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How the Power of One Can Take Your Blog to Many

This guest post is by Barb Sawyers of Sticky Communication.

Changing the world, one person at a time. I first heard this expression back in the eighties as the tagline for Apple Computers. Since then, it’s been borrowed my thousands of causes and brands. It’s that good.

But still, people are appealing to market segments, stakeholders and other big-box groups. Bloggers are often advised to know their niches. Though smaller, a niche is still an impersonal group.

Flip your model

If you’re not getting the results you deserve, try flipping your relationship model from many to one. After all, that’s how you make friends.

This individual should be the person you most want to connect with. Not your happy fans, customers or followers, nor the people whose minds are firmly shut to you. Pick the people who are sitting on the fence, just waiting for a gentle push to your side.

Just one

Actually, I should say person, not people, because I want you to think about one person who represents those fence sitters. Maybe this person resembles someone you know fairly well, from personal experience, market research or whatever. Probably you to have to use some imagination to fill in the gaps.

Now ask yourself: What gets this person up in the morning? What keeps him awake at night? Answer those two questions and you can tap into these deep passions and fears that nudge the fence sitter to your side.

For example

Let me use a cause blogger as an example. You blog because you are passionate about helping starving children. That gets you up in the morning. But you wake up in the middle of the night worried that you aren’t conveying the passion or knowledge that will persuade people to donate.

Normally you write for your niche, well-educated, well-off people in urban centres and a list of other stakeholders. Today talk to one person who you have invented, based partly on the woman you enjoyed chatting to at a recent event.

You know that this person, Mary let’s call her, is genuinely concerned about a lot of causes. She enjoys working as a family lawyer, but she loves doing what’s right for her clients’ children. She loses sleep when these kids get caught in tough situations and because her grown children no longer need her. Now write for Mary.

You will not only connect with Mary, but you will attract people like Mary. Your tribe will grow.

Let’s take another example, the blogger selling search engine optimization services. Make me your fence sitter.

I get up every morning excited about what I’m going to blog about, how to connect with more people through writing. But I ‘m often lying awake after midnight, worried I’m not getting enough page views but afraid of choosing an SEO dude who will rip me off or, worse still, incur the wrath of the algorithm gods.

You need to reassure me with examples of real people just like me who you’ve helped. You need to explain, in non-nerd terms, why the search engines are cool with your approach.

That said, I don’t expect any quality improvements in my SEO spam. Although they pretend, the spammers don’t read my posts, let alone think deeply about people like me.

Catch the best

Sure, there wouldn’t be so many spammers and other blind mass marketers if it didn’t work. If you cast a wide enough net, you will haul in some stupid or desperate fish.

But if you want me, Mary or other smart, nice people to jump over to your side, start with just one.

Take a bite of the apple in the knowledge that everything starts with one person.

Barb Sawyers writes, blogs, teaches, talks and plays in Toronto, Canada. Her book Write Like You Talk—Only Better, available soon in print and for e-readers, can be previewed here.

How to Get More Eyeballs on Your Affiliate Links

This guest post is by Peter Lawlor of B2Web.

The more articles I publish on my niche websites, the more knowledgeable I become about keywords, and more importantly, the search habits of my target audience.

During the early days of my affiliate marketing business, I would write a post promoting a particular product or service as an affiliate and move on. That was a big mistake, but one that is easily solved.

My “Aha” moment as an affiliate marketer

As I dug deeper into my niches, I realized that people use different search phrases and terms when looking for the same solution.

Eyeballs

Copyright IKO - Fotolia.com

This was a major eye-opener to me and presented a profitable “aha” moment. I discovered in one instant how to leverage my existing content and get far more eyeballs on my affiliate links. The result was a more revenue from my blogs.

Affiliate marketing is a numbers game. The more people who see your affiliate links, the more clicks you’ll garner and the more commissions you’ll earn. Granted, your pre-selling must be up to snuff as well.

One simple technique to increase the number of eyeballs on your affiliate links is to write a series of posts segmenting your target audience.

Segmenting your target audience

No matter how narrow or broad your niche, your audience can be further broken down into groups.

It’s a no-brainer that exhausting the keywords in your niche is a good idea. However, there may be more keywords when you segment your audience. If you get creative, you’ll be able to expand the profitable keywords you can target with audience segmenting.

How do you segment your target audience?

You can segment your target audience by:

  1. solution sought
  2. price
  3. best of…

1. Solution sought

Segmenting by solution sought means thinking about the different uses or purposes the product you promote can meet.

For example, if you promote washing machines, people look for different types of washing machine such as “washing machines for apartments” or “small washing machines” or “stackable washing machines.”

Voila, you have three new ways to promote a washing machine or a product line of washing machines. In fact, you can create posts that feature the “top 5 washing machines for apartments”, “top 5 small washing machines”, and “top 5 stackable washing machines.”

2. Price

Segmenting by price is particularly effective if you promote big ticket physical products. Many consumers search for big ticket items by price. Returning to the washing machine example, there are sufficient monthly searches to warrant a “washing machines under $500″ post. In the post you feature washing machines under $500.

3. Best of …

Many consumers begin a search with the word “best.” So why not create “best” of articles with your affiliate promotions? The post could feature a single product or several products you deem to be the best.

Combine segmenting techniques

You can often combine the “best of” segmenting technique with “price” and “solution sought” techniques. For example, you could create a web page targeting “best stackable washing machines.” This keyword is actually a combination of two decently searched keywords being “best stackable washing machines” and “stackable washing machines.”

Taking it further…

The aim of any blogger should be first and foremost to provide valuable information for readers. One way to do this is to link to other resources, including other posts on your site.

In your segmented posts, you can link to individual reviews or posts profiling a particular product.

For example, if you have a post featuring “washing machines for apartments” and list ten washing machines, why not link from each featured washing machine to a dedicated profile or review?

This way you:

  • enhance the readers’ visit
  • keep them on your site longer
  • build credibility with your knowledge of washing machines
  • improve the odds visitors will click your affiliate links.

The result: you leverage your affiliate promotions

If you are an affiliate marketer, you know it takes time to become familiar with a product or product line and publish quality content. When you segment your audience with multiple posts as set out above, you leverage your existing content resulting in more eyeballs on your affiliate links.

Do you segment your audience with multiple posts? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Peter Lawlor is a contributor to B2Web which is a site all about using WordPress which includes video tutorials, in-depth video-based reviews and theme recommendations such as the Genesis Theme by StudioPress.

Action! Can Our Hollywood Experiment Help You Make Money Blogging?

This is a guest post by Joke and Biagio of JokeAndBiagio.com

Setting: a busy production office in Hollywood, California. Joke stares at her husband Biagio in disbelief.

Joke: You bought another book from Darren Rowse?

Biagio: Well, uh, no…this one’s actually by the Web Marketing Ninja…

Her face goes blank.

Joke: Did you just say…Ninja?

Blogging for business: benefits not always obvious

ProBlogger, Joke, and Biagio

ProBlogger, Joke and Biagio

That kind of back-and-forth’s been typical ever since we tip-toed into blogging in 2009.

Sure, it’s always fun to think about monetizing the blog or read about ways to get big traffic.

But realistically, our blog for filmmakers who want to break into Hollywood has been more of a fun distraction than a tool to make us money.

Maybe you’ve felt the same about your own blog? Wondered if banging away on your laptop at 2am would have any (positive) effect on your business? Questioned if the “standard” ways to make money blogging were right for you?

We’ve had those doubts over the past few years.

Then the blogging money muse came along…

An idea struck. A new approach to cashing in on our blog that seemed obvious and frightening all at once.

In fact, just saying it out loud freaked out our friends and colleagues.

But we really believe this idea is a win-win scenario for both our readers and our company. It’s a concept that just might work for you, too.

More on that in a minute. First, some background…

We make film and TV

As working producers and directors in Los Angeles, blogging was not high on our “to do” checklist for Hollywood success. But we had a personal reason for writing: to create the film and TV blog we wished existed when we were starting out.

You know, back when we were banging our heads against Hollywood’s closed doors, trying to get noticed by anyone in “the game.”

Two-hundred posts and 2500 Twitter followers later, we found ourselves with a small but engaged group of readers who wanted to succeed in film and TV.

And no idea how we were going to monetize our blog.

A better way to earn money from readers?

Other than a few affiliate banners and the occasional Adword, we never embraced “selling” to a community largely made up of struggling artists (an accurate description of us just a few years ago.)

And, since blogging will never be our main income stream (we make a decent living in film and TV) the thought of turning our filmmaking blog into a six-figure sensation seemed pretty silly.

While the notion of being “top bloggers” was romantic, were we really going to:

  • create e-books?
  • promote affiliate programs?
  • find joint venture partners?

Or were we gonna’ keep chasing Oscars® and Emmys®?

Then, the crazy idea came along.

Provide readers with what they want most

The number one rule of a blog is to provide value, right?

We asked ourselves, “What’s the ultimate value we can provide to our readers? What do they want more than anything?”

In our hearts, we knew the answer: the same thing we wanted while living in our shoe-box, one-bedroom apartment not so long ago.

Access to Hollywood.

So after spending two years educating our readers on what it takes to make it in this business, we’re now opening the same doors that were closed to us for so long.

We’ve invited them to pitch TV shows to us.

When we do sell a project with an aspiring filmmaker (like we just did with our upcoming documentary series Caged on MTV) that person will be paid to work on the show, receive a producer credit, and take a giant leap forward in their careers.

Plus, selling just one series with a reader will instantly make us “six-figure bloggers.”

But wait, there’s more…

As a bonus for both us and our readers, anyone who submits a show must join our newsletter. We send out tips and tricks on turning ideas into concrete Hollywood pitches, as well as up-to-the-second info about the kinds of shows we think we can sell at any given moment.

When the day comes that we do take a little time off from making film and TV, that list will prove invaluable should we want to write a book or put up speaking events on working in Hollywood.

Make big money blogging by partnering with readers

How about you? Have you spent years educating your readers on a particular topic? Why not tap into the pool of experts you’ve created?

Most bloggers see readers as potential customers. Maybe it’s time to see them as potential partners instead. Are you:

  • An independent software developer kicking out posts on the Objective-C language? How about taking pitches from up-and-coming coders on new iPhone apps?
  • Blogging how-to posts about the furniture you craft by hand? Why not expand your line by accepting product concepts from your most accomplished readers?
  • Writing about designing and selling great widgets? Let your fans bring you valuable ideas for better widgets.

Just think: one great idea from a reader could be worth a lot more than your commission on that “weird old trick” affiliate product you’ve been eyeing.

Always use protection!

Of course, we had to have our lawyer draw up a proper submission agreement, and anyone wishing to pitch TV show ideas to us will have to go through a formal process. Before you open yourself up to pitches, make sure you’re not open to potential lawsuits. Consult your lawyer.

Back at the pffice…

Biagio: Not bad, right?

Joke nods. Her expression…a glimmer of hope?

Joke: Does this mean you’ll stop shopping at ProBlogger now?

Biagio: Well, uh, no…

Joke sighs.

Joke: Better sell some more shows quick!

Joke and Biagio are a married filmmaking team (Joke’s the wife, Biagio’s the hubby.) Their goal is to help aspiring filmmakers and TV producers break in to Hollywood by providing real-world filmmaking advice and taking TV show pitches from talented, hard-working dreamers. Their current film Dying to do Letterman has been invited by the International Documentary Association to qualify for 2012 Academy Award® Consideration, and they have numerous unscripted TV shows to their credit. Keep in touch with them on Facebook and Twitter.

The Science of Blogging

This guest post is by Farhan Syed of www.writeregion.com.

The word “science” comes from the Latin root “scientia,” which means knowledge. This is the reason why the word science is attached to many “non scientific” terms like “the science of theology.”

A blog is defined as follows:

A blog is a type of website that is usually arranged in chronological order from the most recent “post” (or entry) at the top of the main page to the older entries towards the bottom.—Darren Rowse, What is a Blog?

Most websites are intended to acquire or spread knowledge, hence science and blogs have a lot to do with each other.

The following scientists’ quotes do not refer specifically to blogging, but I think they can teach us a lot about it.

I am sure that I am not smarter than other scientists. Psychologists have said that my IQ is about 160, I recognize that there are one hundred thousand or more people in the United States that have IQs higher than that.—Linus Pauling; Nobel Laureate of Chemistry (1954) and Peace (1962), in an interview to the site Academy of Achievement, Nov 11, 1990.

An authority on blogging, Darren Rowse said in Blogging Takes Super Human Effort vs Blogging is Easy [Misconceptions New Bloggers Have #1]:

  • “Before I started blogging I had had 20 jobs in ten years, none of which were in anything to do with the online space and most of which were fairly manual/physical jobs.
  • “My only qualifications were half a degree in Marketing (which I failed half of the subjects in) and a Bachelor of Theology.
  • “I’d received a ‘C’ in English in my final year of high school.
  • “I was incapable of making text bold on my first blog for several weeks—I wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed when it came to anything technical!”

Some people think that only people with exceptionally brilliant minds can become good bloggers (or good in anything). This is nonsense. Just work hard with devotion. You will make it. There are no magic people.

If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.—Sir Isaac Newton; English physicist and mathematician, in a letter to Robert Hooke, 5 Feb. 1675 or 1676

There are always good resources available on any niche you choose, and there are always some people who are “giants” (authorities) in that field. By “resources” I don’t only mean blogs. There will always be excellent books, magazines, videos, and so on in your niche. Utilize them.  I don’t mean copy their content. I mean learn from them, put your own voice in it, and produce fresh content. If you can do your own research and take the current material a step ahead, even better.

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.—Albert Einstein; Nobel Laureate of Physics (1921)

To make a blog successful you must keep working on it regularly.

Despite the fact that there are thousands of articles on ProBlogger, I keep returning to this site to read the new ones. Though sometimes I read some old articles, mainly I concentrate on the latest material. I think most readers do the same, as the latest post’s comments are the most frequented.

If you make a blog and update it once in two months, it will collapse. Readers usually want new content on the latest happenings in your niche. Also, readers want regular replies from you. If they are taking the trouble of sparing some time and commenting on your blog, they want the favor to be reciprocated.

You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.—Albert Einstein; Nobel Laureate of Physics (1921)

To be a good blogger, you need to know a good deal about blogging. For example you need to know which is a good blogging platform, the methods of monetization, how to set up an email newsletter, how to use sites like Facebook and Twitter to your maximum advantage, and more.

The rest is mind game and hard work. Keep blogging diligently. You’ll learn many things practically that you will not learn by referring to blogging resources. Use this information to create better blogs than your competitors.

I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.—Galileo Galilei; Italian physicist

Do you think visiting “bad” blogs is a waste of time? Not at all! By visiting them you can learn why that blog didn’t do well. What mistakes did the blogger make? Pay attention to those mistakes so that you may not make them.

The worthwhile problems are the ones you can really solve or help solve, the ones you can really contribute something to.—Richard Feynman; Nobel Laureate of Physics (1965) in a letter to Koichi Mano, February 3, 1966

Though there are thousands of problems that humanity is facing today, you should select a niche of which you have a good knowledge. Then, write posts that can really help people live better lives by solving their problems. If you can solve their problems, they will visit your blog.

The lecturer should give the audience full reason to believe that all his powers have been exerted for their pleasure and instruction.—Michael Faraday; English physicist, as quoted in A Random Walk in Science (1973) by Robert L. Weber, p. 76

Give your readers the true impression that you really care for them and you have put up a lot of energy and hard work into your blog. Don’t try to fake yourself.  You must really make all attempts to please your audience.  If you yourself won’t take your blog seriously, don’t expect your readers to take it seriously.

Do you know quotes from other scientists that reflect and fit with blogging? Share yours in the comments!

Farhan Syed is a freelance writer who blogs on www.writeregion.com

Seth Godin on Blogging and Productivity

With the launch this week of Seth Godin’s latest book, We Are All Weird, we wanted to share this interview we recently conducted with Seth on productivity and blogging.

Seth’s among the world’s most prolific bloggers, but he’s also a profuse book author and serial entrepreneur.

How does he fit it all in?

Seth Godin

Seth (image copyright Brian Bloom Photography)

One of his secrets might surprise you: “I’m America’s worst attender of meetings,” Seth reveals. “I don’t do any of that.”

“A meeting is a very special thing: it’s three or more people talking to each other about a decision that’s going to be made, and probably trying to get someone else to make it,” he explains. “And so I don’t have those. If I need information I have a conversation with one person. That’s not a meeting, that’s a conversation.”

He refers to Al Pittampalli’s book Read This Before Our Next Meeting, which was released in August through Seth’s publishing venture, The Domino Project, and which suggests more productive approaches to the traditional concept of the “meeting.”

Of course, that’s not the only way Seth manages to keep on top of things. As the interview reveals, his philosophy rests on a very clear vision of what’s important to him. It’s that vision that motivates him, helps him choose where to direct his energies, and enables him to make the everyday decisions that keep his media empire growing.

Our favorite piece of advice from the interview?

In a world where there’s not a lot of scarcity of ideas, and where digital stuff isn’t going to be able to be priced based on scarcity, ubiquity is a better strategy. If you can help change the conversation, if you can say stuff that’s worth saying, the money takes care of itself.
—Seth Godin

Start listening!

Or read the interview transcript in full:

Today I’m talking to Seth Godin of SethGodin.com. He’s a blogger, he’s a bestselling author of thirteen books including Poke the Box, he’s the inventor of permission marketing, and founder of Squidoo.com.

Seth, if there’s one word that could be used to describe your work, it’s prolific. You have six websites, you blog every day, you’ve written thirteen books, you do plenty of public speaking, you’ve founded dozens of companies and you carry the weighty mantel of “America’s Greatest Marketer.”

But when I emailed you about this interview, you replied. You set the appointment in Google Calendar and you sent me your Skype details. So I’m wondering, is it possible that America’s Greatest Marketer doesn’t have an assistant?

That’s correct.

How can this be? We imagine that you’re America’s Greatest Marketer, and America’s Busiest Man. Is that not the case?

Well, neither one of them is true, to be fair. I guess you make decisions about how you want to spend your time. What you didn’t mention is that I’m America’s worst watcher of television, cause I don’t spend any time doing that, zero. And I’m America’s worst attender of meetings, cause I don’t do any of that, zero. So I know people who do five hours of each every day. So right there I save myself ten hours a day.

The part about not having an assistant has to do with how permeable do you want to be to the world. You know, I don’t use Twitter, I don’t actively use Facebook, because I can’t do them justice. But if I hired someone to answer my email, it’d be better not even to use email. Cause what’s the point of having that filter? So I try to sort of strike this balance between doing some things at an insanely quick, prolific rate and doing other things not at all.

So in terms of permeability, you run a company, and you have publishers. I’m just wondering, if you don’t attend meetings, then how does permeability work with those kinds of operations that you’re working in?

Well, you know, we just published a book two weeks ago called Read This Before Our Next Meeting, and the author Al Pittampalli argues that a meeting is a very special thing: it’s three or more people talking to each other about a decision that’s going to be made, and probably trying to get someone else to make it. And so I don’t have those. If I need information I have a conversation with one person. That’s not a meeting, that’s a conversation.

If a decision needs to be made it gets made and then followup happens about what we’re going to do about the decision, but that doesn’t need to be a bunch of people around a table either. So there’s lots of interactions I have with people. I just don’t have those things that so many other organizations have where everyone sits around looking for the tallest poppy to chop down.

Fair enough. So can you tell us a bit more about what productivity means to you, and what motivates you to be so productive? Because obviously you are very productive.

Well you know, I think that it doesn’t count unless you ship it—that planning it and noodling it and refining it and thinking about it and keeping it in a drawer don’t count. You might as well do nothing. I think there are lots and lots of people who put in way more time than me, who may even create more than me, they just don’t ship.

No one calls up a plumber and says, “Wow, I can’t believe how many toilets you unclogged this week!” No one goes to short-order cook and says, “Wow, that’s your eight-hundredth hamburger of the week! That’s incredible!” Right? That’s their job. They ship for a living. If they don’t ship, they don’t get paid. And somehow we’ve seduced ourselves into thinking that it’s okay to hide. It’s okay for a playwright to write a play every five years. What was going on the other four and half years? I don’t know. If no one’s seeing your play, you’re not a playwright.

That’s interesting because I think many bloggers tend to see writing as a creative pursuit that does require shutting yourself away from the world, and having quiet time, getting in the zone, and noodling, as you say. And you’re not just writing blog posts—you’re writing book after book. How does the creative thing work for you? Do you take time out of your other work? Or is it just part of your regular routine? Are books and blog posts different for you? How does that work?

Okay well we need to be really careful here because a lot of times creative people want to know what other creative people do to do their work, as if using the same pencil as Steven King is going to do anything for you, ’cause it’s not. I know lots and lots of productive creative people and we all do it differently. So I think at its face, it’s not a particularly useful philosophy.

I will share one tactic which is that I write like I talk. The reason that’s important is that no one gets talker’s block. And so if you wake up in the morning unable to speak, then you need a physician. Everyone else doesn’t have that problem. So if you can train yourself to talk in complete sentences, and actually come up with thoughts that are worth sharing, then writing isn’t particularly hard—you just write down what you say.

That’s an interesting point you make about coming up with thoughts that are worth sharing. You’re a marketer so I’m thinking that you’re constantly looking at the market and looking at what people need to know or want to know or have a desire for information on. Have you trained yourself or honed your thoughts to meet those needs? Or are you just coming up with ideas every day? How do you make sure that your thoughts are worth sharing?

Oh they’re usually not!

What percentage would be worth sharing?

Five, maybe two.

Well how do you differentiate between the ones that are and the ones that aren’t?

Well, I notice things. That’s what I do. If I see something that I don’t understand I try to figure it out. If I see something that’s broken, I try to understand why it’s broken. And then you say either in writing or out loud what you noticed, and if it sticks with you for ten or fifteen or twenty minutes, maybe it’s worth writing down. And then you look at the ones that you wrote down and sometimes they’re worth sharing.

So in that regard do you use your blog as a bit of a proving ground, I guess, for ideas? ‘Cause a lot of bloggers would do that—they’d use their blog as a proving ground, and then they’d go away and write a product based on what they’ve honed over time on their blog. Do you do that or is your blog just as finished as a book would be?

In some ways it’s more finished because I get feedback as it’s going. I can fix something on my blog the next day, etcetera.

I don’t have products. I don’t think about products. And I’m not trying to monetize any of this. It monetizes itself, which is fine, and if it didn’t, that would be fine. So I think that when people start to think, “What can I hold back? What can I sell? How can I move people through a sales funnel?” they start getting themselves into trouble.

Why? Specifically why?

Because then who’s the customer? Who are you serving? In a world where there’s not a lot of scarcity of ideas, and where digital stuff isn’t going to be able to be priced based on scarcity, ubiquity is a better strategy. If you can help change the conversation, if you can say stuff that’s worth saying, the money takes care of itself. And too often the $59, $99, $499 special report is neither special nor a report.

It’s true. Well, we’ve talked about the writing a bit. Let’s talk about the bigger picture. It’s very easy to look at the Seth Godin we see in the media and say, “Okay, this guy’s in the business of content. He’s a content producer.” But you’re not that. You’re also a marketer, you’re a business owner, and the reason you’re a bestselling author is because you’re one of the most innovative marketing brains in the business. So I’m wondering what do you describe as being your true passion? And how important is that passion in your level of productivity?

You know, I have way too many conversations with myself about this. I would say that my passion is having people surprise themselves by what they’re capable of. And if I can be present at least a little bit for some of that internal dialog, that’s a privilege and a thrill for me. And when I hear from somebody who was working as a janitor for some company, and then four years later they own it, and they give me, right or wrong, some of that credit, I’m pretty pleased with that.

Because I think that people have way, way more potential than society lets them believe, and if I can help unlock that, that’s a privilege.

So that’s what motivates you when you get out of bed in the morning?

It is. It’s exactly what it is. I think if I was trying to make money, I would do something else for a living. There are certainly more lucrative ways to spend one’s time, and I think if I was trying to work on my tan, I wouldn’t sit indoors in front of a computer screen all day. So yeah, this is why I’m doing it. For that.

So how do you prioritize? That’s your passion, and it drives you to do a lot of different things, so how do you prioritize the different interests that you have? And how do you decide that you’re going to add something new to the list? Cause I’m imagining that the list is pretty full.

Yeah, I’m very bad at this. The answer is “poorly.” I decide poorly. That’s my only answer: I’m bad at it.

So what kind of internal struggle, if you like, do you go through when you’re facing doing something new. For example, if you were thinking of writing a new book. You’ve just written a book, but how do you decide when it’s time to start a new project?

Well, books are different. The only reason I ever start a new book is because I have absolutely no choice. There’s no excuses, delaying or anything else left. The book forces itself to be written. That’s been true for the last probably seven books. It’s such a long journey, it’s so frustrating, it’s such a hassle, so few people read it compared to my blog. There’s only going to be a book when the muse insists on a book.

Okay, so what about things like new businesses? Because you’ve started dozens of companies, so how did thy get onto the list?

I have, but I’m getting better at breaking that habit. The last company I started was six years ago, and Squidoo is doing really nicely—we’re the 76th biggest website in the United States. But I started that because there were some people I really needed to work with and they wouldn’t work with me unless I had something to work on.

But there’s tonnes of businesses that someone who was willing to work harder than me would start if they saw what I see; it’s just really hard to persuade myself to sign on for a ten-year project like that. I probably should get better at that.

Right, so I’m just thinking one of the things you mention is delaying, delaying projects and also the ten-year thing, the timeframe. So do you prefer to go for things that are a bit of a shorter timeframe or … I’m just trying to get an idea of how you would sift out these things. ‘Cause obviously you’ve got lots of ideas and lots of possibilities and I’m just thinking if, indeed, the average person has this great potential that you see, then that’s potentially overwhelming to have that potential. So I’m trying to get an idea of how you would prioritize.

Yeah, the book I wrote, The Dip, I take very seriously. I think that being the best at what you do is far more important than most people think. Which means that you need to make the thing you do small, so that you can be the best at it. And I also believe that we live in revolutionary times. Which means that…

You know, Henry Ford could have done anything he wanted once he got started. He could have started any one of 500 other businesses. And you know, he did cars, then he did trucks. But he could have done golf carts, he could have done boats, he could have done motor scooters, he could have done motor cycles—all these things. At one point Henry Ford had Ford shepherds who were tending Ford sheep so they could shear Ford wool to weave it on Ford looms to make fabric for Ford seats to put into Ford cars. Because he could.

You need to make the decision about what change are you passionate about making, cause it’s all a hassle. And there’s no formula. You just have to have an instinct, I think, for how hard are you willing to push to be the best at that thing. That’s why I don’t use Twitter, right? Because I get why people think it’s fun. But I also know that I couldn’t be as good as it as I could be and still do everything else I do.

Thinking about Twitter, and Facebook—you said you’re not on Facebook—and you don’t do meetings, are there any other tools or approaches or philosophies that you have to manage all the tasks that you do? Obviously not doing, not subscribing to certain things that you can’t give your all to is one of your approaches for getting through all the tasks, but are there any others that you can share with us?

Well I think, you know, I posted a couple of weeks ago about the Zig Ziglar Goal Planner that we published, and it really is my secret weapon. I mean, it saved me from bankruptcy. There were seven or eight years in a row where I was within two weeks of running out of money. That’s a really long time. 900 rejection letters from publishers everywhere. Window-shopping in restaurants cause there wasn’t money to buy a plate of spaghetti. And the Goal Planner saved the day.

We’ve update it; we’ve modernized it, but I don’t care which version you use: there’s something extraordinarily powerful. I have never met anyone who has seriously written down their goals, and done it properly, who is stuck or is considered a failure. Not one person.

Excellent. That’s great. Just before you go, I wanted to ask if you could share with us one piece of advice that you’d give to other bloggers who want to increase their creative productivity to a level that they can use to generate a full-time income.

Oh, I don’t think you should do that.

Excellent! And why not?

Because then you just, you’re doing it to generate a full-time income, aren’t you? And this is amateur media; this is not professional media. And every once in a while an amateur gets so good that people come to them and beg them to take money. But if an amateur sets out to be a professional, she starts making short cuts and she starts trading in relationships for cash. And I don’t know how to tell people to do that.

So obviously for you the relationships are where it’s at, not the cash.

Yeah, because if you do care about cash, sooner or later enough people who admire your work and trust you, it’ll turn into cash. But in the long run, we never ever keep track of how much cash someone has. We always keep track of what their reputation is.

Very true. Well, that’s an excellent note to finish our interview on. Thank you very much for your time, Seth.

Thank you Georgina, it was a pleasure.

7-point Checklist For Bloggers Who Want to Create a Profitable Blog

This guest post is by Peter G. James Sinclair of Motivational Memo.

Before I aggressively started to build my Motivational Memo blog at the beginning of this year I had already owned a web design company for over seven years.

During that time I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly in web design, and now that I have entered the blogging industry I continue to see the same mistakes being made by many bloggers.

So use this quick checklist to analyze your own blog.

1. How well is your blog structured?

  • Have you clearly identified your audience?
  • What’s in it for the client when they come to your blog?
  • Do you have a call to action?
  • Is your blog outstanding? What do you do differently from others?
  • Do you sell the right things—most profitable and easiest to deliver?
  • What are the best things you are doing in your niche?
  • Have you a clear purpose for each web page?
  • What action do you want your visitors to take?
  • Do you provide quality information?
  • Are you building a list?
  • Are you selling a product or service?
  • Are you gathering referrals?
  • Are you building a relationship with your readers?
  • Have you built credibility and authority in your niche?
  • Have you promoted your success through a Press, Awards, or Featured-in page?
  • Do you realize that you are building an asset that you can sell?
  • Do you know that you need more than one website if you want to make money from blogging?

2. How good is your written copy?

  • Do you write headlines that are benefit driven?
  • Does your writing stand out amongst the crowd?
  • Do you provide proof either through testimonials, comments, featured articles, endorsements, and statistics—in text, audio, and video format?
  • Is your call to action clear?
  • Does your offer provide great value?
  • Does every page have a benefit-laden headline?
  • Do you demonstrate how you stand out in your niche?
  • Do you use proof of claims you make about products/services?
  • Do you provide one call to action with clear instructions per web page above the fold?
  • Do you make no-brainer offers even for opt-in?
  • Are you enthusiastic without hype, but rather provide enthusiasm with substance?
  • Do you write the way you speak?
  • Do you avoid jargon?
  • Do you use a double-readership path—provide headlines and sub headlines that make it easy for readers to skim your piece before reading the entire article?

3. How descriptive is your domain name?

  • Is your domain name clever, quirky, or meaningless?
  • Have you used your business name, unless you are well known?
  • Have you used your personal name, unless you are well recognized?
  • Have you used a .net where there’s a .com site available?
  • Have you used the Google Keyword tool to identify some of the keywords people are searching for on the Internet in your niche?
  • Have you chosen a domain name that grabs your attention through clear communication?

4. How professional is your layout and formatting of graphics?

  • Do you use white writing on black or colored background that makes it hard for people to read?
  • Do you have a cluttered or confusing layout?
  • Is your top banner large or complex and slow to load?
  • Do you use big blocks of text?
  • Do you write text in all-capitals?
  • Do you provide captions (where appropriate) on photos that are keyword rich and benefit-driven?
  • Do you use too many fonts, colors, and sizes?
  • Is your blog quick to load?
  • Do you have a clean, simple, narrow banner at the top of your blog that creates the right feeling on your site?
  • Do you break up text with sub headings, bullet points, and photos?
  • Do you have a white background and use colored headlines and black text?

5. How easy is it for your potential customers to buy?

For blogs to make money, there is usually an attached web page that will promote products, courses, etc. So you might need to analyze these pages as well.

  • Do you provide an obvious way to buy online?
  • Do you use a secure payment processor?
  • Do you provide a number of ways for people to purchase—credit card, ClickBank, PayPal, or even for some an printable form, depending on your demographics?
  • Do you provide a money-back guarantee?
  • Do you allow for payments in customers’ local currencies?
  • Is your offer obvious, providing clear instruction for buying above the fold?
  • Do you use a recognized payment processer?

6. Are your visitor details being collected?

  • Is your opt-in above the fold?
  • Do you provide an incentive for visitors to provide their name and email?
  • Do you ask for too much information?
  • Do you have our opt-in on your sales pages, and did you know that if you do this you could reduce sales by up to 75%?
  • Do you communicate regularly with those who opt-in to your blog or newsletter, and did you know that responsiveness will halve after each three months of no communication?
  • Do you get at least a 25% opt-in result?
  • Do you offer something customers desperately want in return for their name and email?
  • Do you make it easy and obvious to opt in above the fold—a single opt in requiring minimal details?
  • Do you use an automated way to follow up?
  • Do you make offers to your list—your own products/services or others in return for an affiliate commission?
  • Do you give twice as much as you ask by providing good value?

7. How well are you marketing your blog?

  • Do you believe in the concept of “build it and they will come”?
  • Do you only using one or two marketing methods?
  • Do you only use online-to-online marketing?
  • Do you outsource the marketing or manage the outsourcing properly?
  • Do you test, monitor, and fine-tune?
  • Do you use out of date marketing methods or only use the latest craze in marketing?
  • Do you use multiple marketing methods—free and paid, tried and tested, and new?
  • Do you use offline-to-online marketing?
  • Do you understand your marketing strategy well enough to train others to help you?
  • Do you collect stats on results weekly, or per campaign?
  • Are you marketing to your existing list—email, social media, sms, hard mail, etc.?
  • Do you use SEO, Google Adwords, Google Places?
  • Do you use paid traffic, Facebook PPC, banner ads?
  • Do you build or buy lists in your niche or even pursue joint ventures?
  • Have you ever thought of buying an offline list and developing an online list?
  • Do you write guest articles for other blogs in your niche and even other niches?
  • Do you submit articles to directories?
  • Have you used offline free publicity?
  • Do you seek out referrals?
  • Do you interact regularly through social media—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn?
  • Do you run competitions?
  • Do you give things away to your database?
  • Do you conduct surveys?
  • Do you partner with online thought leaders in your niche?
  • Do you help your readers to engage one with another?

So there you have it. Tick off all the things that you are doing well, and then begin to implement all the things that you could do better. You will be amazed at the results.

Peter G. James Sinclair is in the ‘heart to heart’ resuscitation business and inspires, motivates and equips others to be all that they’ve been created to become. Receive your free copy of his latest eBook Personal Success Blueprint at http://www.selfdevelopmentmastermind.com and add him on Twitter @PeterGJSinclair—today!

50% Discount Ends in 36 Hours on the Blogger’s Guide to Online Marketing Kit

online marketing kit for bloggersA few weeks ago here on ProBlogger we launched a product I’m really proud of—the Blogger’s Guide to Online Marketing Kit written by the Web Marketing Ninja (the guy who has helped me shape my own blogging business model over the last few years).

The kit is essentially based around three things:

  1. a comprehensive ebook
  2. a library of 21 templates, documents and examples to help you develop your own blogging business model
  3. a 70-minute bonus recording of a Q&A webinar that the Ninja, Chris Garrett, and myself did last week for buyers of the kit.

The kit is really about helping bloggers who want to get serious about turning their blog into a business to do just that. You can read the full details of what’s included and who it’s for here.

We launched the Blogger’s Guide to Online Marketing Kit with a limited-time 50% discount (down from $99.99 to $49.99).

The kit has had some really positive reviews and feedback so we’ve left the discount open a little longer than we’d anticipated, but that discount ends in around 36 hours time (this Friday, US time).

So if you’re looking for some teaching from an experienced online marketer on how to make your blog profitable, grab your copy of the kit today.

Behind the Scenes: How a ProBlogger Product Sales Page is Made

This post was written by the Web Marketing Ninja—author of The Blogger’s Guide to Online Marketing, and a professional online marketer who’s sharing his tips undercover here at ProBlogger. Curious? So are we!

I tweeted a couple of days ago how wonderfully evolutionary sales page copy can be as it passes between the different people who are working on it. At the time, I likened it to Chinese whispers with a happy ending.

It’s a tweet that culminated from the copywriting process for Darren’s brand new book on DPS, Click! How to take Gorgeous Photos of your Kids. The book’s sales page presented some interesting challenges for me and reminded me of some important lessons that I thought would be good to share with you all.

The process

Click! How to take gorgeous photos of your kidsThis is how the sales page for Click! came into being.

1. Thinking before writing

All of Darren’s sales page start with a semi-workshop, usually with Darren, Jasmin, and myself. We’re not at this stage thinking about the specific words we’ll use—we’re thinking about the core message we’re hoping to convey and how we’ll present it. We weigh up the core benefits of the product and pick which one we’re going to lead with. It normally starts with a bit of a brain dump and ends with us exploring more specific personas—the ones for which we created the product in the first place.

With Click!, we started with a simple audience definition: “those who wanted to take photos of kids,” but soon realized that it needed to run a little deeper than that. We came up with four target personas: moms, dads, grandparents, and pro photographers. Whilst the book is perfect for all of them, the key benefits of buying the book were distinctly different for each group. We discussed options to create a page that conveyed a message to all, but settled for focusing on moms. We felt they were more likely to respond emotionally to the sales page.

2. Engaging the word nerds

Often the hardest part in the copywriting process is to draw a line in the sand and put an initial draft into play. It can be quite daunting but among the team at ProBlogger we have a Georgina, and that always gets us off to a good start.

From a short brief from Jasmine, Georgina provided the first draft. This was always going to be a tricky one for her, as there was a strong emotional entanglement in the messages (Moms and capturing the memories of their kids), and that meant we’d need to tread a fine line between making an emotional connection and looking shallow. I think Georgina did a great job, and we could have run with this version right out of the box, however Darren and I always like to take things a little further.

3. The deliberation begins

I just realized something as I’m writing this post: I’ve known Georgina for over five years. She’s used to me pulling apart her copy. But all’s fair—she’s changed as many of my words in the past with her editorial hat on. So the deliberation stage usually takes place with Darren and myself shooting it our over Skype. Sometimes we’re only tweaking things here and there; other times we’re making wholesale changes. A couple of hours later, we end up with a second version of the sales copy loaded up on Darren’s blog.

With Click! I decided to re-write the whole first section, as I felt we could be a little stronger in our messaging, and a little shorter in words. I spent some time and came up with a version that Darren incorporated into the final sales page. There were a couple of things I wasn’t 100% sure about, and I was keen to see what would happen in the next phase—the field test.

4. The first field test

There is nothing scientific about our field tests. Depending on the product, we’ll usually pick a few connections from our networks, and get them to honestly tell us what they think of the sales page content. Formal tests would follow a more structured approach, with a little more thought put around specific questions, but we’re usually running out of time, and with true blogger spirit, do what we can with what we’ve got.

With Click! It was pretty easy to contact all the moms we knew that were online at the time. But that was where the easy part ended! The response we got was interesting. The couple of phrases I wasn’t sure about basically horrified every mom who saw them. It was back to the drawing board, pronto. Whilst I’d never call writing fun, all I can say is I’m glad we knew before we email a couple of hundred thousand people! Motivated by some of the suggested alternatives, we set about creating a second revision.

5. The second field test

Nine times out of ten we never get to this, however, in the case of Click! the moms had spoken, and we’d made some pretty extensive changes from their feedback—and hoped we were right. So we re-tested the copy. A few nervous minutes later, the feedback was much better and we had a sales page ready to ship.

6. Time to shine

Once we’re happy, all our sales pages go through some pre-flight checks. A final pass at the copy to make sure as many typos are corrected as possible. Then we check and double-check that all the order buttons work, and the images are in place. Once that’s done it’s off to launch we go…

Whilst the lead-up is quite extensive, it’s the result that matters. In the first nine hours of launch conversion rate of the sales page was around 10%—there’s nothing wrong with that!

The lessons

There are a few important lessons that we can take from this latest sales page evolution:

You are not your customers

I’m not a mom, and I don’t have any kids, so I need to be mindful that I’m writing a sales page for someone completely different from me. Seeing things from others’ perspectives is the key to writing sales pages that will convert more people than just yourself. If you’re ever unsure, seek feedback from others.

Small things can have a dramatic influence

Within the first version of this sales page, we included one sentence that struck the wrong chord with the reviews. There are over 500 words in this page, yet five seemingly innocent words could turn buyers away in droves. If there’s anything that can show you the power of copy, this is it.

Revisions can be a good thing … and a bad thing

Suffice it to say my initial revisions did more harm than good. But the second revision turned things around sharply. You need to be careful not make changes for their own sake, and if you do, make sure you take a step forward rather than backward.

So there you have the life and times of a team ProBlogger sales page. And we haven’t even started the A/B testing yet!

Stay tuned for more posts by the secretive Web Marketing Ninja — author of The Blogger’s Guide to Online Marketing, and a professional online marketer for a major web brand.

There Are 3 Thing’s Wrong With This Head Line

This guest post is by Greg McFarlane of Control Your Cash

As a blogger, you expect your readers to give you their valuable time that they could be spending elsewhere. If you’re going to ask that much of them, don’t they deserve your best effort in return?

When your posts are loaded with spelling and grammar mistakes, you’re telling your readers one or both of two things:

  1. I can’t be bothered to learn the language I’ve chosen to communicate in.
  2. My content is so vital and compelling that its form is unimportant.

Democratization has its advantages, and alas, its drawbacks. 572 years ago, Johann Gutenberg was the only person on Earth who could have his words disseminated en masse. (And even he was but the messenger, merely spreading others’ divinely inspired works.) Today, anyone with a Return key and an opinion can search for an audience. Does that mean that you deserve one?

Look at the most popular blogs, the ones with critical acclaim, and/or a large readership. Technorati lists The Huffington Post, Hot Air, several members of the Gawker family, Mashable and TechCrunch among its top 20. Even the inane TMZ is on the list. Regardless of how you feel about left-wing politics, right-wing politics, general snarkiness, social media news, technology or the lives of celebrities, all the blogs on the list have something in common that also-ran blogs don’t.

Proper, comprehensible English, delivered in sentences that you don’t have to reread to make sense of. In 2011, with so much of the world’s knowledge available to any of us, it’s astounding that there exist bloggers who’ve advanced past adolescence yet still don’t know that plurals don’t take apostrophes.

When I decry this (I’m the kind of person who thinks that Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson deserve their own Nobel Prize category), I’m often met with the standard responses. These fall into three categories:

  1. I didn’t have time.
  2. Who cares?
  3. (No response at all.)

In other words, correct English isn’t that important. My one-word response to that is: garbage.

Unlike most topics of debate, there’s no room for difference of opinion on this one. People on the other side of this issue are like those who defend flat earth theory or who argue that thiomersal causes autism. There’s no reasoning with them. To disagree here is to say that sloppiness and ignorance are of no consequence. That insulting your readers is fine. That the rules of discourse don’t apply to you.

If your defence is that you’re not some fancy-pants academic who obsesses over a set of archaic rules about how to communicate, maybe you should find something to do that doesn’t involve words.

One irony is that non-native English speakers are behind some of the most grammatically sound (and thus most readable) blogs out there. Take Aloysa of Aloysa’s Kitchen Sink. If you didn’t know any better, you’d swear she’d been writing in and speaking English her whole life. English is her third language, after Lithuanian and Russian. I’d cite examples of the opposite, native English speakers who each write like a cat walking on a keyboard, but they’re easy to find. Besides, I made enough enemies with my last ProBlogger post.

My site, Control Your Cash, hosts the weekly Carnival of Wealth. It’s a blog carnival in which I showcase what are ostensibly the best and most thought-provoking personal finance articles of the prior seven days. I need about 30 entrants for the carnival to be of a decent length. If I limited entry to those who spell and punctuate correctly, even if they had nothing interesting to say about their subject of choice, I’d be lucky to run three posts a week. The carnival would be less of a carnival and more of a quiet evening playing chess at the library.

I’m not talking about being able to articulate the difference between the pluperfect progressive tense and the ablative case. I’m talking about, at a minimum, activating and using the spelling and grammar features that come with MS Word, or Apple Pages, or whichever word processor you create your magic with. If you don’t know that you need to do this, then you almost certainly do. No thought is so profound that it can’t benefit from the right presentation. If you can think it and type it out, then you can spend a few minutes making it readable before you decide to unleash it on the universe.

This isn’t about you. It almost never is. It’s about your customers, i.e. your readers. They’re literate enough to have navigated their way to your site, and deserve to be written to in a clear, syntactically correct manner. Otherwise, why should they care about what you have to say?

Greg McFarlane is an advertising copywriter who lives in Las Vegas. He recently wrote Control Your Cash: Making Money Make Sense, a financial primer for people in their 20s and 30s who know nothing about money. You can buy the book here (physical) or here (Kindle) and reach Greg at [email protected].