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The Power of Personalisation

A year back, a new cafe sprung up in our area. At the time, I didn’t really pay much attention to it as I was satisfied with the 2 cafes I already went to each week. But last Christmas morning, I was desperate for a coffee and it being Christmas Day, no cafes were open in our area – except this one.

So I went in that fine Christmas morning, ordered a take away latte and went on with the day’s festivities.

The cafe had been bustling, which I put down to it being the only place open. The coffee was great and with it, they gave each customer a free nut slice/biscuit. That made an impression on me.

Here in Australia, many cafes shut down over January as it’s our summer holidays and everyone goes to the beach. This new little cafe stayed open so I went in every day, to get my coffee.

During what is a quiet time of year for most cafes, this little cafe was HEAVING with customers.

I would sit at a corner table, working on my laptop (as I am today as I type this). I’d watch the staff work and customers come and go. As I did, I noticed something.

At least half of the customers who came into the cafe were greeted by name, by the staff.

When I first noticed it I thought it was a fluke, or that the staff member I was observing just had a freakishly good memory. But after watching for a few days I realised that it wasn’t just one person. All the staff were doing it.

They not remembered names, they remembered orders.

A customer would walk in and the staff member taking the order would loudly say, “Hi Jeff, large soy latte again today?”

Over the next couple of weeks, I watched this happen every day. One day I even kept note of how many names and orders they knew. It hovered around the 50% mark. If they didn’t know the customer’s name. they would ask and then write it on the cup along with the order. When they handed the person the order, they always looked them in the eye and used their name.

It struck me that while many cafes write the names of their customers on cups, as part of their workflow/organisation, this cafe was different. They went the extra mile and committed the details to memory.

A funny thing happened to me while I saw their watching them personalise their service in this way… in fact two things happened.

  • Firstly – I felt like I was in a place that cared. I heard other customers comment on this to each other too “Wow, they know everyones name!”
  • Secondly – I wanted them to know my name/order too!

It took me 4 days of going in before they got my name and order committed to memory but boy it felt good when they did. I belonged…. I had been noticed…. I was a ‘regular’.

It’s no wonder that this little cafe is almost always full (in fact many days I can’t work there because there are no tables) and has a line of takeaway customers.

Personalisation is a very powerful thing.

Personalisation on Blogs

Today, I’m sitting here in the cafe watching the power of personalisation in action and I’m pondering how (and if) it could be applied on a blog.

I’m sure there would be many ways and would love to hear some suggestions of how you’ve seen it done.

One that springs to mind was a practise I did in the early days of my own blogging, quite intuitively, and that was emailing anyone who left a comment on my blog. If I saw a new commenter, I would always answer the comment and then send the commenter an email to thank them and to let them know I’d replied.

This personalised wasn’t really scalable after a certain amount of readers (without me becoming a full time community manager instead of a full time blogger) but it had a big impact in the early days of my blogs.

I would get many, many emails back thanking me for doing what I did and I know for a fact that quite a few of those people became regular readers.

How have you tried personalising your blogging to take note of individual readers? I’d love to hear your experiences!!!

How we Built our 2 for 1 Sale

You might have stumbled across the 2-for-1 sale we’re currently having on Problogger. We’re also having one over on dPS too if you’re interested in Photography!

As soon as we launched this mid-year sale, we received a heap of requests from people who had picked up a bargain and wanted to know the logistical side of making the sale happen. So today we thought we’d share how we put it all together…

Setting up eJunkie

The idea of a buy-one-get-one-free sale seems pretty simple but the functionality behind it can get a little crazy.

Campaigns like ‘Buy this book and get a free bonus’ or ‘save X% on this product’ are much more straightforward and easier to set up. You have a product, you add the freebie or apply the discount and you’re done! With a buy-one-get-one-free sale, you introduce choice plus shopping conditions. You can select any book, and then pick a second book (of equal or lesser value) for free.

Our first step was to figure out if we could actually do this in eJunkie – the shopping cart solution we use on Problogger and dPS.

eJunkie has a neat function that allows you to combine two separate products into one. However, with over a dozen books on dPS we didn’t want to have to set up a different product bundle for every possible combination. Our only hope was to add two products to the checkout and then apply a discount code, dependent on what was selected.

The discount code

The Problogger products have three different price brackets: $19.99, $29.99 and $49.99 so we set up three discount codes for each value.

Then we had to ensure that some enterprising person wouldn’t use, say, the $50 voucher on two x $19.99 eBooks. Luckily, eJunkie has the ability to set a minimum cart value for each voucher code.

Thus:

  • To use the $20 discount, you must have at least $39 worth of products in your cart.
  • To use the $30 discount, you must have at least $58 worth of products in your cart.
  • To use the $50 discount, you must have a least $99 worth of products in your cart.

For example, If you wanted to grab 31 days to Build a Better Blog ($29.99) and Blog Wise ($19.99) your total cart value would be $49.98 and the only voucher you can use the $20 code – the lesser value book free.

Alternatively, you wanted to grab 31 days to Build a Better Blog ($29.99) and The Copywriting Scorecard ($29.99) your total cart value would be $59.98 and you can use the $30 voucher.

That was hard enough for me to explain in a blog post, let alone asking a user to pick the right voucher! So we used eJunkie’s auto discount apply feature by adding ‘&discount_code=voucher’ to the Buy Now button link.

With discounts sorte,d it was time to attack adding two products to a checkout with one button.

Multiple products

eJunkie has a multi add function. The problem is that it’s unsupported and doesn’t reliably work in some browsers (which is beyond my ability to explain!).

I would like to tell that I found a nice push button solution to this issue, but it took a developer working solidly for a couple of days to actually get it working reliably. I can’t tell you want he did (other than go to JavaScript hell and back) but the code is there for you to see and use if you like.

By solving this problem, we unearthed another.

There is no nice way to clear someone’s cart. So, if you click checkout then close the popup for some more window shopping and then click checkout again with different eBooks, everything broke. To solve this, again with some nifty work from our developers, we added some smarts on top of eJunkie to control this.

Again – I’m not sure how it works technically… but it does the job.

Once this was covered, I knew we could run the sale without having to resort to a new checkout system.

A note about eJunkie: I realise that there are checkout systems that can do all of the above beautifully. But for a one-week campaign, it didn’t make sense for us to change to a new and unproven provider. Our solution isn’t perfect, nor is it elegant, but gets the job done! Some of you will be able to use what we’ve set up here yourself, but others will be confronted with your own set of limits. As long as you’re campaigning the way you want to and seeing these challenges as hurdles not barriers then you should be happy…

Okay let’s move on!

The sales page

So once we proved we could actually get someone to the checkout with the correct items, it was time to put a layer of paint on the sales page. We didn’t have a lot of time as we wanted to run a mid-year sale, not a couple-of-weeks-after-mid-year sale, so I quickly put the copy together along with a wireframe and sent it off to our designer. With little time to spare and a review via my phone, I sent the first concept to be turned into a web page.

The site elements were very simple.

  • A headline.
  • A short description.
  • A dropdown to pick your first eBook.
  • Then a dynamic, second dropdown that appeared to select your free book.
  • An Add to Cart button.
  • And a countdown timer to signal the end of the campaign.

Darren and I were perhaps happier that it was done, that at the page itself, but with not much time to spare we made it live and start spreading the word.

With the sale going well, we couldn’t silence the little voice that kept saying, “This could be better”. So, a couple of days after launching the sale, Darren and I spent the day together throwing around ideas around how we could improve the page.

The problems we identified were…

  • The page was selling the sale not the benefits of the eBooks.
  • The page was visually a little boring.
  • There was nothing more than a title to help you choose your eBook.
  • The page wasn’t helping people make a decision about the book you needed.

Our web guys agreed and had some great ideas of their own!

We then had to make a call on whether or not we invested time correcting this, with a few days left on the sale, or we just kept this in mind the next sale.

Given the fact that we had another last minute push of the deal in mind, and knowing we could extend the offer if need be, and our web developers hating the idea of leaving a job half done we agreed. Three day’s later we released an updated version. A version we’re all much happier with.

Perfect no, but vastly improved yes, and now ready for our final hoorah for this campaign.

The lessons

While the campaign isn’t over and I haven’t really reflected in full, there are already a few lessons I personally took from this experience.

Worrying about what’s possible will hinder your creativity. I decided which campaign I wanted to run long before I knew it was possible. By focusing on what needed to be done, not on what could (or couldn’t) be done, we were able to find a solution that many wouldn’t have bothered seeing to the end.

Let the little voice in your head guide but not paralyse. I’ve never hit publish on a sales page I was 100% happy with. If I waited until it was perfect I’d never publish a single page. You need to find the balance between ship at all costs and perfection.

Your customers don’t care about how hard something was to build; they care about how well it works for them. I was so impressed with the functionality we created that I forgot to stop and objectively think like a customer. Time may have got the better of me, but you should always take a breath and look at what you’ve done through someone else’s eyes.

So that’s a behind the scenes tour of how we put this campaign together, the challenges we faced and the lessons we learnt. I hope some of you can put them to good use! If there are any other apsects you’d like to know how we did that then please let me know in the comments.

As for me, I’m off to dream up the next impossible campaign!

How to Produce Great Content Fast – in Five Simple Steps

This is a guest contribution from Ali Luke, author of The Blogger’s Guide to Effective Writing. 

Great content, posted on a regular basis, is vital to your blog’s success.

But most bloggers, especially those new to writing, struggle to produce high-quality posts as quickly as they’d like.

This is usually because they’re following some poor writing practices, like:

  • Sitting in front of a blank screen, trying to come up with an idea
  • Going off on a long tangent in the middle of a post, only to end up deleting it
  • Getting distracted by Twitter, Facebook, Skype…
  • Editing every sentence as they go along – making very little forward progress
  • Adding in bold, subheadings, images, and so on while writing

If one (or more) of those sound familiar, follow these steps and you’ll be able to create great content, fast.

Step #1: Come Up With Lots of IdeasLight bulb with a great idea

It can take ages to come up with one idea – but once you start, it’s often easy to come up with many more.

Instead of staring at the screen every time you sit down to write a post, come up with a whole batch of ideas at once.

Set aside time at your most creative time of day (first thing in the morning can work well) and start brainstorming.

Jot down everything that comes to you, even if it seems trite or unworkable – a not-quite-right idea may lead you to a great one.

Step #2: Pick an Idea and Create a Plan

When you sit down to write a post, turn to your ideas list and choose one that seems to grab you. Before you jump into writing the post, though, take five – ten minutes to create a plan.

Some post ideas come with a ready-made structure: “10 Tips…” or “5 Ways…” or “How to…” posts are easy to plan. All you need to do is work out the numbered subheadings or steps.

Other posts may be a little more complex – but the same principle applies. Work out the key points you want to include, and get them in the right order.

Some writers like to plan in a linear format, by writing a list; others prefer to use mind-mapping, throwing ideas down onto the page and organizing them afterwards.

Step #3: Switch off Distractions … and Write

Writing is a high energy activity, and most bloggers find it very easy to give into the temptation to do something else instead.

Once you’re into the flow of writing, it’s best to avoid stopping: if you pause every few sentences to check Facebook or Twitter, you’ll not only waste time, you’ll also struggle to get going again.

Get rid of any tempting distractions before you begin. For me, that means closing Twitter and Facebook, and often putting on music to drown out background noise (I have a husband and 3 month old baby in the house…)

If you find it tough to focus at home, try writing somewhere else. Take your laptop to a cafe, or use a computer in your local public library. You’ll probably find that it’s much easier to concentrate.

Step #4: Edit and Proof-ReadProofreader Dictionary Entry

Don’t stop to edit while you’re writing. It’s fine to quickly correct a typo or two, but if you’re constantly deleting and starting again, you’ll never get anywhere. Instead, plough on forward to the end of your post’s first draft.

Once you’ve got that draft written, set it aside for at least an hour or two before editing. That way, you can see it afresh – and you may find that much of it is better than you originally thought. You’ll also spot issues like overly-long sentences, and poor word choices.

It’s often useful to separate editing (where you’re changing and improving your post – perhaps cutting or adding whole paragraphs) from proof-reading (where you’re just looking for typos and spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes).

Step #5: Add Formatting

You may want to combine this with step #4 – but I find it’s usually best to add formatting once my post is truly complete. That way, you won’t find yourself rewriting sections that you’ve already painstakingly formatted to look great.

You don’t need to spend long on formatting: a couple of minutes spent putting your subheadings into a header format (usually H2) and adding in bold text can make a huge difference to the readability of your post. This is also a good opportunity to split up long paragraphs and make sure any quotes and lists are formatted properly.

 

If you follow these steps when you write, you’ll find that you get posts written much faster – perhaps in half the time that it usually takes you. You may find the content creation process more enjoyable, too – instead of struggling to get the words down, they’ll flow easily onto the page.

Do you have a question about writing faster, or any tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

Ali Luke has written over a thousand blog posts and is author of The Blogger’s Guide to Effective Writing. If you’d like to write faster, better content, grab your copy today: the code problogger will give you a $5 discount.

How We Increased Organic Blog Traffic by 203.5% in Less Than 3 Months – And You Can Too

This is a guest contribution by Kristina Allen, marketing consultant for AdEspresso.

Over the past couple of months my team at AdEspresso has increased our organic blog traffic by 203.5% and I’m going to share the secret of exactly how we did it!

Step 1: Conduct Keyword Research

When we first started working on driving (more) organic traffic to the AdEspresso blog our team began with keyword research. We used SEOmoz but you can easily get a keyword list using Google’s free Keyword Research Tool.

When using Google’s keyword tool simply type in  a couple of relevant key phrases and then Google will search for related keyword ideas along with their search volume.

Because Facebook advertising is a really popular topic the overall keyword list is pretty gigantic so I immediately sorted the list by highest number of searches.

I then went through and highlighted in green the keywords that I thought I could easily turn into blog post topics. (I also highlighted in yellow keywords that I thought would be good for us to try and use as anchor text in link backs to our site – but that is for a different project).

The keywords I did not highlight were skipped over because they were either too generic or would not have made a good blog post topic for us. For example, “facebook ads coupon” was skipped over because we do not have any Facebook ad coupons to give away and a blog post about Facebook ad coupons wouldn’t have helped us drive the right people to our blog.

Most people who use Facebook ad coupons are first-time social advertisers who are looking to experiment with Facebook ads. Our software is made for Facebook advertisers who know what they’re doing and are looking for an easier way to create ads and also deeper insights into the performance of their campaigns.

It’s really important to select your keywords carefully because the goal of increased traffic shouldn’t be about getting a bunch of people to visit your site for a few seconds. It should be about driving high quality traffic.

Step 2: Include Keywords in the Post URL

Once you have your list of keywords it’s time to get to writing! Simply start going down the list and turning keyword ideas into blog post topics.

For example, one of the keyword phrases we researched and deemed appropriate for our blog was “facebook ads on mobile” since AdEspresso can help you create and analyze mobile Facebook ad campaigns. With the keyword phrase “Facebook ads on mobile” in mind I wrote a post called 5 Tips for Rocking Facebook Ads on Mobile Devices and published it to the AdEspresso blog. I made sure to include the keyword phrase in the URL of the blog post like this for SEO purposes:

Another keyword phrase we want to rank for is “Facebook Suggested Posts” I wrote a post called How to Run Suggested Posts Like the Pros. The URL for the post includes the keyword phrase of course:

However, you will notice the title of the post does not include the word Facebook in it at all. That is because I thought How to Run Facebook Suggested Posts Like the Pros didn’t sound quite right. However, the body copy does include the word Facebook quite a bit and we are still able to rank for the phrase in Google:

This leads us nicely into step three…

Step 3: Include Keywords in the Post

When you’re putting together your post be sure to include your targeted keyword phrase in body copy of your blog post frequently but naturally. Do not keyword stuff your post as this will likely get your penalized by Google and will definitely turn away intelligent readers.

What I do is write a post draft without thinking about adding the keyword phrase in at all. This allows me to focus on creating high quality content without worrying about the technicalities that come along with SEO.

After the post is finished I go back and see if and where I included the keyword phrase naturally. Usually I’ve included it enough times naturally that I do not need to make any edits. Sometimes I’ll have words flipped around a little bit and just need to make small adjustments with phrasing.

For example, using the keyword phrase “Facebook suggested post” I might have written “when putting together a suggested post on Facebook you should…” in my article. If so, I’ll just adjust it so that it reads, “A Facebook suggested post should include…” allowing me to get my target keywords in while saying essentially the same thing in a natural way.

Step 4: Stick to a Posting Schedule

One of the top rules for building up readership for any blog is to stick to a posting schedule. Whether you’re running a business blog or a personal one, frequency + high quality content will get you far.

Sometimes the hardest part of sticking to a schedule is wondering what you should blog about next – that’s the beauty of having a keyword list. You’ll never run out of great ideas! You can quickly go down your list and find a topic that people are actively searching for and help them out!

If you have a business blog, research shows that the more often you post the better your customer acquisition results will be:

Since we started actively trying to increase organic traffic to our blog we have been posting twice per week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. While we would love to post more frequently, we’re a small startup team and we all have a million things to do. Posting twice per week is a schedule that we know we can manage and stick to, so that’s what we’re doing for now – and the results are positive!

Step 5: Understand that Growth May Be a Slow Process

When it comes to increasing organic traffic for your blog, understand that it may be a slow process.  Unlike posts that go viral through social media channels, organic traffic takes time to build; however, it is often the gift that keeps on giving for years down the road.

A post that goes viral will likely send you a lot of traffic over the course of a day, week or even a month and then die down. A post that drives organic traffic will continue to send you a steady stream of visitors over the long haul. That’s precisely why organic traffic is highly important for any blog. While you are building up your organic traffic you should also be sharing your posts via social media and bookmarking sites for the biggest boost.

And there you have it, the step-by-step process we followed to grow our organic blog traffic by 203.5%! We’ll continue to follow this process (and stay up to date with trends in SEO) to provide high quality content for our blog readers on topics we know they’re searching for information about.

This post was written by Kristina Allen, marketing consultant for AdEspresso, a Facebook ads manager that allows you to quickly create and a/b test Facebook ads for maximum campaign results!

9 Ways to Keep You Fresh, Inspired and Creative

Image by Rares Dutu

How do you keep yourself fresh, inspired and creative as a blogger?

I was asked variations of this question three times this week, so thought I’d put my mind to giving a public answer.

There are certainly times when I don’t feel overly ‘fresh’, ‘inspired’ or ‘creative’. However, I guess over the last 10 years of blogging I’ve begun to develop some rhythms and habits that enable me to keep consistently create content on a daily basis.

One of the things that I’ve intuitively done over the last few years is to put aside time each week for activities that help me keep fresh. These activities aren’t specific to blogging and I suspect they might be helpful for people working in many kinds of jobs – particularly those where you need to develop ideas and be creative.

Here’s a quick summary of the types of activities I try to include in my life each week:

1. Inspiration

When I’m not inspired, I find it very difficult to be creative or generate ideas.So every week, I try to build in moments to get in touch with my dreams. I put myself in places where I’m likely to be inspired. This includes everything from spending time with inspirational people, watching inspirational videos (I’m a TED addict), attending inspirational events, watching great movies and reading inspiring books.

2. Preparation

If I’m working on a big project (like a mega blog post, a presentation, or an eBook) I quite often feel quite overwhelmed with the process.

I find I can take some of the pressure off by setting aside ‘preparation’ time for the task of creating the project. I set aside time to research, read on the topic, talk to others and plan out how to go about getting the project done. This might sound a little like procrastination but I find by setting aside time for ‘preparation’, the quality of what I actually ‘create’ (next step) is much higher.

3. Creation

Each week I put aside significant time to ‘create’. For me, the creation is largely around creating content (blog posts, videos, eBooks, presentations) and because of the publication schedule I’m on creation needs to happen on a daily basis. I publish three blog posts per day across my blogs and I need to keep that schedule up.

For me, creation time is usually in the mornings. My Golden Hours are from 9-11am which is a time I protect from intrusions.

4. Completion

A few years ago, I went through a stage of creating a lot of content that would then sit unfinished for weeks, even months. I would get distracted by new things or lose inspiration along the way.

So I’ve started to build time to ‘complete’ into my week and I tackled the things that fall into this category. I often do these ‘completing’ tasks in the afternoons or evenings.

5. Interaction

I’m an introvert. I love people but they suck energy out of me so I naturally feel drawn to spending time alone. This works quite well for me as a blogger as I don’t need to be around people to blog.

However… while being around people takes energy from me I know that there are many benefits of spending time with other people. Sometimes my best ideas emerge in conversation and to grow my business, I’ve needed to bring in others to complement my skills and help me scale. Every Friday, I work in a friend’s office (it’s more of a man cave). Three to four of us (mainly people who are in my team) work side by side on that day. We spend some time working together in a meeting, but also time working on our own projects.

I love these days and often find amazing ideas flow out of them!

6. Mindless Activity

I recently asked my Twitter followers where they get their best ideas. I was amazed how many people said two things – ‘in the shower’ and ‘while walking/exercising’. I’m exactly the same.

I often get light bulb moments while I’m doing some kind of mindless activity. For me, it can be while I walk, shower or weed the garden! I noticed this several years ago so decided to punctuate each day with mindless activities. Most days, I take 15 minute walks 2-3 times a day. I also moved my shower from first thing in the morning to mid-morning.

I don’t schedule these activities for specific times each day but rather once I end something I’m working on, I will just do them then before jumping into the next activity.

7. Play

This one has a little overlap with some of the other activities. I like to set aside a little time each day to ‘play’. By play I mean numerous things including playing with ideas and problems (I journal, mind map and daydream) and playing with my kids (I often find doing lego or doing something creative with my boys stimulates ideas but is also fun time with the kids). I’d also slip photography into this category too.

Having a creative outlet that is not about creating something for the blog gives me a lot of energy.

8. Rest

Five years ago I was proud to say that I worked 60-70 hours a week on my blogging. While I often spoke about work/life balance, I was enjoying my work and so I worked hard – too hard. Unfortunately, I was setting myself up for a fall and came to a point where my heath suffered as I began to suffer from blogger burnout.

These days I not only teach work/life balance but practice it. I take more regular vacations, rarely work on the weekends and schedule a couple of hours off every Wednesday afternoon. I still work hard but I also prioritise rest and I see the positive impact it has upon my blogging (and life).

9. Self Improvement

Lastly, each week I attempt to do something that is not so much about creating content or improves my business but which improves me in some way.

Often we look at the early years of our life when we attend school or university as the ‘educational’ period of our life but I’ve found that if I’m not learning, not stretching myself or not working on doing something to improve skills or knowledge then I often become stagnant. As a result I like to take on mini-projects to work on who I am.

These might range from the fun, I recently took a Thai Cooking class, through to more serious and related to my work like reading a book, taking a course or attending a conference related to my work.

I’d love to know, what do you do to keep yourself fresh, inspired and creative?

An Offer that isn’t too Good to be True

Recently, Darren shared an amazing bundle of blogger training available for just 72 hours.

As someone who is very selective about what training and personal development I participate in I wanted to put my own perspective forward as to why I think is something very much worth considering.

Blogging is hard

It takes effort, commitment and determination. As a blog owner you need to master multitasking, a willingness to roll up your sleeves and get things done. You need to be able to cop your fair share of criticism and be willing to make peace with the fact that your To Do list will always be longer than time permits.

Because blogging is hard, it’s a great opportunity for people to create products that make life easier. Some of these products would have you believe you can simply sit back and watch the page views, and profits, roll in. The copy is compelling, painting a picture of the vast green pasture on ‘the other side’.

We all look at them and think… I must be doing something wrong if it’s all that easy! I better find out what.

You put your hand in your pocket with high hopes. Sadly, more and more of these products are being sold exceptionally well but delivering nothing on their promise. Of course, it could be worse.

And then there are the other products

Why I particularly like about the latest collection of Problogger courses for bloggers is that they don’t prey on your dreams. It’s a collection of courses designed to make you a better blogger in a bunch of different ways. They are all very practical and real, and it’s refreshing to see.

Unlike Darren, I don’t personally know any of the people behind these course. I do know Darren and he only has respect for those who truly deserve it – so some points are instantly awarded right there.

But more importantly let’s look at the topics covered.

Breakthrough Blogging

I love that this course is aimed at people who have started a blog and then stalled. At one point or another we’ve all felt that progress isn’t what we’d hoped for. That we’re not moving forward, fast enough. This is when many people give up. Through this course if you can find the inner motivation you need to get to tipping point of your blog. This course is worth the $200 on it’s own!

How to Connect with Anyone

This might be more personal to me, but I envy people who seem to be able to network and connect in their sleep. I walk into a room of people simply hoping that someone will talk to me. It’s been said that your worth is driven by your network, and I this course could help me with that. It would be a lifelong weakness of mine conquered!

Better Web Videos & Rapid Video Blogging

We all started blogging because we like to write and like to share. Then, there was video to add to the mix and all of a sudden we were movie producers as well as writers. We can make videos I’m sure, but it takes too long and they lack polish. Both these courses change that. Videos done right and done easily — Yay!!

Publish Your Book on Kindle

7 out of 10 of the questions I get asked are about getting an eBook published. I would have loved if this course wasn’t specific to the Kindle but you cant win them all! Knowing how to get your book on a Kindle is a major barrier and the rest comes pretty easy after that.

Podcasting

Postcasting was cool, then uncool, and now it’s cool again. There are some small but very important things you have to when you’re podcasting. I really like the post that was shared here quite recently and I know this course kicks it up a level.

All these courses will:

  • give you the motivational kick up the backside you probably need
  • help you be a networking superstar
  • see you producing great video content easily
  • reduce the unknowns in publishing your eBook on the kindle
  • … and if you’re up for it, get in on the podcasting resurgence.

That’s a pretty good piece of personal development as a blogger!

Typically, I keep my thoughts on these sorts of things to myself and Darren had already shared the deal. But this was one was too good to keep quite about — I couldn’t resist!

It’s amazing value for the price. If you didn’t know Darren, you might think it sounds too good to be true, but he’s a generous guy.

So go, check out the courses now!

5 Ways to Prepare Your Blog for Affiliate Selling

This a guest contribution from full time affiliate marketer, Nrupen Masram.

Using your blog to earn a passive income through affiliate sales is something many bloggers aspire to. Isn’t it? But you won’t make money if you don’t get visitors to your site and you won’t get that consistent traffic until you have a blog worth visiting.

There are lots of ways to generate affiliate sales through your blog but having affiliate products to sell is just a small part of the picture. This article will focus on five elements you should consider, before and after you sign up to any affiliate programs.

1. Become A Niche Expert

If you simply focus on making affiliate sales, you’re likely to scare people away. When you do a search on Google for anything related to a particular niche, what are you looking for? Usually, you’re looking for expert. So, it follows on that if you’re an expert in a particular niche, you’re going to attract traffic. So how do you establish yourself as an expert?

There’s more than one piece to this puzzle. You obviously need lots of knowledge about your niche. You need your own blog where you can share your knowledge and engage in discussion. Write plenty of content to educate people. Once people are comfortable with you as an expert and you’ve developed a community, you can start slipping in affiliate products in your blog posts.

Nobody wants to be sold to all the time. They want to believe they’re making the buying decisions on their own so when you include affiliate links and products in your blog posts, you should aim to provide genuine solutions to common problems.

2. Create a Recommended Products and Tools Page 

Word-of-mouth advertising is by far the best, strongest and most effective form available…and it’s free! Everybody’s favorite price. This is what you are trying to harness in affiliate sales and you can consolidate all your best product recommendations on one page. As you’re building your reputation as an expert, your followers will trust your opinions and a single page of recommendations allow you to recommend products outside of a blog post.

Every time you recommend a product or tool, you’re putting your own reputation on the line and that’s one of the most valuable assets you have in business. Never recommend a product or service that isn’t good quality and never lie, say a product is good if it’s not. You only have to do it once to lose all the trust you have built up with many of your followers.

You can also create your own tools and products and add them to this category if you have the necessary skills or are willing to outsource this aspect of your business in order to make even more money.

3. Write Product Reviews

Product reviews are a great way to include affiliate links in a useful and educational blog post. Where possible, never write a review about a product you haven’t used yourself. If you’re going to make money this way, it’s best to truly know how well a product performs so you have be honest with your community.

However, it’s not always possible to use every single product and so some reviews will be based on research and opinion. You must always write an honest, but positive, review of the product and have an affiliate link within the review that goes to the product.

It’s critically important here that you don’t hide the fact you’re an affiliate. A lack of transparency may cost you the trust of some of your readers. There’s nothing wrong with making commissions based on reviews you have written if you’re honest about everything.

4. Build Your Own Mailing Lists

A growing mailing list is key to long-term success in affiliate selling and your blog for that matter. However, just because somebody subscribes to your blog, it doesn’t give you permission to hit them with countless sales emails every single day. You’re smarter than that!

Using an autoresponder (such as Aweber or GetResponse) will help keep in regular contact with your subscribers but you should vary the type of information contained within the emails. Regular newsletters give you the opportunity to share free articles, reports, ebooks and even free products sometimes.

Your affiliate sales emails should be interspersed with these other emails so the people on your lists don’t feel like they’re always being sold to. This comes back to building relationships and rapport. Also allow your subscribers to provide feedback to make sure you know if you’re taking the wrong approach.

Banner Ads 

Banner ads can be effective but you need to consider the size and placement within your blog. Most affiliate products tools have a selection of banners you can use so test different ones to see which banners can give you the best results for your money. Avoid large banners and ones that have clashing colours  Remember that they’re merely one aspect of your blog design. They shouldn’t overtake everything else you worked so hard to design.

Making money with affiliate sales can be very lucrative but it’s not as easy as waving a magic wand. It involves a lot of short, medium and long-term planning to ensure your business grows consistently and your income also grows. Never be afraid to change things to see if they can improve aspects of your business. You can always change them back if they don’t work.

You’re the master of your own destiny (and your blog). Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

My name is Nrupen Masram. I started affiliate marketing after completing college and since year 2010 I am full time affiliate marketer. I sell both physical as well as digital products but mostly my income comes by promoting physical products. I am not millionaire marketer but I do earn full time online. I write about affiliate marketing on my blog http://NrupenMasram.com.

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