Close
Close

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Writing Tips

So useful content is king, and we need to provide it consistently. But how? And what if writing isn’t our strong suit? I always find that writing tips, guides, and productivity hacks score high in the interest scale of ProBlogger readers. These were the five most-read posts this year.

Problogger best of 2104: Writing Tips

Abraham Lincoln Axe Quote 1

1. 6 Lessons in Writing Irresistibly Magnetic Blog Post Headlines

We all know headlines are what can make or break your post: if your headline sucks, people just won’t read. This post has six ways to nail it, every time.

Image via Flickr user Dan Patterson

Image via Flickr user Dan Patterson

2. 9 Crucial Tips for Self-Editing Your Blog Posts (That Everybody Can Use)

Tend to waffle? you won’t after reading these super-easy tips.

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 12.25.19 pm

 

3. How to Repurpose Your Content (and Why You Should do it)

Darren gives us a hefty post filled with great ideas on ways to take what you’ve already written and package it anew. A very effective use of resources.

Screen-Shot-2014-10-24-at-12.52.33-pm

4. 15 Quick and Easy Productivity Hacks for Busy Bloggers

We all waste time – Pooja shows us how to cut out the crap so we can make the most use of the time we have.

Image via Flickr user Toni Birrer

Image via Flickr user Toni Birrer

5. In a Blog Slump? Here’s what to do

When you’ve lost your writing mojo, everyone is succeeding but you, and you feel like throwing your laptop out the window – these are my top tips to get back in the game and feel the love again.

 

So what about you? I’m willing to bet you’ve slumped at least one time in 2014. What was the best writing tip you picked up this year?

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 at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Social Media

Social media and how to navigate it was, again, a big issue in 2014. Which platform is best? How do we use it effectively? Are we still using Google Plus? Where did everyone on Twitter go? These are the answers we found…

MONETIZING (2)

 

1. 5 Ways to Promote Your Blog Without Relying on Google Traffic

As Darren has said before, putting all your eggs in the Google basket can be risky (and devastating – he almost lost his business). We learned how to boost our traffic without relying on the Google fallback.

2. How to Socialize Your Posts for Maximum Effect

What’s the point of promoting our blogs on social media if nobody is reading it? This Theme Week post had great tips on how to be effective across the board to drive traffic back to your site.

3. Facebook Theme Week: Boost Your Organic Reach with These Tips

2014 made one thing abundantly clear: not everyone wanted to pay to be seen on Facebook. In fact, some bloggers really resented it. We delved into what strategies are effective on Facebook to work with their algorithms instead of against them. We outlined the best ways to organically reach the majority of our audience with what we have to promote.

4. Facebook Theme Week: Case Studies of Popular Pages and What They’re Doing to Get Great Engagement

Another post in our week-long discussion about what the biggest Facebook pages in the world were doing to interact with their fans and drive up engagement. It turns out their strategies are very simple – and they’re all ones we can do, too.

5. A Social Media Etiquette Guide You Might Find Useful

An in-depth infographic that laid it all bare: What’s, right, what’s wrong, and what works? On what platform? You’ll find it very comprehensive.

 

What do you think? Do you struggle with Facebook too? Given up on G+?

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 at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Creating Content

Content is King, as they say (or is it?!) so it’s no wonder that this topic was one of the most popular this year. Write great, useful content and promote it well – it’s the baseline for a successful blog.

Which of these top five posts resonates with you?

MONETIZING (3)

1. How to Consistently Come up with Great Post Ideas for Your Blog

Part of our Creating Content Theme Week, a behemoth post of advice that will mean you will never be stuck for a post idea again.

Create Content To Promote Your Blog

2. How to Promote Your Blog with Content that Will Grow Your Traffic, Links, and Shares

It’s everything you want in one package: how to get traffic, links, and shares. Tips on how to get your content to shine.

Screen-Shot-2014-10-22-at-10.12.54-am.png

3. Three Ways to Define What Your Blog is About

Do you need a niche? What would you say yours was? Darren gives us the ins and outs of making a stand on your genre.

HOW TO CREATE MASSIVE VALUE CONTENT

4. Create Massive Value Content and Blow Your Readers’ Minds

If you followed the very first link on this page, you’ll find what is actually King – and this post will help you provide it for your readers.

carly for pb theme week

5. Content Week Case Study: Carly Heitlinger of the College Prepster on Where She Gets Her Ideas

Carly has barely missed a day blogging in six years. Here’s how she keeps content fresh, current, and more importantly – consistent.

 

What do you think? Anything to add on how to create great content? Where do YOU get your ideas?

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 at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

Most Popular Posts on ProBlogger 2014: Monetization

We’ve covered so much ground here on ProBlogger this year, and much of it about monetization – here are the top five posts this year in that category. Have you made the changes you read about in these posts? Which ones did you miss? Take this chance now to catch up – or pin it for future reference.

MONETIZING (4)

Image via Flickr user Susy Morris

Image via Flickr user Susy Morris

1. Making the Impossible Possible: How I Created a Full-Time Blogging Income with No Qualifications

It seems like Stacey Corrin’s story of turning her passion into profit in just three months was a hit with you guys. And who can blame it – the majority of readers here want to make some kind of income from their blogs, and full-time seems like the jackpot. Some great tips in this post from someone who has been there, done that.

Screen-Shot-2013-11-27-at-12.57.57-pm-300x166

2. How I Doubled My Unique Visitors in Six Months (and Tripled Them in a Year)

This is a post I wrote after seeing tremendous growth on my personal blog in 2012. Some real, practical take-home strategies you can do today to boost your traffic.

4infographic

3. 9 World-Class Bloggers Share Their #1 List-building Tip

A few famous faces gave their top tip for creating the best email list possible. Everything from content to plugins and download incentives is covered.

IMG_3227

4. Partnering with Brands Theme Week: Ways to Collaborate and Earn an Income on Your Blog

Aussie super-blogger Nikki Parkinson of Styling You gives the lowdown on how to make a brand-blog collaboration really shine. Nikki’s advice on ways to work together and how to get brands on side are not to be missed.

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit // ProBlogger.net

5. The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit

Another one from our Working With Brands Theme Week – everything you need to know to create a kickass media kit, all in one place. Remember – less is more!

 

Did you catch these throughout the year? Have you found the tips useful? I’d love to chat!

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 at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

New Facebook Changes: Target your Audience Effectively

FACEBOOKchangesyou need to know about

 

If you are one of the many people confused by Facebook and its ever-changing algorithms, you’ll be pleased to know they’ve recently made some favourable changes to their operating system.

I see it everywhere – bloggers desperately trying to reach their Facebook audience, and being thwarted at every turn. Facebook has been experimenting a lot this year with delivering the best, most tailored newsfeed to its users, but at the cost of our readers seeing posts. We dedicated an entire week to decoding Facebook earlier this year – from sticking with organic reach practises to experimenting with paid ads. Both can work, but a complaint I hear often is that it’s getting to be more of a pay-to-play platform.

In both the Facebook Advertising webinar and the post we did on how to effectively target your audience, we covered the gamut of targeting options available. However, with the recent changes to targeting and tools, it is easier than ever to only show your posts to those who are interested, and to save different types of posts for different kinds of audiences.

New Facebook Tools Changes

Facebook has introduced very selective targeting options for you to really drill down and capture the right readership for your blog (or even specific posts or pages on your blog) every time you post.

Available to those who have enabled the Targeting and Privacy setting, you can now use it to provide posts to a subset of your audience.

Have a recipe post? You can now choose to show it to the part of your readership who have indicated to Facebook they like food or cooking. People who aren’t interested in that won’t see the post. But they will see a post they are interested in, based on their likes and dislikes.

Post End Date

Have a time-sensitive post? You can choose a particular date it will stop showing up in newsfeeds… but it will still be visible on your page. Again, only available to those who have enabled Targeting and Privacy, and it’s only available on desktop at the moment.

Smart Publishing

Take the guesswork out of what your audience will resonate with. Can be hard to predict, so Facebook have rolled out to a select few media organizations (for now) the ability to identify and publish stories that are already popular with the folk on Facebook.

Frequently-shared links to your website will appear in the newsfeed of people who like your page. They won’t appear on your page, but you’ll get a whole new dashboard of insights and ability to moderate comments.

Page admins can opt in from the Publisher Tools section within Page Settings.

Insights

While reasonably in-depth, your current insights will now be even more descriptive. With a better overview, you can even more effectively understand and optimize your content for success.

It’s even easier now to see where your content is going with the addition of information about people and pages that share your links.

There are also changes made to the type of insights you have access to, and how your page and plugins drive traffic to sites.

You can find out more information, and keep up with further Facebook announcements here.

So what do you think? Will this make marketing on Facebook easier for you?

 

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 at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

 

Stand out from the Crowd: Simplicity Tips from Amy Lynn Andrews

MERRY (1)

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).

 

 

5 Quick Questions with Robert Scoble: What Makes a Great Tech Blog?

roberts scoble

Robert Scoble is the brains behind the blog Scobleizer (which he’s just abandoned in favour of solely microblogging on Facebook), and a well-respected authority on social media, tech, and blogging. He has worked for Microsoft, and is currently with Rackspace. We were super-fortunate to grab a few minutes of his time to answer five questions about how to make your tech blog a success.

What do you think are the essentials a tech blog should have in order to be successful?

Define success! For some, it might be just getting an industry discussion going. Others might want to build a media business to the place where they can quit their day job and do this full time.

In each, it really is simple: make content other people want to read, discuss, and share.

Of course, if that was so easy everyone would have a famous blog.

If I were starting out today I’d pick a niche that I could own that will get bigger over time. Today that might be Wearable Computers. Tomorrow? Brain interfaces or robots. These topics don’t yet have a blog that is dominant. It’s a lot easier to get going in a smaller niche that doesn’t yet have strong blogs.

What are the topics you’ve found really resonates with the readers? What seems to get the most engagement?

Drones. But, seriously, if you try writing about drones it’s too late. The trick is to find something that will be big tomorrow. If you had an exclusive insight into the Apple Watch, for instance (something that hasn’t yet been reported) that will do very well.

For newer bloggers, or those wanting to turn their tech blog into a business, what would you suggest focusing on first?

I would pick a small niche. Cover it to death. There’s no way you can really blow away Techcrunch, Verge, Re/code, in overall tech space unless you have millions of dollars. But, you can become the world’s leading drone (or brain interface, or robot, or wearable computer) expert and use that to edge your way into a business.

It really comes down to content. Do you have something that no one else has? Marques Brownlee, for instance, has a unique take on gadget reviews. Others focus on tech out of just a single country like China or Israel. Yet others, like Julien Blin, or Redg Snodgrass are trying to own the wearable space.

What is the hardest thing about being a tech blogger, and how have you worked to overcome that?

Sitting through all the pitches is the hardest thing. To find the next big thing you’ve probably got to see 150 so so companies. Maybe even more. I’ve been pitched in bathrooms (no no) and on the street at 2 a.m. at SXSW (also a no no). How do I overcome that? Always be nice, sit through a few minutes, and if you aren’t interested, say so and why. That said, most of the time now I only see things if referred by someone I trust.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given about blogging (or business in general?)

Be real. Don’t be corrupt, or better said, disclose conflicts. Dave Winer showed me the power of that more than a decade ago and it still serves me well today. It’s why I share so much of my private life. All you really have is your reputation. It’s why I work so hard on personal relationships with people across the industry.

What do you think? Have you experienced something that Robert has mentioned? I’d love to hear about it!

Blogging with Intention: Creating an Income from a Successful Blog with Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom

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).

Six Secrets to Six-Figure Product Launches with Jeff Goins

goins11NOTE: We are running a free webinar with Jeff over at ProBlogger.com in two days (November 19), where he will talk about the Four Keys to Building a Powerful Audience Online. Normally the full webinars are only available to paid members of the site, but there will be a few big names in the next few months sharing their knowledge in our free sessions. You will need to create a free account.

Please head to the webinar page, and and click “Sign up here” to register for a free account and to register for the webinar. You will receive an email confirming your registration, and another reminder email as the webinar approaches.

Please note that our last public webinar was very popular and we can only take 1000 on the live call. We do record them though and send all who register a link to the recording.

Without further ado, here’s Jeff to explain how to totally nail any product launch with his six secrets. Thanks, Jeff

Six secrets to Six-Figure Product Launches with Jeff Goins

A few years ago, when I was just getting started with trying to monetize my blog, I met a successful online entrepreneur. When I asked her how I could start making money off my blog, she asked how big my email list was. I told her, and she said that was a six-figure business.

I laughed and explained to her that it was more like a three-figure business. I had run a couple of ads that had made me a total of about $400 in the past six months. I did not have a business.

“No,” she said. “You’ve got at least six figures there. You just need to leverage your influence and get your audience to buy from you.”

It turns out she was right. In fact, that advice didn’t just help me build a six-figure business in a year. It taught me how to start doing $100,000 product launches — not only for my own business but for other people’s businesses, as well.

I stumbled on to some secrets, thanks to the advice of that online entrepreneur and a handful of other mentors over the years, and I want to share them with you.

Secret #1: You Have to Want It

Okay, so I want to acknowledge the elephant in the room. I know this might sound out of reach to you. Pie in the sky sort of stuff. And I totally get that.

I remember reading Darren Rowse talk about his first year of blogging and how he “only made $30,000.” When I read that, I was working a job that was paying me a salary of that same amount, and making 30K online sounded like a dream.

So trust me when I tell you that nobody is more surprised to hear me talk about things like “six-figure product launches” than me.

But after doing this for a couple years now, I’ve realized an important truth about business: more income means more impact. Or as Walt Disney once said, “We don’t make movies to make money. We make money to make more movies.”

If you are like I was and tend to think of business and income-generating strategies as greedy or “evil,” I want you to reconsider your stance.

First, consider the income. What would $100,000 mean to you and your loved ones? Could it be a means to more freedom or a chance to travel the world or see your kids go to college? Maybe it would be a way for you give to all the charities and nonprofits you’d love to contribute to.

Then, consider the impact. If you sell a $100 product, $100,000 in revenue means you’ve just made an impact on 1000 people’s lives. I don’t know about you, but personally impacting 1000 people sounds like a lot of work. But a scalable product, especially an information product, allows you to do that.

It might sound hypey to talk about $100,000 launches, but I promise you: what I’m about to share with you is a series of practical principles I’ve seen proven over and over again. And they’ve allowed my friends and clients to not only live their dreams but to help a lot of people in the process.

The same could be true for you, but you’ve got to reconcile your relationship with revenue and get focused on the goal. This isn’t about just making more money. It’s about making a difference.

So let’s look now at what it takes to pull off a six-figure launch.

Secret #2: Having a Great Product Is Not Enough (But It’s a Start)

We can’t overlook this step as it is so important to creating a brand with integrity and building a loyal customer base. You’ve got to create what Michael Hyatt calls “wow” products and experiences.

Why? Because frankly, your customers deserve the best work you can possibly do. And because this is the kind of work that people talk about.

Apple is one of the the biggest brands and most successful companies in the world not because of their marketing (they spend a fraction of what their competitors do on advertising), but because of the experiences users have with their products. If ask a Mac fanatic why they love all their iGear, they will tell you, “It just works.”

That’s what wow looks like.

But having a great product is not enough. In fact, it is the basic requirement to even enter the market. Once you have something you are proud of, something the world needs, you have only just begun.

Secret #3: It’s Not About Having a Big List

A lot of people mistakenly believe having a big email list is necessary to monetizing your audience. They think they need something like 20,000 subscribers just to make a living.

Try telling that to Carol Tice, who launched her quarter of a million dollar business with only 1000 subscribers. Or Tim Grahl who has already started replacing his income running a successful book marketing company with digital products that he launches to his list of less than 10,000 people.

It doesn’t take a big list. It takes a willingness to sell.

My friend Stu McLaren, cofounder of Wishlist Member and Rhino Support, once told me that if you want to make more money, do one of the following:

  1. Increase your market size. If you have a smaller email list (less than 10,000 people), then you will want to either: a) rapidly grow the list, or b) partner with affiliates who can help you reach more people now (as opposed to spending the months or years it would take to organically grow your own audience. Firepole Marketing founder Danny Iny told me, “The key to the big launches is the groundwork that goes into building the relationships that make it happen.”
  2. Increase your price. This is often the easiest tweak to make and frankly the most common error I see bloggers and online entrepreneurs make. We are notoriously bad at valuing our own services and offerings and therefore tend to price ourselves lower than we should. The market will always sustain more than you think it can. Remember that, and when in doubt, raise the price. You’re worth more than you realize.
  3. Increase your sales frequency. Another problem people face is being unwilling to sell too hard. They don’t want to appear pushy or salesy, and end up unintentionally sabotaging their business. Look. You don’t have to be pushy or slimy or do anything unethical to sell. Selling is serving; it’s helping your audience connect with an offering that will truly help them (remember: you’re starting with a great product). So when it’s time to sell, sell hard. Make a case for why this is the very best thing out there, and let people know. And when you aren’t sure what to do, send another email.

A big email list is great, but having a lot of subscribers in and of itself won’t guarantee you a ton of sales. You need to understand the finer points of business: how to identify what a market wants, what they’re willing to pay, and how to get them to buy.

Which is what we’re going to cover in the next section.

Secret #4: Sell Like You Mean It

When you’re doing all of the above and people still aren’t buying, then you don’t have a strategy problem. You have a selling problem.

If you’re doing all the right things, and people still aren’t buying, it’s probably how you’re selling. You’re probably missing three important triggers, which author and entrepreneur Carrie Wilkerson talks about:

  • Scarcity.
  • Urgency.
  • Awareness.

If people aren’t buying, it’s often because they feel like they can buy at any time, or that there will always be enough, or they simply aren’t aware something is for sale.

So when you feel stuck, try the following:

  1. Only sell a certain number of units per launch. This feels scary, because you could be limiting your potential revenue, but really what you’re doing is creating a sense of exclusivity (which equals value in the customer’s mind). Warning: if you use this strategy, don’t create false scarcity. If you say you are only going to sell 200 seats to your online workshop, then close registration when you meet your quota. Otherwise, people will find you out for the snake oil sales person you are.
  2. Offer a time-sensitive deal. (i.e. “Save $100 when you buy this week!” of “Don’t miss these three bonuses — buy today!”).
  3. Talk about your launch — a lot. Send more than one email (best practice is to do one on launch day and two on the final day).

Secret #5: Give People Options

When Chris Guillebeau gave Nathan Barry (who incidentally doesn’t have a huge list and is killing it with online product launches) a simple piece of advice, it literally made him hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What was this simple piece of advice?

“Selling in multiple packages has worked really well for me.”

He said it in typical Guillebeau, off-handed humility. But in that statement was a ton of value that made Nathan more money than any other piece of advice he’s ever received.

Nathan estimates that having multiple price points for each product has allowed him to make two to three times as much money as he would have made, launching at just one price point.

Putting It All Together

The other day I was chatting with a friend who recently started an online business. He was telling me all about his next project, which was another online course he hoped to create, launch, and sell by the end of the year.

“Dude,” I said. “What are you doing?! How much money have you made off your course so far?” He admitted it wasn’t much. He thought, as many do, that the solution was to create the next thing. But he was wrong.

I then proceeded to walk my friend through the process I’ve shared with you, encouraging him to keep selling what he had already built. He planned his next launch and it ended up being bigger than any other launch he’s ever had.

He was made a believer. And I hope you are, too. The secret to a successful product launch isn’t just about the product. That’s a given. But good products, as Guy Kawasaki once told me, don’t sell themselves. You’ve got to launch them well.

When I was struggling to monetize my blog and figure out how to make a living off my email list, I decided to start listening to what all these smart people were telling me:

  • I reached out to people who could help my reach more people. Some became affiliates while others just helped spread the word.
  • I raised my prices, basically every time I did a new launch.
  • I leaned in and boldly promoted a product I was proud of.

And it all worked like a charm. Each launch, more people bought than the last time, and I made more money. But it wasn’t just the income (sure, it was nice to be making 10 times what I was making at my day job), but the satisfaction of knowing I was helping thousands of people was amazing.

It’s about the impact.

Taking the Next Step

So what does this look like for you? Here’s a recap of all of the above:

  1. Decide you want this.
  2. Commit to a plan and set a launch date.
  3. Build something awesome that you are proud to promote.
  4. Connect with people who will help extend your reach.
  5. Launch with scarcity, urgency, and awareness in mind, all the while building trust and delivering value along the way.

And watch the magic happen.

For more secrets to successful product launches, check out this page I put together just for Problogger readers.

Jeff Goins is an author, blogger, and entrepreneur who lives in Nashville. He loves helping writers and bloggers get the attention their messages deserve. Tweet at him @JeffGoins and get a free product launch resource here.