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Blog Tips from ProBlogger Guest Contributors

The Full Blog Monetization Menu – 60+ Ways to Make Money With Your Blog

60+ Ways to make money on or with your blog  problogger.netThis is a guest contribution from Paul Back.

You think about it all the time – how great it would be to make money from your blog.

Yet, with monetization, things can get a little confusing. There are just so many different options.
Making money from your blog is not something that happens by accident.

It takes forethought, planning, and a winning strategy.

Once you understand all of the possible ways to monetize your blog, it’s much easier to devise the right plan.

Succeeding at Monetizing Your Blog

The First Step is Understanding Your Options

There are almost limitless possibilities for a blogger like you to earn money online, but most of these fall into a small number of distinct categories.

This post is designed to show your options so that you can go on to make the right monetization decisions.

Without having a clear idea of what’s possible, you simply can’t make a solid choice.

Your destination is a blog that makes you money – you need to choose some routes that will get you there.

Let’s face it – blogging is hard work, so don’t make it even harder by failing to create a clear path to reaching your goals. You’ll end up investing time and energy on something that just won’t work for you.

When analysing your options, think about your end goal – do you want a more passive way to earn? Perhaps you want to offer a service? Maybe you just want to create and sell your own products? Not sure yet?

Whatever it is – we have it on the menu.

The Full Menu

I scoured the Internet for months trying to find the most diverse and proven ways to make money from blogs.

I’ve talked to every contact I have, conducted research, done free and paid courses and classes, read real books and e-books, watched videos, attended webinars, and have tried a lot of these strategies myself – if it’s not on the list, it probably doesn’t exist or just doesn’t work.

So don’t worry; I’ve got you covered!

Look through the list, and find your best options — or just see what’s available. Use it as a guideline for your blog monetization plans.

Display Advertising

Ads are great, but they can be tricky.

They can deliver staggering revenues, but for most people, they make very little. If you want success with ads, you must consider traffic, audience, and context.

Generally speaking, the traffic numbers of most blogs don’t have the volume to make a real dent with display advertising, and once you have the traffic, there are usually better ways to monetize.

Of course there are exceptions to the rules – so aim to understand your niche and audience before deciding if ads are right for you.

Overview

  • Pros: Easy to set up, offers passive income (set-and-forget), requires no special skills, works on most audiences, and works from day one.
  • Cons: Usually results in relatively small profits, requires a lot of traffic, turns off some audiences, makes your blog look less attractive, and is usually not the main revenue maker for a blog.
  • Best When: You have a lot of traffic, you have other sources of revenue, and you’re waiting to develop your own products for sale or quickly monetize without much effort.

You have many ad networks to choose from. Google AdSense is the most popular, but look into Media.net (Yahoo/Bing) and Clicksor. These ad networks are contextual – they automatically display ads based on your page’s content.

After you choose an ad network, there’re many different ad models you can use – each one has its benefits.

Here are the best options:

Display Advertising Options:

PPM

Get paid whenever a visitor lands on a page displaying the ad, as its “seen” — it doesn’t matter if the ad is clicked or not.

  • Pros: Visitors don’t have to click on your ads to make money.
  • Cons: Needs even more traffic than other ad types and usually pays less.
  • Best When: This is great for high-traffic blogs that have little audience interaction – news-type blogs for example.

PPC

Get paid when someone clicks on the ads displayed on your blog. (Prices depend on niche — more competitive = more money.)

  • Pros: Standard advertising model — it is the best bang for your buck.
  • Cons: You want advertisers with relevance to your blog to increase ad clicks.
  • Best When: In high competition niches that are relevant to your blog.

Banner Ads

Banner ads are placed in sidebars, headers, and individual posts. These can be PPC or PPM.

  • Pros: Common and effective form of advertising.
  • Cons: Can ruin the look of a blog depending on which ads are displayed.
  • Best When: You have control over which banners display.

RSS Ads

Appear in the RSS feed of a blog.

  • Pros: A great way to make money from your RSS feed.
  • Cons: With the decline of RSS feeds, these have become less popular; that doesn’t necessarily make them bad.
  • Best When: You have a large RSS list.

In-text Ads

These are ads that are embedded within your written text. When a reader clicks on them, it displays the corresponding ad.

  • Pros: They look like links, so there is no need for banner ads.
  • Cons: Distracting. People may find it annoying. Makes your blog worse from a usability perspective.
  • Best When: You don’t use other forms of advertising.

Mobile Advertising

If you have a mobile app or want to advertise via mobile channels. See: ADMob, Millennial Media, and Adfonic. There were 7.1 billion mobile devices connected to the net in 2014 – mobile and app advertising is set to take advantage of this in a big way.

  • Pros: Take advantage of a growing sector, less competition in the app sector, majority of web traffic comes from mobile devices.
  • Cons: Situational – you need to have an app or want to advertise in apps.
  • Best When: You have an app, and you want to capitalise on the growing number of mobile devices or when your audience largely uses mobile to view your content.

Advertising widgets

Use widgets such as AdSanity to help you manage and customise ads on your blog.

  • Pros: Detailed advertising information, makes your ads more profitable and customizable (e.g., display ads with higher revenue). Works with single or multiple ads.
  • Cons: Cost of entry, needs more effort on your part.
  • Best When: You already use ads with some success and want to increase their profitability.

Bulletin/job board

Create a bulletin or job board and let others advertise on it for a fee.

  • Pro: Easy to set up and can drive huge amounts of relevant traffic to your blog, which amplifies other monetisation avenues and turns your blog into a “hub” in your niche.
  • Cons: Usually this is not a primary source of income; your blog has to be sufficiently popular.
  • Best When: Your blog is seen as a hub in your space when you already have a lot of traffic and when combined with other revenue streams, e.g., Problogger Job Board.

Audio ads on your podcasts

If you have a podcast, use audio ads similar to a commercial radio station and promote people’s products, services and get paid — e.g., use networks like this, and this.

  • Pros: A great way to earn money from your podcasts.
  • Cons: You must have a regular audience for your podcast to have any real effect.
  • Best When: You have a large and consistent podcast audience.

Sponsored content

Sponsored content is advertising material in the context of a blog post (should be disclosed). Its effectiveness is determined by audience size and relevance. A good example of how sponsored content works is mashable.com. They regularly use content from big companies and get huge brand visibility in exchange for money.

  • Pros: Good way to earn money. Most people would have no issue with sponsored content, if you label it as such.
  • Cons: Would turn some people off and would only work well in some niches (depending on sponsored content opportunities and how well they match your blog).
  • Best When: You have a large reach and you are in a niche with good sponsored content opportunities.

Ads on your videos (for other’s products or your own)

Use your videos as platforms for advertising. Use the YouTube advertising program, or create an agreement with a sponsor, and mention them or display their logo in your videos.

  • Pros: Make money from the content you create, easier to get noticed than blog banner ads, relatively unexplored area for most bloggers, and can go viral.
  • Cons: Only applies to video content. Traffic needed. May need relationships with businesses.
  • Best When: You are a successful video content creator.

Directly sell ad space on your blog

Sell ad space to other bloggers or businesses without going through a middle man (ad networks).

  • Pros: No middleman, total control over what ads you want to display, more profit, and you can choose ad designs that complement your blog.
  • Cons: Fewer ads to choose from and harder to arrange than AdWords (or equivalent).
  • Best When: You share an audience with a blogger or business that’s interested in advertising on your site.

Sell, Sell, Sell – Blog Stores

Sometimes, the best way to make money off your blog is to treat it like a sales platform.

The biggest problem for most online businesses is they lack traffic volume and a repeat audience. As a blogger, that’s your bread and butter.

Bloggers get so hung up on providing free content that they forget they are allowed to sell to their audiences. If you provide real value with your content and offer something relevant, your audience would love to buy from you.

Here are the best ways:

Create blog merchandise:

Sell shirts, caps, or just about any merchandise from your blog.

  • Pros: A fun idea which under the right conditions will make a great income; check out Cafepress and Merchify for ideas.
  • Cons: Situational — some brands just don’t make for good merchandise.
  • Best When: You have an active, engaged community and a cool social brand. E.g., it’s perfect for health blogs.

Auctions/eBay store

You can create a simple eBay store for your blog. It’s easy and a quick way to start earning an income. Alternatively, you can auction items to your audience without eBay.

  • Pros: Easy and cheap to set up.
  • Cons: Not suitable for every blog, people might take you less seriously depending on niche, and probably not a steady income.
  • Best When: You are in a creative category such as DIY or in a niche that has many physical products associated with it.

Start an ecommerce store

Sell items directly from your blog with no third party involvement.

  • Pros: This is a great way to monetize a blog; a varied inventory can create fantastic revenue.
  • Cons: Need products to sell. Not all niches can be successful – or at least not without thinking outside the box. Check out Lynne Knowlton’s selection of products.
  • Best When: You have many things to sell or have a blog for business purposes.

Reviews and Sponsorships

As a blogger, your biggest asset is your audience.

They give you authority and influence. And when influential people speak – others listen.

This makes bloggers like you perfect for product reviews and sponsorships. These strategies have been around for a long time – and for good reason; they work.

You can use the power your audience gives you to earn a living, without violating your audience’s trust or using any sleazy tactics.

Here are the best ways:

Paid reviews

Paid reviews are where an advertiser pays the blogger for a review of their product or service. Bloggers should let the audience know when a post is paid for; in some countries it’s required by law (including the U.S.). You can use PayPerPost, com or make your own arrangements.

  • Pros: You get paid to review products and services in your niche. It’s easy and requires little effort.
  • Cons: Not every niche and blog has the opportunity to review a product. This method is a short-term monetization strategy.
  • Best When: You have a popular blog with a lot of reach and an audience that is understanding.

Receive gifts for reviewing products

Getting paid in the form of products or services can be another source of revenue.

  • Pros: An easy way to get rewarded. You can set up a page on your blog to let people know you do reviews, or you can email people directly if you are interested.
  • Cons: Most people would prefer cash payments.
  • Best When: You have a large audience that values your opinion.

Get sponsored by a company

Leverage your audience and influence to get sponsored by a company that will pay you in cash or gifts to promote them.

  • Pros: Can be lucrative, and you don’t have to do your own development or branding.
  • Cons: Usually you need to have a popular blog.
  • Best When: You have a popular blog and you outreach to companies that you have an interest in working with.

Become a brand ambassador

If you love a particular brand, you can try to become a brand ambassador. You promote a company and get paid in commissions, free gifts, or cash.

  • Pros: A great way to earn and promote your favourite companies.
  • Cons: You need to have a company you strongly believe in that fits your image, you need a large following, and your reputation is in another’s hands.
  • Best When: There is a company that lives up to your expectations of quality, service, and ideals — and is beneficial to your audience.

Passive Income

Every blogger has fantasized about making a fully passive income at some stage.

And affiliate marketing is the best way of doing that. But even with passive income, you still have to do some work.

Well, initially at least.

But get it right and your life will change in a big way. So kick back, relax, and watch that money come rolling in.

Here are the best ways:

Join an Affiliate Program

Becoming an affiliate is the perfect way to make money selling products or services without having to invest time in creating them yourself.

  • Pros: Great source of potential revenue, no need to develop your own products.
  • Cons: Turn your audience away if you promote the wrong type of product, lose audience to competitors, lose audience if you overdo it, and not as much money as making your own products.
  • Best When: You have a large devoted audience, you want to make extra money to an already successful blog, or you want to “test drive” an idea before committing your own time and money.

Affiliate links in posts

You create “evergreen” content with links to affiliate products – this is not promoting another blogger’s products via email advertising. For an example of affiliate links in posts, check out Darren Rowse’s Digital Photography School. The difference is subtle, but some audiences simply do not want to hear about other people’s products in your email messages.

  • Pros: Earns money while providing value to your audience. Perfect for monetizing your current content.
  • Cons: Takes some effort to set up; very few people could make a full living off affiliate links in posts.
  • Best When: You create incredible list articles with affiliate links and you have a large audience.

Webhosting referral affiliates: (Bluehost, Godaddy, Hostgator)

Promote a service you trust and use on your blog to earn commissions.

  • Pros: It’s easy, no special skills are needed, and anyone can do it. All website owners need hosting.
  • Cons: Like other affiliate links, this usually won’t be enough to make a full living, and needs lots of traffic.
  • Best When: Using hosting companies that you trust and use with your blog. Your audience has or intends to have a website, e.g., blogging, social media, and business niches.

Affiliate sales from social media (Instagram and Pinterest)

If you have a large presence on Instagram or Pinterest, you can promote affiliate products using RewardStyle or ETSY. This is a great way to use your blog in conjunction with social media, and earn money – perfect for visual merchandise, i.e., fashion or design blogging.

  • Pros: A fantastic way to leverage your social media presence.
  • Cons: You need to have a large following to be accepted.
  • Best When: You are a popular blogger that focuses on visual content.

Create an affiliate program for your own products

This is a way to get extra reach and revenue from one of your own products.

  • Pros: Increase profits for no extra work, and a great way to make extra sales and get exposure.
  • Cons: Not as profitable as tapping into the market without a middleman.
  • Best When: You have an expensive product to sell and have relationships with influencers in your niche.

Directly sell other bloggers’ products and get commissions

Like affiliate marketing, you’re selling other people’s products, but unlike traditional affiliate marketing, the commission is determined directly between you and the other party.

  • Pros: High commissions and relevant to your audience. Good way to build goodwill and relationships with other bigger players in your niche.
  • Cons: You need strong connections to other bloggers – which means you are already established. Has potential to lose your readers to your competition.
  • Best When: You already have a medium to large email list and have good relationships with other bloggers/businesses/gurus. 

Be a Leader

As a blogger, you’re naturally a coach and mentor to your audience.

You love what you do, and you wouldn’t change a thing. So, why not get paid for it?

Everybody wants your help, but it’s not possible to help everyone. You need to prioritize and still find the time to create quality content.

When you charge for your services, you can focus on your work, provide quality advice, and spend

your time more wisely.

Here are the best ways: 

Consulting

Consulting is about using your expertise to provide specific problem-solving or troubleshooting – such as providing marketing advice or strategy. E.g., Neil Patel. Consulting usually requires you to have a specific skillset.

  • Pros: Usually more lucrative than coaching and builds your credibility faster. Great as a primary or secondary revenue stream.
  • Cons: Requires a high level of authority and credibility in your niche when compared to coaching, therefore not the best option for total beginners. It’s also time intensive.
  • Best When: Your intervention can have quick and measurable results (changing marketing strategy, providing SEO audits etc.), usually “service” based.

Coaching

You offer expertise to help your clients resolve a problem – coaching is similar to consulting, but there is more emphasis on providing support, encouragement, motivation, and guidance. With coaching, there is less emphasis on having a specific skillset or qualification in general and more emphasis on support and feedback.

  • Pros: Provides a consistent flat rate and a reliable income, and you also learn more about your audience.
  • Cons: It is a time-heavy process that slows the growth of your blog and requires a certain amount of authority.
  • Best When: There is a longer-term issue or problem that requires more than one or two sessions to resolve — e.g., lifestyle change, personal development.

Group coaching programs

Like advanced consulting for a whole group of clients through a predefined curriculum. You provide lessons, exercises, feedback, and mentoring.

  • Pros: You learn new skills and get rapid feedback about what your customers want – while being paid.
  • Cons: A lot of time is taken in running and preparing these courses. You need some level of experience.
  • Best When: You have already had success with one-on-one coaching and are looking to take on more students at once — e.g., Selena Soo.

Get Paid for Superior Content

It’s your job to create incredible content for your audience.

You spend countless hours researching, writing, creating and editing. But some content is just too valuable, too time intensive and too in-depth to be given away for free.

If you didn’t charge for it – it would be impossible to keep your standards that high.

This is a natural progression for any blogger, and it’s a fantastic way to earn money.

Here are the best ways:

Private interview series

You interview experts in your field on a number of important topics and charge a fee for accessing this material — e.g., Yaro Starak from EJ.

  • Pros: These are cheap to set up, easy to scale, and are incredible relationship-building opportunities.
  • Cons: The experts have to be well known authorities in your space for people to consider it valuable enough to pay for. The interviews must provide real value. You need to be fairly well connected.
  • Best When: You are well connected in your niche as well as have other products (with higher prices) for sale.

Develop and sell your own self-paced courses

Self-paced courses are teaching resources that a user goes through at their own pace; usually it’s a combination of text, video, audio, and live calls.

  • Pros: One of the best ways for bloggers to make sustainable, high-level profits. Courses like this build your credibility and can be your sole revenue stream.
  • Cons: Time and effort intensive to put together, and you need a lot of experience in your field (to create worthy learning resources).
  • Best When: You are a popular blogger who’s ready to step up to the challenge – this separates the casual bloggers from the big boys. E.g., Jon Morrow’s Guest Blogging

Create a video course

Video courses are similar to self-paced courses, but they focus heavily on in-depth “over the shoulder” type videos. These are perfect for instructing complex tasks that users need to view multiple times to follow.

  • Pros: Same as a self-paced course.
  • Cons: Video courses take a lot of time to set up, may require special video and editing software, and high production value is a must, due to repeated viewing.
  • Best When: You are in a technical niche like link building / SEO. E.g., Brian Dean.

E-books

E-books are a great place to start monetizing.

  • Pros: Low up-front and overhead costs, no ongoing cost or customer support, easy to create, and you gain credibility and widen your audience.
  • Cons: Relatively low profit per sale, and requires high volume to make money.
  • Best when: You have other forms of revenue, and you are looking to expand your authority. E.g., Enchanting Marketing.

Membership Site

Create regular private content that users pay to view.

  • Pros: A great way to get consistent money (this works by charging a relatively small, recurring monthly fee).
  • Cons: You need to produce regular high-quality content that’s worth paying for.
  • Best When: You have a ton of high-quality topics to discuss, and you’re invested in creating high-quality content consistently for the long term.

Private forum

A great way to reach out to hundreds or thousands of clients at once.

  • Pros: Like private membership content but usually more time intensive. The quality is usually lower than that of premium courses.
  • Cons: It takes a lot of time and energy to set up, and the level of service is usually not as high as a self-paced course.
  • Best When: You have a loyal audience and you are willing to spend time each day to review threads and post in forums, or when you have other “power users” that will aid you in the forums.

Leverage Your Blogging Skills

As a blogger, you develop a particular skill set.

This skill set is extremely valuable in the real world. But most bloggers take it for granted – some don’t realize how sought after these skills can be.

But if you’re smart, you can use these skills to your advantage.

Here are the best ways:

Paid guest posts

There’re blogs and business sites that pay you to guest post. Do this regularly and the money starts to add up. Check out some great resources for paid guest posting: here, here and here.

  • Pros: Great way to polish your writing and get paid for it.
  • Cons: Too time intensive to make a lot of money.
  • Best When: You want to earn some money while polishing your writing skills.

Ghost-writing for other bloggers or sites

Earn money by offering ghost-writing services for other blogs or businesses. This is similar to guest posting, but you’re not credited for the work, and you’ll usually get paid more per post.

  • Pros: Fantastic way to boost revenue and build relationships.
  • Cons: Time consuming, and a lot of bloggers may find it unsatisfying in the long run.
  • Best When: You are in the freelancing / blogging / writing niche, which means you can charge a lot more and build a reputation with popular bloggers and businesses.

Use your blog as a platform for a higher-paying job

Use your blog as a launching pad for a much higher-paying career in the real world. Make yourself an authority in the niche your ideal job fits into, and use it as leverage in your workplace or the job market. You can also launch your own freelance career as a blogger, writer, or coach.

  • Pros: Gives the security of a “real” job. A lot of people prefer more traditional and structured ways to earn money.
  • Cons: Ultimately, you are bound by the job market.
  • Best When: Your passion lies within a particular business sector or you are self-employed.

Write sales letters

Writing a sales letter is similar to a sales page for a business, but it’s longer, more detailed, more difficult, and requires a high level of copywriting and marketing skills.

  • Pros: Direct marketing is a particular skill that can earn you much more money compared to traditional copywriting.
  • Cons: It’s an acquired skill, and not everyone is capable of doing it well.
  • Best When: You’re a blogger in the marketing/copywriting niche with a few years of experience.

Publish a book

Write and publish a physical book. Many bloggers have become bestselling authors; some even have a few books under their belts.

  • Pros: Books are an incredible authority booster, and you receive huge acclaim and open up other opportunities. Not only do you make money from book sales, but you also can increase your rates on all your other offerings.
  • Cons: For this to have any real chance, you need a fairly large and devoted audience.
  • Best When: You’re a gifted writer, and you run a popular blog. E.g., Seth Godin.

Write web copy for businesses/blogs 

A great way to use your copywriting skills is to write sales copy for websites. Copywriting for company websites and sales pages is a sought after skill, and can be hugely rewarding. 

  • Pros: Get paid a lot more than just writing articles.
  • Cons: Providing a service like this usually only applies if you are in the blogging, social media, or marketing niches.
  • Best When: You are in the right niche and have some degree of authority and/or marketing experience.

Form a partnership (with another blogger, online business, or physical business)

Enter a mutual business relationship with another blogger, business, or physical business, and get paid to do so.

  • Pros: Access to revenue or skillsets that you otherwise wouldn’t have. With a mutual partnership, you have the option to split up work, access to products you normally would not have, and the freedom to focus on doing what you’re best at.
  • Cons: Not receiving full profits.
  • Best When: Your blog is related to an industry with business opportunities, and you are well connected.

The Power of Events

You’re probably pretty social.

You love talking with your audience, you love networking with other bloggers, and you love to share what’s on your mind – and the best way to share ideas is to share with a receptive group.

And creating an event is an excellent way to teach, raise your profile, and get paid.

Here are the best ways: 

Organize an event (in real life)

Step out from behind your keyboard, and organize a real-life event. Take the lead and earn money from real-life events — like Copyblogger, Problogger, or NerdFitness (check out this awesome fit camp) — if you have readers that are in proximity to you or are willing to travel. Most people put more value in a face-to-face interaction and are willing to pay for the experience. Events will bond you with readers, and are mutually beneficial.

  • Pros: You can make great money and strong bonds with readers.
  • Cons: It can be difficult logistically and may not work in some niches; usually you would need to be well known and respected.
  • Best When: You have a strong bond with your audience, and you can organise an event worth paying for.

Paid speaking gigs

Use your blog as a platform to launch a speaking career.

  • Pros: Branch out from your blog for a well-paid and rewarding speaking career.
  • Cons: The suitability of this depends on your authority, niche, and comfort with public speaking.
  • Best When: You’re passionate and imagine yourself “blogging” in front of a large, live audience. E.g., Neil Patel (above) or Adam Franklin.

Host a branded Twitter party

Bloggers have more authority on social media than most businesses or online users. If your blog gives you clout on Twitter, approach a business or company to host a branded Twitter party and get paid for your efforts.

  • Pros: Leverage your large Twitter following and get paid to promote.
  • Cons: A Twitter party is audience specific and brand specific. This strategy requires your audience’s “permission” and participation, and it would put some people off.
  • Best When: You know your audience likes the brand/product being promoted, and you have a large Twitter following.

Live workshops

You can hold a webinar online, or a real-life local event, which requires payment to attend. E.g., Jon Morrow’s live workshops for his Guest Blogging program.

  • Pros: A cool way to teach and engage an audience which is very rewarding and provides you with a good income. Similar to group coaching but with a higher price bracket.
  • Cons: You would need to organize well and have a high level of service and value for this to work.
  • Best When: You have had some practice with webinar software and consulting.

Get the Crowd On Your Side

Rally the troops and form an army.

With the power of the crowd on your side, you can achieve incredible things.

Harnessing the power of crowdfunding has never been easier; there is money to be made, projects to complete, and lives to change.

If you have the will, and the right people behind you, there’s a way.

Here are the best ways:

Create a crowdfunding page

If you have a specific goal or mission for your blog, create a crowdfunding page, and source funds from your audience.

  • Pros: Get paid for having a vision and the initiative to start something your audience appreciates.
  • Cons: Ideally, you need a mission people can get behind, and this method usually doesn’t provide reoccurring income.
  • Best When: You have a vision, goal, or mission that inspires people to take action — you may be helping others (like Pat Flynn did), have a special project you want to work on, or be developing a product your fans want ( with an epic $50 million dollars from crowdfunding – check out their blog here).

Enroll in the Beacon network

Get donations for your creative work.

  • Pros: An innovative way to get paid for your work.
  • Cons: Not yet a proven way, and it’s mostly for creative work.
  • Best When: You have a blog in the creative space, and you want to try something different.

Get fan funding with Patreon

Get donations for your creative work – this is like crowd funding but for a sequence of smaller projects.

  1. Pros: A great way to make money for content in the creative space. A unique way to build a bond with your fans.
  2. Cons: It’s not mainstream, and your audience would need to adopt the Patreon system.
  3. Best When: You create creative projects, and your audience is open to new ideas. E.g., Cliff Ravenscraft uses Patreon for his podcasts.

Get your audience on Flattr

An interesting platform for you to share your creative content and get paid for each “like” from any Flattr user. 

  • Pros: In theory, it’s a great way to get paid for your creative work.
  • Cons: You have to convince your audience to use the Flattr system.
  • Best When: A large part of your audience uses Flattr.

Get tips on Tiptheweb

Encourage your readers to use a tipping service to get paid for your creative work.

  • Pros: You get rewarded for your outstanding work on a per case basis.
  • Cons: This is in the beta stage, meaning you most likely won’t get enough people tipping to make a solid income.
  • Best When: You consistently create great content, and your audience members are early adopters that benefit from your work.

Let your audience show gratitude on Gratipay: Similar to tipping but provides a reoccurring weekly donation for doing good work.

  • Pros: You have a better chance to make regular income than tipping since you get weekly payments.
  • Cons: Might have a harder time convincing your audience to commit to reoccurring weekly payments.
  • Best When: You have a loyal audience, you create great content, and you do not advertise or sell any other products.

Just ask for donations (PayPal)

A bit of an old-school way to make money blogging. Just put up a donations page, and ask your readers to donate, either for a specific one-off purpose (e.g., buying a new microphone) or just in general. This can work well, depending on your audience. E.g., Scooby’s Fitness Network.

  • Pros: One of the easiest ways to make money from your blog.
  • Cons: Not a dependable income and as most people will not donate.
  • Best When: Your readers feel in debt to you and your great work, especially when you don’t push any products on them. 

Get Technical

Sometimes it’s necessary to get technical.

Creating a unique product for your audience takes a lot of resources, planning, and work. If you have the know-how and the will to make it happen, you can achieve great things.

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m saying that if you do it right, it’s going to be worth it.

Here are the best ways:

Develop and sell your own physical products

Much like selling your own programs, but this product is physical. 

  • Pros: A physical product lends you credibility and makes you seem more serious than your competitors. Physical products are often easier to market.
  • Cons: Costs are higher due to producing prototypes. Higher risk strategy when compared to non-physical products or courses due to upfront costs.
  • Best When: You are in a niche that allows for physical products. E.g., no meat athletes gear.

Sell your blog/site template or theme

Sell your custom designed blog theme or template.

  • Pros: A great way to make money if you have a unique theme that people like.
  • Cons: Not every theme and template would apply; most wouldn’t.
  • Best When: You have your own custom theme that your readers ask you about regularly.

Develop and sell your own software:

This is specific to your industry; your programs could be web-based programs, software, or systems that you directly sell to your audience.

  • Pros: The best option for high revenues, and it can be your sole revenue stream. Specifically designed with your audience in mind, which makes it much easier to sell.
  • Cons: An advanced method, it takes a lot of time and money to set up. It’s crucial to have experience (or an experienced team) in development and to really know your audience before you attempt to create these programs.
  • Best When: You have an already popular blog, in the right niche, with a proven track record in sales, and you have money to invest in hiring experts to help you. For example, AppSumo, created by Noah Kagan who runs his own blog at OkDork, or KISSmetrics.

Create a mobile app

Create a mobile app related to your audience, use it as a way to sell something, or leverage it for promotion, advertising, and brand awareness opportunities.

  • Pros: A unique approach, and unlike other app developers, you already have an established audience. Use your blog as a platform to distribute your app, build awareness, and create cross-promotional opportunities.
  • Cons: Technically challenging, and you need to have a good idea of what people want.
  • Best When: You have experience in development, you know your audience well and understand what they need. The level of complexity varies, but you would need a developer if you do not have the skills. Here is a non-tech example.

Try Something Different – Break the Mould

Sometimes, the best way to make a living from your blog is to try something new.

That’s the beauty of it; there really isn’t a limit to what you can do.

If you have the courage to try something different, you may get the rewards you’ve always wanted.

Try something unconventional, innovative, cutting edge – or even downright crazy!

If you have the vision, passion, and drive, no one is going to stop you.

Now go get ’em tiger!

Here are the best ways:

Treat it like a business, and look for an angel investor

If you’re looking to turn your blog into a profitable business, search for investors to back you financially and strategically. Look to Mashable and BuzzFeed for examples.

  • Pros: Secure funding to invest in your blog and the security of knowing successful business people are backing you.
  • Cons: It’s less like a traditional blog and more like a business, which requires a regimented and profit-driven approach.
  • Best When: You have a vision, and you want to build a business around that.

Use a paywall

Paywalls are commonly associated with news websites, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t use them for a blog.

  • Pros: Proven in other industries to make money with your content. A great opportunity to make it work for blogging. Great with in-depth content or more news-type blogs.
  • Cons: Will put a lot of people off.
  • Best When: You have a popular blog with exclusive

Try an “out there” idea

Check out Lynne’s awesome treehouse. She thought outside the box and made money from it. You may not have a treehouse, but you have skills, services, opportunities, or physical products that a portion of your audience will be interested in. 

  • Pros: Unique to the individual; almost everyone has something special they can offer.
  • Cons: You have to look hard to create opportunities.
  • Best When: You identify your unique offer, and you have the courage to try it out.

Sell your blog

Sick of your blog? Sell it. Get paid for your effort; look how Ramsay Taplin and Yaro Starak sold theirs.

  • Pros: Get rewarded for all your hard work with none of the pressure.
  • Cons: It’s usually only one payment unless you have a licensing contract, which can be complicated to arrange. Your blog needs to hold a business value to be eligible for sale.
  • Works Best: When you have a successful blog that you want to get rid of.

Here’s a Toast to Your Success

You have choices to make.

Choose the right ones for you and your blog – and you’ll be rewarded.

Hundreds of thousands of people make money from their blogs; some even make enough to quit their day jobs.

Stop wondering what it would be like - join them.

In reality, it’s no harder than what you do as your job every day.

But without blind luck, the only way to get there is understanding your options, choosing some strategies, and working toward your goal.

Targeted action is the difference between success and failure.

There is a lot riding on your decisions.

But don’t use that as an excuse to take no action.

The only decision you’ll regret is the one you don’t make at all.

Right now, action is vital.

Even if it means you make mistakes.

You can adapt and change later – just start now.

You have your options laid out in front of you – make your choices, and work at them.

It’s time to make a move.

Are you ready?

 

Paul Back will help you grow your blog, increase your traffic, and teach you to make money online. If you’re serious about blogging, then head on over and get your free guide to The 3 Most Effective Blog Monetization Methods and start earning a good living from your blog, quickly and without frustration.

 

Make Money Blogging for Real: 3 Must-Know Factors

This is a guest contribution from Jerry Low.

Most people have heard of the success of Perez Hilton’s blog and that he makes somewhere between $200,000 to $400,000 each month blogging about the latest celebrity gossip.

Success stories like Hilton’s might make the prospect of earning a fortune blogging seem real, but the truth is that it is hard work and not very many crack that six figure per month mark. Still, you can make a decent living from blogging, if you know how to go about it.

Every now and then, I’m pulled aside at a family gathering or am emailed by someone who wants to know if it’s possible to make money blogging.

Some of the common questions include:

  • How do you make money online?
  • How does AdSense work?
  • Should I attend this “make money online” course?

The answer is an absolute yes. You can make money blogging.

While not in the six figures, Matthew Woodward, for example, made approximately $20,000 in December of 2014. That’s a pretty nice paycheck for blogging.

Even a simple idea like Michael Malice’s Overheard in New York, where people submit posts of things they’ve heard somewhere in New York, earns about $9,000 a month from private advertising revenue, such as banner ads placed on the site.

Personally, I have been making money online since 2004. I quit my day job as a rubber dam engineer in 2006, and never looked back.

So, again, the answer is: Yes, you can start a blog easily and make some money.

There are a lot of different online business opportunities, too.

The only question left is: Do you have the writing quality and blogging know-how to get it done? It’s not something easy, but I promise you it’s worth it.

5 ways of making money from your blog without having your own product

When you think of making money from a blog, you might think about Google ads, but there are a few different ways you can make money from your blog:

  • AdSense – People make hundreds of thousands from Google AdSense ads. AdSense makes up about one-third of Google’s revenue. Pay is good, but you will need to play by Google’s rules. There are reports where Google AdSensers get bumped out of the program without warning.
  • Affiliate marketing – This is simply a way to sell related items without the cost of developing a unique product. This is mainly how I make my living online, so this is a viable way to earn money from your blog.
  • Banner ads – Another way to make money from your blog is to sell banner ads on third party sites such as BuySellAds.com. My experience is that this is fairly low pay, but better than nothing. All the different areas of your income can pool together to make a difference in your overall blog earnings.
  • Selling ads directly on your blog – You can earn good money by selling banner ads directly on your blog. However, your blog must first have a good amount of traffic to attract the higher paying advertisers. At first, it might be better to focus on building that traffic and then you can more easily attract the big players.
  • Product reviewer – This might not pay you monetarily, other than the amount you’re earning from blogging, but it can help you try out the newest products in your niche. Merchants send you their products for trial, and you write an honest review. WHSR blogger Gina Badalaty, for example, does this and wrote some great tips on how to become a product reviewer. The key to becoming a product reviewer is that you need to be an influencer in your niche. Personally I get free hosting accounts to test at WHSR so I can write a review on it.

3 key factors: What makes my blog work and why yours doesn’t?

1. You need to be in a profitable niche!

One of the first things you want to think about is your niche and whether it is profitable. Some experts advise being a big fish in a small pond, but I think the exact opposite. You should try the big pond because that is where the money is.

While your great Aunt Mary’s unique recycled dress quilts might be amazing, not that many people are as interested in reading about them as about quilting in general. Don’t limit your topic too much.

When I first got started, I created a site selling inflatable boats online. Can you imagine how many people might buy inflatable boats online? That’s right, not many.

What’s worse, this product is a seasonal product and only sells during the summer, so I was further limited in my sales. Having that said, I did make some money from the site – averaging not more than two sales per year. My inflatable boat business didn’t even take off enough to launch it onto the small pond, much less a big pond.

So, how do you find a profitable niche? Personally, I use SpyFu to check out what advertisers are spending on a niche that I think I might like to tackle. If advertisers, or merchants, are spending big money on that industry, then it means there is money to be made.

spyfu-cpc

There must be a reason why these people can afford $8 – $17/click on these keywords.

If you do not have a SpyFu membership, you can simply do a Google universe search (search at .com, add &pws=0 at the end of your search strings) on the niche you are interested in. Are there any advertisers in the search results? If so, then there may be money in this niche.

Use Google keyword planner to guesstimate the average price of a click in your industry – with that you can predict roughly how much you can earn per Google AdSense click. The higher the pay per click, the more potential there is to earn.

Login to CJ.com and search merchants – use Network Earnings (the green bar) as a potential earning indicator. See image below to understand how I interpret the numbers at CJ.

cj-adv

Network Earnings = How much the advertisers are paying compare to overall. Higher Network Earnings = more affiliates in the program;. 3 month EPC = Average earning per 100 Clicks = How profitable is this affiliate program in long term; 7 day EPC = Average earning per 100 clicks = Is this a seasonal product?

2. Are you getting sufficient targeted traffic?

Another thing you need to keep in mind is the targeted traffic possibilities for a given niche. To be able to make decent money, your blog must have sufficient targeted traffic possibilities. This is where your SEO and social media marketing (SMM) kick in.

When people search for info relevant to your niche topic, they become your target audience. The more people who search for that topic, the bigger your potential audience.

Also, if someone follows your competitors on Facebook, those people are your targeted audience. If you are thinking about jumping into a niche and you see that your closest competitor has a couple million page likes on Facebook, then that is a good sign that there is a big target audience.

More targeted traffics = more money

However, to win the attention of this target audience, you have to gain skills in both SEO and SMM. It is simple math. The more targeted traffic your blog gets, the more money you’ll make.

Here’s how it works: Let’s say you are selling a web hosting service as an affiliate and the average conversion rate is 3%. On average, every 100 visitors that you refer to the web hosting provider, you’ll manage to get three sales. If you manage to refer 200 visitors, then theoretically there will be six sales down the road.

We want all tails keywords

longshorttail Image credit: Bytelaunch

You’ll want to be sure that you figure for both primary and secondary (short-tail and long-tail) keywords to get the best idea of overall traffic possibilities.

Owen Powis, the CEO of Wordtracker, advises that:

“A clear, well-organized site structure helps Google find your content and makes the navigation of your site easier for your customers.”

Being aware of the different target keywords (both primary and secondary) and the advertising basics aimed at those keywords will make your blog more successful.

3. Are you building a List?

You’ve probably heard multiple gurus saying that building an email list is of ultimate importance when driving traffic to your site. If you want to make money blogging, you’ll want to capture your site visitor’s emails and send them emails that will drive them to visit your site over and over again.

If you need help with building and making money out of your email list, here is a very handy guide written Marya Jan on Problogger.net.

Why is an email list so important? An email list is your greatest asset online because those signed up are trusted leads who have visited your blog. Your email subscribers already trust you and your authority on this topic.

If you were going to buy something online, you would probably look at products based on the recommendation of someone you trust. If you wanted to buy a guide to read, you would first look at guides written by or recommended by someone you trust.

If you were following Adam Connell (from Blogging Wizard) new venture WP Super Stars from the beginning, you should note of is that he started collecting email subscribers ahead of time. That’s right -You can start collecting subscribers before you even have a blog. Reach out to family, friends and acquaintances to get started.

Bottom Line – You can do this!

When it comes to making money from blogging, you have to be creative and keep an eye out for new opportunities and changes in how search engine algorithms and advertising work. However, with a bit of foresight sprinkled with hard work and consistency, you too can make a living from blogging.

Jerry Low is a geek dad who enjoys building web assets. You can get more of his blogging tips here

3 Reasons to Stop Relying on How-To Lists for Information (and What to Do Instead)!

 This is a guest contribution from Daryl Rothman.

calendar-checklist-list-3243

The truth is out there.

At least, we hope so.

How-to lists are all the rage in the burgeoning blogging world. And many are good, but there is an absolute deluge. The list of lists is growing.

Who has it right? How do you choose? What lists you should rely on?

Simple. None.

Before you loose the slings and arrows of recrimination upon me, hear me out. I didn’t say you shouldn’t read any how-to lists. There are some great ones. Read away! I am saying you need to stop relying upon them. Here’s why.

  • We are so inundated with lists it is easy to get overwhelmed. You are busy. You have important things to do—including writing, especially writing—and you don’t have unlimited time to be navigating your way through the vast sea of offerings. Have you ever been excited about an idea and set about researching related pieces, only to find there were so many that it was impossible to know where to begin or how to prioritize? Did you feel the motivation slowly ebbing away? The ability to strategically focus—in our writing and in our research—is critical, and if you get overwhelmed it is easy to succumb to exasperation and become paralyzed into inaction.
  • “Expert” advice may not in fact be just that. Again, a caveat: questioning one’s expertise is not to suggest they are unmeriting of admiration and respect. But you must be judicious, and proceed with a healthy dose of skepticism. What are this writer’s credentials? Has she presented certain things as fact which are, in fact, opinion? Are there other perspectives she’s neglected? “Expert” advice can be that shimmering mirage in the desert, but danger lurks just beneath: in our anxious quest to be enlightened, to find that quick fix, the holy grail of literary wisdom, we all too often sublimate and diminish our own power and expertise. Be wary of “gurus,” particularly self-appointed ones. Look past the accolades and glitz and learn to be persuaded by—well, persuasion.
  • Most lists are by their nature prescriptive and one-size fits all. And, inevitably, too good to be true. Diamonds are formed about 100 miles beneath the earth’s mantle, and even after they finally breach the surface only a little bit shows—we have to dig to get at the rest. So too with your best literary gems. Lists are inherently dismissive of the myriad and often subtle dynamics and variables unique to each writer. The gurus know we’re busy, and not only crave answers, but prefer them in bite-sized morsels which are easily digestible and immediately applicable. You are jolted with a surge of motivation, and it may even last for a few days, sometimes longer. But then what? Unless the list happened to be the best way lists can motivate you eternally, the magic ultimately begins to fade. And no wonder– little in life is that simple or easy—nothing meaningful or enduring, anyway. Your writing, I hope we agree, is meaningful. And we want it to endure.

So What Now?

Well, I would be negating every point I’ve just raised above if I tell you precisely what. But I do have some suggestions which have been helpful to me and which I believe —if you contemplate and tailor them within the context of your unique goals and experiences—will be useful for you too.

Determine why you may rely upon lists.

Are you short on time? Out of ideas? Struggling to get organized and get started? These are common challenges and it is normal to seek easy answers.

As I’ve said all along, there are good resources out there, including some terrific lists, but once you understand the reasons behind your reliance, you will be better able to address them in more enduring ways.

Seek information which focuses on you, which helps you find your own voice. This WTD article, while admittedly a list, does just that. It is a great example of deferring to your own wisdom, which is in the end, the best kind of advice.

Just the Facts…

Learn to find valuable, credible, reliable information which aligns with your needs and your goals. I am a writer and an early childhood advocate, and in the latter arena, the term “evidence-based practice” is bandied about quite a bit. Evidenced-based, not, “opinion-based.”

There is nothing wrong with reading and enjoying opinion pieces, but if you are reading something with an expectation of expertise and actionable information, you must be judicious. Take a moment to read the author bio and credentials, and evaluate critically that which is being presented.

Embrace your inner expert.

Learn how to build your own cadre of reliable information. Or, as I sometimes call it, “getting your nerd on”.

I do it (it’s really not a big leap for me), and it can be emboldening and fun. Rather than seeking that Holy Grail which contains all the answers for which you’ve thirsted, recognize that “truth” is not conferred upon us through the waving of that wand, and that a good deal of effort is required.

We are lifelong learners, and truth is never quite ours, but we move closest to it when we recognize it is a matter of the journey itself, which can sometimes be a bit of a grind. Writing, reading, networking, researching. But there is a fair bit of magic and community along the way. Keep notes as you go. Seek and consider a diversity of ideas and approaches. Commune with other literary spirits.

Consider the challenges for which you seek counsel and jot down how you would answer if someone else queried these things of you. I’ll bet you have some pretty good thoughts. A simple reminder that the best and most enduring ideas reside within you.

You are an expert in your own right. Embracing that, and sharing it with others, can be very rewarding.

So what do you think? Have I just committed anti-list sacrilege? Please comment and list a few thoughts. 

Daryl Rothman’s debut novel is being published by Booktrope in 2015. He has written for a variety of esteemed publications and his short story “Devil and the Blue Ghosts” won Honorable Mention for Glimmer Train’s prestigious New Writer’s Award Contest. Daryl is on Twitter, Linked In and Google + and he’d love you to drop in for a visit at his website. Daryl is not sure why he is speaking of himself in 3rd-person. And, like George, he likes his chicken spicy.

The Structure of a Proper Client Proposal That Will Land You a Blogging Gig

This is a guest contribution from Karol K.head

Struggling to make money blogging, aren’t you?

SEO doesn’t seem to work for you.

Neither does social media.

And don’t even get me started on commenting on other blogs and online forums … it’s just noise.

Maybe you even subconsciously hate people like Darren, Jon Morrow, or Brian Clark, purely because they’ve succeeded and you haven’t (yet).

First of all, it’s okay. Don’t worry, not being satisfied and trying to look for outside reasons to justify our problems is a natural human reflex. It will pass.

Second of all, maybe you’ve been putting your efforts in the wrong place…

I don’t want to sound too much like a preacher of some kind, but there really are different ways of making money through a blog out there, and they don’t all revolve around: (1) creating content, (2) building an audience, (3) selling info products to that audience. This is just one of the possible methods. A very sound method if executed properly, but still just one among many.

For instance, a counter approach I’d like to present to you today is based around freelance blogging. In other words, it’s about offering blogging services to other website owners. Or to say it even more plainly, it’s about getting paid to blog.

So naturally, the most important question here is how do you convince anyone to hire you, and why would they even want to hire you to write for them if they have a pair of perfectly good writing hands themselves?

This is what we’re going to answer today. Namely, we’re going to discuss how to craft a proposal that will win you freelance blogging gigs.

The method I like to use is something I call the hungry carnivore tactic.

The Structure of a Proper Client Proposal that will Land You a Blogging Gig / problogger.net

Corny, I know. But it works. It’s a four-step process:

  1. Induce hunger.
  2. Serve the appetizer.
  3. Serve the meat.
  4. Serve the dessert.

Let’s take it from the top.

1. Induce hunger

The Structure of a Proper Client Proposal that will Land You a Blogging Gig / problogger.net

It all starts when the carnivore enters a restaurant – your restaurant.

(The carnivore is just a metaphor for your client, by the way.)

The first thing you need to do when you set your eyes on that prospective client is to induce hunger in them.

You want them to feel exactly like a person feels when they enter a restaurant and see everybody eating. In such an environment, they will become hungry right away and inevitably order something.

So how do you do this to a client?

A very good starting point is identifying their problem and talking about it openly. You want to appeal to them by making things tailor-made.

For example, you don’t actually want to offer a standard blog writing service. Instead, you should identify the areas where the prospective client’s blog is lacking and point those areas out. When you do so, the client will start craving a solution.

As much as possible, try using research data when talking about problems. For instance, if you’re pointing out that the client posts irregularly, try looking up a study about standard blog ROI vs. posting frequency; just to name one possibility.

In general, the more you can help your client to understand the issues that need to be addressed, the more they will want to hire you.

2. Serve the appetizer

The Structure of a Proper Client Proposal that will Land You a Blogging Gig / problogger.net

This is the time to start serving up your solutions.

So to grab your carnivore and make them pay attention to you, serve an appetizer that presents a good overview of what’s to come – the meat.

This is about listing goals and objectives – the main vision of what you can provide as a freelance blogger.

Focus on the following:

  • what’s the most important business goal for your client in relation to their blog,
  • what benefits you bring to the table that can make this goal achievable,
    • list specific benefits that are measurable and easy to grasp and be confident about it (in a way, you’re telling them what dish you’re going to serve them),
    • emphasize why those are the benefits the client should be looking for.

Doing all this might sound like a lot of unnecessary work. I mean, after all, why wouldn’t you just send a standard pitch and offer a simple writing service, right? Well, you can do that, but you’ll be leaving a lot of business on the table.

And it’s not just me talking. Here’s what Ruben Gamez – the founder of Bidsketch (client proposal software for freelancers) – thinks about the no.1 mistake that freelance bloggers make when building a pitch or a proposal:

Almost everyone does the minimum in their proposal. Do more than what has been asked.

They’re looking to get more traffic? Research content for their audience, show a couple of popular posts, and suggest similar topics that will do well.

Whatever their goal is, spend a little time doing research, and include your recommendations.

Ruben surely knows what he’s talking about here, considering the fact that he’s built his whole business based on his client proposal skills and years of experience in that area.

Essentially, this is what appetizers are about – getting someone more excited about the main dish that’s to come. Which brings me to:

3. Serve the meat

The Structure of a Proper Client Proposal that will Land You a Blogging Gig / problogger.net

This is “the what” of your offer. In this part, you need to take the things you’ve talked about in the appetizer and list a specific solution that you’re going to provide.

There’s a handful of important elements you should focus on here:

  • Define the scope of the project. Talk about what you will do as part of the project. For example, writing X articles, each one Y-words long, and so on.
  • Describe your process. How you’re going to deliver the articles. How many revisions are possible. The goal here is to secure yourself from any sort of scope creep.
  • Provide the timeline. When each article is going to get delivered. Is this done in one large package or will you be delivering in batches?
  • The payments. Break down what the client is paying for and how you expect to get the money (PayPal, wire transfer, 50-50 split, etc.).

Now the tricky part.

Try offering more than one possible option. The sweet spot is three. Here’s how:

  • Tier #1 (let’s call it that). Consisting of just the minimal number of services that the client needs. Let’s say this one has the price tag of $2,000 – for the sake of this example.
  • Tier #2. The advanced package. This is Tier #1 plus some additional service that the client already mentioned and will consider useful. For example, this can be an overall WordPress blog management service if you’re into such things. This one could be $3,000.
  • Tier #3. The trickster package. This is Tier #2 plus one more additional service. Again, something valuable. Like social media management for their blog posts. The price tag: $3,000.

No typo there, by the way. Tiers #2 and #3 have the same price tag. This is the whole trick. The goal is to convince the client to always go for the most expensive option. If I’m not mistaken, I first learned about this in Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely.

The reasoning behind this tactic is that comparing each option is hard for the human brain, so we need to provide a common denominator. In this case, it’s the price. So when the price for both options is the same, it’s easy to tell which one is a better deal. And that is most likely what the client will end up selecting. This is the meat.

4. Serve the dessert

The Structure of a Proper Client Proposal that will Land You a Blogging Gig / problogger.net

Now the final part. At this stage, the carnivore should already be fairly satisfied with what they’re seeing, so we just need to give them this final nudge.

Some possibilities:

  • List an expiration date. Say that your offer is only valid through {date here}.
  • Provide an early action bonus. Say that if they act today, you will give them one extra service (but make it a simple one – something you can take care of relatively quickly).
  • Display testimonials. This is a good moment to reference some of your previous clients’ opinions. Just two quick testimonials with names and pictures will be enough here.

Finally, conclude with a good call to action.

Just tell them what to do next. You can even use a sub-headline like “Next Steps.” Tell them how to accept your proposal and make it easy. You don’t want the client to get stuck at this point.

In short, list the bare minimum of things you need from the client in order to get started with their project.

The cut-out-n’-keep template

Okay, so that’s it for the theory. But I do have one more thing for you. If you’d like a complete proposal template – built on the principles explained here – just go ahead and click this link.

Finally, what’s your take on this? Is freelance blogging something you’re planning to do in 2015 to grow your blog business in a more direct way?

Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a freelance writer, published author, founder of NewInternetOrder.com and a blogger at Bidsketch.com (delivering some cool freelance blogging and writing tools, advice and resources just like what you’re reading now). Whenever he’s not working, Karol likes to spend time training Capoeira and enjoying life.

Why Should I Make My Webpage Interactive?

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 1.05.37 pm

This is a guest contribution from Ben Shwartz.

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover… but does that extend to eBooks? How about webpages? In the current state of our globalized, media-saturated society, it’s difficult—if not outright impossible—to live by this seemingly antiquated adage. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the World Wide Web, appearance often conquers content in terms of user retention, which makes your landing page the golden ticket to your website’s success.

“If you had one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted, one moment… would you capture it, or just let it slip?”—Eminem on landing page optimization… or a rap battle.

Generating a home page with interactive features (think layered multimedia and on-site social networking) allows the fireworks to come directly to the customer, instead of having the customer waste his or her precious time searching for what exactly it is that you have to offer. With that said, put your best foot forward and take advantage of all the…well, advantages, an interactive site can procure.

Capture the social media-unfriendly.

For better or for worse, social media often gets a bad rap. For the stubborn old-timers, social media shy, and those who are proud to have never given a virtual thumbs-up or double-tapped to “like,” having an on-site source for communication can be an easy (and potentially covert) transition to get these hesitant folks more inclined to digital networking.

If you’ve already won the first battle by getting them to your site in the first place, the immediate presence of focused content and engaging topics relevant to their interests may compel them to take part in the conversation. Easy, automatic signup options (i.e. via your email account) saves time and gets the user directly apart of the conversation. As a bonus, user profiles are limited within the site’s perimeters, ensuring an extra level of privacy that will be happily received by any reluctant recluse.

For the sake of organization.

If you’re a startup or an e-commerce retailer, chances are you have a string of social media accounts representing your business all around the web. From obvious mainstays like Facebook and Twitter to the more professional LinkedIn and less structurally restrictive Tumblr, there’s a whole pond full of big name outlets for one little fish to navigate. Streamline key topics of interest to establish your site as the primary source of discussion, so as to provide a clear, exact, and timely authority on your site’s content. Allow your social media links to direct traffic back to your site, whether they target new customers with catchy captions or retain existing customers with reminders regarding updates to the content with which they are already familiar.

On the contrary, if you’re looking to give your customers some extra context that you find may interest them (and thus further establish yourself as a thought leader), multimedia tools are available on the market to create centralized hubs of outsourced interaction. Simple, customizable icons link to related and relevant content. Should one recommendation prove beneficial to your customer, there’s a good chance you’ve converted him or her into a repeat user on your own site.

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Enjoy the benefits of live personal presence in real-time.

Social networking, especially within a particular niche, can quickly get to look a lot like a high school cafeteria. You have a few cheerleaders on the hunt for prom dresses, a gaggle of brainiacs preparing for the next Comic-Con, and devoted group of traveling Phish fans. While each individual adheres to a different class schedule, eating at the lunch table affords a precious punctual platform from which to vocalize their hopes, needs, and desires.

While these “lunch tables,” or online outlets for communication, do currently exist (and in great numbers), the current state of cyber affairs stimulates the desire for instant gratification, or feedback in real-time. While alerts and notifications on other outlets can remind you of existing conversations, having an on-site communication tool allows a more organic flow of communication. Customers can feel that they’re actually a part of a dynamic conversation, rather than uttering anonymous nothings to the wind. Users can create more substantial relationships with one another and in turn, return to the site to continue these budding interest-based friendships. Topics will be more likely to stay on course given their placement in a centralized, authoritative position, and you will be more likely to sustain P2P relationships given that your site will be the common link (literally) shared between viewers.  Just like in high school, everyone wants to be a part of a group and their conversation. Your on-site social network will give your viewer a voice and heighten the likelihood that he or she will be heard.

Educate others while educating yourself.

In terms of building a community, user retention is more likely to increase if your viewers feel at home. If they’re already engaging in a conversation, they’re more likely to resume input if they feel that they’re in a group consisting of thoughtful peers based on mutual interests and respect.

Having one (or several) of your team members as an active social presence on your site is a win-win for all parties. From a customer’s perspective, they can gain insight from interaction with a thought leader, and the informal setting in which it takes provides a more humanized and less formal or mechanical component.

Additionally, it goes without saying that a business needs to determine its customers’ desires and interests, and having an inside source on the front lines is one of the easiest ways to do just that. By learning the popular topics in your forums, you’ll have a better idea of what can be added, edited, or removed to maximize your website’s potential and propel your future business goals.

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In essence, an interactive website prioritizes and centralizes not only the products by also the discourse associated with your brand. Your landing page is your money maker, given its status as your company’s official authority. If we stay with the times and realize that consumers must be efficiently engaged to ensure conversion, then we must recognize how important it is to create a visually appealing product that provides a one-stop shop for your audience’s needs.

Finally, consumers strive for a human connection rather than a technical, formalized response to their social networking input. Combine winning visuals with interactive, informal discussions to ensure that your site is one worth reading from one day to the next.

Ben Shwartz is the VP of Marketing for Spot.IM. He loves to buy and sell websites, and immerse himself in anything and everything in the realm of online marketing.

30 High-Impact Ways to Level Up Your Writing

This is a guest contribution from freelance blogger and email copywriter Hassan Ud-deen.

Ever feel like your writing could be better?

If you’re a blogger, there’s no way around writing.

It’s critical to everything you do, and shapes your reputation online. 

This makes a lot of us dread writing. 

We approach it with a heavy heart full of anxiety and minds clouded by doubt.

But what if you could ensure that your writing is at least decent every time you hit that publish button?

 30 High-Impact Ways to Level Up Your Writing

You’d be less worried about the mechanics of writing, and more focused on your message to your audience.

Making you a more powerful blogger.
So here are 30 high-impact ways to supercharge your writing chops, boost your blogging confidence and finally slash those paralysing doubts swirling in your brain.

Let’s go.

1. Develop a Strong Foundation 

Before you can produce writing that leaps out of the screen and grabs the readers attention, you’ll need a good understanding of the basic principles of writing.

Things like grammar, spelling and sentence structure. 

One of the most highly recommended books for this is The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. Its a short compact book that’s crammed with everything you need to ensure your basic writing is tight. 

2. Take Your Reader to Starbucks 

Imagine you’re sitting in a class with about 30 students. You have a speckled professor droning on about a scientific topic. 

Now imagine having coffee with a friend sitting across you at Starbucks, explaining the same thing.

Who are you most likely to listen and learn from?

Your friend, right? Because it’s more personal.

Your friend will:

  • Ask you questions to make sure you understand
  • Fluctuate his tone of voice to emphasise points
  • Give you analogies, similes and metaphors to explain better

Similarly, you can do same thing with your words.

  • Ask readers questions to break the monotony and keep them engaged
  • Emphasise important points by making your text bold, italic or underlining
  • Provide vivid metaphors, similes and analogies that help your reader understand what you’re saying with speed and clarity

So next time you sit down to write, don’t think about thousands of eyes gazing at your screen. Think about the reader you’re having a delicious coffee with.

It’ll instantly add a more conversational flow and inject personality into your writing.

3. Have an Outline Before Writing 

Top bloggers like Neil Patel, Carol Tice and Michael Hyatt all swear by the time slicing power of outlines. 

Not only will outlines improve the speed at which you can dish out blog posts, they also improve the flow and quality of your posts.

A good outline covers the following points:

  • The introduction, where you tell your reader what your post is about, and how it’s going to make his life better to make him want to read on.
  • The main body or meat of a post, where you deliver most of your tips and advice
  • The conclusion, where you finish your post with a summary and a call to action 

If you feel that your writing could be better and faster give outlines a try.

4. Don’t Edit and Write at The Same Time

Writing and editing involves two different sides of the brain. Writing is a more creative process and editing is more logical/analytical.

Editing while you write is like continuously switching up and down gears in your car. You’re going to be slowing yourself down.

Putting your foot down all the way instead of switching speeds will work better.

When you start editing while you write, you slow down your writing speed, lose momentum and are more likely to doubt what yourself.

Basically, don’t write and edit at the same time, it disrupts the creative process.

5. Your First Draft Will Suck

It’s tempting to think that your favourite bloggers are magically creating stellar content on their first drafts, but thats not true.

Your first draft is all about getting your thoughts down on paper.

Accept that it will suck.  It will free you from the mental chains of doubt, and prevent you from being overly analytical.

6. Give your Brain a Break before Editing

Once you’ve written your draft, give your brain a break and distance yourself from it for a day or two.

This will increase your objectivity for your first round of editing and will let your mind sift through the ideas you wanted to express during your write up.

Related: Thee Stephen King Drawer Method for Writing Better Copy

7. Snap Your Brain’s Adaptations in Half 

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” (Stephen King)

Think of your brain as a muscle. It needs constant stimulation to grow and become stronger. 

Therefore, you have to train your writing muscles rigorously by continuously reading. You’ll expose yourself to different words, sentences, styles and steadily absorb good writing habits. 

I’m a little gym obsessed, and one thing you learn when building muscle is that you have to attack the body with different types of training.

Doing the same routine day in day out leads to you hitting plateaus. Your body eventually adapts to your routine and stops growing. 

Similarly, when it comes to reading… try to vary what you read.

If you normally read fiction, switch to non-fiction once in a while. If you normally read action/adventure try out romance. 

Reading something different will break your brain’s adaptation pattern, consequently strengthening your writing muscle and leaving you stronger and more well-balanced writer.

8. Embed Awesome Writing into Your Brain by Handwriting 

Sounds odd, doesn’t it? 

Well, it’s how many great writers started off.

Journalist Hunter S. Thompson started by copying the The Great Gatsby and A Farewell to Arms on a typewriter.

Robert Louis Stevenson, author of classics like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Treasure Island, honed his chops by taking a passage from a great writer and reading it. Then turning over the passage and trying to re-write it again from memory.

Dan Kennedy bloodied his nose in the marketing world by copying out 500 sales letters by hand in order train his mind to absorb the rhythm of good copy.

I’ve used this technique myself. It ain’t easy, but it’s an excellent way to quickly absorb good flow and wording and sharpen your skills.

Try it, I dare you.

9. Take a Literary Hammer, and Smash Your Favourite Writing into Pieces 

Everyone has a writer they look up to. And what better way to learn from those that you admire right?

Find a piece of writing that you admire. It could be from a book, a blog post, or a sales letter.

Now take the piece of writing that impacted you and break it down. Analyze what the writer does to make it so powerful.

Ask yourself: 

  • Why does this part of the blog post, book or sales letter stand out so much?
  • What techniques does the writer use to make the piece stand out?
  • What effects did the words phrases and style have?
  • How does it make you feel?

By closely analyzing an excellent piece of prose, you gain a deep insight to what the writer was thinking and the techniques they used. You can then use the techniques for your own purposes.

10. Print Out what You’ve Written

Sometimes it can be harder to find your mistakes on a computer screen. Printing out your work can make it easier for you to spot grammar and spelling mistakes in your writing.

11. Hit Your Reader Reader’s Senses Where it Hurts 

To keep your readers straight-jacketed to your post, engage their senses.

What can they see? Smell? Hear? Feel?

Here’s what a sentence looks like before engaging the senses:

“Your writing has to make an impact on your readers.”

Yawn. 

It’s a normal, tasteless, sentence that has surface level impact on the reader.

After engaging the senses:

“Your words have to creep up on your audience and sucker punch them into paying attention.”

See the difference?

By using the sensory experiences, the sentence latches on to the readers attention and forces them to feel what you’re saying.

12. Keep Your Writing Active 

The passive voice butchers your writing. Whereas the active voice, adds strength and vigor to it.

Take a look at these passive sentences:

The bat was swung by John

The ball was thrown by James

The door was broken by the dog

Look at what happens after a little makeover…

John swung the bat

James threw the ball

The dog broke the door 

Not only are the sentences more concise, clear and strong. But they also carry more impact with less words.

If you want your readers to effortlessly slide down your posts, keeping your writing active is a must. 

13. Use Shorter Paragraphs and Sentences

Nobody wants to process large chunks of information. They want easy digestible pieces of information they can easily understand.

That’s where having shorter sentences and paragraphs can help a ton.

Keeping sentences and paragraphs short quickens the pace of your writing; makes it easier to understand, and makes your writing less intimidating. 

Aim for one main point per paragraph and one main idea per sentence.

14. Supercharge Your Brain With Words

“I often read for 5-10 minutes. Out loud.” Was Jon Morrow’’s response when asked what his pre-writing rituals are. 

We all know that any writer worth his salt is a serious reader.

But, did you know that when engaged in a powerful reading session, you receive a boost in connectivity in the part of the brain that is associated with the receptivity of language? 

Yup, scientists from Emory University proved that reading heightens your brain power when it comes to dealing with language.

Try reading before you sit down for your next writing session and see if you don’t improve.

15. Develop a Brain Pumping Routine

High performers in any profession develop a routine to get in the “zone”.

Developing a routine for your writing trains your brain to expect to write, which warms your mind up and makes the act of writing much easier in comparison to writing cold.

Jack Kerouac would kneel, pray, light a candle and write by it’s light, then blow it out when he was done.

John Carlton would slip into a different of writing clothes to get him in the zone. 

Ernest Hemingway liked to write first thing in the morning.

Experiment with different routines and see what sticks, because once you have a solid routine to get you in the mood, you’ll no longer be a victim of writers block.

16. Sharpen Your Headline Chops

When writing headlines, you have to make every single word count. Or you risk your reader turning a blind eye to your post.

Headlines force you to be selective and squeeze the power out your words. This transitions into your ability to create hard-hitting sentences that flow smoother, and read better.

17. Write Like it’s Your Job

As Stephen King said, writing is “just another job like laying pipe or driving long haul trucks.”

Let’s imagine that you’re a plumber, and it’s your first day on the job.

You wouldn’t expect yourself to be amazingly skilled at what you’re doing, right?

But you know that becoming better is inevitable. Thanks to the fact that it’s your job, and you’re doing it almost every single day.. 

The same applies to writing.

Write when you feel like it. Write when you don’t. Prioritize your time around writing. 

Write like it’s your job and you’re guaranteed to level up your skills .

 18. Get enough sleep

Ever tried to build muscle? 

An important principle that people skim over is rest. 

They pack themselves into gyms and break down muscle tissue to get stronger. But, the body doesn’t get stronger during exercise. It starts repairing and adds extra muscle tissue during sleep. 

So activities like: writing and reading. Studying different styles, and analyzing great writing…are the literary equivalent of pumping weights. 

They’ll challenge your writing muscle and force it to grow stronger.

But despite your attempts to sharpen your skills…something as simple as sleep could be killing your progress.

Sleep is vital for survival,and keeps your nervous system functioning properly. And according to biological psychologist Namni Goel, “there’s plenty of research showing how a lack of it cripples your mind.”

Writing is hard.

It forces you to dig deep in your brain and extract ideas, information, and feelings. Then communicate them to another human being. 

Don’t make it even harder by not getting enough sleep. 

19. Get Moving 

Henry David Thoreau said: “the moment my legs begin to move my thoughts begin to flow – as if I had given vent to the stream at the lower end and consequently new fountains flowed into it at the upper” 

As mentioned before, writing ain’t easy.

That’s why its important to keep yourself in shape. Your body is your temple, and you want it to be operating at its peak (don’t you?).

Exercise can help you do that. 

Many great writers swear by exercise being a helpful tool for boosting creativity and preparing you for the act of writing.

There’s even research that proves exercise fires up your neurons and switches your brain on.

Research conducted by cognitive scientist prof colzato showed that “people who are doing exercise on a regular basis outperform those who don’t. We think that physical exercise trains your brain to become more flexible in finding creative solutions.”

I like to hit the gym or jump rope for a while before writing.  It calms me down, boosts my mood and clears my thoughts.

But you don’t have to do anything strenuous, you could walk, run, or even do light stretching… just get your blood moving.

20. Release Your Inner (Doodling) Child

Sounds odd doesn’t it? 

But at times, rules, regulations and emotional baggage can weigh you down and stifle your  creativity. 

In her book the doodle revolution, Sunni brown says that doodling helps you focus by “anchoring” a task. Especially when it comes to things that require attention for extended periods of time. Things like lectures, meetings, calls and writing.

“We think doodling is something you do when you lose focus, but it’s really a preemptive measure to stop you from losing focus,” 

Find yourself feeling mentally clogged up at times? Grab a pen and blank paper. Let your thoughts flow freely.

21. Have an Editor Read Through your Work 

No one ever writes the perfect draft.

And even though your second and third ones might be more polished; nothing beats a fresh pair of eyes.

An editor can also highlight your weaknesses and strengths so you can objectively look at your writing and decide what to work on.

22. Join a Group of Writers

Writing is a solitary activity.

And unfortunately, not everyone understands what it’s like to bleed thoughts from your brain into crisp, compelling words that communicate your ideas.

Surround yourself with people who write. 

You’ll get ongoing feedback on your progress, and you’ll always have someone who can sympathize with your writing pleasures and pains.

23. Study Great Sentences

Sentences are the backbone of your writing.

The stronger they are, the stronger your writing will become and the more impact it will have on your readers.

If you encounter a sentence that catches your attention, stop for a second.

Go over it again. Handwrite it. Study it. 

Break down why it’s such a good sentence. Is it concise and powerful? Does it contain a metaphor with killer clarity? Is it crammed with power words? 

Take notes on what makes other sentences good. You’ll discover useful lessons that’ll strengthen your own writing.

24. Cut Out Anything Repetitive or Boring

This applies to both your words and the ideas you express.

Instead of using the same word to describe something; aim for a variety of accurate words to make your writing blossom inside your readers mind.

Below is a short action scene I wrote. 

Before cutting out boring phrases and using different words to create vivid images, this is what it looked like… 

“He fired the gun. The bullets reached each target. One bullet hit the guards head and left a bloody mess. The other bullet hit the second guard square in the jaw and left an explosion of teeth. By the time he reached his next point of cover, both guards were dead.”

Here’s what it looks like after:

“The gun rattled to life. Each shot reaching its intended destination with blinding speed. One cratered through a guards forehead, the second exploded into an anatomical firework of teeth and jaw bone as it smashed into the 2nd guards mouth. By the time he reached his next point of cover, both guards were dead.” 

See the difference? 

I removed everything that was repetitive, and replaced boring words with high power verbs to create a more vivid image that hits where it hurts.

25. Play with Your Words

Instead of settling for the first few words that come to your head, whip out a thesaurus and get digging.

Try using different words and phrases instead of the ones you’ve chosen.

By regularly practicing this, you’ll expand your vocabulary and develop the important skill of choosing the right word at the right time to create the perfect image. 

26. Your Reader’s Cursor is Hovering on the X button

It’s easy to think your readers are browsing for fun and enjoyment. That they’ll read every word of your post; but that’s just not true. 

It’s better to think of your reader like this: 

Your reader is juggling a screaming baby on his lap, has dozens of tasks to finish, and is ready to click on that big red x button the second your post doesn’t provide the solution to his problems. 

Now, that may not be 100% true… but this simple mindset shift will help you create more reader friendly content from the get go.

You’ll be sure to keep his pains and problems in mind, which means you’re less likely to have fluffy, bloated writing that bores his ear off.

27. Kill Cliches with Lethal Analogies

Cliches suck.

They’re tasteless phrases that readers shake off like dirt on their shoulders.

Aswell as making you look like a lazy writer, they butcher any hint of personality in your writing.

So, what to do instead? 

Kill them…with high power analogies.

28. Keep it Dead Simple

Want to instantly power up your posts?

Make them easier to read by simplifying your writing.

Now, simple doesn’t mean limp sentences that pass readers by… it means taking out unnecessary ten-dollar words that make you look like a pompous show off.

Don’t say:

Utilize when you can say use

Extrapolate when you can say estimate

Desiderate when you can say desire

And cut out words like very, really, almost, probably etc.

Keeping your writing simple allows you to communicate with your readers better. It smoothly slides information into their brains without them having to make too much effort.

29. Jump into Your Reader’s Bed

What sites does your reader like to visit? What type of content do they like to read? What do they struggle with the most? 

Answering these questions gives you a deeper insight into what your reader’s most troubling problems, hopes and desires are.

Use polls, surveys, or emails to find out what they want and need.

Knowing your reader well will help you improve on the main purpose of your writing, which is…

To add value to his life through your content.

30. Dissect Bad Writing

You’ll often hear that one of the best ways to improve your writing is to… “read widely and read great writers.”

But what about bad writing?

Think about it.  When you’re engrossed in reading a blogpost, novel, or article that is good, it stealthily washes over your eyes and sneaks into your brain. Because you’re enjoying it. 

But when you face writing that is bad, it’s hard to read. 

You notice that it’s bad instantly. The sentences might feel bloated. The flow might feel horrible. It’ll be completely boring. Making it easier to analyze. 

You’ll spot exactly where the writer went wrong, and how you could improve it. 

Reading bad writing also has another sneaky benefit. 

It’ll give you a little confidence boost and make you feel better about yourself, because constant exposure to writing to higher level writing can lead to doubts sprouting in your brain. 

31. Skyrocket Your Productivity with a Deadline

The less time you have to do something, the faster you’ll get it done. 

When you don’t have a deadline, it’s tempting to think that you can keep on editing and improving your work. But after creating one, you’re forced to complete your work in a given time frame, which will increase your chances of getting it done quicker.

32. Set a Daily Writing Goal

Yes, daily.

Why? 

Well, imagine a gymnast performing in front of thousands of eager eyes. 

Effortlessly flipping through the air and performing feats most only dream of. 

He didn’t learn how to perform on the day of the performance, did he?

He had to constantly drill the movements into his brain. Day in, day out…until they became second nature.

Similarly, the popular writers that you look up to experienced the same thing.

They had to continuously suffer creating humiliating sentences, weak content and limp paragraphs to gradually get better. 

Constant practice is what sands the edges off your lack of skill. 

That’s where writing daily will help you tremendously. 

Set aside a small chunk of time to write everyday. Don’t concern yourself with writing thousands of words. Just be sure to write every day and make it a habit. You can increase your targets later. 

Eventually, you’ll be able to produce hard hitting writing with less effort because it’s ingrained in your mind and body.

It’s no longer something takes a ton of energy and has to be scraped out your skull. It’s an embedded habit. 

There you are, 30 high-impact writing ways to level up your writing. Your next step?

Pick 1-2 tips from this post and try them out for a at least a couple of weeks. Improvement will be inevitable.

Hassan Ud-deen is a freelance blogger and email copywriter (who likes to be called “The Wordslinger”). He helps businesses use content to grow. You can find out more about at www.f-bombmarketing.com or if you need help with your blog posts or copy, shoot him an email or connect with him on Facebook.

7 Effective Tips To Grow Your Social Media Presence The Right Way

7 Tips to Grow Your Social Media Presence The Right Way / problogger.netThis is a guest contribution from Adam Connell.

Have you ever wondered how to gain a significant advantage with social media? Not just in terms of growing a following but growing an engaged following?

I have too, and so have countless others.

The truth is that you can, and it’s easier than you might think.

If you’re serious about growing a more engaged following, you’ll find this post helpful. You’ll learn how to focus your efforts, boost engagement, monitor your progress and ultimately start seeing real growth.

Ready? Let’s dive in!

1. Get to know your audience

Your audience should be the focal point of your entire blog and everything you do should be based around helping them and solving their problems.

In order to do that, you need to know as much as you can about them.

Once you learn more about your audience, you will be able to use that knowledge to guide your social media efforts and create a more personal experience.

Start off by putting together personas for different segments of your audience.

Consider the following:

  • Demographics
  • Questions they have
  • Problems they’re facing
  • Their dreams
  • Preferred social networks
  • Preferred content types

You can conduct surveys and other types of research to find out more about your audience. There are plenty of tools you can use as well.

The important thing for the purpose of social media is that you get an understanding of which social networks your audience prefers, and what they prefer to share.

It’s worth having a read of Darren’s post on creating reader profiles to more tailor your content to fit the needs of your audience.

2. Identify when your audience is most active

Have you seen any of those infographics floating around the web saying when the best times to publish social media messages?

There are a bunch of them and they look smart, but the reality is that they were created using someone else’s data – not your data.

Everyone’s audience is different, so if you want to truly know when your audience is most active you need to use your own data.

Using tools like Tweriod (for Twitter) and Timing+ (for Google+) you can get a good idea of the times when your audience is most active. You can also check the “insights” section of your Facebook dashboard to find out when your audience is online, and also what types of posts they are interacting with the most.

This is an important ingredient in any effective social strategy.

3. Help people instead of selling to them

The point of social networks is to be social, and real success means helping others without asking for anything in return.

Your followers are real people and should be treated as such.

By helping people you’ll be able to stay top of mind, so when someone does need a product/service you offer, chances are that they’ll still come back to you – because you helped them.

“If you sell something, you can make a customer today. If you help someone, you can create a customer for life.” – Jay Baer

4. Focus on building real relationships

The key ingredient to making social media work is a focus on building real relationships.

This quote from Ted Rubin explains it best:

“Relationships are like muscle tissue. The more they’re engaged, the stronger they become. The ability to build relationships and flex that emotional connection muscle is what makes social so valuable.”

Instead of focusing on getting as many followers as possible, focus on creating fewer and more meaningful relationships.

Sure, you won’t get the same social proof that having a massive following will give you, but you’ll find that you get more engagement and a more loyal following. That’s what will make the difference.

This comes back to my previous point on helping.

Help people without asking for anything in return, and you’ll start to build up goodwill. In the long term the impact of this can be huge.

5. Engage, engage and engage some more

You could leave social media on autopilot – but you shouldn’t.

If you’re serious about building a loyal following, you need to engage with as many people as possible, as often as you possibly can.

Don’t just wait for others to engage, kick start the process yourself. Start a conversation.

6. Go visual and get more traction

Visuals are a powerful social media tool.

For example, Buffer found that tweets with images get 150% more retweets. And there is data to confirm this on other networks.

Before you share a text-based social message, consider whether you could share an image instead.

Thanks to free tools like Canva, it’s now incredibly easy to overlay text onto an image or create unique graphics. A great example is the use of quotes and images.

There are also plenty of sites like IM Creator and StockSnap which you can use to find high quality stock photos that won’t cost you a penny – just be sure to check the license details first.

7. Monitor your progress with the right tools and find what really works

Monitoring your social media efforts is important for a few reasons:

  • You’ll find additional opportunities to engage and build relationships
  • You can monitor your competitors and understand how their strategy fits together
  • You can monitor your own growth and gain insights into what’s working for you

There are several tools you can use to monitor your social media presence more effectively.

Cyfe

cyfeCyfe makes it easy for you to setup custom dashboards to track the metrics that matter to you.

You’ll have access to plenty of widgets which you can add to your dashboard. There are tons of other widgets that can help you with a variety of other things, not just social media.

Price: Free to use for up to five widgets, paid plans start at $19/month.

Mention

MentionMention is a great tool that is purpose built for monitoring across social networks and other websites in real time.

It’s easy to use, and you’ll get straightforward alerts whenever you get a new mention.

Once inside the platform you can respond to mentions directly so there’s no need to jump over to another social tool.

Price: Free for up to 250 mentions/month.

Oktopost

OktopostOktopost is a solid all-round social media management tool but the way it groups social messages together is extremely helpful from a monitoring perspective.

You can use the platform to share your social messages and engage with your audience directly.

The twist here is that when you add social messages, they’re added to campaigns. Those campaigns are grouped together in the reporting tab to show you the progress of each campaign.

This makes it incredibly easy to see how campaigns are performing from a birds eye view.

Price: Starts at $49/month.

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumoContent plays a big part in the social media landscape so it’s important to have a tool that makes it easy to find out which content people are sharing.

Using BuzzSumo you can search for your competitors, topics and more – the results will show you which pieces of content are getting shared the most.

You can also find out who is sharing that content and engage with them from within the platform.

It’s a great tool to find out the key influencers in your niche too.

Price: Starts from free with limited results, paid accounts with reporting/analysis features start at $99/month.

Conclusion

If you want to get ahead on social media you need to focus on building lasting relationships.

Your focus should be on long term, sustainable results rather than looking for an immediate payoff.

Keep the focus on helping your audience and you will grow an engaged following.

Do you have any tips or insights to add? Let us know in the comments below.

Adam Connell is the Founder of Blogging Wizard, a website devoted to helping bloggers grow their traffic, email subscribers and online presence. If you want to get ahead on Twitter, download this free checklist to learn how to rapidly grow your following (the right way).

 

3 Secret Weapons I Used to Launch My Fulltime Blogging Career

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This is a guest post by Jeff Goins of Goins, Writer.

“I’d like to be a writer,” I told my friend one day when he asked what my dream was. “But that’ll never happen.” And I quickly went back to moping around, waiting for my big break.

At the time, I was working for a nonprofit as a marketing director, secretly wondering what it might be like to write for a living. Little did I know how close I was to my goal.

My was staring me right in the face the whole time. I was just blind to it.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer,” Harriet Tubman once said. “Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

That’s absolutely true. Your dream lives inside you, not somewhere out there. And instead of waiting for someone to come along and give you permission, you need to realize that you have everything you need to do this right now.

So let’s look at what you already have at your disposal and how I launched my own full-time blogging career using these same tools.

Secret Weapon #1: Listen to Your Ache

Have you ever felt jealous of someone else’s success? Of course you have. You’re human, aren’t you. But don’t feel bad. Envy isn’t always a bad thing, if you know how to use it.

Being jealous of what someone else has or has done is a sign of somethign you don’t have. You’re not living the life you dreamed of, not making the money you want, or simply not getting the credit you think you deserve.

Left unchecked, those feelings of missing out can get nasty really quickly. But when properly channeled, they can be a means to you discovering what you’re meant to do.

Here’s what I mean.

What bothers you that you see in the world? What problems in your industry or social ills do you see that you think should be fixed? When you see someone publishing their words or getting paid to pursue a passion, does it stir something in you? Does it make you a little angry, even a tad frustrated?

Good. Listen to that.

All dreams begin with frustration. But they don’t end there. It takes a person of action to do something with that feeling. Because really, frustration is just a surface emotion. It’s just pent-up passion with nowhere to go.

So pay attention to what makes your heart ache. When you’re feeling frustrated, remember it’s a sign of what you’re missing out on. It means you need to get to work.

Secret Weapon #2: Take the Long Road

Once on a webinar, I heard Darren Rowse say his first year of professional blogging had only made him something like $30,000. When I heard that, it sounded like a dream come true.

His intentions were to set our expectations low. He explained how hard he worked, staying up late and getting up early, how difficult it was. Not everyone can make six figures in the first month was his point. He was trying to keep us grounded. But it gave me hope.

I didn’t want fluff. I wanted someone to tell me exactly what I needed to do to pursue my dream. And for some reason, telling me it was going to be difficult and not very rewarding made it real. It made it attainable.

Sometimes, you have to hear someone else describe the life you long to live before you can begin to visualize it yourself.

Darren’s words spoke to the frustration I felt. They made me realize I was going to have to work hard if I wanted to live my dream and that patience was going to be an important factor in my success.

When I started my blog, I was determined to not worry about stats for the first two years. I would just write. The audience would come as my craft grew. If that took years, so be it. Six months later, I had more traffic than I ever could have imagined—hundreds at first, and then thousands of daily readers.

It would be a long while before I’d start making money, but still, seeing it was possible changed everything. Right around that time, my wife and I decided to start a family and began counting down the days until our son would be born.

At that same time, I started to hatch a plan for how I could make money with my blog.

Secret Weapon #3: Don’t Neglect the Past

When you decide to go full-time with your blog, you may be tempted to make the biggest mistake most dreamers make. You may think that dreaming is about looking forward.

It’s not. Dreaming is about looking backward and remembering what it is you have always loved to do. “Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it,” Parker Palmer wrote, “I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”

So before I could even figure out what I wanted to sell, I was going to have to figure out what value I had, what strengths I possessed that could benefit someone. And the answer to that was buried deep in my past.

“Jeff,” my friend said to me that day I announced my dream was to write, “you are a writer. You just need to write.”

He was right. I had been writing. All these years. In various capacities. But somehow, it just didn’t feel like enough. I didn’t feel like enough. But when I heard those words, I knew they were true.

Maybe, I thought, before we can do something, we have to become someone. Activity follows identity. It was a simple principle but one I’ve come to embrace in all areas of life.

What that meant for me was looking honestly at my life and identifying what strengths I had to offer. I had spent the past seven years as a marketing director and before that as the leader of a music group.

I couldn’t remember a time in my adult life in which I hadn’t been working with creative people. That was a bigger clue than I first realized. Maybe, I thought, I could do that online.

So I gradually turned my new blog, which had been more of a leadership blog, into a writing-focused resource. First, I tested out posts on writing to see if they appealed, and I was amazed at how much people connected with the content.

What Derek Sivers says is true: “What’s obvious to you is amazing to others.” The secret to discovering the value that you offer the world is hidden in the strength you’re probably taking for granted.

The Finish Line

A year after starting my blog, I launched my first eBook on writing and made $1500 from it.

A few months later, I launched an bundle product and made $16,000 in the first six weeks.

Several months after that, I launched my first online course, Tribe Writers, and made $25,000 from it.

By the end of that year, I had made over $150,000 blogging.

I couldn’t believe it. This was my dream, and it had come true in ways that completely astounded me.

But the truth is the process took two years from start to finish, plus another seven years of preparation. It required all those things Harriet Tubman mentioned: passion, patience, and strength.

If you’re going to come face to face with your dream, you’re going to need them, too. You’ll have to:

  1. Turn your frustration into passion.
  2. Be willing to take the long road, understanding that good things come in time.
  3. Embrace your past, using whatever strengths you’ve accumulated along the way and putting them to use.

Yes, it will take time and it won’t be easy. But the good news is you don’t have to sit around feeling frustrated or like you missed out. Everything you’ve done up to this point has prepared you for what you’re about to do.

Now, it’s up to you to get started.


Jeff Goins is a full-time blogger at Goins, Writer, where he shares tips on writing, creativity, and making a difference. His latest book, The Art of Work, is all about discovering your calling.

7 Commonsense Tips to Improve Your Next Expert Roundup

expert roundupThis is a guest contribution from Neil.

Are you wondering why your expert roundups are not living up to your expectations? Why you are never getting the level of response some other people are getting?

After all, the idea behind creating an expert roundup sounds foolproof on paper.

  1. Get eminent experts to answer a question for you.
  2. Gather the responses and publish the ultimate answer to that question.
  3. Get your experts to share the content and then leverage their audience to get a viral post.

There is no way you can fail!

But the reality is a bit different.

My first expert roundup (January, 2015), featured the likes of top guys like Rand Fishkin, Neil Patel and Yaro Starak. In terms of quality, it was great. But it got me only around two hundred shares and a few backlinks.

Disappointed by my failure, I felt that “expert roundups” are overhyped. I looked around to get some expert roundup tips.

After a while, I realized that there was no flaw core idea of an expert roundup. The problem was in the execution of it. Actually, I was so excited about the roundup, that I overlooked certain things, which are just common sense.

Today on Problogger, I would like to share these commonsense tips so that you can organize a better expert roundup.

Do keyword research to focus on the right terms

You may create the grandest expert roundup (in terms of quality). You may even generate tons of backlinks. But unless it is properly targeted, it will never fulfill its potential.

By proper targeting, I mean that you should target the right terms or keywords for search engines. After all, the backlinks and shares that will get showered upon your roundup must help it to generate organic traffic.

If you have not chosen the right keywords, then what is the point? Your backlinks may help you rank #1 for your keyword, but if people do not search for that term, it is of no use.

In my last expert roundup, I made this mistake. The overall topic was good. It was about “blogging mistakes made by top bloggers”. I was quite sure that new bloggers would be very interested in learning about it.

But I did not consider the fact whether users would be using the same term in the search engines.

As it turned out, the main keyword “blogging mistakes” did not have an appreciable search volume. Even if I had been able to rank for the keyword, the benefit would have been minimal.

Ultimately, I got around this by naming my blog pos “19 expert blogging tips to avoid blogging mistakes”.

But this is not the right way to do it.

The approach should be very simple. Try to find the hole in the available information. Once you have found something that is asked a lot, but not answered well, you have struck gold.

Now you need to grab the topic and do a little keyword research to get the right term to use in your question. There are only two factors that you need to consider:

  • The keyword should have at least moderate search volume.
  • The keyword should not be too competitive.

In case you have already committed the error of choosing a low search volume topic, you have to improvise. Re-frame your question so that it includes good keywords.

To get the best out of your keywords, make sure that you use the keywords in the title of your post (obvious thing). A huge chunk of your backlinks will have the title of your post as the anchor text. Including your keyword in the title will go a long way in helping you to rank for that keyword.

Increase your reach by approaching more people

An expert roundup always results in a quality piece of content. But for the person conducting the roundup, there is much more to it than just the content. As the host blogger, you are banking on the expert’s reach to spread the word about your roundup. You are dependent on the expert’s popularity to have an influence on your roundup.

The idea behind an expert roundup is to leverage influence of the experts. Your aim is to ride the influence of your experts to gain as widespread popularity as possible. So it is pretty commonsense-the more experts you have, the better it is for you.

More experts mean more followers. More experts mean that your content will get shared to a wider audience.

So the message is very clear. Get in as many experts as possible.

And it is beneficial to the experts too. If your expert roundup does really well and ranks high in the search engines, each one of the experts will also be on the receiving end of a highly relevant and quality back link.

POINT TO NOTE: get in as many “experts” as possible. Here, “experts” is the crucial term. I’m not asking you to include just anybody in your expert roundup to fill up the numbers. There no point in doing that. In fact, doing that will dilute the experience of your expert roundup.

Finding experts is simple:

  1. Do a Google search with your niche’s keywords.
  2. Find experts on existing roundups by searching: “keyword” + expert roundup.
  3. Find highly followed people on social networks.

Get people to respond by gradually building trust

So now it is clear that you need to get as many experts as possible to participate in your expert roundup. But obviously, it is easier said than done.

Experts are busy people. They get tons of e-mails and expert roundup invites. They cannot respond to all of them. To get answers, you have to do the obvious things:

  1. Approach them with a short and concise e-mail.
  2. Pose a question that is interesting to them.
  3. Pose a question that is relatively easy to answer and so on.

But the easiest way to get someone to respond to you is to build trust with that person.

Imagine for yourself. If you are in a rush, you may skip over an e-mail from an unknown person. But if you know that person, you will be compelled to at least have a look at the e-mail. You will try to respond to the person it possible.

Same thing happens with the experts (and for any human being). It is human psychology. One can easily say no to an unknown person but rejecting a familiar person is harder. Our subconscious always tries to maintain and honor preexisting relationships.

Your task: build familiarity with the expert before approaching with the invite.

Simple ways to build familiarity:

  1. Follow the expert on social networks.
  2. Comment and discuss on the expert’s blog.
  3. Send a “thank you” email for a helpful blog post.

Use a deadline to get more responses

Not using a deadline was a big mistake for my last roundup post. I thought that the experts, being busy people, may not appreciate the idea of being given a deadline.

But I was wrong! It is always better to specify a deadline for submission of expert entries.

There are two reasons:

Firstly, deadlines promote actions.

An expert may read your email but if you have not mentioned a deadline, he or she may postpone the reply. And in that process, the busy expert may forget about your e-mail altogether.

On the other hand, if you do specify a deadline, the expert may reply immediately or at least mark the email to be replied before the deadline.

After all, itís a good deal for the expert. The expert is getting a highly relevant back link in exchange of a simple answer to a question. That is why, using the deadline works. The deadline serves to remind that the chance to get an easy back link may be gone soon. Thus it promotes a prompt reply.

Second benefit of using a deadline is that it will demonstrate your professionalism and seriousness about the expert roundup. Without it, some people may think that you are not sure about how and when you’re going to post the expert roundup. That may lead to loss of interest in your expert roundup.

Moral of the story: Use a deadline. 7 to 10 days is good in my opinion.

Have higher expectations from the experts

If your expectations are low, you’re most likely to be getting the same. This is one blunder I committed while conducting my first expert roundup.

I was not sure whether the experts would have time to look into my question and answer it. So, I tried to make it easier for them by saying that even a single line opinion would be fine.

MISTAKE!

I was doing an expert roundup and it deserved expert comments.

I understand that it is not reasonable to expect the experts to write long explanations. But a single line opinion conveys hardly any value.

Suppose I ask someone about his/her biggest mistake as newbie blogger and the person responds “not doing this or that”. It is a technically correct answer but it hardly adds much value. A little explanation is expected at least.

So settle for a middle ground. Writing 50 to 100 words does not take too long and is quite reasonable to ask for.

So nowadays I write:

A short 50-100 word opinion would be fine although you can elaborate your experience if you like.

Here, I am using the word “short” to make it seem easy to the experts but at the same time I am also specifying them the minimum length I expect.

Coming back to my story: I failed to specify this minimum limit in my first roundup post. As a result, few experts did provide single line opinions. But obviously, the mistake was mine. It was me who said that “even a single line opinion would be fine”. And this is one big problem in asking your expert on Twitter. That is why I always prefer e-mail.

That said, I’m very grateful that most of the experts did leave longer and valuable comments on my expert roundup. And this also tells you that the experts are also okay with writing a few words.

Don’t be shy to ask for a “proper and meaningful” expert opinion on your roundup.

Use author bio to allow users to connect with experts

When you’re conducting an expert roundup, it is essential that your readers connect with the experts. Not everyone will know all the experts. You must give them a reason why they should listen to the expert.

For example, I know Darren and the great work he has done with Problogger. But a new blogger may or may not know (although it is unlikely). Without knowing about Darren’s expertise in blogging, a new blogger may not pay heed to his advice. That is why it is essential to do a short introduction of your expert.

Writing a short author bio is a nice way to do it. Just a couple of sentences are fine. Tell who the author is and a little about his/her achievements and specialization. This will give enough reasons to your readers to listen to a particular expert. And this will also allow everyone to appreciate and value the comments made by the experts.

Here is a sample:

Darren Rowse is one of the first bloggers to blog about how to make money blogging. He is the man behind the hugely popular blog Problogger and popular books like “Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income”. He is regarded as one of the foremost authorities on blogging.

Promote more or more to get the most out of your roundup

Last but not least, put serious effort in promoting your expert roundup.

Creating a highly informative and useful expert roundup is only half the battle. If you stop there, it is no good. After all, you have invested so much time and effort in producing an amazing piece of content. Why stop when it is the time to reap the rewards?

Promote your expert roundup like crazy.

  1. Start with your expert panel. Show them your gratitude for taking out time to participate in your expert roundup. E-mail all your experts letting them know that the post is up. Thank them and ask them to share the content. Not everyone will share it but some of them will.
  2. If your experts do not reply back, remind them after a couple of days. Talk to them on Twitter and let them know.
  3. Promote your post on Twitter, Google plus and Facebook.
  4. Use hashtags to make it easier for people to find your post.
  5. Mention your experts on twitter and google plus. Here is a template that you can use:

    Tip no #: “Insert tip here” -By @expertname <Insert link to post>

  6. Share multiple times on your social networks: the day of posting, the day after posting, one week after posting.
  7. Share your post on social bookmarking sites. Encourage your readers to share your post on social bookmarking sites. Reach out to friends and acquaintances and ask them to share your post.
  8. And obviously, do not forget the e-mail list. You can write a couple of e-mails to build up anticipation for to the roundup post. This will ensure a better response from your email list subscribers.

These are just some ideas. Be creative and find out more ways to promote your post.

Are you ready for your next expert roundup?

So, I have shared my tips for creating a better expert roundup. These expert roundup tips work great. Now, it’s your turn – apply these tips and let us know how your next expert roundup goes. And if you have your own secret tip, feel free to share with us in the comments section.

Neil test drives new blogging tips and strategies on his blog and then lets you know what works. He shares his blogging experience on Blogician and you can read his first expert roundup at blogging tips for new bloggers.