Close
Close

7 Crucial Parts of a Successful Outreach Strategy

7 Crucial Parts of a Successful Outreach Strategy on ProBlogger.netThis is a guest contribution from Jonathan John.

If you’ve been reading how-to blog and content marketing blogs for very long, then you’ve no doubt come across this buzzword: outreach.

Nowadays, all the big guns are talking about outreach and how it’s gonna revolutionize content marketing and take your latest blog posts from 0-100 real quick.

But what exactly is outreach?

Well, in short, outreach is the art of getting others to share or link to your posts. You’re basically leveraging other people’s blogs or social media followings to increase the popularity of your own.

And get this: the people who say that outreach is an effective content promotion strategy are 100% right. Outreach is a very powerful way to quickly get traction to your latest blog posts, an ideal traffic strategy for new bloggers.

That is, when you do it right.

In this post, I’ll discuss seven of the most crucial parts of a successful outreach strategy, and how you can leverage outreach to boost traffic to your blog posts.

1. Begin with the End in Mind

Before you begin your outreach process, you need to plan. You need to begin with the end in mind.

Ask yourself the following questions:

What are my goals?

Outreach is a great strategy to accomplish several things: increased traffic, more connections with influential people, better backlinks from quality sites, etc..

You need to know your goals (always try to write them down as well) before you start the actual process of outreach.

How much time do I have to dedicate to outreach?

Here’s the one pitfall of outreach. The impact from one successful outreach email (e.g. getting one blogger to share or link to your blog post) isn’t particularly high, especially in the short run. So in order to see significant results, you typically have to send out a lot of emails.

Case in point: Brian Dean from Backlinko emailed 160 websites to promote his post on Google ranking factors. Because of the backlinks and visibility he’s gotten as a result, Brian now ranks #1 in the SERPs for “google ranking factors”, which is by no means a low-competition keyword.

Google-Ranking-Factors

Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that you need to email 100+ people for every post you write. Due to time restrictions, that’s an unrealistic goal for many of us, particularly me.

But my point is that a successful email outreach strategy will take up a significant amount of time. So when creating a plan for your outreach strategy, you need to budget time appropriately.

2. Pick the Right Bloggers for Outreach

Here’s what doesn’t work in email outreach: randomly sending out emails to 100+ blogs that “seem” to fit your niche.

Picking the blogs you plan to do outreach to is a very delicate (and time-consuming) process. To be successful at outreach, you will need to spend time creating a list of blogs you’ll reach out to before each post is published (ideally before the post is even written).

Here are a couple ways to find the right blogs to reach out to.

Find Blogs that Have Linked to Similar Content

This method calls for Ahrefs Site Explorer, one of my favorite blogging tools. Site Explorer basically crawls the web to discover all the inbound links for a particular website or webpage.

So let’s say that you run a food blog, and your next post topic is on the dangers of excess soft drink consumption. A quick Google search will reveal several popular blogs that have written on a similar topic.

Finding-Blogs

Pick one high-ranking post (I chose this one from Wellness Mama) and run it through Site Explorer to find the sites that have linked to the post.

Finding-Blogs2

You know that these sites have linked to a post on the dangers of soft drinks already in the past. Consequently, they are much more likely to link to your post on the same topic, provided that you ask nicely (more on how to do that later).

Find Influencers Who Have Shared Similar Content

This method works best with Buzzsumo, an incredibly popular content research tool. Buzzsumo allows you to see the exact people who have shared specific posts on your topic.

Let’s say that this time around, you’re on a digital marketing blog, currently writing a post on generating content ideas. You can use Buzzsumo to identify popular posts on this topic.

Finding-Blogs3

Buzzsumo then allows you to drill down and see exactly who has shared this post on Twitter.

Finding-Blogs4

Apply the same concept from the previous method here: since these people have already shared blog posts on content ideation before, they could be quite willing to do it again.

3. Do a Favor for the Influencer Beforehand

Email outreach is all about asking favors. When you send an email to an influencer asking for a tweet, a link, or a Google plus, you’re basically asking them for a favor.

Now, I want you to think back to the last time you did a significant favor for a stranger who’d come to you out of the blue.

No, seriously. Think about it.

Don’t worry, I’ll wait…

If you’re like me, then you probably can’t remember the last time you did so.

And guess what: the influencers you’re reaching out to probably can’t remember the last time they did such a favor, either. So when you ask them for a favor as a total stranger, how likely do you think you are to get the share/link?

Not very.

The key here is to make sure that by the time you send your email, you’ve already performed a favor or two for the blogger beforehand.

For instance, you could comment on 1-2 of the blogger’s latest posts. All bloggers love getting relevant comments on their posts, because comments prove two things to them:

  1. People are reading their content.
  2. People find their content engaging enough for them to take time out of their day to leave their thoughts.

However, DON’T just leave a generic “Great post, thanks for sharing” comment like a hundred others before you have already.

It’s easy for bloggers to see through this sort of comment; they know that it hasn’t taken any sort of real effort on your part.

Instead, leave a thoughtful, detailed remark about what you thought of their post — one that will set you apart from the other commentators to the post author.

Blog-Comment

Questions in particular make great comments because they coax a response from the post author. Besides that, all bloggers (you and I included) get an ego boost when people ask their advice.

A couple other things you could do is to share their post on social media or even link to it from the post that you are writing.

4. Write the Email

Here comes the difficult part: actually writing the email. You can find several email templates on the web for this step, but I recommend testing a few ones of your own to see which works best for you personally. What’s more, the email you send will also typically depend on what you’re asking for in your email: a link, a share, etc..

For instance, asking for a link from a well-known blog requires a very different email than a share request from an influencer with a mid-sized following.

But regardless of the type email you’re sending over, there are a few rules to keep in mind.

Keep it Short

Nobody wants to wade through a 50-sentence email when a five-sentence email would have done just as well. Least of all the busy bloggers who have a hundred-and-one other tasks demanding their attention.

I personally try to keep all my emails no more than five sentences long, although I’m often guilty of forgetting to cut down and instead sending in 6-7+ sentences. I’ve found that shorter = better 99% of the time.

Talk about What You’ve Done for Them

In my email, I typically reserve at one sentence close to the beginning to talk about what I’ve done for them (i.e. I linked to their post, shared it on social media, commented on it, etc.).

Always talk about what you’ve done for them before you discuss what you want them to do for you. Once the blogger realizes that you’ve taken the time to do something for him/her, they’ll be much more receptive to the request that’s about to come.

Be Informal, but Professional

You always want to be professional — especially if you’ve never emailed this person before.

There’s no need to be overly formal (ten dollar words won’t score you any points), but at the same time don’t let your inner-goofiness get too much out of reign.

Also, be sure to use their first name in your opening line (that way they know right off that your email is addressed specifically to them).

5. Contact via Multiple Channels

The biggest mistake I made in my early days of outreach was limiting my contact to one channel only: email.

While email is still the best way to get a response from share/link requests, it’s most effective when used in combination with other contact channels like social media.

Nowadays, whenever I send out an outreach email, I also tweet the blogger beforehand to let him/her know that I’m sending in an email.

This helps to create awareness of your coming email. Most influencers will be getting hundreds of emails per day, so it’s very possible that your email could slip through the cracks. When you reach out to them via social media before sending the email, though, they’ll be keeping an eye out for your email.

So instead of ignoring or overlooking your email when it comes in, they’ll instead think:

Oh yeah, this is the guy/gal who tweeted me about their coming email. I think he/she also commented on XYZ post I published a couple days ago. Hmm. I wonder what he/she is emailing about.

This contact strategy just plain works — I highly recommend that you try your best to get in touch via multiple channels (Google Plus, LinkedIn, or even Facebook can be good options depending on your industry). It’s helped me to nearly double my response rates, and I’m sure it will do the same for yours.

6. Time Your Contact Appropriately

I live in India — but since most of the bloggers I contact live in the US, UK, or Australia, I have to be sure that I’m keeping track of time zones. Otherwise, my email is likely to get lost in the pile of email that accumulates overnight.

I try to get my email in around 8-9 AM in the morning their time. That way, by the time they start their work day, my email is close to the top of their inbox.

I personally use Boomerang to schedule all my emails because I love its simplicity, but SideKickRightInbox, and Streak are popular alternatives.

For tweet-scheduling, I’m a huge fan of Buffer, but HootSuite is another excellent option.

7. Follow Up

The last step in the outreach process is to follow up. If your email doesn’t get a response within a week, I recommend sending either one email or one tweet as a reminder (not both).

I don’t recommend sending any more than one follow up, though; if a blogger hasn’t responded by then, it typically means that he/she isn’t interested in sharing or linking.

And if that happens (which it most certianly will), don’t worry about it. Just shake it off, and move on to the next blogger.

Wrapping Up

Outreach is a powerful content promotion strategy. It has the potential to take your latest blog post from 0-100 in no time.

However, outreach certainly isn’t an easy strategy to implement, and if you don’t do it correctly then you’ll end up spending a lot of time for little result. So the next time you’re promoting a post, remember these 7 crucial steps, and I guarantee your success rate will the better for it.

Do you have any questions about outreach strategy — or any tips of your own you’d like to share? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Jonathan John (@JRJohnWrites) is a freelance writer for hire and a digital marketing enthusiast. He helps business leverage the power of content marketing and blogging to increase traffic and boost brand authority. 

10 Ideas for Finding Blogging Inspiration

10 Ideas for Finding Blogging Inspiration on ProBlogger.netThis is a guest contribution from Larry Alton.

No matter what famous authors tell you, writer’s block is a real thing, and it’s not easy to overcome. If you’ve spent much time in the content creation world, you’ve probably done your fair share of staring at a blank word document, wondering what you should be writing next. However, that gets you no closer to your end goal. If you find yourself hitting a wall the next time a blog post is due, consider these inspirational tactics. 

Set Up Google Alerts

When in doubt about what to write next, stick to current news and events. By setting up Google Alerts, you can always be aware of the biggest trending news topics and subtopics. It also introduces you to new content sources and helps you stay informed about what’s happening with your niche in real time.

Subscribe to Similar Blogs

Be aware of what your competitors are blogging about. Monitor their latest topics by subscribing to their blogs. This will allow you to enter the current conversation rather than end it, which is what your bloggers really want.

The topics others are writing about will give you inspiration for your own blog and keep you up to date on current topics. However, beware of taking the same angle as a competitor. In most cases, you’ll want to take a different angle on the same topic so that you aren’t simply mimicking other blogs.

Post a Poll

Readers love to be given a chance to participate, and posting a relevant poll is a great opportunity to engage readers while gaining useful feedback. You can do this on both social media and your blog post. At least once a week, ask an interesting question and let the answers tell you what your readers want to read now.

For example, you might ask them what movie they watched last, what their greatest fear is, or any other question that could spur relevant content for your blog. If you have a vast readership, consider using a free polling service that will make collecting the results easy.

Invite Guest Authors

If you’ve really hit a wall with no immediate signs of recovery, get a guest blogger to post on your website. This will keep your readers entertained while you take some time to generate new ideas. There are several online tools you can use to find guest bloggers for your website at decent prices.

Take a Walk

Still can’t think of a topic? How long have you been sitting in your desk chair? Your prolonged stationary position is probably only stifling your creativity. The longer you sit staring at the computer screen, the more your brain begins to get sleepy, distracted, and burnt out.

Going for a walk or exerting some other form of enjoyable exercise will help you to be more awake and alert and give you the boost of creativity you desperately need to get writing again.

Blog About Mistakes

The general population loves to read about mistakes. It makes them feel human and allows them to learn a powerful lesson. We’ve all heard the old adage, “You learn more from failure than success,” and readers eat that stuff up. The next time you can’t think of a topic, reflect on a recent mistake you made and create a blog post based on that.

Talk It Out

Blogging is a solitary job, and you can gain powerful insights from talking with a friend or family member. Explain your problem and talk about some ideas you’ve considered or talk through what’s blocking your inspiration. Your friend doesn’t need to know anything about your blog or offer any suggestions. Simply talking about your dilemma out loud is an excellent way to spark creativity.

Write About a Controversy

Do you feel differently about a hot topic than many of your competitors? Address the controversy. Every niche has a subject that’s currently garnering both attention and fire. Don’t ignore what’s popular. Take a stance on the current hot topic and discuss the matter in depth.

Ask Questions

Furthermore, if there’s a controversy in your industry that you’re undecided about, ask your readers what they think. Begin by offering context on the subject and explain a few of your competitors’ viewpoints; then ask readers what they think. This is another great opportunity to engage with your fans, and it will help you come to a conclusion regarding this topic.

People-Watch

Get out of your office and into the world where you can view a world of interesting people making interesting decisions. Go somewhere where your target audience usually congregates, and observe their actions. You can gain a lot with your insights from this activity.

There are hundreds of things you can do to get out of a writing slump and inspire a topic that’s truly creative. One of those things might be entering a community where you can find inspiration for blog posts, network with other writers, apply for gigs, and learn more about your trade.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Can Launching a “For Beginners” Blog Still Work?

Can Launching a "For Beginners" Blog Still Work?This is a guest contribution from Karol K.

Here’s the thing. One of the prevailing myths around blogging is that the best way to start a new blog is to find a topic you’re passionate about, and then build a blog targeting a general, beginner audience interested in it.

For example, if your passion is WordPress then a (seemingly) good idea for a blog is something like “Beginner’s Guide to WordPress.”

Well, here’s the kicker … even though it might sound like a good idea, it actually isn’t.

In theory, you should be able to attract beginners and effectively be the first resource they encounter. But in practice, most of your readers will already be familiar with some of the big-name blogs in your niche by the time they even get to yours.

Those big-name blogs have all the power they need to sweep your target audience right from under your nose. They have the reputation, they have the brand and they have the social proof that beginners look for.

So what to do?

Is the “beginners” market so saturated that there’s no place left for you? Should you just abandon the idea of blogging entirely?

In a sentence: Of course not!

Let’s look into the possibilities that are still out there, and the specific things to do if you want to get into blogging.

Fork in the road – three paths to blogging

Taking the problem described above into account, there are basically three paths you can follow:

  • Launch a “for beginners” blog anyway. Hey, it will be difficult, but it’s not impossible, provided you have these two things: (1) a big budget to spend on promotion, SEO and other marketing-related things, or (2) a truly unique angle that has the potential to stick right from the get-go.
  • Launch a blog in a specialized area within the “beginners” niche. Using my previous example, a specialized area in “Beginner’s Guide to WordPress” might be a “Designer’s Guide to WordPress” – exactly what CodeinWP did when launching their blog meant for WordPress enthusiasts and pros.
  • Launch a blog focusing on more advanced aspects of the niche. Here, you’ll be going the completely opposite way and not paying much attention to beginner topics.

All of the above have their pros and cons, so let’s go over each and get a little more in-depth here.

“For beginners” blog

The main advantage of launching a “for beginners” blog is that creating content shouldn’t be very challenging. I mean, I know that bloggers have to be able to provide quality no matter who they’re writing for, but creating beginner content is always … what’s the word … lighter than creating advanced content.

It’s also easier to explain the purpose of your blog and probably convey its brand too.

Moreover, beginner blogs can usually utilize different content types more effectively than advanced blogs. For instance, it’s way easier to conduct an interview with a respected figure in the niche and prepare a list of questions that everyone can benefit from (not only advanced listeners).

On the other hand, the main downside is that making such a blog popular is next to impossible. Okay, maybe I’m a little too harsh, but let’s not forget that only a small part of blogs manage to attract more than 200 visitors a day, and the more competition you have, the more difficult it gets.

In order to grow such a blog, you’ll have to invest not only in good SEO, active social media promotions, massive guest blogging, but also in promotion through other online media channels like YouTube or podcasting.

Specialized “for beginners” blog

Launching a specialized “for beginners” blog shouldn’t be much more difficult than launching a standard one; although creating regular content can be a bit more challenging and will require more time.

However, one of the great things about such sites is that they become somewhat authoritative by default right from day one. For instance, if you title your blog “The Beginner’s Guide to Grilling Steak” then very few people will question your expertise in that space. It’s much more difficult to portray yourself as an expert in “all things cooking,” than it is in “all things grilling steak.” The same thing goes for most other niches too.

For example, this approach was neatly used by Ruben Gamez of Bidsketch when he launched a blog to get more people interested in his main product – project proposal software for freelancers. The main idea of the blog was to focus on topics related to project proposals and working with clients.

Such a strategy has made it easier to get the initial stream of visitors and build a core audience. In comparison, launching and growing a blog that simply talks about marketing or business would have been much more difficult.

Essentially, the more niche you go, the easier it is to find a small group of devoted fans. That being said, the problem you might encounter sooner or later is that building your audience can gradually become more challenging every month. You can simply start running out of audience, so to speak.

What to do when that starts to happen? Pivot. Start writing about other more general topics related to your niche. Your core audience will help you spread the word and reach new readers. Readers who would have never stumbled upon you otherwise.

Good SEO and other promotional methods are still important when growing a specialized niche blog (like they always are). So you will need to devote significant amount of your time to that. On the bright side, your hyper-niche idea is most likely to stick right away and resonate with a targeted visitor who’s actively interested in the topic.

Advanced niche blog

A good way to get a grasp on what an advanced blog should cover is to think about one of your passions and try answering the following question:

What were the things you were interested in once you were already 2 to 3 years into your passion? In most cases, this is the kind of topics that are perfect for an advanced blog.

Nevertheless, an advanced blog is probably the most challenging project to launch successfully from a content creator’s point of view. Advanced content is always the most time-consuming type of writing, and it needs to be 100 percent accurate with no room for mistakes (advanced audiences will quickly catch those).

Thankfully, you don’t have to publish new posts very often. Even once a week or once every other week will do just fine, as long as your content is extremely useful.

Just like with the other two types of blogs described here, good SEO is always the key ingredient. Luckily, the keywords for an advanced blog are usually less competitive and easier to target. Most of them are long tail keywords.

For example, two or three weeks ago I wanted to get some info on creating a grandchild theme in WordPress. The phrase I used in Google was something like “how to create a child theme of a child theme WordPress” … this is what we call long tail.

The greatest power of long tail keyword phrases is that when someone searches using them, they are almost 100 percent certain to visit your page if the title (more or less) matches their search query. Going long tail, as a searcher, is the ultimate desperate move. It simply means that you haven’t been able to find quality information with shorter queries.

One more cool thing is that the big and popular blogs in your niche are more likely to link to a blog that covers advanced topics. That’s because you’re positioning yourself as the “next step up” kind of resource. Comparing this to a scenario where you have yet another “for beginners” blog, there’s just no need for an already established popular “for beginners” blog to link to it.

Taking action

All three types of blogs have their individual challenges and pros and cons to tackle. But in the end, launching a successful blog is always a lot of work. I’m sure you’re familiar with Darren’s story on how he built his blogs.

Every project like this should start with a good plan. I hope that this post will help you craft such a plan and then put it in practice.

Lastly, what’s your opinion about blogging in “for beginners” niches? Does it still make sense to do it?

Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a freelance blogger and writer, published author, and online business figure-outer. His work has been featured all over the web, on sites like: NewInternetOrder.com, MarketingProfs.com, Lifehack.org, About.com, Optimizely.com, Adobe.com, and others. Feel free to contact him to find out how he can help your business grow by writing unique and engaging content for your blog or website.

5 Tips for Optimising Facebook Ads Campaigns

This is a guest contribution from Luke Moulton.

Blogging about something you’re passionate about? chances are there are others just as passionate as you, and chances are, a high percentage of these people hang out on Facebook and share the stuff they’re passionate about. Using Facebook ads to reach your target audience can get people Liking and sharing your content, and kick-start your traffic if you’re just starting out.

If you’ve dabbled with Facebook ads and not seen much success or traction, here are a couple of techniques to try to improve performance.

1. Laser Focus on Your Target Audience

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make with Facebook ads is to go too broad with their audience targeting. You probably have a good idea of your target demographic. For example: new mums living in Los Angeles. So when you setup a Facebook Ad Set, make sure you target your audience accordingly.

5 Tips for Optimising Facebook Ads Campaigns

Recently I was helping an Australian e-commerce client with his Facebook ads campaigns. He has a range of items that are season and weather-dependent. Digging into his campaigns, I found that performance varied for cities in the north of the country compared to the south. Given it was winter in Australia when he was thinking of advertising, he was wasting money trying to promote warmer climate items to those in the southern states (remember, we’re in the Southern Hemisphere). Segmenting his campaigns down into regions (such as cities or states) help him to target products according to the weather in that region.

2. Boost Facebook Posts that are already getting traction

You may already have a healthy bunch of Facebook followers who share and like your content. When you notice a new piece of content you’ve posted getting more traction than usual, this is a good indication that the content could be popular to a broader audience.

This is a great opportunity to broaden you follower base.

5 Tips for Optimising Facebook Ads Campaigns

The trick that will ensure you get maximum engagement for you spend is to boost your post to “Friends of people who like your page” AND share a similar interest to what you blog about.

Doing this means that the “Friends of people who like your page” will see a little social proof on the ads that appear in their news feed. And social proof is a powerful motivator.

5 Tips for Optimising Facebook Ads Campaigns

3. Test vastly different images

Facebook is a very visual medium and the right image can make a huge difference in engagement and clicks to your ads. When you setup a new campaign, make sure you test at least 2 different ads that are identical except for the image.

Try adding a call to action to your image, making sure you your copy takes up 20% or less of the image space, as specified in Facebook Ads terms and conditions.

4. Setup Facebook conversion tracking

Wether you’re building an email list or selling product, Facebook conversion tracking gives you the ability to see which audience segments convert better, therefore giving you the ability to focus on getting more of those people to your website.

Running a Facebook ads report with Conversion metrics will show you (for example) which age range are converting best.

5 Tips for Optimising Facebook Ads Campaigns

In the example above, Women aged 55-64 are converting the best and costing the least. If you see something like this as an on-going trend, it can be worthwhile separating this audience out into their own Ad Set so you can try to better tailor your ads to this demographic.

5. Rotate your ads

If you’re targeting the same audience on an ongoing basis, eventually they are going to get sick of seeing the same ads week in week out. Try to set a monthly schedule to refresh your ads, or focus more on promoting your better performing posts.

Luke Moulton is a digital marketer specialising in Facebook Ads campaign management. Checkout more tips on his blog at Plankton Digital.

The 9 Habits of Blogging to Increase Your Chances of Success

This is a guest contribution from Jerry Low.

There is one thing that all successful bloggers have in common with one another:

Habits.

They all have habits that keep them focused and productive no matter what else is going on. They can easily navigate the highs and lows of life and still keep blogging away.

These habits force them to focus on things like learning new techniques consistently and seeking new knowledge about blogging, SEO and best practices. They also network with others restlessly.

In order to succeed in any area of life, you have to work on that area consistently. By building the right habits, you increase your chances of success. Think about some of the most successful people you’ve ever heard of.

As pointed out in a Forbes article about developing habits, Michael Jordan practiced jump shots even during his off season; and the Williams sisters practiced tennis every morning before school. To find great success, you have to do more than anyone else and you have to do it consistently.

Every habit you want to build can be broken into a specific sequence of steps. By focusing on these small steps, you build winning habits over time.

In the book “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard,” the Heath brothers suggest that to motivate the elephant (our emotion), you need to shrink the change.

What does that mean?

Build up the habit by taking steps to make it easier. Put your gym bag in your car’s trunk instead of focusing on the whole process of packing your gym bag, driving to the gym, sweating the heck out of yourself, driving back, showering, and unpacking the bag. Focus on one task at a time.

The same concept applies to blogging.

Focus on small tasks you can do, one at a time, and build the right habits. In fact, from my own experience and observations on other bloggers, having the right habit is the most important element in successful blogging.

When Ariana Huffington started the Huffington Post in 2005, people made fun of her. However, she had a vision. She consistently recruited celebrity bloggers and used some traditional, consistent marketing tactics. The rest, as they say, is history. She left many of her critics in the dust.

TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington provided solid technical information and news that anyone can understand. It is not the third most popular blog in the world. This was accomplished through consistent habits of posting about tech topics and being on the cutting edge of breaking news.

If you wish to have success as a blogger, here at the habits you should develop and keep:

1. Take notes anywhere, anytime

Find the most convenient way to keep all your notes together. There are many ways to do this. You can use index cards and file them. You can jot them down in your phone and transfer the ideas to DropBox or another online storage system. You can file them into folders on your computer.

The main point is to stay productive at all times. It doesn’t matter how you take the notes, just that you take them and make them easily accessible for future reference.

Personally I use Evernote to record all ideas and any reading online that I want to refer back to later. I use Evernote because it is easy for me to synchronize everything between my tablet, PCs, and mobile phones.

evernote

A quick view on my Evernote – where you can see how I group my readings and ideas into different notebooks.

2. Ask the right questions, always

Robert Kiyosaki shares a trick in his book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”: he says you should always ask “How can I do this…” anytime you’re impressed by someone else or like an idea.

For example, you listened to one of Pat’s Smart Passive Income podcasts. You think that it’s the best blogging resource ever in the world. So, you ask, “How can I do something like this?”

When you look at another blogger’s income report, ask, “How can I make my blog better than theirs?”

By asking the right question (how?), you open yourself to endless possibilities.

By asking the right question (how?), your brain doesn’t stop at admiring others, but works to repeat what you admire. You keep yourself busy searching for a way to make others admire you as well and to emulate those you look up to.

3. Always optimize your content for search engine traffic

Even though we shouldn’t rely on search engines as our only traffic source, Google is still an important source for targeted audience traffic.

First, always include relevant keywords in your post headlines and titles. Do enough keyword research to understand what searchers are looking for typically and what other bloggers in your niche are writing. This means you should be doing keyword research just to see what is trending, what is getting the most traffic, and what you might want to write about in the future.

Some of the tools you can use for this research include:

4. Post your content to social media at the right time

Nearly all bloggers probably agree that sharing your content on social media isn’t optional. If you want to increase your reach, reach your readers, and get people talking, you simply have to have a social media presence at a minimum on the big three (Google+, Facebook, Twitter).

However, timing those posts just right can have a huge impact on how successful your social media campaigns are.

Generally speaking, if your targeted audience is mainly in the United States, the retweet rate could be 2x higher if you post at 6 p.m. instead of 6 a.m. according to KISSMetrics. Facebook shares on Saturday could be 100% better than shares on Sunday.

Not only does what day you post matter, but what time you post and even what words you use and the size of your image.

Figure out the best time to post on Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest for your profile by using freemium tools such as Adespresso and HootSuite. Then, simply share your important posts during prime time.

adespresso

I manage all my Facebook campaign via AdEspresso. As you can see – one quick way to optimize your FB ads is to look at the “Best Period” to post your ads.

5. Stay away from distractions when writing

It’s easy to get distracted while writing. Whether you are in the kitchen and your daughter walks into the room and starts talking in the middle of that sentence you are writing, or you have a television playing in the background and something captures your interest, you may get distracted and lose your train of thought.

Our brains are not designed to multitask effectively. Apparently, our brains just don’t like to multitask. Doing more than one task at a time creates “splits” in the brain, which are called “spotlights” by researchers. So, your brain is just racing and trying to switch quickly between different tasks.

Researchers have found that it can take time for the brain to shift from one task to the other. Even if it is only 1/10th of a second, it reduces our attention to that task. While studies show that women are better at multitasking, it isn’t ideal for anyone. It is better to focus on one task at a time. You’ll actually get more done and get it done more quickly.

To work more efficiently and focus on the task at hand:

  • Turn off phones, email notifications, TVs
  • Logout from your favorite social media networks
  • Use a distraction-free tool such as OmmWriter or Cold Turkey if necessary

6. Maintain a balanced life

Burnout can be a serious problem with bloggers. You may have been working on your blog without a break for months on end and seeing very little reward.

It is important to maintain balance in your life or you may burn out, walk away from your blog and never return.

Take time out of your schedule to spend with family and friends. If you are religious, allow time in your schedule to attend ceremonies.

Spend time on other activities you enjoy. You’ll also be surprised at how motivation will strike when you’re doing other tasks.

7. They take care of themselves

Life is busy for everyone. You may have an outside job and blog at nights or on the weekends. Perhaps you have a family or a busy social life as well.

It can be hard to find the time to take care of ourselves with so much going on, but if you aren’t feeling well it is hard to do everything from stay on top of the tasks you need to complete to focusing on writing the best content possible.

  • Get regular exercise to keep your body healthy and your mind focused.
  • Don’t get so busy that you skip meals.
  • Get enough sleep. If you stay up until 3 a.m. every night working on articles, they may or may not make much sense to anyone else.

8. Network with others

Successful bloggers know that blogging can be hard and lonely. They don’t try to go it alone. Instead, they develop a network of like-minded website owners they can turn to for advice, guest posts, links and support.

For example, there are many groups on both Facebook and Twitter in just about any niche you can imagine that are solely for the purpose of networking. For example, if you are a garden blogger, you might join a group on Facebook for gardening bloggers.

Once you join these groups, fellow members will offer advice, tips and will like and share your content on social media. This expands your reach and it expands their reach as you return the favor.

Networking builds your audience and gives you a sounding board.

9. Last but not least, be consistent

In lists of habits of bloggers, there is one thing that comes up over and over again. Post consistently and be true to yourself and your audience.

  • Use analytics to figure out high traffic times for your blog and then choose that time to schedule posts.
  • Post on social media at the same time and on the same days so your followers know they can count on you.
  • If you have a voice, don’t try to change it. If your view today is that widgets are the best thing since sliced bread, you better have an awfully good reason if you plan to change that opinion.
  • Respond to reader comments. They should know they can count on interaction from you.

Your readers will come to trust your integrity and know they can count on you and will feel comfortable sharing your blog with others.

Look at Your Reasons for Blogging

In the end, it boils down to your reasons for blogging.

Do you actually have something to say or some unique knowledge to share? If you are only blogging to make money, then you’re a lot less likely to be successful.

The minute you aren’t making money or it takes longer than you thought it would to make money, you’ll abandon your blog. Instead, focus on reaching one reader you can help or building your audience. The monetization will take care of itself over time.

Jerry Low is a geek dad who enjoys building web assets. Learn how you can grow and monetize your blog better in his recent post here.

Super Niching: The Dirty Little Secret Of Successful Bloggers Everywhere

Super Niching The Dirty Little Secret Of Successful Bloggers Everywhere - on ProBlogger.net

This is a guest contribution from Michaela Clark.

It’s the one thing most bloggers avoid talking about the most. A shameful, hidden secret we keep from each other.

It’s the old way of defining a ‘successful blog’– your website traffic numbers.

I’m here to combat the stigma of low readership and show you how having the right kind of targeted consumers of your content is the best thing you can do for your blog and how you can still make money blogging no matter what your audience size.

So here goes.

I’m Michaela. I write a blog for trades and building contractors.  I have less than a 1000 visitors a month and I still make money from blogging.

I am proud of every single one of the readers that I get and I’m not ashamed to admit it.   I work hard to inspire and connect with each and every one.  How amazing is it that a few hundred people a month actually want to read and listen to what I have to say? I wished my husband was as keen to hear what I have to say as some of my readers are.

So stop worrying about volume and look at how you are making a difference – even if it’s just one person you have an effect on. Isn’t that worth it?  That you can change one person’s life for the better with your words?

Without massive readership, how do I make money from my blog?

Well it’s actually really easy.  It’s all in the power of super niching.

A blog about cooking is a niche. A blog about cooking with tomatoes is a super niche.

The world will open up once you build authority in a clearly defined super niche.

How it all started:

Just over 12 months ago I went looking for online influencers to connect with to help promote my virtual assistant support business for trade contractors.

Sure there were lots of blogs about small business but I couldn’t find anyone that had built a following online around business advice for small, trade business owners. 

Spotting a ‘first to market’ opportunity, I decided to become the online influencer I had been searching for.

My first concern was that if no one else was doing it then it simply mustn’t work.  Even my mother said, “Surely there are people smarter than you that would have thought of this before now?” Geez mum, thanks for your vote of support there.

However with over 400,000 tradespeople in Australia alone, I knew there was an influencer gap there somewhere, just screaming to come out.

Straight away things began to change once I focused on delivering highly relevant and regular content to this area of the market.   I began to blog more and started to produce a bi-weekly business podcast just for trade contractors called the Tradies Business Show.

In less than 12 months and with only a handful of readers, I now have over 10 different revenue streams that are all a direct result of the content I am producing.

This additional revenue has been gained through sponsored posts, event sponsorships, podcast sponsorship,  affiliate deals, a membership site, product integrations, speaking and consulting. This is all in addition to the core VA services my business offers.

The key point I quickly realised was that potential partners and sponsors weren’t too concerned with my seemingly ‘low’ traffic numbers but rather the opportunity I gave them to speak directly to a highly relevant and engaged section of their target market.

Relevancy to the readers, not quantity of visitors, has become the new measurement of a successful blog.

Being relevant cuts through the noise, makes connecting easier and builds authority quicker.

Once you have authority you can achieve just about anything.

The power in super niching lies in the fact that it makes you relevant to those readers that matter– the ones that need your help the most.

 

It’s not about how many readers, but the right reader, that will make you money.

Recently I had someone ring me after reading my blog and watching some dodgy old videos of me on YouTube I had forgotten about.

I soon discovered this reader was actually the founder of a national company that has one of the biggest databases of trade contractors in the country. He rang to pitch me on how we could possibly partner together.

That one reader alone could potentially be worth millions to my business.

That only happened because of the niche content I was producing online.

Super niching will help you to attract the right reader and that is where the magic (and money) happens.

Do you have a super niche blog that you make money from?

Michaela Clark is the founder of Tradies VA,  co-host of the Tradies Business Show podcast, and Event Director of Podcast Revolution happening on the Gold Coast Nov 2015.

8 Data KPIs Every Blogger Should be Using to Grow Their Blog

8 Data KPIsThis is a guest contribution from Justin Butlion.

When it comes to growing a blog, there are a hundred different directions one could take. Some decide that the design of their site is outdated while others remove or add share buttons in the hope of increasing engagement.

In this day and age there are many free tools that provide insights with data that eliminates the need to guess. In this post, I cover eight different key performance indicators that every blogger should be tracking, and how each of these metrics can be used to grow a blog over time.

1. Bounce Rate

Definition: Bounce rate is the percentage of your visitors that view a single page during their visit.

Can be found In: Google Analytics

Bounce rate is one of the best metrics available to determine if there are any major issues with your site from a design or compatibility perspective. The first thing you should look at is your site-wide bounce rate. If this figure is very high (above 85%) it could indicate that your site has major design problems which are putting off the vast majority of your visitors.

If your site-wide bounce rate falls within the standard 65%-80% then you should compare your mobile vs non-mobile traffic. If there is a big difference between the bounce rate of the mobile version of your site compared to the non-mobile version, then your site is not fully compatible for mobile or tablet viewing, and you should address this issue ASAP.

If you don’t have any of the two issues I mentioned above, but still suffer from a high bounce rate, then break it down by traffic source. You might find that there are certain traffic sources which are bringing you junk traffic which is bouncing at a very high rate.

If you are happy with your bounce rate but still think there is room for improvement, then work harder on driving more relevant visitors to your blog via activities on social media, certain niche forums, and by getting backlinks from other sites in your space.

2. Exit rate

Definition: Exit rate is the ratio of page views of a specific page and the number of exits from your blog from that specific page.

Can be found in: Google Analytics

Exit rate can be very confusing, but in a nutshell it represents the likelihood of someone leaving your site from a specific page. The exit rate, similar to the bounce rate, can be used to help identify specific pages where visitors are leaving your site en masse.

If a page has a very high exit rate, it could indicate that visitors deem the page irrelevant or not what they were expecting. If you have certain flows in your blog then you can analyze the exit rates of the different pages in the funnel to determine which pages need your attention.

I wouldn’t obsess over exit rates because these will drop when other areas of your blog like better navigation, improved distribution of traffic and better formatting are implemented. The only thing I would look out for is if there are obvious issues like a high exit rate (above 80%) on pages which should lead to deeper dives into your blog like say your category pages.

3.Traffic distribution

Definition: The breakdown of your blog’s traffic by channel

Can be found in: Google Analytics

sources report google analytics

Capture: The Source/Medium report from Google Analytics shows the performance of traffic by different sources.

Understanding the distribution of your traffic is key to understanding the health of your blog. You can find a detailed breakdown of your traffic distribution in the “acquisition” reports in Google Analytics. I personally prefer to look at the “Source/Medium” report to see the breakdown of my blog’s traffic and I recommend you use the same report.

There is no perfect distribution of someone’s blog traffic because every blog is different and some niches can expect traffic from multiple channels while others might have to rely solely on two or three channels.

The major traffic channels are:

  • Organic search traffic – Traffic from search queries run on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
  • Direct traffic – Includes all traffic which isn’t in any one of the other four channels. Includes traffic that comes directly to the site by typing it in the address bar, traffic from bookmarks and traffic from emails which don’t have UTMs tags in their links.
  • Referral traffic – Traffic that came via a link on another website.
  • Paid traffic – Traffic which came to your site from paid channels like Adwords.
  • Campaign traffic – Traffic which is tagged with UTM tags will appear in this category. Paid traffic is also technically campaign traffic.

The kind of distribution I’ve seen on a few different blogs is around 30-50% organic search, 10-20% referral, 20-30% direct and 1-10% campaign traffic.

If your blog’s traffic distribution swings heavily towards one channel, like say 80% of your traffic comes from search, then this could indicate that you are not distributing your content well enough and other sites in your niche are not referencing your content.

You should try and balance your traffic distribution to lower risk and maximize your growth potential, just like you would a financial portfolio.

4. Organic traffic percentage and growth

Definition: The percentage of your overall traffic that comes from organic search and the change in the absolute number of visitors from this channel.

Can be found in: Google Analytics:

If you are already looking at your traffic distribution then you will already know the percentage of your overall traffic which comes from organic traffic. The reason I specifically focus on this channel is because I believe it is the one metric early stage bloggers should try and improve aggressively.

Search remains a major channel for bloggers and needs to be a big part of any blog’s growth strategy. Understanding first the overall percentage of traffic from search, and then how this number is changing from month to month will help indicate if you are doing a good job in ranking for more and more keywords and improving the overall SEO strength of your site.

I highly recommend using a tool like Moz for tracking your rankings for specific, relevant keywords. By focusing on climbing up the SEO ladder for relevant keywords in your niche, you will drive more search traffic to your site. The best thing about this traffic is that it is highly relevant so it will convert very well, resulting in more revenue for your business.

5. Shareability of posts

Definition: Average number of total shares that your posts generate.

Can be found in: Social metrics WordPress Plugin or Feedio

The shareability of your posts is an important indicator for your blog. The number of shares your posts get help indicate the relevancy of your traffic, the quality of your writing and the readability of your posts.

The best way to track this metric is to use a tool like Social Metrics WordPress plugin or Feedio which shows the total share and mention counts from Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn for all your recent posts.

You can use this data to determine your average share count and use that benchmark to measure the performance of individual posts.

Your aim should be to increase this average over time by improving your content, the quality of the traffic you are driving to your site, the formatting of your posts and use of media like video and images.

social shares

Caption: Feedio is one of many tools which show you the total number of likes, shares and mentions your posts are getting from different social media networks.

6. Pages viewed per visit

Definition: The average number of pages viewed by an individual visitor per session

Can be found in: Google Analytics

The number of pages viewed per visitor is a classic Google Analytics metric which helps indicate how easy it is to navigate within your site and the overall quality of your writing.

If you know that the right traffic is hitting your site but your average pages viewed per visit is very low then it could indicate that your site is very difficult to navigate and visitors simply can’t work out how to navigate to different pages.

You can use Google Analytics Behavior Flow Report (see screenshot below) to determine how visitors are moving through your site. You can also use the exit rate per page, bounce rate and landing page data to determine where visitors are hitting your site and where they are leaving.

behavior flow

7. Time on site

Definition: The average amount of time an individual spends on your site per session

Can be found in: Google Analytics

Like pages viewed per visit, the time on site metric helps indicate the overall appeal of your site to your visitors. If your bounce rate and pages viewed per visit are very low, then your time on site will also be low. In order to improve this metric you should concentrate on improving the other site performance related metrics like pages viewed per visit, bounce rate and shareability of posts. If you can improve each of these metrics then time on site will improve

Because the time on site metric is directly related to many other metrics, there is no reason to monitor it on a consistent basis. Look at it once every few months to see if it is moving in the right direction.

If you’re putting a lot of effort into improving metrics like your bounce rate, pages per visit etc and none of these metrics are improving then make sure you’re driving the right traffic to your site.

8. Call-to-action conversion rate

Definition: The percentage of your visitors which take a specific action on your site

Can be found in: Depends on the CTA (more details below)

Every blog should have at least one action that you want your visitors to take. This might be signing up to your email list or clicking through to Amazon to hopefully buy your latest book. Whatever that action is you should track the conversion rate in order to determine a benchmark and try and improve it over time.

Tracking CTA conversion rates can be tricky but thankfully there are good methods and tools available to help with this process.

There are a number of different CTAs that you can have on your site which can be at different stages of a funnel. Each step of the funnel should be tracked in order to determine where in the funnel people are falling out. Below is a list of different CTAs and how to determine the percentage of visitors which end up completing the action at the end of the funnel.

Email form to collect emails for a newsletter or RSS-to-email:

The funnel: Lands on the blog > enters email in sidebar, or lands on the blog > navigates to a different page > enters email in sidebar

To determine this conversion rate you would look at unique visitors to your blog and unique emails submitted to your email capture service (Mailchimp for example).

Purchases of a product which is hosted outside of your website

The funnel: Lands on the blog > clicks on banner, or link > purchases product

To determine this conversion rate you would look at unique visitors to your blog, clicks on the banner or link and purchases of the product.

To determine unique visitors to your blog, you would look in Google Analytics; for clicks on the banner or link, you would use a tool like Bitly, and for purchases of the product you would look in the platform which is hosting the product like in your Amazon account.

Downloads piece of gated content on your blog

The funnel: Lands on the blog > clicks on banner or link > fills out form and downloads content

To determine this conversion rate you would simply set up a goal in Google Analytics. This will allow you to dive into your traffic data at a higher resolution and determine interested things which are much tougher to determine in the previously listed funnels. For details on setting up a funnel-based goal in Google Analytics check out this guide.

If you consider yourself technical and you have a budget then I recommend investing in a tool like Mixpanel or Kissmetrics which will allow you to track every event on your site. These tools provide advanced reporting tools to help you run complex analyses of your funnels and traffic performance.

km-funnel-report

Caption: Example of a funnel report in Kissmetrics

Conclusion

Thanks to Google Analytics and similar web analytics tools bloggers have access to in-depth, useful analytics on multiple aspects of their blogs. Growth has moved from being something your address with your gut and passed experience to one of a science with methodologies and proven approaches.

If you consider yourself a serious blogger that really wants to grow their blog into a thriving business, then you will have to learn and master your site’s data so you can make informed decisions.

I hope this post has helped shed some light on where and how to start this process. If you have any questions, feedback on the post or tips you think should be added to the post then please comment below.

Justin Butlion is the co-founder of Feedio, a marketing platform for bloggers that focuses on RSS-to-email, social media engagement and blogging analytics. Justin loves to write and talk about online marketing and entrepreneurship and is a die-hard English Football fan.

10 Ways To Stay Productive as a Work-at-Home Blogger

10 ways to stay productive as a work-at-home blogger - don't tell me you don't need these tips! On ProBlogger.net.This is a guest contribution from Larry Alton.

Working from home sounds like a pretty cushy job. You can wear whatever you like, eat as often as you want, text your friends, run errands, and be at home with your family, all while being employed. However, that list of things can often make it difficult to accomplish your work.

If you’re struggling to find a productive schedule as a freelance blogger, consider these tips.

Find Your Groove

Everyone has a groove that spurs productivity. Maybe you need to sit in your office chair with the lights off, blinds shut, and a fuzzy blanket on your lap. Or maybe you need to have a clear view of the sunshine and wear your lucky socks. Maybe your groove requires waking up and going straight to work without eating or showering. Everyone has a different groove, and if you find yours, you’ll find your most productive hours.

Dress Up

It’s pretty cool that you can go to work in your pajamas and fuzzy slippers, wrapped up in your Snuggie. However, that comfort zone may be your downfall. Wearing clothes that are too comfortable can often lead to a stronger desire to relax rather than work. Dressing up in your business professional clothing can help working at home feel more like working in an office, and you might find your productivity spike.

Manage Projects

Stay organized by managing your projects. Whether you write just one blog or you ghost write for 20, there are several tools you can use to stay organized both on the computer and off.

For example, there are software tools and apps that make invoicing, scheduling, and emailing extremely easy. Or if your projects aren’t very complex, you can use a simple white board to keep track of your daily tasks and mark them off as you go. Either way, stay organized to help you stay on track.

Remove Distractions

Email, cell phones, kids, roommates, pets, food, television—all of these are some of the most tempting distractions for freelance writers, and if you want to find productivity, you’ll get them out of the way. Go somewhere to work where you won’t be distracted by your surroundings, and set aside separate time to check your phone and email so that you’re not doing it during your most productive time.

Set Specific Work Hours

Scheduling your time is extremely important for having a constructive day if you make a schedule that works specifically for you. Choosing your own schedule is one of the better perks of working at home, after all.

When are your most productive hours? When do you work most slowly? Some bloggers have their most productive hours between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. Others have it from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Whatever time works best for you, make sure you build your schedule around that.

Make Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Goals

Both short and long-term goals do wonders for inspiring creativity and helping you stay productive. If you’re a work at home blogger, you’re probably goal oriented and deadline driven. Each day, write out your goals for your desired progress and tack it to your office wall. Similarly, define weekly and monthly goals that you’re constantly striving to achieve.

Log Out of Social Media

Social media is incredibly useful for promoting your writing and networking with others. However, when you’re supposed to be writing, it’s basically the antithesis of productivity. During your scheduled work hours, log out of social media. Better yet, block your favorite networks on your computer until a certain time or ask a trusted friend to change the password for you until you’ve finished your work for the day.

Make Time for Exercise

Sitting at your desk chair all day long not only contributes to lost muscle mass and definition, but it also makes you feel less alert and can contribute to lost productivity. When you stay stationary all day long, it can make you feel sleepier and fog your thoughts. Setting aside time for exercise on a daily basis can boost your efficiency by making you more alert and motivated, all while leading to a healthier lifestyle.

Eat Healthy Meals

Another thing that contributes to fatigue and lack of motivation is sugary, unhealthy food. These make it so that you don’t feel 100 percent, which makes it difficult to work efficiently. Healthy meals and reduced snacking on sugary treats can make you feel more alert and healthy, which enhances your abilities to perform your daily tasks.

Prepare the Day Before

As a work at home blogger, your schedule can fluctuate from day to day, but you can still benefit from preparing for your workload a day in advance. Write out all of the tasks you need to complete the next day and even a tentative schedule for completing them.

Furthermore, prepare yourself and your office space. You might set out your clothes or prepare your lunch. You might also clean up your office and pull out any resources you might need for the next day’s tasks. A cleaner, more prepared office makes it easy to go straight to work without worrying about a mess.

Further Reading: 5 Ways to Make Your Blogging Life Easier.

Productive blogging takes practice and a series of trial and error, but once you figure it out, the freer lifestyle is worthwhile.

How do you stay productive when goofing off is a more appealing option?

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

How One Couple Drastically Changed Their Life by Blogging

How blogging changed one average American couple's life / problogger.net.This is a guest contribution from Gina Horkey.

Two years ago, my husband and I were just like any other American couple.

We were both working in Corporate America, had a one and a half year old and another on the way. Our work schedules and commutes weren’t bad, we just weren’t doing work that we were passionate about.

Someone else was also raising our child. It could have been much worse – our son was maybe in daycare for 30 hours per week. And the provider was great! It just wasn’t what we wanted. Plus, with another on the way, daycare was about to get real expensive!

Since I’m not one to sit back and accept less-than-ideal circumstances, we decided to make some changes. Here’s our story of going from a dual income, Corporate America household, to a single earning one dependent on just my freelancing income. Buckle up!

Finding a Better Solution

Even though I was a financial advisor, we never thought it’d be possible for one of us to quit work and stay at home with our growing family. After a couple failed nanny attempts and the end of my pregnancy looming, we got desperate and finally entertained the idea.

My husband had always expressed interest in becoming a SAHD and my career was more promising at the time, so we set out to see if it was possible for him, the carrier of all benefits to quit.

By significantly cutting our expenses (cutting cable, reducing our dining out, raising our insurance deductibles, stopping our retirement savings, etc) we were just able to make it work!

Thank goodness we had the good sense to pay-off most of our debt the year or two before.

Fast Forward a Year

Our second child was going on a year old and Wade was enjoying staying at home. All should be well then, right?

Wrong. It should have been.

But I couldn’t help to acknowledge the growing discontent I was experiencing with my work. My clients were great and so were my colleagues. I just didn’t really enjoy talking and reading about investing, tax law or compliance all day long.

I tried to throw myself further into my career by enrolling in an accredited program and pitching a plan to buy into the larger practice. I began studying and we began talks to make it happen.

But then I realized it wasn’t what I really wanted. And I actually listened to myself for once.

Starting a Freelance Writing Side Hustle

So, I did what any other “normal” person did and turned to the world wide internet!

I explored my passions, my available options and started freelance writing on the side a little over a year ago. I secured an unpaid contributorship with The Huffington Post, got some samples by guest posting elsewhere and started my own blog.

I would get up every weekday morning at 4:30 and write for an hour or two before my family woke up and I had to get ready for work. I also had a four-day workweek at the time, so I used Fridays to work on my writing business as well.

I even hired a babysitter from time to time on the weekend to give Wade a break and get some time-sensitive client work done. It was fun, I saw the potential and I was committed to taking charge of my own career future.

All of my hard work and perseverance started to pay off. My income grew month-over-month and I figured out I really enjoyed this world of freelance. I had blogged socially for years, but this was the first time I was treating blogging like a business and reaping the financial rewards.

Putting In My Notice

Eventually things came to a head at work. I opened up about my freelance success and that I had changed my mind about what I wanted for my career future.

I was super nervous about it, but the conversation went better than I had expected. I had been an advisor for almost a decade at this point and with this particular practice for six years. We had a great relationship and I considered them almost like family. But it was hard to disappoint a father-figure!

Due to our great mutual respect, we worked out a plan for them to buy my small practice, for us to find my replacement (for the support duties I performed for the office) and that I’d have a long transition schedule to both train in said replacement and continue to build up my freelance career into a viable business that would support my family.

Becoming a Full-time Freelancer

Right around Christmas, 2014 I had my last day of work. I was now officially a full-time freelancer!

It was exhilarating and a bit frightening all at once. But now, six months later, I can happily say that I made the right decision.

I may work more than ever, but it’s work that I’m passionate about (I write, am a virtual assistant, coach newbie freelance writers and have a course to help aspiring writers for the web launch their own business in as little as 30 days). We also own our schedule, our time and choose how we get to spend it.

Better yet, we choose WHO we get to spend it with.

In Conclusion

Blogging changed our life.

We now decide our schedule, rather than our Corporate America jobs dictating it.

For us, it’s not about being rich or continuing to earn more money – it’s about defining and living out our own priorities, which just so happens to include spending as much time as we can raising our own children.

Want to know my favorite part of each workday now? Coming in for lunch with my family and laying my two toddlers down for their naps. I never would have been able to do that a year ago!

How would your life look different if you felt empowered to make big changes?
Gina Horkey is a writer for hire, with a background in personal finance. She also offers coaching services and really enjoys helping other freelancers gear up to quit their day jobs and take their side hustles full-time. Please stop by Horkey HandBook and say hello and download a free copy of 8 Tips to Start Your Freelance Career off on the Right Foot!