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The 3 Essential Components to My Online Publishing Business: Blogging, Social, and Email

As bloggers, we’re always under time pressure to do more. Whether it’s releasing a product or engaging with users on a new social network, the blogger’s task list can seem overwhelming sometimes.

I think some of that overwhelm comes from the granularity with which we tend to look at our work. While breaking big challenges down into littler ones is a good way to tackle things, focusing on the little bits and pieces of our work can stop us seeing the bigger picture, and the natural connections between the individual things we’re doing.

Recently on #blogchat we had a discussion about where social media fits into blogging. If you look at that question on a really granular basis—”What will my next status update be about?”—then it can be difficult to see where social media might or might not work well. But if you look at the bigger picture, you’ll probably be more likely to ask, “Where doesn’t social media fit into blogging?”

Of course we need a bit more direction than that to work out how best to spend our time as bloggers, so today I thought I’d explain a bit about my approach to linking blogging, social media, and email.

Freeway cloverleaf

Image by Phillip C, licensed under Creative Commons

1. Blogging

Blogging is at the heart of what I do. My blog is my home base and is where I put most of my efforts. My blog is a place that another company like Twitter, or Facebook or G+ can’t take away from me if I break their terms of service or if they change their approach. It’s in my control and it’s where I ultimately build my brand and community.

My blog is a place where conversation and conversion certainly happens, but if I had to name my primary focus for my blog it would be that it is a place which I use to produce content that’s useful to my readers.

My hope is that every single day on my blogs, I help solve problems big and small for my readers through the content I produce there.

My blog is a place that is often the first point of contact with people. It’s a place where I hope I’m able to create an impression upon them that will drive them to connect more meaningfully in some way.

2. Social media

Social media is a place which I primarily use for conversation and community. While these things also happen on the blog in comments, I find increasingly that people want to connect and converse off my blog.

I tend to focus on Twitter primarily, but Facebook has increasingly become a place where my photography blog readers go and G+ is also growing for me in this way.

I do use social media for other purposes—I use it to drive traffic to my blog for example, I occasionally produce content on it (particularly on G+ where I often think out loud), and I even promote my ebooks on it from time to time too (although I find it doesn’t convert anywhere near as well as email—more on that in a moment).

All these things can be done on social media, but for me it is more a place for conversation and interaction.

3. Email

I’ve written about the importance of email many times on ProBlogger—it is the single most important element I’ve added to my blogging since I started out ten years ago.

Email does many things for me—it’s a great way to drive traffic, it can help with building community and driving people to points of engagement, it can even be used to deliver content. But for me its stand-out benefit has been around driving sales: conversion.

Check out this graphic which shows where sales of our ebooks come from.

Email conversions on dPS

You can see here that:

  • 87% of our sales come from email
  • 7% come from our blog posts
  • 3% come from social media
  • 3% come from our affiliates.

Since we started to publish ebooks, I’ve tried many ways to promote them, but the top-converting method every time I’ve tested has been email.

3 Kinds of media working together

Blogging, social media and email have all  become really important aspects of my business. I can’t imagine leaving one of these elements out.

Each of them is useful in a variety of ways—in fact, I often use each of the elements to promote the others, as I find they really work well to reinforce one another.

For example, when someone signs up to our newsletter on dPS they get an email shortly after that tells them about our social media accounts. From time to time on our social accounts we promote the email newsletter, and we regularly promote the blog posts we publish there, too.

In sending people back and forth to the different elements of what we do, I find they become more integrated into the community. The brand’s popularity grows among a broader audiences this way, but individuals’ connections with the brand deepen, too.

In taking this discussion a step or two further, tomorrow’s post looks at some great case examples of the ways email and blogging can be integrated to support a successful product launch, so I’ll be interested to hear what you think of those approaches.

And next week, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at how bloggers are using social media—specifically Pinterest—to support their blogging goals.

The integration of social media and email with blogging is a pretty topical dilemma for a lot of people, so let’s hear your views in the comments.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Kater says:

    I’m looking forward to this series. The idea behind email as a tool to build relationships makes sense, but the actual implementation may result in the opposite. I recently realized that I lost subscribers when they received two emails from me on the same day. Well, don’t do that! I know, but it was actually a problem that occurred when my scheduled email went out on the same day as a broadcast announcement. I hate to lose the automation of the scheduler, but I certainly need to weigh the benefits of one over the other.

    I’m looking forward to your experiences with integrating social media, blog and email.

  2. Daniele says:

    I totally agree, especially when you say “It’s in my control and it’s where I ultimately build my brand and community.”
    Many people prefers to write on Facebook or Twitter or G+ and not in an own blog: the blog is mine, social media don’t.

  3. yash says:

    You were, you are and you will be a successful blogger.

    Thanks for helping people like me

    I am teen fan of you (16 years)

    Yash

  4. Siegfried says:

    I cannot tforce myself to go into the email business, I dont know why – it’s just that I consider it kind of spamming people :/ I personally get a bit annoyed if someone starts sending me emails, even if I subrscribed
    Best Regards

  5. I’ve been struggling to get people to comment on my blog posts. Therefore, people are not leaving their email addresses. When I post about my blog on twitter and facebook, again, no conversation. I was wondering what I can do differently. I plan on setting up a real domain. I wonder if that will help.

    • Dan Padavona says:

      That question probably can’t be answered in a short reply. Obviously you have to be engaging and conversational in social media, but it really helps to have an engaging topic. For example, I run two Facebook Fan Pages. One is for a small stock photo agency which I run. The second is for a Disney World fan blog.

      The Disney fan page gets a TON of interaction, whereas the stock photo page gets almost none. The product is selling itself in this case. I feel my level of conversation and engaging posts is equal across the two pages, but only one gets true engagement.

  6. Roman Soluk says:

    Very interesting post Darren! And it will be great to hear about Pinterest as I’m constantly trying to do something with it. Looking forward to your next post on this!
    Thanks!

  7. Anup K. says:

    I’ve just start a new email marketing campaign. I’ll have to see how it will go. I’m little but suprized to know that 87% of your eBook was sold via Email alone!

  8. Mike Manciel says:

    Darren,

    Great advice on how to merge the three together. I am new to the blogging world and still trying to to put all these pieces together. Thanks for the reminder. Mike

  9. Pretty amazed by the stats you have on your eBook. I wouldn’t have thought your main sales would be so dominant with your email. I would personally thought there would have been a bit more percentage from your blog.

  10. I very much like the idea that you use one channel to lever another and then that channel to lever another one again (in order to get the absolute best possible out of each).

    Darren, the picture you’ve chosen for this post (of channelling traffic) also works a treat.

  11. A really insightful post here. I would bet on social media getting a bigger share of the pie soon!

  12. Roye Okupe says:

    This is very inspiring, although I have never been able to get email to work for me. Any advice on how you get email to work so well, I never seem to get higher than a 20% open rate ( and a very low 0.5% click rate) on any of my campaigns.

    Thanks

  13. Zack says:

    I totally agree with this. A blog is my chance to be personal and stand out a bit from people in my niche. One of the first things I do when I visit a site is look for the blog associated with that site. Thanks also for the reminder that I need to build my email list.

  14. Thanks for the useful insight , email certainly rocks but I think that 87 % contribution from email was actually initiated by your amazing blog posts and you should contribute more than 7% weight-age to them.

  15. Glad to know that I’m on the right track. I just need to know how to increase my effectiveness in using these three pillars of business. I’m excited that I’ve gotten each pillar to a point where I’m confident about my online presence and I have some consistency and direction and focus, etc.

    I’m really looking for ways to increase my email subscriber list. I know a few things I have to do, like incentivize sign up, use effective calls to action, and design the signup for to be eye catching and user friendly. Any other suggestions would really be appreciated!

    I look forward to the next post.

  16. Great post, and I am definitely looking forward to reading more tomorrow! As a new blogger I am trying to start a conversation, and your insight about readers wanting to take that out of the blog is insightful. I am really interested to know how you can leverage social and email to make sure you are delivering good content that your readers want.

  17. marty says:

    If im being totally honest I have totally ignored the email apsect for most of blog career until recently I never knew it was so important.Now I think spend more time.I probably need to go the blog and find out how to be more effective cause no seems to be opening the emails that I am sending so I am thinking of a new approach

  18. Sometimes it is easy to focus on social and blogging and think email is “old school.” But, just because something has been around longer doesn’t mean it isn’t still effective and essential. Hey, that applies to people, too!

  19. Larry says:

    Hey Darren, great post! I have been following your blog for a while now and for the past we while, I have started seeing more and more Clickbank sales from my blog, I’m loving the extra money.

    Every month seems to be getting better and I am very excited, just want to say thanks for providing the quality content which we need to succeed!

    Regards
    Larry

  20. Richard Ng says:

    Definitely agreed that social media compliment blogging in the conversation and traffice driving space which is my current focus. Email is something I need to bring back to action (as I’ve stopped sending regular emails to the subscribers due to time constraints).

    What about those bookmarking platform like Stumbleupon, Reddit? Are they still relevant now?

    Thanks.

  21. Number one and two is what I’ve done regularly. But the Email is what I lack of. Yet you said that most of your profit comes from ebook.. Poor me..

  22. Excellent post Darren,

    I’ve been talking about blogging fools gold recently and I think you nailed it.

    People are struggling with success online because they are measuring the wrong indicators.

    It’s like walking in a desert towards a mirage that looks like a lake, but it’s not.

    It’s not about re-tweets, and plus one’s and, likes on fb it’s all about your sales funnel.

    Where does that start?

    Email sign up.

  23. Lucy says:

    I totally agree with you Darren! These three factors are indeed like the three pillars of the any online business I guess (Not just publishing). Most of the times the Email factor is ignored by most of us as we think it to be of little importance but as you have shown in the shocking analysis it does gets you the maximum of sales generation. I think everyone will be surprised by this fact though.

  24. Lucy says:

    I totally agree with you Darren! These three factors are indeed like the three pillars of the any online business I guess (Not just publishing). Most of the times the Email factor is ignored by most of us as we think it to be of little importance but as you have shown in the shocking analysis it does gets you the maximum of sales generation. I think everyone will be surprised by this analysis though.

  25. Valter Sousa says:

    Hello, Darren. Put this way, it is quite clear in which we should focus on. Astonishing news about this conversion with emails. I knew that blogging had a direct relationship with content, but there was no attempt so much to the value of social media for conversation, nor of the emails for sales. Thank you.

  26. angel cruz says:

    I red an interesting article that gave people an idea of how simple the subject line when sending out your email can be incredibly effective. For one of obamas email campaigns, he got a ridiculous response using the subject line” HEY”. Simple but effective.

  27. Keane Kwa says:

    Thanks for the great blog post. However, I do not have much time everyday to do all that you covered in the blog post. So, which is the most important aspect of internet marketing that I should focus on if I have limited time?

  28. Jessica says:

    Hey Darren,

    This is the great advice about how to combine both service. I am trying these service except email but i am willing to try this too.

  29. Muzamal says:

    thank you for sharing ..
    please keep it up.

  30. Animesh Roy says:

    Truly Blogging with Social Media & Email are the base of today’s Internet ventures.

  31. Jon says:

    Thanks for showing the breakdown of your ebook profits. I constantly read from other bloggers just how much more profitable email is compared to on-site sales. I’m most surprised by the small percentage of sales generated by affiliates. I thought for sure that would be higher … but perhaps affiliates are sending many people who join your email list from which you generate sales.

  32. Casey Nezin says:

    It definitely seems like, in an age when everyone seems to be focusing on social media as a marketing tool, that everyone ignores the personal impact that a well-written electronic letter can have.

  33. Marc says:

    I am just wondering: If your affiliates bring you only 3% of your sales, does it make sense to have an affiliate program?

  34. Glenn says:

    87% of sales due to email! Wow. I am fairly new to internet marketing and have “dabbled” with some affiliate marketing. I must admit that I have not had much success. After reading your article I think I can conclude that I really need to learn how to use emails in my future efforts.

  35. Richard says:

    Indeed social media, email and blogging are the basic components of electronic publishing as the technological innovation continuously proliferate in almost all sectors in the marketplace. This is especially true in the business of online marketing. This is just a manifestation of how the Internet has influenced and altered commerce and business. These essential online publishing business components are really significant for bloggers who are often exposed to time pressure asking more from their skills. I can attest to this circumstance as I’m also a blogger. Your post is actually worth a read for all bloggers and writers as well as those who are operating this type of business.

  36. I’m sure when G+ becomes more popular, that’ll have a big say on how we market ourselves.