Blog Monetization Outside the Box

This guest post is by Matthew Kepnes of Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site.

Someone once told me that the only way to make money with a blog is to sell massive amounts of text links. “There’s no other way,” he said, and he was resolute in his opinion.

I couldn’t change his mind, so I just listened and nodded my head. I didn’t bother to argue, even though I knew he was wrong. I know plenty of people who make money online and they don’t do it by selling text links. Yet lots of people seem to think that the only way to make money with a blog is through text link sales. When I hear people say this, I often think to myself, “You only think this way because you aren’t thinking outside the box. You aren’t being creative enough.”

Don’t get me wrong. Text links can be good money. I’ve sold text links in the past, and I know many sites that still do. Those sites still rank highly in Google, and they still have good PageRank. Sites that sell text links are controversial, especially after the JC Penny controversy, and I won’t get into whether or not you should sell text links.

This post is about a larger issue: the idea that without text links, you can’t make money online. I think that is a great fallacy and it is a line of thinking that is perpetually argued by those who are stuck in the box.

Outside the box

When most people think of the phrase, “think outside the box,” they imagine a big boardroom of people brainstorming the next big idea. There’s some guy at the head of the table going, “Come on, people, we need to think outside the box on this one!” and then everyone at the table looks around nervously at each other, unsure of what to do.

However, thinking outside the box, as contrived of a statement maybe, is the only way to succeed with a blog.

When most people think of monetization, they think AdSense, sponsored posts, affiliate sales, or text links. But the biggest sites in the world don’t use any of those techniques. They get more creative than that.

Let me give you two examples.

First, take a site like Zen Habits by Leo Babuta. It’s a popular site on simple living that probably gets over 500,000 visitors per month. But it didn’t start that way. Leo grew the site every day, and he has made it a point to never sell advertising on the site. It is completely ad-free, and his site eventually allowed him to quit his job and focus on what he loved doing.

So what is on his site? Ebooks. Leo created a trusted brand and now people buy his books to learn more. The site even got him a real, physical-book deal. By focusing on delivering what his readers wanted, Leo was able to develop a following of loyal fans that supported him by buying his products.

Everyone has an ebook these days, but the most successful ebooks are completely unique. For example, everyone seems to have an ebook on how to travel the world these days, but I decided to think outside of the box. I launched a new ebook that offers a bit of a spin on the traditional travel ebook by lining up travel companies and offering exclusive discounts in the book worth over $700 USD. Now, my book is more than just another travel book on the internet. I found something people weren’t doing, I did it, and I also created a better way for my readers to save money.

Secondly, look at the lifecaster, iJustine. All she does is video-blog her life. She didn’t just start a website and think, “I’m going to sell text ads.” No, she did something unique and cutting-edge. She thought outside the box. (And the fact that she is a beautiful blonde certainly helps!) She started doing crazy stuff online like singing and dancing in Apple stores and she got a great following. Now, she gets sponsorships and speaking deals. (After all, you can’t put text links on YouTube!)

Take guest blogging, for example. I focus on travel, but this isn’t a travel site. I guest blog on finance blogs, life hacking sites, and a wide range of other topics. I do this to leverage my knowledge into other fields, because, after all, everyone likes to travel and everyone likes to save money. So when I blog on other niches, I let people know I’m an expert in travel to people who would never have come into my own niche on their own. But many bloggers never do this. They only stay in their niche—but if you do this, you have nowhere to grow. Think laterally. Blog in niches that are similarly related. Don’t always get stuck in your niche.

Experimentation pays

It’s important to continue acting outside of the box. You should always be trying something new. In the words of Thomas Edison, “I didn’t fail; I just tried 1,000 ways that didn’t work.” You must be willing to experiment, take risks, and lose in order to finally win. I’ve tried Facebook ads, AdWords, guest posting, using AdSense, not using AdSense, Facebook ads again, different hostel booking engines, and flight engines in order to see what works and what doesn’t. I’ll try new products and services. I am always testing. I’m always experimenting to find that perfect mix.

If you limit the online game to text links and banner ads, you will fail. My friend is right. You won’t make any money. Even with over 100,000 visitors a month, I still have trouble attracting banner ads. The ad space in travel just isn’t there yet. So I got creative, I found ways to expand my audience beyond just travel blogs, and I figured out how to expand my income beyond text ads. I experimented. I tried. I failed. I keep trying. I keep failing. I keep experimenting. And in the long run, I succeed.

There are many ways to make it online. Those who have made it have done it by bucking conventional wisdom and thinking outside the box. They got creative. They went right when everyone was going left. If you also want to make it with your blog, you must do the same. Narrow thinking won’t help you last on the Internet. Be bold. Be daring. And when you are, you’ll be successful.

Do you think outside the box when it comes to monetizing your blog? Let us know in the comments.

Matthew Kepnes has been traveling around the world for the past four years. He runs the award winning budget travel site, Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site and has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian UK, AOL’s Wallet Pop, and Yahoo! Finance. He currently writes for AOL Travel and The Huffington Post For more information, you can visit his Facebook page or sign up for his RSS feed.

Ditch the Job Mentality and Develop an Entrepreneurial Mindset

This guest post is by Caz Makepeace of y Travel Blog.

Having success in the blogging world is attributed in large part to your own thinking and the mindset that you bring to this new avenue of making money.

Most people arrive here wanting to break free from the rut of a nine-to-five job that they’re no longer passionate about. The hours are long, the work is never-ending, and the pay is poor. Huh! On second thoughts, it sounds very similar to the beginnings of blogging.

What many people don’t realize is that the major hindrance to success in their blogging niche has nothing to do with technique or value, but with the job mentality that they have brought along with them.

Crossing over from a job to blogging is not just a physical move—it also involves a complete change in your mindset. It is a completely different world to what you’re used to in the cubicle farm. I often see arguments break out online which immediately make me wonder whether the people involved have an entrepreneurial mindset or a job mentality.

To cross over to the entrepreneurial world, you need to adopt the following ways of thinking.

Change is evolution

Job people become stuck in the way things are done, and always have been done. They are used to rules, schedules, and procedures. When they cross over into the blogging world, they discover that the rules have changed—and often, they can’t handle it.

Entrepreneurs understand that in the business world, the rules are always changing and if you don’t evolve with them, you’re going to die.

The major arguments that always emerge within the travel blogging community arise between those from the journalistic world and those bloggers whose success has had less to do with their linguistic ability than with their ability to market and network.

Really I just want to shout, “Listen up! The rules have changed. You are not in the journalist world any more. You are in the online world. The place where degrees and awards don’t matter. Anyone can start a website and have massive success with it. Whether you like it or not, doesn’t count. This is the reality of online marketing and building your own business. You either become an entrepreneur and adapt to the new world, or you sink—fast.”

How many highly successful entrepreneurs do you know who were never great at school and didn’t get a college degree? Let’s see. There’s Bill Gates, Andrew Carnegie, Walt Disney, Richard Branson … They have gotten where they are because of their entrepreneurial mindset. Entrepreneurs don’t try to fit the square peg into the round hole—they become a round peg instead.

Think big

Entrepreneurs think big and focus on the ultimate vision of what they are doing. They think outside of the box to look for new and unique ways to be successful and make money. They do not follow the herd. They watch and learn, and then say, “How can I make this better? How can I do this in a different, yet bigger way?” When you think outside the box, you create things that make you move above the crowd.

Job people concentrate only on the tasks at hand, and follow what most other people are doing. They are not used to focusing on the bigger picture as it has never been their vision to worry about. Bringing that limitation over to the entrepreneurial world can stifle your creativity and restrict your ability to handle and solve the many challenges that will arise.

Quitting becomes an easier option. Entrepreneurs know that the road to eventual wealth and success can be long and difficult, and the bigger vision helps move them through that period.

One of my favorite Donald Trump quotes is, “If you are going to be thinking anyway, you might as well be thinking big.” If you think small, you receive small.

We began our travel blogging world with the intention not to make a few ad bucks here and there, but to look towards a bigger picture that can lead us to earning vast amounts of income from many different sources. This bigger picture has an impact our strategy.

We haven’t made much money from our blog yet, and we’e okay with that. We have had success with the bigger picture we have focused on: building our brand and online presence, building a strong community, and networking with the right people. That will become our springboard for future projects that will bring in bigger rewards.


I know people who are afraid to hand out their business cards, or tell people who they are and what they do. When you are able to do that confidently, you have made a big jump over into the entrepreneurial mindset.

No one is going to promote you for you. No one is going to care about what you have to offer more than you.

If you want to have success in an entrepreneurial world, you have to learn to promote yourself. Think of all the big brand people you know: Richard Branson, Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey. What are all these people good at? Self-promotion.

Entrepreneurs are willing to do whatever it takes. Hand out those business cards, shake that person’s hand, and speak confidently about what you do and how you can offer value to others. Invite people to check out your website and connect with you via your networks. Share your work and successes.

You are guaranteed to receive criticism for doing this. Concentrate on your bigger picture and understand the criticism comes from those who want to do what you do, but have not yet broken free from the job mentality.

Networking is vital

Job mentality people tend to call this a “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of deal, and in some ways it is. But, in my entrepreneur mind, I never see it as being the case that if I do something for you, you have to do something for me in return.

It has more to do with building relationships and from those, interacting with those you like and trust. A natural extension of a relationship with someone you like and trust is to read their work, use their products, and recommend them to others. People do business with those they like and trust, just as they are friends with those they like and trust. There’s nothing shady about it.

Entrepreneurs immediately start building their networks of professional and business contacts. They understand the power and truth in the saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

Networking is not just about what others can do for you, but what you can do for others. Being an entrepreneur means helping out others and providing value when you can. It means creating a mastermind group of people you can share and bounce ideas off of. You don’t hold your cards to your chest for fear of losing out and having others rise to the top over you.

Learn from those you want to be like

In the job world, we are taught that to move up the ladder and get that much-desired promotion, we need to prove we are better than the rest. It becomes a dog-eat-dog world: the knives come out and we are prepared to stomp all over those beside us in order to get to the finish line first.

Entrepreneurs have the intention to be the best at what they do; they are competitive and like to win. But, they know they don’t have to destroy others in the process. They understand that we each have a unique perspective or value that we can offer.

They understand that the best way to get to the top is to learn from those who are where you want to be. They don’t look at the person in the mansion on the hill and feel jealous. Instead, they find out that person’s name, they give them a call, and they say, “Hey. I really like what you have achieved. I want to be like you. How can I learn what you know?

And usually that successful entrepreneur replies, “Well, how about we meet up for coffee and I can go over a few things with you?”

Entrepreneurs understand the concept of abundance. They understand what it takes to get to the top and they are more than happy to take the time to help someone do the same. As with everything in life, there will always be anomalies, but I have never met an entrepreneur yet who I have not had an interaction with that’s similar to what I have just described.

Making money is a good thing

“I think it’s scammy … dirty. I don’t want to ask for it. I feel funny asking for freebies.” These are just some of the comments I hear thrown around in the blogging world when it comes to making money.

I recently stayed in a hostel in Sydney free. It wasn’t really free, because in return for that I tweeted about the hostel the whole time I was there. I wrote a really great review of the place. I also wrote a couple of other spin-off articles on my site that linked to that piece. I promoted it through my social sites.

I had at least six people say to me that they would definitely stay in this hostel when they come to Sydney. That was on the day it was published, and from those who spoke. But let’s keep it at six and say that for one night’s stay in the dorm room where it costs $40, the hostel would earn $240. It cost them $140 to give us a private room for the night. We made them money.

Entrepreneurs think like this. They believe they can offer value and know they deserve to be rewarded for it. Because of this, they are not afraid to ask for the money and they don’t believe it’s dirty when they get it. They approach all transactions from a win-win perspective and there’s nothing bad about this.

On a similar level, I hear many bloggers say they feel they are selling out on their readers by selling advertising. Really? If your readers expect you to spend countless hours every day writing valuable content that informs and entertains, without receiving any compensation for it, then you need to get new readers.

Do you think they feel the same way when they pick up a magazine, a newspaper, or turn on the TV? Why do people think that when you enter the blogging world, suddenly you should start writing and work for nothing? If you have a job mentality then you may not get past these uncomfortable feelings of “selling out.”

You are doing this for the passion—yes! But you are also doing this for the income you originally craved so you could start living your life by your desires.

Think like an entrepreneur: “There is nothing wrong with making money. Making money enables me to move forward and grow, so I can in turn provide more value.”

If this article has struck a raw nerve with you, then ask yourself, “Could this perhaps be a sign that I have not yet crossed over?” Well … have you crossed over?

Caz Makepeace has been travelling and living around the world since 1997. Along with her husband Craig they are the founders of y Travel Blog. You can visit her Facebook Fan Page or sign up for herRSS Feed.

How to Create an Instant Yes

This guest post is by Goddess Leonie of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. It’s inexpensive

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

Questions to ask yourself:

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

2. It’s generous

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

Questions to ask yourself:

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

3. It’s wanted

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

Questions to ask yourself:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Advertising Revenue Dead as a Blogging Income Stream?

Earlier in the week I observed a conversation between two Internet marketing bloggers on Twitter which grabbed my attention.

The topic of conversation? Monetizing blogs by selling advertising directly to advertisers.

Their conclusion on the topic? It’s a dead and obsolete method of making money.

It was a fascinating conversation to observe. They gave some solid-sounding reasons for their conclusions, including:

  1. There’s been a decrease in the budgets that companies are putting into marketing (due to the economy).
  2. There’s much more money to be made in selling your own products and services.
  3. Advertising, by its very nature, sends people away from your blog, to advertisers’ sites.
  4. Online banner ads don’t convert and just distract people from what you are on about.
  5. Selling ads directly to advertisers takes too much time and administration.

As I watched the conversation unfold I found myself agreeing with some of these points, however I also wondered if they might also be writing off an income stream that need not be mutually exclusive to other forms of income.

In my own experience of making money online, advertising has always been a part of my income mix. In the early days, it made up 95% of that mix (too much, to my mind), but even today it remains an important element for me. (Advertising made up around 24% of my income in December if you include direct ad sales and ad network income.)

Let me explain the reasons why I think it’s worthwhile to keep advertising in your mix.

The economy: rebounding more strongly for online advertising?

In talking to a number of bloggers who rely heavily upon advertising revenue, I would agree with the assessment that in many niches there seems to have been a contraction in the amounts companies are spending on their advertising. However I do know of bloggers who have seen an increase in spending in some niches.

Also, as we see the economy improve, I suspect we’ll see money return to advertising budgets—particularly in the online space. Companies are realizing the potential of online media to reach target audiences and get conversions. I suspect we’ll see online advertising bounce back bigger than it was before the Global Financial Crisis.

Your own products and services

I completely agree that bloggers should be looking at ways of developing their own products and services. I’ve written about how I’ve done this myself on numerous occasions over the couple of years, however I do think it’s possible to do this in conjunction with running advertisements on your blog.

In my own experience of blogging—particularly on Digital Photography School—I’ve found there’s a limit to how many of your own product/s you can promote on your blog.

While we sometimes talk about the “ad blindness” of readers to the advertising we run, I suspect the same can be said about blindness to your own products. If all you ever do is promote your own products, readers can switch off from those messages. Mixing things up with other people’s messages (whether they’re advertising or affiliate promotions) can actually keep things fresh (to some point).

Get creative with what you offer advertisers

I also think there’s a variety of other creative ways to weave advertising into what you do as a blogger—without just slapping banner ads everywhere. For example, a couple of things we’ve experimented with offering advertisers on dPS include:

  • Sponsored competitions: here, an advertiser sponsors a competition on your blog. They provide a prize, you highlight their products, and you earn income for giving them that publicity
  • Newsletter advertising: one of the surprises to me in the last year is that we’ve found advertisers willing to pay more for ads in our newsletters than for banner ads
  • Sponsored content: by this I don’t mean that we sell space on our blog for companies to actually write their own content—or even for us to review their posts. Rather what we’re exploring with companies is to have them sponsor particular posts. For example, a company might sponsor a series of posts on a topic related to its industry. They’d have no influence on the actual content—they’d simply be mentioned in the intro to the post as the sponsor of that post.

The above options just scratch the surface of what can be offered to an advertiser—particularly as part of a bundle of sponsorship opportunities.

What I’ve found is that when an advertiser buys multiple points of presence on a blog, rather than just a CPM banner ad, they’re much more likely to get conversions, and renew as an ongoing advertiser.

Is advertising revenue still in your income mix?

I’d be interested to hear if ad revenue is a focus for you. Whether you’re using an ad network like AdSense, or you directly sell ads or sponsorships, do you focus upon it?

Mastering the Moments that Matter

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

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

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

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

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

What’s a moment that matters?

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

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

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

Moments that matter for bloggers

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

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

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

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

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

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

My January and February Blogging Income Breakdown

Today I spent some time looking at my monthly income figures. I wasn’t quite sure how the stats would look for January and February.

  • On one hand, after the record month I had back in December, I had a feeling things would look a little down by comparison.
  • On the other hand, we launched a new ebook on my photography blog late in January/early February, which saw a rise in ebook sales. If we’d launched that ebook all in one month, I suspect that month would have rivaled December, but as we did it over Jan/Feb the income is also spread out.

Here are the monthly trends in the different income streams (click to enlarge):


While both months were certainly down on December, it’s good to see that the upward trend we’ve had since last September continues. February is now our second-highest month in revenue ever, and ebook sales over the launch period of the most recent ebook would have eclipsed the spike in June (which was previously our most successful launch).

Note: “continuity” includes membership sites like and Third Tribe Marketing.

Here are the monthly splits of income:

blog income jan 11.png
blog income feb11.png

While affiliate income was the resounding winner in December, ebook sales took the #1 position for both January and February. Interestingly, we’ve seen a real shift in the revenue stream in #1 position over the last four months:

  • November: AdSense
  • December: affiliate income
  • January-February: ebook sales.

This only reinforces what I’ve been saying for months now: the income streams do vary from month to month depending upon seasonal factors, promotional activities, and so on.

Also worth noting was the big swing in direct ad sales in February. This is partly due to us not getting as many invoices paid in January (where they made up a very small amount of revenues), but it’s also a trend I suspect will continue for us. This is partly due to an increased effort to sell ads, but it could also be influenced by the increased budget going into advertising with the economy on the upswing a little.

Also note: I’ve now started calling the grey category “other.” It includes speaking, book royalties, courses, etc.—none of which are significant enough to really warrant a category of their own.

5 Lessons from an Internet Millionaire

This guest post is by M.Farouk Radwan of

As of August 11 last year, I celebrated making my first million selling books and products online. I’m not saying that I’m an Internet guru, but I do believe that my experiences in making money online might help you get to your first million.

1. People are sick of marketers—especially online marketers

How many times did you close that long sales copy page a few seconds after it popped up unexpectedly while you were searching for something? People are already sick of such pages, and they would never want to come across one unless they were intentionally searching for it.

This means that in order to sell something, you should never let people land on these pages without warning. Instead, consider providing some kind of free content first that can assist in building trust. Once trust is built, you can sell anything to your customers.

2. Provide something different

How can trust be built online while the Internet is full of copycats, amateurs, and inferior websites? The only way to establish trust is to provide some kind of different content. You don’t have to be Einstein—you just have to do things differently.

  • You can provide more in-depth information.
  • You can organize your information in a better way.
  • You can back your information with research, numbers, and charts.

It won’t make any difference how you decide to be different; what really matters is being different.

3. AdSense can help you buy a small car, but not a Lamborghini

I make less than $1,000 a month using AdSense, even though my site gets 500,000 page views per month. Okay, maybe my website is under-optimized, but even so, I don’t believe there’s enormous potential in AdSense. How much could I have earned if I’d optimized my site? $2000? $2500?

Four months after introducing on my site three ebooks that I wrote, my earnings increased almost ten-fold. Unfortunately, this is not some kind of magic tip that will help you become a billionaire over night—before I launched these books, I was busy building trust for two years, by applying the points above. But ultimately, you’ll need more than AdSense to make good money from your blog.

4. There’s no such thing as getting rich quickly

When I started my blog three people were working on it and we were all partners. After to years of very low earnings (a few dollars per day), the people who used to work with me decided to quit.

Fair enough. But today, one of the popular search key phrases on Google is “how to become a millionaire overnight” or “how to become rich fast”.

Blogging is not like the lottery, nor is it close to gambling. It’s the art of building with small bricks, and being patient to wait until the building is finally completed.

It might take a year or more before you start making a decent income from your blog, but as long as you’re following a plan and seeing good signs along the way, you’ll know that you’re on the right track.

5. Don’t listen to negative comment

In 2006, I was mad enough to tell people about my intentions. I was inspired by bloggers who made a lot of money at that time, so I told people what I was about to do. Here are some of the responses I got:

  • A close friend: People don’t like to read. Starting a website is a bad idea
  • Relatives: Focus on your career, son, and stop wasting time on your site.
  • A friend behind my back: Farouk is wasting his time on projects that bring him nothing.

There were others. I received condemning email. My website was banned from Wikipedia because an editor their didn’t trust the information, and told me so in a horribly sarcastic email. We all have examples of discouragements like these.

Today, my site attracts 500,000 impression per month, makes me a five-digit income, made me a dot com millionaire, and silenced all of those who said bad things about it. Believe in yourself, forget about what others say, and you will succeed.

What other lessons can you add for the beginning blogger?

M.Farouk Radwan is a full time blogger who makes a living selling his Ebooks online. He is the founder of a website that has more than 1200 self help, psychology and personal development articles and that gets more than 500,000 monthly hits.

Chocolate to WordPress: 6 Lessons Learned Blogging for Dollars

This guest post is by Jules Clancy of Stonesoup.

Ever dreamed of tasting chocolate for a living?

Image is author's own

Well I’ve been lucky enough to live that dream, and while is was hard to beat as far as jobs go, it doesn’t hold a patch on blogging for dollars.

Last year, I quit my day job designing chocolate biscuit—cookies—for Australia’s most loved biscuit company because I knew it was holding me back from my dream of writing cookbooks and blogging professionally.

Twelve months on, I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am I made the leap. Waking up every day to do what I love—cook, take photographs, and write, is the biggest motivator ever. Sometimes I can’t believe I’m living this life.

My business is blossoming and I’ve learned a few things along the way. It will be a while before I start getting phone calls from my accountant asking if I’d robbed a bank, like Darren. I’m still on a huge learning curve but I wanted to share the six most important lessons I’ve learned so far.

6 lessons learned

1. People are willing to pay to learn new skills online but not for information

Think about your own online browsing and spending habits. With so much free information, there’s no need to pay. But learning new skills is a whole different situation. As Martyn Chamberlin wrote recently on ProBlogger, you need to teach, or your blog will die.

While my ecookbook sales have been okay, the response to my Virtual Cookery School, where people take cooking classes from the comfort of their own homes, has been way beyond my expectations.

2. Publishing a print book without a clear benefit statement and target market is a bad idea

The year before I left my job, I self-published a cookbook of my mum’s recipes. I knew it would appeal to some people, but it didn’t have a strong reason for being. While the thrill of becoming a published author was wonderful, having a stack of books in the garage isn’t a great outcome. Even though I have more than broken even, I’m really hesitant to jump into a print book again.

3. It’s a great idea to offer a super-premium product as an anchor

People aren’t rational when it comes to spending money. Having a premium product will make your standard offering seem much more affordable. And from my experience, you’ll still sell a few units of the premium product, which is a nice cash injection. For more on this I highly recommend reading Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely.

4. Pricing is complex and cutting price isn’t necessarily going to drive sales.

When I launched my ecookbook last year for $37, I got quite a bit of feedback that the pricing was too high. So a few months later, I repackaged it and launched a premium video version for $77, the standard book still at $37, and individual chapters for $4.50 each. Surprisingly I sold more units of the standard book after that launch than I sold of the much cheaper individual chapters.

We’re all on a learning curve when it comes to pricing. Don’t be afraid to back yourself and charge for quality.

5. It’s much easier to sell people a subscription than a large one-off fee.

Since January, I’ve moved to a subscription-based model for my online cooking school. People can still pay for individual classes if they like, but most people opt for the $20/month membership. Making the membership brilliant value, with access to all the previous classes that have been run at the school, also helps. And the regular income is certainly a bonus.

6. Being a full-time blogger is the best fun.

I feel so blessed to be making a living doing what I love. Sure, it isn’t always easy, and there are times I’ve doubted my ability to make it work. But I keep asking myself, what’s the worst that can happen?

How about you? Any lessons you’d like to share from the business of blogging?

Jules Clancy is a qualified Food Scientist, the creator of The Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School. She blogs about her commitment to only cooking recipes with no more than five ingredients over at Stonesoup.

Launch Your Product Without Losing Your Mind

This guest post is by Krizia of the Blog Income for Women Blueprint.

At the end of August 2010, my business partner and I made the decision to document the steps I had taken to turn a blog that was earning $20 per month in AdSense money into a $500-$5000-per-month blog (all from natural traffic). Our goal was to show other female bloggers that there was a way of earning income with a review blog.

The journey from idea to actually launching our product was a long road and I’ll admit that some days, I thought I was going to lose my mind in all the details required to execute a proper product launch.

Now that the product has officially launched, I’ve had a chance to sit down and take note of the lessons I learned during the process, so I could share them with other bloggers, and also learn from other bloggers who might use a better process.

It’s no secret that most bloggers who earn six-figure incomes do so by launching their own digital products or services. This means that learning the ins and outs of product launches is a natural progression in any blogger’s career.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve received a string of emails from different gurus claiming that I can launch a product in 48 hours and start living the Internet marketer’s dream life by end of the month. Trust me: the last few months of hard work have proven that’s just not happening unless you have an army of virtual assistants helping you.

The process of launching your own product is very hard work and it can be both challenging and stressful at times, but the end result is simply magical. I don’t think that up to now in my blogging career, I’ve been this proud. So let me explain the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Lessons in ecourse content creation

  • In general, people will tend to be more willing to buy a video course than a 400-page document that they have to download, print, and read. If you’ve ever bought a multi-media course online, then you’ll know that it’s a lot more engaging than a simple ebook.
  • Creating a multi-media course is no more complicated than creating a solid presentation on PowerPoint. Then, use a screen capture tool like Camtasia (for PC) or Screenflow (for Mac) to record each module and convert those files into flash files (for PC) or Quicktime files (for Mac). It’s not so hard after all!
  • Once you’ve recorded all of your modules, you’ll just need to host your videos on Amazon s3. If you have not yet discovered Amazon s3, you’ll be happy to know that you can store video and audio files at a very affordable price, and the whole process is very easy.
  • The end results of a multimedia course is quite impressive. After all, you’re allowing buyers to learn in three ways (audio, video, and text—if you offer a PowerPoint presentation, buyers can download and print that too).

Lessons in building a brand

Building a brand that stands out from the crowd is really and Internet marketing basic. That said, when you first launch a product, funds can be tight and it’s not always obvious how you can find talented graphic designers you can actually afford.

I really cannot say enough about We’ve successfully used to create the following graphical elements to brand our products:

  • logo:
  • ebook covers and DVD covers: the designer also created the group shot (showing all the elements of the product in one shot) for us for $5! We would have paid at least $25 per ebook or DVD cover had we hired someone from Elance or Odesk. Here’s an example:
  • banners for our affiliates to use to promote our product: although banners don’t convert nearly as well as text or video, we still had banners created in four different sizes for our affiliates
  • Facebook fan page: We actually had a vendor create a video welcome page that looks amazing.

Each job you promote on will cost you $5 (hence the name). I’ll admit that originally, my expectations were fairly low, but I’ve been proven wrong time and time again. It’s possible to find great talent on Our experience with has been very positive, and the vendors have turned the work around very quickly.

That said, I would advise that you need to be crystal clear on what you are looking for when submitting a job, and it’s worth spending the time time to surf the ‘net to find examples of what you like so you can show them to the person you hire. You should also expect that you might have to spend $10-15 in jobs that don’t suit your requirements before landing on a few really great vendors. I’ve found to be a good way to get a brand for my product at an incredible price.

Lessons in teamwork

Unless you are super-talented and possess all the different skills needed to put out a product, you’ll have to create a solid team that can help you successfully launch.

To give you an idea of what’s involved, here’s a list of the team members who helped us create our product and launch it:

  • a virtual assistant: she uploaded all the videos on Amazon s3 and checked a lot of the work and links that had already been checked. She’s also been instrumental in helping us get traffic to the blog as we were building out the product.
  • webmaster: he designed each page of the site and each sales video page.
  • graphic designer: we outsourced all this work to different vendors.
  • Facebook fan page designer: again, we outsourced this to a vendor.
  • copywriter: I wrote most of the copy.
  • editor/proofreader: we had the copy revised by a few editors.
  • PowerPoint creator: one of those editors also set the entire project out in PowerPoint.
  • customer service: this task is a collective effort between my business partner, our virtual assistant and myself.
  • affiliate marketer: because of my background as an affiliate manager, I took on this role and managed all activities surrounding affiliates.
  • video marketer: I’m the one creating videos, but our virtual assistant is the one publishing them to video sharing sites for maximum exposure.

When you are first starting out, you might not have a budget to outsource all the functions needed to launch a product, but I’d highly recommend you outsource any kind of technical work that’s not your strength—otherwise, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time.

Furthermore, having a site that works perfectly is essential for a product launch and you’ll surely want to hire qualified people to do the job.

Lessons in copywriting

There is far more copy to write for a launch than you expect. Throughout the launch, you’ll also be writing quite a lot of copy. Here’s a list of all the copy we needed to support our product launch:

  • copy for the PowerPoint presentation (aka the course)
  • copy for the video sales page (some stats show that video converts 12% better than a text-only sales page—there are some experts who say it’s up to 25%)
  • copy for the text-base sales page
  • copy for the affiliate toolkit (this is the copy affiliates will use to promote your product)
  • copy for the affiliate auto-responder (to keep affiliates abreast of what’s happening)
  • copy for the buyers (weekly emails to walk the buyers through the course)
  • copy for the leads (people who opt-in to our list, but don’t buy … you’ll need to keep building a relationship with them)
  • value-added messages (after reading a number of sites, I decided to add a string of value-added messages in my auto-responder for both buyers and leads)
  • copy for guests posts (to get the word out on this product, I’ve written a lot of guests posts!)

As you can see, if you don’t like to write, or you’re not comfortable writing, you’ll have to hire a copywriter because there is quite a lot of copy needed to properly launch a product—and that’s not taking into account the work you’ll do writing the product itself.

Lessons in marketing

To help market our product to the largest possible audience, we’re using the following strategies:

  • affiliate marketing: we’ve formed alliances with a number of marketers who will help us promote our product to their lists
  • video marketing: we’re using video marketing to reach a wider audience with less effort
  • article marketing: our virtual assistant is posting articles to article directories to get us back links and additional traffic
  • forum marketing: because our product targets women, our virtual assistant has been commenting on a number of forums and because our URL is in her signature, we’re able to attract new leads.

Do you still want to launch your own product?

I know this list must seem endless—when you are in the middle of it all, it really does seem endless! But it is doable. If you are able to chunk things down and keep working towards your goals, you’ll succeed.

I’ve found two aspects to be key in moving your concept from an idea to a final product: persistence and seeking advice and guidance.

Without persistence, you won’t make it because there are so many challenges along the way and the work often seems like it will never end. You’ll have to have a strong vision of the finished product that you keep in mind at all times in order to help you keep moving forward. Otherwise, you may abandon your dreams of launching your own product online.

I’m lucky to have had a large pool of experts who were willing to offer me help and advice. My years as an affiliate manager have paid off really well. If you don’t have access to those kinds of contacts, I’d suggest you ask friends and other bloggers for help. If you’re part of Darren’s Community, that’s another great place to get support, feedback, and ideas.

Launching your own product online is hard work. You are probably going to have to sacrifice a lot of things in order to make this happen, but the end result is spectacular! After all, you’ll have accomplished something that most people will never do.

If you’ve launched your own product and have more tips to share, I’d love to heard about them—share them in the comments so we can all learn from them.

Krizia is the co-creator of The Blog Income for Women Blueprint which teaches women how to turn their blogging efforts into blog income. You can watch a free video tutorial and download a free report here.