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10 Fresh Tips for Finding Time to Blog

This guest post is by Brian Milne of The Corporate Mentality.

Work. School. Friends. Family … and kids.

We’ve all got a lot going on in our lives, and I haven’t even mentioned our online worlds yet.

Twitter. Facebook. Google Plus. LinkedIn … and Pinterest.

The list is always growing, and as our offline lives get busier and online worlds more cluttered, our blogs are getting more and more neglected.

And while it’s great spending time learning everything the above social sites have to offer, let’s not forget the importance of our own blogs, and the significance of providing readers with quality content. After all, without quality posts, you’ll be slow to take your blog to the next level and will have little original content to push out to your followers.

And, in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about? Generating exposure, traffic, leads and potential customers or partners?

That said, here are ten ways I’ve been able to carve out more blogging time of late—despite running dozens of sites and having our third child in five years this past April. (And if these ten tips aren’t enough, ProBlogger’s timely Blog Wise ebook will certainly do the trick!)

1. Get up early

There’s nothing better than starting off the day with something you really enjoy, whether it’s a nice jog around the park, a bike ride through town, or a trip to the gym. And if you’re someone who truly enjoys writing, you’ll appreciate making blogging part of your morning routine.

Just be sure to do so before you get online and open your inbox. Your writing is more impactful when ideas are fresh in your head—and you aren’t bogged down by your list of tasks for the day.

2. Write at lunch

If you can’t get up early enough to write before work, get away from it all at lunch. Take the iPad or laptop with you to the park, fire it up on a shady bench next to your brown bag and write to your heart’s content.

3. Go offline

No wireless connection at your local lunch getaway? No worries. Disconnecting makes for a distraction-free hour of writing. In fact, while you’re at it, turn off your phone, Twitter alerts, Facebook messages, IM and email inbox—anything that’s going to keep you from getting your thoughts down.

If you get the inspiration to Tweet, take that clever 140-characters and expand on it in a blog post. Remember, it’s better to own your content than get owned by Twitter or Facebook. Make those platforms work for you, not the other way around.

4. Stay up late

All the hustlers do it. And don’t just stay up late and use the “free time” to soak up more David Letterman. Kill your TV and breathe new life into your blog.

As Gary Vaynerchuk writes in Crush It, “If you already have a full-time job, you can get a lot done between 7 p.m. and 2 a.m. (9 p.m. to 3 a.m. if you’ve got kids), so learn to love working during those predawn hours. I promise it won’t be hard if you’re doing what you love more than anything else.”

5. Use an app for that

Don’t have time to post, but have a second to snap a photo? Start photo blogging from your mobile device. Mobile content is becoming a lot more acceptable in today’s blogosphere, whether it’s an inspirational image or an event photo that’s related to your site, snap it, and post it in less than a minute.

You can use the WordPress app, which allows you to post images, text and even HTML straight from your mobile device. Or set up your blog to allow for email publishing, whether it’s straight from your mobile email client or through a third-party platform such as Flickr—which can auto post images to the site and your blog via email.

6. Use shortcuts

Take advantage of additional WordPress features that streamline posting. For example, did you know you can embed a YouTube video in the body of your WordPress blog by simply pasting in the URL of the video? In the latest version of WordPress, 3.4, you can do the same thing with Tweets, embedding an individual Tweet just by pasting the link to the Tweet in the body of your blog post.

Knowing shortcuts and quick tips like this can cut down your “time to publish” considerably.

7. Accept guest posts

I know, it’s your blog, and it’s tough to allow others to post on the site you’ve poured your blood, sweat and tears into. But there comes a time—when either you get too busy or your blog gets too popular—when you have to take a step back and ask for help.

It’s a good problem to have if you think about it, because your site has likely scaled to the point where it’s bigger than you ever would have imagined. To keep feeding the content machine, reach out to some folks you trust for regular contributions. Adding different perspectives to your site often brings in new readers, and also encourages those you trust to help build and promote your brand when they post.

8. Hire some help

If you’re not sure where to turn in terms of guest contributors, post an ad on a related freelance board for part-time writers. Be sure to ask candidates to include a résumé and links to from three to five related blog posts. That way you can see exactly what types of posts you could expect when outsourcing. You never know, you might just find someone who writes as well or—gulp—better than you do!

9. Post different types of content

Have you ever created a video for your audience? How about a podcast? Sometimes turning on a microphone or camera can be easier than sitting down to craft a solid 600-word blog post.

As noted earlier, photo blogging or producing short, informative videos or podcasts can be a quick way to whip up new content and complement your writing. And in some cases, audiences respond better to non-traditional content types. New mediums also allow your audience to digest your content on the go, which is becoming increasingly important in this mobile world we live in.

10. Put it down on paper

Maybe it’s the former journalist in me, but I still use an old-fashioned reporter’s notepad to jot down quick notes and sketch out illustrations when I’m not in front of a computer (during my commute, for example).

It helps me organize and prioritize my thoughts, and keeps me from cursing iPhone autocorrect fails—which, when funny enough, lead me to waste another 15 minutes ridiculing those blunders with all of you on Twitter.

And that, my fellow bloggers, would be a waste of everyone’s time.

Brian Milne is founder of the BlogHyped Network of sites, where bloggers vote up posts and receive valuable links and exposure for their blog. Follow @BMilneSLO on Twitter to share your blog productivity tips and to be featured in his upcoming “Book on Blogging.”

How to Blog to Build Your Coaching Business

This guest post is by Amy Harrison of Harrisonamy.com.

This article is part of a three-part series on how your blog can feed different types of business models. In the previous article we looked at how blogging can attract the attention of clients who want to hire you directly, for the right price. In this article we’ll be focusing on how your blog can feed a coaching business model.

Potential coaching clients are looking for two main elements when they hire you:

  • confidence that you can do what you say you do
  • the idea that they will enjoy working with you.

Whether you’re offering life coaching, technology training, or marketing consultancy, your client wants to feel like your service is worth their investment, and that you will be easy to work with.

And through your blog you can provide evidence of both.

Build confidence in your expertise

We looked previously at how writing on the subject of your specialty showcases your expertise. This also works well for coaching models because you are letting your audience do a little “try before they buy.”

Not only are they getting to know you and your personality, but they’re getting to sample what they can achieve if they worked with you one on one.

One of the most obvious ways to encourage your reader to move from visiting the blog to hiring you is by offering lessons they can use to see some results. There are plenty of blogs regurgitating generic theory, but if you can break down your blog post into specific lessons (with examples drawn from real coaching clients), you prove that you can do what you say, and build credibility by referencing people who have seen results through your work.

Obviously you won’t be able to name all your clients, due to confidentiality, but you can still use specific examples without revealing identities.

For example, if you’re a marketing coach, which of these pieces of copy do you think are more likely to build your credibility?

“To succeed in social media marketing you’ve got to get your business to stand out and be noticed. If you look different than your competitors, more people will visit your page and you can increase likes to your business…”

Or this:

Last week as part of a client’s Facebook marketing campaign we made a couple of tweaks to their advert and managed to increase clickthroughs by 20%, get 5% more phone enquiries, and generate two sales within the week. Here’s an example of the processes we used to analyse what to change…

What you’re doing with this style of blogging is proving you know what you’re talking about, and making readers more familiar with the way you work with clients (as well as building social proof!)

Remind them you’re a coach with a blog, not a blogger who sometimes coaches…

If you blog regularly, you might find yourself attracting people who were first looking for the kind of coaching that you offered, but then turned into a blog reader, got comfortable and forgot all about the coaching.

This can happen if people get so comfortable with a presence in their lives that they forget the reason they were there in the first place. (I’m getting married this year and in no way is that an analogy to how I think married life will be—honest!)

Sometimes you need to remind your readers that you can also work with them one on one if they need a little extra support. Otherwise your coaching business is taking a backseat to the blog, and you might find yourself with a large audience, being very popular, and getting all the retweets you can handle, but no sales.

If you offer purely free content, people may go to another coach simply because they forget about your services. You don’t want that to happen.

Every now and then, whether on your blog, or on your newsletter, remind your audience about the services you offer—but position that message in a way that’s relevant to them and their problems.

For example, if you’ve done a rocking blog post on the power of NLP and increasing confidence for presentations, let people know that you offer a specific “confidence for presentations course” that can be done intensively over two days by anyone with an upcoming speech, pitch, or presentation to make.

The key is to make it relevant to the topic at hand, and not simply a plug to sell your services.

Tip: Don’t be afraid of giving away “too much” in your content

I’ve worked with coaches who have been afraid of giving away too much about how they work. They feel that if they explain their processes online, people will just use the advice and not need a coach.

However, reading an article and working one on one with a coach is not the same. In my experience, the more content you publish on your expertise, the more people know, like, and trust you, and want to work with you directly.

Remember, someone who wants you to coach them doesn’t just want your knowledge of theory—they want access to you. They want the accountability that comes with having a coach. They want to be able to ask you questions directly rather than interpret a blog post. They want specific tailored answers that they can apply to their life or their business.

They want you. And your blog is a way of attracting them to you.

What about you? Do you attract coaching clients through your blog? Do you find it’s easier to sign up a new client if they’ve been a blog reader previously? Let me know in the comments! And look out tomorrow for the final post in this series, where we’ll look at blogging to support a product business.

Amy Harrison is a copywriter and content marketer for Personality Entrepreneurs wanting to connect and sell authentically to their audience. You can now download her free report on how to write sales copy when personality is part of your business at Harrisonamy.com.

Have You Got What it Takes to Become a Highly Paid Freelance Blogger?

This guest post is by Marya Jan of Writing Happiness

Ask any blogger what the going rate for freelance blogging is and you are sure to get a wide range of numbers.

Some might say $10 or $15. Some would say $30 is more appropriate.

Many professional bloggers and copywriters make in the vicinity of $100 to $250. Heck, Jon Morrow, Associate Editor of CopyBlogger, charges $3k for one post.

I have only been officially “blogging for work” since the beginning of this year and I make around $120.00 per 600-word post. So I am smack bang in the middle, and considered to be making a decent rate.

Most people don’t believe me when I tell them that. They think I am grossly exaggerating. Why would anyone pay this kind of money to have blog posts written for them?

Well, well established businesses and high profile companies do. Blogging is a part of their overall marketing budgets and they understand the value of getting a professional on board.

You might have caught this post earlier on Problogger—Jane does exactly the same thing, except she has gotten herself a regular gig. I, too, am a resident blogger for Open Colleges. I also ghost write blogs for two other businesses and this roughly makes half of my monthly income.

But what about you? Looking at the numbers, is freelance blogging something that interests you and piques your curiosity?

You too could potentially start earning money with the help of your blog.

Become a freelance blogger

Plenty of bloggers are doing it: Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing, Oni of Young Prepro, Joseph Putnam of 5 North Marketing and Tom Ewer of Leaving Work Behind are some of the names I am familiar with.

The idea is simple—but not easy.

You approach businesses that have substantial marketing budgets and ask them if they would like to hire a freelance blogger. Simple, yeah?

If they do need one, the question then becomes, Why you? Why should they hire you over others who charge $5 per post? Or why shouldn’t they get content from firms that provide them with posts for around $15-$20 apiece?

You’ll get hired as a freelance blogger—and a highly paid one at that—when you show your prospective clients that you are worth every single penny they spend on you.

You prove to them, beyond doubt, the skill and expertise you bring to the table. You explain how by paying you $100.00 per post, they are attracting targeted traffic to their site, converting those readers into leads, and further, into paying customers. You detail the return on investment (ROI) they get by hiring you.

Talk is good, but you need something back it up. And here’s how to do it.

You need to have a fairly successful blog

This one seems like stating the obvious, doesn’t it? If you don’t have a blog, how do you even know if you’d enjoy blogging for pay?

Do you know if you could do it, day in day out, on a long term basis? Can you remain committed to a topic of your choice? Do you know how long it takes you to write a 400-word post? A 900-word one? How much should you charge for them? Can you come up with topics on your own?

Really, if you have no experience of consistently writing for your own blog, you will have a really hard time even getting a response from the potential client.

You need to learn to write like an A-list blogger

What do you expect if you want to hire a service professional? That they have all the skills required to do the job, right?

Well, professional bloggers have skills too, even if they don’t have professional degrees in this department. They know how to come up with ideas that are unique and haven’t been done like a hundred times before. They possess advanced research skills to find all the content sources.

They craft headlines that entice people to look, and create effective calls to action. Their posts are scannable, concise, screen-friendly, and share-worthy. In other words, the content they create has the potential to go viral.

You need to show the client clearly that you understand the nitty gritty of blog writing for business. All of the social proof on your blog will help make your case stronger.

And the best thing you can do? Demonstrate your topic expertise. When you show industry know-how, clients know they don’t have to spend a lot of time training you. You know the ins and outs of the market place and hence have more worth than a generalist.

You need to land guest posts on influential blogs

So, for you to get gigs writing for businesses, you need to have some sort of a portfolio. And what’s better than showing off your links on authority sites like Problogger and Copyblogger?

Even if you are an expert writer for print media, writing online is an entirely different beast. While your published clips might impress people and pave the way for you, you still need to demonstrate your skills in writing for the web.

Writing on your blog in one thing; guest-posting on A-list blogs is another altogether. If your posts are good enough for leading blogs and social media sites, they are good enough to warrant adequate pay.

You need to be prepared to act in an advisory role

Can you answer these questions for your client?

  • Why do businesses need to blog? And how will you help them use their blog as part of their overall marketing strategy?
  • Can you offer a mini blog review as an added bonus? Advise them on issues like navigation/usability or freebie offers to increase signup rates etc.
  • Explain to them that by investing in blogging efforts, their ROI will increase significantly.
  • Have you got any data you can present that will back that up? Have you done any paid blogging before? If so, have you got any results that you can quote? For instance, you might say you blogged for so-and-so company and doubled their email opt-ins.
  • Can you advise your client with content strategy? Help them with editorial calendar and blog topics?
  • Can you help them track and interpret the results of blogging?

Really, when you think about it, blogging for business is more to do with online marketing, rather than writing. You are not creating content for them to amuse or entertain people, unless that’s the specific aim of the company itself. You are becoming a part of their marketing team. Gasp!

Still interested?

Marya Jan is a freelance blogger and online copywriter for e-learning, online education and training companies.  She writes at Writing Happiness where she happily helps small business owners revamp their own blog content (and copy). Grab her free book ‘How to Write Blog Content that Works’. Follow her at @WritingH.

How to Blog to Build Your Service-based Business

This guest post is by Amy Harrison of Harrisonamy.com.

Earlier this year, through emails with ProBlogger about upcoming guest post ideas, I thought about an article about how blogging fed my business model.

This was the first time I’d really considered how my articles linked to the revenue I’d earned in the past three years.

I’m not a particularly prolific blogger, and I haven’t written anything outlandish, controversial—or even had a viral post. But business is very healthy, I’ve been booked solid all year and will be for the next few months, and revenue is growing year on year.

It was only when I sat down to write this post that I saw how 95% of my business is generated through blogging by:

  • clients hiring a service
  • businesses wanting coaching or training
  • customers buying products.

Whether you also have a combination of the above, or focus solely on client work or selling products, over the next three days I’m going to show you how blogging has helped me generate revenue for each of those models.

Hopefully this will give you ideas of what’s possible, and help you tailor your current blogging strategy to better suit your desired business model—whether it’s one of these, or one of the others covered in the recent Blog Business Model series here at ProBlogger.

Today, we’ll look at the first business model in the list: blogging to support sales of a service.

From readers to clients

If, like me, you’re a copywriter or other type of freelance writer, your blog naturally lends itself to promoting your skills. If people can see and scrutinise your writing online, they’ll find it easier to consider hiring you than someone whose work they haven’t seen.

But a blog also supports other freelance occupations when you’re working for hire. It showcases your expertise and personality, making it easier for someone to imagine working with you. If you’re in a service-based business this is very important. You probably know that people buy from those they know, like, and trust, and your blog is a way of building this confidence into potential clients.

If you’re a carpenter and your blog is filled with how-to articles, and the occasional video of you explaining a process, it is the equivalent of one long demonstration of what you are capable of and what you’re like to work with.

As a result, if someone studies your blog and likes what they see, by the time they do approach you to enquire about your services, beneath the surface, they’re already on the path of being “sold” on working with you.

Proving your expertise increases your value (and prices)

Generally speaking, if you approach a company or client looking for work, the balance of power lies in their hands. You’re asking them for something. (If you’ve ever cold called to get clients, you know what I’m talking about).

However, building a solid reputation online through your blog increases your value and lets you charge more because potential clients value your work more.

If you want proof of this, simply look at the difference between the rates of a copywriter, web designer, or developer who has a well-known blog, and those of of copywriters, designers, and developers on sites like elance. Huge difference.

You see, if someone gets to know you through your blog and wants to hire you, it’s not just to do your thing, it’s do your thing your way.

That sets you apart from the crowd, and the more unique you are, the less likely people are to treat you as a commodity that can be beaten down on price.

Specific blogging tactic to attract clients: guest posting

The strongest strategy I’ve found for attracting clients who want to hire me as a copywriter is guest posting and the relationships I’ve built through guest posting.

This doesn’t mean having to guest post everywhere. I can trace back about $20,000 worth of client work ($12,500 from one client for a month’s worth of work) to a handful of guest posts I’ve written on less than four different websites.

Pick the biggest, brightest blogs and make sure they are in your audience’s niche, not just yours. If you make banjos, don’t write on the best banjo-making site (where other banjo-makers hang out), write for the best banjo-playing site (where the players—your customers—hang out).

A few tips that I’ve found to work well include:

  • Pick blogs that have integrity and are well respected among the audience of your ideal clients.
  • Go big! Don’t be intimidated thinking you have to start small—write great content and aim for the best sites!
  • Study the site. Study popular posts, comments, and posting guidelines.
  • Work hard to write an article that will give the audience value.
  • Be polite but persistent if you don’t hear anything. Submit your article and follow up in a week, then a week after that. Try social media, email, and online contact forms to get in touch (but no more than one or two different types of contact methods a week).
  • Prep your own website. Don’t write guest posts before you have any decent content or a newsletter on your own site!
  • Follow up. If you have a successful guest post that increases your traffic and enquiries, start planning more, or even pitch a series of two or three articles so the audience can really get to know you.

What about you? How have you used your blog to attract clients for your service offering? Have you noticed a difference in how potential clients deal with you if they come to you after reading your blog? Let me know in the comments! And stay tuned: tomorrow we’ll talk about blogging to support your coaching or training business.

Amy Harrison is a copywriter and content marketer for Personality Entrepreneurs wanting to connect and sell authentically to their audience. You can now download her free report on how to write sales copy when personality is part of your business at Harrisonamy.com.

SoundCloud: for Bloggers, Not Just Musicians

Have you tried podcasting on your blog?

SoundCloudNot long ago, Carol Tice wrote a couple of posts on the topic for us, covering the benefits of podcasting and how to get your first podcast up and running.

I know Carol advises against using a hosted service for your podcasts, but after listening to this podcast on—and about—SoundCloud, I began to wonder about the hidden benefits of using a service like this.

The podcast is an interview with Evan Tenenbaum, SoundCloud’s Audio-content Manager, and although it’s pretty basic, it is a good introduction to what the service offers for writers.

Why give it a try?

This podcast really reminded me of what we bloggers know only too well: online services that make technical tasks easy really do reduce barriers to entry.

By the end of the podcast I was thinking, this service really makes sound recording and distribution easy. If you wanted to try your hand at podcasting, this would be a great way to do it. Record something and link it from your blog. Simple. There’s no real learning curve and no commitment—if you decide you don’t like it, don’t do it again.

Also, since streamed podcasts like these don’t require downloads onto users’ computers, tablets, or phones, they set low barriers to entry for the user who’s never listened to a podcast before. So this kind of technology can work well on both sides of the equation.

As the podcast reveals, SoundCloud is its own community—like YouTube—so by hosting your podcast there, you can reach an audience whose attention you might struggle to get otherwise. Users share links to material within the platform, so it’s yet another way to build a profile and a following that you could easily lead back to your blog.

What do you have to say?

Some bloggers tend to shy away from ideas like podcasting, because they don’t think they want to make it a regular part of their blog offering.

The thing is, it doesn’t have to be. As Evan suggests in the podcast, you could use SoundCloud to give your readers a sample of your latest ebook or training course. You could use it as a faster, more personal way to create a blog post than laboriously writing it all out in text. And as in the case of the example SoundCloud file I’ve linked to in this post, you could us it to record a quick interview—a great way to add value to an every text-based blog post.

Depending on your niche, there could be any number of possible applications for this kind of technology.

So rather than thinking of using SoundCloud as something you need to “take on” and “adopt” in your blogging, why not just give it a try and see how it sits with your next post?

Or are you already using SoundCloud to add value to your blog? I’d love to hear what you think of it in the comments.

How Giving the Virtual Finger to the World Can Help You Succeed

This guest post is by Shelly Cone of beachbettypr.com.

Every business person has those customers that they can’t stand working with but can’t away, because after all, those difficult customers have the duckets. They are offering you their money and you want to accept their money.

Do you realize that there is a very simple way to stop getting those horrible customers? Stop seeking them out. Yes, I said it’s your fault that you get hard-to-work with customers. If you are getting an undue amount of customers you hate it’s probably because you aren’t being true to yourself and your business image.

Why? Because you are listening to everyone’s advice about your business and making changes that appeal to a wide demographic (a wide demographic means a demographic that includes idiots with money to spend) instead of attracting like-minded customers.

Stop appealing to those suckers, be true to your image, and you’ll start attracting clients and customers you actually like. You’ll be happier, they’ll be happier and you’ll find more success.

Here’s how to stand up and let people know the real you.

1. Tell your friends and family to shut their pie holes (respectfully, of course)

When you have a great business idea it’s natural to seek out advice from those closest to you. Those closest to you however, usually don’t have the proper credentials to succeed in business. Even if they do they may not know what’s best for your business.

When I started my site a few years ago, I listened to a lot of people who advised me to tone down my persona to conform. It took me a long time to shake that advice and let my identity shine through.

Friends, family, “gurus,” and even your inner voice will all give you advice. What you really need to do is tell all those voices—the ones outside your head as well as in—to shut up and keep their opinions to themselves. After all, you are the creative genius. It’s your business. Own it.

2. Start believing in what you are doing with your whole creative—if slightly twisted—soul

No one wants to be different, but that’s the only way your blog is going to stand out in the noise of cyberspace. Believe in your unique ideas and put them out there. There are a million, bazillion users on the internet, in every country in every corner of the world. Of those gazillions of people, there is a group that get you, that think the way you do. Focus on them.

Those are the people you want as your customers, and everyone else can go eat pie. But you won’t reach your people if you go about making the changes that everyone else says you should. I mean, certainly, there are people who have been there and done that—those are your mentors and you should listen to them and give them credit in your first best-selling book, but the creative genius needs to be all you.

3. Just do it

I’ll bet there’s something you’ve been wanting to do with your blog that you’ve been afraid to do. Maybe it’s a well-thought out blog post that you think might be too scandalous. Maybe it’s a graphic. Maybe it’s that in-your-face tagline that succinctly sums up what you’re about but you’re afraid of what “they” would think—whoever “they” are.

Just do it.

Pull up that scary-but-probably-brilliant blog post, tagline, anecdote or whatever, take a deep breath, and press publish. Or schedule it to publish and make yourself forget when it’s going to publish. Then send me the link, send it to a friend, send it to the world. Then close your laptop and walk away for the rest of the day.

When you come back I assure you the Internet will still be there. Your shocking idea won’t cause a major disruption on the web, but it may just shake up your mindset and give you the courage to step out there and be the real you.

Don’t doubt what you are doing simply because it hasn’t been done before. Maybe it hasn’t been done before because the universe was waiting for you to do it first. Go ahead, be the first to believe in your idea, and lead the way for others to follow. They will.

Shelly Cone is an award-winning journalist, author and humor columnist. She blogs at Beach Betty Creative, helping creative companies grow and imaginative entrepreneurs design a positive, live-out-loud lifestyle through copywriting and marketing design. Visit her website at http://www.beachbettypr.com.

Turn Twitter Followers into Blog Subscribers in 2 Steps

This guest post is by Momekh of LifeETC.

Too many interesting people out their are not using Twitter effectively. They may be using it to make solid connections, which is great, but they are not using it to directly build their own communities.

I propose a little experiment. It won’t take much of your time, as you’ll see. The benefits, on the other hand, can be significant.

Here are the assumptions:

  • You have your own blog (home base, as Michael Hyatt calls it) and a Twitter account. In all probabilities, your Twitter bio includes the web address of your site.
  • You understand that the purpose of both your blog and your Twitter account is to add to your platform and community. You are “community minded.”

Now for this experiment to work, I suggest that you make the following quick changes as you read them. The steps—two in total—are easy to do. And if you have any difficulties, you can always ask in the comments section.

Ready?

First, a reminder

Following people on Twitter is like voting. It’s almost a nudge, to tell the person that you find him or her interesting and relevant.

So take this idea a step further. Start following people who are following your person of interest.

Find someone interesting in your niche? Start following that person’s followers. These people are your prospects. They are the perfect candidates for your community.

Although there is plenty of great advice available on how to use Twitter, this post will help you convert the traffic coming from Twitter into subscribers for your community.

Now, it is time to make those quick changes we talked about.

Step 1: Update your Twitter bio

You are what you say you are. This is especially true if your bio is the first—and in many cases, the only—thing your prospects see before they come to your blog.

You want your Twitter bio to do two things, in this order:

  1. Make it truthful and relevant: You do not want to make it sound “cool” if what you include is untrue. Being honest has more benefits than the obvious ones. The prospect should be able to tell from your bio exactly what you do.

    Note that there is usually a difference between what you tweet about and what you do. The bio should be about what you do, so the prospect can see what your community and blog are all about. This helps them decide if you are relevant to them.

  2. Now, incorporate a call to action: Rephrase your message. Work on it. Test it out. It will be awesome if you can use it to introduce your website address. For example, see my Twitter bio—I ask users a question in the end, and then give them the website address as the answer to that question.

Step 2: Create a Twitter landing page

So far, your prospect has read your bio and your message resonates with her. The bio is clear, relevant, and even invites her to check out your site.

The prospect clicks … and sees your blog’s front page in all its glory.

That’s just wrong! I tested this out. I first changed just my bio, and sent interested Twitter followers to my blog’s homepage.

I saw an increase in traffic coming from Twitter. But there was no noticeable increase in my blog community (in terms of subscriber figures). I thought, “Well, people come and check out the blog, and don’t find it relevant, so they don’t subscribe.” And I’m cool with that—I don’t want people joining the community for the wrong reasons.

But then I thought that maybe I was looking at it the wrong way. The front page of my blog is, well, like a front page of a blog! It’s generic by design.

But someone coming from Twitter is already in a certain state of mind, a step into the “funnel” we could say. This means I can present the message of my blog to the prospect in a more meaningful way. Landing pages anyone!?

While writing your Twitter landing page, keep the following things in mind:

  • You are addressing your Twitter followers, so be as specific and personal as you can be. I start my page with “Heyya to my Twitter friends.” We already know the frame of reference for the people coming to that page, so use that information to better communicate with them.
  • As you present the central theme of your blog, make a call to action. I invite the prospect to further check out the blog content and to subscribe. There is ample research to show that a clear call to action works, so use it to your advantage.

There are tons of articles out there on how to write a landing page. That’s not necessarily a good thing. I knew I could easily fall prey to information overload, so I quickly wrote a new page, just keeping the two basic ideas above in mind, and deliberately forgetting everything else.

Writing a new page in WordPress is easier than stealing candy from a kid (not that I’d know). I gave it a page slug of “t”, and changed my blog address on my Twitter bio to reflect the change. My new Twitter landing page was live.

Now, that’s not a very elegant technical solution, as the coders amongst us would use a redirect to direct visitors from that link to the landing page. But I am no coder, nor elegant. So I just slapped the page together, put it on my Twitter bio and sat back.

I immediately started seeing an increase in signups.

Do you use any specific mechanisms to convert your Twitter followers into community members? Have any tips of your own that you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments.

Momekh is a “professional adventurer” and wants to help you attain financial freedom. He writes about creative self employment and wholesome living at his blog LifeETC. You can also follow @momekh on Twitter.

How I Started Making $5,000 a Month With My Travel Blog [Case Study]

This guest post is by Marcello Arrambide of WanderingTrader.com.

It has now been just over two years when I entered the world of blogging and I have started to make roughly $5,000 a month with my travel blog blogs.

Blogs, with an “S” at the end—that is one of the main topics of this post. I started off with just one site and now have a slew of travel sites, branched out into other industries like finance with my Day Trading Academy, and have enlisted the help of others in order to maximize profits.

I have been sharing a series of posts on Problogger about how I have been able to churn out a consistent income since starting my blog in May of 2010. 

In this post I will be sharing how I started to maximize my profit from making around $3,000 a month, to making an average of $5,000 a month.

When I wrote the previous post about how I was making $3,000 I received many questions about exactly how I was making that amount money. I want to let you know that I am not here to tell you what to sell or how to sell it. I am explaining the process of how to position your blog to make money.

It’s not about what you sell if you never put your blog in a good position to sell it.

The most important thing is the process of how to get out there, because that is where most bloggers fall short.  If you are interested in learning exactly what bloggers are selling to make money, check out a great post written by Darren himself on how bloggers make money from blogs.

The business mindset

You know the old saying that “when it rains, it pours”? It started to rain at WanderingTrader and I wanted to figure out how to create a hurricane. Most of the people (travel bloggers) I have met started because they want to share their passion with the world. Well, one of my passions is to make money.

I started the WanderingTrader blog as a business, and then started to talk about my passions, day trading and travel. It isn’t about the money in reality, it’s about the act of making it. Competition, seeing what works—the entire business world fascinates me. The fact that money allows me to have my freedom is an even bigger motivator.

I started blogging because I wanted to bring traffic to a day trading company that I was a part of. WanderingTrader turned into my own personal travel blog and now it’s a fully fledged business. Even though my passion about travel hasn’t changed, I also knew that if I wanted to maximize my presence on the internet I needed to think like a business man, not a blogger.

Shortcuts

The most important thing about making money online is exposure, followed closely by authority.  If no one knows that you exist, how are you going to make any money in the first place?  Once I was able to solidify my site as a high-authority website that received sufficient amount of traffic, I was able to start making money with it.

Building a high authority site is no easy task. In the online world it takes time—lots of time. You have to build relationships, guest post on other sites, and find a niche for yourself in a crowded space. So when it came to creating a hurricane from the rain I had falling at WanderingTrader, I immediately thought about building exposure and authority.

Exposure is more difficult to achieve than authority, because you have to personally build that.  Yes you can pay for it, but in the end when you want something done well, you always end up having to do it yourself.  Authority however, is something that anyone can do.

I immediately considered the fact that I could buy a high authority site and start making money with it while I continued to build the exposure for that blog. I was onto something.

A numbers game

I already knew how to make money in the travel niche, so I continued in that same field. I thought, if I had two blogs to make money from instead of one, wouldn’t that double my income?

I was on the hunt for a high authority site that I could buy, and from which I could immediately recoup my investment.  I found a site that was listed as PR 5 and I immediately wanted to buy it.  I contacted a man that stated the owner wanted $1500 for the site, and replied by explaining that I would give him $1000 and not a penny more.

He gave me the classic salesman’s line: “I will present to the owner but I don’t think he will go that low.”

I bought a new, good authority, PR5 site the next day: ParamountTravel.com. I made $7,000 the first month pimping it out to every advertiser I could find. I made sure to add plenty of content to the site before I started speaking to advertisers, to ensure it looked as a high-authority site should.

But as luck would have it, I ended up treating Paramount Travel like a red-headed step-child: in the end, I only put new posts up when more advertisers contacted me. Even so, these days, when WanderingTrader receives an ad inquiry, I can double the sale by pitching ParamountTravel and WanderingTrader as a package rather than just selling ad space on WanderingTrader.

The numbers game on steroids

If I can make that much money with two travel blogs, why couldn’t I make more money with five or even ten travel blogs?

I bought a slew of domains and tried building the sites from scratch, myself.  Turns out there are only so many hours in the day and I never got the opportunity to build the sites’ exposure authority. I haven’t been managing the sites correctly, because life keeps getting in the way. I run a travel blog for a reason: I am currently living overseas in Brazil and am having a great time getting know the Brazilian people. I just finished a recent trip to my second to last country in South America, Peru, and am already making plans to visit Ecuador (the last).

The point of this story is that I set my goals too high. When you try to do everything yourself, you simply can’t get everything done.

Building partnerships

If I can’t build the websites myself, I thought, why not work with other people who want to make money with their blogs? This would allow me to not worry about the websites—I could simply do all the leg work to help build authority for the new sites.

This part of the process wasn’t just about making money, it was about helping others achieve their dreams through a joint venture. I would provide my expertise on the industry, and share their passion for travel. This solution seemed like it would work well on both ends, since I don’t have the time to run many other sites and I know many bloggers who want to break into the online industry.

I have a very good friends that only dream of doing what I am doing and want a little piece of the pie.  Most people want to hide the way they do things, but I consider the online world to be massive: there is enough cake for everyone.

So I made agreements with a few of my friends to help build their websites: I would help with the backend of everything, and they would create the content.  All advertising from the new websites would be split evenly, 50/50.  The great thing about this agreement is that I get exposure across more markets than just travel—there is a translator, a day trader, and single mom in the bunch. The sites we’re working on are:

Maximizing your results

If you are trying to make money online, I would highly recommend that you focus on one site in the beginning so you can get the hang of things. One blog is enough work, and it will take you some time to get adapted to running it.

Most advertisers will find you, and if you are creative enough you will find ways to make money by selling other things other than just what advertisers are interested in. 

Even though it costs money that you don’t have, look to invest in getting some help. Most people don’t value their time highly enough and can spend their time doing things that offer more value to a blog rather than spending time doing back-office work.

One last tip is to think out of the box: don’t just consider the regular process of building a blog and making money with it. If you do something different, people will pay attention.

Marcello Arrambide follows his passions around the world day trading & traveling  on his quest to visit every country in the world.  He has visited nearly 50 countries, lived in 10 countries across 4 continents, and also teaches people how to day trade in the markets when he travels.  You can find Marcello online on his Facebook Page and Twitter.

Facebook Ads or Google AdWords: Which One’s for You?

This guest post is by Alexis Thompson.

“The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.”—Howard Luck Gossage

The goal of advertising is not to gain the most visibility; it is to attract the most attention. The quote above says it all. How many people do you think really read the ads in their entirety? Not many I would say.

However, people do take their time to look further into whatever interests them the most—be it an article, a video, or even an ad. That’s why ads can mean more traffic for your blog.

The question of ad space

Advertising in the search network is totally different from advertising on display networks (that is, on ordinary websites). The former relies on the ads standing out among those of competitors who are also targeting the same keywords. The latter relies on attracting the interest of the websites’ visitors.

Chief among the search advertising platforms is Google AdWords (Note that Google still dominates the search game with nearly two-thirds market share).

Google ads for business courses

Google search advertising

On the other hand, social networks, such as Facebook, have added another dimension to display network advertising. Facebook is considered to be the social network, with nearly a billion accounts worldwide.

Facebook display advertising

There are other platforms but for now, let’s see just how Facebook ads fare against the ads from Google AdWords.

The advertising environment

Assessing the environment in which the ads run in is essential in determining which platform is best for you. Let’s say you’re an ordinary web user who wants to find cool Angry Birds games and information. You search for it in Google using the keyword “angry birds attraction.” Then you see this PPC ad below:

Sample search ad
(Note that this image is not a real advertisement and is intended for illustration purposes only.)

The ad above could be one of many similar ads that would show on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). Other companies promoting Angry Birds attractions are likely to bid for the same keyword as well. Google AdWords simply allows businesses to advertise to people who are already looking for a product or service. The ads are shown in response to a certain demand.

Facebook ads, on the other hand, are shown in a different environment from Google ads. They’re shown to people who aren’t exactly looking for a product or service but could be interested in it anyway. In other words, the demand is created by the ad. ON Facebook, ads are shown based on users’ attributes (determined from their profiles and network usage) and the language that’s used in the ad. The image below is an actual Facebook ad about the Angry Birds Cable Car.

Facebook ad

It’s important to note that the differences between these environments reflects the nature of AdWords’ search network ads and Facebook ads. AdWords also offers display network ads. The display network ads show on several partner websites based on the advertiser’s selected preferences.

Ad targeting on each network

Knowing how to target the right group of people using each network is essential if you’re going to spend only what is necessary to reach the right—and the right amount—of users.

Obviously, Google search ads are targeted on the basis of the keywords the user is searching upon, but you can also target users on the basis of other factors I’ll mention in a moment.

Google AdWords’ display network ads can be designed to target users based on their interests—data that’s collected from their user browsing history. So if the users have visited your website before, you can create ads to target those people as they browse through other similar websites. This is called “retargeting” or, on Google, it’s called Google AdWords Remarketing. Here you can set up a list of visitors to target and display your ads for those visitors on various sites on the web.

Facebook, on the other hand, relies on the data provided in their members’ profiles to target the ads you provide.

Both networks let you target ads based on the user’s geographic location, and using other demographic data (such as age and gender) that the networks have collected about users.

Know your goals

Before you can choose an option, you’ll want to list your goals for your advertising campaigns. Is it a short-term goal or a long-term goal? Are you selling a specific product or service, or are you trying to increase your brand awareness?

If your campaign aims to sell something specific, then Google AdWords is your best bet. People use the search engines because they are looking for specific solutions. All you have to do is meet that demand by bidding on the right keywords. Obviously, if you want a quick, short-term solution to your advertising needs, and you’re looking for specific conversion rates, then there’s no doubt AdWords is right where you should be.

If you want to increase your brand awareness and visibility, Facebook may be the way to go. Brand awareness is built by establishing lasting relationships. There’s no better place to do this than in social networks like Facebook, with its multitude of community members. It’s going to take some time, but once those relationships have been established, they’re bound to last longer than the impact you get from tactical, sales-focused ads.

Looking at ROI

How do the networks compare? According to this infographic:

This data reflects the average clickthrough rates for each network over the past couple of years. It would seem that results are stronger for Google ads. I mentioned earlier that brand advertising may better done in Facebook, but that doesn’t mean that it has no benefits when it’s implemented through AdWords. In fact, the total traffic for brand advertising through AdWords can reach up to 89%. Try it for yourself and see what brand advertising does for you—compare the results with your organic SEO.

On the other hand, since Facebook ads have a relatively low CTR, it’s recommended that advertisers aim for increases in comments, Likes, impressions, and active users through this advertising. In the long run, you will be able to build a solid fan base, thereby increasing your brand awareness and, consequently, sales.

Taking these differences into account, let’s try computing for an estimated ROI for both platforms.

For Google ads, let’s assume that there are 150 clicks over a given period, $2.00 is the cost-per-click (CPC), a conversion is worth $50.00, and conversion rate is 10%.

Google Ads ROI = (((Conversion Value x Conversion Rate x Number of Clicks) -
 (Ave. Cost per Click x Number of Clicks)) / Total Cost ) x 100
 = (((45 x 0.10 x 150) - (2 x 150)) / (2 x 150)) x 100
 = $187.50 (125%)

For Facebook ads, let’s assume that we get only a conversion rate of 2% and the CPC is $0.50, but all other factors remain the same.

Facebook Ads ROI    = (((45 x 0.02 x 150) - (0.50 x 150)) / (0.50 x 150)) x 100
 = $120.00 (80.00%)

In this example, we can see that Google ads provide a higher potential ROI than the Facebook ads. Take note that this is only an example and there are other factors that were not included, such as design labor costs for the ads, which you’d want to factor into your own calculations.

What’s the verdict?

At the end of the day, choosing the “best” network really depends on the advertiser’s goals.

By running ads on Facebook, you can cover the social media advertising aspect and effectively increase your brand awareness there. The goal is to generate interest in your business by targeting people that may have a need or want for your products and services in the future.

In addition, if you run ads on Google AdWords, you can target the people who are looking for your products and services at present.

If an integration of both internet marketing platforms can be done, all the better (as is recommended for SEO and PPC integration).

You might think that advertising’s too expensive—but that’s just how advertising is. It’s not bad to be aggressive and to take risks. In fact, taking calculated risks is highly recommended. So start crunching those numbers now and start building your traffic—and your business.

Alexis Thompson is a former Mountain Backpacker, Real Estate Sales Personnel and a 26 year old mother of 2 daughters, Sophie and Rhian. She is into almost all types of Music especially The Fray and Hillsong. She also has a passion in Singing and Scrap Booking. Follow her escapades on her Twitter.