, I was running a flailing start-up. We ran out of money just as the financial markets crashed, and there was very little capital to be found.

I’ve been a fan of Copyblogger for a long time, and have bought almost every product they’ve released. At the time, I was a member of Partnering Profits, and I received an email from Jon Morrow. He was looking for case studies to help (basically, he offered free consulting) as part of the program. I had nothing to lose, so I reached out.

We exchanged emails, and this was his eventual conclusion: “My advice: stop trying to raise money until you’re already making money. If you can’t do that, then shut down your company and do something where you have a higher chance of success.”

Ouch.

(This is just one line extracted from a fairly long email. Jon gave me plenty of great advice, and has been very helpful to me over the years, as you’ll see. I’m not complaining in any way, shape, or form. But sometimes, the truth hurts!)

Now, I could have sulked, or been angry, but what good would that have done? I thanked him, and kept on trucking (though eventually I did have to pull the plug on that business).

Step 2: Seizing the opportunity

Fast-forward to the end of 2010: I had co-founded Firepole Marketing, and I was in the middle of Jon’s latest training program, about guest blogging.

One day, a lesson arrives in my inbox in which Jon explains that the easiest kind of guest post to get onto a popular blog is a list post, because it just takes so much work to write them, and they tend to be very highly rated because they’re so bookmark-able.

I had just finished developing a curriculum of business books to create an alternative business education program for a client of mine.

So I seized the opportunity. I replied to Jon’s email, telling him about the booklist, and asking him if I could write it as a guest post for Copyblogger. He said that he couldn’t make promises, but that I could write a draft and send it to him.

Well, I spent hours upon hours working on that post, to make it as good as it possibly could be. And it worked! 38 Critical Books Every Blogger Needs to Read was published on Copyblogger, and as of this writing, has accumulated 199 comments, 869 tweets, and 189 Facebook shares. (Yay!)

Step 3: A nice Guy

One of the 38 books that I discussed in the post was The Art of the Start. A few days after the post went out, I received an email from Guy Kawasaki thanking me for including his book on the list. He also explained that he had a new book coming out called Enchantment, and asked if I’d like him to send me a review copy.

Sounds great, right? A free book! (Seriously, I was flattered!)

Step 4: Seizing the opportunity … again!

Sure enough, a few weeks before the publication date, I received a follow-up email saying that I should receive the book within a couple of days, with links to material that might be useful in writing a review (biographical and background information, pictures of the book, etc.).

He also wrote that “if you’d like record a podcast or interview me, please let me know.”

Hell, yes!

Guy and I corresponded (I had to chase a little—not surprising, given how busy he is), and we finally nailed down a time to do the interview. The only time he could do it was 9pm Pacific time (I’m on the east coast, so it was midnight over here). Well, that was fine by me!

I spent about fifteen hours preparing for that interview. I read the book from cover to cover, and took notes along the way. Then I thought about what might be valuable to showcase about the book that most interviewers wouldn’t ask about.

In the best-case scenario, my goal was to make the interview so good that Guy would want to tell everyone he knew to listen to it—but at the very least, I wanted to be absolutely sure that I didn’t blow it with Guy, or make him feel like he wasted his time. The work paid off, and turned out to be a pretty good interview.

Step 5: More nice!

Now, did Guy mean to offer for me to interview him on my tiny blog? I may never know for sure, but my hunch is that I got the same email that went out to all of the reviewers on his list, most of whom are from way bigger media outlets.

But he made the offer, and he’s a good enough guy to have honored it and made the time for me to do the interview (time that he doesn’t have; on top of running his business and being a husband and father, he was doing five or six interviews per day—all with sites way bigger than mine). Thanks, Guy!

It doesn’t end there, though. Now it was my turn to be nice.

I posted the interview on Firepole Marketing, but also created a video to promote the book on YouTube, wrote reviews on Amazon and other bookseller websites, and basically did everything I could think of to get the word out (mostly because it’s my turn to be nice, but also because it’s a great book!).

9 Lessons for bloggers

So what’s the message here for other bloggers and online entrepreneurs? Here are nine lessons that I can think of:

  1. Be appreciative of any help or advice that anyone is kind enough to offer you—even if it isn’t what you want to hear, even if you don’t agree with it, and even if you aren’t planning on following it. They took the time to think about you and your problem—thank them for that. In other words, be nice.
  2. Keep on trucking. Don’t give up—even if you’re tired and frustrated, keep on working at your goals, because eventually you’ll get there. Especially if you…
  3. Cultivate relationships. Being gracious and appreciative is part of it, but go further—take advantage of any opportunity that you can to be nice to people. Like mentioning their books on other people’s blogs (or mentioning their blogs on yours!).
  4. When people teach you something, show them that you’ve been paying attention. A big part of why I got that post on Copyblogger is because I took Jon’s course on Guestblogging, and then did exactly what he taught me to do!
  5. Embrace the nobodies. This isn’t my lesson, it’s straight out of Guy’s new book, Enchantment. He didn’t have to make the time for that interview, but he did, and I’ve publicized his book in every way that I could think of. The lesson for you? Don’t just focus on getting a break from megablogs like ProBlogger or celebrities like Guy Kawasaki. Work with the little guys (like Firepole Marketing, iMarketingHacked, One Spoon At A Time, Jon Alford’s blog, and others). You might be surprised where they’ll take you.
  6. Be in the right place at the right time. Does this sound like frustrating advice? Well, being in the right place at the right time is part luck, but it’s also part getting out there and working hard. If you’re in enough places at enough times, then some of them are bound to be the right ones.
  7. Seize opportunities. If you’re out there being nice and cultivating relationships in enough places at enough times, then sooner or later an opportunity will appear. Make sure to grab it! Leonardo da Vinci once wrote that “when fortune approaches, seize her firmly by the forelock—because I swear, she’s bald in the back!” In other words, you’ll probably only get one chance to grab that opportunity, so don’t miss it!
  8. Do the work. Once you get that opportunity, you’ve got to work hard to make it happen, and to make the most of it. If I hadn’t chased after Guy to make the interview happen, and done all that prep work to make it as good an interview as I could, then the opportunity would have fizzled into nothing.
  9. Say thank you, and be nice some more. Once that opportunity has been seized and made the most of, be appreciative, and keep on being nice. Keep on cultivating those relationships.

In short, success is part being in the right place at the right time, part putting yourself in the right place at the right time, ten parts hard work, and part Guy Kawasaki being nice to you!

I think we learn best from stories, and I’d love to learn from your experiences. So, every person who leaves a comment with their story will be entered into a draw to win a free subscription to Firepole Marketing (worth $900)!

Do you have a serendipitous story of being in the right place at the right time, and then working to make it happen? Please share it as a comment…

Danny Iny is an author, strategist, serial entrepreneur, and proud co-founder of Firepole Marketing, the definitive marketing training program for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and non-marketers. For free marketing tips and ideas, head over to his blog, and sign up for their FREE 7-Day “Business Fireproofing” Video Course.

Little Blog? Big Benefit! The Hidden Potential of Smaller Sites

This guest post is by David Edwards of A Sitting Duck.

In my last post, I talked about building an audience on YouTube with techniques that you could implement by making friends that work in the same field as you.

Not so long ago, I remember YouTube being a place just for comical, viral videos. Today, it remains a hub of viral videos—but it’s also becoming a strong forum for businesses. It seems that these days, the standard practice for a new business website is to plug in Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube somehow.

We all know there are other places online, but I imagine that most ProBlogger readers are working for themselves—you’re probably pushed for time, and don’t have many free hours to spend on other websites. So perhaps you only focus on these main sites.

Candy Slots

“Other websites” are still important

If you have a website or blog, and you’re looking to inject more life into it, I’m here to tell you that it’s probably worth reaching out to smaller websites, and offering your videos (or other media and content) for them to embed in their pages. I’ve found this technique really helpful.

Many people over look starter websites, because they assume that a site that has 100 readers has nothing to offer them or their blog.

But look at it this way: if each of those 100 readers has 130 Facebook friends (which is, statistically, the average), that equates to more than 10,000 potential views for your video if all the site’s readers hit the Facebook Like button!

Okay, so it’s unlikely that all the site’s readers, and all their friends, will Like your video, but these figures reveal the potential that exists in the smaller sites within your niche. It’s often much easier to get your work published on these smaller sites, too—and that exposure can give you an introduction into the circle of larger players in your niche.

In my first year of launching my video series, I managed to have it featured on ten small animation websites. Each of these sites sent viewers to the videos, and they shared the videos with their friends. This gained us traction both with viewers, and with the entertainment-video niche’s bigger players. Eventually, I hit the jackpot by getting the video featured on Weebl’s Stuff, which is probably the biggest Flash animation site in the UK.

As another example, on Twitter, we’ve started a Follow Friday team of illustrators: around ten to 15 of us tweet each other out to our followers every so often. This group isn’t just good for gaining followers—it’s also helping to build a small community that will gain the trust of, and hook people in from, the larger community.

Finding the right sites

I’ve found some great illustration bloggers through search.twitter, by searching for illustration and animation. You could do the same using keywords from your niche—it can be a really quick way to find relevant people operating in your field.

As you’re probably aware, searching for your keywords on Google will bring back the most powerful results, including directories or large blogs. But, at first, you may not have much of a chance of getting your blog on their radars.

1,000 views a day

Currently, we receive between 500 and 1000 views every day on our animation series, without blogging or paying for traffic. Although I do post every Friday on my website, and I’ve managed to keep this up for 40 Fridays in a row!

If you’re looking for a magic bullet to keep the momentum from your initial exposure going, you’re going to be disappointed. But if you are confident that you own a video that’s worth watching, you should push it to at least ten smaller bloggers in your first year, then reach out to a couple of large websites and see what happens!

David Edwards is the founder of A Sitting Duck, and currently is the SEO Director at Webfactore Ltd. You can follow him on Twitter at @asittingduck and on YouTube.

How to Write in a More Personal and Engaging Tone

Have you ever felt a personal connection with a blogger who you’ve never met and have no real reason to feel connection with?

You read their blog day after day and in time come to feel like you know them—as if their blog posts are almost written as private messages to you?

This has happened to me numerous times over the years. I almost end up feeling that the blogger is my friend, even though I’ve never actually had personal contact with them.

I’ve also been on the other side of that relationship quite a few times. I regularly meet people at conferences who come up and say that they feel like they know me despite my never having communicated with them directly. I still remember the day that a complete stranger ran up to me in tears at a conference and hugged me to within an inch of my life, because she felt she knew me so well.

It’s a slightly strange feeling having someone you don’t know share how connected they feel with you, but I’ve also noticed that it is those same people who become your biggest evangelists, buy your products, contribute to discussions in comments, and more.

That personal connection can bring a blog to life!

How can you foster this personal connection with readers?

I have a theory that some people are just more naturally able to blog in this way. However there are a number of tips that I think can help you to foster that personal connection—even if you’re not naturally wired that way.

1. Tell personal stories

I suspect that one of the most powerful tools at your disposal when it comes to personal connections is the use of personal story. Sharing your own stories on the topics you write about shows that you not only have a knowledge of your topic, but that you’ve experienced it also.

Stories makes you more relatable to people, too—instead of being some lofty, untouchable expert a story makes you someone who’s also still learning, and experiencing what your readers experience.

2. Write as you speak

This won’t suit everyone’s style of writing, but it’s what I always aim for in my writing. I’m pretty casual when talking to friends or even doing a public presentation, so I aim to bring that same tone and style into the writing of my posts. As a result, it’s rare that I get too formal.

3. Use personal language

A little technique that packs a lot of punch in terms of fostering connection is to incorporate language that makes the reader feel you’re talking to them.

An example of this is to use the word “you” as you write. Instead of writing, “here are ten tips for improving a blog,” write “here are ten tips you can use to improve your blog.”

Doing this moves what you say from the realm of theory, making it something that’s very applicable to the reader and their own experience.

4. Picture a person while you’re writing

A simple way to change the tone of your writing is to actually write your post with a person in mind. Chris Garrett talks about this a lot and encourages bloggers to visualize a person as they write. Similarly, I like to develop reader profiles, which I find helps me avoid writing for a nameless crowd of readers. It enables me to pitch my posts in a more personal way, based upon people’s actual needs and situations.

5. Base posts upon reader needs

Perhaps this is a little obvious, but the more you write about the real, felt needs and problems of readers, the more likely you are to connect with them on a personal level.

The fact is that you’ll be more likely to have people feeling connected if they feel that you understand what they’re trying to overcome. For this reason, I find that getting reader feedback through surveys, polls and by inviting questions can be a great help.

6. Using social media

I try to keep the vast majority (if not all) of my blog posts inline with the actual topics of my blogs. ProBlogger is about blogging, Digital Photography School is about photography … it’s rare that I get off topic.

However I do use my @ProBlogger Twitter account to talk about my life in the mix of talking about other topics. This seems to help with showing myself as a real person—a dad, a husband, a football fan, a geek … things people seem to relate to. Whether it’s Twitter or some other form of social media,  or perhaps something else, if you have an outlet where you can share on a more personal level, it does seem to “humanize” you a little.

7. Multi-media

Similarly, using different forms of media has the potential to humanize you.

Using a picture of yourself on a blog puts a face to your name, and your writing.

Podcasts give your name a voice.

Video can not only put a face and voice to your online persona, but can also communicate a lot via your body language.

While it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, multi-media can certainly add something when it comes to building personal connections.

8. Attend events

One of the most powerful things I’ve done when it comes to building relationships with readers is attending events. These include conferences that relate to my industry (as well as blogging conferences) but also online events—whether they’re my own  or other people’s.

For example, I semi-regularly try to do a Ustream chat session where I sit in front of a web cam and answer reader questions. I also participate on Twitter in the #blogchat hashtag weekly chat. All of these things build personal connections, and give people a chance to “meet” me in some way.

9. Get a reaction

I spoke with one ProBlogger recently at a meetup and she told me that she’d been reading this blog for a while, but never really felt part of things until the day she left her first comment. She reflected that there was something quite powerful about actually taking that step in terms of feeling a deeper connection.

That’s a story I’ve heard quite a few times over the years. It’s not always leaving a comment that does the trick—but any kind of action that a reader takes brings them a step closer to feeling some kind of sense of belonging. It could be subscribing to your blog, joining a forum, signing up for a notification, leaving a comment, voting in a poll, entering a competition, emailing the author, sharing a post on Twitter … any of these actions deepens the engagement at least a little.

What else deepens personal connection for you?

That’s enough of me talking. What has your experience been? Whether it’s your experience as a blogger reaching out to readers or as a blog reader feeling connected to other bloggers, what deepens that feeling of personal connection for you?

Improve Domain Authority for a Better Blog Ranking

This guest post is by R Kumar of dkspeaks.com.

One of the major sources of traffic for any blog today is organic traffic. While SEO is one of the major factors influencing organic search engine results, there is another aspect to this whole story which is often ignored. All of the efforts go into building links, and in doing that, we ignore this critical aspect.

If you are wondering what this aspect is, it’s domain trust and authority. In order for you newer content to be ranked well on Google, it is important that you build both domain trust and domain authority. Otherwise, your already established home page will get a few rankings, but your new content will seldom see good rankings.

For people who do not know what domain trust and authority is, let me explain these concepts.

Domain authority

Explained in simple terms, domain authority is about how many quality pages link to your domain, and how they link to you.

Improving domain authority can involve more than one task. You will not have to change the way you optimize your blog or, follow a different approach all together. Instead, all you have to do is change your process a bit.

Link juice

Like every other person working on building links, I used to comment, write articles, and exchange links with a link to my home page on the anchor text. Things didn’t move until I read an article on building diverse links to the same domain.

I changed my focus and started building links with relevant anchor texts to other pages in the blog. In doing so, I was building a lot of links to my domain name—not just to a single page. Results were good. My domain started to feature for a lot of high-search keywords on almost all the search engines.

When I mention linking and links here, it is not the number of links to a particular page on your blog that I’m talking about. Instead, it’s the number of links to your domain. So, how many links your domain gets as a whole is of extreme importance. At the same time, it’s also important that the links be from other domains and pages that have fewer outbound links from them.

Deep linking

When I built links to the inner pages on my blog, I didn’t realize initially that there was something else that I was doing at the same time.

I was telling the search engines that even the inner pages on my blog had valuable content, and that it should be ranked, too. Gradually I found that my inner pages were getting ranked on search engines. What this also did was ensure that my newest post was ranked much sooner that it was before I started this exercise.

It is not just important to build links. It is important to build deep links. The normal tendency when you build links is to build links to a particular page on your blog; usually it is the home page. We do everything including working on our anchor text, but we forget the fact that in order for us to build trust in the eyes of a search engine, we should have links pointing deep into the blog’s individual pages. Building trust into each of these pages will help build authority around your domain.

Diverse linking

Commenting on do-follow blogs is said to be a good way to obtain links. So people pick a handful of such blogs and keep commenting on them. I, too, did the same. But did this help? Absolutely not! I was creating links from the same domain again and again. Search engines were not impressed, because there was no diversity among those links.

I decided that I should deviate from the norm and do something different. I started building links from all kinds of domains—.org, .info, .edu, .net, .co.in, and so on. The domains were diverse and I did not restrict myself to the handful of do-follow blogs. It took a lot of hard work, but the results were slowly becoming evident. My blog moved up the search engine ranks much faster than I expected.

While the number of links to your domain is important, the kinds of domains that you’re getting these links from is also very important. The more diverse the domains, the better those links are for your domain authority. Hence it is important that you work on striking a balance between the number of links and the diversity of the domains that you are getting the links from.

Domain trust

It is important that the search engines trust that your domain provides value to visitors. It is only then that they will be interested in showing your latest content in their search results. But how is it that you will build this trust?

In order to build this trust, you need to ensure that you do not get involved in any kind of unethical practices. Unethical link building can prove disastrous to your blog.

Linking is one the biggest factors that influence how trustworthy your domain is seen to be.

The frequency of acquiring links, and the quality of the domains that are linking to you are, also equally important. If your new blog acquires a thousand links in just two or three days, it will not be difficult for Google to understand that there is something fishy going on. You can even be banned for spamming. At the same time, if the links you are getting are all from domains that are involved in spamming, the chances are that your domain will also be considered spammy.

You’ll likely receive emails that come from people claiming to be SEO experts for companies, requesting link exchanges. They would be ready to give you links from domains that they say have good PageRank. But It is important that you verify and check the quality of the domain and the PageRank before you accept the request—there are a lot of websites that can help you detect blogs and websites with fake PageRank. The fake page rank detection tool at http://www.build-reciprocal-links.com/fake-rank-checker/ is one I use.

While the kinds of domains that you’re getting links from is important, it is also important to ensure that you do not link to any of these spammy domains. Since you have full control of your site and what shows up on it, linking to a spammy domain can be even worse than getting links from them.

If you can work on building domain trust and thus improve your domain authority, you will be able to get your latest content to appear on search engine results. What experiences have you had with these concepts as you’ve built links for your blog? Share them with us in the comments.

R Kumar is a blogger and Affiliate marketer. You can read more about Internet Entrepreneurship at his blog and subscribe to the RSS feeds to remain updated, or download his Internet marketing package.

Understand Your Site’s Traffic

This guest post is by John Burnside of moneyin15minutes.co.uk.

When people arrive at your blog, they’ve all come from somewhere on the World Wide Web. They could have found you on a search engine, they could have known about your site already, or they could have come from any one of a million other places.

But all of these different types of visitors have a certain frame of mind when they visit your site. Almost always, they will have a different reason for coming to your site. In this post, I’m going to explore those reasons from a psychological perspective so that we can understand the actions people generally tend to perform when they come to your site from a certain traffic source.

Search engine traffic

When people find a site through the search engines, they’re generally looking for answers to a specific question, or information on a certain topic.

Consider the very nature of search engines: you type in what you want, and hopefully the answer comes up. This means that visitors who come from the search engines are likely to be visitors who want to stay and read your content to find the answers they were looking for. If they don’t find those answers in your content, they may find the answer in one of your ads. In general, this means that you’ll tend to get higher ad clickthrough rates from search engine visitors.

A study performed by iProspect showed that in recent years, people have begun to trust the results from search engines, and this can have a knock-on effect for your site. If you are at the top of the search results for a particular search term, that can increase the awareness around your brand.

This study also showed that if you are the number one for a particular keyword then a small majority of people will perceive you as an authority in your niche. This can affect the way that people react when they come to your site. If you are perceived as having a good brand before new visitors come to your site, then you already have a small element of trust from them—and that might encourage them to do things like sign up to your emailing list or your feed.

Direct traffic

Direct traffic is traffic that comes from people typing your website address directly into their address bar. This is a good form of traffic because if people already know your website address, that means that your site was memorable enough for users to recall it.

Because this type of traffic consists almost entirely of past visitors, you know these people are coming to your website to see what your latest content is. That means that the probability of this kind of traffic clicking on your ads is low, because they may have ad blindness (a topic I mentioned in one of my other guest posts about click through rates).

What they are likely to do, if they haven’t already, is to get more involved in your blog by joining your various social networking groups and subscribing to your blog feed. Also, users coming to your site as direct traffic are the most likely to leave comments on your posts, because they want to try and shape their favorite blog a little with their own personalities.

Social media traffic

The psychology around the whole social media revolution always seems to fall back on the desire of the user to be noticed and have their own personal space online. There are some very interesting points made in this article which discusses what people are looking for when they are searching on social media sites.

The gist of it is that people who use social media either want to be sociable with friends or to be entertained. This usually leads to high bounce rates for those types of visitors, because once they’ve seen your blog, they’ve got their quick entertainment and are ready to move on. This is a particular issue on sites like stumbleupon, where users are encouraged to quickly flit from one site to the next.

The thing that social media traffic is good for, however, is getting your content to go viral. Because of these users’ tendency to quickly browse from one site to the next, if someone does find something that they really like, they’ll share it. As soon as you get people talking about your content, product, image, and so on, they will spread it for you, because it’s entertaining or particularly useful.

Referral traffic

There are some similarities between referral traffic and social media traffic but I have made the distinction because I believe there is a difference in being told about something by a friend or being told about something by a web developer.

When you’re told about something by a friend, you’re generally going to check it out, because you want to see what information or fun it can give you, rather than because you trust the friend’s advice. If a web developer that you trust tells you about it, you are going to look at it in almost the same way, except that this time the advice is coming from a trusted professional. It is a little bit like being told about an illness by a doctor and a friend who has read about the illness in a book. You trust both, but somehow you will edge towards the doctor’s opinion.

That analogy doesn’t work for all kinds of referral traffic, however. When you click through a link in a blog roll, for example, you trust that the blog owner has chosen a good partner site, and you are going on the anchor text keywords provided.

Traffic that comes to your site in this way is much more likely to have a higher bounce rate, and lower interactivity with your site, because these users don’t have much information to go on before they visit. If, on the other hand, they’re being referred by a link in the content or a link from a guest author, then they’re much more likely to stay because they have heard from a trusted source (the referring blog owner) that site has something useful on it, or they are interested in more of what the guest author has to say.

For these last two types of referral traffic—guest posts and in-text links—the most likely things these visitors will do is read a bit of your content to see if that helps them. If it does, they may be encouraged to interact with your site by signing up to your Twitter account, RSS feed, and so on. The key with referral traffic is that you have to either catch the visitor’s interest, or answer a question that they have, before they will add you to their social network.

Paid advertising

I won’t say much about this form of traffic because it is very similar to search engine traffic from a psychological perspective—but it does have one key difference.

People who click on these links don’t mind clicking on ads. There are some people who refuse on principle to click on any ads; others who don’t want to will do so on the odd occasion. But a visitor who comes to you through an ad is likely to click on ads on your site. There is the problem, however, that if they have already clicked on one link and not found the answer to their question, they will click away. This is why most people who use paid advertising do it with one-page sites that contain instant and direct calls to action.

Which traffic methods are for you?

Each of these different traffic generation methods has its uses and, depending on what direction you would like your blog to take, you should target each appropriately.

If you’re after new visitors, and you’d like more advertising clicks, then target search engine traffic. But if you would like to have more email sign ups and blog interaction, then I would suggest seeking referral traffic through, for example, guest posting. This way is the best to ensure that you get traffic that is already interested in both blogs in general and, more specifically, your topic.

For a more specific type of blog, like a photo or video blog, social media traffic is probably your best bet because visual content can attract a lot of attention from the difficult-to-please social media audience, who are, after all, often looking for distractions.

Have you found any particular trends to come out of your traffic from different sources? Can you think of any other sources of traffic that have different behaviours from these?

This post was written by John Burnside, an expert in the making money and Internet marketing niche. To read more of his content or find out about ways to make money online, please follow him on Twitter @moneyin15.