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How Our eBook Launches Have Evolved (after 235,000 eBook Sales)

This week on my main blog – Digital Photography School – we launched our 24th photographic eBook (a guide to post production of portrait images) and it got me thinking back about some of the changes in my blogging since I started back in 2002.

Over the last five years I’ve completely changed the way that I monetise my blogs. Up until this point my focus had very much been about making money through advertising (with some affiliate marketing) but in 2009 I began to experiment with eBooks (read more on this evolution in my blogging income in this post).

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A Few Stats on our eBook Sales

  • On ProBlogger, SnapnGuides and Digital Photography School we’ve now launched 34 eBook based products (including two printable collections).
  • Last time I checked we’d made over 235,000 individual sales of these products.
  • This 235,000 sales includes quite a few ‘bundles’ of eBooks so the individual number of eBooks sold would be much higher.

To say that I’m happy I took a step out of my comfort zone and created my first eBooks back in 2009 would be an understatement!

I still monetise my blogs through advertising and some affiliate marketing – but to have this newer and larger income stream is a bonus (although, it’s worth emphasising, was a lot of hard work).

The Biggest Lesson I’ve Learned In Selling eBooks

While that’s a lot of products when you look at them all together I’ve learned heaps since 2009 when I launched my first two eBooks and have many many mistakes a long the way.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve had is that the ‘launch’ of a new product is super important.

Today I looked back on my first product launches and was amazed just how much the approach to launching our products has evolved.

Note: Next week we’ll be running a fuller webinar for ProBlogger.com members on this topic that will walk you through the way we launch eBooks on dPS and ProBlogger.

My First eBook Launch

In 2009 when I launched my first photography eBook I wrote about the launch here on ProBlogger. To save you the read – the launch was pretty simple.

Once the product was created and loaded into our shopping cart system with an early bird 25% discount we launched with:

    • an email to our newsletter list
    • a blog post
    • a handful of tweets and Facebook updates

emailing a handful of potential affiliates to ask them if they wanted to promote the ebook

  • halfway through the 10 days I mentioned it in our weekly newsletter – very subtly
  • 10 Days later I ended the launch I again emailed and wrote a blog post saying that the discount period was coming to an end.

 

The result in sales looked like this with two spikes of sales around the two emails/blog posts:

E book sales

I was pretty amazed by the launch – 4800 eBooks sold and an income of around $72,000.

I wrote about some of the lessons from this first launch in a post on ProBlogger after the launch – in that post I wrote about a few ways that I’d change it next time – one of which was to not only have an email at the start and end of the launch but more in the middle – to try to stimulate sales in the middle (and to change the shape of the chart from a U to a W).

This is exactly what I began to experiment in the launches that followed. In fact today as I look at a typical launch of an eBook things have evolved a lot!

Our eBook Launches Today

Typically now when we launch an eBook our launch happens over a 4-5 week period (as opposed to the 10 days of that first launch). This enables us to promote the product numerous times in different ways over the month.

Note: if we go for a five-week launch it usually means we have a week off in the middle of the launch – so after week two, we wouldn’t email on week three. We do this if a product is going well naturally just to let our affiliates have a bit more time to promote it.

Here’s a graphic from a recent talk that I gave that lays out what a typical launch might look like (click to enlarge):

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You’ll notice some of the same elements as the first launch outlined above but see that we’ve added a few new things including:

Pre Launch

Preparing readers for what is to come can build anticipation and whet their appetite for your product. Also getting readers familiar with the author/creator of the product (if they are not already) is important.

Showcasing the Author/Creator

If the author is not you – the blogger – getting them involved on the blog during the launch is important – it can help you build credibility and gives you natural ways to mention the product. As you’ll see in the graphic above we involved the author in guest posts and interviews on the blog but there might be other ways to showcase them including webinars, videos etc.

Competitions

We don’t always do a competition but will sometimes introduce one in week two which puts anyone who purchases our eBook in the draw to win a prize. Note: this is something you’ll need to check your local regulations on as not all countries allow competitions that require a purchase.

Testimonials

Week 3-4 usually involves an email and/or blog posts that involved testimonials that we’ve received from readers who bought the eBook. This of course relies upon you getting them – we typically find them in reviews that people have written or comments people have left on social or on the blog.

Mix it Up

Each of the weeks have a different focus. So instead of each week us emailing the same message ‘check out our eBook’ we’re emailing some kind of update that gives a different message and hopefully hits a different trigger point to purchase.

  • Many of our readers simply buy everything we launch so week one is all it takes.
  • Others need an incentive of a competition so week two hits the spot.
  • Others like to see what others think about the product so the testimonials work best.
  • Others still just need the incentive of the price rising, a competition ending or a bonus offer finishing to get them to buy.

Minimise the Annoyance Factor

It’s also worth noting that if someone buys the eBook that we are able to stop them receiving further emails – so they’re not being emailed another 2-3 times about something they’ve already bought. We do this simply by putting any purchases of the eBook into a new list on Aweber and then excluding that list from the next emails we send.

It’s also worth noting that over the launch period I’m very conscious of keeping everything on the blog as normal as possible.

Over the launch we still do the same amount of regular blog posts, our newsletters continue to mainly be about sharing great tips and tutorials and the vast majority of our social media updates are not about the product.

This means anyone who is not interested in the eBook still can be engaging with us in the way that they always do – so as to minimise the annoyance factor.

What Have You Learned About Launching Products?

The way that we launch our eBooks has evolved a lot over the last five years and will no doubt continue to change. It’s also something that we no doubt do differently to others.

So… I’d love to hear what you’ve learned about launching products on your blogs? What have you tried that has worked well for you?

Using Visual Content to Increase Blog Engagement

1This is a guest contribution from Tom More of Slidely.com. 

Visual content is your secret weapon to boosting blog engagement. The blog posts of today demand fresh, eye-catching content that can be read and shared easily, which makes videos, infographics, photos, and slideshows a perfect companion to blog posts. People absorb information quicker and more intuitively from images than text and visual content attracts more engagement on social media channels. Additionally, visual content is extremely easy to integrate into your current blog posts, as well as add to your past posts. On your blog homepage, strong visual content can sustain new visitors attention so they are more inclined to explore your blog.  For these reasons and more, it’s clear that visual content partners great with blogs, but how will visual content affect your blog engagement?

Visual content increases social media engagement for your blog

Blog posts are a powerful content medium on their own, but a large part of their strength is their ability to be shared across social media channels easily. Blog engagement is largely built through social media because social media channels allow you to gain exposure, focus your posts to relevant audiences, and respond easily to those who comment on your posts. According to a study by HubSpot, posts with photos received 53% more likes and attracted 104% more comments than those without (via HubSpot).

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Sam Kusinitz / Hubspot

 

Visual content generates more click throughs

When you link to a blog post, attach a catchy visual to grab viewers attention and prompt them to continue on to the post. Photo posts can generate over 80% higher link click through than simple text and link posts, HubSpot reports. So next time you link to a post, do your best to add a picture or video that illustrates your point.

Visual content helps you reach your audience by saying more with less

As you know, brevity can be key when it comes to blog posts. Visual content conveys information succinctly and quickly, making it a great way to say more with less. Using photos to replace excess words is a powerful way to boost engagement. In fact, posts below 250 characters can boost your engagement by up to 60% (via Visual.ly).

Let visual content speak for itself. You can give an introduction and a call to action, but sometimes a standalone video or slideshow is more powerful than one with a lot of extra text. Once in awhile, save yourself time and effort by using visual content to your advantage to replace long text-based posts.

Visual content makes your blog memorable

Not only can audiences absorb your message quicker and clearer, but using visual content in your blogs can lead to better retainment of information. We often remember large amounts of information better when conveyed visually rather than verbally, and when you need to get across an important message in your blog, you don’t want to risk it being forgotten after you put in so much effort to create it.

Visual content is evergreen content

Evergreen content is highly valuable in the blogging world, because evergreen content that is not just relevant in the moment, but retains its value over time. This makes it one of the best types of content to build engagement over time because it can be shared and re-shared, resulting in many more chances for views and engagement. Visual content is evergreen because it has value in and out of context – in other words, even if your blog post becomes dated, the great photos or videos included in it can be relevant on their own, boosting traffic to your blog and shares for the individual video content.

If you are ready to get started with integrating visual content, here are some tips on using visual content in blog posts…

Remember while all types of visual content are powerful, not all are created equal. Different visual content mediums benefit different channels. For example, when it comes to social media sharing, the best engagement comes from photos, followed by videos and infographics. Slideshows are also on the rise as an engaging visual content medium because they can be used during live presentations or for online sharing.

You can see how we manage slideshows at Slidely:

Steve Jobs – Tribute by Slidely Slideshow

Additionally, when you post visual content matters too. According to Fannit, people are less likely to check Facebook during work hours, but morning is a peak time to check their newsfeed (via Social Media Today). When it comes to Twitter, engagement is higher on weekends than weekdays. For all types of social media, posting at night returns the least amount of engagement. What does this mean for you? Strategize with a posting calendar so you are consistently releasing visual-packed posts at peak hours.

Always consider your audience and use the medium most suited to them. Visual content is far less effective if it doesn’t match the audience it is intended for. Consider whether your target audience prefers videos, slideshows, or photos and then go heavier on this content (while still including a variety of different types). For example, travel bloggers often use photos for the majority of their visual content because travel photos can tell a story well, while business bloggers tend towards slideshows and presentations because their audience often wants a takeaway. Educators also often utilize slideshows and presentations, while a fashion blog is more likely to use photos. These are just some examples of how audience affects the type of video content.

Also, switch up the types of visual content you use. Photos are great for almost every blog post or hyperlink on social media sites, but it’s also important to include videos, slideshows, presentations, infographics, and moving graphics to keep your audience interested. No one wants to see the same type of content all the time, so vary what you present.

I’d love to hear – what kind of visual content do you feel works best for you?

Tom more is CEO and founder of Slidely, a popular creator of slideshows, videos and imagery.

Thinking of Rebranding Your Blog? Read This.

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Rebranding an established and successful business? Why would you do that?

For some, the risk of changing the name of something people have grown to know and love is too big. For others, the risk of being boxed into something they no longer feel much affinity for is even bigger.

No doubt it’s a scary leap to rebrand a blog – would people still read? Would a slight shift in direction upset the established audience? Would the to-do list of technical issues be too overwhelming? Would you lose all that Google love you’ve built up over the years?

At some point, if you’ve felt the rumbling undercurrent of wanting to make a change, you’ll decide those reasons are no longer enough to hold you back. And so you research new domain names, you design new logos, you test the waters. And you make the switch – your blog (and your online identity) is something new. Something more you.

Jodi Wilson did that on New Year’s Eve 2013. She took a blog she had lovingly nurtured for six years from online journal to a much larger online place of community and inspiration, and gave it a complete overhaul. Once a place to share the milestones and sleepless nights as a new parent, the blog had evolved into a new space of a woman finding joy in a simple, humble life. And Jodi felt it required a new look and name to reflect that.

One of the biggest factors in the name change was the fact that my blog was originally named after my son and his teddy – Che & Fidel,” she says.

“Che had started school in 2013 and all of a sudden his world was much bigger and I had less control. I didn’t feel like his stories were mine to share anymore and it only felt right to stop blogging about him, hence the blog name just didn’t resonate. As I wrote in my first post as PS: ‘Che & Fidel no longer resonated with me, I didn’t feel like it represented my blog or my intention. My days of sharing notable milestones and tales of sleepless nights were over. Instead I was using my blog as a means of exploring ideas and seeking inspiration. It was more about my experience as a woman than just my experience as a mother’.

“It wasn’t a decision I made lightly, either. To tell you the truth, my energy and enthusiasm for blogging was waning and I needed a boost, as a creative and a writer. I wanted to keep doing it, to keep enjoying it, but there were times when it was a hard slog – it was work.”

The hardest part, she says, was finding a new name that would encompass all the blog had come to be about. A name that would resonate with people, but most importantly, herself.

“I spent months exploring different names and, of course, checking whether the domain was available (it was really important for me to move to a .com). Funnily enough, the name was quite literally staring me in the face the entire time,” she says.

“In June 2013 I started a series called Practising Simplicity where I explored simple living. The series was as much about me exploring new ways of being as it was about sharing information with my readers. I loved writing it because it inspired me; it made me more mindful of my creative process, my parenting, my wellbeing. It wasn’t until mid-November, when I was reading through past posts in the hope of “finding” a name, that the idea came to me. Of course, it was perfect (and yes, the .com was available).”

Often a change in name can mean a change in blog direction, but mostly always means a change in logo and branding. Jodi says a new design for Practising Simplicity was “essential”, launching her blog in the new year with not only a new name, but a new web address, and a clean, simple, refined design that reflected her aesthetic and intention.

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It also comes with a not-so-small checklist of to-dos to ensure your readers are redirected with a minimum of fuss, your social media accounts are changed, and all the boxes are ticked (you can check out the one Tsh Oxenreider used when she made a similar change from her hugely successful blog Simple Mom into The Art of Simple).

Jodi saved a lot of time and heartache by getting it right the first time around: “I handed much of the technical work over to my tech guy Graeme - I knew it was beyond me and it felt only right to employ someone who knew exactly what they were doing,” she says.

“Graeme managed to redirect my Che & Fidel address to PS with ease – basically, if you go to my old address you automatically end up at practisingsimplicity.com - don’t ask me how he did it, I’m just glad he managed to work it out!  When it came to changing my IG profile – that was done with a simple name change in my profile. I contacted Facebook and requested they change the name of my page; which they did within 48 hours. I did the same for bloglovin’.”

But while the technical side of things can easily be taken care of, and you’re excited about a new change, new branding, and new direction – that doesn’t mean everything will go smoothly. Jodi said there was certainly some small fears on her part, but received wonderful support from her readers.

“I was realistic about the fact that there may be readers that wouldn’t appreciate the change. But at the end of the day I was making the change for me more than anyone else,” she says.

“I knew that I couldn’t keep blogging with heart unless I was proud of the space I was creating – it needed to be authentic, no ifs or buts.

“When I pressed “publish” on that first post I remember sitting back and marvelling at the fact that my humble online journal had become a website – one that earned me an income. It was a bit overwhelming to tell you the truth. Who would have thought? After I got over that I received a few very encouraging comments from long time readers. I exhaled.”

And the biggest fear of all for some – how will the readers react?

“With an incredible amount of positivity!,” Jodi says of her experience.

“They felt like the change was a perfect fit for my current content – the ultimate feedback. There was, of course, a few comments regarding readers’ dislike of sidebar sponsors but every comment was expressed with kindness which I’m incredibly grateful for. Each to their own!”

If you’re thinking of making the switch, Jodi has some words of advice for you:

“When you launch a new space there are always going to be hiccups. Be patient – they won’t take long to fix.

Also, if you’re considering making a change – do it! It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for my career. Within weeks of launching my new space I had numerous new sponsors who appreciated the fact that my blog was more “lifestyle” as opposed to “mumsy” and I continue to work with all of them. The new look also caught the attention of publishing company, Blurb, who offered me a book deal (six weeks after my launch!).”

You can find Jodi at her blog, Facebook, and Instagram.

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the gal behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

It’s been 2 Years Since I’ve Seen A Blog Training Program This Good

UPDATE: They’ve opened the doors again until Friday 5 December: Save $100

Elite Blog Academy has opened it’s doors at its introductory price of $299 until midnight on December 5th at which point it closes. Next time it becomes available it will cost $399.

EBA FB Graphic 2

It has been almost two years since I’ve found training for bloggers that I’ve considered good enough to promote as an affiliate.

I’m very fussy with who and what I promote (because there is so much hype and dubious practice in this space) but today have a recommendation for an authentic and valuable program that I know will help many ProBlogger readers.

The Short Story

The Elite Blog Academy is one of the most comprehensive blogging courses I’ve ever come across – and it’s available to enrol in with an early bird offer for just over 48 hours.

Check it out here

The Longer Story

Ruth-Profile-2013-Rounded-735x1024Earlier this year after running a ProBlogger Training day in Portland I had opportunity to grab a coffee with Ruth Soukup. 

Ruth shared with me the story of starting her blog Living Well Spending Less in 2010. Like us all she made her share of mistakes but persisted with it and struggled on and four years later has built a blog with over a million visitors a month that generates her a full time income.

I was really impressed with both Ruth’s success but also the clear and strategic she applied to her blogging.

Numerous times as she spoke I wanted to take notes as she’d been experimenting with techniques I’d not come across before – particularly around Pinterest and social media.

At the end of her story I remember thinking ‘I wish we could bottle what you’ve done and share it with ProBlogger readers’.

No sooner than I’d thought this Ruth slid across the table a white folder with an outline for her Elite Blog Academy course. Yep – she’d bottled it!

The Elite Blog Academy: Enrolments Close in 48 Hours

Ruth’s Elite Blog Academy is literally her stepping you through her process for building a profitable blog in 12 wonderfully crafted lessons. You can learn more about it here.

The course is delivered through 12 fantastic videos, 12 very detailed workbooks, 16 helpful handouts, 30 assignments, a series of 4 live webinars with Ruth an a private Facebook Group where you can interact with Ruth and other attendees.

This course is practical and actionable. Really meaty stuff.

Update: if you’d like to hear what others are saying about it, check out this post I did on Facebook where a couple of ProBlogger readers have already chimed in with their experiences of previously signing up to Ruth’s Academy.

This course is not designed for the faint of heart – it requires work (as does successful blogging) and a willingness to really buckle down. That said, for those who are willing to do the work, it also comes with a 100% money-back guarantee.

Anyone who completes the course and has not seen measurable results in both traffic and income growth will get your money back, no questions asked. That’s a pretty incredible promise, but it means that you’ve literally got nothing to lose. 

If you are ready to finally take your blog to the next level, sign up now to secure your spot here

PS: as stated above – I am an affiliate for this product but do so having checked it out and genuinely recommending Ruth it’s creator and the program itself.

Update: What to Expect

A few people have been asking for more information on what’s in the units. Here’s what I just shared over on Facebook to give you some insight into what to expect:

1. Start with Awesome – Learn the secret to successful blogging and master the 3 steps to starting with awesome. Understand what makes YOUR blog unique (and therefore marketable), and create the framework for a powerful platform that gets results.

2. Content is King – Discover why the key to a successful, popular, and profitable blog starts with amazing content, master the four essential strategies for creating content that rocks, and learn exactly how to FOCUS™—the secret to creating a killer blog post every single time.

3. Presentation is Everything – Uncover the three visual areas every blogger must focus on in order to be successful and learn not only why Pinterest is the most powerful marketing tool ever created,
and how to harness that power through creating the Perfect Pin™.

4. Grow Your Platform – Learn how to increase, diversify, and stabilize your platform through eight proven strategic growth strategies. Develop the confidence to promote your core message with an authority that draws people in, master field-tested techniques for networking and collaboration, find out exactly how to grow your subscriber list, and discover why good SEO really isn’t as complicated as everyone makes it out to be.

5. Social Media & Viral Growth – Uncover the mysteries of capturing and retaining viral blog traffic through social media and learn to determine which social media platforms are most valuable for your own audience. Find out the ten crucial steps to take if your blog post goes viral, then create comprehensive marketing plans for both Facebook and Pinterest in order to develop a cohesive social media strategy that gets results.

After that it gets more into monetising through ad networks, affiliate sales, private advertising and creating products.

Lastly it gets into working smart/efficiently and being strategic to grow your business.

7 Powerful Tips for a Winning Twitter Sales Strategy

This is a guest contribution from freelance writer Jawad Khan.

More than 73% US companies use Twitter to connect with their target audience, get direct feedback from their customers and keep an eye on their competitors.

You might be one of them.

But are you getting any real value from the time you spend on Twitter? Have you been able to engage your potential or existing customers? Have you ever created enough momentum with your Tweets to impact your sales numbers?

A large number of businesses on Twitter fail to do any of those things.

Why?

Because they don’t see Twitter as a sales channel. They don’t have a sales strategy for Twitter and never design their Tweets to impact sales.

But you can change that with a few smart modifications to the way you approach Twitter.

Twitter can be a powerful sales channel. It might not always give you direct sales, but it can always impact purchase decisions.

Here’s how.

1. Understand the Objective

Before you get started, understand that Twitter, like all other social networks, is primarily designed to encourage social connections, conversations and engagement. Their primary purpose is not sales. You can’t keep posting links to your product pages or sales landing pages and expect people to buy from you.

That’s not how things work on Twitter.

Your objective should be sales, but it can only be triggered through engagement. More than 65% of Twitter users are likely to buy from the brands they follow on Twitter.

Why?

Because they trust them and engage with them regularly. So in effect, the only way you can convert Twitter users into customers is by building trust and engagement.

2. Attract Relevant Followers

As I said in the first point, your followers are much more likely to buy from you as compared to normal Twitter users.

But not just any followers. You need to have relevant and active Twitter followers. 100 relevant followers who engage with you regularly are better than 1000 followers who never speak up.

So how do you find such followers on Twitter?

By mass following your competitor’s followers? No!

Never use mass follow in the hope of getting followers. That will destroy your brand image and credibility.

Instead, list down your closest competitors and have a good look at their Twitter timeline.

Do you see any responses to their Tweets? Any unanswered questions from their followers? Any unacknowledged suggestions? Any complaints that went unheard?

There’s your opportunity. Jump in and join the conversation. Offer help and respond to their queries.

This natural engagement will increase your brand awareness and goodwill, and will also earn you natural followers.

3. Structure Your Tweets Carefully

I’m sure you must have seen countless Twitter accounts with thousands of tweets but no engagement. Incorrect Tweet structure is one of the main reasons for that.

Yes, even these 140 characters need proper structuring. Here’s how

  • Tweet Length – You’re allowed 140 characters per Tweet, but Tweets that attract the highest engagement are between 110 and 115 characters according to social media scientist Dan Zarella

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  • Link Placement – Link placement also impacts click through rates and Retweets. Instead of placing links at the end of a Tweet, put them in the middle and near the start.

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  • Images – Tweets that contain images attract 200% more engagement. So make sure most of your Tweets, especially the ones that contain links, have images.
  • Vines and GIFs – After Google Plus, Twitter has also allowed animated GIFs. GIFs and Vine videos attract a lot more engagement as compared to simple text or static image based Tweets. Using these multimedia Tweets in combination with image and text Tweets can give you great results.

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  • Hashtags – Hashtags expand the reach of your Tweets and give you exposure on the trending topics. Tweets with appropriate hashtags have a 55% higher probability of getting Retweets. Most experts recommend using up to three hashtags per Tweet.

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  • Tagging – When responding to a Tweet or tagging someone, make sure your Tweet doesn’t start with a Twitter handle. If it does, it will only appear to the tagged person.

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The Wrong Way to Tweet

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  • Tweet Timing – Tweet at the wrong time and even your best content will go to waste. Timing is crucial on Twitter. Tweets between 9AM to 6PM everyday attract the highest engagement while Saturday and Sunday are the most engaging days of the week. I personally recommend using the BufferApp for scheduling Tweets

4. Become a Knowledge Source

Twitter allows only 140 characters per Tweet but, even here, content is the king. If you want to convert your Twitter account into a sales lead generator and a major source of referral traffic for your blog or website, you need to establish it as the knowledge hub for everything associated with your niche.

Users should be able to rely on your account alone to learn about the hottest news in your niche, solutions to the most common problems of your target market, innovations and industry hacks, and top quality content.

You can do that by dividing your Tweets into categories like news updates, blog posts, occasional product updates, quotes, tips etc. Schedule your daily Tweets in all these categories. You don’t always have to produce original content. You can curate the best content in your niche and still attract a lot of followers and engagement

5. Use Twitter for SMS Marketing

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Twitter SMS is a highly underutilized feature. If you own a retail store or a small business that involves personally meeting customers, then this feature is for you.

Many people in the real world do not use Twitter. But you can still approach them with this feature. Whenever you meet a new customer, ask them to follow you through SMS to get updates on the latest products, discounts, competitions etc.

Your customers can subscribe to free SMS updates by sending ‘Follow @YourUsername’ in SMS to 40404 (this code is different for every country, here’s the list).

Whenever you Tweet, your subscribers will get it as an SMS. Make sure you create a separate Twitter account for SMS subscribers so that they don’t get all of your Tweets. Send occasional SMS Tweets for maximum impact.

6. Get Unfair Advantage With Twitter Lists

Twitter lists are a powerful way to monitor your target audience, divide them into segments and create targeted content for your followers. If you use Twitter lists intelligently, you can get an unfair advantage over your competitors because this is a largely underutilized feature.

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You can create your own lists and add users of a particular type to monitor them separately. You can also join public lists of other users that are already populated. Tools like Twitonomy can help you find the lists that are following your competitors.

7. Simplify the Buying Process

Things move at a much faster speed on Twitter as compared to Facebook and Google Plus. In order to give yourself any chance of attracting customers on Twitter, you need to simplify the buying process of your products.

Instead of Tweeting links of your product landing page, use Twitter’s built in feature of Twitter cards. Twitter cards display additional information within the Tweet content and increase the functionality of your Tweets. Twitter is also planning to add “Buy Now” buttons to its Twitter cards feature.

You can also use social selling tools like Selz. When you create a product on Selz and Tweet it to your followers, they’ll be able to see your product image, stock details and price along with a direct link to the checkout page. Selz also allows users to accept product payments from Master Card, Visa and PayPal so you won’t need to integrate any additional payment gateway.

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This approach makes your products much more sellable on Twitter and makes the buying process much more convenient. I personally recommend using Twitter cards in combination with Selz since it massively increases your Tweet CTR.

Conclusion

Selling products or services on Twitter requires a careful strategy that revolves around user engagement and a simplified buying process. You also need a balance between sales oriented Tweets and general Tweets aimed at user engagement. If you follow this strategy consistently, you can convert Twitter into a high value sales channel and your paid customers into loyal word of mouth marketers.

Jawad Khan is a Content Marketing Specialist at Quality Trade, a leading marketing and trading platform for B2B companies. Follow Jawad on Twitter and Google+

 

Why Web Push is the Next Big Thing for Bloggers

This is a guest contribution from Tim Varner of GoRoost.com.

Raise your hand if you’re a blogger who’d like to turn your one-time visitors into repeat visitors — and eventually, engaged community members.

If you’re not raising your hand, I’m sorry — but we can’t help you. Go watch a cat video or something.

If you are raising your hand, get stoked.

Because coming soon to a browser near you is a new technology called web push.And it’s quickly becoming every blogger’s go-to traffic driver.

Intrigued? We thought so. Read on to learn what exactly web push is, and why it’s the next big thing for bloggers.

So Wait… What’s Web Push?

If you use Facebook or YouTube (or any number of other apps) on your phone, you’re likely already familiar with push notifications — you just might not know it. They’re the messages that pop up on your phone — regardless of whether you’re using the app at that moment — to tell you there’s an update on a stream or channel you’re subscribed to.

Though mobile notifications have been around for a while, web push is brand new. It’s different because it sends notifications through web browsers — not apps.

This innovative technology is already available in Apple’s Safari browser, but this fall it will become an option in browsers Chrome and Firefox, which are used by far more of the population — in other words, more of your readers.

And, yes, this is a solution that will support desktop and mobile web browsers.

Translation: web push is about to become HUGE.

Here’s how it works:

  • While surfing on her laptop, Lucy lands on your blog…. and a window pops up asking if she’d like to subscribe to push notifications.
  • To accept, all she has to do is click “Allow.” (She doesn’t even have to give her name or email address.)
  • The next time you publish a new post, a small notification will appear in Lucy’s web browser. If she likes the headline, she can click on it. If she’s not interested, it will disappear after a few seconds.

This is what the process looks like in Safari:

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And here’s how notifications show up (Gigwise box in top right corner).

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Now that you understand how it works, it’s time to learn what sets this traffic-driver apart from social media and email.

Why You Should Pay Attention to Web Push

We know you have lots of options for driving traffic to your blog. So why should you shift your strategy to include web push?

One very important reason: Web push is an incredibly effective way to turn one-time visitors into loyal readers.

Here’s how:

It encourages opt-ins

Web push notifications have a 15 percent opt-in rate, which is about 10 times higher than email newsletters. People have grown wary (not to mention tired) of giving out their email address all the time, and web push solves this with just one click of the mouse.

That’s awesome news for anyone trying to build an online community — because once a reader opts in, it’s easy to bring them back to your site again and again. One-time visitors will then turn into loyal, repeat readers, which is exactly what you want as a blogger, right?

It has a broad reach

One of the problems with sharing your message on social media? Your reader has to be a member of that specific network and using that network when you send an update.

With web push, your reader only has to use a browser — which applies to pretty much everyone who uses the internet. Rather than hope your reader will be on a specific social network at the exact time you’re posting, you can catch your readers where they’re already hanging out: on the web.

We all know nobody has a long attention span anymore. That’s why web push notifications were designed to be brief.

When you publish a new blog post, your subscribers receives a headline, rather than the full article — similar to a 140-character tweet. Yetunlike Twitter, the message isn’t lost in an overwhelming clutter of other posts. Instead, it shows up where the subscriber is already working or playing: right in the browser.

It makes audience segmentation easy

You may have always wanted to segment your email list — but didn’t have either the know-how or the time.

Web push makes segmentation easy. It allows you to send specific content to specific subscribers, which means you won’t waste time sending content to people who aren’t interested, and your subscribers won’t feel spammed by constant updates.

Here’s an example: If you write blog posts on pizza, pasta and hamburgers, but your subscriber is only interested in pizza-related content, they can choose to only be notified when you’ve written an article on pizzas. This ensures that both you and your reader get the most out of the experience. (Not to mention it gives you an inside peek at your audience’s true preferences).

Bottom line: Web push works.

It opens a world of opportunities for content creators, helping bloggers and publishers see incredible results for opt-ins and engagement. So when are YOU going to turn your visitors into a loyal community?

Tim Varner is co-founder of Roost, which makes it easy for content producers to use web push notifications to grow their audience. Sign up for free at GoRoost.com.

7 Ways for Bloggers to Be More Productive

This is a guest contribution from Charles Crawford.

If your business is blogging, productivity is essential. The only way for you to get the results you want is to put out consistent high quality content. While this is often easy in the beginning when the blog is new and exciting, as time goes on this can become more difficult. There are some ways that you can improve your productivity to keep your blog current.

1. Work at the Right Times

A common misconception is that people work better first thing in the morning. The problem with this is people are all different. You may not be a morning person at all.  This is why you need to find the time of day that you are most productive and work then, even if it is 3 AM.

2. Use Technology to Your Advantage

If you are like many writers, then inspiration will come at the most unexpected times. You may be sitting at a red light or even in the doctor’s office when a great idea for a blog will come to you. Rather than trying to remember it, which often is unsuccessful, use your smartphone to your advantage. Apps such as Evernote syncs with your computer and other devices. It will allow you to type note, snap pictures for inspiration or even record audio notes. This is a great way to organize yourself and ensure you never forget an idea again.

3. Create a Schedule

A common mistake many bloggers who work from home is not creating a schedule for themselves. When you know what you plan to work on within a time frame, you are more likely to get this done. Otherwise you may find yourself wanting to scroll through your social media feeds or even doing household tasks. Make sure you schedule everything you need to get done for the day, both for work and personal tasks to ensure you get everything done.

4. Change Things Up

For those who are not productive because they feel like the blog has gotten stale, find a way to change things up. Write a new style of blog. For instance if you have been reviewing products every week, try making a list style blog with great images that matches the theme of the site. Don’t be afraid to try something new as this is a great way to grow your writing skills and have more fun.

5. Have Fun

If you aren’t having fun with the blog, then it simply won’t work. Find ways to make the blog fun. This can be with giveaways, Q and A sessions or many other activities. Make a list of different things you would like to do with the blog and if you can’t think of any new ideas, visit other blogs to get inspiration and ideas.

6. Work on it Every Day

Even if you just spend five minutes writing or tweaking, you will find that this will make you more productive. In fact, you may also find that the five minutes turns into half an hour and you have the first draft of your next blog done or have taken care of the back end SEO work you have been putting off since you created the site.

7. Utilize Social Media

Social media is a great way to connect with your audience and find out what they are looking for. You will also find this helpful in keeping you motivated to put out the next blog, as you know there are people waiting. Your fans can be a great source of support and help when you are not feeling productive.

Charles Crawford is the co-founder of Crawford and O’Brien. Aside from doing dental SEO and helping dentists get new patients, Charles plays jazz piano in restaurants in Scottsdale, AZ on weekends.

 

Why Your Blog Isn’t Growing and How to Make It A Success

How To Build A Successful BlogThis is a guest contribution from Gary Dek from StartABlog123.com.

If your blog is dependent on Google search engine rankings like most websites, you should know that one record month of traffic can easily be followed by a record low. Growing your blog’s traffic and revenue requires leveraging traffic and design strategies to build and retain visitors, eventually converting them into loyal readers and followers. Otherwise, you risk the chance of starting from zero after an algorithm update.

Here are some possible reasons your blog is failing to capitalize on its current readership, and what you can do about it.

The Cornerstones of Building A Following

You are not actively seeking growth. If you update your blog regularly with comprehensive, high-quality content and are not seeing growth in terms of traffic from returning visitors, then you are doing something wrong. Chances are, your traffic is comprised of one-time visitors who forget all about you after they’ve exited your blog.

What can you do to maintain a connection?

  1. Collect emails. If you don’t collect email addresses from your readers, you can’t get those readers to come back to your blog on a regular basis. You can use these emails to send a message each time you publish a new post. Alternatively, you can send a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter highlighting your best posts within that period. A mailing list can even offer a targeted audience who may be interested in a new product or service you’ve developed, leading to a higher conversion rate than a general blog post. Whatever your reason for collecting emails, doing it will keep your readership updated and constantly interacting with your brand. Word of caution: make sure you ask for permission before you add an email to a newsletter or mailing list. Like you, I absolutely hate it when blogs add me as a subscriber when I input my email for another purpose. The last thing you want is to be labeled or even reported as a spammer.
  2. Build a community. Blogging has always been all about people interacting on a more personal level compared to traditional news outlets. If your blog is not growing, then you may have issues with engagement. Are you getting comments? Are you responding to comments? Do you have a group of people who talk to each other through your blog? Do you ask for user input at the end of each blog post? Is your comment system intuitive and easy to use? Is your content original, personal, and addressing the needs and wants of your readers? These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself when building a community around your blog.
  3. Get on social media. People spend more time on social networking platforms than other sites. In 2014, Facebook reported that the average user spends 17 minutes on the site every day. If you want to get a reader’s attention, then you need to have a social media presence. Start with one or two platforms – Facebook and Twitter – and build your presence there. Share your posts. Ask your readers for their opinions or experiences. Pose a question. Share other experts’ guides. You don’t even need to stay on your own Facebook page – interact with other blogging authorities in the niche and build relationships. If your contributions are insightful, you may even be invited to guest blog. The traffic you build through your social sharing can never be taken away from you by Google’s algorithm.

Are You Insecure About Your Knowledge or Blogging Skills?

You lack conviction. Some of the most common indications that you don’t believe in yourself or your ability to offer value through your blog content include:

  • You don’t think you’re a writer because you didn’t major in journalism or creative writing.
  • You question your authority to write about a certain topic.
  • You think, “Who am I to express my opinion strongly to the public?”
  • You’re afraid to let your personality shine in your writing.
  • You’re a perfectionist and afraid to post anything but a 10,000 word “masterpiece” that covers every angle, argument, or consideration.

If you consistently feel self-doubt, then you need to take a step back and remember why you started blogging in the first place. The barriers to entry when starting a blog are so low that you could have written about anything, but you chose this niche for a reason.

Either you had first-hand experience and knowledge in the industry and you believed you could make a difference or you were passionate about learning something new and wanted to document your research and journey.

The former is common in the SEO industry, where online marketers who worked for agencies or themselves building and selling sites decide they want to finally share all their SEO knowledge with the masses. The latter is common in the personal finance niche, where individuals document their own troubles managing money and share their journey to financial independence.

If you do not have that confidence and passion anymore, you can do all the research you want and spew thousand-word posts, but your writing will not resonate with your audience.

Blogging Isn’t Just About Writing. Remember, you don’t have to be a poet to create a useful article. As the respected author E.B. White said, “Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.” You need to find that confidence and believe that you have something to offer your readers. Don’t let your lack of training as a writer bring you down. All things can be learned, but passion can’t be faked.

This lack of self-belief can also lead to the next problem.

Your blog is bland. Tepid. Has no personality. There are millions of blogs out there and the number of online visitors is finite. You need to have something unique to attract readers and grow your audience. Since more than one person is ever writing about the same topic, you must add your own unique touch or contribution.

Some ways to do this:

  1. Inject your real-life personality in your writing. If you’re outspoken and unabashed, then write that way. If you aren’t, force yourself to be and share all the things you’ve always wanted to say but didn’t.
  2. Don’t shy away from controversy. Even though you may not have a confrontational personality, discussing controversial issues can help your blog get attention. People like controversy, and they like discussing it. Whether they agree with you or not, it doesn’t matter. What counts is that you get them reading, sharing, and commenting. However, always think before you “speak” and don’t make a fool of yourself.
  3. Talk to your readers as if they were right in front of you. Much like letting your personality shine through your writing, you also need to remember that your readers are real people and not just numbers in your analytics report. Write as if you were having a conversation with one of them. Create something that you yourself will want to read and share.
  4. It’s okay to be weird. Let’s be honest – we’re all weird. I’m OCD about cleanliness and organization. Everything on my desk is parallel or perpendicular to each other. Everything on my laptop is titled a certain way and saved for optimal convenience and efficiency, including my music and movies. When setting my thermostat or the volume on the TV, I prefer even numbers or ones ending in 5. Those of you who share my “weirdness” may feel an instant connection with me because we share the same “problems” ;). Weird is definitely more eye-catching than bland.

Treat Your Blog Like A Business

Everything you offer is free. There is nothing wrong with giving away free content, products, or services. But if you want to grow a blog and make money online, you need to train your readers not to expect everything for free. Sometimes the most valuable information or tools require an investment of your time and money to develop, and you will need to take that into consideration.

Nevertheless, you should understand that “paying” doesn’t always involve money. Many readers have an aversion to shelling out money for content, especially if you are not a big name yet or have given everything for free up till now. Fortunately, you can achieve growth in other ways.

One way is to show only a snippet of a long-form resource. Make sure that the preview is interesting enough to make readers want to read the entire resource. Here comes the caveat – in order for the reader to see the whole article, you ask them to tweet or share the URL on Facebook. Not only do you provide something of value, but you also get something in return: more exposure. Similarly, you can require an email address for your mailing list.

This strategy isn’t innovative and new for 2014, but it does work and can provide a way to constantly keep in touch with your readership, as discussed earlier in this post.

You’re not taking things seriously. You most probably started blogging as a hobby. Then one day, you installed AdSense on your blog and started making a couple dollars a day. Several months went by and that part-time income started growing to an amount that made you realize the potential of your blog.

The problem is that some bloggers who want to succeed still don’t take blogging all that seriously. They think that it’s just writing and publishing whenever they want. And when they analyze their websites, they are subjective and passive instead of being honest and critical with themselves.

Here are some things you can do to take your blog to the next level by taking it more seriously.

Be consistent. Consistency is vital to your blog’s success. You should maintain an editorial calendar or simply choose to post Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Consistency means being in it for the long haul. Don’t rest on your accomplishments for the past month – set new goals and keep working.

Manage your time well. If you want blogging to be a source of income, then you need to run your blog like a business. That means you need to learn to manage your time and have a good work-life balance. Set work hours, and set aside time to spend with your friends and family. When you know you have all day to accomplish a task, you will likely procrastinate. Alternatively, when I’m feeling burned out, I like to go on vacation or visit a nice part of town. Having fun or observing other successful people motivates me to get there too.

Always Hold Yourself Accountable

I feel this is where a lot of people fail, whether they are bloggers, entrepreneurs, or employees. Do you want to appear to be or feel successful, or do you want your dreams to be a reality? You can blame your blog’s stalled growth on Google, Facebook, competing bloggers, or your hosting company, but ultimately, you are the boss.

You are the master of your own fate, and that is one of the best feelings in the world. Except for extenuating circumstances, your blog’s success begins and ends with you. This can either empower and motivate you or cripple you.

As a final thought, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Mark Twight:

“Modern man is conditioned to expect instant gratification, but any success or triumph realized quickly, with only marginal effort, is necessarily shallow. Meaningful achievement takes time, hard work, persistence, patience, proper intent and self-awareness. The path to success is punctuated by failure, consolidation, and renewed effort.”

Author Bio: Gary Dek is the founder of StartABlog123.com, which provides a free step-by-step tutorial on starting and growing a blog. He is passionate about helping new and professional bloggers build sustainable online businesses via content and social marketing.

ProBlogger Event 2014 – Wrap Up

It is hard to believe but the 2014 ProBlogger Training event is already last month and if I’m honest with you – I’m still reeling from it a little.

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What an amazing two days!

This was our second year of holding the event on the Gold Coast in Queensland Australia but it was the first time we’d had over 500 attendees all in the one room.

When I came up with the idea for the first PBEVENT back in 2010 I envisaged a small group of bloggers gathering around a board table in a meeting room somewhere but had no idea of what would happen to the event – or the Aussie blogosphere in the following five years.

Both have exploded – in a good way!

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This year’s event took a good 11 months to plan for – with the help of an amazing team. We had 550 attendees, over 30 speakers (four internationals and the rest from around Australia), three new niche networking events, three new ‘accelerator’ workshops, a special partner event with Aweber, and one crazy networking party (with a nautical theme).

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Our international speakers this year were amazing. Pat Flynn, Rand Fishkin, Geraldine DeRuiter and Chris Ducker all made the big trip down under and all completely brought it to their sessions – delivering high quality presentations and really practical advice.

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Our Aussie speakers also blew our socks off with their storytelling, advice and generosity.

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The Australian blogosphere has continue to grow and mature in the last 12 months and the spirit in the room over our two days of training was incredible. This year almost two thirds of attendees were with us for their first time, most of whom were in their first year of blogging. Something is happening in Australia!

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Surprise and Delights

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This year we did a few of surprise and delight moments through the conference. Virgin Australia gave three attendees a total of 800,000 velocity points, Olympus Australia gave away their amazing OMD camera, and Tourism and Events Queensland gave one attendee the cost of getting to and attending our conference back to them. Oh – and then there was the free massages and coffee from Bupa and the networking events from L’Oreal (where I got made up with smokey eyes – see below), Annie Sloan and Pure Harvest.

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We also surprised those attendees who have been to all five PBEVENTS with free tickets to next year’s event, a couple of attendees with a trip to Melbourne to spend the day with the ProBlogger team to help take their blog to the next level, and another with a date night for her and her husband at a hotel in Perth along with free tickets to next years PBEVENT in Perth and next year’s main event.

We also had opportunity spend time with The Reach Foundation and hear from one of their wonderful young crew members to tell us about the work they do with thousands of Aussie young people.

I also had a few moments of surprise – one being on the last night when my team all appeared at drinks with Darren Rowse Tattoos!

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Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

PBEVENT is fast becoming the highlight of my year each year – I love seeing the progression in our attendees from one year to another. Numerous bloggers who I met back in 2010-11 as brand new bloggers are now full time bloggers and launching amazing projects.

The theme of my opening keynote this year is that blogging is something that enables normal, ordinary people to do extraordinary things. In the Aussie blogosphere (as it is around the world) this is something I’ve seen hundreds of times.

In the last 12 months alone we’ve seen bloggers launching books and eBooks:

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Launching businesses and training courses:

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Experimenting with Kickstarter and Pozible campaigns:

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Developing Apps and running events:

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And that’s just scratching the surface.

Bigger than One Direction and Football

Our attendees certainly like to use social media!

PBEVENT this year knocked AFL football, Rugby and the birthday of one of the OneDirection group off the number-one trending perch on Twitter for two and a half days nationally in Australia.

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Over the two days of the event the #PBEVENT hashtag had around 15,000 tweets with over 47,000,000 impressions (over the month around the event this is closer to 80,000,000 impressions), over 3000 instagrams and since the event we’ve seen more blog posts written about the event than we can keep up with.

Following are just some of the blog posts we’ve found that give you a speaker/attendee perspective on what it’s like to attend a PBEVENT.

But before I get to those posts – I want to say another huge thank you to the team who helped run this year’s event. To Jasmin, Nicole and Laney who returned this year to form our core team. To those around them who put in many hours including Caroline, Liz, Shayne, Stacey, Yvonne, Cheryl, Jade, Brooke, Grove, Nathalie, Martine, Louisa Claire and to the many others who pitched in and lent a hand throughout the event.

Here’s just some of the team behind this year’s event pictured int he Olympus booth at our nautical networking party (yes, that’s me as Jack Sparrow). See more shots from this Photo Booth here.

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All our speakers and panelists – thanks so much for your time and generosity.

Also a huge thanks to our sponsors (all mentioned above) who helped to keep our event as what I hear over and over again is one of the most affordable and value-packed events in Australia.

Lastly to our attendees this year and to the wider Australian Blogosphere – your support and encouragement drive us on to keep improving PBEVENT. As I said in closing this year’s event we’re already planning the 2015 events (yes there will be more than one).

We’re hoping to run a full day event early in 2015 in Perth and another multi day event at a similar time next year (location to be announced) as well as some smaller meet up events in other capital cities early in the year.

What Our Attendees Thought About this Year’s Event

As promised above – here are just some of the blog posts we’ve found about this year’s event from attendees and speakers. Thanks to Jade Craven for helping me get this list together! Enjoy!

 

From Presenters: