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The Demand for eBooks is Rapidly Growing – Here’s How You Can Take Advantage

The Demand for eBooks is Rapidly Growing – Here’s How You Can Take Advantage

This is a guest contribution from Jawad Khan.

Did you know that eBook sales in the US, the biggest market for digital products, is expected to reach $7.6 billion by the end of 2016?

Surprised?

In the U.S alone, eBook sales have grown almost 3000% over the last 10 years. A study by eMarketer suggests that eBook sales will outgrow the sale of mobile games in the US by the end of 2015.

The rise in eBook sales, and even free eBook downloads, is a direct result of the increase in smartphone, tablet and e-reader users.

According to Pew Research, more than 50% of American adults own either a tablet, smartphone or an e-reader device, with the majority using tablets for reading eBooks.

The Demand for eBooks is Rapidly Growing – Here’s How You Can Take Advantage

As a blogger, you should be excited reading this – really excited!

Because this not only offers you a huge money making opportunity, that is exponentially growing, but also open up several ways you can use eBooks to build a long term and viable blogging business.

However, to take advantage, you need to take action.

Why? Because research indicates that almost 81% Americans believe they should write a book, but only 1% actually do it.

That’s why it’s important that you take action.

Here are a few ways, with practical examples and relevant tools, you can use eBooks to boost sales, build your audience, and grow your business.

Use eBooks as Lead Magnets to Grow Your List

You’re a blogger and you know how important email subscribers are. There’s almost no long term and viable online business that can be built without an engaged and thriving email list.

But if you’re trying to build an email list by offering “Free Blog Updates” to your visitors, you won’t find much success (unless you’re Seth Godin of course).

To convince your readers and convert them into subscribers, you need to offer them something valuable that pulls them to your list.

In other words, you need a lead magnet.

And what type of lead magnet converts the best?

You guessed it right, eBooks!

People just love reading eBooks, and it somehow feels more valuable than other forms of lead magnets.

But don’t just take my word for it. Have a look at some of the most successful blogs, and see what their primary lead magnet is.

Bryan Harris, the owner of VideoFruit, took his blog from 0 to 10,000+ subscribers in just a few months. He has become an authority on list building.

And what does Bryan offer as his lead magnet? An eBook!

The Demand for eBooks is Rapidly Growing – Here’s How You Can Take Advantage

Ramsay grew BlogTyrant to 150,000+ subscriber. His primary offer is also a free eBook:

The Demand for eBooks is Rapidly Growing – Here’s How You Can Take Advantage

And what does Glenn from ViperChill use to attract email subscribers? You guessed it! 

The Demand for eBooks is Rapidly Growing – Here’s How You Can Take Advantage

Here’s the bottom line.

Your readers and blog visitors are MUCH more likely to subscribe to your email list if you offer them a relevant and high quality eBook.

Create the Perfect eBook for Your Audience and Make Guaranteed Money

One of the best things about blogging is that, over time, you can build a loyal community of readers around your blog.

These readers not only provide you inspiration and ideas for new content, but most of them actually start looking up to you as an authority. They are already convinced about the usefulness of your content and take your words seriously.

By identifying their biggest needs, you can create highly targeted eBooks that not only solve their problems but also fill your pockets.

Blogger and bestselling author Jeff Goins is a great example.

He started blogging just for the love of writing, and amassed an email list of more than 10,000 subscribers.

But he was making zero money from his list because he wasn’t selling them anything.

Until he decided to sell eBooks directly to his audience.

The Demand for eBooks is Rapidly Growing – Here’s How You Can Take Advantage

Jeff started by running a survey on his subscribers, and was surprised to know that the vast majority of them was willing to pay if Jeff offered them an eBook.

Fast forward two year, and Jeff has a thriving 6-figure eBook income that comes directly from his subscribers.

You can follow the same model even if you have 500-1000 email subscribers. Identify their need, and give them what they want – guaranteed sales.

There are a number of ways you can find content ideas for your eBook. You can run surveys on your blog, look at your most popular blog content, follow discussions on Quora and LinkedIn groups, and study competitor blogs.

You could also search for your main industry keywords on Ahrefs Content Explorer, and find out the posts that have attracted the highest social media shares and backlinks.

The Demand for eBooks is Rapidly Growing – Here’s How You Can Take Advantage

This will give you a good idea of the popular topics in your niche.

Once you have an idea, setting up your eBook for sale is also quite simple.

You don’t need technical expertise. There are tools and resources on the web that’ll do everything for you.

If you need to design your book cover, you can invite design proposals from freelancing portals like 99Designs. Or you can do the job of a graphic designer yourself, and create eye-catching book cover designs, using Canva.

The Demand for eBooks is Rapidly Growing – Here’s How You Can Take Advantage

When it comes to selling, you can simply use third party digital selling apps like Selz, which make selling eBooks a breeze.

Selz integrates directly with your email list and allows you to accept payments using all the mainstream payment gateways. You can place your eBook in the sidebar of your blog or create a separate product widget with a Buy Now button.

The Demand for eBooks is Rapidly Growing – Here’s How You Can Take Advantage

In short, if you already have an email list you should seriously consider selling eBooks directly to your subscribers. It also gives you an opportunity to charge higher rates for your product, since your subscribers are loyal fans who’re willing to spend money in exchange for the value you’re offering.

Don’t Have a Huge List? Sell eBooks to the World

You want to write an eBook, but you can’t sell it to your blog readers and email subscribers because you don’t have a list.

No problem!

Why not sell it on the world’s biggest ecommerce portal, Amazon. Your eBook will be instantly exposed to millions of potential buyers.

Of course, the competition on Amazon is significantly higher as compared to selling directly to your blog audience but, with the right strategy and research, finding success isn’t impossible.

Need inspiration? Just look at Chandler Bolt.

This 21 year old high school dropout has become an Amazon self-publishing success story and has been featured on Huffington Post, Business Insider and several other leading websites.

The Demand for eBooks is Rapidly Growing – Here’s How You Can Take Advantage

Chandler’s accidental stardom started when he published an eBook on Amazon. Within a few weeks, his eBook had gathered dozens of sales. He’s never looked back.

In fact, this success inspired him to start his business venture Self-Publishing School that is on track to making 7 figures by the end of this year.

All because of one eBook on Amazon.

For bloggers, this is an even greater opportunity.

If you already have a blog and a thriving list, you can use your subscribers to build authority on Amazon by making sales, getting reviews and generating word of mouth.

The possibilities are endless.

Use eBooks to Build Authority, Grow Your Network and Find New Clients

Beyond lead generation and direct sales, publishing an eBook can be a catalyst for your long term business prospects.

The reason is simple, when you publish a book, people start seeing you as an authority on that subject. You start getting mentioned and quoted in your industry, you start getting authority backlinks and your brand value grows. You get opportunities to connect with the right people in your industry and expand your network.

Some of the most successful entrepreneurs got their first break when they published a book (Tim Ferris, Tony Robinson, and many others)

As a blogger, brand recognition and authority are priceless assets to have.

Just look at Seth Godin’s blog.

Writing ebooks

He hardly writes 100-300 word blog posts. They are short notes with absolutely no regard for SEO, formatting, or any of the conventional blogging advice you see.

But every post on his blog gets thousands of shares and millions of views.

Why? Because he’s an authority in his niche, and people know him by name.

While you might not be able to go straight to the level of Seth Godin, publishing an eBook would still do a lot of good for your reputation, your blog and your business.

In fact, it can change everything for your blog.

Wrapping Up

Publishing eBooks can have several long lasting effects on your blogging career and your business. With such a rapidly growing market, an ever increasing demand and so many user friendly eBook designing and selling tools, publishing an eBook is a potentially life changing opportunity that is waiting for you to take action.

As I said at the start, almost 80% people who believe they should write an eBook, never do it.

Make sure you’re not one of them.

Jawad Khan is a content marketing consultant and a freelance blogger for hire. Follow him on his blogWriting My Destiny, Twitter, and Google+.

Reading Roundup: What’s Happening in Blogging Lately?

Reading Roundup: What's new in blogging this week / ProBlogger.net

It’s here! The first roundup for the new year.

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited and motivated for a brand new year of learning, growing and enjoying my blog. Nothing like a frest start to get a fresh perspective on something we may sort of, kind of be stuck in a bit of a rut with.

I hope you find something useful here to kickstart your 2016!

Instagram Advertising: What’s Working? // Marketing Land

Have you tried Instagram ads? I have seen a few of them roll out in my feed, and I think it must be much easier to create one now that they’ve integrated that option to your Facebook Page dashboard. The “have a good image” bit is a no-brainer (Instagram is such a visual platform) but it’s interesting to see the research behind these tips.

5 Digital Marketing Tactics to Help Your Brand Stand Out in 2016 // Top Rank Blog

We all know that the key to success is differentiation (and doing it well!), especially in a culture of oversaturation. But the first tip “use existing platforms in creative ways” gave me hope that there’s still life in the old dog yet. It’s time to start thinking differently about how we blog and promote this year.

Facebook Wants to Kill Phone Numbers Forever // Time

Ok a bit of an overkill headline, but there are changes coming to the Messenger app now that 800 million (sheesh!) people are using it to communicate for both business and pleasure. I love the features for the business communication, I think it would be a fantastic way to collaborate with people… but the flip side is you can turn to your personal feed and get lost down a facebook rabbit hole way too easily…

I’m pretty desperate for that virtual virtual assistant “M”, by the way.

11 Google Chrome Extensions Every Social Media Marketer Needs // Adespresso

I had a few of these already (Momentum is great!) but who knew Klout was still a thing? And my chrome bar grows ever wider.

Really though, who wouldn’t want to “increase your productivity and reduce the effort required on all social media platforms”, and if all it takes is installing a few extensions, I’m there!

#Twitter10K: Possibility of 10,000 Character Limit Creates Big Buzz // Entrepreneur

I think being forced to keep my bon mots to 140 characters has made me a better writer. Plus it’s easier to skim my feed… what do you think of largely unrestricted character posts in tweets?

How to Improve Your Page Ranking for a Specific Keyword // Content Marketing Institute

This was so interesting – especially for me, who really has one keyword most relevant to my blog: vegetarian. It is most likely that a few of us have at least a couple, but if you’re looking to rank in those areas, this tips can’t hurt. Very useful too for helping you avoid over-optimization, which can harm your blog rank.

2015: The Year That Angry Won The Internet // BBC

So it’s not just me that thought there was a vastly unusual amount of ire on the web this last year? It seemed something switched the haters into Full-Blown Mode. Some of the stories you hear are downright heartbreaking, and you wonder how much worse it’s going to get. Did you get caught in the fallout? What do you do when the Internet is a boiling pit of rage and you just can’t take it any more?

10 Predictions for 2016 in SEO and Web Marketing // Moz

You can always count on Rand to have some ideas about what’s going to be useful in SEO!

Page Views Don’t Matter Any More But They Just Won’t Die // Wired

It isn’t the best indicator of popularity and influence, it’s true – but it’s still a quantifiable way of judging ROI and some people just don’t want to drop it. Or, probably more accurately: they don’t know any other way of calculating value. Are page views important, do you think? Or is the whole of blogging more than the sum of its parts?

How to Curate Your Social Content with Reddit // Social Media Examiner

If it’s your job to find funny/useful/interesting things to share with an audience, you might like to try these tips.

Happy 2016!

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama or be entertained on Facebook.

Earning an Income Online with Intentional, Mindful Blogging

The last thing you want to do when thinking about how to blog in the new year is make the same mindless mistakes you did in 2015. Those mistakes where you bit off more than you could chew, you let a project drag on that had seen better days, you dialled in your posts without any care just to get something up, and you felt as burned out as an abandoned car.

It’s a new day, and it’s time to learn from someone who’s been there, done that but turned it around to create a profitable blog from a place of intention and calm instead of uncontrolled chaos. Read on for Crystal’s timely advice.


 

Crystal Paine is the founder of the amazingly successful MoneySavingMom.com, which sees 1.5 million visitors each month, and employs 13 full time staff. Born of a blog series that turned into an ebook, which then evolved into an e-course, Crystal realised her readers were hungry for a real-life guide to living frugally, but well; be it slashing their grocery bill, using coupons, or finding ways to run their home on less.

Crystal had been looking for ways to create an income while she was a stay at home mom, and realised she could make a healthy business meeting her readers’ need for such information. With forethought and intention, Crystal created and monetized the site, but was still surprised when it outdid their expectations – by a long shot.

In our interview, we chat about the plans she made before MoneySavingMom.com went live, the things she did to make it a success, and how they kept that ball rolling to create the main source of income for her family today. Crystal also shares her ideas on revenue streams, how long it actually took to make a consistent income, and tips that will help you be more intentional with your efforts to succeed.

Blogging with Intention: Creating an income from a successful blog with Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom

The Beginning: Blogging Goals and Direction

You started Money Saving Mom after a blog series turned into an ebook, which turned into an ecourse. What dreams did you have for the site, seeing as you’d already covered so much of the content elsewhere?

I realized that I had barely touched the tip of the iceberg with the ebook and e-course I wrote on cutting your grocery bill. My vision for MoneySavingMom.com was that I was going to be sharing specific deals you could find at your local drugstores and big box stores (such as Walmart and Target). I also planned to share deals I had gotten locally, as well as ways our family was living on a small budget. As there are new sales every week and I’m always finding great deals and bargains, I knew that it wouldn’t be too hard to come up with new material to blog about each week.

Step Two: Creating an Income

You were very intentional about monetizing the site from the start to help supplement your family’s income while you were a stay at home mom. Did you have an idea going into it how you would monetize? 

When I started MoneySavingMom.com in 2007, I had already dabbled into monetization on a mommy blog I had. I knew I could make money with sidebar ads, as well as sharing some affiliate links. Back then, the options were fairly limited, but I kept researching, watching what others were doing, and slowly started experimenting with new ideas. One of the best ways to monetize in the early days of the blog was by becoming an affiliate for coupon printing sites (such as Coupons.com). They would pay me per print session. So if I posted about a great deal on toothpaste at Walmart and shared a printable coupon on Coupons.com that could be paired with the sale to get an even better discount, I’d get paid for every person who printed that coupon. While it was only a small amount per coupon printed, since I posted quite a few coupons each week, it quickly added up! To this day, getting paid per print for sharing great printable coupons is one of our highest earning affiliate income sources!

Do you think creating a monetized blog from the get-go is much different to monetising an established blog? (I have heard some people say it is easier to start with monetizing in mind rather than then try and turn a personal or other type of blog into something that makes an income – I was wondering if that was your experience.)

Great question! I think it’s always wise to be strategic and to go into any venture with a long-term plan. That plan can always change as circumstances and opportunities change, but I think it’s important to have a destination in mind when you start out on any road. Otherwise, you may end up just going around in circles because you don’t have any clue where you’re headed.

That said, I still believe that Content Is King. You can have the best monetized blog in the world, but if your content isn’t helpful and relevant, all the monetization strategies aren’t going to make much of an impact. So I always encourage beginning bloggers to start by establishing yourself as a voice people want to listen to. Provide great content, write about topics that are relevant, format your posts in an organized manner, and share your posts on social media in a compelling manner. Focus on solving problems and meeting needs in what you write, build up your credibility, and slowly also work on creative ways to monetize your blog.

I am told a lot that some people really wrestle with the idea of monetizing, although they ultimately would like to. What advice would you have for them?

I know there are definitely camps who believe you should just write because you love it, not because you’re getting paid for it. I think you should do both. I’m of the opinion that if you’re going to spend so much time producing great content, you should also get paid for your time.   One of the best ways to monetize your site is to be a person of integrity. Write about things you are passionate about and be very particular in what products and affiliate links you promote. Never sacrifice your integrity in the name of a quick buck. When people trust you, they will put much more weight in what you promote.

For example, I rarely wholeheartedly endorse a product. I might talk about pros and cons, share what I liked about a product, but it’s rare that I’ll say that I LOVE something. Why? Because I want my words to have weight. If I “LOVE” everything, it becomes meaningless quickly. So honesty is paramount when you’re considering promoting a product. Always have your readers and their needs first and foremost. Analyze every opportunity in light of: will this benefit my readers? If it only benefits me or if just mostly benefits me, I always choose turn down the opportunity. By doing so, I can, in good conscience occasionally really wholeheartedly endorse a product, site, or service — and my readers will know that it is something really worth checking into.

What kind of mindframe do you need to be in to make a blog a financial success? Do you need to treat it like a business as early as possible? Or can that come later?

I think one of the greatest keys to be successful as a blogger — both in terms of building a readership and making an income from your blogging efforts — is consistency. If readers know they can count on you regularly posting great content, they are much more likely to regularly show up.   This doesn’t mean that you always have to post the same number of times every week, or always post at the same time each day, or that you can’t ever take a break from blogging, but it does mean that you treat your blogging seriously. If you are employed somewhere, you are expected to show up to work and complete your work in a timely manner. If you don’t, there will be fall out — you might miss out on that promotion, you might not get that coveted opportunity, or you might even lose your job.   It’s the same way with blogging. You need to do all you can to keep your commitments to your readers — or don’t make the commitments in the first place. You need to place priority on producing great content. And you need to show up regularly. When readers know they can count on you, they feel much more invested in you and connected to you.

Someone asked me not too long ago what the secret was to my success. My answer: “There are no secrets; just hard work.” I have blogged almost every single day but Sunday, every single week, every year since I began blogging in 2005.   That’s a LOT of blogging. And trust me, while I truly love blogging, there were days when I would have rather been doing something else. I have stayed up late at night, gotten up early in the morning, and worked on Saturdays and holidays. There have been grueling and exhausting seasons, but the commitment, drive, and consistency have paid off in big ways.

Related: Crystal’s extensive list of resources and information of how she makes money blogging.

The Elusive Blog/Life Balance

What advice would you give to moms or parents who were much like you in the early days – trying to get a blog off the ground while balancing that with the needs of your home and family?

My best advice would be to not follow in my footsteps and bite off way more than you can chew! Instead, I encourage you to write down your goals. Where do you want to be in six months from now? A year from now? 5 years from now?   In considering your six month goals, write down a list of everything that needs to happen in order to achieve those goals. Then, pick the top 3 most important to-do items on your list as your first priorities.

After you’ve chosen your top 3 action items, consider how much time you realistically have to invest each day. Maybe it’s just 30 minutes or an hour. That’s okay. Start there, but remember that if you don’t have much time to invest, you may need to scale back your expectations for how quickly you accomplish your goals.   Break those three items down into bite-sized steps and then make an appointment with yourself for your 30 minute or 1-hour time block (or however much time you’ve committed) and make it a priority. Set the timer. Start in on one of the steps and keep going until the timer goes off.   While you might not accomplish as much as you’d like as quickly as you’d like, you probably be surprised how much you can accomplish in 30 minute to 1 hour blocks of focused effort.

Strategy

You have said before that you and your husband just wanted to “see where this goes” in the early days of your blog – did you have a particular timeframe, or certain goals that would help you decide to continue?

My goal was to make a part-time income (I was aiming for around $1200 per month.) I knew that this amount would help not only supplement our income, but would allow us to be able to save and give more.   It took me around 2.5 years of hard, hard work, to hit that amount on a consistent monthly basis. And there were many months in the beginning when I wondered if I was just chasing after some really unrealistic dream. But eventually I started to not only hit that goal every month, but then to exceed it. Pretty soon, I was consistently doubling that initial goal, and then tripling it. It was so gratifying to realize that all those early months where I was doing well to make $2-$3 per hour paid off! I’m so glad I didn’t give up when it felt like my efforts weren’t really going anywhere.

When did you realise the blog was actually going to be successful?

When I started MoneySavingMom.com in 2007, I truly pictured that it was just going to be a little off-shoot of the mommy blog I had started in 2005. So, you can imagine my shock when, within a few months of starting it, I was getting 14,000 to 16,000 pageviews per day on it! It blew my mind!   And it just kept growing… until we finally got to the point that I was having find a hosting company that didn’t cost an arm and a leg and could sustain the traffic that the site was generating!

Support Networks

How important is your husband’s support in your work?

Honestly, I doubt I would be blogging if it weren’t for my husband. He is my best friend and biggest cheerleader. When I was initially considering starting my first mommy blog, he believed in me and encouraged me to do it. When I was considering starting, MoneySavingMom.com, he said, “Go for it!” I’m positive I never would have had the courage to hit “publish” on so many posts if it weren’t for him reading through them with me and saying, “Yes, you need to publish that. Someone needs to read it.”

In those moments when I’ve doubted myself, wondered what I was thinking, or even considered quitting, his voice has been there speaking words of motivation, reminding me of the why behind what I do: to inspire and impact people. He’s prodded me out of my comfort zone so many times. He takes care of the kids so I can write. He runs our household when I’m out of town on business trips. He serves as a sounding board when I have difficult situations come up.   He takes care of all the legal and financial aspects of the business. He’s always reading through contracts for me, helping my team with legal questions that come up, working with our accountant to make sure all the books and payroll are taken care of (spreadsheets give me hives!), and working with me to dream for the future and make sure we stay accountable to our business goals.

Branching Out: Evolving the Blog

You now employ 13 people – what’s the most difficult thing about being a boss rather than a sole blogger? What is the best thing?

I never would have envisioned that I’d someday be running a business with multiple people working for me, not just a blog that I write on! It’s been quite the adventure and I’m so very grateful for the wonderful folks who are on this road with me!   The hardest thing about managing a team has been trusting my gut and actually being the one to be leading the team. I’ve grown a lot as a person through running a business and have been blessed to have some really wise people mentoring me along the way.

One of the pieces of advice I’ve received was that I need to be the one who sets the course. I need to decide the direction we’re going and then encourage and inspire my team to help me be successful in heading in that direction. My tendency would be to be all, “Whatever you think is best.” Or to just not communicate a clear-cut vision for where we’re headed. I’m learning and growing in this… but I’m still very much a work in progress!

The best thing about having a team working with me is that it’s not only a lot more fun to be in this with such brilliant and wonderful people, but we get so much more done because my team members are much, much more talented in so many areas than me. Plus, my team is committed to helping me only do what I do best and to take all the other projects, details, and work off my shoulders. It’s a humbling thing to have such fantastic people working together with me to further the mission I have for MoneySavingMom.com. Often, when we’re working on a big project and brainstorming about it, I’ll step back and just look at the amazing brilliance represented in the room and think to myself, “I cannot believe that I have the honor of working with these incredible people!”

Related: You can read more of Crystal’s story in her post: This Crazy Journey I’ve Been on the Last 10 Years (and Yes, You can Make Money Blogging!). 

So what do you think? Are there strategies Crystal used that you can now take into your own blogging experience? I know personally I got a lot from her forward-thinking and intentional decisions to create a successful site. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more (so much more!) at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome).

Keep it Simple – How to Stand out in a Crowded Blogosphere

In late 2014, Amy Lynn Andrews shared the story behind her super-popular email blogging tips roundup The Useletter, and totally-trimmed down blog: their simplicity is a breath of fresh air in a cacophony of online noise.

If you’ve been thinking of paring back and going slow, let her words inspire you.Keep it Simple - How to Stand out in a Crowded Blogosphere // ProBlogger.net

If you’ve been blogging for long, you’ve no doubt heard of Amy Lynn Andrews.

Plain-language blogging tips, tricks, and tutorials are Amy’s game. And while everyone gets louder and brighter on the internet in order to catch your attention, Amy is whispering. And it works.

Amy covers everything from How to Start a Blog to How to Make Money Blogging, and sends out arguably the most useful newsletter on the planet every Sunday morning.

I wanted to know how the simple life made a difference to her blogging experience – if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed with all we’re supposed to do and use and read and be as bloggers, I hope this is useful to you. Slim down, pare back, focus on your priorities. Amy would want you to!

The Useletter

I asked Amy how she settled on her very different style of newsletter (and was reminded again how important an email list is):

“I wanted to reduce my dependence on other sources of blog traffic, like search, social media and referrals. I also liked the idea of permission-based marketing which gives me the power to go to my readers instead of waiting for them to come to me. In a nutshell, an email list was a more controllable digital asset for me,” she says.

“Once I decided to go in this direction, I knew I needed to stand out. Everyone is building a list these days; my emails had to be super valuable. I chose to leverage the reputation I had already built on my blog, which is the provider of helpful tutorials and in-plain-English content. I decided to focus on quick, bite-sized tips in my emails. I called it The Useletter because they are tips you can use.”

So did this simple template evolve over time, or was it planned from the outset?

“The basic, (mostly) text-only format has always been the same and it suits me well for 3 reasons: I like quick tips, I struggle to write blog posts and I’m lazy when it comes to including images. :)

“It was also somewhat inspired by NextDraft, the wildly popular daily news roundup written by Dave Pell.”

So what gets a coveted spot in The Useletter? How does Amy decide what’s most important? 

“I love to learn and my favorite online pastime is hunting for useful information. The internet is full of impressive people who share amazing tips and tricks. Whenever I come across something that makes me think, “Hey, that’s a great idea!” or “Oh, that’s handy!” I file it away to be included in The Useletter.

“I follow dozens of blogs and newsletters. I read ebooks, magazines, books and anything else I can download or put on my Kindle. I’m a huge fan of podcasts. Videos and webinars are often great sources of information too. Basically, anytime someone is talking about blogging or online business, I take note!

“Most of my reading material is funneled through Feedly where I categorize it according to my main topics. If it makes the cut as I scan through, it gets saved in Evernote, my holding tank for The Useletter tips. (Here’s how I use my editorial calendar.)”

Simplicity Gets Results

I think the simplicity works because it’s a little unexpected for an email. I’ve tried to format it in a way that people can quickly glean what they want. And I do my best to include a variety of actionable tips that doesn’t require reading a whole blog post to get the main nugget.”

It’s not only The Useletter that is frill-free: Amy’s website has been streamlined to make the most important things the focus and set aside all else. How has that worked for her? 

“I’m still experimenting with it, but yes, it did [improve The Useletter signup rates]. However, I’ve debated about switching it back, simply because I frustrate myself when I go to my site to lookup a post and I have to click through the home page first.”

So simplicity is a theme for her. But why?

“I appreciate simplicity in my own life. The more I’m online, the more complicated it feels. There’s just too much – too many graphics, too many apps, too many choices, too many ads, too many social media options. There’s too much vying for our attention. Simplicity makes life breathable.” [Tweet that!]

Simple Advice for Bloggers

Observe, listen and respond – to the people, not the gurus. Over the last few years, one of the clear messages I’ve heard from internet users is they’re suffering from information overload. They can’t keep up. And yet, bloggers and online business owners continue to churn out content at an astounding rate (I’m guilty too!). There’s nothing magical about simplicity, it’s just that simplicity is an antidote to a common pain point.

In Mailouts

Practice the art of empathy. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. What would they appreciate? How can you help them? When it comes to online communication, email is intimate. Treat your subscribers with respect and they’ll stick with you for the long haul. Do your subscribers really want your email? Would you?” [Tweet that too!]

Simple Advice for Email Signup Rates

You can’t create sign ups, but you can create enticing content. Let the usefulness of your emails speak for themselves and others will eventually start promoting for you. Of course you can make your sign up form clear and conspicuous or offer a great lead magnet (i.e. freebie), but in my experience, word of mouth is a whole lot more effective.

After that, make your subscribers hesitant to unsubscribe, lest they miss out on what you’re going to send next!”

 

Wise words! I know I’ve been yearning for more simplicity in my blogging – I want to get to the heart of sharing something without sacrificing too much time and energy to do so. How about you? Feeling the pull to do more, be more? I’d love to chat in the comments!

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more (so much more!) at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome).

How to Set Blog-Changing Goals for the New Year

How to Set Blog-Changing Goals for the New Year

For the first ProBlogger podcast of 2016, I wanted to get you all into the planning mood – to think long-term and broadly about where you and your blog are going in the years to come.

The beginning of January is prime resolution-making time, but I’m a little different: I prefer to make goals.

Goals are great for a number of reasons, and I think they’re actually more actionable and easily achieved than perhaps a New Year’s resolution might be.

If you’re like me, or you’d like to choose practical goals over good intentions, you can start this episode off by thinking about your blog as it stands today… is it the same as you want it to be in a year’s time?

If not – something needs to change, and for that change to happen, you need to know what those changes should be and how to go about them.

In the podcast today I chat with Stacey Roberts, the editor of ProBlogger about her post “Setting Goals: Why You Need Them, and How to Write Them“. We discuss:

  • Why goals are vital if you want to succeed
  • How goals can keep you accountable and on track
  • How to set practical, achievable goals
  • How to stay motivated to achieve your goals
  • How to resist being distracted by the unimportant
  • Why vague goals don’t work
  • What type of goals are the most likely to be reached
  • Why your goals need to be SMART
  • How you can take step-by-step action to succeed
  • The usefulness of partners or goal buddies (and how that can also be derailing for the wrong people)
  • The usual reasons people cite for not setting goals, and how to circumvent them

We cover a lot of ground in this episode, so I hope it is useful to you as you start your blogging year with fresh enthusiasm and organization!

You can find the show notes here, and we’d love to chat goals with you on Twitter – you can reach me @ProBlogger, and Stacey @veggie_mama.

Further Reading:

 

Start The New Year off Right with Jeff Goins’ Three Secrets to Full Time Blogging

Welcome to 2016 on ProBlogger! I hope you’re ready for an amazing year of blogging together. We at ProBlogger HQ are really looking forward to being able to help you achieve your online dreams!

Last year, we heard from writer and blogger Jeff Goins about how he finally made the switch to full time blogging, and the three lessons he learned while getting there. I hope it inspires you as we set off on a brand new year of writing online.

This post was originally published in March, 2015.

Blogging full time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secret Weapon #1: Listen to Your Ache

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

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

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

Here’s what I mean.

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

Good. Listen to that.

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

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

Secret Weapon #2: Take the Long Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secret Weapon #3: Don’t Neglect the Past

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Finish Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, it’s up to you to get started.


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

How to Create a Successful Editorial Calendar

How to Create a Successful Editorial Calendar

Well here we are – the final episode in the ProBlogger podcast #TodayNotSomeday series! Where we’ve taken a look at the things on our to-do lists that always get pushed back to “someday” and challenged ourselves to do them now instead. We’ve covered:

and now we’re thinking about creating content for your blog in the new year – one of the best things you can do in advance to save time and work productively. Creating an editorial schedule also helps you create thoughtful content with a narrative arc, it’s easier to fit in with your monetization strategy, and helps with your consistency and discipline over time.

In this episode I give a list of points to consider about the content that was published on your blog this year – take some time to go over each issue and note down the answers, as this will help shape your content direction for 2016. There’s also the opportunity for you to complete a Google Analytics exercise that I do at the end of every year to get my head around what kind of content I should be spending my time on in the future.

I also give tips on what to focus on when creating your new editorial schedule, and how we create the calendar for Digital Photography School. I want you to think about things like themes, series, features, categories, post frequency, different mediums, visual content etc, which will help you narrow your focus and plan out a fantastic year of content that your readers will love (and importantly, that you will be excited about and enjoy creating!)

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, on the show notes, or on social media with the hashtag #TodayNotSomeday – and thank you for joining me in these few weeks of challenges.

Further Reading:

Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately?

Reading Roundup: What's new in blogging this week / ProBlogger.net

This is it! Our last roundup before 2015 implodes in a concoction of fireworks and warm champagne. I hope you’ve enjoyed them (the roundups, not the warm champagne but hey, to each his own), and I’m looking forward to sharing the best of the bits and pieces I find on my safari through the internet in the new year.

Now, without delay – your news!

100 Pinterest Trends of 2016 // Mashable

I cannot get on board the “coffin nail” trend, but I am all about teaching kids to code. If you blog on any of these topics, start optimising your current posts for Pinterest now!

6 Tools for Selling Products on Instagram // Social Media Examiner

I’ve bought quite a few things I’ve seen on my Instagram feed, and it can be a great way of selling if you have something visual to show. If that’s you – then click on over.

108 Experts Give Advice to New Bloggers // Blogging Thing

You are going to need to save this one and refer to it later… a lot. It’s huge! so much to take in. Pin it maybe? Either way, gird your loins and dive in.

Idea Sex: How New Yorker Cartoonists Generate 500 Ideas a Week // 99u

I’m always fascinated at the creative process, and how artsy people come up with so many ideas – this insight into cartoonists and their work was fantastic. It was a great reminder that you have to have lots of ideas (and put aside time to have them!) for you to mine out the workable ones. You have to have the shite ideas to get to the good ones.

Speaking of which…

Viewpoint: How Creativity is Helped by Failure // BBC Magazine

Everybody loves a peek into the real lives behind the curated ones of others, and I like that spin on this idea of an exhibition showing the stuff-ups before the final good copies of designs and illustrations. Life isn’t always the end product, and end products didn’t just fly out of the heads and hands of creatives, fully formed. Sometimes it’s a long road of wrong to get to the right destination. That’s normal. You’re normal!

Hat tip and glass clink to Ash Ambirge from The Middle Finger Project for those last two. Good stuff!

blog_images

image credit

A Really Big Guide to Finding Images For Your Blog (And How to Use Them Like a Pro) // The Blog Tyrant

Not only does Ramsay give you plenty of places to find great pictures for your blog and social media, but he goes one step further and shares a bunch of tools and resources to help you use them right. Bonus legal info too! On point.

9 Tips for Launching Your Business on Instagram // Ivanka Trump

Or upgrading and updating it if you’re already established. The lasses from HeyMama take you through the non-negotiable basics if you want to get traction on everyone’s favourite visual platform. Will probably also make you want to rip your jeans.

3 Podcast Episodes to Help You Grow Your Email List // Aweber

And who doesn’t want to do that?! You might even spot a familiar face in this list, chatting to the tune of $1.3m a year blogging.

Why We Unsubscribed 250K People From HubSpot’s Marketing Blog and Started Sending Less Email // HubSpot

The dreaded graymail. We all have it, and want to know how to manage it – now HubSpot is doing something about it. Could you do it?

7 Lessons I Learned from Blogging My Book // Huffington Post

I remember when The Pioneer Woman did something similar… so for those of you thinking there’s a book in there waiting to be serialised, check out this post first. Blogging and book writing are very different beasts, best not to confuse the two.

So are you going to blog a book? Delete 45% of your email list? Come up with 500 ideas a week? Or say “screw it, it’s Christmas” and eat a bowl of truffles?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama or be entertained on Facebook. She’s probably eating truffles right now.

Finding Readers, Finding Ideas, Finding time to Blog: The Top ProBlogger Podcast Episodes of 2015

The top ProBlogger Podcast Episodes of 2015

We’re closing out this week looking back on the year that was with a bang today – the most popular ProBlogger Podcast episodes of 2015! So far this year there have been over 620,000 downloads and we’ve published 76 episodes.

As you will remember, Darren kicked off his new venture in July with a podcast a day for 31 days, helping you grow a better blog in the meantime. Each episode had a new challenge for you to go away and implement on your own sites, which was the motivation many of you needed to take your blog to the next level.

Your favourite episodes of the ProBlogger Podcast were:

Episode 29: How to Develop a Plan to Grow Your Readership

Top ProBlogger Podcasts 2015

You may write great content, but readers generally don’t just show up to read it. So what do you do? Darren takes us through a step-by-step plan to help you get your content out in front of a wider potential audience.

Episode 11: How to Come Up with Hundreds of Blog Post Ideas for Your Blog

Top ProBlogger Podcasts 2015

One of Darren’s favourite days in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series, and one that will ensure you’ll never sit down again and go “soooooo what am I actually going to write?” and then give up and scroll Facebook. You will be or.ga.nised.

Episode 12: How to Create an Editorial Calendar for your Blog

Top ProBlogger Podcasts 2015

With all those ideas you’d have come up with after listening to the previous podcast, you’ll then be guided into putting them into a calendar that will cover your content for a full year. With tips from Darren and a description of his own successful calendar, you’ll be armed with plenty of knowledge to help you create a workable editorial schedule.

Episode 18: How to Create a Page That Propels People Deep Within Your Blog

Top ProBlogger Podcasts 2015

credit.

You know the one – where a reader stumbles onto your site and finds, one one page, tons of links to other important and useful information they’re dying to read. Before they know it the’ve fallen down a click rabbit hole on your site and have been reading your archive for half an hour. Darren explains the best way to create such a page on your own site to help keep readers on your blog for longer.

Special Mentions:

Did you have a favourite? Which one was the episode that led to a breakthrough in your blogging?

You can also catch the rest of the series here:

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama or be entertained on Facebook.