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My “Methods” for Building a Successful Online Business

Today I received an email from someone asking what my “methods” are for building an online business. That’s always a tough question—particularly because I got the sense that it was asked by someone looking for an easy and quick answer.

Here’s my response. I’d love to hear what you’d have added or said.

Thanks for the email.

It’s difficult to sum it all up in an email (I’ve published over 6,000 posts on ProBlogger on the topic as well as written a book), but really, if I had to summarize what I do, it’d be:

  1. Blog on topics you know about and enjoy (I’d blog about the topics I blog about for free).
  2. Try to blog something interesting and useful to others every day, for a very long time (I’ve been doing it for nine years).
  3. Engage with other bloggers and on other sites where people engage around the topics you write on (like social media, forums, etc.). Put yourself “out there” on a daily basis to find new readers for your blog.
  4. Build community around your blogs. Answer reader questions, stimulate discussions, make your readers feel engaged and involved. Love them to death!
  5. Experiment with different ways to make money from (and because of) your blog. There’s no single way to do this—it could be by a combination of methods including selling advertising, doing affiliate promotions, writing sponsored posts, creating and selling your own products, etc.

A few last thoughts

  • None of this is easy or quick. It takes time and daily work over the long term.
  • There is no blueprint for guaranteed success in this space.
  • Ultimately it’s about being persistently useful to people and building a relationship with them. A by-product of that is that they will keep coming back, bring their friends, and respond to your calls to action.

Thanks for your email—I hope something in this helps.

Darren Rowse

Boost Your Blog #3: Optimize Your Advertising Page

Continuing our discussion of things you could be doing right now to improve your blog, today’s tip is:

3. Optimize your advertising page

When I mentioned I was writing this post on Google+ (connect with me here), Nick Roshon suggested auditing your advertising page.

If monetization through selling advertising is part of your business model, then this one should be a task you build into your regular schedule of pages to update.

Keep your advertising page up to date with the latest options for advertisers to advertise, update your stats so that advertisers know what reach they’ll have, and make sure that this page is prominent on your blog so that they can find it.

Do you have an advertising page on your blog?

9 New Productivity Tools to Simplify Your Online Life

This guest post is by Leo Widrich of Buffer.

After Google+ entered the social networking scene not so long ago, the number of online distractions hasn’t really decreased.

At the same time, innovations and smarter solutions to handle your actions online have fortunately continued to thrive too. Instead of the usual to-do lists, news readers, or sharing tools, they tackle things in new and more helpful ways.

What’s most important for me, is that they slot right into my workflow, and allow me to become more efficient without changing my behavior. A few apps recently managed to do so brilliantly.

Here are my favorite new tools to help you stay focused and use the Web more innovatively.

1. SimpleNote

Do you ever have that feeling of random thoughts and ideas floating around in your head, but there is no optimal solution to jot them down? With SimpleNote, I found a fantastic way to finally write down things in a very intuitive manner. The Chrome extension lets me write things down fast and easily. On top of this, it stores it very intelligently in folders, simply by adding tags.

Workflow tip: The app integrates with a lot of already existing apps to make note-taking inside them even easier.

SimpleNote

SimpleNote

Try it out here: SimpleNote

2. Let’s Crate

If you think the likes of Dropbox or Box are making filesharing easy already, you might be surprised as what Let’s Crate can do. Without any signup or signin process, you can start adding your files right on the landing page. The service automatically generates a link that you can share, embed in blogpost, or send via email. It truly simplifies my online life.

Workflow tip: If you do decide to get an account with the app, you can easily turn it into your online storage system, add folders, and use it as a backup.

Let's Crate

Let's Crate

Try it out here: Let’s Crate

3. Coolendar

This is one of the smartest inventions I’ve seen recently. The app is actually a to-do list that automatically turns into a calendar based on the entries you make. It uses super-simple syntax to understand the time and creates a calendar as you type a new to-do item. So, say for example, you write “Tomorrow, 5pm, blogpost due for Mrs. White” and the app automatically detects it and creates an entry in your calendar as well as a to-do item.

Workflow tip: The best part here is that you can set up a bot inside Google Talk, which will remind you right inside Gmail whenever a task is due.

Coolendar

Coolendar

Try it out here: Coolendar

4. Mockflow

As a full time blogger, my skills in design and programming are very limited. Yet, being able to express myself clearly is more vital than ever. A better blog layout is a crucial component of blogging success these days. With Mockflow, you can create powerful wireframes that facilitate working with designers and programmers a great deal. There exist a wide range of tools and templates to make them look pretty, and are easy to implement.

Workflow tip: What I like best is that the app also works offline, so if you are wireframing on the go, you never have to worry about connectivity.

Mockflow

Mockflow

Try it out here: Mockflow

5. StrawberryJ.am

As a blogger, my main focus is to produce the best content I can write each day. Of course, keeping up with the great posts my favorite blogs write is vital here. Yet knowing what the really good bits are is sometimes tricky. Help comes from StrawberryJ.am. The app orders all the Tweets from your stream on the basis of most mentioned and retweeted. So at one glance, you will see the hot and most-discussed news items in your timeline.

Workflow tip: If you really don’t want to open another site each day, simply subscribe to your own top news and the app will deliver updates straight to your inbox.

StrawberryJ.am

StrawberryJ.am

Try it out here: StrawberryJ.am

6. Do it Tomorrow

This is a piece of innovation I would never have thought could be useful. Yet Do It Tomorrow slots perfectly into my workflow. I am usually the kind of person that puts way to many to-do’s on the list for one day. With this neat Android app, I create a simple to-do list of the things I need to get done and never worry about putting too much on my plate.

Workflow tip: By simply tapping on the little arrow, a to-do gets pushed onto the next day. You’ll never lose to-do’s you didn’t get to.

Do It Tomorrow

Do It Tomorrow

Try it out here: Do it Tomorrow

7. Oh Life

You will most likely know that the benefits of writing are plentiful. One of the most important factors for me is to order my thoughts. Oh Life takes a very new approach to making it easy for you to write down your thoughts about life. Every evening, the app will send you an email asking “How did your day go?” By hitting Reply, your entries will be safely stored as an online journal.

Workflow tip: Going through my personal Oh Life stories every once in a while helps me a great deal to focus and recap what I am working on.

OhLife

OhLife

Try it out here: Oh Life

8. Rapportive

I found that one of the most important things when speaking to someone via email is to really understand what the person is all about. Rapportive is a Chrome extension that slots right into Gmail and gives you a new tab of information all related to the person you are speaking to. This includes recent tweets, information from Facebook, LinkedIn data, and much more. You can build a rapport with them immediately and fully understand what they are all about.

Workflow tip: Very recently, the app has added a functionality to allow you to reply to tweets right from inside Gmail. This facilitates interaction a lot, I’ve found.

Rapportive

Rapportive

Try it out here: Rapportive

9. Skinnyo

This is my extra tool for you, as, different from all the others, it focuses on your physical shape. For a healthy online workflow, the Latin saying of “Mens sana, in corpore sano” (healthy mind, healthy body) is something I follow very closely. The app allows you to enter into online challenges with others, keep track of your weight, and have fun staying in shape with others. You can create teams, challenge each other, or use it strictly for personal use to keep track of your exercise.

Workflow tip: I particularly like the Social Network behavior of Skinnyo. It makes it easy to see how others are doing and keeps me motivated.

Skinnyo

Skinnyo

Try it out here: Skinnyo

These are my favorite tools to make the most of my day online. How about you? Do you think some of them could be useful for you too? Are there others you can add?

Leo Widrich is a blogger and Co-Founder of Buffer, a tool to share Tweets and Facebook Updates at optimal times to get 200% more clicks and engagement. He writes more Social Media Tips here. Reach out to him @leowid anytime.