Understand Your Site’s Traffic

This guest post is by John Burnside of

When people arrive at your blog, they’ve all come from somewhere on the World Wide Web. They could have found you on a search engine, they could have known about your site already, or they could have come from any one of a million other places.

But all of these different types of visitors have a certain frame of mind when they visit your site. Almost always, they will have a different reason for coming to your site. In this post, I’m going to explore those reasons from a psychological perspective so that we can understand the actions people generally tend to perform when they come to your site from a certain traffic source.

Search engine traffic

When people find a site through the search engines, they’re generally looking for answers to a specific question, or information on a certain topic.

Consider the very nature of search engines: you type in what you want, and hopefully the answer comes up. This means that visitors who come from the search engines are likely to be visitors who want to stay and read your content to find the answers they were looking for. If they don’t find those answers in your content, they may find the answer in one of your ads. In general, this means that you’ll tend to get higher ad clickthrough rates from search engine visitors.

A study performed by iProspect showed that in recent years, people have begun to trust the results from search engines, and this can have a knock-on effect for your site. If you are at the top of the search results for a particular search term, that can increase the awareness around your brand.

This study also showed that if you are the number one for a particular keyword then a small majority of people will perceive you as an authority in your niche. This can affect the way that people react when they come to your site. If you are perceived as having a good brand before new visitors come to your site, then you already have a small element of trust from them—and that might encourage them to do things like sign up to your emailing list or your feed.

Direct traffic

Direct traffic is traffic that comes from people typing your website address directly into their address bar. This is a good form of traffic because if people already know your website address, that means that your site was memorable enough for users to recall it.

Because this type of traffic consists almost entirely of past visitors, you know these people are coming to your website to see what your latest content is. That means that the probability of this kind of traffic clicking on your ads is low, because they may have ad blindness (a topic I mentioned in one of my other guest posts about click through rates).

What they are likely to do, if they haven’t already, is to get more involved in your blog by joining your various social networking groups and subscribing to your blog feed. Also, users coming to your site as direct traffic are the most likely to leave comments on your posts, because they want to try and shape their favorite blog a little with their own personalities.

Social media traffic

The psychology around the whole social media revolution always seems to fall back on the desire of the user to be noticed and have their own personal space online. There are some very interesting points made in this article which discusses what people are looking for when they are searching on social media sites.

The gist of it is that people who use social media either want to be sociable with friends or to be entertained. This usually leads to high bounce rates for those types of visitors, because once they’ve seen your blog, they’ve got their quick entertainment and are ready to move on. This is a particular issue on sites like stumbleupon, where users are encouraged to quickly flit from one site to the next.

The thing that social media traffic is good for, however, is getting your content to go viral. Because of these users’ tendency to quickly browse from one site to the next, if someone does find something that they really like, they’ll share it. As soon as you get people talking about your content, product, image, and so on, they will spread it for you, because it’s entertaining or particularly useful.

Referral traffic

There are some similarities between referral traffic and social media traffic but I have made the distinction because I believe there is a difference in being told about something by a friend or being told about something by a web developer.

When you’re told about something by a friend, you’re generally going to check it out, because you want to see what information or fun it can give you, rather than because you trust the friend’s advice. If a web developer that you trust tells you about it, you are going to look at it in almost the same way, except that this time the advice is coming from a trusted professional. It is a little bit like being told about an illness by a doctor and a friend who has read about the illness in a book. You trust both, but somehow you will edge towards the doctor’s opinion.

That analogy doesn’t work for all kinds of referral traffic, however. When you click through a link in a blog roll, for example, you trust that the blog owner has chosen a good partner site, and you are going on the anchor text keywords provided.

Traffic that comes to your site in this way is much more likely to have a higher bounce rate, and lower interactivity with your site, because these users don’t have much information to go on before they visit. If, on the other hand, they’re being referred by a link in the content or a link from a guest author, then they’re much more likely to stay because they have heard from a trusted source (the referring blog owner) that site has something useful on it, or they are interested in more of what the guest author has to say.

For these last two types of referral traffic—guest posts and in-text links—the most likely things these visitors will do is read a bit of your content to see if that helps them. If it does, they may be encouraged to interact with your site by signing up to your Twitter account, RSS feed, and so on. The key with referral traffic is that you have to either catch the visitor’s interest, or answer a question that they have, before they will add you to their social network.

Paid advertising

I won’t say much about this form of traffic because it is very similar to search engine traffic from a psychological perspective—but it does have one key difference.

People who click on these links don’t mind clicking on ads. There are some people who refuse on principle to click on any ads; others who don’t want to will do so on the odd occasion. But a visitor who comes to you through an ad is likely to click on ads on your site. There is the problem, however, that if they have already clicked on one link and not found the answer to their question, they will click away. This is why most people who use paid advertising do it with one-page sites that contain instant and direct calls to action.

Which traffic methods are for you?

Each of these different traffic generation methods has its uses and, depending on what direction you would like your blog to take, you should target each appropriately.

If you’re after new visitors, and you’d like more advertising clicks, then target search engine traffic. But if you would like to have more email sign ups and blog interaction, then I would suggest seeking referral traffic through, for example, guest posting. This way is the best to ensure that you get traffic that is already interested in both blogs in general and, more specifically, your topic.

For a more specific type of blog, like a photo or video blog, social media traffic is probably your best bet because visual content can attract a lot of attention from the difficult-to-please social media audience, who are, after all, often looking for distractions.

Have you found any particular trends to come out of your traffic from different sources? Can you think of any other sources of traffic that have different behaviours from these?

This post was written by John Burnside, an expert in the making money and Internet marketing niche. To read more of his content or find out about ways to make money online, please follow him on Twitter @moneyin15.

Use a Facebook Campaign to Find New Fans

This guest post is by Matt Robison of Propdrop Web Development and Marketing.

In mid-April of 2010, I officially launched, a site for Pit Bull owners to connect with other owners and read accurate training and health information about their pets. At the same time it would help curb some of the myths out there about the breed, and promote rescue shelters in general. This was a cold launch with no prior promotion, and the blog started with only 20 articles.

By October 1st of 2010, after less than six months, the Facebook page had almost 40,000 Likes, and the site itself was ranking in the top three Google results for some of our main keywords.

I did no guest posting. I did close to zero link building. These more traditional, mainstay-type methods do work and they should always be part of your repertoire, but for this site I decided to go in a radical direction, ignoring the regular methods and seeing if it would pay off.

And it certainly paid off.

A steady stream of Facebook Likes

The initial key to everything rests in a Facebook ad that I ran sporadically from April to July. It was targeted at people in the US who had some mention of “pit bulls” in their Facebook profiles’ interest lists, and who had not already liked the page. Here is the ad:

Note that when I originally ran this ad, it had the old Facebook ad formatting, which had the image above the text instead of to the left of the text. Everything else is the same.

Three points to note about this ad, besides the targeting:

  1. The image used is also the main image for my Facebook page, establishing clear continuity.
  2. The ad asks a question, getting the user to say “yes” internally. Honestly, who would think that this dog is not cute?
  3. The ad contains a clear call to action: Become a Fan (when Facebook still used Fans, not Likes).

Most importantly, this ad did not link to my website. When someone clicked on this ad, it did not send them to Rather, it sent them to the Facebook page.

Now this seems crazy. I’m paying Facebook to send traffic to Facebook. Imagine paying the girl behind the counter at your local coffee shop for a cappuccino, and instead of giving the cup to you, she drinks it herself.

But it turns out that people are much more likely to convert if the action you want them to take is within Facebook. And the action, in this case, was to Like my page.

I set the daily budget to $40.00, and sat back to see what would happen.

Here are the stats for the first day the ad ran:

The Actions column shows how many Likes I got directly from the ad: 247. But that day the site actually got 498 Likes. So friends of people who Liked our page from the ad were also Liking our page, doubling our result. This is the other reason you want your call to action to be inside Facebook: instant viral potential. And due to the high click through rate (CTR) of my ad, the cost-per-click (CPC) was very low.

The results just kept getting better and better. Here are the final lifetime stats for the ad:

Yes: 18,575 clicks. And at that time, over 28,000 Likes on the page. That is only 3.5 cents per Like. And the momentum we gathered was priceless. The site continued to gather Likes organically, and three months after I stopped running the ad, it passed the 40,000 mark.

One question you may ask: why didn’t I just up the daily budget, and get a lot of Likes in just a few days? Why just $40?

The answer is in the previous paragraph: I wanted to let the momentum play out as much as possible and in turn maximize the ROI of the ad. We received 18,575 clicks, but over 28,000 likes. There are almost 10,000 people who would never click on the ad—costing me money—but who still Liked the page.

Engaging new fans immediately

The ultimate goal of all of this is not just a Facebook Like. I wanted these people to go to my site, become engaged, and start building the community.

Most people recommend that you have a clear, customized landing area on your Facebook page with a strong call to action—especially if you’re spending money advertising it. See the ProBlogger Welcome tab on this site’s Facebook page for a good example. You will hear that it would just be a waste of money to send users straight to your wall. And generally, this is true—especially if your blog is already established.

But if you have a clear call to action on your wall, and interesting content, I find this approach works just as well, and flows more coherently into the natural way a person uses Facebook. One the same day I launched the ad, I also launched our first photo contest:

This got people visiting the site, registering for an account, and sharing their entries. The contest announcement remained on top for a couple of days, before I started posting links to other articles on the site. People continued to Like the page, and continued to visit the site. All in all, our first contest garnered 205 entrie—not bad for a first run.

Photo contests also have another added bonus: you get to post about the winner. And usually the winning picture garners even more Likes and interaction than the contest itself.

Action items now has almost 12,000 registered users, and 10% of those have opted into our mailing list. All of this is a direct result of the initial Facebook ad campaign. Our Facebook page currently sits at over 47,000 Likes and delivers consistent referral traffic.

The site now also ranks very well for its targeted keywords, even though I have yet to do an organized link campaign. Nearly every link the site has acquired has been acquired organically. Again, this is a direct result of the Facebook campaign. Without it, would be nowhere near as popular as it is today.

A campaign like the one I have described here would be even easier today, as Facebook has just implemented full News Feed displays for content that’s Liked by a user. Back when I implemented this plan, you had to get someone to actively share or comment on a story to get it to show up in their News Feed. Now just a regular Like will do.

Facebook continues to make itself more and more useful for people who are trying to market their websites. You can ignore it only if you want to deliberately sabotage your efforts.

I would encourage you to try out a Facebook ad campaign targeted directly at your demographic. You don’t have to spend a lot. $100 should give you a pretty good idea of the potential in your niche. Just ensure that the ad has a low barrier to the call to action, and gets targeted people to say “yes” to themselves even before they click on the ad. Here are some quick examples to help get you started:

  • Photography niche: use a picture of the latest, greatest camera, then begin your text with something like “Do you drool at the thought of owning this camera?”
  • Food niche: Use a picture of a fantastic looking meal, then begin “Wish you could cook meals like this?” or “Does this food look tasty?”
  • Political niche: Picture of Obama or George W. Bush, depending on who you want to target, then begin with “Does looking at this face make you physically ill?” Best for US audiences, of course.

Have you found Facebook to be a good source of traffic for your blog? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments.

Matt Robison is a web architect and entrepreneur who offers services and blogs way too sporadically at Propdrop Web Development and Marketing. In addition to, he also owns and operates a site publishing in-depth LCD TV reviews and several other online properties.

How to Create an Instant Yes

This guest post is by Goddess Leonie of

Over the last three years, I’ve launched fifteen rounds of ecourses, four meditation kits, and two workbooks. It’s been a delicious combination of spectacular, exciting, and exhausting.

The thing about my business is that I adore creating new products. I love love love helping people. I need to make it as profitable as possible so I can support my sweet family and keep doing this thing that I love. But, oh gosh, I was so, so tired of launching products endlessly to reach my income goals.

Is anyone else tired of the launch process? All that marketing. All the deadlines. All the talking about it. All the effort to try and get people to see the value in what you’ve produced, and say “yes” to it. The sales pages, the tweet campaigns, the sequence mailing list emails. How on Earth do we find the balance between making money and not overdosing the ones you love the most—your clients and yourself—on the thing you do?

I knew there had to be a better way. I’m kind of a renegade that way. And as these things happen, there was.

Now, full disclosure time here: I’m a hippy. I make a living being a Goddess. So it’s totally, totally normal for me to come up with business ideas and strategies in my dreams. Which, of course, the Instant Yes did.

One night in the moments between nursing my newborn daughter back to sleep, I dreamed a dream. I got told to offer all my ecourses, all my meditation kits, all my workbooks—everything I had created over three years, and everything I was going to create for the next year. And I got told how to price it: $99 for a year’s access to over $600 worth of my stuff.

When I asked why I needed to do all this, my dream elders just said:

You want people to say “yes.” Without hesitation. With tremendous ease. Just: “I see what you are offering. It will help me beyond any doubt. Yes.”

So I listened, and they were right. Over 500 Yeses later, my Instant Yes has become the linchpin and the perfect income source for my business.

There is tremendous power and beauty to the Instant Yes. It means crafting an offer that is as simple as saying “Oh heck yes!” to. Without hesitation. Without concern. Without needing to be pushed or launched or funneled or marketed. All I need to do is turn up. Write. Create. Do the things that I was born to do. And my clients turn up, and say “yes.”

How can you craft an Instant Yes in your business? There are three elements to an Instant Yes.

1. It’s inexpensive

My program is super-affordable. Something clients can easily say yes to. And those who can’t? I created monthly subscription payments using Paypal, and offered that too.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. How can you make your offer affordable?
  2. What would they say yes to?
  3. How can you offer payment plans?
  4. How can you make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to say “yes?”

2. It’s generous

I wanted to be able to give my clients absoolutely everything I had that could help them. My program gives away not just everything I had created, but everything I was going to create as well. Wildly generous. Everything my goddesses could want, I’ve given to them. Easily, it’s a yes!

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. How much can you give your clients?
  2. Why not give it all away?

3. It’s wanted

I already knew my tribe wanted a permanent membership home. They were asking for it again and again. And I knew my products were popular and needed. I decided to combine the two and fill the need.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. What do my people ask for?
  2. What would I want from me?

How can I make what I offer as Yes-able as possible?

In Twitter-speak, if you want an Instant Yes, make it:

Affordable. With payment plans. Be wildly generous. Give your people what they are asking for.

Thus, the Instant Yes. Personally, I think I’m starting a revolution. I wish more online businesses would do the same—offer everything they have for under $100. Launch less. Produce more. Market less. Let the clients flood in, and let their creativity out.

Have you offered your blog readers an Instant Yes? Let us know about it in the comments.

Goddess Leonie is the creator of the upcoming Business Goddess course and, a popular creativity and spirituality blog for women.

The Better Blogging Formula: Think, Do, Write

This is a guest post by Tyler Tervooren of Advanced Riskology.

Have you ever gotten an amazing idea for a blog post, spent hours putting it together, and then released your work of art to the world … only for it to fall flat on its face? No comments, no re-tweets, no interest whatsoever—just crickets chirping.

*Chirp… chirp*

No worries if the answer is “yes.” It’s happened to me dozens of times. Maybe more. It’s so darn frustrating because you pour your heart and soul into your work, and get seemingly nothing in return for it.

I still suffer form this phenomenon occasionally, but it doesn’t happen often any more, because I’ve learned over the last two years (from some incredible bloggers like Darren, Jonathan Mead, Adam Baker, and Tammy Strobel) a blogging formula that practically guarantees success for any blogger who puts it to use.

It’s simple to understand, but actually using it proves challenging for writers working on deadlines and trying to balance life, work, blogging, and a million other things. But it pays off big for those who adopt it.

The think/do/write formula for blogging success

A big mistake that a lot of bloggers make, and I made for a long time, is that their whole writing process consists of only two steps:

  • Think of a great topic.
  • Write it, and hope for the best.

What’s missing from that process?

An authentic experience, that’s what—a story that, as a reader, makes me care that you were the one who wrote it. In this approach, there’s no story telling me why I shouldn’t just read one of the million other bloggers who could have written the same thing from the same information that you gathered.

By actually doing the things you want to write about, and reporting on the results, you add a whole new level of proprietary information that brings your blog post to life.

When you do this, all the humdrum theory is replaced by a real experience that shows people you have the authority to write on your topic. All of a sudden, people want to listen to you.

  • Think of a great topic.
  • Actually do something related to the topic.
  • Write about the results from your own experience.

Last night, I went through all the articles of my nine-month-old blog and separated them into ones that were simple “think/write” posts, and the ones where I actually used the “think/do/write” formula. Then I compared the number of comments each one received. Look at the results:

I expected the think/do/write articles to fare better, but I didn’t realize that they’d average almost 100% better. That’s pretty telling, isn’t it?

If you blog about business or money, quit writing about how to make a million dollars online until you’ve actually done it. If you want to make a million dollars online, but haven’t yet, go make $10 and then report back on how you did it. Build up from there.

If you’re a travel blogger, write about the unique experiences you’ve actually had, rather than about the places you want to go but haven’t gotten to yet.

When Darren writes, he doesn’t publish posts about how he’d like to grow ProBlogger, or how he’d like to try an experiment on Digital Photography School. He goes and actually does it. Then, he comes back and shows you how he did it—and talks about why it did or didn’t work.

Think, do, write.

Doing the do

So, how do you actually do this process, when life is filled with so many balls to juggle? Here’s the process I use to make sure I’m not just doing stuff and writing about it, but doing important stuff that people will want to read about.

Create a personal goal

Why do you blog? It probably has to do with a lot more than just getting attention, right? You set out on a journey to inform the world about something, didn’t you?

In my case, I want to show the world all the benefits of risk taking. That means I set out on a regular basis to do things that most people think are too risky. The challenges are what keep me going, and keep things interesting on the blog.

You probably have some big goals for your blog, like getting to a certain number of subscribers or a particular amount of page views per month, but those are arbitrary goals. Unless you write specifically about blogging, no one really wants to read about those.

What challenges are you taking on that are related to your niche and would inspire your readers to do something similar?

Set a deadline

We lead busy lives, and the famous Parkinson’s Law says that however much time you allow yourself for a task—that’s how much time it will take to do it.

Let’s face it: if there’s no deadline, I’m probably not going to do it at all. If I give myself plenty of time, I’ll eventually get bored and probably give up. Or, the deadline will be so far away that the goal isn’t really compelling.

But what if I give myself a really short deadline that I’ll have to work my tail off to meet? Not only do I stay engaged, it’s a much better story for readers as well. Even if I fail, the story is fun to follow and people learn something.

Document the process

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done something I thought would be worth writing about only to realize that I never recorded any of the details. I end up struggling to make any sense out of it when I sit down at the keyboard.

Nowadays, I carry a small video camera almost everywhere I go, because who knows when the opportunity to capture something compelling will come along?

Don’t just write about what you’re doing. Find ways to incorporate video, audio, pictures, or other media into your story. Not everyone learns or makes connections by reading even though most of us, as bloggers, probably do.

Using mixed media in your blog posts gives readers a more complete picture and creates a deeper connection between you and them.

Edit the useless details

The age of reality TV and airing your life unedited is an interesting concept, and if every second of your life is like a soap opera, maybe that’s the best way to present yourself. But, for most of us, we’re just not that interesting 24 hours a day.

Focus on the most important aspects of your goal and what people really need to see/hear in order to:

  • learn something, and
  • make a connection with you.

Be useful and tell a good story, but don’t bore people with every little detail. Do your audience a favor and edit out all but the essential points.

Hype the important

If all that’s left is the most important pieces of the story, don’t hesitate to add dramatic effect. That’s part of being a good storyteller.

Sometimes, I have a hard time doing this myself because, when I look back on a story I’m telling, I’m seeing it from a new perspective—one of experience—that my readers don’t have access to yet. That makes me want to downplay interesting parts of the story because I now see it as routine. But, to someone living the experience for the first time through your words, they’re seeing it from a whole different angle.

Play it up, make it fun and don’t cheat them of the experience.

That’s my think/do/write formula for blogging success, but I’m just one person. How do you accomplish this with your own blog? Even more importantly, what you doing?

Tyler Tervooren is a thinker, doer, and writer for a team of highly skilled risk takers at his blog, Advanced Riskology. Get his newsletter for more tips on how to be interesting.

Mastering the Moments that Matter

This post was written by the Web Marketing Ninja—a professional online marketer for a major web brand, who’s sharing his tips undercover here at ProBlogger. Curious? So are we!

Ask any seasoned marketer which is easier—finding new customers, or selling to existing ones—and you’ll always hear the same answer: it’s easier to sell to people who’ve already bought from you.

Ask what’s the most powerful form of marketing, and nine times out of ten you’ll hear the answer, “word of mouth referrals.”

Yet still so many marketers fail to focus on being exceptional on both fronts.

Delighting your customers in such that they’re likely to buy more stuff from you, and—even better—tell all their friends how cool you are, isn’t rocket science. It’s all about mastering the moments that matter.

What’s a moment that matters?

Let’s image you go to the same cafe for lunch every single day. Today, you order a slice of pizza.  You slice arrives and you dig in.  After the first mouthful you realized that the pizza is cold, so you flag down the waiter.   What happens next is a moment that matters…

  • The good: The waiter apologizes and organizes a new slice of pizza post haste.
  • The bad: The waiter sticks his finger in your slice, says “There’s nothing wrong with this pizza,” and walks away.
  • The magic: The waiter apologizes, organizes another slice, organizes another round of drinks for you and your friends, and slips you a voucher to come back tomorrow so they can make it up to you.

Which of these outcomes do you thing is likely to drive repeat business and a customer referral?

Moments that matter for bloggers

As bloggers, we’ve got a mountain of moments that matter.  Here are just a few…

  • First impressions: Does your content make an impact?  Is it relevant to what visitors expect they’re going to be reading about? What types of ads are appearing on your site? Do they benefit a reader or will they leave a bad impression?  Do you encourage engagement with, and promotion of, your content?
  • Trust and email addresses: When someone trusts you with their email, do you honor that trust not to share it or spam them with irrelevant messages?  If you promise something in your newsletter do you deliver?  Do you allow people to unsubscribe if they wish to?
  • First conversation: If someone reaches out to engage you in a conversation with a comment, an email, or even face to face, do you ignore them, acknowledge them, or make the extra effort to make them feel special?
  • First purchase: If someone decides to spend money with you, does their dollar deliver what is promised? If it doesn’t, will you return their money? Will fulfillment of the product purchase be seamless and will their details be protected?
  • When something goes wrong: When something goes wrong, how quick will you react and how will you turn a frustrated customer into your strongest advocate?

How you perform in each of these moments can have a long lasting effect on a customer.  You can’t make everyone happy, but if 100 people tell five of their friends about your product, that could mean 500 new sales, and if you repeat the performance with those 500, you could be looking at an extra 2,500 sales.

If you’re selling a $20 product, that’s $50,000 extra in your pocket.

If you want to make money the easy way, then referrals and happy customers are important. How do you rate on the moments that matter? I’ve shared five moments that I think matter for bloggers, but I’m sure there are more.  I’d love to hear from your own experience how you’ve turned a good situation into a great one by mastering the moments that matter.

Stay tuned from most posts by the secretive Web Marketing Ninja — a professional online marketer for a major web brand, who’s sharing his tips undercover here at ProBlogger.

Choose a Blogging Niche You Can Expand On for Life

This guest post is by Ronique Gibson of Freshome.

After one year, I have written 773 blog posts about one topic: your home. After 240 posts for Freshome, 430 posts for Stagetecture, and 103 posts for various ghost writing and personal blog clients, the numbers don’t seem real to me, but I feel I have at least 250,000 good posts still left in me!

I am daily asked how I come up with new content and topics, and my response is always the same, “When you are passionate about a certain area of your life, you can write about it for the rest of your life.”

The real question isn’t “what niche should I write about?” It is, “what moves you to write for an audience that may or may not be there, forever?” Here are my tips to help you be happy with writing for yourself, and choosing a blogging niche that you can expand on for life.

Write for yourself

When choosing a blogging niche, choose a subject that you don’t need an audience to listen to. Instead, write for yourself. While this may sound crazy, many bloggers fall into the trap of worrying about what readers will think, how they will respond, and how they will seek a high approval rating to validate their writing.

Image is author's own

The reality is, yes we all want to have a faithful audience who praises us, but if you can write for yourself and be happy with your content, this is the key to sustainability in your blogging niche. Let’s face it—blogging is tough work and those that have kept it up will tell you that not hearing feedback, and not receiving comments can be devastating.

My remedy to this is to create my own self-validation: write for yourself, critique yourself, and give yourself proper respect when you create a masterpiece! The more you enjoy your own writing, the better, and the more your blogging audience will appreciate you for your unique self.

Choose an expandable niche

What seems on the surface to be the hardest challenge, may actually be one of the easiest to solve. And that challenge is: How can you find a blogging niche?

Image is author's ownI’ll tell you why this is an easy problem to solve: because you already know the answer. Now, if someone asked you that question right now, you may not be able to spit out an answer. Instead, look through the magazines on your coffee table, the television shows you watch in your free time, and the influential figures in your life. I bet this will help you figure out where your passions lie.

Finding an expandable blogging niche is about choosing a niche that you already know about, or are dying to find out more about. You don’t have to be an expert; you just have to want to immerse yourself into it enough to want to share your knowledge with others. Once you find it, you will know it, and you won’t be able to stop writing
about it!

Fundamentals for choosing a blogging niche

As you choose your blogging niche, consider these fundamental elements.

Is your blogging niche broad or narrow?

Your goal should be to choose as broad a niche as possible, to provide full range to your mind, abilities, and to your audience. Let’s look at some examples.

If you enjoy writing about dogs, are you only going to write about how much you love them and the different activities dogs enjoy? That would be a narrow niche. Can you expand that niche to include: dog species, how to train your dog, planning your dog’s home space, dog diets, websites for dog fanatics, preparing your family for care of a dog, owning puppies, aging dogs, and more?

You’ll need to be able to expand upon your topic in multiple directions for lifelong blogging interest and success.

Could you talk about your niche morning, noon, and night?

While this sounds excessive, speaking and writing about dogs will need to become second nature for you, if that’s the niche you choose. This is why you need to have a passion about your blogging niche. If you find you aren’t passionate about it, consider finding another, undiscovered niche that other bloggers aren’t writing about.

For example if you’re a dog trainer, think of all of the knowledge you can share with fellow dog owners! This could be a great niche for you.

Don’t be afraid to tweak your niche along the way

Believe it or not, you don’t have to know your blog niche on Day 1 of your blog. In fact, it takes many bloggers years to discover what they truly love. Step out on faith, and just start. You will learn as you go what excites you—and what topics you can’t stand to write one more post about! This is all part of the blogger’s life. Accept the challenge, “go big or go home.”
Image is author's own
I’m sure you’ve heard the old cliché, “Find your inner voice to guide you.” That’s my advice to you when you’re choosing a blogging niche. Write as though no one will ever read your blog, and as though everyone will read your blog. Therefore, be happy with yourself before you try to please the masses. Once you can do this, finding a niche will come to you easily.

Lastly, enjoy yourself. Don’t start blogging as only a means to an end: sales, increasing a following, or for marketing purposes. Enjoy writing your blog and have fun with it, every time. Then the late nights, and 773,000 posts later, you will still be able to write for a lifetime and love it!

Ronique Gibson is an Associate Architect and a LEED Accredited Professional, who has been in the design industry for over 13 years. Her writing at Freshome and Stagetecture encompasses her love for architecture, interior design, and family solutions to help make your home the best place it can be.

Leveraging 101: Make the Most of Others’ Skills

This guest post is by Brandon Connell of

Leverage is something I have used my entire life. It was what I used when I bought a 5,000 square foot mansion with zero down, bad credit, and had the seller finance the deal 100%. Fortunately, I was easily able to adopt the idea of leverage for my online businesses as well.

The funny thing about blogging is that many people give up too easily. They abandon their blogs because they don’t see the progress with it that they envisioned. That progress may have been in the form of traffic, commentary, or something else. By using leverage, you can have all of these things, and more, instantly!

One form of leverage that I have been using more of these days, is If you aren’t aware, Fiverr is where you can go to hire people to do something for $5. I like to use it to get some extra stumbles on StumbleUpon, or some permanent backlinks. You can also use it to have text or video reviews created for your new product. The possibilities are truly endless, and you need only explore the site for ten minutes before you come up with some ideas.

Fiverr will definitely help you launch your new blog and get that needed traffic, but it’ll also save you time that you can spend writing valuable content for your blog. And you thought outsourcing was too costly for your small operation…

The use of leverage vs. the traditional DIY method

The do-it-yourself method is what I started out with. I worked my behind off building up traffic to my blog. I worked extra hard pushing out seven articles every single day. I went blog hopping 100 times every day. It was a rough experience, and I recommend against it to any newbie or established but struggling bloggers out there.

I am not saying that DIY learning was a bad thing. I think that it added character and first-hand knowledge to my blogging arsenal. I do, however, believe that if you can combine the learning process with the use of knowledge learned from others right away, then you can go much further in a shorter time period.

By utilizing others to do the tedious tasks that take hours of your time, you can really focus on quality, and learn from their work at the same time. You can learn what works and what doesn’t by paying someone else $5 to actually do the work for you.

Leverage comes in many forms

I want to dive deeper into some of the steps you can take to make leverage work to your advantage, so you can build your blog faster.

To keep this simple, I’m going to focus on the website, so you know where to go and get started right away.

  • Articles – I would say it is a must to write your own articles for your blog, except in the case where you’re using guest posts. However, you don’t need to write your own EzineArticles, if you use that service. Instead, why not hire someone to write five or ten unique articles for EzineArticles? It will only cost you $5. Of course you’ll have to check the posts’ quality—they’re representing your blog, after all. But this could be a good way to reduce your workload if you find the right service provider on Fiverr.
  • Stumbles – I hired a guy the other day to stumble 33 of my blog posts and pages on three separate accounts, and it brought me some easy traffic. You can find lots of people to do something similar on the cheap.
  • Twitter followers – Why go through the tedious task of following and unfollowing non-followers every couple of days, when you can have someone get the followers for you? It’s even better if you hire someone to get you non-reciprocal followers—and, depending on your strategy, can be more personal and targeted than using an automated service.
  • Facebook likes – Do you have a Facebook page with only 50 likes or so? Hire someone to get you 200 at a time for $5. Remember, this is a numbers game. The more people who like your page, the more people will see it on their walls and follow suit.
  • Promotional materials – Outsource the collection of video and text reviews about your product or service. Then you can focus more on the launch of the product or service, and generating maximum sales.
  • Traffic – You can hire someone to tweet your message daily for a week to their thousands of followers on multiple accounts. That will get some traffic to your product or blog article quickly. It will also result in new followers. No, the traffic levels may not last over time, but as a means to get a launch-period boost, this can be a tactic worth considering.
  • Offline marketing – There are people who will put your message on a billboard sign and stand in front of Grand Central Station for $5! Let’s not neglect the power of offline marketing—which can also be procured on the site.
  • Design – Looking for graphic design? Guess what. Someone will do it on the cheap if it’s a small project.

Beyond Fiverr

Are we seeing a pattern here? The power of leverage is an amazing thing, and you can master it in a short period of time.

Don’t let me make you think that Fiverr is the only place to use leverage, though—it’s just one example of outsourcing, which is just one example of leverage. There are many things you can do to access the benefits of leverage, such as sending out a newsletter to a targeted double opt-in list, and having a mailing list company deliver it, too.

If you are already using leverage, please share your experiences with us below.

Brandon Connell is a full-time blogger and internet marketing expert who teaches you how to make money blogging. You can also hire him for consulting and coaching services.

New Bloggers Beware: 3 Traps You Need to Avoid

This guest post is by Roman of how this website makes money.

After more than two years of blogging, I’m happy to be still around. Most new bloggers do not survive longer then six months.

Because of their lack of experience, new bloggers make assumptions about blogging that are completely wrong. They start blogging with these assumptions and are surprised six months later when their assumptions turn out to be incorrect.

These assumptions—or traps—give the false impression that becoming a successful blogger is easy and fast.

Trap 1: All blogs are successful

As a new blogger, you eagerly learn everything you can about blogging. You Google every question that pops in your head. Clicking on one of the first few results, you land on a blog that answers your question perfectly.

You have lots of questions so you visit lots of blogs. After a while you start to notice something exciting. Every blog you visit looks good, has lots of posts, has lots of comments and has thousands of RSS subscribers and hundreds of retweets for every post. Basically every blog you visit is a success!

This trap is really difficult for most new bloggers to notice. While they’re researching blogging they get the impression that all blogs are successful blogs. But what the new blogger never sees are the thousands of unsuccessful blogs. They never see them because they’re on pages three (or later) in the search results. New bloggers only see the blogs on page one and two of Google. So after a few days of researching blogging via search engines, the new blogger forms the false impression that all blogs are successful.

It is not just the search engines that create this mirage: it’s also the blogs themselves and the blogs they link to. Successful blogs link to other successful blogs. So the new blogger is bouncing around from one blogging success to another thinking, “Wow this is great, look at all these successful blogs—blogging must be easy.”

It doesn’t take the new blogger long to notice this trap. After a few days or weeks struggling to get traffic to their blog they begin to ask, “Why did I think this was going to be easy?”

Trap 2: Success is as easy as following the yellow brick road

When Dorothy landed in Oz she had a problem: she needed to get back home. The munchkins told her that the Wizard would solve her problems. “How do I find the wizard?” she asked. “It’s easy,” they replied, “just follow the yellow brick road.”

The trap for new bloggers is that they believe in a yellow brick road—a path that leads directly to a successful blog. They think that by following a few simple steps, they can achieve success. Write compelling content, have a RSS feed, post often, reply to comments, create backlinks—do all these things, and you will succeed.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

Steps can be laid out describing how to create a blog and suggestions can be made on how to improve a blog, but there is no direct path to success for any blog. There is no system to follow that will result in a successful blog. There is no yellow brick road to success.

There are a lot of products for sale that guarantee you will become a successful blogger. They promise to lay down a road to success—all you need to do it buy it and follow it.

Save your money. Dorothy did not need the yellow brick road or the Wizard to bring her back home. She discovered that she had the power to get home all along. I wasted a lot of time looking for a yellow brick road, hoping that it would lead me directly and quickly to success. Instead of looking for the easy road, my time could have been better spent creating compelling content.

Trap 3: Success comes quickly

The brick-and-mortar world is a lot slower then the Internet. A blog takes five minutes to set up. In twenty minutes, you have your first page of content lined with AdSense ads. If you are really lucky, you can make your first dollar in an hour.

Compare that with opening a fruit stand. First you have to build the structure—preferably with bricks and mortar. Then you need to purchase fruits to stock your stand. Finally you will need a cash register and a sign on the highway directing traffic to the store. It will take weeks before you can sell a single apple.

The trap that new bloggers fall into is thinking that because the Internet works fast, success will come quickly. They expect visitors and revenue to pour into the business just as fast as the blog was built. Then when it doesn’t happen that fast, disappointment sets in.

Do not fall into this trap. Just because it takes five minutes to create a blog, do not expect it to take two days to become successful. The Internet is fast, but when it comes to having a successful blog, brick-and-mortar rules apply.

Imagine spending years getting up early, opening shop, selling a couple fruits and going home. At first there are no profits, and most likely your days end in loss. But with perseverance and hard work, more and more people come to you for their fruit needs. It could take months until word gets around that you have quality fruit and good prices. This is how blogs work, too.

More traps?

Did you make any assumptions about blogging that turned out to be wrong? Tell us about them in the comments and prevent other bloggers from falling into the same trap.

Roman will be the first to admit that he fell into all three traps. Fortunately, he got away. On his site how this website makes money he proves that success is not just a stroll down the yellow brick road.

How Do You Know if You’re Succeeding?

This guest post is by Josh Klein of Digital Strategy with Josh Klein.

You had an idea for a blog. You developed a smart blog strategy. You wrote a compelling about me page. You learned how bloggers make money, and you even followed some examples of how Darren makes money with his blogs. Then you picked up a “how to” guide, like the excellent free ebook from Michael Martine, “How to Start a Business Blog.”

And then you blog, and you promote, and you make some cash on the side. You’re up and running! But how do you know you’re succeeding? How do you know you’re heading in the right direction, and simple patience and dedication will turn your hobby into a profession? When do you know if you’re a problogger?

Amateurs can make choices based on their raw enjoyment, their traffic numbers, their comments, and their links, but professionals need to measure their return on investment (ROI). Probloggers need to pay their rent. But you’re not cashing big checks yet, and you still need a way to see if you’re on the right track.

I want to tell you about four things you can do, right now, to understand your business goals for blogging and test whether or not you’re achieving them. Because the truth is your follower count and your page views won’t pay your rent.

1. Measure your influence

Whether you’re selling your own product, promoting affiliates, offering a service, or advertising, your ability to make money is dependent on your ability to successful convey to your audience the value you offer them in such a way that they take action. Ideally, you’d measure your actual profits as a way to see if you’re succeeding, but you may have just started to get traction. There are other ways to test your influence.

Followers—be they RSS subscribers, Twitter followers, Facebook friends, or something else—are not a great way to measure your influence, at least not at face value. The reason for this is that the volume—reach, in marketing-speak—is less relevant than the quality of these relationships. You could message a million people, but if none of them were the right people, you’d be done for.

PostRank is a great service to measure influence in an effective way. Not only will it track the views your blogging gets, it will follow “social events” as they happen across the web, as people discuss and share your posts. This is the kind of activity that really demonstrates your growing influence, and as a practical matter, you can use it to follow up directly with the people that have “pre-qualified” themselves as interested in what you have to say by sharing your posts.

Instead of tracking how many people follow your blog, you can track—and take action based on—the people actually doing something with your blog that brings them closer to becoming customers. If your posts are spreading beyond the initial push you give them, you’re starting to make things happen.

2. Solicit and test feedback

When you ask your audience something, do they answer? It’s easy to forget, since blogging is a broadcast medium (you write, others read), that comments and emails are from real people who took a real chunk out of their day to not only pay attention to you, but to give you something in return. Compared to your average fly-by reader, make sure you cherish these people, and try to take to put their interest to good use.

When your audience gets in touch with you, don’t simply thank them and send them on their way. Instead, try to solicit their opinions on the direction you should be taking things, test their feedback on the blog, and build a lasting relationship with them.

There is a bigger difference between zero true fans and one true fan than there is between one true fan and 1000 customers. Again, it’s important to emphasize “true fan” rather than “follower” here, because these are people that go out of their way to engage with you.

If you’re gaining and interacting with true fans, you’re starting to make things happen.

3. Understand the sales funnel

A sale is good news, no matter how you look at it. But some sales are better than others. How so?

If you make some money, but don’t know exactly how it happened, you’re not likely to repeat the process. That old adage applies here: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.”

A problogger has a system—a repeatable methodology of reaching sales—that makes him or her a pro. There are many different systems, and you’ll ultimately have to try a few and find what works for you, but the point that you need one can’t be overemphasized. Even a single sale is a monumental achievement if it goes according to a preconceived plan.

You don’t need to write down a lengthy business plan, just to understand the funnel. For instance, “I’m going to sell a course. I’ll promote this course through a sales page, which is driven to repeatedly throughout a free ebook, which I will distribute by guest posting on blogs in my niche and offering as a download.” This certainly could benefit from more detail, but the outline is there. Then you can measure each step of the process; if 10,000 people read your guest posts, about 5,000 download your ebook, but only ten click through to the sales page … well, maybe you need to change the way your ebook promotes your sales page.

Once you have a system, and it succeeds once, you have all the proof you need that it is possible. Your next step is to make it better. Remember that the first sale—at least, the first measurable sale—is the hardest to make. After that, it’s just incremental improvement.

4. Stay true to your one goal

You were smart enough to think strategically about blogging when you first laid out your plans for world domination, but how often do you get mired down in the details, losing sight of your original goals? I’ll be the first to admit that opening Google Analytics to see whether yesterday’s post got as many views as the one from the day before is an addiction. But probloggers know that information is only useful insofar as you can actually take action based on it.

Here’s a novel suggestion: try to boil down your goals to one sentence, maybe a paragraph if necessary. Blow it up into big letters and print it out on a piece of paper, then tape it somewhere that is within your line of sight as you work.

As you write and promote your blog, grow your influence, interact with fans and partners, and watch your sales, always look back to this goal and ask yourself, “is what I’m doing right now getting me there?” You goals can change—they almost certainly will—but you can’t get get “there” if you don’t know where “there” is.

If you do this, all that time you spend replying on Twitter or reading other blogs will start to take on a new dimension. You’ll start to question the value. These activities may very well turn out to be worth pursuing, but at least you’ll have made it an active choice based on our strategic goals.

Over time, what you’ll find is that you naturally gravitate towards the things that matter, and as importantly, you’ll understand why those things matter. This is how you know you’re succeeding, even before the paycheck arrives in the mail—you know you’re working towards a goal you care about.

How do you measure your success? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Josh Klein is a marketing consultant with experience working with major brands on Madison Avenue and small businesses around the country. He writes about marketing and business in general at his blog, Digital Strategy with Josh Klein.