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How to Build a Business By Supporting Bloggers: a Case Study

This guest post is by Jeremy Delancy of passivepanda.com.

Some people get struck by lightning, some people win the lottery, and some people make good money by blogging two hours per day in their pajamas. I’ve never met any one the above-mentioned people, but the snake oil salesmen of the Internet will try to convince you that you’ll be making millions in a few months if you buy their info products and start a blog.

The truth is, profitable blogging requires hard work. An even less accepted truth is that profitable blogging will, more and more, require a collaborative effort. In his ebook Partnering Profits, John Morrow likens the early days of making money online to the early days of computer gaming. The first computer games were so basic that one person designed and produced an entire game! Think about what is needed to create Runescape or Starcraft II. The time and effort is well beyond the capability of any one person.

A similar change is taking place in blogging. Readers now want multi-media content, social media widgets, great writing, and so on. Add in the marketing and promotion of your blog and it soon becomes more than any one individual can deliver without spending 80 hours in front of a computer. The job of managing research, affiliates, guest posts—all while learning new technologies—has already begun to overwhelm some small bloggers.

In this turmoil created by the growth and development in the blogosphere, I see opportunity. The possibility exists to create an additional income not by starting your own blog, but by helping other bloggers build a loyal readership, increase blog traffic and monetize their blogs. I’m starting to do just that and I’ll analyze the steps that I’ve taken so far.

Getting started

First, some background information: I’ve worked as a full-time speech writer for the last ten years. The job entails loads of research on all sorts of topics. Previously, I was an English Literature teacher. I began reading blogs on Personal Finance, Entrepreneurship and Lifestyle Design in 2009.

Since then I’ve come across blogs that had great, well-researched content and good design. I’ve also come across many more that were quite the opposite. It’s obvious to many blog readers that some bloggers need help. The questions I wanted answered were, “Are bloggers willing to pay for assistance?” and, “Is there a market among bloggers for my particular skill set?”

The process

In retrospect, I could have begun the process of finding out who needed assistance, and what kind of assistance was needed, quite differently. One alternative would have been to subscribe to blogs on blogging (ProBlogger) and read the comments to see what were the most common challenges faced. But, that would not have been true to my nature, which is to gain first hand information through research.

Instead, I developed a questionnaire, which I emailed to bloggers who specialized in: personal finance, christian living, entrepreneurship, woodworking, and eco-friendly lifestyles, all of which are areas of personal interest. Some of the questions were informational, i.e. “How long does it take to move from new idea to blog post?” Other questions were about the bloggers’ aspirations, i.e. “Where would you like to be in terms of blogging within the next six months to two years?”

Tip: When you’re doing this kind of research do not send more than five questions unless you have developed an excellent rapport with the other person. I found that sending seven questions in an email dropped the response rate to zero.

Tip 2: For an excellent article on what to write when emailing busy people, go here.

The answers were then collated and turned into A Report on Building A Better Blog which was uploaded to Scribd.com. By using Scribd, I was able to keep track of the number of downloads and the number of positive responses I received. To get a copy of the ten page report, which details my methodology, questions and suggestions, go here.

The service offering

The process of researching and writing the report, had several very important benefits. Primarily, it gave me an insight into the some of the biggest problems faced by bloggers.

Secondly, I had made a tangible product to showcase my research and writing skills.

Finally, and most importantly, the answers allowed me to focus on providing the following services to bloggers in personal finance and entrepreneurship:

  • Guest posts—Invitations to write guest posts are common but not every blogger finds the time to do so, even when it would increase their readership. I write and the blogger who hires me, posts to the blog he/she received the invitation from.
  • Ghost writing—Surprise! Bloggers are people too! They need time to attend to their families, take vacations, etc. Due to the nature of my full-time job, I know how to replicate the vocabulary, syntax and style of others. After a few days of practice, most readers won’t be able to tell the difference between me and their beloved blogger.
  • Research—Find entrepreneurial blogs with 50, 000 RSS Feed subscribers. I’m on it. Research the benefits of credit card X, compare to credit card Y, and write a post. Not a problem. Summarize guru A’s new book and email the finer points. With pleasure.

The major benefit, that I provide bloggers? Time. By spending less time researching and writing, they have more time to work on other projects and find new ways to monetize their blogs

Finding potential clients

When the time came to begin pitching bloggers with the above-mentioned service offering, I had a good idea of their major challenges, and was able to offer solutions because of my research. To find potential clients I searched Technorati.com for personal finance blogs with high to medium authority and then focused on those that announced a soon to be released information product (indicating a very busy blogger), or those whose Compete.com numbers had tumbled sharply (indicating that the blogger had missed several posts) and e-mailed them.

Some of you reading this will think that the process is far too tedious to emulate, but there is a major benefit. By putting 80% of the work up front, your chance of rejection goes down considerably. This is because you are in your customer’s head. You will have taken the time and effort to know their goals, their pain points, their likes and dislikes, and crafted your service to meet their needs. In return they will show their appreciation by giving you their business.

How you can get started today

Finally, for those of you interested in helping bloggers, I’d suggest skipping the research and focus on the following instead:

  1. Niche down and know what topics you will specialize in.
  2. Be clear on what problems you can solve … and those you can’t.
  3. Perfect your service offering via email as it will give you a foot in the door.
  4. Constantly strive to improve your skills.

Become the support network

Helping bloggers is essentially freelance work, and the first rule of freelancing is find your niche. The blogosphere is a big place and as it grows there are more and more opportunities for you to fill in the gaps. Spend some time thinking about how you could help a blogger and you may find yourself earning more freelance income as a blog supporter than many people do as a blog owner.

Could you support a blogger? Have you considered this as an income option? I’d love to hear of your experiences in the comments.

Jeremy Delancy writes for Passive Panda. To get more tips and other proven strategies for earning more money, time, and freedom join Passive Panda’s Free Newsletter on Earning More.

The Commonsense Time-saver We All Missed

This guest post is by Stephen Guise of Deep Existence.

You’ve been wasting time in the blogging process, whether you know it or not. When I reveal this simple idea, it will figuratively smack you in the face with its clear benefits.

It’s not that your current method is bad. I just happened to stumble upon an intuitive time-saver that will help you. When I thought of it, I smacked myself in the face (literally this time) for not realizing sooner.

Use a dedicated bookmarks toolbar folder for new posts

All internet browsers have a bookmarks toolbar. (I hope) most of us use them, but when it comes to creating a new post, is your toolbar optimized accordingly? Probably not.

If you don’t have a bookmarks toolbar, you need to set one up immediately for a better browsing experience and to implement this advice. Do a search for “bookmarks toolbar (your browser)” for installation instructions.

1. Create a “New Post” folder

This folder will save time, keep you focused, and remind you of vital steps in the blogging process. To create a new folder, do the following (it may vary for different toolbars). I’m using Google Chrome in this example.

2. Add desired links

Once you’ve created the folder, the idea is to add link shortcuts to every destination page you always navigate to in the process of constructing a new masterpiece. You can see in the next screenshot that I have seven items in my New Post folder.

3. When creating a post, open your links with just one click!

When I right-click on the New Post folder, I can choose the Open All Bookmarks option. This opens each of my carefully selected items into tabs. Does one click instead of seven (or twenty for some people) sound good to you?

These links are the specific resources I use to when I create a post. Do not underestimate the value of this. It can save you at least a few minutes of time, and even more if you’re susceptible to mental blocks like I am. It makes it much easier to focus on your writing and the saved time/energy adds up.

Now I typically don’t have to navigate to any websites when I type up a post. I have all of my tools ready for me before I write the first line. There is even another benefit to doing this that I’ll get to later.

These are the seven tabs I currently use for my posts. I hope you find them as useful as I have. It should give you a basic idea of what to look for when adding bookmarks to your “new post” folder. Notice that they are in order of expected use. I use the keyword tool first and I share the post on Facebook last.

  1. Google Adwords’ keyword tool for SEO purposes. I can see what phrases are searched for most frequently. This is good for SEO and readers too as more popular phrases are that way for a reason.
  2. This is the direct link to the “Add New Post” option in my WordPress dashboard. This is where the magic happens. I don’t have to take the extra step of going to the admin page and then clicking on New Post—it’s just there!
  3. Google—the most powerful research tool in the world. Sorry Yahoo!
  4. Dreamstime —my favorite place for free or inexpensive photos.
  5. PunyPNG—the best (free) online photo compressor I’ve used. It can compress PNG, JPG, and GIF.
  6. My Facebook page and my fan page. I share my posts manually at both places after I publish.

Before, I would have to rethink this process for each new post. I’d be halfway through and remember SEO (distraction). I’d publish a post before adding the thumbnail (unprofessional). I’d forget to post to one of my Facebook places (lost traffic).

The other benefit of this system is when I’m finished with the keyword tool, I close the tab. After I obtain my picture from Dreamstime, I close that tab. Eventually there will just be the Edit Post tab (and the Facebook tabs to share it). This is great because it is an easy visual confirmation of what you have or have not completed.

Warning: only do this if you want to increase your speed, productivity, accuracy, and even your creativity by freeing up your mind. There is no downside and you can do it in less than a minute! Bonus: Apply this concept to other areas such as analyzing data on various websites. Any other ideas? Share them in the comments.

This post was manufactured in a house that contains peanuts by Stephen Guise of Deep Existence—where critical thinking is considered appropriate. If you know anyone who isn’t getting free Deep Existence updates, could you tell them about my puffer fish story? It might change their mind.

Why Your Blog Isn’t Making Money

This guest post is by Moon Hussain of Experiments In Passive Income.

This post comes from the bottom of my heart.  After coming in like a cowgirl blogging newbie and failing with making money online with my blog, I have figured out what lead to my blog bringing in $0.00 most months.  To think I came into the blogging world with a typical “make money online” blog and with the mindset that I’d blow everyone away with loads of affiliate income rolling in was foolish.

Pay close attention, because what I’m about to reveal here has the power to make you a full-time income.  The stuff we both have been dreaming about.  Make notes. I want you to walk away with a plan.

If you don’t think that’s such a bad thing, that’s probably because you are a new blogger, probably less than six months into blogging.  Let me tell you: after a year of providing good content and not making money, you will come to a stop.

Churning out quality content two to three times a week takes a lot of time.  After plugging away for over a year, I can tell you providing quality content is not enough!

It’s only one part of the equation.

If what you are reading right now is bringing you down or you think it’s “too much work”, then stop wasting your money on hosting fees and kill your blog now.  If you want to make money with your blog, it’s about to get good.

What phrase starts with “Busin” and ends with “lan”?

I hope you said business plan, I really do.  Instead of lecturing you on how bad you have been by not having a business plan, I’m going to show you with a real, live case study:  my own blog.

What was my business plan a year ago?

In the last year, I never had a business plan for my blog.  Not a written one, anyway.  Here was my thought process over the last year: “I’ll build niche sites, blog about my experiences, I’ll make money from these sites, people love to learn how to make money so they’ll absolutely, feverishly flock to my site!”

Forget an internet entrepreneur … I’d be an internet rockstar!

In my mind, this was the ideal plan that was supposed to take place:

Seem familiar?  Yeah?  In all honesty, you should be scared.

That was my business plan.  Officially one and a half years into blogging, I am in the process of formulating a much more concrete business plan.  And now I cry looking at my old “business plan”.

How to get specific with your business plan

Blogging about a topic, however passionate you are about the subject, does not make a business.  It is a platform that can help spread your expertise.  You can use it to connect with your ideal customers.  Here are some key questions you need to ask yourself:

  • How can I take my blog from “just a blog” to a blog that generates me business?
  • What do I know about my blog’s main topic? How can I showcase my expertise about this topic?
  • Why are people reading my blog? (Is it entertainment, education, a particular solution they are looking for)?
  • How can I take the answer from question #3 and answer it with my expertise (question #2)? (Result: a product or service you can serve your audience).

Before you jump the gun, before you can do much with any of the above, you need to figure out the missing pieces.

Let’s backtrack a bit and work through the process…

What are your missing pieces?

For me, it happens to be my email list.  I have a super-tiny email list.  My goal is to increase the number of people on my email list and to help them resolve something that I have experience with.

Sure, they say it’s not the amount of people on your email list but the type of people on your list (whether they convert or not) that matters. I agree. But no one can say that having a good number of quality people on your email list is a bad thing.

These people are the ones who want what you may have to offer.  Your work, your services, your expertise, your products!  I know this isn’t a new revelation but stick with me.  Trust me when I say this, I’m ahead of 90% of you…

In case you are one of those stubborn bloggers, read the next few lines carefully.

Name three big bloggers you know.  I pick Darren as one.  How about the other two big bloggers you have picked. Do they have an e-mail list?  You bet your inexperienced butt they do! An email list is how Darren launches super profitable ebooks and courses and leverages his traffic.

If you haven’t picked up on the importance of having your own email list, the rest of this post is useless.

We have backtracked one step. But we have more work to do.  If all of this seems overwhelming, grab a piece of paper and pencil.  I guarantee you will have a comprehensive plan before you leave this page!

How do we build our missing pieces?

The so-called “blogosphere” has evolved and people (smart ones, that is!) are no longer willing to give up their email addresses just because you asked.  No sir!  The only way you’re about to get those email addresses is if you have something people want.

For example, if by the end of this post I have helped you by constructing a cohesive business plan for your blog, you’ll want to read more of my content. Because I helped you. Because you liked what I had to say. Because you want more.

And if you haven’t noticed, it’s not just one guest post I’ll be publishing to build my email list.  You should be seeing me around.  In other words, after you create a free report, you need to find big hubs where your ideal customers are hanging out!

Create a list of five big sites and blogs where your readers are.  Expose yourself (*ahem* with your unique posts) multiple times.

I’m doing the exact same thing right now.  I am exposing my content to new readers who don’t know me.  If you have “kind of seen me around”, then the more I expose my work, the more chances I’ll have of getting your attention.

It’s how all of the big bloggers roll; you just weren’t paying attention or think that your blog will surely take off after one of your posts “go viral”.  Hah!

What I’m discussing with you took me a year to figure out.  Ignorance isn’t bliss, apparently.  Here I have my sexy, newly defined business plan:

You can bet my plan is even more specific than this.  It may seem exhausting but this is precisely what you need.  In fact, I have goals written down for how many people will join my list in June, July, and August, and how much money I expect to earn in each one of these months.  I’m also in the process of designing my survey and constructing my consultation reports.

Before you leave, answer the following questions and construct at least a rough diagram of your business plan:

  • Do you have an email list?
  • Do you necessarily need to grow your email list? If so, how exactly will you do that?  How many guest posts?  Start writing down guest post ideas.
  • What kind of service or product do you want to offer?  What would you be excited to provide people with?
  • Survey your growing email list.
  • Can you come up with a service, membership site, or ebook that you have experience with?

Write down your answers.  Get super specific.  No one else can do this for you.  If you don’t do this, your blog is dead.

After you write down your answers, you need to create and stick with a plan.  Remember, if you want to earn an income from your blog, you need to treat it like a business and must have some sort of business plan.

Reality check!

Would you rather create your own detailed business plan for your blog … or leave it to lady luck to make your content go viral?  (By the way, in case you didn’t know, viral traffic like Stumbleupon doesn’t convert and sucks.  Sure, it’ll make you feel cool for a day or two but that’s about it!)

I would love to hear your business plans in the comments section. Bring it!

Check out Moon Hussain’s blog, Experiments In Passive Income, where she discusses details about how to build your own income generating niche sites and blogs.  Download her free ebook, To the Moon & Back, in which she details all that she learned about niche sites over the course of a year.

Ignore the A-list Bloggers

This guest post is by Buck Inspire.

Okay, you must be thinking, I have a death wish for incurring the wrath of Darren Rowse and other A-list blogs like ProBlogger. But I believe I need to get the message out to all newbie bloggers. I struggled mightily myself when I first started. I almost quit blogging altogether.

If you want your blog to succeed, ignore A-list blogs at all costs!

Why ignore the A-list?

Income

Some A-list blogs do it more than others (show off how much money their blog brings in), but the result is the same. You will lose your focus and start obsessing over money. I guarantee it. I understand it’s all about the money and they need to show their expertise and success through their income statements. But don’t get entranced by the dollars. You will dilute your passion for writing and your own blog.

Metrics

Although their income is the measurement that stands out, don’t get sucked into their other metrics as well. Hundreds of thousands of fans, followers, and subscribers shows that the A-lister knows how to grow a community. But nothing makes you feel more inadequate than when you take a look at your ten followers, fans, and subscribers. Add to that their out of this world PageRank, mozRank, Alexa, monthly page views and visitors, and you’ll be feeling more inadequate than a teenage boy coming out from a cold swim. Compare at your own risk!

Advertising

What’s wrong with looking at their ads and banners? Nothing, but as you get more interested you will naturally find out what they charge for ad space. This ties with income and metrics and will fuel your inadequacy. You can’t even give your ad space away for a dollar while A-list bloggers easily command 500 times that amount.

Ignore if you dare!

Okay, you found me out. Of course you shouldn’t ignore A-list bloggers!

They all have been there and done that. They have many years of experience, a wealth of knowledge, and tons of great advice to help your blog succeed. However, if you obsess with their income, metrics, and advertising, you will get derailed and you can kiss your blog goodbye.

Content really is king

We’ve heard this mantra a million times before, but do you really know why? I came up with a few catchy corollaries, but they were too bland and generic. Luckily, I found Eric of Photography Bay and his guest post The Long Tail of Blogging: Why Content Is King. He presents a fascinating look at the Long Tail theory, how it pertains to your blog, backs it up with clear examples and graphs. After discovering why content really is king, I even learned a little about photography, too.

Community is queen

In my opinion, second behind content is community. After penning award-winning posts, what good is it if you don’t have readers to interact with you? Rather than bore you with my drivel, check out Darren’s 8 Tips For Building Community On Your Blog. I particularly enjoyed tips on accepting reader content, assigning reader jobs, and giving reader homework and plan to incorporate them into my own blog.

Develop your voice

There is only one of you and this fact makes your blog special. I thought I found my voice, but after reading Georgina’s 5 Ways to Build Your Blog’s Voice, I can improve this area as well. I was so focused on my content, I believed my voice was naturally flowing from my post. I neglected picturing my audience and watching my mood when I posted and unknowingly weakened my voice. Don’t let this happen to you.

Are you ignoring the A-list?

It does take time to gain blog success as this is not a get rich quick scheme. If this is what you are looking for, you’ve chosen the wrong path. But if you work hard and stick to your guns, before you know it, your income, metrics, and advertising will grow as well. Rather than envy A-List Blogs and their super-duper stats, heed their advice and apply it to your blog. Don’t forget to thank me when you join the ranks of the A-list bloggers!

Buck Inspire is living a fulfilled life within his means while delving into personal finance sprinkled with dining, entertainment, pop culture, technology, and travel. If you like what you see here, please consider subscribing to his RSS feed or following him on Twitter.

Why You Absolutely Need a Blogging System

This guest post is by Shaun Connell of Live Gold Prices.

People like things to be predictable. Formulas—or patterned systems—are all around us.

Many popular action movies have the same basic plot, every criminal trial is supposed to be run with the same basic principles, the planets follow the same basic paths, and billions of dollars are spent every day in stocks, futures, and currency trades using complex formulas. Long story short—formulas are important, and for a good reason.

Copyright totti - Fotolia.com

Formulas allow our world to be predictable, and then allow us to repeatedly get what we want out of the world by simply learning those systems.

In this post, we’ll be discussing what systems are, why you need some for your blog, and then discuss some ideas for systematic blogging in order to help you create a repeatable, actionable process for making multiple successful and profitable blogs.

Why you need a system

The world’s rich usually fall into at least one of the following two categories: lucky or systematic. If you inherit a billion dollars, then you’re lucky. If you have an investing strategy that works, like Warren Buffett does, then you’re systematic.

If you find yourself short on the luck scale, then the fact that systematic success is, well, systematically predictable should come as pleasant news. If you have the formula for success, then you’re able to take a one-time good thing and turn it into an effectually infinite number of good things.

This is why so many “investor” guides and tutorials try to focus on finding the holy grail of technical analysis—they know if they can find a predictable pattern, they can make a fortune trading on the basis of that pattern.

Of course, most of those patterns just don’t work anywhere near like they’re supposed to work and a lot of “technical analysis” is rubbish, but that’s another topic for another time.

An introduction to systematic blogging

While blogging is obviously more of an art than an exact science, the notion of systematic blogging also still usually works as well. If you look at most successful bloggers who manage more than one successful blog, you’ll usually see that they employ plenty of the same principles, methods, and systems that give them predictable, repeatable blogging success.

Let’s look at a few arenas where this should be evident:

  • Staff writers. Hiring multiple freelance writers allows you to automate your blog. There’s a reason most of the biggest blogs on the Internet often have multiple writers—this allows the blog to be a little more manageable by the owner, while also allowing a new, fresh perspective to be added to the website’s content.
  • Content patterns. The need for being systematic couldn’t be more powerful than when it comes to your content. Consistent posting, learning basic headlines that are powerful, keeping a repeatable style going, etc. Each of these both builds your brand, systematically keeps traffic coming back because they know what to expect, and lead to longer-term success.
  • Social media building. Creativity is obviously absolutely critical to getting content to go viral. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be systematic as well. Strategically adding a Share or Like button is an obvious first step, but hard-wiring in a simple line asking for readers to spread the word so you can keep your content free can lead to an incredibly high response rate.
  • Design principles. Web usability is something many bloggers completely forget to master. Having a professional looking web design is just step one. Having a functional web design that gets conversions and is easy to use is another matter entirely. There are entire blogs based on finding the most compelling way to build trust and relationships with different color schemes, textures, and other bits of design.
  • Newsletter marketing. Mixing a great newsletter offer with strong conversion-usability is probably the best way to get systematic success. Newsletter readers are often highly responsive, and you can reach them directly in their email box whenever you need to. To say this is “powerful” is an understatement. Mixing high-quality blogging with a strong understanding of email marketing is pure systematic, repeatable income dynamite.
  • Website usability. A pretty design is good, a usable design is better, and a beautiful and usable design is the best. Website usability is essentially the field of figuring out which little changes to a design/content get the most results. Using subtitles, figuring out where to put the sidebar, and knowing where to put ads can literally increase your traffic and earnings by 10 fold over time. I once spent some time buying smaller niche blogs, installing different designs, and then just updating them with content—it’s possible to double revenue with the same amount of traffic. That’s systematic success. This arena overlaps with design principles, but because of the nature of how usability is part of all of your content production, it includes a bit more than just the main theme of your blog.

As with everything worth doing in life, building a systematic, repeatable blogging model takes time, experience, and research. Learning how to do this correctly can thrust your blog into the realms of higher earnings, higher traffic, and even give you some extra free time without costing you a penny.

What are some ideas of systematic tactics that can make everything you do more efficient, more profitable, or more popular? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Shaun Connell has been a full-time professional blogger since 2008, and focuses his time at his newest blog Live Gold Prices, where he writes about investing in gold, predicting future gold prices, and finding financial security.

The Secret to Blog Popularity

This guest post is by Ankesh Kothari of SuccessNexus.com.

Psychologist Antonius Cillessen of the University of Connecticut wondered how kids became popular. So he started researching social behaviors and peer relations of early adolescent kids in American schools. And he found something very interesting.

He found that every school had a bunch of very friendly kids who are socially accepted and liked by everyone. But they are never considered popular.

Copyright mangostock - Fotolia.com

The kids who are considered popular are often just as friendly as these universally liked kids, but with one difference. The popular kids draw a boundary around themselves, and exclude a few “outcasts” from their circle.

Professor Antonius found that you can’t become popular unless you learn to exclude. He stumbled onto a truth that Chinese philosopher Confucius had described years earlier:

“Build small community and thousands will want to join.” – Confucius

It’s a truth high-end clubs have realized too. The harsher they are in excluding people from entering their premises, the more popular they get. Facebook grew when Friendster and other social sites didn’t. Why? because of their initial exclusivity—they only allowed folks with a .edu email address to sign up.

Apple. Rolex. Rivendell bikes. All of them are insanely popular because they focus on only one type of an audience and exclude others.

If you want to make your blog popular, you too have to learn to exclude. You shouldn’t cater to everyone. Only by creating exclusivity can you get the crowds to clamor for what you offer.

Creating exclusivity

  1. Decide who your ideal reader is. What is their one characteristic that you value above everything else? What are their peculiarities. What do they love? What do they hate? (Or if not hate, what are they indifferent towards?)
  2. Draw a boundary around yourself based on what your ideal reader loves and hates. Exclude writing posts on certain topics and catering to a certain group of people.
  3. Let the world know (from your about page or your sidebar) who you are excluding and why.

I used this process to create a sense of exclusivity around my own blog. The first thing I did when I started out was to focus on who my ideal readers would be. I zeroed in on people who would take action without making excuses, and who have achieved some success already and are hungry for more.

I know that if I can help my readers’ blogs grow, my site will grow automatically. And so I only wanted to focus on readers who are willing and able to put in the work to take action and grow their blogs.

That’s why I focused on excluding two types of audiences that are slow or inconsistent in taking action:

  1. Beginners: people who just don’t have the skillset or the resources yet to implement things and take action.
  2. Hot news chasers: folks who get excited by every shiny new thing that comes out and waste their time jumping from one thing to the next.

On the About page of my blog, I clearly mention that the above the kinds of audiences are not welcome.

The added benefit of this declaration is that it polarizes my audience to my liking. The beginners and hot news chasers go somewhere else. Meanwhile, the action-takers realize that there won’t be a lot of fluff on my blog, and subscribe in higher numbers.

Action points

  • How can you become popular? Simple: don’t serve everyone.
  • Target the right people. Don’t write for everyone.
  • Mention on your about page: which topics you will never cover, and which people you will never cater to.
  • Be choosy and selective, and your fame and influence will grow.

Have you tried this approach on your blog? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments.

Ankesh Kothari is the founder of SuccessNexus.com—an affiliate management application for blogs and forums. He also runs the Advanced Internet Marketing Strategy blog—which you should not visit if you’ve just started blogging or didn’t find value in this post.

Are You a Creative Blogger?

This guest post is by Chris Kahler of bloggeritus.com.

It doesn’t take a genius to stroll around cyberspace and quickly find that the World Wide Web is littered with junk. There is a lot of “stuff” out there, most of which isn’t very good.

On the flip side, though, there are still many amazing gems hidden beneath the rubble. The magical ingredient that marks the divide is creativity. Creativity isn’t just part of a fairytale that only children believe in. It really exists, and is the one thing that will polish you into a masterful blogger.

The gems you will find online are from the few bloggers who have found their own creative abilities and applied them masterfully towards the many processes that grow a blog. They have their own special style that everyone instantly recognizes.

“Run of the mill” is a term used to describe work done by others who try to imitate someone else’s style—their work becomes obscure and much less effective.

Originality is not attempting to be different, but rather doing what you want to do the way you want to do it. Originality is only effective when approached with creativity.

A blog is created through many small steps, wouldn’t you agree? Depending on how you approach them, these steps can either produce “run of the mill” results and put your blog in the pile of rubble, or they can produce results of original creativity and polish your work to be one of the few gems to be found.

What are the benefits of creative blogging?

Blogging is a medium thriving on the expressions of originality. Those who can create their own unique style stand out.

You create your own style by being creative with your content and unique with your presentation. The creativity in your content will act as your originality, and over time your style will resonate with people.

For creating a unique style you must quit following trends, trying to fit in with specific groups, or attempting to fit a personality mold you weren’t made for; rather, embrace the idea of creative imagination and flow where you really want to be.

When you become creative with your ability to express your thoughts, your style will carve a path of its own.

As you practice being creative many drastic changes will occur in your life. Here are some of the more noticeable changes creativity can bring:

  • Creativity can reduce stress (if you learn to enjoy it).
  • It helps to unlock hidden potential in your brain.
  • Creativity helps rejuvenate your vigor.
  • It boosts your motivation.
  • It will help you build and maintain stronger focus on what you need to get done.

Another main benefit, which in my opinion is one of the best, is the fact that you will actually grow to enjoy the process of creating. There is a fine line between work and play that produces the most efficient results toward any goal.

Creators of great achievements walk along this line.

They understand the importance of focused objectives yet are able to have fun during the time they spend “at work” getting them accomplished.

As you learn to be more creative you will grow to enjoy creating just for the sake of it. Results are just results and shouldn’t be the focus of your efforts.

Creators focus on the creations, not the potential rewards

It helps to provide real value when your overall focus is applied in the right places. If you have a goal in mind that you want to reach, by all means remember it constantly.

However, when you find yourself in the trenches trying to make the life you want to happen a possibility, don’t work with possible results as your main focus for inner drive.

Disappointment sets in when you work for results. But even worse, your work will be totally misguided due to the lack of controlled focus for direction.

Now if you have a dream, which everyone should, do keep it in the forefront of your memory; when you visualize your expectant life and realize certain things must initially take place for you to get there, you will understand what’s next—you must create those “certain things” to help you move forward.

This is what visualizing is for—to help you prepare yourself for the skills you’ll need to gain and to give you a direction to begin creating that dream.

As you create your way through the smaller incremental steps giving you advancement towards the dream, make those individual processes your sole focus.

Creativity will help define a passion for you

Being creative will help to create a since of pride in you, yet the process of creation will always leave you humbled. The result of this is the constant urge to continue.

When you learn to enjoy the creative process and feel a great deal of satisfaction from your creations, that’s the birth of passion.

Creative passion is one of the most powerful driving forces for producing effective, high quality content in record time.

Furthermore, you will also strive to exceed any current “limitations”—this is just how the creative process is!

Applying creativity towards any kind of work you do will allow you to spark a new connection with what you’re doing, and your progress will grow positively.

No matter what side project(s) you are involved with, such as a blog project, some form of art you want to try out, or any other kind of objective—if you search out a creative aspect in it, you will see things in an entirely new perspective.

The best part of creativity: a new-found perspective

Creativity gives you flexibility without expectation. This gives you a full enjoyment for what you do.

As a creative blogger:

Rather than creating blog posts just for the rewards of blogging, you will find yourself stretching your limits to create the best post you can, just for the challenge of creation.

Rather than focusing on distant realities in your mind you will develop solid concentration on tasks that are enjoyable.

You’ll also begin feeling passionate for these tasks.

Also, a lasting impression for seeking creativity is the new mannerism developed for modeling the success of others.

Rather than seeing limits that seem to impose themselves on you when considering yourself in comparison with a notable leader, you’ll just see the distance as mere obstacles that you will overcome in increments … creative increments, that is.

The only steps separating you from the most established professionals are the many smaller and focused processes of creation, which have given these professionals every asset, tool, and skill they use to travel the path of achievement.

Your steps to becoming a more creative blogger

To become a more creative blogger is a very wise thing to do. However, it takes time and effort to establish and build a mind that leans towards creative thinking.

Here are the things you must do in order to be more creative:

  1. You must be more positive with your outlook on everything. For any situation, try to find the positive aspect or potential outcome. This is key for creative people.
  2. Stretch yourself past what you may perceive as limits. There is a simple mindset to consider for doing this effectively. You need to learn this mindset in order to expand your own abilities.
  3. Observe any professionals in your field or niche. Try to discern what makes their work different. Whatever it is that gives them a pizazz comes from creative thinking.
  4. Master the aspect of innovation. By learning how to take an idea and improve it you not only give yourself room to expand the originality of your own ideas but also can benefit from observing the professionals you admire.
  5. Practice the habit of writing every day. Writing a journal is one of the best ways to initiate a creative spark. A lot of ideas come to us every day, but only those who discipline themselves to organize their thoughts in ways that can be referenced are able to hold on to the good ones.
  6. Learn how to be flexible. Allow yourself to take on new ideas, allow yourself to question your inner beliefs, but don’t change who you are for anyone. Flexibility just opens you up to new channels of thought and is not meant to make you have a different belief system, only a more acceptable one for good ideas.
  7. Learn how to experiment. Experimenting is the essence of creativity. When you do something that’s different than everyone else, you will not know how the results will be. Learn to do this and improve from it.
  8. Learn to accept criticism and how to give criticism. Find positive results either from yourself or others who critically analyze what you do is a great way to make improvement.
  9. Above all, enjoy the process of providing quality content to the rest of humanity. You will grow as a passionate person and will establish a lasting legacy on this planet if you can do these steps.

Let creative blogging help you

As you can see, creative thinking isn’t something you can expect to master overnight. There is a lot of information pertaining to our imaginations, most of which we have yet to discover.

According to what I’ve gathered from modeling success and acquiring new skills is that those who balance their thinking by relying more heavily on creativity than average people tend to stand out as above average.

These people are the ones who establish influence, trust, and higher levels of success using originality and boldness—both directly gained through creative thinking.

Unfortunately space is limited here, I like to keep my posts from turning into small novels! However, comments are a great way of continuing this discussion.

In what ways do you think you are creative already? How are you working to improve your creativity?

Chris Kahler has recently discovered the definition of a creative personality. He has also discovered that there are a million things still left unsaid which you should know about. Maybe subscribing to his RSS feed is a good idea? He thinks so, oh and while you’re at it follow him on twitter as well.

Finding Your Passion For Your Ideal Business

This guest post is by Lori Meyer of listbuildingwithlori.com.

I wanted to chat with you about passion and how it can make or break your online business.

Most online entrepreneurs create squeeze pages and blogs that target desperate niches and people who are looking for answers to their problems. But how many of those entrepreneurs are truly passionate about what they’re doing?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is it that keeps me going?
  • What motivates me to do better?
  • What comes naturally to me?
  • What fulfills me?

I want you to be successful, and following your passion is one of the key steps to getting there.

The thing is, if you don’t believe in what you’re doing and you’re simply in this for the money, you’ll never build a solid, sustainable business, and you’ll never be fulfilled.

How can you make money doing something you don’t believe in?

For example, if you don’t like golfing and know nothing about it, you shouldn’t pursue any business that involves golfing because your website and content will lack passion and purpose, and your visitors will know it.

When you have a true passion for something, money doesn’t matter and time doesn’t matter.

Nothing will matter but indulging in your passion.

You’ve heard it said: “Do what you love.”  If you truly love what you’re doing, you will work passionately, willingly and fearlessly.

It’s easy to tell when someone is truly passionate about their business because they’ve taken the time to provide valuable, in-depth content for their readers.  Their passion shows in everything they do.  They go out of their way to over-deliver with amazing information.

Here’s the key, your passion, what you’ve been wanting to do forever, will lead you to your ideal clients:

  • to those who want what you’re offering
  • those who will come back again and again because of what you’re offering
  • those who will gladly pay for what you’re offering.

When you have found a business that makes you truly happy, that lights a fire under you and motivates you to want do better, you have found your passion.

  • You can work your tail off.
  • You can daydream.
  • You can hope for the best.
  • You can survive.

But, you won’t live until you follow your passion.  And once you’ve found it, go after it with gusto!

Here are some exercises that will help you find out exactly what your passion is.

First and foremost, you must:

  • remove any fear
  • remove any unforgiveness
  • remove any and all expectations
  • remove all judgements.

Now, grab a pen and paper and answer these questions (and please be honest!):

  1. What do you daydream about?
  2. What would you be doing if you could be a kid again?
  3. What motivates you?  Inspires you?  Makes you giddy-happy?
  4. What are you passionate about?

You must use that passion to speak to your subscribers. To infuse your writings with words that will go beyond the surface.

You need to speak their language.

You need to understand what it is they want and need, then use that same passion to give it to them.

To do this, you’ll need to work on yourself.  To be totally and brutally honest with what you’re doing and how you approach your business.

Your ideal client needs you to be passionate about what you do.

That beautiful glow you get when you do what you love will shine like a beacon in everything you do.

Fire is what people follow and passion is the one thing that will help you achieve the life, and business, of your dreams.

Lori Meyer is a full-time blogger with a passion for helping others succeed in their online business. Her blog, listbuildingwithlori.com, is dedicated to everyone wishing to move forward fearlessly with confidence and motivation.

What to Do When You’re so Boring You’re Boring Yourself

This guest post is by freelance writer Jocelyn Anne.

Have you ever finished one of your own blogs written by yours truly and finished the dang thing bored out of your own mind? To the point where it’s too painful to even re-read it for basic proofing?

Well if you haven’t, not to fear, your day is coming. It happens. All good things must come to an end, or so they say. Not that I’m saying you’ll be boring forever. It’s just a phase. Or something. Anyway. Here’s what’s up.

If you’re bored, your readers are bored. And if your readers are bored, they’re going to stop coming back—like, super-fast. Readers are finicky like that. While you may have faith that your temporary boredom is just a phase, and I may have faith that your last irritatingly boring post was just a fluke, other readers aren’t likely to be so kind. They flee boring like mad.

So, what this boils down to is that you don’t have a whole lotta time to dwell and wallow in your phase. Maybe a few posts (if you’re lucky). Boredom calls for desperate measures. You’re gonna have to ditch yourself altogether and become someone much newer and cooler and hipper than you are. Sayonara baby.

My favorite way to break the boring posting doldrums is to create an entirely new person. New alias, new pen name, what have you. I decide what I’ll look like (always some sort of super model, of course), what my past was like, where I’m headed in life and how many hundreds of dollars I’m getting paid to write this blog (it helps). Then I decide what I’m passionate about. Who cares if it’s even remotely relevant to what I typically blog about. Clearly neither I nor my readers can bear to read any more of that right now.

So. You’re a new person, with a new passion. If you’ve got guts, you can post as yourself. If you’re not so gutsy yet, post it as a guest blog. Bottom line, do whatever will allow you to have the most freedom and most fun. Be wacky. Be crazy. Be fanatical. It honestly doesn’t matter. What matters is that you regain a voice again. It could be a superhero, it could be a cartoon character. It could be your super sexy blonde neighbor with the Greek goddess tan you despise. It could be the nerd who lurks behind the recycling at the Piggly Wiggly. You get the point. Pick one and write about bananas. Or maybe boxes.

Now, depending upon the severity of your boredom “condition” you can decide how far to take this. Do you need an entirely new blog? Probably not. But if you feel like the one you’re on is just too far gone for recovery, then do it! Break a new and start afresh. Sometimes a new little WordPress layout is all it takes. If you think you just need to snap out of it, then more likely than not, a few posts will do the trick and bring back some pizzazz to the normal, every-day you. If you feel like you could slip back at any moment though, then instill something like Friday Fun Day and post under your alias once a week from now on. Your readers will develop a bond with the two of you and you’ll get to be you and someone probably a whole lot more exciting.

What will happen is that you’ll have fun. Believe it or not. I know, I know, sometimes blogging is torture. But this won’t be. You’ll have to use an entirely new area of your brain, an entirely new capacity of your humor and wit and your sass that probably hasn’t seen the light of day in far too long. And, especially if you post as a guest, you have no fear of consequences. There’s nothing that can touch you or harm you because whoever the nut is that wrote that piece, wasn’t you! Brilliant, eh? Write a couple pieces. Write until you regain the spark and vim and vigor you used to have in your area of expertise.

Now, while I suggested this idea primarily for those of you suffering from boredom, or at least for those of you making your readers suffer from your boredom, it’s actually not the only thing this handy-dandy technique is good for. It’s also awesome for the wanna-be-writer struggling with finding and settling on a voice. Heck, try out a new voice a week. Toronto Tom this week, Sweetly Sara next. (A gender writing voice mix-up is always interesting.) Once you find a voice you’ve fallen in love with, then step into your own. Claim your own name and attach it to the voice you connected with. This might even be helpful for Writing 101 when your professor hates everything you do.

And finally! It’s also grand for the blogger who desires to be controversial but hasn’t the backbone, the experienced blogger who needs some work improving his technique, the ancient blogger who’s been blogging for far, far too long and my personal pet peeve: the blogger who has seemingly forgotten that blogs once consisted of words and has since taken to posting irritating iPhone pictures of what he ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner instead. (Isn’t that annoying?!)

Perhaps you know of a blogger or two you could forward this article on to? I know I do.

Freelance writer Jocelyn Anne is an avid blogger and sometimes writes as Ella Stella if she’s getting dull.  But, right now you’ll find her writing about captivating uses for a portable air conditioner!