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What About Google -1?

This guest post is by Sriram Reddy of BloggingTipster.com.

Allen: Billy, Why are you looking so gloomy? Did your Twitter follower count halve overnight? Hehe…

Billy: No, I just had such a cheesy experience Googling for material for Prof. Dwyer’s assignment. There was an unusual amount of spam in the search results. I had such a hard time scanning through all those search results, but I finally found what I was really looking for.

I wish there was a way I could shield others in the Internet community from visiting some of those sites I just visited—trust me, they were a sham. If only there was a way I could bury some of those results in Google’s SERPs. Tough luck that Google doesn’t give me an option to discourage my friends from clicking through such results. Black-hat SEOs slowly seem to be getting the better of Google search.

Allen: Ahh, I agree Google’s hasn’t wiped out spam completely, but don’t you worry: Google’s Panda algorithm is quite efficient in dealing with spammers. Even better, the recently launched Google +1 button is definitely going to add the human factor that Google’s page rank algorithm so gravely needs. It’s a huge step towards removing spam.

Billy: Hmm, yeah I must admit I love the idea of +1′ing something. It makes me feel more in control. I can’t help but think of large outfits that are going to abuse the +1 by recommending their members to +1 their own site through personal profiles.

While the +1 button will guide SERPs in the right direction, I wish Google would introduce a -1 button too, to neutralize the effect of gaming the +1 button by some publishers. The first thing I would do if Google released a -1 button, is -1 all the spammers on my research for Prof. Dwyer’s assignment. Trust me, I am so disheartened with my searches today.

Allen: Whoa! A Google -1 button! Don’t you think we have enough social buttons to deal with already?

Billy: I firmly believe that if you had a bad encounter with a search result, then you need to tip off your friends and the world about it, so that they don’t need to make the same mistake you made—if they choose to go by your recommendation, that is.

You know what else I would love to see on a Google -1 button? Wen people -1 something, it would be good to see their -1 displayed publicly across Google’s search results as annotations on the content they -1’ed—just like the +1s show up in results.

Let’s take the example of the assignment that Prof. Dwyer gave us today. Everyone in the class will be searching for the same information on Google, and we will definitely all be coming across websites that are spam. If I wasn’t satisfied with a search result, I could simply click the -1 button. It would then show up on my friends’ search results that Billy -1′ed this. How cool would that be?! Since I had not liked the link, I’m sure most in our class wouldn’t waste their time on it.

Allen: Ah, that reminds me, I’d better finish up with Prof. Dwyer’s assignment soon, or I’ll be looking at my second grounding in a week.

Billy: Bah! For commonly searched terms the results by and large aren’t too bad. But for niche terms, I’ve noticed that I have to spend quite some time searching through affiliate links and aimless blogs before I find what I want.

I’ve heard that one third of all search queries are first-time searches. Since Google is still improving its search algorithm for first-time queries, it would be their advantage to use the help of people like us to vote out spam. This makes a strong case for a Google -1 button.

Allen: Maybe you’re pressing the Panic button a little too soon here. A -1 button would be worse than unleashing a fire-breathing dragon.

It would open up websites to social attacks. Organizations will go berserk -1ing their rivals out of competition. This would have much more serious consequences than organizations just gaming the +1 button. This would be abused far more than the +1. No wonder Facebook hasn’t rolled out a Dislike option!

Billy: I’m not sure if I would be too worried about publishers -1ing their rivals. Google is smart enough to handle such a situation. I’m sure it’s not out of their reach.

Just the way a +1ers identity will be tagged to his +1 recommendation, -1s could also be tagged to people’s profiles as well. An algorithm from Google to give higher relevance to -1s from certain profiles than others which have had a history of gaming buttons would definitely turn the tables in Google’s favor.

Also, if a publisher has made a brand for himself online, even if a rival manages to mass -1 his content, how can we discount the publisher’s followers? They wouldn’t want their favorite brand to be mass -1ed, would they? They wouldn’t hesitate to +1 to salvage their favorite brand.

Reddit, Digg, and Google’s very own Youtube work on similar models. They pull the best content to the top of the pile through a mixture of positive and negative feedback, and they are pretty competent at it. We know Google’s capable of taking this to the next level.

Allen: You are making sense, but I’m sure there are many companies out there that wouldn’t be comfortable with such a model. Especially small publishers.

Billy: Yeah, there might be some resistance initially, but a -1 button will really do wonders for the Web. Imagine a universe where there is no spam at all in Google’s search results. What won’t we do to see a day like that!

Most importantly, Google would be empowering people to choose what they want to see. If Google’s given me the option to decide what’s useful for my friends and the Web, then it should definitely give me an option to decide what’s bad as well.

Allen: Hmm.. You are making sense now … but I’m still not so sure yet. Anyway, it’s getting late, I gotta go. Catch’ya tomorrow.

…While the Google -1 button is still an idea that most of us fancy, this conversation between Billy and Allen was an attempt at seriously contemplating the Google -1 button.

Who are Allen and Billy? Allen and Billy (and Prof. Dwyer) are characters that landed from my imagination, as I needed two characters through which I could put forth my views and counterviews on the Google -1 button.

What do you think about the idea of a -1 button? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Sriram Reddy writes lock stock and barrel about sharpening blogging skills at www.BloggingTipster.com. Follow him on Twitter.

The Expert Fallacy

This guest post is by Dan Meyers of Your Life, Their Life.

In general, most of our goals as bloggers center around becoming authorities on subjects—the kinds of authorities that others look to for advice.  What’s the title that usually comes with this position?  An “expert.”

There are some clear advantages to the title “expert” that are worthy of our efforts.  We can gain notoriety and traffic as we leverage our expertise to thoroughly educate everyone.  In fact, most people make a career out of their expertise, whether it’s in their normal daily job or in the blog world.

How can you become an expert?

Not an expert

Not an expert

  1. Read books.
  2. Interview people who’ve already done it.
  3. Just do it.

Most successful bloggers have used the formula above, along with some other steps, to get to where they are today.  “I don’t know how to do it” is never an acceptable answer for someone who is smart and ambitious enough to learn howto do it.

Steps 1 and 2 will allow you to gain knowledge on a subject, but you really must take step three and just do it.  It’s amazing how people start to view you differently when you have a blog on a subject.  The instant credibility isn’t always deserved, but it’s a great way to kick-start your business.

We can all become experts on a subject if we learn enough about it.  However, there are some clear dangers in becoming an expert—mostly dangers to yourself.  Expertise can bring with it an element of “all-knowingness” that begins to turn people off.  When you think you know it all, you often refuse to open your mind to outside ideas.

After all, even Einstein became so stuck in his ways that he wasn’t able to grasp the theory of quantum mechanics.  He held fast to the theory of relativity that he created, and couldn’t see beyond it.  Einstein wasn’t the only one stuck in his ways.  In his book, Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion, Stephen Gatto explains, “Invention is the providence of youthful insight.”

After we get stuck in our ways, it’s hard for our minds to continue to develop new ideas and adapt to new circumstances.  As the saying goes, to the man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

How do you know if your expertise is harming you?

  1. You think you have all of the answers.
  2. You don’t research or listen to anyone else.
  3. The only person who can stand hanging out with you is your dog.

What’s the ultimate solution to this catch-22?  You should strive to be seen as an expert to outsiders, but at the same time you must fight the urge to believe you’re an all-knowing expert.  This is easier said than done, because the more knowledgeable we become on a subject, the less we listen to other opinions or ideas.

How can we resist the urge to claim our expertise on a subject?

  1. Don’t let compliments go to your head.
  2. Realize you will never know it all.
  3. Focus on always learning and improving.

The keys to fighting the issues that come with expertise are continual education and an open mind.  It also helps to realize what people say about experts!

Stephen Gatto explains his view on expertise when he says, “(expertise) is a lie because the changing dynamics of time and situation and locality render expertise irrelevant and obsolete shortly after it is anointed.”  It’s pretty scary to think as soon as you become an expert, you become irrelevant!

Roseanne Barr said, “Experts say you should never hit your children in anger.  When is a good time?  When you’re feeling festive?”  I bet this is the first time Roseanne was quoted on ProBlogger.

Finally, Shunryu Suzuki said, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities.  In the expert’s mind there are few.”

Don’t let expertise limit you and your abilities.  I worked at a large consulting firm for seven years, which taught me how to continually change my area of expertise and adapt with the changing times, as explained in the post, “You are a now a Consultant.

Do you consider yourself an expert on your subject?  How do you prevent your expertise from crippling you?

Dan Meyers started Your Life, Their Life to help you take control of your life.  Read how he paid off $50,000 of debt in two years and how his strategies can help you.

Get StudioPress Themes and Premise Landing Page Plugin for Big Discounts Today

I’m excited today to let you know of two great Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals from the team at CopyBlogger. I use and love both of these products and know that they’ll help a lot of you in your blogging efforts. Note: For both deals the coupon code is ‘Thanks’. Don’t miss out!

StudioPress Themes: 25% Discount

Nitrous Theme - High Energy Theme for WordPressI’m often asked about the design here on ProBlogger and who created it. The answer is simple – it’s built upon the Genesis Framework by the team at StudioPress (a Copyblogger Media creation).

Genesis is a highly secure, fast loading and highly adaptable framework and the StudioPress designs are fantastic. I don’t regret switching to them earlier in the year at all. As a result I have no hesitation in recommending them and letting you know about their 25% off offer over the next few days.

Using the code THANKS at checkout, you can save 25% off of anything you’d like at StudioPress. For example you can get the following deals:

  1. Get the Genesis Framework for only $45.
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  3. Wipe the entire shop clean and get the StudioPress Pro Plus All-Theme Package. Get Genesis plus every design they’ve made, plus every design they make in the future, and save more than $74 off the regular price and over $875 off the retail price — and that’s just the existing 43 designs!

All you need to do is use the code THANKS when you check out and you’ll save 25% on anything and everything at StudioPress.com.

Premise Ultimate: 42% Discount

Readers of ProBlogger know that I have taught numerous times on the importance of ‘landing pages’ to help you convert readers to different types of actions. Landing pages are specifically designed pages to call your readers to action (whether that action might be to ‘subscribe’, ‘buy’, ‘advertise’ etc. I’ve written about the importance of landing pages here.

I’m also a big fan of Premise – a WordPress based software for developing landing pages by the team at CopyBlogger Media. Premise was very recently updated to version 1.2 and includes heaps of refinements including a new landing page type – the social sharing page.

Premise Ultimate usually sells for $165, as it gives you a heap of value:

  1. All the landing pages you can build
  2. Use on as many domains as you want
  3. Access to ongoing optimization seminars
  4. Copywriting advice from inside WordPress
  5. 1,100+ custom graphics by Rafal
  6. Unlimited technical support
  7. Unlimited updates (you’ll thank yourself for this next year)

During their Thanksgiving sale, you can get Premise Ultimate for only $95.

Just use the code THANKS when you check out and you’ll save $70 on the best landing page software available for WordPress.

Both of these deals ends promptly at 7:00 pm Pacific time on Monday, November 28, 2011. Hurry up and get claim your new WordPress theme and Premise Ultimate before the CopyBlogger team come to their senses!

From Failed Idea to Profitable Product: What I Learned from Failure

This guest post is by Björgvin Benediktsson of Audio Issues.

The biggest insecurity we bloggers face is the question of whether anybody is actually going to buy our product. We can’t give away our content forever, and those Google ads are hardly going to pay the bills.

That’s why every blogger should offer his or her own product. You can recommend other products without seeing a noticeable return. The biggest return on effort is from your own product, whether it’s an ebook, a service, or a piece of software. But the creation of your own product creates a different kind of fear.

The fear of failure

Everybody fears failure. It’s instilled in us from an early age. Most people don’t like losing, and try to avoid it at all costs. And if you’re going to create something to sell, the fear of it failing becomes all too real. Many times it becomes so real that people don’t even go through with their plans at all.

But failure is just a stepping stone towards success. If you can use the lessons you learned from a failed product, there’s always a better probability of success in your next venture.

What I learned from failure

My first product was pretty much a failure. It didn’t sell at all, and even though people thought the idea was good, when it came time to buy, no one did.

It’s tough to deal with failure, but I trekked on an created a new product—to great success. I didn’t get rich overnight, but on my small niche scale, I did pretty well.

So what did I learn from my first failure that you can use to your business success?

Do your market research

You not only need to know your niche, you also need to know what the people in your niche really want. A great idea is only good if people want to buy it.

I had this great idea for a productivity tool that, in the end, nobody really wanted. Sure, some people bought it, but it wasn’t a sustainable income. Instead I focused my effort on what I knew people wanted: information. I assumed that people would rather pay for information that they could use in their own endeavors.

Lesson learned: People would rather invest in information than anything else. In a specialty niche like mine, my readers wanted to learn techniques to better their own productions. They didn’t really need a productivity tool to keep track of their home recordings. Their computer already did that.

Decide to go digital

The first product I created was a hardcover book. The buying process was tedious, there were extra shipping costs, and my variable costs were relatively high, so most of my profit was eaten by the costs. I needed to keep the costs of the book down, but I also needed to recoup the costs of each book sold. Even though I used a print-on-demand service, the extra costs just weren’t worth it.

Lesson learned: Go digital. I decided to create an informative digital ebook, Mixing Strategies, which was only sold via direct download. Even though the model of selling ebooks has been around for a long time, I needed to learn why it was such a good idea on my own. With digital downloads, the variable costs of each download are non-existent so you can turn a profit quicker and more easily than with hardcopy products.

Find an outsourcer

I’m not much of a designer. I wanted my first product to look nice, so I outsourced my design work to Pakistan on the cheap. $100 later, I had a really nice looking product that I could sell. If I had done it myself it would have either never have been finished, or it would have looked very amateurish. By using outsourced freelance work, I was able to create a much nicer looking product than I ever could have myself, regardless of whether it would sell or not.

Lesson learned: Delegate tasks to those who know better. When it came time to create a new product, I had learned how easy it is to outsource work. I had learned how to ask for specific details and how to sift through the endless numbers of graphic designers out there. I was fine with paying for professional results, because I knew I would be saving myself a lot of time and effort—time and effort I could use towards other things.

Pre-market your product

I failed to create a lot of buzz around my first launch. I didn’t really talk about the product at all until I launched it. No wonder nobody bought it: I hadn’t built up any suspense about it. Whether you call it creating buzz, pre-marketing, or pre-selling, it was clear that I failed at it. Maybe if I had created a little more buzz, somebody would have told me that the product wasn’t such a great idea in the first place.

Lesson learned: Talk about your products. While I wrote my ebook I often asked my newsletter subscribers and other readers what they thought. I pitched them the table of contents and asked them questions that they would like answered in a book. I created buzz and anticipation by talking about the creation of the product. The result? I started selling copies almost before I had sent out the initial launch newsletter. I created so much anticipation over the months preceding the launch that people bought it immediately.

Offer launch discounts and build urgency

Not only did I not create any buzz for my failed product, I failed to create any fanfare around the launch. I simply launched the product, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. The best didn’t come. I didn’t create any sense of urgency, so nobody saw any point in buying it right away.

Lesson learned: Not only do you have to create anticipation, but once you launch, you have to create an urgency to buy. For the first ten days, I offered my product at a discounted price. This created a need to buy in my readers. They wanted my product because I had created so much anticipation, and now they could get it at a discounted price. The result? The sales kept rolling in.

Failure creates success

I wouldn’t have learned any of those lessons if I hadn’t created my first product. Even though it failed in most ways (it does still sell every now and then!), I still regard it as an accomplishment.

If it weren’t for this first product, I wouldn’t have learned how to find a demand, how to find great outsourcers, how to create buzz and ultimately, how to generate profitable sales. In my case, my initial failure only helped create my success.

How have your failures helped your accomplishments?

Björgvin Benediktsson is an audio engineer, musician and online entrepreneur from Iceland. He’s been involved in the music and audio industry for almost a decade, playing in bands, working as a sound engineer and recording music. He’s written one ebook, Mixing Strategies that’s available at his site Audio Issues. Follow Björgvin on Twitter at www.twitter.com/audioissues.

The Secret Ingredient to a Successful Blog

This guest post is written by Ava Jae of Writability.

If you’ve been blogging for any amount of time, you’ve heard that content is king. You’ve been told that everything else—design, SEO, in and outbound links—those things are a bonus, but the real thing you need to focus on is your content.

And it’s true, content is king, because even an SEO-optimized blog with a beautiful, user-friendly design and a parade of in and outbound links will fail without great content.

But although content is important, there’s something more—something that only you can bring to the table, something that only you have to offer that will really make your blog shine. A secret ingredient that will make your blog unforgettable.

You.

Your voice matters

The fact is, if you’re looking to build your blog on completely unique content, you’re going to run out of ideas very quickly. Chances are anything you want to talk about has already been covered by at least a dozen other bloggers, and it’s not because you’re unoriginal or a terribly unimaginative person—it’s just because there are only so many things to talk about.

The question you need to ask yourself is: what keeps readers coming back to your blog, when they could go elsewhere for the same information?

Can you guess what the answer is? I’m talking about that secret ingredient again. Your voice, your take, your worldview—those are the things that make you memorable. Those are the things that make you stand out in an ocean of blogs.

You have a gift

You have something priceless, a gift that you were born with, a gift often taken for granted: no one can think or speak or write the way you do. The way you put words on the page, how you interpret the world—those are treasures that can’t be taken away from you, treasures you should cherish.

Maybe you’re like me and you write about writing. Guess what?—there are hundreds of writing blogs out there. But there’s only one you.

Maybe you blog about technology, or education, or sports—it doesn’t matter what niche you’re in or what you’re writing about, what matters is you.

Take a look at the last few blog posts you wrote and read them aloud. Do they sound and feel like you, or could anyone have written them? If the answer is the latter, then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity—you’re forgetting to be you.

Yes, content is king. Without something interesting to talk about, your readers won’t come—but without inserting yourself in your content, without weaving in your thoughts, your opinions, your voice into your blog, your readers won’t remember you. They’ll go to another blog with the same content and a better voice.

Don’t be just another blogger. You have something incredible and special and entirely unique because you are the secret ingredient. Isn’t it time your readers see it, too?

Ava Jae is a writer, artist and X-men geek. You can find her weekly musings on her blog Writability, follow her on Twitter, or check out her Facebook page.

Act Like a Pro

This guest post is by Jean Compton of jeancompton.com.

What would you do if you knew you were going to get paid a large chunk of cash—up front, without any pre-conditions—to do something?

What would you do? How would you act? If it was something totally in the realm of your capabilities you’d get to work on it right away, right? You’d put in your best effort showcasing your greatest skills knowing that you were fluent in the information being asked for and sure that you would deliver a top notch product.

In other words, you would act like a pro.

So, what’s stopping you?

What’s stopping you, right now, from acting like an expert in your field? Everyone has something they can talk about naturally and authoritatively. Your gifts that only you possess is your uniqueness. Since you’re not like any other and no one else can be you; you have singular talents that you can share with the world that other people can benefit from.

If you’re an authority in an area you can start acting like one now. Your knowledge is desired by your community—or your tribe—even if you haven’t been acknowledged or paid for it yet.

I’m not talking of going around acting all cocky like a know-it-all. I’m telling you to hone in on what it is about you that, for instance, makes your friends be your friends. What keeps them coming back? What is it about you that makes you stand out?

That is your mojo—your gift that is golden. Tap into that, work it, develop it, and it can be your lifeblood, your golden ticket. That’s your genius spot, not like any one else’s, and you’re crazily selfish not to use it to your advantage to help yourself and, in turn, to help others.

Because I guarantee you, there are people out there that would kill for your particular gift. They’re waiting to hear from you. Oh, and they will also pay you for it.

So, let’s re-cap:

  1. Act like a pro now.
  2. Ask your friends what it is about you that brings them back for more.
  3. Develop that and market that in yourself.
  4. Help yourself.
  5. And by helping yourself, help others as well.
  6. Become a PAID expert in your field.

So … what is your unique gift that you’ve been hiding under a bushel basket? Have you dug deep to find it out? Ask your friends. They may have a surprising answer for you. And, leave me a comment below to tell me what it is!

Jean Compton is a writer and blogger who specializes in articles on meditation, de-stressing and changing your life. She has appeared on Problogger and Feelgooder, among other sites. You can find more of her inspiring posts on her blog at the above link.

Everything You Need to Know About Creating a Jaw-Dropping Movie Trailer on the Cheap

This guest post is by Jon Morrow of boostblogtraffic.com.

Ever look at those snazzy movie trailers Hollywood puts out for their latest blockbusters and wonder how you could make one of your own?

Maybe you’re starting a new blog, and you want to launch with a bang. Or maybe you’re coming out with a new book, and you want to create some prelaunch buzz. Or maybe you’re even launching a new online course, and you want to build anticipation up to a fevered pitch in preparation for launch day.

Whatever the case, creating a trailer seems like a good way to do it. There’s only one problem:

You can’t possibly afford it, right?

Movie trailer

Image copyright Deklofenak - Fotolia.com

Hollywood routinely spends $50,000 or more putting together their movie trailers. They assemble crackerjack teams of animators, story borders, musicians, video editors, and directors, all of whom work for weeks on the trailer alone.

These aren’t folks aren’t exactly begging for work, either. If you want a great trailer, you have to hire the best, and the best comes at a premium price.

So, you’re screwed, right? I mean, maybe you could scrounge around in the couch cushions to find a few bucks, but that’s not going to get you very far, now is it?

Actually … you might be surprised.

How I created a jaw-dropping movie trailer for under $50

Yep, it’s true. The movie trailer I created for my blog launch only cost me a grand total of … wait for it…

$34 US.

Granted, I already had a copy of Adobe After Effects, which saved a few thousand bucks. I’m also an exceptionally geeky dude, so I figured out how to do all the necessary work on my own.

But it’s easier than you might think.

You see, I bought this template from VideoHive for $20. It’s basically a ready-made movie trailer, where all you have to do is fill in the text.

From there, I bought this music for $14, which was actually recommended by the designer who created the After Effects template. So I bought a license, added it to the trailer, and then exported the whole thing to a movie file.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Don’t believe me?

Well then, let’s take a step-by-step walk-through of how to do it for yourself.

Step one: choose your Adobe After Effects template

Before you do anything else, head on over to VideoHive and browse through the trailers. There are several ways to do it:

  1. Just type “trailer” in the search box, and then look through everything that comes up.
  2. Browse category by category, starting with “After Effects Project Files,” and then drilling down to exactly what you want.
  3. Click “After Effects Project Files,” and then sort by “Sales,” showing you all the most popular templates on the site.

The third option is my personal preference, because it allows you to familiarize yourself with all the different types of templates and start thinking about what might work for you. When I first started working on my trailer, I spent hours and hours looking through them, dreaming about what I could do, and it took me weeks to finally settle on one.

The reason I finally chose Ivory is because it has an epic feel, but it’s not an overly complicated trailer, so it was really easy to modify. All I had to do was change the text, slip in my own videos, and it was ready to go.

That’s important, because if you’re doing it yourself, you should know Adobe After Affects is one of the most complicated pieces of consumer software in existence. I’m a technical dude, and it still took me hours to figure out how to change the text. If I’d used anything more complicated, I probably would have been tinkering with it for weeks.

That’s not to say you can’t use a more complicated template, of course. If you do, you probably just want to hire a professional to edit it for you, which we’ll get to in a minute.

But if you do want to do it yourself, stick to the ones with quotes. You can find them by searching for “quotes” or “text.”

Whatever you decide though, you’ll soon discover that none of the templates come with music. They often provide recommendations, but you have to license and integrate it on your own.

Let’s talk about that next…

Step two: license the music for your trailer

There are lots of different places you can license music online, but most or all of the templates on VideoHive use music from another site in the Envato network, AudioJungle. You can use any music you want, of course, but the selection at AudioJungle really is quite awesome, and the licenses allow for trailers (I’m not a lawyer, so consult one, if there’s any doubt).

You can search it the same ways you searched VideoHive, and if you’re looking for a few hours to kill, it’s a good way to do it, but you could also argue it’s a waste of time. Here’s why:

Changing the music will skyrocket the cost.

The majority of the templates are created with a certain piece of music in mind. The animation changes with music, and key ideas pop up at just the right time to create a dramatic effect. If you change the music, everything will be out of sync, and so you will have to redo the timing of the animation.

Unless you’re an Adobe After Effects guru, that means hiring a pro to do it for you, and I would guess the change of music, along with the necessary changes to the animation, would cost you anywhere between $500-$1,000. If you’re working on a big product launch, it might be worth it, but for a blog or book or any other project where you’re not making lots of money, you probably want to keep it cheap.

It’s up to you, but my advice: stick with the music the template creator recommends.

From there, all you have to do is…

Step three: assemble and render your movie trailer

Here, you have to make a decision, and it will dramatically affect the cost of your trailer, as well as the time it takes you to create. You can either:

  1. Assemble and render your movie trailer all by yourself.
  2. Pay a professional to render and assemble it for you.

As I mentioned earlier, I decided to do myself, but … well … I’m a weirdo. I actually enjoy learning new software and tinkering with it days on end, and so the 20+ hours it took me was, in a word, fun, where most normal people would’ve already turned their computer into a flying projectile.

Maybe you’re a weirdo too, though. If you are, you can absolutely do it. Buy or borrow a copy of Adobe After Affects, pray your computer is powerful enough to run it (hint: 4 GB of RAM, bare minimum), Google up some After Effects tutorials, and start working.

On the other hand, maybe you would rather be water boarded than try to do it yourself. If that’s the case, cough up a few more bucks, and hire a pro.

It’s not as expensive as you might think.

Most of the uber-talented designers on VideoHive will put everything together for you for $250-$500. You don’t get any changes to the template, and they are probably not going to do multiple revisions, but if you hand over your text, music, and any photos or videos, they’ll put them in and send you a completed trailer.

If that’s too much money, you can also go the cheapskate route and post the job on a freelance site like oDesk. You can probably get it done by somebody in India, China, or Eastern Europe for $100 or less.

And if you think about it, that’s still pretty cheap. Sure, it’s a lot more at than the skimpy $34 I shelled out, but it’s also a lot cheaper than the $50,000 or more Hollywood movie studios spend.

It also makes you look like a rockstar. So if that’s all that’s standing in your way, don’t cheap out, here. Save up a few hundred bucks, and get yourself a nice trailer for your launch.

It’s totally worth it

No, you probably won’t pick up 1740 subscribers in a week like I did, because that takes some killer connections, but what if you get a couple hundred? Or what if it convinces a major TV or radio show to interview you? Or what if it sells just one more copy of your $500 course?

You don’t have to blow the doors off for your trailer to pay for itself. Truth be told, you can probably screw about 90% of it up, and it will still beat any other type of launch lead in you could do.

Next week, I’ll have another post here on ProBlogger giving you some strategies on how to get the most out of your trailer. In the meantime, start digging through VideoHive, get some different ideas rattling around in your head, and let your subconscious do its work.

All the technical tomfoolery in the world is no substitute for creativity. And really, that’s what we’re doing here. We’re packaging up our ideas into a 30-180 second trailer, but the strength of that trailer isn’t the animation or the music or even the video itself. It’s the ideas.

So get thinking.

Be creative.

And more than anything, believe in yourself. Yes, you might be an upstart blogger, scrounging around the couch cushions to pay for your trailer, but you can do this.

And you know what I think?

It’s gonna be huge.

Jon Morrow is also on a mission to help good writers get traffic they deserve. If you’re one of them, check out his upcoming blog about (surprise!) blogging.

3 Secrets to Not Getting Discouraged as a Blogger

This is a guest post by Jeff Goins of Goinswriter.com.

The other night, I was catching up with a writer friend who is taking his first steps towards becoming a professional blogger.

He was frustrated and upset, wanting to quit.

Listening to him, I realized something: writing is discouraging work. It’s a time-consuming, underpaid, solitary activity. No wonder so many authors turn into drunks and most bloggers don’t receive their due appreciation.

If you’re feeling discouraged, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Relax. This is normal.

For most of the time I’ve been blogging, I’ve felt like my friend. Frustrated and discouraged, I’ve often wanted to quit. But recently, things have started turning around. And it’s all because of three very important secrets.

1. Automation is key

Step away from Twitter, Facebook, and any other online distractions long enough to actually get something done. You need time to concentrate and create.

If you spend all your time on maintaining your community, you’ll never able to grow it. You have to create margin in your schedule to do things like write guest posts.

I do this by writing weeks in advance for my blog and scheduling posts well ahead of time. I also use tools like Timely.is and Bufferapp.com to schedule tweets without having to think much about it. And lastly, I turn off most email notifications and alerts (including Twitter follows and unfollows and Facebook messages).

Don’t get me wrong. I still spend time on social media, but I don’t allow myself to be interrupted every minute of the day. Automating these practices helps me focus on what I need to spend most of my time doing: writing.

2. A bias towards creating keeps you focused

There are a hundred ways you could make money online. Why blogging? Probably because you enjoy creating.

This may fly in the face of conventional wisdom, but you should not be spending most of your time promoting your blog.

You should spend most of your time creating.

Writing comes first. Everything else (including marketing and promotion) comes second. If I’m not delivering the very best content I can every time I hit “Publish,” I don’t have any reason to promote my work. Similarly, if you’re not finding ways to add value to your readers, customers, etc., then you have no business trying to sell anything.

In this world of tweets and texts and blog comments, it’s easy to get distracted. To focus merely on the platform you’ve built, instead of on expanding its reach. The way that you do this is by creating compelling content, day after day.

You only have a limited number of hours in the day. Make them count.

Doing this will also keep you busy enough to ignore the jabs of critics, keeping you caught up in what you love.

3. Stop checking stats

In my experience, checking blog stats is a pointless exercise. These numbers can be a subtle form of procrastination, tempting you to “check in” multiple times per day, without actually doing any real work.

Of course, analytics are helpful. They allow you to identify overall growth trends of your blog, as well as keywords readers are interested in. But on a regular basis (i.e. hourly or even daily), they can be discouraging.

If someone doesn’t immediately read your writing, it may lead you to false conclusions. You may convince yourself that no one cares about what you have to say. Your inner critic might take over before you give your work time to make an impact.

Remember: if you’re writing posts that are optimized for search engines, then you’re not writing for today. You’re writing for the long haul. Constantly checking stats can undermine that purpose.

When someone asked Seth Godin how many blog subscribers he had, he responded, “I don’t know.” And neither should you.

Of course, you need to be available to your audience and to know how your blog is performing. But before any of that, you need to just write.

There are forces out there that would discourage you. I hope you don’t let them.

Because we need your voice.

We need your words.

Jeff Goins is a writer and marketing consultant. On his blog, he shares writing tips for new and aspiring writers. For a limited time, you can download his free e-book The Writer’s Manifesto. You can also follow him on Twitter @jeffgoins.

Questions My Dad Would Ask Before You Started that Ebook

This guest post is by Barb Sawyers of Sticky Communication.

The pitches go like this: turn your archived content into an ebook that will rake in bucks while you sleep. Invest a weekend, maybe a few weeks, and you’ll have a book that will establish you as a thought leader and open the flood gates to new revenue streams.

But as my 85-year-old Dad asked when I told him I was writing an ebook: “Why would you write a book, now that everyone with a computer can?”

You’ve got to admit, that’s a good point from my 85-year-old Dad, who still makes money on his investments but sometimes can’t find his slippers.

Because everyone can now publish a book, lots more will. So your book has to be great. Make that spectacular. And don’t forget that you’re not only the source of the expertise and probably the writing. You will also be responsible for editing, page formatting, cover design, sales and much more.

Depending on your skill set and budget, you can pay for help from Createspace and other self-publishers, people you stumble across on the Internet or a marble-lobby public relations firm.

But for more of the work and most of the decisions, you are on your own.

Don’t get me wrong. I am tickled pink that more people can share their wisdom or art through ebooks and on-demand print. I’m simply advising you to go in with your eyes wide open, avoid the sleazier pitches, and think about some of these questions my Dad would ask.

  • Are your goals achievable? If you want a book that makes money, it has to be good enough to compete with traditional publishers and the coming flood of self-published ebooks. If you are only interested in raising your prestige among a smaller group of people, you may set the bar a little, but not much, lower.
  • Are you an expert? Ideally, you’ve been accumulating knowledge for years and updating your wisdom daily. If you’re not already passionate about a specific topic, don’t charge in.
  • Do you have a unique approach? Like a product, your book has to offer something people can’t get anywhere else. In a world of countless niches, that might be relatively easy for you.
  • Are you willing to invest time? If you are smart enough to have the expertise that makes a book worthwhile, likely you are not going to fall for the get-rich-quick charlatans.
  • Can you write well? If you want to sharpen your skills, you can learn from many blogs, courses and books, including mine, Write Like You Talk—Only Better. If you’re a blogger, figure at least 30 to 50 quality posts on your theme that will then need to be edited, packaged, and sold.
  • If your writing doesn’t measure up, are you prepared to spend the money and time on someone whose does? Most successful nonfiction authors who don’t eat, sleep, and breath writing pay big bucks to professional ghost writers, not a stranger whose site trumpets their rock-bottom prices. You get what you pay for, as my Dad would say. Unless you can find a 24/7 psychic ghost writer, you’ll also spend lots of time thinking about the theme and feeding your ghost writer your knowledge and revisions.
  • Can you design the pages, cover and marketing collateral? Again, be prepared to pay for the kind of quality that will compete or at least spend the time to find the right online sources. Yes, templates are available, but much of what I viewed were woodlands or other looks that do not work for my cover. Right again, Dad. People do judge a book by its cover.
  • Do you have a content marketing machine? You’ll need to spend lots more time feeding and building your social networks, courting legacy media and pursuing other strategies for marketing your book. Competition is stiff and getting stiffer. You have to do a lot more than sneeze in an elevator to go viral.

If there’s an ebook in your soul, go for it. I’m thrilled that the doors have opened. Just be prepared to pour in years of learning, months of prep time and days of fretting.

It has to be your best, not something you knocked off over a rainy weekend.

That’s how real money is made. Just ask my Dad.

Barb Sawyers, who blogs at Sticky Communication, is almost ready to publish in print and for ereaders the second edition of Write Like You Talk—Only Better. Preview it here.