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Offline Marketing: Great Ways to Promote Your Blog Without the Internet

This is a guest contribution from Rohit M. @TeamVlogNation

Every blogger wants to promote their blog. Who doesn’t want more traffic?

When it comes to promotion, many bloggers mostly use the online world as their main marketing vehicle. The online world is great though, social media helps your blog and your daily posts go viral. You can tweet about your next blog post or send an email to your subscribers. Online marketing is critical for promotion.

But what about that, “offline world” that we all live in? Just because you turned off your laptop does not mean you can’t promote your blog anymore.

When it comes to marketing, offline promotion can be just as good as promoting your blog on the internet.

© Dmitry – Fotolia.com

Did someone say, “mini guide?” Yes!

This blog post will be kind of like a mini guide full of different ways you can promote your blog offline.

The tips and strategies explained below are not in any specific order. This is because; every method could work differently for each blogger. The same techniques do not work for everyone. It all comes down to what you feel most comfortable with, and what brings you the best ROI (return on investment).

Let’s get to the good stuff.

Branded Merchandise

What if you could do some blog marketing without even trying? Imagine all you had to do was just walk around and enjoy your day. By having branded merchandise about your blog, that is possible.

Let’s take a look at a few examples below:

T-Shirt Marketing

Your blog url on a t-shirt is all you need to realize the effectiveness that t-shirt marketing can have. You can get customized t-shirts just about anywhere.

Try checking out your local custom clothing shop, or online at places like Zazzle. By wearing a branded t-shirt with your blog url you can promote your blog by just walking around and doing everyday tasks.

Hand these branded t-shirts out to your friends and family. You can even give them away for free to people! This will increase the amount of people walking around with your branded shirt, which in turn leads to a bigger audience reach.

Extra Tip: It doesn’t always have to be a t-shirt. You can use other items such as branded hoodies, umbrellas, jackets, or even baseball caps!

Branding Your Everyday Accessories

© VRD – Fotolia.com

Having accessories that are branded with your blog address can also bring benefits. For example, here are a few ideas on the different types of accessories that you could brand:

  • Coffee Mug
  • Phone Case
  • Pens
  • Binder
  • Water Bottles
  • Bags
  • and much more!

The point here is that you can turn your everyday accessories into effective marketing tools.

I’m always intrigued to check out a website or blog after noticing it through a branded item and I’m sure there are many others who are the same way. One great place online where you can get customised accessories is Cafepress. They have tons of different items that you can brand with your blog.

Extra Tip: Always try including your blog url. If you only have your tagline or blog name, it can sometimes be less effective and memorable compared to showing your url. By including a blog address you’re providing potential visitors with a direct destination to your blog instead of having to search it up.

Sticker Marketing

Who doesn’t love stickers? Branded stickers can be a great way to promote your blog.

You don’t want to, “sticker spam” (placing stickers on everything you find). This can be really annoying at times. But stickers do send the message! Imagine just placing a large sticker on your rear bumper or rear window. Everywhere you would stop with your car could end up attracting a new visitor simply by just noticing your sticker. Include a catchy tagline along with your blog address that will make people want to visit your blog.

You can also place your branded stickers on busy places like a bus stop, or your college message board. Every time someone walks by, they could end up turning into your new blog reader! You can also provide stickers to an elementary school for kids interested in taking them home (have a cool design that kids will love). This way you’re also getting your promotion across to all the family members!

Important Note: Make sure you have the permission to place your branded stickers in the areas you desire, because you do not want them getting removed!

Free Giveaways

© Tim – Fotolia.com

Did someone say free stuff?

This method works well if you giveaway items that people actually have a daily use for. You want to give away items that can be used daily and have your blog branding on them.

Two ideas that I have come across and think could work well are car air fresheners and mouse pads (two totally random items) but can be very effective.

Car Air Fresheners

Everyone loves a great scent in their vehicles. The air freshener I’m talking about is the one you place on the rear view mirror of a car. If you gave away an air freshener, the use for it would be daily. Every time someone hops into the car as a driver or passenger, they could potentially come across your branded air freshener.

This is not something anyone would throw away after coming from a trade show. The promotion potential for a branded air freshener carries a lengthy life span.

Mouse Pads

Using a branded mouse pad as a giveaway item is actually something that carries lots of promotional potential. A mouse pad with your blog address would be an awesome idea because the only time anyone would be using a mouse pad is when their on the internet. They could end up visiting your blog very quickly!

Quick Note: This is also something you could give away to high schools or universities to use. Every time a student is in the library or computer lab they could get the message off the mouse pad and end up visiting your blog!

Extra Tip: Whenever you’re doing branded giveaways for promotion, always try giving away items that could be used daily and don’t have a, “short use” span. Giving away branded accessories that can be used daily ensures that your blog is also being promoted daily!

Networking And Socialisation Events

Networking with others in the same niche or industry is a great means of communication. Word of mouth is great when it comes to marketing. By attending networking events you can have one on one conversations with others and this is a very effective way to promote your blog. Networking with people is the best way to establish a connection between a reader and a blogger.

© scusi – Fotolia.com

Starting Your Own Meet up

Networking events in your niche or industry might not happen that often. So if there are no social events for you to attend and meet others, you can just start your own.

You can start a meet up group with your friends and readers who are located in the same city. You could discuss the latest news, gossip, and trends in your niche. This is also a great way to promote your blog when you have new faces showing up and taking part in your meetups!

This method actually works great to promote the blogs of all those attending and could end up establishing great relationships leading to further collaborations.

Extra Tip: When attending networking events, you can register as an event sponsor. By becoming a sponsor you can attract not only the attention of those who attend but also the media covering the event. If you do become a sponsor, this would be a great time to do giveaways similar to the ones we discussed above.

Think Outside The Box

© iTake Images – Fotolia.com

Creativity is important when it comes to promotion. Marketing companies are always looking for the most innovative ideas to use for promotion. You as a blogger have to think the same way in order to maximise your promotion potential.

Think outside the box. Try coming up with different and creative ideas that you could use to promote your blog. Here are a few promotional ideas I have come across and think are pretty cool!

Library – Bookmark Promotion

This idea is pretty sweet. The library bookmark promotion technique!

The two things you need for this to work are a branded bookmark and a library. You need to create a branded bookmark with your blog info and your web address. Then head over to a public library. This is where you can try and negotiate a deal that has the library include your bookmark with every book checked out for rent. Or just sneak them into random books!

Your library may provide book rentals for hundreds or even thousands of books per day. Just think about the promotion potential when every rental could end up turning the book reader into your blog reader!

Default Homepage Method

The way this promotional strategy works is by turning the default homepage of a web browser into your blog homepage or recent posts page.

You want to scale up the amount of default homepages you change to your blog homepage so try finding a place where the computers are being used daily for internet purposes.

Some places you can try visiting to arrange a deal for this method (by deal I mean your payment, negotiation or proposal) are high schools, universities, libraries, or internet cafes. The internet browsers mentioned in the locations above are used a lot on a daily basis. Every time someone opens up the internet browser, your blog will be the first thing to load. If interested, the person using the computer will read on.

Just think about how many times each computer is occupied on a daily basis by different people. This method gives you a high reach in promotion!

Time To Get Marketing

I hope you find something that works well for you in terms of promotion and helps take your blog to the next level!

Just remember, when it comes to promoting your blog, be creative and innovative. Just because no one else is doing it, doesn’t mean it won’t work. There’s a first for everything!

I would love to get your feedback and a discussion going on so leave a reply on what works best for you when promoting your blog without the internet, and any other creative ideas you think could help bloggers when it comes to offline promotion?

Rohit is the leader of the editorial staff at VlogNation.com - An Online Guide for Video Bloggers. In addition to working on VlogNation, he also enjoys sports, travel, and keeping up with the latest tech trends!

How to Take a Blog Break Without Losing Momentum

Paradise waiting

A Guest post by Stacey Roberts from Veggie Mama.

As anyone who has ever started a blog knows, it can be hard work. The internet never sleeps, and it seems at times neither do you! In the 24-hour machine that is the blogosphere and accompanying social media, there is the potential for our blog/life balance to be so far off kilter it’s all but disappeared from view. And the best way to deal with blogger burnout is to stop it before it begins.

Working for yourself means you also have the luxury of choosing when you can shift gears. And while you might not have a colleague to step up and take over in your stead, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your site will suddenly plunge to the depths of the internet where blogs go to die if you’re not there to constantly push it back up to the surface. The fear of being forgotten is very real, as the blogosphere is awash with ten more blogs to take your place should you quiet down. But the trick is finding the minimum amount of effort you need to spend to keep your hard-earned traffic, and ring in some help along the way.

Step One: Get organised

First thing you need to do is define how long you are going to spend away. I was having a baby, so I planned for three months and had a tentative plan for the fourth. Figure out how many posts would be the minimum to keep your readers interested, and set them into an editorial calendar. There are plenty of ways to do this – use the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin, use software, a downloadable template, your laptop calendar, a real calendar, or you can go old-school like I did and draw a colourful diagram with connector pens.

The next step is to fill those spots with content ideas. There are plenty of things you can write ahead and schedule – I did a mix of non-time-sensitive posts, recipes, tutorials and guest posts. Once you have an idea, then set aside a chunk of time to tackle the posts and have them ready to go. You already have inspiration because you’ve created a list of ideas ahead of time, all you need to do now is flesh them out. Or if you can’t find the time to write a bunch of posts in one go, then commit to writing two posts each time you sit down to write one. Publish one, and schedule the other for a future date. You also might like to re-post earlier content – we all have that one brilliant piece we wrote when we were first starting out, which only two people read. Bring it back out and let it get the love it deserves!

Spend some time either creating your own images for the posts, or searching for stock images. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to write a post once the title and image are sitting there, ready to go. Make a list of what you need and stockpile them, to save time searching for each one as you write your content.

Write a post explaining to your readers what to expect, and when you’ll be back. Most readers are happy to give you some breathing space and pop back when you return. You’re probably also doing them a favour – less posts in their readers mean they get a break from keeping up with the blogosphere’s breakneck pace!

Step Two: Get some help

If there’s too much to do and too little time, then call for reinforcements. Write a post asking for guest posters, outlining your contribution guidelines (it is much easier if they all come in the same format, because uploading 40 different blogging styles can be just as much work as writing the content yourself!), and setting your standards. You might like to include ideal post length, whether or not it needs an image (and be certain that the image they supply complies with copyright law!), and whether they need to write their own bio and supply a head shot. Guest posts are usually better received if you have written a small intro before they begin, and helps keep your voice on your site, which is why your readers read you in the first place. Submissions in HTML format are light-years more easy to deal with than document attachments and separate images, but not everyone is au fait with that.

Reach out to your networks and let them know you’re looking for contributions. Are you a member of blogging groups or organisations? Put the call out on your blog’s Facebook page and other social media accounts. You might like to open it up to up-and-coming bloggers looking for a big break, or you might like to only invite established writers with their own readership. Or you could simply hire professionals.

Judge what mix is best for you and your readers – keep your own content a constant, if you can. While your readers will appreciate you’re taking a break, and enjoy some fresh views, it’s your voice they want to read.

Step Three: Get away

Get right away. You’ve done all you can ahead of time. You’ve automated tweets and Facebook updates using the scheduled post’s permalink, and everything should run smoothly (you hope!) with little or no effort from you. Stepping back and clearing your head does wonders for motivation and creativity – soon you will miss your blog, and have ideas coming out your ears for future content. But until that happens, break up with your blog just a little bit. Get outside and get a life (as Darren says!), so you’ve got some depth to your writing. Don’t even open your laptop if you don’t have to. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say, and nobody likes forced writing. When you’ve reignited the passion for blogging, your words will flow better and you’ll create more of a connection with the reader.

If you absolutely can’t bear the idea of totally stepping away, or you don’t need to, then pop up every now and then with a fresh post. You never know when inspiration will strike, and it’s always best to bow down when it does. Keep up your networking and being part of the community with your social media accounts – maybe Instagram your break and the new things you now have time for, to keep your followers in the loop. If you’re troubled by dips in traffic on the days you’re not posting, then invite readers into your archives by tweeting a new old link for them to read.

Nobody likes a burnt-out blogger, and you and your readers both know when stuff’s getting stale. Take a well-earned break and keep the home fires burning so it’s still warm when you get back.

Have you taken a break? I’d love to hear any tips you learned along the way.

Stacey Roberts is the blogger behind Veggie Mama, and when she’s not writing about good food and motherhood, she’s teaching media law at university. Or avoiding the laundry. She’s an Instagram ninja here, on Facebook here and tweets @veggie_mama.

7 Unique Ways to Find Content Ideas for the Most Boring Topics

This is a guest contribution from Ellis McGrath, digital marketing strategist at VITEB.

A blank sheet of paper (oops writers don’t use it a lot anymore) well in that case a blank computer screen is the most frightening thing a writer could ever possibly encounter.

Sitting in front of a computer screen, rolling up sleeves, and ready to write. But nothing happens other than going in circles.

For many of us, the most difficult part in writing is to get the ball rolling. The life of a content writer could be challenging who often stumbles upon a creative roadblock when ideas for content just don’t come. Churning out blog post ideas for clients from diverse (and boring) industries could turn out to be a daunting task. But as professional writers, we have to find out various ways to overcome the challenge of turning out empty screen to an informative and unique article almost consistently.

I am going to share with you innovative ways to overcome the problem of creating content for boring topics, so you too can always come up with blog post ideas at your own sweet will.

#1 Knock the Door of Social Media

Knock the door of social media

You have knocked Google’s door and gleaned through all search results. What next?

You follow the standard operating procedure of checking your competitor’s website/blog but still no success. Well, ever thought of social media? Social media tools are information gold mine. And what better way to get ideas from real people.

Here is how you should go about it:

Twitter

Twitter logo

The blue bird can come to the rescue of writer going through a dry spell of ideation. With 400,000+ million tweets from Twitterati each day, Twitter contains dynamic ideas for any writer out there. There is something in it for every industry.

However, you have to know where to look for information, instead of just browsing through thousands and thousands of random tweets.

But you are idea starved writer  not sure what you are looking for. In such case how do you search information?

Twitter Search

Twitter allows user to search tweets by hashtags and keywords. Of course, you will not get results like Google as results might not appear in a specific order. You can add hashtag and eliminate spaces for more targeted search of your keywords.

Twitter search results

Trending Topics

One of the best way to create engaging content is writing about topics that are trending and popular. Twitter trending topics allows you to do just that. It is a fab way to keep your content fresh.

Once you find right hashtag on your relevant industry/event you will be able to instantly connect with everyone tuned to the event and know what they are talking about. This will definitely spark new ideas.

Twitter trending topics

StumbleUpon

Just like Twitter, you can look for at StumbleUpon tags for most popular and unique topics. It is a giant collection of the best pages on the Internet which recommends websites, photos as well as videos of your interest. You can also check out Stumblers following topics of particular interest by looking under the Discover tab.

YouTube

You Tube logo

But how? YouTube is not just about watching movies or funny home videos.

YouTube is second largest search engine with more than 800 million monthly unique visitors. There are loads of tutorials or videos of subject matter experts from all industries. Just watch YouTube videos related to your niche and you have tons of topics ready.

Facebook

How can we forget the mighty Facebook!

There are tons of groups covering each and every industry/specialty imaginable on Facebook, as well as several guest blogging groups where you will find some unique ideas for your content. Select topics that suitable for your audience and go ahead.

LinkedIn Groups

You can become member of relevant LinkedIn groups. LinkedIn allows you to questions fellow members. Discussion thread in LinkedIn is one of the best sources to find topics for your content. You can also get to know views of thought leaders of your industry.

#2 Play around with keyword tools

Übersuggest.com: With this free keyword tool you can instantly get thousands of keyword ideas from real user queries.

Übersuggest get suggestions from web search and search verticals like shopping, news or video. This amazing keyword tool takes your base term, adds a letter and/or a digit next to it, and extracts suggestions. You would be surprised to see the long list of keywords instantly triggering ideas for content and acting as a source of inspiration.

#3  Don’t shy from asking your audience

 

Content is king. Cliched it may sound but very true.

While there is lot of buzz about unique content, let’s not forget that content has to be informative. Is there any better way of finding out what is useful to your audience other than directly asking your audience.

Trust me you will get best ideas from your audience. Go ahead and write articles on topics requested by your audience and see the results. You can also use your Facebook fan page to ask your fans on which topic they would like you to cover on your blog.

#4 Stay inspired, from anything and everything

As a writer, you need to take inspiration from nature and people you meet. You need to be a observer and start getting inspired from your environment.

I know it is not as easy as it sounds, but you need to work on it. You need to think beyond your office walls or cubicles and take the time to see the world around you. The more inspiration you take from life the better. It will reflect in your writing, trust me. This will give a new dimension towards life in general and add a different perspective to your writing.

#5 Look for answers

Start religiously browsing Q&A sites like Quora to find out what people want to know about your industry.

Don’t simply dismiss this list as ordinary or boring questions for amateurs, keep in mind, people are asking these question on public forum. It means that these topics are important to them. So why not provide answers to the questions on your own site? There is no better way to create engaging content. Still not clear how it works.

We searched the term BYOD on Quora and these are the questions people are asking:

  • Should startups go BYOD?
  • What are the key mobile security policies for your BYOD program?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing organizations in the midst of the BYOD trend?
  • What are some best practices for managing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)corporate IT ecosystem?

#6 Newsjacking

The more you let your creative juices flow and think out of the box; the more likely you are to come up with a new angel in your writing. If some interesting news is creating buzz, it’s because it has  generated interest among people. So look for a way to relate with the news and weave a story to capitalise on the popularity of the news story.

For instance, you own a blog for music lovers. It is the time for you to capitalise on the news of Apple’s iOS 7 release. But how? iTunes radio. Sounds interesting? Go ahead and try to connect.

#7 Interview industry stalwarts

Interview a particular subject matter expert and you’ll have more eyeballs rolling. We have used this tactic with much success. It is mainly due to the fact that audience likes to hear from people who know things that we don’t. So, does your industry have a star who could help you add a touch of panache to your content?

I would like to hear from you that if you find these methods effective. Now it’s your turn. Do you have any innovative ideas for spicing up content? Share with us. We would love to hear from you.

Ellis is a digital marketing strategist at VITEB. He is passionate about online marketing & web usability. He is associated with leading web & development company having experts web developers in India. Follow us on Twitter @viteb.

Case study: How I launched my first e-course and made over 5 grand – from a tiny list

This is a guest contribution from Marya Jan, blogging coach and trainer for small business owners.

Do you want to monetize your blog or start an online business?

Have you been blogging for a while and all you want to do is sell products or services and follow your passions?

If that’s the case, then what is stopping you?

If you are like most people, the one thing that is holding you back is the size of your list.

You might have heard this many times before, ‘money is in the list’. So you feel without having a decent sized list, you can’t launch your business, or monetize your blog.

You feel like you need thousands of people on your list before you can make an offer.

You have heard success stories from popular bloggers with 20K, 50K or even 100K plus lists and you think you too need to blog until you reach that stage.

Today, I am here to present a different perspective: The size of your list is important; there is no doubt about it. 5K list is surely better than a 200 people list.

However, there is one more thing that is even more important – list responsiveness.

How warm is your list?

What are your open rates like? How many people click through to view the content? How many people actually made it to the end and share it?

For example, 30% open rates of a 3K list mean 900 people are opening and reading your emails at any given time. That is way better than 3% open rate for a 15K list – 450. Now, I am not saying that the bigger the size of your list, the more useless it comes.

What I am saying is this: Would you be happy with 400 hot leads? 400 people who open your emails and are real prospects? If so, you could get a list of 1,000 subscribers and work really hard on nurturing your list so that your open rates are phenomenal – in the vicinity of 40%, rather than worry about growing your list and allowing it to go cold.

When you start thinking about having a warm list where people really like and trust you, and get huge value from you, then you don’t need to wait till you have thousands of people on your list before you launch your business. 

Don’t believe me? Then let me tell you my story.

Launch of an e-course

How to use your blog to build a highly responsive, super targeted list makes the premise of my brand new e-course that I recently launched – to my list only, aptly titled Get 500 Subscribers.

The target market for this course is new businesses who are relying on their blogs as a primary marketing tool for building their lists or want to start blogging. These people understandably don’t have huge marketing budgets so blogging makes the perfect lead generation tool for them.

This also targets those people who blog but they haven’t monetized because they don’t have the information.

But before that, some context as you might be wondering who am I to give you advice on this? I am a blogging coach. Formally, I hold a MBA-marketing, Bachelor at Law and Education degrees, and I started my own business last year. I offer coaching and review services and I also teach Blogging for Business courses in local adult education provides (that’s TAFE for people who are in Australia).

I, too, felt that I could not launch my services before I had a minimum of 2K subscribers. In fact, I waited for longer than that.

I did an internal launch to my list of 3K subscribers in July (by internal launch I mean that the course was released to my list ONLY).

There are a few reasons for that:

As a pilot version, I wanted to allow a specific number of people in to test out the material and organisation of info presented. I wanted to see what they thought of it and if they found it to be practical enough.

I figured if these people are blog subscribers, they are more likely to forgive the mistakes (like typos which I am notorious for) and other issues that I might have missed. I also wanted to get feedback on how to make it better.

Finally, I wanted to see how they went after going through the course. I wanted to see their results and write mini case-studies based on all the information made avaiable to me, for the main launch. This would also make great testimonials and tell others that the course really works.

Research phase

So, before I even started creating this course, I polled my list and asked them if this is something they might be interested in.

I said to them that there are number of blogging related courses on the market already and they boast of adding thousands of subscribers to your list. I had asked them what their numbers currently look like and what they thought is doable.

I was really surprised by the sheer number of responses I received. But the most surprising was the fact that my audience was clearly split between people who were thinking of monetizing or new business and people who did not even have blogs yet. This was certainly eye opening for me.

But people generally agreed that for anyone having less than 100 people on their list, 500 is a great number to shoot for. So that is what I decided to run with.

I also decided to do an e-course instead of an ebook because we all know how many times we buy an ebook, scan through it and never pick it up again. I also wanted it to be step by step process, logically organised and also not overwhelm them as there are so many moving parts to this process.

Needless to say, I did a thorough home work on the competitors to check out their products, price points and of course their sales copy.

Based on the demand, the information included (6 modules with multiple lessons) and accompanying worksheets, checklists, resources and templates, I decided that the price tag of about $300 seemed fair. For my list though, I gave them a hefty 50% discount as I wanted initial intake of members to feel like founding members of the course and help me tweak it along the way.

This gave the confidence to keep going every time I faced a setback.

Investment

For the set up, I purchased Premise from Copyblogger media ($165) and bought one hour of consulting to set it up. This had me hyperventilating at some points because I hadn’t thought I’d have such a hard time getting my head around it. ($100)

I bought ebooks on how to launch from Ittybiz ($200) and referred to all my resources and previously bought training on writing sales pages and email marketing.

I did not spend anything on packaging as I did not need cover design or any fancy elements. This meant I kept the costs low.

Sales sequence 

For my pre-launch content, I had been publishing related blog posts such as   Why You Don’t Need to Become a Popular Blogger prior to announcing the course.

I did the initial survey and kept my audience in the loop from the beginning. They knew that I was working on this product and expected it. I announced it via email a week before enrolment was to open.

I kept my launch period fairly short – 4 days.

I send 5 emails altogether. Here is a brief sequence in case you are wondering.

Email 1: Officially open for enrolment + bonus (Day 1)

Email 2: Reader questions answered (Day 3)

Email 3: Last day for enrolment (Last day)

Email 4: Few hours remain (Last day)

Launch mistakes + lessons 

Based on the survey I did earlier, it was clear that this course would appeal to 50% of my audience. 50% (of those who answered) don’t have even have a blog yet. This course is definitely NOT for them. (This also told me that I can also release a product aimed at beginner bloggers at some stage.)

I should have started an interest list.

I wasn’t confident enough to do that but would have been better because would have gotten the realistic numbers. I would have avoided some emotional stress. There were some unsubscribes which are to expected but I would have lost less people had I emailed to the people on my interest list only.

I could have built more context around the premise of my course (building a list of super targeted 500 subscribers) by doing more pre-lunch content pieces. I feel I rushed through this phase. I did a post or two but how many people read those?

I didn’t realise that it is a holiday in USA + July 4 long weekend when I was closing enrolment. I still can’t believe I didn’t pick up on that.

So many people launched in June-July. I am thinking early in 2014 for my main launch might be better next time

There was some initial confusion regarding the dates, I didn’t proofread launch emails properly and I am thinking this must have affected sales.

And this is what I did really well.

Because of the survey, I was able to choose a topic and create a product that my audience really wanted. I also ran this idea by trusted friends.

My friends (Henri Juntilla, Henneke D and Di Mace in particular) helped name the product. Initially, I was thinking of promoting it as School of Business Blogging but received concern that it might put people off as they might think it is too corporate or serious. Dodged that bullet – phew!

On my sales page, I got over 15% conversion rate which is HUGE. This is confirms that there is a demand for this course.

My goal was to make 5K and I exceeded that.

I need to bring this in front of the right (and bigger) audience next time.

I was told by my readers that my emails very convincing, despite the odd typo!

Unexpected findings

90% of people who joined became my blog subscribers this year (many in May 3013). This means that you don’t have to get people on your list for the longest time to sell to them. Sometimes people like what they see and buy soon enough

People who opened course notification emails (announcement, early access + official open) made up for 35% of my list, on average. Over 500 people never opened a single email of time. After the launch, I actually deleted and moved to an old people list. I wrote about this process on this post – Why I Deleted 400 Subscribers from My List.

I now realise that was probably attracting the wrong audience – meaning people who were just interested in blogging generally but not to use it for marketing and list building purposes. For this reason, I converted the ebook into a 10-part free e-course titled Blogging for Business. This has been converting really well and my open rates are up so I assume this was the right decision.

I could also use a re-brand. This is something I am working on.

Ration of women : men = 30:6. Well this wasn’t so unexpected. I seem to attract women who are in their late 30s and over as they know the reality of building a business and can see through the hype.

All in all, there were no major screw ups.

I learned a ton in the process, met expectations (yay!) and feel way more confident that ever in launching this course to public.

My next steps are to create more products, market more, grow list, re-brand and of course do the main launch of my e-course in 2014.

So back to you. Have I given you something to think about? Has my story changed your mind a bit?

When are you going to lunch your first product? Would you wait till you have thousands of people on your list or will a few hundred do?

Will you work on building the right list or focus on numbers?

What will it take for you to finally monetize?

Marya Jan is a blogging coach and trainer for small business owners. She is the creator of Get 500 Subscribers e-course and teaches Business Blogging short courses in real life. Don’t forget to grab her free 10-part Blogging for Business email course. Like her on Facebook, she is very friendly!

How to Write a Professional E-mail that Gets a Reply

This is a guest contribution by Jackson Nwachukwu, freelance blogger and content writer.

email

Copyright Tommi – Fotolia.com

Who doesn’t know how to write an email? Everyone emails, don’t they? Well, let me start by telling you that there are emails and then there are professional emails.

As a freelance blogger, writer, content marketer and what have you; my best guess is that your emails are professionally intent and the primary concern each time you write an email is to get a reply on it?

It’s no-brainer e-mails are becoming the primary objects of online marketing.

Tell me one thing we do today online that does not involve writing an e-mail and you can stop reading this article right now!

Call it promotional emails, follow up emails, sells emails, update emails, mention them… they are all professional emails and factors in what we do today online. Hence, calling this a factoid is clearly an understatement; but a reality to reckon with.

Every single day that passes by bloggers, content marketers, freelance writers and so on write and send e-mails to their targeted audience but very few of these people have taken their time to look into the “how to” in e-mail writing.

In this article on USA Today, we can read about how the today’s tech savvy individuals and companies carry technology like an egg but often lose their professional touch and reputation because of one e-mail that went wrong. E-mails exchanges are going viral and have seen to be a much faster and efficient way to correspond to today’s business.

This simple mindset is critical to understanding what professional image or reputation you portray on the other side of the world each time you push that send button on your email composer.

Now I want you to do this right when you write your next email which is why I’ve listed some simple tips to writing a professional e-mail that gets replies and action plans to take. Let’s see them:

Email Writing Tip #1: Avoid the Robot Greeting

It shouldn’t be news to learn that the very first thing you should do, when writing an email, is to greet the recipient. You would be surprised how many folks get this wrong, all the time.

I’ve read a couple of emails that started off with robot greeting (a programmed and non-human greeting) and guess what, I never get to finish reading them. Emails that start off with the following greetings annoy me and it’s not just me…. They annoy every other person who may have discovered the importance of email writing:

  • Hey Webmaster,
  • Dear Admin,
  • Hi Blog Owner (one of recent greetings I received of lately),
  • Hello Admin and so on.

These are what I call the “robot greetings” and believe me they will never get you anywhere.

Action Plan: Start Off with Friendly Greetings

Study your to-be recipient and get to know what name he or she likes to be called. Start off the greeting with that name.

Greetings like “Dear Jackson” “Hello Kim” “Hi John” and so on are a much friendlier and more natural way to greet someone.

Email marketing companies like Aweber, Get Response and their likes have been huge fans of many freelance writers and internet marketers at large. A friendlier greeting is enough to get your attention reading the e-mail because you feel the e-mail is specifically meant for you.

Email Writing Tip #2: Don’t Rush into Writing

Now just because you’ve greeted the recipient does not mean you should rush into writing. Take some time to think before writing. Always remember that every e-mail sent out in your name counts and reflects the professional backbone of your business.

It’s always tempting to start writing how much you feel or care but all that may be crap so here is the thing…

Action Plan: A Proper Introduction is Sticky!

Before rushing into unveiling your objective for writing the email, take some time to think of how best to introduce yourself. If you’re writing for the first time to a client or recipient, then words like:

Hi Adam,

I am Jackson Nwachukwu, a freelance writer and professional blogger at the-name-of-your-blog or company, and then take it from there…

If you are writing to a repeat client or subscriber, pause and check the last mail you sent him. Check if there were things needed to be mentioned first before writing the new one. Chances are that, you get more attention when you follow up from the onset. Something like this can be handy:

Hello Jane,

The last mail I sent you was an intro to what you are reading today. I have just finished working on my first ebook which answers the problem we discussed and the blah blah blah …

Some people will start off by writing:

Hello John,

How are you today? Hope you are doing great in your business and then blah blah blah…

This last opening is rubbish!

When it comes to business matters treat it as one, you are not writing to your family members who need to know you care about their health or business. You’re writing to a professionally minded fellows, clients or subscribers who wants nothing but answers or solutions to their problems.

Email Writing Tip #3: Present the Meat of the E-mail

Now is the right time to present the meat of the email.

Remember you have greeted the recipient and have introduced yourself or have written a follow up line to your last email to the recipient, so go ahead and present the meat which you wish to offer. The meat is the primary purpose of writing the email.

Action Plan: Make it Clear and Concise, but not Precipitous

One thing you must always understand is that people have less time than you can imagine. It’s paramount that you make your email clear and concise because these people (including me) see time as no luxury.

Internet users are always in a hurry to read and get over it, so always have this mindset when writing an email. However, try not to be so concise or over-careful to the extent of sending emails that are broken, rough or rugged (precipitous).

If you must write an exhaustive email, then inform them at the beginning that the email will be a long one. However, to achieve results with this, you will have to make sure you offer them something meaty to keep reading.

Also be sure to use polite words like “Please” to drive home your point. A word like this means a lot and can make a huge difference.

Email Writing Tip #4: Use a Case Study or Testimonial Where Necessary

Smart bloggers, writers and marketers start marketing from the onset. There is no special time for this, after all the whole thing about writing professional emails is to solidify deals, drive sells, generate leads, build more audience and familiarity.

Case studies and testimonials have over the years proven to be driving forces that get people doing what you demand of them. It’s often said that “seeing is believing” and so use this to your advantage when writing an email that requires rapid response or reply from the recipient(s).

Action Plan: Make the Case Studies or Testimonials to Rhyme with the Tone of the Email

If you have a testimonial or case study that is subject to the email you are sending, incorporate it to rhyme with the tone of the email. This simple practice gets you results and naturally, an average reader would like to read to the end to be sure he or she learns how to benefit from the BIG picture.

Email Writing Tip #5: Close with Appealing and Polite Words

In tip #3, I mentioned “writing with polite words” to get results. You also need to do that when closing your emails.

I’ve read couple of emails where the sender closed his email on a point and blank note without considering the fact that someone took out time to read his email.

The last part of the email is always the part where you show how concerned you are about the time the reader invested in reading your email, and there is no other way to prove this other than closing the email with appealing and polite words.

This can also be your call to action if properly written…

Action Plan: Thank them for Reading

All these I’ve been saying may sound too common to some people, but believe me not everybody gets it (to their detriment)!

Always make sure to use a “Thank you” note to close your emails. This practice shows the recipient that you value the time he or she invested in reading what you sent them knowing too well they may not have asked you to send it at first. Their time is highly valuable, so thank them for it.

To add up to the “Thank you” note, you can use any of these professional and polite words to supercharge their emotions:

For Bloggers and average emails: Best regards, Sincerely, All the Best, To your Blogging Success

For freelance writers: To your Writing Success

For Content Marketers: To your Content Marketing Success

Email Writing Tip #6: Don’t Rush to Push the Send Button

Alright, you feel you’ve written a great email that will get you that anticipated replies! While you believe so much in your writing, there is still more to it.

Remember I mentioned that the emails you send out reflects your professional stand in niche where you operate, so why the rush to push the send button?

Each time you finish writing your email, let this saying come to your head “what is worth doing is worth doing well” so here is the thing…

Action Plan: Edit, Format and Proofread Before Sending

This is very important and it goes in that order.

Check for grammatical errors, wrong spellings, lines in the email that needs the reader’s eyes, links that needs to be added etc.

Also take a second look at the subject of your email to make sure it delivers at first hand the content of your email. Know that the best time to know if the subject of an email delivers on the content is when you are done with the writing.

Most times you make a promise of attaching a file but forget to do so. This is when you check all these to make sure you deliver. It’s unprofessional to send an email twice just because you forgot to attach a file or failed to proofread the email before sending.

Over to You!

Was this simple enough for you or did you learn something new today? I can’t claim to be an island of knowledge or a know-it-all which is why I gladly welcome your own tips to writing a professional email that gets reply…

Jackson Nwachukwu is an entrepreneur, a freelance writer and the founder of Content Practical Media. Are you looking for a creative web content writer or copywriter to help grow your business website/blog’s traffic and increase sales? Hire Jackson to write for you.

7 Simple Ways To Attract More People to Your Blog

This is a guest contribution from Ryan Currie at Spokeo.

Blogging is an art and it takes practice to really get right.

There are few things more frustrating than pouring your blood, sweat, and tears into a masterfully crafted blog post only to see the analytics at a standstill days after posting.

Here are a few tips for bringing more people to your blog, consistently.

1. Find out what people want to read

Social media is a blogger’s best friend. Not only can you use social to share your latest blog post, you can use it to source upcoming blog material too. Check out Twitter’s trending topics and take notes on common themes among your Facebook friends’ status updates.

Don’t pander to an audience, but keep in mind what people want to talk about.

2. Self-promote like you’d network for a job

Networking grid

Image thanks to digitalart on Freedigitaslphotos.net

There’s no shame in promoting your blog! Not only should you have social widgets at the bottom of each blog post, you should be posting your work on every site you’re active on.

Keep a link to your blog in your email signature and feel free to tell people about it in everyday conversation when appropriate.

3. Speak to a more specific audience

It sounds counterintuitive, but getting more specific with your blog posts is a surefire way to build a niche audience. For example, there are millions of food blogs out there, but exactly how many specialising in gluten-free baking?

Find a niche you can really invest in and you’ll naturally build a loyal audience that shares your content for you.

4. Score a guest post

Guest posts are a great way to bring new eyes to your site. Reach out to bloggers who make sense for your area of expertise and write a really awesome post for their site.

One link to your blog in the boilerplate of a terrific post can catapult your numbers.

5. Reform your titling strategy

Like it or not, good titles are important. Consider what you’d want to read online and how people typically interact with web content. Make your title concise, interesting, and sharable and you’ll be surprised how many clicks you can get. Numbers work well as do current topics in the news and never underestimate the power of a superlative like “best,” “most,” or “biggest.”

6. Post more regularly

Very, very regularly! Whether it’s twice a week or twice a month, people have to know when to expect new content on your blog. The more consistent you are with your posts the more of a loyal audience you can attract and the more plugged in you’ll seem.

Once people learn your blog is a resource for a certain topic that’s updated regularly they’ll keep coming back if they like what they read.

7. Write about things you truly feel passionate about

It really is that simple. Readers can tell when you’re phoning it in and when they think you’re baiting them with topical posts that you’re using to hit numbers. The more authentic you are when blogging the better response you’re going to get. Be thoughtful, use research, and know what’s going on in the blogosphere but above all else write about what you know.

Page views aren’t the end-all-be-all of blogging, but they’re important, particularly if you ever hope to monetize your blog. Keeping these seven tips in mind can get you a long way towards your goal of gaining a steady stream of visitors, one at a time.

Ryan Currie is a Product Manager at Spokeo, a leader in people search and reverse phone lookup services.  In addition to working on Spokeo, he also enjoys history, pop culture, and following the latest new in the movie industry.

11 Tips for Slaying Your Most Insidious Blogging Limiting Beliefs

This is a guest contribution from Ryan Biddulph.

“Should I write this post? I do not know. I mean, it will probably go live in 1-2 months. 1-2 months is a long time. Not worth it.”

These thoughts traveled through my mind a few minutes ago. Honestly.

Limiting beliefs cripple most bloggers. A select few embrace their limiters, listen closely, tune into their nasty little dialog and do it anyway. Which is why I am writing this post now.

Imagine yourself as a successful blogger. Or if you have seen some success imagine yourself supercharging your results. What do you hear? Listen in to the internal dialog and you might hear stuff like:

“I have no time to run a successful blog.”

“I have no friends in high places.”

“I have no talent.”

“Nobody will read my posts.”

“Nobody will promote my posts.”

The list can go on forever. I know, because I created such a list many moons ago. I felt comfortable creating and then defending my limiting beliefs because I enjoyed being comfortable. So much easier to reside in my safe, quiet, peaceful comfy zone.

I mean, if I ventured out into uncomfortable areas I might actually grow. Yikes!

I might be faced with intense criticism. I might actually make real money through blogging. I might become free. I might need to push myself more and hit deadlines and enter into prospering partnerships and write detailed posts and do research and attract ghostwriting clients and publish sponsored posts.

Wow! That sounds like a lot of work. I convinced myself that being comfortable made more sense than growing so naturally I obeyed my limiting beliefs.

As you can imagine, obeying your limiting beliefs ruins your blog. No need to expound on why.

Imagine yourself being free. Imagine 10,000 or 30,000 or more eager readers/rabid fans devouring each of your blog posts. Imagine yourself traveling the world. Truth be told I have nowhere near that many subscribers but hey, I am traveling the world.

I have spent the past 2 and a half years living in places like Indonesia, Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Peru and Costa Rica. I have visited Japan, Taiwan, China and El Salvador. I mean, a guy who struggled to make a dime – literally – 4 years ago learned how to live the internet lifestyle so he could chill in Bali and Phuket?

Are you kidding me? An ex-fired-security guard turned world traveler? How did I do it? How did I go from jobless in New Jersey to swashbuckling globe-trotter? I faced, embraced and released my blogging limiting beliefs. I faced ‘em and did it anyway.

On to the tips!

1: Meditate

A woman meditating

Image courtesy of tiverylucky / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

It seems like 50% of my practical blogging tips focused on meditating but honest to goodness, spending at least 20 minutes daily sitting in quiet accelerates your blogging growth like no other practice.

Most struggling bloggers walk around in a haze. The crowd has no clue why they fail. This makes perfect sense because until you become aware of your limiting beliefs you cannot solve these low energy, success-killing ideas.

Meditating helps you hear the chatter. Like this morning, as I sit here in Kathmandu, Nepal, I wanted to go back to bed. Big league jet lag after spending 23 hours traveling from New York JFK to Kathmandu. I heard the negative chatter shared above, and said, the heck with it; I am writing the guest post and submitting to Problogger anyway.

Meditate for 20 minutes daily. Sit in a quiet spot. Observe. You will be stunned by what comes up. You will feel liberated after listening in to what is REALLY happening in your mind.

2: Submit Guest Posts

Submitting guest posts introduces you to 2 people; supportive types who spur you on to create, and conquer your blocks, and unhappy trolls who criticise you needlessly, helping you to embrace resistance.

The supportive types inspire you. The trolls teach you how to process feedback from a lesser developed, unhappy mind. In both cases be grateful for the experience because you can grow quickly by guest posting frequently.

3: Connect with Inspirational Figures

They can be inspirational bloggers like Darren Rowse or inspiring folks from any walk of life. If these people could crush their limiting beliefs you better believe you can do it too.

If you are deeply depressed, or if you have 4 cents in your pocket, or if you were assailed by your family for making high energy, freeing, courageous choices, I feel you, because I experienced these nightmares too.

If I can experience these nightmares and come out on top you can too. Connect with inspirational figures.

4: Do the Uncomfortable

I admit it; I felt that quick and easy posts were the only way to generate revenue. After creating 50 – yes FIFTY – video posts between my 2 blogs daily for about 3 weeks I came to a revelation; short posts will net you little revenue.

I felt uncomfortable writing longer, detailed, in-depth resources like this post. Sure I saw success writing such posts in the past but I did not experience the rousing results I so craved. So I bailed, and shot myself in the foot in a major way.

I hated sitting down to write a 2000 or 2500 word resource. I felt all of my fears, worries and anxieties up close and personal. I was wasting my time, I was losing money, and nobody is going to see this post anyway, blah, blah, blah. I hated feeling these feelings but new that slaying your limiting beliefs means being uncomfortable, to blast through these blocks.

Do the uncomfortable. Become comfortable with these acts. Prove to yourself that your limiting beliefs die a quick death if you will simply do what you feel uncomfortable doing.

5: Do Crazy Stuff Outside of Blogging

Speaking of ‘Crazy Ideas’

3 years ago I had never flown on a plane. My first trip? From New York to Denpasar, Bali. 23 hours on 3 separate planes. It was crazy for me, kinda scary, a massive challenge, but doing crazy stuff builds a faith in yourself you simply cannot replicate through other others.

Click through to my blog after reading this post. Or now. See me petting a 400 pound tiger in Thailand? His name is Ron. Real gentleman. But I was freaking terrified to step inside the cage. I shook. I said “no” but after seeing my fiancée Kelli walk into the cage with no fear and the Thai guys laughing at me I pushed myself through my terror and sat inside the cage.

This was perhaps the most empowering experience of my life. I felt scared, of course, but I also felt free from the intense fear that I could never step into a cage and actually pet one of the top apex predators on earth.

This faith naturally leaked over into my blogging exploits. I crushed blogging limiting beliefs my proving to myself that my fears were under my control.

6: Meet Fans Daily

Some folks will fall in love with what you do. Some people will promote each post and comment on each post and become one of your blogging brand ambassadors.

Meet more people each day by promoting posts other than your own and commenting on other blogs.

Fans will support you through difficult times. Good friends push you to kill your limiting beliefs. Brand ambassadors will expand your presence, build your blog and help you prosper but of course you need to meet these folks by aggressively networking.

Meet people. Daily. Push yourself to meet at least 10 to 20 new bloggers through commenting on a daily basis to kill your limiting beliefs because many of your new blogging fans will help you succeed and dissolve any limiting ideas that you might

hold.

7: Meet Harsh Critics

Image by Stuart Richards

On the flip side of the coin are harsh critics. I remember the first person who blew me out of the water on the ghostwriting front. This person pulled no punches.

I became enraged but responded in a polite manner. The anger festered. I was really, really pissed, which meant I saw some truth in her words.

After thinking through the criticism/feedback I uncovered one of my limiting beliefs; I could only charge for my services if everybody liked my work. After receiving this stinging feedback I went into a shell, stopped aggressively promoting my ghostwriting services and turned down work. But deeper analysis of the criticism confirmed that I simply needed to accept that when you charge for your services you might not impress everybody.

Sure, you might need to improve your writing skills. Or perhaps a miserable, unclear person wants to unload their unhappiness on you. In either case you can learn what you truly believe about yourself and why you might hold yourself back by dealing with harsh critics.

8: Travel

Traveling is one of my favorite ways to address my blogging limiting beliefs. I am displaced immediately from my comfort zone the moment I leave the US.

Example; here in Nepal – after 23 hours spent flying and some major league jet lag agitation – I went online for the first time. Slow internet. I knew this because I have many blogging buddies in Nepal. So I was prepared but still annoyed.

Then after I connected for a few hours I realized each of my comments was blacklisted. Again, major annoyance. Limiting beliefs arose:

“How the heck am I going to blog here? How can I network? I am doomed! I need to work from my apartment to blog effectively.” Yadda yadda yadda.

Then, it took me about 10 minutes to log into my back office. 10 minutes. I was pissed. More limiters popping up. After some VPN magic I could post comments, network and whatever problems occurred with my blog, well they cleared up nicely.

Why? I traveled. I allowed my blogging limiting beliefs to pop up by moving to a foreign land.

Travel. Get out of your hometown and if you really want to succeed through blogging get out of your homeland. Introduce yourself to a different way of thinking and some hairy situations which force you to embrace your limiting beliefs head on.

9: Open up a Source of Income Outside of Blogging

I was so wildly desperate to make money blogging – so I could eat – that I became totally blind to my limiting beliefs for many years. I pushed myself harder and harder and harder and scared away success.

This was because I had no cushion. Blogging was my main means of making money and since I was not making money I desperately did things which hurt my blog. I was completely unaware of one of my chief limiting beliefs; to make money

blogging you need to do more, quickly, than the other guy.

So I posted frequently, and posted more, and more, and more, and patted myself on the back, until I saw my meagre pay checks, fell into depression, got angry at the world and moved into even more self-destructive behaviour.

The cycle continued until I opened up multiple streams of income. I wrote for SEO clients. I opened up a Google Adsense account. I offered my ghostwriting services.

I wrote paid guest posts. I accepted sponsored posts. I became an affiliate marketer. I made money, and most of it was outside of blogging as I earned nice sized pay checks through writing for an SEO company. Once the cash flowed in I relaxed on the blogging front.

I saw the error in my ways. I saw my “I have to do more than the other guy or gal” limiting belief up close and personal.

What a relief! I could actually work less, more intelligently and see more blogging success by thinking through my campaign. It all started when I freed myself from the worry of putting food on my table or a roof over my head.

10: Release Your Short-Sighted Approach

Much of my blogging failure was rooted in taking a short-sighted approach. I checked my ad earnings daily. If I saw $25 I was pretty happy. If I saw .06 I would flip out. On most days my ad revenue came a heckuva lot closer to 6 cents than 25

dollars.

I also checked my page views and subscriber stats daily. Each day was a failure or success. Of course this “everything hinges on the day’s metrics” limiting belief continued until I release the silly approach. Once I relaxed I saw the error in my ways.

I killed the limiting idea by trying something different. I decided to check my metrics infrequently. I moved my attention toward creating value and making connections. I wrote more guest posts and engaged in more joint collaborations. I joined multiple blogging tribes.

I stopped obsessing over daily fluctuations by developing a long term vision for my blog and my life. Do the same. See your blog as a resource. See yourself as a wildly successful blogger, now, by visualising these dreams.

Adopting a long term vision helps you identify any habits which do not support the vision, otherwise known as “limiting beliefs.”

11: Persist

4 years after being fired from my job as a security officer in Port Newark I am sitting on my deck in Kathmandu, Nepal. Watching the hustle and bustle of a developing city I feel floored. I learned what was stopping me – that being “me” – by persisting through tough times.

If you will just keep at it you will expose your limiting beliefs. You can see why you are preventing your success through your dominant beliefs by working daily. It is not easy. Many times I wondered whether blogging was worth it, or if I would ever live my dreams, but by pushing past these uncomfortable points I observed my limiters. I saw what needed to change if I was to succeed.

Keep going. Through persisting alone you will learn all you need to know about your faulty, error-prone beliefs and by releasing these ideas you can become wildly successful.

How do you expose your limiting beliefs?

How do you slay your faulty beliefs?

What tips can you add to this list?

Ryan Biddulph helps you live the happy internet lifestyle by sharing money making tips through his blog. He pets tigers and travels the world in his spare time. You can visit his blog here.

7 Places Bloggers Can Get Design Work Done (Without Breaking The Bank)

This is a guest contribution by Skellie Wag.

Every blog has a design. Whether it’s a beautifully put together custom job, a WordPress theme, a template or something frankensteined together with a vague knowledge of HTML and CSS.

Most of us are not web designers, and because of this, the design of our blogs can end up being a thorn in our side.

We want to make changes, but don’t know how. We’d like a better logo (or simply to have a logo at all), but aren’t sure how to get one. We know our header image is a little ugly. But what to do about it?

Frustrated blogger

Image copyright Renee Jansoa – Fotolia.com

Finding designers for smallish jobs like making tweaks to a blog theme, designing a new header, or adding an email form can be a little tricky. It involves working with a designer who is willing to take on a small job, who fits with our budget, is friendly, communicative, and does work in a style that we like. That’s a lot of criteria to fulfill!

Because finding someone like this seems tough, many bloggers will overlook necessary design updates, or try to do it themselves. If you’ve ever stayed up until the wee hours trying to make one small change to your blog’s layout, only to mess up everything on the page, you’re not alone.

My life as a blogger became much easier when I realised that there are several places where you can get small design changes done at a good price, by good people. I’ll dig into these options below, examining the pros and cons of each. Next time you need design work done on your blog, you may consider using one of these options.

1. Elance

How it works

You write an outline for your job, and list a budget. Freelancers will write proposals for why they are the best person to do the job, and will ‘bid’ a price for completion.

Pros

Because each job generally receives bids from multiple freelancers, there is downward pressure on pricing as freelancers compete to win the job. Working with freelancers from Elance tends to be affordable. Because there are hundreds of thousands of freelancers working through Elance, you are likely to have a rich selection of proposals for your job.

Cons

Because Elance is highly competitive for freelancers, many try to speed up the process of submitting multiple proposals by submitting generic copy and paste messages. In some cases, the freelancer may not have properly read the details of the job proposal.

Because the quality of a freelancer’s work is not approved prior to joining Elance, quality varies.

The verdict

If going through Elance, take the time to do due diligence on any freelancer you are considering hiring. Make sure you’re willing to devote some time to go through the multiple proposals your job is likely to receive.

2. oDesk 

How it works

Browse freelancer profiles listing their hourly rate, skills, and the number of hours worked through oDesk. Alternatively, you can post your job and budget and receive applications from oDesk’s freelance community.

Pros

You can pick and choose a freelancer whose work you like, whose hourly rate you like, and who has a great reputation on oDesk. Alternatively, you can post a job and receive applications (much like on Elance.com).

Cons

If you post your job to oDesk, you’ll have a volume of applications to go through, not all of which will be from ideal candidates. You need to ensure that you have the time to perform due diligence on applicants. If the job is only small, the time taken to choose a freelancer might outweigh the benefits of outsourcing the job.

The verdict

For small jobs, consider selecting a freelancer directly to save time, rather than posting a job.

3. 99designs 

How it works

On 99designs you create design competitions rather than post jobs. Designers enter multiple designs aimed at best fulfilling your brief. If you select one of these designs as the competition ‘winner’, you claim ownership of the designer’s work, and the prize money is divided between the designer and 99designs.

Pros

If you don’t like any of the designs provided by competition entrants, you don’t pay anything. You’ll receive designs in a variety of styles, with many different interpretations of your brief. Most jobs receive around 30 design pitches, giving you a wide range of work to choose from. If you’re not sure exactly what you want, this could be a smart route for you.

Cons

This service is a better choice for a large scale redesign, as they do not do small tweaks. 99designs also focuses on design work only. Because designers who enter your competition are not guaranteed to be paid unless they win (the chances of which are statistically low), their work may reflect this. Some members of the design community also believe that spec work is unethical, because the designer may or may not be compensated for their effort.

The verdict

99designs could be a worthwhile choice if you need a complete redesign for your blog. If you aren’t sure exactly you want, having a range of options to choose from could be useful.

4. Microlancer 

How it works

Freelancers create listings for their services, with price, turnaround time, number of revisions, and work examples provided upfront. Buyers purchase the service they want. The work must be completed and approved within the turnaround time, or the buyer is eligible for a refund.

Pros

Microlancer is specifically designed for small design and coding jobs, the kind that bloggers usually need done. Freelancers are reviewed for quality, meaning the standard of design and code is high. Terms, price and work examples are provided upfront, making it easier to make an informed decision. 

Cons

Because service categories have a minimum price, Microlancer is less affordable than other options. Job size is limited, so it is not a good choice for a complete blog redesign. Additionally, payment is required upfront, which might deter some buyers.

The verdict

Microlancer is a good choice if you have a clear idea of what you want and don’t want to spend time trawling through dozens of job proposals. It isn’t well-suited to larger projects, such as a complete redesign.

5. Freelancer

How it works

You post a job and freelancers submit job proposals and bids to work on your project. You can also search freelancer profiles, or post contests (similar to 99designs).

Pros

With projects, freelancers and contests available, there are many options for getting your design job done. If you’d like to choose from a number of interested parties, post a project. If you’d like to choose one person to work with, select a freelancer based on their profile. If you’d like to receive many different pitches for completed work, post a contest.

Cons

Going through project proposals requires time to perform due diligence on each application. Choosing a freelancer from the 8 million+ profiles might also be time consuming. When posting a contest, it will take time for the entries to come through. Freelancer.com might not be the ideal choice for a job that you need done urgently.

The verdict

Freelancer offers flexibility in how you want the job done, and a huge pool of freelancers to choose from. It is a solid choice if you have the time to make sure your job is done by the right person.

6. People Per Hour

How it works

People Per Hour is structured around hourly rates. You can choose to work with individual freelancers who state their hourly rates upfront, purchase an ‘Hourlie’, a fixed price service, or post a job and receive proposals.

Pros

You may be able to find a freelancer who has posted an ‘Hourlie’ rate for exactly the job that you need done, for example, a blog header redesign. Otherwise, you can post your job and receive bids, or choose a freelancer who seems like a good fit for the job.

Cons

Freelancers on People Per Hour don’t pass through a review process, so the quality of their work varies and may not always be clearly visible upfront. You should look deeper into any freelancer you are considering working with and make sure they do the kind of work that you’re looking for.

The verdict

People Per Hour offers the flexibility to find a freelancer through several different means. You’ll need to take the time to make sure you’re happy with your choice before you commit.

7. Tweaky

How it works

The Tweaky website offers dozens of fixed priced jobs based around small tasks and customisations. Once a job is purchased, it will be completed by a freelancer on the Tweaky team. The project is overseen by a Project Manager, there to ensure that things run smoothly and that work is delivered on time.

Pros

Tweaky was deliberately created around small jobs and customisations, so it is well suited to the kinds of tasks that bloggers need done. The presence of a staff Project Manager on each job offers an extra level of professionalism and protection against poor quality work.

Cons

Tweaky focuses on code rather than design. Some bloggers may not like that they aren’t able to choose who will complete the work they need done (freelancers are assigned to jobs by Tweaky staff).

The verdict

If you’re not overly concerned with who does your work, only that it gets done quickly and for an upfront price, then Tweaky could be the right option for you.

Who Do You Recommend?

Would you work with any of these companies to get design or customisations done for your blog? Have you done so already? If so, we’d love to hear your reviews and experiences in the comments.

Skellie is a writer, entrepreneur and web developer. She is currently helping out the team at Microlancer.com.

How Jon Morrow Crafted the Most Popular Post on Problogger

This guest contribution from Ahmed Safwan.

Writing viral posts.

That’s what we all dream of.

We hope that we can write the next popular post on our blog.

But what if you make it on one of the most influential blogs on the Internet (like Problogger) and get a lot of visits out of it?

Well, Jon Morrow did that with his post, How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World. The post attracted over 70,000 visits in the first 24 hours and it’s on track to get nearly 1 million visits.

Darren was astonished. That’s why he called Jon the best writer on the web.

He was able to attract over 9,000 subscribers to his guest blogging course solely on the strength of this post. Many of them had signed up to the premium program because of that one post, and he was able to make a great amount of money.

It’s pretty amazing, right?

But how did he do it? That’s what we will cover in this post.

You need compelling content

… not just another 5-tip post that’s generic.

Compelling content is essential to get traffic, engage your readers and turn them into paid customers.

It’s the dream that most bloggers have. We all want to quit our job and move to paradise. Not only that, he shows you how to get paid to change the world.

The content is compelling and he crafted the post well. But a lot of us could do this. It’s true. So why aren’t our posts going viral?

Well, it’s not just about the content.

Jon Morrow included some ingredients that made his post spread like wildfire.

Hundreds of posts are created about how to quit your job and move to paradise, but this post has some ingredients that other posts don’t have.

happy_time

Image courtesy stock.xchng user lusi

1. Evoking Explosive Emotions

Jonah Berger co-authored a research paper with Katy Milkman called “What Makes Online Content Go Viral?”  In this paper, there are some insights that you need to care about.

One of these insights is that content that evokes high explosive emotions is more viral than content that doesn’t. Basically, you need to evoke emotions in your content to make it spread online.

After you readJon Morrow’s post, you feel inspired and that you have the power to do anything.

Another key insight Jonah Berger found is that positive content is more viral than negative content.

That’s why Jon’s Problogger post spread more than his Copyblogger post, On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas. In his Copyblogger post, he intended to make people cry and he evoked that emotion explosively. With his Problogger post, he wanted to inspire people.

The difference is that the emotion he tried to evoke in his Copyblogger post was negative but in his Problogger post, the emotion was positive. That’s why the Problogger post spread like wildfire.

But how to evoke that emotion?

Jon Morrow has a great answer to this question.

In his post How to Be Unforgettable, he explains how you can connect emotionally with your readers.

“Instead of sitting down and writing cold, imagine the emotion you want to create in your reader, and deliberately cultivate that emotion in yourself. Cry, laugh, get so mad you nearly beat your keyboard to death.” Jon says. “Then let it loose. Let it flow through you and into your words.”

“Your readers will feel it. They’ll wake up. It’ll make them feel alive.” Jon explained. “And they’ll remember you forever.”

It’s simple but really effective answer. It’s worth reading the post word-by-word to learn more about how to evoke emotions and how to be unforgettable.

2. Telling a Story

This is one of the most effective ingredients Jon added in his post.

He shared a story that was incredible. It inspired a lot of people to continue facing their difficulties. It made people connect with Jon.

He shocked us with his story.

That’s exactly what you need when you craft a compelling story. If it’s something usual and people will predict what will happen next, then it’s boring.

You don’t need to create specific posts to share your story as Jon did. You could add a story in the opening of your blog, to start it with a bang, as he did in his “How To Be Unforgettable” post. Thanks to Brian Clark for this awesome tip.

To prove that telling stories is an effective way to make your posts spread more, check out James Chartrand’s story on how he is a she. It got over 540 comments and was one of the most popular posts on Copyblogger.

3. Having Irresistible Magnetic Headlines

“8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of the headline, and why it so highly determines the effectiveness of the entire piece.” ~ Brian Clark

John Wisely from Pick the Brain wrote a post that got him only 100 visits. The post itself was great; that’s why he was disappointed. He thought that the problem may be in the headline. He deleted the post, changed the headline and published it again with the same content.

It got 5,000 visits.

(You can check the case study here)

Jon Morrow knew that headlines are really important. He started to learn the art of creating magnetic headlines for years until he was able to master it. He is now the master of creating headlines online. His headlines are always irresistible.

Luckily, he created a cheat sheet that contains the top 52 headline formulas that always outperform when they’re used right. I really recommend you to check this cheat sheet before you choose any headline.Choose one of these formulas, and then fill in the blanks carefully to create your irresistible magnetic headline.

Try to include power words and you’ll have better results. Jon also created a list of 317 power words you can use not only in your headlines, but also in your content.

His headline was very specific and it has power words like “paradise” and “paid.” This headline is really effective to capture your attention, even at 2am!

Grow your value

Copyright Gorilla – Fotolia.com

4. Picking an Established Platform To Go Viral

To make your post spread like wildfire, you need to seed the traffic at the beginning. Then, if it has some of the ingredients shared above, your visitors will do the rest.

Jon Morrow had the platform ready for him to share his astonishing content and to make it go viral. He made use of it to create the most popular post in the blogosphere.

That’s why you need to share your best stuff on other blogs as a guest post.

It’s true that Jon would have seen a spike in traffic if he posted it on a new blog, but it wouldn’t have reached such a large audience of people.

So, when you’ve got something amazing that you think should deserve to get 100,000 visits, post it on other blogs. Your mission will be easier after that.

guest posting secrets

Image courtesy guigo.eu, licensed under Creative Commons

The truth about writing viral posts

You need compelling content to go viral. But it’s not enough.

You need to add some other ingredients to the post to make it engaging so that people can’t help but share it with their audience.

Yes, you can actually do it.

If your blog is small or you don’t even have a blog launched yet, find a bigger blog that has 10,000+ subscribers and share your brilliant idea there.

Craft it well, add some of the above ingredients, and you’re set to go and have your viral post.

It may not happen every single time, but you can still make it.

Jon Morrow did it on Penelope Trunk’s blog when he was still a beginner blogger, and created one of the most popular posts there to this day.

You can do it too!

So, get out there and write something amazing!

Try it and see what happens.

 

Ahmed Safwan is a blogger and marketer that teaches how you can get your posts shared, tweeted, and talked about. If you want more people to read and interact with your content, check out his free Blogger’s Handbook for Writing Viral Posts!