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5 Fatal Landing Page Mistakes—and How To Fix Them

This guest post is by Anshul Dayal of www.nichesense.com.

It is often said that lead generation is the lifeline of any online business big or small. Correct?

Wrong!

Allow me to explain this further. In a traditional business we often look at three or four key performance indicators when it comes to gauging success and profitability. They are leads, conversions, sales, and profits.

Brad Sugars, a very successful (and somewhat controversial) Australian entrepreneur, describes his “5 ways business chassis” as:

Number Of Leads X Conversion Rate = Customers X # of transactions X Avg. $$$ Sale = Revenue X Profit Margins = Profit

Where:

  • Number of leads = every person who is interested in purchasing from you
  • Coversion rate = percentage of leads that make purchase
  • Customers = every lead that makes a purchase
  • # of transactions = number of purchases made by every customer
  • Avg $$$ Sale = money spent every time a customer buys from you
  • Revenue = your total dollar value of sales
  • Profit margins = your “markup” percentage or simply the purchase price of your product minus the acquisition cost

Simple enough? Now let me ask you a question: which one of those variables should you be increasing to boost your profits quickly and efficiently?

Here is the key. Most people will tell you that it is the number of leads or customers. In reality, it is one humble little number many business owners often overlook, yet it is the easiest the way to boost profits without spending an extra cent on acquiring new leads.

Let’s see how.

Here is the equation again with some real numbers:

Equation

Now, lets simply double the “# of transactions” to 2 (easy enough?)

Equation revised

Suddenly our profits have doubled without acquiring a single extra customer! That’s exciting, right?

Let’s now apply this analogy to an online business.

I offer consulting services to a small group of private clients who seek me out to develop an online strategy, optimize conversions, and boost profits. More often than not I find them making one common mistake which often results in a major lost opportunity when it comes to making money for their offer or services.

The majority of people are wrongly fixated on traffic generation.

Traffic generation is only one part of the equation. Sure, you use a number of well-documented strategies to generate traffic, but what happens when that traffic arrives on your website? Do you have a clear plan for turning that traffic to potential customers you can sell to again and again?

For the majority of website owners, traffic generation is the end of their online strategy. In reality, it should really be the start.

So now the big question is, what is the easiest way to convert this traffic to customers? Simple: get them to subscribe to your email list!

The next big question? What is the most effective way to get visitors to convert to email subscribers? Well, we don’t need to look very far at all to find the answer to that. In fact, many of you have probably used this method of lead capture at some stage in your business.

A landing or a squeeze page is one of the easiest ways you can convert visitors to prospects and customers. A carefully crafted landing page can go a long way in converting that traffic to email-subscribed customers you can sell to over and over again.

So, is there really a science behind creating a high-converting landing page? The short answer is yes. In fact, it’s relatively simple, yet I find a number of business owners committing one or all of the five fatal mistakes I am about to reveal to you.

Fatal mistake #1: Poor headline

We often associate big, fat headlines with hyped up, bold-red text used by internet marketers, but in reality this is really your value proposition. More often than not, you may only get a few seconds of your visitors’ attention before they hit the Back button on the browser. This big, fat headline will go a long way towards grabbing your prospects’ attention and enticing them to take the next step.

Remember, the purpose of a headline is to skillfully answer one simple question: “What’s in it for me?”

An ideal headline should convey your value proposition in as few words as possible. Let’s look at some good and bad examples. The headline below is simply too long and does not offer a clear value proposition as to how using this business coaching service could help my business.

Headline example

On the other hand, this headline captures your attention straight away with a clear benefit and value proposition—a rewarding career:

Shorter headline example

Fatal mistake #2: Missing the call to action

Now that you have got the visitors’ attention, it’s absolutely imperative that you have a clear and easy-to-follow call to action to capture their details.

I see a number businesses wasting valuable advertising dollars only to have people land on confusing homepages that lack a call to action, or even a basic value proposition. Now, I don’t know about you, but as a prospect landing on such a page, I will probably be reaching for the Back button on my browser as soon as possible.

Here is a web design firm advertising on Facebook. Unfortunately, clicking on the ad goes straight to the default fanpage timeline—there’s no attempt to get me take any specific action. I seriously questions if this is a good use of your advertising dollars.

Facebook ad

Landing on the Timeline

Here’s a slightly better use of your paid traffic: visitors are directed to a fanpage squeeze page app designed to capture the prospects’ email addresses with a clear call to action:

Landing on a squeeze page

If you are an affiliate promoting offers, find offers with a clear call to action when you search for good affiliate offers to promote. Also, use them as good examples of landing pages that you can learn from.

As an affiliate marketer myself, one of the products that has done exceptionally well for me as an affiliate is a hair loss treatment which I currently promote using the Markethealth program.

A quick look at the product’s landing page indicates a clearly defined sales funnel for prospects, with key elements in place: the simple value proposition, benefits, and a very clear call to action.

My landing page

As an affiliate, I would be quite comfortable promoting such an offer. It is likely to convert extremely well given the quality of the landing page.

Fatal mistake #3: Placing your call to action below the fold

What is “above the fold”? It is essentially all the content that your visitors get to see before using the scroll bars on a web page. As a matter of fact, 80% of your visitors will simply never scroll to the bottom of the page if you fail to capture their attention in the first few minutes.

I regularly come across landing pages where I like the offer, but find myself searching for more information on how to take the next step.

How can I proceed?

An ideal layout for placing your headline and call to action is what I describe as the “double barrel” layout. This works best with a video, or at least bullet points that explain the key benefits of your offer.

Such a layout often includes your bold headline, a video (or bullet points) and a simple opt-in box stacked next to the video (similar to the hair-loss example above). Using such a layout, you can essentially include your headline, benefits and call to action above the fold.

Above the fold

If you are using a blog-style layout for your business website, then having an opt-in box on the sidebar widget above fold can also be highly effective.

Fatal mistake #4: Offering too many options

A well crafted landing page should be designed to do one thing and one thing only: capturing your prospects’ details as soon as possible. The best and easiest way to do this is to ensure that you are offering them as few options as possible so that they  reach for the opt-in box.

A well structured landing page will typically contain the big, fat headline (your value proposition), key benefits, and clear call to action. Yet we all see examples of websites offering too much information and too many links on their landing pages.

Too many clicks

Such a layout is guaranteed not to help your prospects take any action at all—they’ll simply wander away once they have had a quick scan of the landing page.

Fatal mistake #5: Not using a customized “thank you” page

One of the golden rules of a successful marketing funnel is to get your visitors to take the next step. A “thank you” page is often considered by many people as the last step in your marketing funnel where you have captured your visitors details and are now congratulating yourself on a job well done.

In reality, if you skimp on this, you are missing a golden opportunity to offer your visitors numerous other ways to engage with your content. Remember, at this point, your prospects are most interested in what you have to offer, as they have just given you their name and email address and are looking forward to receiving that information you promised on your landing page.

You can use the “thank you” page in many different ways. If you have a “premium” version of the product you are offering for free, then why not use a customized page to offer that premium product as a one-time offer for a low price?

If you have another free product, then a customized thank you page can also be highly effective for getting interested visitors to double opt-in to another offer. This way, you can promote a separate set of targeted offers relevant to another product you are offering.

This is a powerful yet badly underutilized strategy for making the most of your prospects’ eagerness to consume your products when they first offer you their name and email address.

Tools and tips for a better landing page

Now that you have had some insights into some of the mistakes to avoid when creating a well converting landing page, let’s look at some handy tools you can use to create high quality landing pages and opt-in boxes in a breeze. My favorites are:

If you find that even though your landing page structure is good, your conversions are poor, then I recommend split-testing your headline. Most of the premium themes mentioned above offer readymade functionality for split-testing headlines and page structures.

Last but not least, if you’re capturing leads through multiple landing pages, make sure to segment them using your autoresponder service. This will allow you to send relevant and targeted information and offers to prospects in specific categories, with specific interests.

How are your landing pages looking? And what tips can you add? Share your secrets to success with us in the comments.

Anshul Dayal is the owner at www.nichesense.com and helps his clients make more money online with cutting edge strategies. Sign up for his free niche marketing coachingon his niche marketing blog.

How I Fast-tracked My Blog to 10k Subscribers and $15k Revenue in a Month

This guest post is by Alex Becker of Source Wave Marketing.

Tracks

Image courtesy stock.xchng user Thoursie

When I first got into blogging, gaining any sizable amount of engaged subscribers seemed like a slow, tedious task. As bloggers, I am sure you know the popular ways to get people to your site:

  • guest posting
  • participating on forums
  • SEO.

But when your blog is brand new, getting featured on a site with a ton of traffic is next to impossible. Creating a solid reputation on a forum takes time. SEO is a popular tactic but also takes a long time. To put it bluntly, if you are new to blogging, the deck is not stacked in your favor.

This is why I decided to use another method to grow my blog: product creation.

“Wait, what?!” you might be thinking. “Making products as a way to grow your blog/brand? Does that even work?”

Well, my blog is just over seven months old. It has an email list of just over 10,000 people and brings in a total of $15k+ in revenue monthly. So yes, product creation is a super-effective and underutilized method to grow your blog. But before you can put this method to use on your blog, you need to understand why it works so well.

Why blogging and making products is like pouring gasoline on a fire

Ironically, the easiest place to get traffic you can capture is not on other websites. It isn’t on Facebook or Twitter. It is the massive email lists people have in certain niches.

But I am not just talking about any big email list. Getting a monster blogger or magazine to feature you in their email list is pretty tough, and oddly enough, they do not even have the best traffic.

Blogger and news lists: the hard way

A huge blogger might have 10-30k emails. The funny thing is that many of these are worthless because these are what we call “freebie chasers.” These are people that joined an email list for free and are only interested in one thing—more free stuff. They are also commonly not committed to a niche.

Now this blogger is going to make you jump through hoop after hoop to get featured in his or her list. While you can traffic from the list, it’s going to be very hard unless you also have a big reputation (which 95% of bloggers do not).

We want to focus on one and only one type of list: the massive email lists that other product creators have. And here’s why.

Product creators’ lists: the easy way

Think about the owner of a successful Clickbank product or information products. Even small-time product creators routinely have email lists of 5-20k. Bigger names can easily have 20k-100k. That’s a lot of people, folks.

Here’s why their lists are so valuable: every single person on their lists has loaded up their PayPal accounts and paid for information in the niche they’re selling in. As they say, money talks. And when these people have put money down, they’re telling you a couple things:

  • They are very interested in the niche.
  • They participate in the niche.
  • They are comfortable spending money in the niche.

This is exactly the type of person you want coming to your site and joining your list.

The ironic thing is that product creators are far less stingy with their lists than many others. This is because they usually have their list for a much less honorable reason than most straight-up bloggers. Most product creators (not all of them) use their list to promote other products and make an affiliate income.

This means one thing to you: if you have a product that will make them money, they will throw a tidal wave of traffic your way.

This is why they are such a great resource. They have one simple button you need to press to get access to “buyer” traffic. In this post, I’ll show you exactly how to push that button.

My product creation blueprint for blogging

I understand your thoughts right now: “What if I’ve never made a product before?”

Don’t panic. You don’t need to create a mega-product, nor I am not telling you to put crummy material out on the market. However, my father always told me “Keep it simple, stupid.” Sometimes something small and simple works insanely well. In fact, for this method, we want small and simple.

For example, one of the first products I made with my partner was a list of the most reliable Fiverr sellers, which we sold for five bucks. This simple product has sold over 6,000 copies, earning us over 6,000 subscribers.

So just keep in mind that you are totally capable of doing this. With that being said, let me walk you through the steps I used to create a product and blow up my blog, and then how I used my blog to create sales.

Step 1. Find an idea for a short product and make it happen

The first thing you want to do is find places online where your targeted visitor hangs out. These will usually be forums or Yahoo Answers-type sites.

The sites are so valuable because there you will see your visitor tell you exactly what they want. Look at the questions and problems that are getting the most focus. Then, make a product to solve these problems. Simple, huh?

Step 2. Make a juicy offer for product list owners and their customers

One of the best ways to get product creators interested is to offer 100% commission on your product. Remember, we’re not trying to make money: we’re trying to get them to hand over their traffic. You have to remember your motives, first and foremost.

We also want to make a product that’s cheap enough to convert very highly with their list. If you make, say, a $50 product, not very many people will buy it. However, if you produce a $5 product, the interest will, naturally, skyrocket.

Step 3. Find big list owners

This is fairly simple. Look around your niche and find information products. I guarantee you the owners of those products had a way to collect the emails of their customers. Email these product creators and pitch them on your product. (Hint: Be sure to mention the 100% affiliate commission!)

Step 4. Collect the emails

Now that you have a product creator blasting your product with traffic, it is time to collect the traffic that converts. (Remember, keep your product cheap for maximum conversions. More conversions means more emails.)

You can easily collect and manage these emails through a server such as Mail Chimp. After a person purchases your product, redirect them to an opt-in form that they must fill out to get access to the file.

Step 5. Treat your new subscribers like gold

Now that you have the emails of these people, it is time to deliver value, and really wow them with your brand.

One thing you need to keep in mind is that most of these people are used to being abused with affiliate offers whenever they get forced onto a product email list. This your chance to step up and do something different. Differentiating yourself will be what makes you so successful. Treat them with respect and earn their trust.

Constantly link them to cool things that are happening on your blog. Bombard them with value.

I did this by providing free weekly webinars, sharing my most potent internet marketing secrets for free and taking every chance I get to make personal connections with my readers. I also never asked for anything in return. Remember these words: what can I do for you?

This is the secret to turning a list of people that randomly bought your product into a community of friends and colleagues that trust you and like you enough to invest in your business.

Step 6. Use that trust in you and your brand to grow a profitable business

The funny thing about this is that most people would assume the next step is, “spam them with affiliate offers!” No way! That’s very, very bad.

The simple truth is that you will now have a community of buyers who trust and respect you. If you maintain that trust, they will invest in offers your promote and be eager to be a part of any business you create. So why push them away with spam?

A great example of someone who’s used the trust he’s developed with an audience is Pat Flynn of the blog, Smart Passive Income. By always having his readers’ best interests in mind, Pat has become not only a very rich man, but an internet marketing icon. Do not ever underestimate the power of a trusting audience.

The results

My partner and I have used this traffic generation method on our blog, and, in under seven months, we’ve created a thriving community in an extremely competitive niche. On top of this, any business we launch is an instant success due to the trust we have built with the subscribers we gained from product launches.

In fact, the last premium service we launched from our blog sold completely in under one hour. That is the power of combining buyer traffic from product launches with the amount of trust quality blogging can generate.

You were meant to make products

As a blogger, you are undertaking a role as an authority on information in your niche.

To me, creating products and being an authority go hand and hand. When you create a good product (remember, simple can be good), the people that buy it will naturally be interested in your blog. This is because authority figures make products and authority figures blog. Period.

By making products, not only do you get access to hoards of traffic, but you also become an authority.

This is why I encourage every ambitious blogger to break out of the “strictly blogging” mindset and spread your message through as many formats as possible. Remember, it’s important to differentiate.

Of course, creating a product is not going to be an easy 6-step process, but niether is growing a massive brand. I do promise one thing, though: If you take the ideas presented in this article and run with them, your blog will become a red-hot source of awesome faster than you ever thought possible.

Alex Becker is the co-founder of the Source Wave Marketing and owner of multiple online SEO services.

How to Mass Monetize Your YouTube Channel

This guest post is by Jenny Dean of Floppycats.

One of the joys of the Internet is the opportunity to become friends with a complete stranger on the other side of the world. Michael Strange and I had two things in common when we first met: we both owned Ragdoll cats, and we both had YouTube channels.

After an exchange of comments on each other’s videos, I discovered Michael knew a lot more than I did about being found on YouTube and being paid for being found.  I was making approximately $3 per month from  my YouTube channel and Michael showed me the potential to make 3500% more than that!

If you have a YouTube channel, you may not know that you can make money from your videos (if they are yours) through revenue sharing.

You used to have to be a YouTube Partner in order to be able to monetize your videos, however, this is no longer the case.  All you need now is a YouTube account that has videos on it and an Adsense account.

If you sign into your account and go to Video Manager, more than likely you’ll see a notification letting you know that you can now monetize your videos. So if you don’t have an Adsense account set up, you will want to do that.

Then, you’ll need to follow these steps to connect the two, and monetize your videos.

Setting ad preferences

Log into YouTube, go to Video Manager, and you’ll see a dollar sign that may or may not be colored in.  For videos that are not yet monetized, the dollar sign is not colored in.  For videos that are monetized, the dollar sign is colored green.

Monetization Buttons

Those already monetized, of course, can be skipped. The ones with a dollar sign button on a white background are the ones to select and update.

As of April 2012, YouTube made mass monetizing your videos easier than before. If you go to Settings, you’ll see they’ve added a new entry in the left-hand column, near Monetization,  called Ad Defaults.  Select all the ones you want (partner accounts will have three options; non-partners just two) and click on Save.

You can apply these preferences to all new uploads, but they won’t affect movies you’ve already monetized.

Ad Defaults

Mass monetize your movies

To mass monetize your videos, select ten movies at a time and use the Action drop-down to bulk monetize them using the default preferences you have just saved. If you go through all your movies you can update the ad types in bulk like this.

If you’ve already set those preferences for a movie, then setting it again will make no difference. If a video only had some of the new preferences set, they will be updated to the full range of options when you have selected them and applied your new preferences.

To mass monetize after you have set your monetization preferences, go to Video Manager, where you’ll see your uploaded videos listed.  Select the videos that you want to monetize, as below, then go to Actions and select Monetize.

Mass Monetize

A new window will pop up to confirm your preferences. Click on the blue Monetize button, and voila!  All of those videos are monetized to your preferences!

Blue Monetize Button

You’ll also see a confirmation that the videos previously selected have been monetized.

Monetize Confirmation

If you have not monetized your videos, if you have only monetized some of them, or even if you just don’t remember, I encourage you to go into your YouTube account and check everything out.

Update your preferences and more likely than not, in a few weeks time you will see your YouTube revenues climb. Thanks to Michael’s advice, I have had fantastic results from this tip, which has even given me a little debt relief!

What are some of the monetizing tips that work for you on YouTube? Share them with us in the comments.

Jenny Dean is the Editor over at Business Blog Writers, online SEO content writers.  She also has some of her own blogs, Floppycats, Antioxidant-fruits and Guide to Couponing. Business Blog Writers offers a YouTube enhancement service.

How to Deal with False Third-party Matches on YouTube

This guest post is by Jenny Dean of Floppycats.

Several months ago, I met  Michael Strange through YouTube. I noticed immediately the success of Michael’s YouTube endeavors and asked him if he could please help me out.

He was game, thank goodness, and he walked me through the steps on how to fix my YouTube channel. One of these was to address false third-party matches on the service.

Third-party matching indicates that your video is understood to infringe some third party’s copyright. You can’t monetize videos on which these matches are outstanding, so if you’re trying to make money through YouTube, third-party matches can be a problem.

Finding third-party matches

First and foremost, you might not even know if you have third-party matches. I knew I had some, but I wasn’t aware that videos that were entirely mine were flagged for copyright issues!

To see if you have third party matches on YouTube, just log in to your account and go to your Video Manager. On the left side of the Video Manager you’ll see an entry for Copyright Notices.  Select that, and you’ll see all your movies that have third-party matches.

Third party matches

In the list of movies you’ll see notes like “matched third-party content”. You have to address each one as a separate dispute, so hopefully you don’t have many.

To get started, click the blue hyperlink that states the reason for the copyright notice.

Matched third party content

You’ll be taken to a screen that looks something like this:

Third party match page

Here you can see a general information statement about copyright matches, followed by a link that states, “I want to learn more about the dispute process.” When you select that, you’ll see some information about when you can and can’t dispute things.

Disputing the match

If, after you have read all the reasons to dispute or not to dispute the matches, you still feel that you should not have copyright issues, then you will want to dispute the claim. For example, a video that I’d created in my backyard had been flagged as a third-party match, but it was all my own content, so I decided to dispute it—and won.

To dispute a copyright notice, go to the bottom of the dispute information. You’ll see a link that says, “I believe this copyright claim is not valid.”

Dispute claims

You will be taken to a screen that asks you to select the reason for your dispute.  Carefully select your reason and click on Continue.

Dispute claims - select reason

You will then be taken to a screen where you will be asked to confirm that you own all the rights to the content.

Please note: the example that I am using here is not a valid one to dispute—a song plays in the background of my video that is not my content, therefore technically I cannot dispute it. I am using these screenshots to show the steps only.

Confirm that you own all rights

After you click Continue, you will be taken to the dispute form.

Dispute form

Fill in the form and submit it. Then, you’ll want to walk through the same steps with any other videos that have false third-party matches flagged for them.

The dispute process

YouTube has recently improved the dispute process and will send you an email when a dispute claim has been received.

At that time you should check the status of the relevant movie and add the monetization details if necessary. You may need to manually check your disputes to see if you’re still awaiting an outcome, or some other problem has arisen.

If the dispute is resolved in your favor, it just drops off the copyright match list. You’ll need to go hunting for the movie in your video manager to then monetize it.

Unexpected matches

Like me, you can sometimes have a problem if the TV or radio was playing in the background when you recorded your video, as legally you would then be using that music in your movie without a valid license, and recording industry companies such as Sony could have a legitimate dispute against you.

In those cases, there is nothing you can do if you wish to monetize the movie, other than to remove the movie from YouTube, replace the audio track, and then re-upload the corrected movie.

Have you had third-party matches on YouTube that you’ve disputed? How have they gone? Share your stories in the comments.

Jenny Dean is the Editor over at Business Blog Writers, online SEO content writers.  She also has some of her own blogs, Floppycats, Antioxidant-fruits and Guide to Couponing. Business Blog Writers offers a YouTube enhancement service.

Why You Need To Create and Sell A Product Now (And How To Do It)

This guest post is by Brandon Turner of RealEstateInYourTwenties.com.

Last night I made $9.

I know that isn’t a lot of money. I know I’m not taking that dream vacation to Italy or buying that new MacBook Air I lust after. So why mention it?

Because I made $9 last night.

While sleeping.

While completely unconscious.

I woke up and discovered that I was $9 richer than when I went to bed. The feeling not only energized me beyond what words can adequately describe, it also took me one step closer to my ultimate goal—complete financial freedom.

Perhaps this goal is familiar?

Perhaps you share the same goal?

If so, I hope I can shed some light on why now is the best time for you to begin selling products on your blog. The truth is you don’t need to wait until you are a “pro blogger” to begin making money by selling products that you create. You don’t need fifty thousand RSS subscribers to earn online income. You don’t even need the classic “one thousand true fans.”

What you need is an idea and a kick in the pants.

Why start right now?

Like you, I spent the first several months of blogging simply writing.

My blog at RealEstateInYourTwenties.com is aimed at young people looking to replace their “job” and enter the world of real estate investing, so I focus most of my efforts on discussing how a young person can begin earning money through investing. I began writing without a clear picture of how I would someday monetize the blog, but aware that the end goal was to replace my investment income with my online income.

Last month, while writing a post discussing how I analyze deals using a spreadsheet I created in Excel, I thought, “I wish this spreadsheet was around when I started investing! I would have saved so much time and hassle!”

Boom.

I realized at that moment I had a product that could actually help people. I spent the afternoon researching how to go about actually selling a product (more details on that below), polished the blog post and spreadsheet, and by the late afternoon my post was live.

I’d love to say I made thousands of dollars that first day and am now living on a beach in Hawaii. However, that’s simply not the case for most people, and wasn’t the case for me. I think I made around $50 during the first week. Again, it’s not enough to dance around about—but then again, maybe it is. I had actually done it. I made money online. Since the day that post went live, I have been consistently making one or two sales a day.

“Big deal,” you say.

It is a big deal though. It’s a huge deal. It’s the difference between a successful blog and being another tire kicker.

I don’t care how many readers you have. You don’t need a million readers to begin selling your products online. You can, and should, start today. Even if it’s just your mom following along to your witty posts, get something for sale now.

I’m not suggesting you write a 400-page ebook or a $99-a-month membership site. Those things may come later. I’m talking about offering something small or introductory. I’ll explain in more detail later some examples, but for now let me explain why you need to sell something on your blog ASAP.

Motivation

When I woke up this morning and discovered I was $9 richer, something triggered inside of me. I got up excited to start the day and began working on making my blog even better. I was motivated to reach out and connect with more people. I even decided to write this very post for ProBlogger.net because of how motivated I was.

Don’t underestimate the “motivation” factor. Find what motivates you and capitalize on that. Chances are, you are motivated by the very thing I am: making money. (Don’t feel bad about that. It doesn’t have to be your primary motivation, but deep down every human is at least partially motivated by the need to make an income). Making a few dollars per day is not going to move you from a shack to a mansion—but it just might move you from a mediocre blog to a stellar one.

Learn what works

You may feel it’s best to wait until you have a huge following to begin marketing your goods. However, by waiting until that point you are missing out on a huge opportunity—learning what works and what doesn’t. What if I listed my spreadsheet for sale online and did not sell any? What if the feedback was largely negative? I would have learned a great deal about what didn’t work.

Instead, I found that everyone who downloaded my product seemed to love it. Think of this phase as the “research and development” phase of product creation. Additionally, by selling products early in your blog’s existence you will begin to learn what works in relation to your sales funnel. How are you getting from product creation to the beloved “payment received” email from Paypal? How is your conversion rate? What about split-testing? These are all questions that you can begin to answer before you launch a “major” product someday in the future.

Collect names and true fans

Have you purchased anything from a blog online? Probably not a whole lot. The fact is, most people do not actually buy things from bloggers online. While conversion rates differ dramatically, chances are less than 2% of your readers will probably buy whatever it is you are selling. However, those that do buy a product from you early on have probably one or both of these characteristics:

  • They like to spend money frivolously online.
  • They really like you.

Either way—those are the people you want as friends. Those customers who buy a small product from you will be significantly more likely to buy other products from you in the future. Make sure you separate these people into their own email list (using Aweber, Mail Chimp, or whatever email service you use) and value that list above all others.

Where do you want to be in two years?

Do you wish you had started blogging earlier? I know I do. I look at the growth my blog has shown over the past six months and realize how much larger it would be today if I had started two years ago. However, I can’t change the past—and neither can you.

Instead, change your future. Take a moment and think about where you want to be in two years. Pretty nice, eh? You will never get there if you don’t start down that path now. Don’t look back at your life in two years and say, “I wish I had started selling products earlier!” Do things today that will matter in two years, five years, and twenty years from now. This is the exact same advice I give newbie real estate investors because it’s the biggest regret most professionals have later in their life—“I wish I had started sooner.”

Are you a serious blogger or an amateur?

Finally, by selling a product on your website you are telling the world that you are a professional. You aren’t just posting photos of your grandma’s recent birthday party. You are offering a professional service to the world because you are an expert in whatever field you are in.

In the same way that I wouldn’t trust a consultant who charged $15 bucks an hour, I would also have a harder time trusting a “hobby blogger.” Selling a small product on your site will allow your readers to adjust to the idea that you are operating, at least in a small part, a business.

If you run a blog for two years and suddenly spring a $297 product on them, many will go running for the hills or pass you off as just another self proclaimed guru trying to take advantage of the small folk. Instead, by offering a small product for sale early in your blog development you will help your community adjust slowly to the idea of you making money and view you as an expert they could pay to get information from.

What do I sell?

“But Brandon,” you say “I don’t have anything to sell.”

False! Everyone has something to sell. I believed the same thing. Sure, I could make a video real estate training series, write a big ebook, or create a membership site. Those things, however, take lots of time to develop and I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a whole lot of free time these days.

The solution came when I found something I already had that could help others. For me, it was an Excel spreadsheet that calculated the profitability of a house flip. I realized that one of my most popular posts on my blog had to do with how to analyze whether or not a house flip would be profitable. Additionally, I received emails every day from people asking me “is this a good deal?” in regards to an investment property they found. By putting together both a common question and a popular post, I realized what people wanted.

Take a look at your blog. What do people want? What questions are they asking you? What are your most popular posts?

For example, let’s say you run a newer blog on fashion design. You take a look at your popular posts and realize that your blog post about t-shirt design is a popular subject. You may also have been asked questions about how you come up with ideas for t-shirts. You could spend an hour writing a document titled, One Hundred Killer T-Shirt Design Ideas, turn it into a PDF, and offer it as an emagazine for $7.00.

Or perhaps you run a blog about web design. How difficult would it be to sell a pack of twenty Photoshop images of buttons or icons for $9.00?

As you can see, the possibilities are endless. While obviously I can’t go into detail of every product type there is, there are a few standards:

  • An ebook, ereport, or emagazine: Perhaps the most popular type of product, these informational products are nothing more than a word processing document converted to a PDF. I use OpenOffice (a free, open source alternative to Microsoft Word) because it’s both free and has the ability to convert your document to PDF in seconds.
  • An MP3: Perhaps you are going to sell a twenty-minute lecture on how to do something. You can record your lesson using software such as Garageband (Mac) or Audacity (PC) to turn your words into an MP3 quickly and easily.
  • Consulting or coaching: If you are involved in a niche where you could profit by sharing your knowledge on a one-on-one level with others, consulting might be an excellent option for you. I use “Ether.com” to manage my consulting, which allows the client to call in, enter my Ether extension number, pay for the session, and connect us together while monitoring the time spent on the phone and charging accordingly.

If you have a really young blog (the “my mom is my only reader” type), a good strategy is to find a more popular blog in the same (or very similar) niche and read the comments. Look for questions that are being asked, or common concerns that are being raised.

If you can answer those questions on your own blog and turn them into a sellable low-cost product, you can often even respond to those comments on the other blog with a link back to your own. Just don’t be spammy.

How do I sell?

Selling products online is significantly easier than you’d think. There are many good articles across the web (like this one) that will teach you, step by step, how to do this. I want to just give you a big-pictur” look at how the process looks and show you how easy it really is.

The easiest way to upload a product for resale is using a website known as e-Junkie.com. Yes, the name is a bit off-putting and the web designers for the site haven’t yet caught on to the clean, smooth, minimalistic trends blanketing the Internet. However, what they lack in being pretty they more than make up for in being … awesome.

Once you register for an account, you will simply add your product to their servers, connect your PayPal account to e-Junkie, and place a link on your own website. E-Junkie will handle the entire process for you and provide the product to the customer after they have purchased it. The best part: e-Junkie starts at just $5 per month.

A warning and a kick in the pants

I am not suggesting that you spam all your readers with sales products. You are trying to build a blog into a business, and nothing is going to turn off potential readers faster than gimmicky sales and greed. If you are following the advice you find on Problogger.net and other great sites, you already know that providing value and great content is the best way to grow your blog.

However, it is important to have the option available for readers who earnestly want more and are willing to pay for it. By offering low-cost but premium content for sale on your site, you establish yourself immediately as an expert in your field as well as a professional business aimed at helping others. You also begin building a solid foundation upon which great success can be built for your blog, your financial future, and the lives of your readers.

You don’t need a million readers to start making money through your blog. You have everything you need to begin selling a product by tonight on your blog. The tools are there, the motivation is there, and the idea is probably already formed in your head. So what are you waiting for?

Brandon Turner is an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, and blogger at RealEstateInYourTwenties.com where he teaches others how to “hack” the real estate game. He is also the author of “7 Years to 7 Figure Wealth,” a free e-book.

How Letting Go of Expectations Improved My Blog #QLDBLOG

This guest post is by Jess Van Den of Epheriell Designs.

One of the great joys and terrors of blogging is that a blog is never finished. This is an exciting and inspiring reality. It is also fraught with second-guessing syndrome.

Should I put this widget here? Should I change my banner/font/colours/posting frequency? …and so on.

Most of us learn what works for our blog through trial and error, which is a never-ending process.

We also learn from watching what other bloggers do—particularly those in our niche. If we see something working for others, chances are we’ll give it a go on our own blogs.

This can be extremely helpful—but it can also be limiting.

Setting the wrong expectations

In my niche—craft and design—there is a heavy emphasis on having blog sponsors—a whole lotta pretty ads in your sidebar for fellow indie businesses.

This has become such a norm that many bloggers in this niche don’t feel like they have a “proper” blog unless they have sponsors. That it gives their blog an air of credibility—that they’ve
“arrived.”

The number of ads (and the price of them) has become a litmus test of the popularity of their blogs.

I went through this stage on my own blog—I’ve run sponsor ads in my sidebar on and off for the last two to three years. That was partially because I wanted the money that ads could bring in, but if I’m honest with myself, the main reason was because I was concerned that if I didn’t offer sponsor spots, my blog would be seen as not being good enough. That I wouldn’t be a “proper” design blogger.

Fast-forward to June, when I was lucky enough to be one of the winners of the ProBlogger Great Barrier Reef Competition. It was one of the most remarkable experiences in my blogging career.

Along with making me fall in love with my home state all over again and giving me the chance to befriend an amazing group of people, the workshops helped me see my blog from a fresh perspective. It’s not often that you have ten successful bloggers sitting in a room with you critiquing your site. In fact, it’s not often you get anyone to sit down and critique your blog, is it?

Talking to all the other bloggers about their monetization strategies, I realised something profound—most bloggers struggle with monetization because they don’t have a product to sell.

They experiment with selling advertising, sponsored posts, affiliate sales, and other similar revenue streams. Even if they do create a product, it may only be a single ebook or course (at least to start with), and that isn’t enough to bring in the money they need.

I, on the other hand, do have products to sell. My blog is actually not my main business—that honour goes to Epheriell, my handcrafted, contemporary, eco-friendly sterling silver jewellery range. I also publish bespoke—a tri-annual independent print magazine for creative and crafty people.

It hit me like a bolt out of the blue: why on earth was I selling my key blog real estate to other people when I could be using it to promote my own products?

Why was I sending people away from me and my work?

I’d fallen into the trap of what was expected in my niche. Or—perhaps more to the point—I’d fallen into the trap of what I believed was expected in my niche.

Making changes, and getting focused

Since having that realization, I’ve phased out sidebar advertising, and put my own products above the fold, where they belong.

I’ve done away with the cognitive dissonance I was constantly experiencing when it came to balancing promotion of my own products with the promotion of my advertisers’ products. I have also cut out a whole lot of work that I was doing to organize and promote my sponsorship program, which has left me free to focus on other aspects of my business.

I consistently turn down people who contact me looking to advertise on my site, and I no longer feel the twinge of, “Oh my gosh I’m leaving money on the table,” because I know that the focus and integrity of my blog are more important that a few dollars.

My blog is stronger and more focussed, and I have let go of the fear that I’m not “doing it right.” I have the confidence that I’m doing what’s best for me and my business, and that’s what matters.

So, I’m curious—is there a blogging “should” that you’ve imposed upon your blog that isn’t really true to what you’re trying to achieve?

Jess Van Den is full-time creative entrepreneur – a jeweller, blogger, and an independent publisher. When not crafting sterling silver jewellery in her solar-powered studio in the countryside north of Brisbane, she blogs about beautiful things and bountiful business at Epheriell Designs.

10 Steps to a Sales Page That Doesn’t Suck

This guest post is by Jessica Albon of ThriveYourTribe.com,

In general, writing comes pretty easily to me. When I’m in the flow (which is relatively often), I can write about 2000 words in an hour. And yet when it comes time to write a sales page for myself, my writing flow and speed used to ground to a halt.

I’d spend hours on a single paragraph feeling frustrated that I wasn’t making any progress at all.

What was especially frustrating was that when I’d write a sales page for a client it didn’t take nearly so long—it was only when I sat down to write sales copy for myself that I couldn’t seem to get the words out.

Looking back now, I see the reason I struggled was entirely my own fault—which is a good thing because it means I could fix it. If this is something you’ve noticed with your own writing—blog posts flow but when you try to write sales copy that writing flow deserts you—you can fix it too.

In the past, when I’d write my own sales letter, I’d try to do everything at once—a little research, a little figuring out my goal as I went, a little getting to know my audience better, a little writing. I did everything all at once in a mish-mash.

And that may work when writing blog posts, but it’s a painful way to write a sales page. What’s more, when you write your sales page in dribs and drabs like this, it either takes a ton of editing to polish it up, or the reader will notice those starts and stops (which means they’re unlikely to make it all the way to the end). So, not only is writing this way making the writing more difficult, but the sales letter that results isn’t nearly as good as it would be if you tackled each task, one at a time.

We’ve heard a lot about how multitasking can hamper efficiency. But usually multitasking is seen as performing several very different activities at once (like watching TV, answering emails, and playing the kazoo). “Writing a sales page” on the other hand seems like just one activity.

But it’s not. “Writing a sales page” actually requires a number of distinct processes. When we separate out these distinct processes, we write more efficient, more effective copy.

The next time you have a sales page to write, try out this sequence of tasks and see if it helps make you a more efficient writer.

  1. Brainstorm: Spend ten minutes generating as many ideas as possible about the sales page, your hook, your audience, your product. Get them all down on paper.
  2. Distill: Go over your notes and determine the bones of your letter. What key thing do you want people to know after reading your sales page? Who are you talking to? How will you talk to them?
  3. Research: Learn your market inside and out. Research your competition, competitive advantage, and where your product or service fits. What’s the latest research that supports your product? What’s the evidence that your product or service is necessary?
  4. Write a project brief: Write everything out as if you were hiring a professional copywriter. Include everything about your product or service—all the nitty-gritty details—as if the person reading it knew nothing about you, your blog, your audience, or your offer.
  5. Brainstorm again: Now that you’ve done your research and written the project brief, you probably have some new ideas popping up. Get those down on paper.
  6. Winnow: When you were in school, you might have used index cards to collect notes for reports. This can be a really effective way to comb through your research, brainstorming, and brief. But even if you don’t get out the index cards, go back through everything you’ve done so far and review the essentials.
  7. Write your first draft: I highly recommend setting a timer for this step—don’t choose a crazy limit, but do choose a limit that’s a bit of a stretch. Write as quickly as you can without stopping from beginning to end of your sales page.
  8. Take a break: If possible, set your writing aside for a day or two. If you need to make more progress, going for a walk or run can help clear your head before you move to the next steps.
  9. Write a new first draft: Don’t throw out the first first draft, but do set it aside. Writing a second first draft from scratch tends to result in a smoother draft because you already know what you’re going to say. It’s usually easier to write a new draft  than to revise the original first draft. (Plus, this method often results in new insights that make for a more effective letter.)
  10. Revise, revise, revise: Finally, it’s time to polish your sales page until it’s compelling from start to finish. As you revise, add your headline and subheadings.

It sounds like a lot of steps, but except for that break in the middle, these are the steps your brain already takes when you write a sales page. It’s just that up to now you’ve been mashing them all together. By separating out each task and performing them one at a time, you’ll gain focus, the writing will be easier, and the finished letter will be much more effective.

You might even find you actually enjoy writing sales copy!

Jessica Albon is the creator of the upcoming Sales Copy Play Dates and ThriveYourTribe.com, a digital branding, design, and copywriting agency.

Taking the Mystery Out of Ghost Blogging

This guest post is by Jennifer Brown Banks of Ghostess.

There’s no doubt about it. The thrill of a byline never gets old.

I’ve been penning pieces for publications for more than a decade, and every time I’m in a grocery store and see my name in a magazine, or have it grace the online stage, it’s still magical for me. Still.

I liken it to falling in love over and over again.

And, if you’re a serious writer, no doubt you feel the same way too.

But let’s face it: “love don’t always pay the bills”!

Enter, ghost blogging

Simply stated, ghost blogging is the practice of writing posts for others without name recognition. They get the credit, you get the cash. And sometimes, lots of it.

Ghost blogging affords today’s bloggers opportunities to expand their creative projects and their bottom line. Because more and more busy professionals are seeking “ghosts” to pen posts to increase awareness of important causes, promote products, and cultivate a connection with the public, it’s becoming a pretty popular field.

Aside from time factors, some businesses and individuals bring on ghost writers because they’re primarily “idea people.” These clients are excellent in terms of innovation and creativity, yet they lack the ability to write effectively and communicate concepts to an audience clearly.

Ghostwriters can save them time, headaches, money, and potential embarrassment.

Ethical issues

For some, ghosting practices pose ethical issues.

There are those, (both writers and readers) who sometimes perceive ghosting as dishonest, in that it misrepresents true authorship, and lacks a degree of credibility.

Maybe. Maybe not. It all depends on how you look at it.

It’s really not much different than a speechwriter penning a speech for the president, or a resume writer putting someone else in a better professional light through his skills.

Or, think of it this way. How many of us in corporate jobs have worked for bosses who presented our ideas as their own? At least with ghostwriting, somebody is paying you to be a silent partner!

What does it take to be a good ghost?

Like other genres and fields of writing, ghostwriting is not for everyone.
But, if you’re straddling the fence on it, here are a few things to consider.

1. Confidentiality is a must

In this line of work, loose lips sink ships—not to mention that they can ruin careers.

Sometimes you may have the good fortune to pen posts for a celebrity or top-dog blogger, and you’re itching to brag about it. Don’t! Like any good relationship—personal or professional—once the trust is gone, so is the union.

It should also be noted that typically, ghost clients will have writers enter into a confidentiality agreement, stating that they will not disclose their identity, or the nature of their projects. You could be sued if you violate these conditions.

2. Good ghosts should have a wide knowledge base and a wide “speaking”range

Are you well read? Have you had multiple careers? Could you be a contestant on Jeopardy Game show? If so, it’s highly likely that you’d be successful in this field.

A broad knowledge base means that you will have a basic understanding of various topics, thereby allowing you to speak with a degree of authority and authenticity. It also means that the client has to do less hand-holding and feeding you information.

3. Good ghosts should have good people skills

As a ghost, you might be required to work with someone for whom there are creative or moral differences. Or perhaps you just lack chemistry. Suck it up. Remember, it’s their vision, and their decision.

Good ghosts know when to remain silent. If you’re not able to take directions from others, or to deal with a wide range of personalities and temperaments, this wouldn’t be the best type of gig for you. Do not pass go.

4. Good ghosts have the flexibility of a rubber band

To be a good ghost, you must be flexible.

For example, a client may change the direction of the project, or he may misplace files, or you may have to work around his schedule for the successful completion of the project. Keeping cool is crucial.

5. Good ghosts are good project managers

Writing skills only touch the surface of what effective ghosting entails.

Depending upon the type of client, and the range and complexity of the project, a good ghost might also be called upon to organize information, compile data, do research, and make recommendations accordingly.

Pay for your say

How much do ghost bloggers make? There isn’t a “standard” going rate. A lot depends upon the type of client, their budget, your experience level, and the length and frequency of the project.

To apply for opportunities, check popular job boards like Pro Blogger, Craigslist.org and Ghostbloggers.net

Have you ever been a ghost blogger? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

Jennifer Brown Banks is a seasoned blogger and professional ghostwriter. Her work has appeared at various top-dog sites such as: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Daily Blog Tips, Technorati, and The Well-Fed Writer. Visit her sites at: http://penandprosper.blogspot.com/ and http://Ghostess2.blogspot.com/.

How to Sell Affiliate Products on Pinterest

This guest post is by Krizia of CreateProfitableVideos.com.

Since I’m not a creative entrepreneur or blogger, I’m not able to benefit from the great opportunity to sell my products on Pinterest.

I define “creative entrepreneurs or bloggers” as the jewelry designers, accessory designers, interior decorators, kitchen supply shops, and photographers who are dominating Pinterest and have seen their sales skyrocket.

I could feature some of my online training programs, coaching sessions, and service packages, but that just isn’t as sexy or interesting as many of the hottest products sold on Pinterest.

Pinterest encourages commerce on the site, and that’s a rarity among social media platforms. They make it easy for you the vendor to market a product and they also make it easy for users to find products they might be interested in buying.

So I decided to repurpose a feature that my assistant was already adding to each new video interview on my Women Entrepreneurs HQ online show. For the show, I interview successful entrepreneurs. When we feature them, I always ask for the last book they’ve read, and the book that was the most instrumental in their lives.

My assistant features those books via my Amazon affiliate link. We use those Amazon features on Pinterest, and because I’ve asked my assistant to add the price of each book, all my additions are now part of the Pinterest Gifts page—and they’re categorized by price.

This is a brilliant way for non-creative bloggers and entrepreneurs to take advantage of Pinterest’s commerce-friendly features.

I know it might sound complicated, but I can assure you that adding affiliate products to Pinterest is super-easy. I’ve removed all the guesswork for you by detailing step-by-step how you can add your own affiliate products to Pinterest to boost your affiliate commissions.

Before I get started, I want to show you where all the Gifts are featured on Pinterest, because this will give you a good idea of the power of this feature.

Where to find gifts featured on Pinterest

When you sign into your account, you’ll want to click on the Pinterest logo to land on your homepage, featuring the latest pins from people you follow. On your homepage, you’ll notice a Gift tab at the top of the Pinterest site:
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When you click on the dropdown button, you can select gifts by price range, or you can click and select to view all the latest products for sale added by users:

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You’ll notice that all products have price tags. This means users know the price of a product before clicking on the photo to find out more (I’ve added red arrows to show you where the price appears):

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How to add your first affiliate product to Pinterest

Now, let’s take a look at how you can add your own affiliate products to Pinterest.

1. Categorize your affiliate products by creating separate boards

Right now, I have one board for my Amazon books and another board for products related to video marketing and I intend on adding more boards as I add more affiliate products.

2. Add a new board

To add a new board you’ll first need to click on the Add button at the top of your homepage.
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3. Select Create a board

create a board

4. Name your board

Make sure the name is search engine friendly. It might be tempting to use a “cutesy” name, but remember that Pinterest is a search engine, and optimized boards can show up on Google search results. I’ve selected to name my board Books for Success.

books for success

How to optimize Pinterest to get more traffic and clicks to your affiliate product

description

6. Add your URL

Don’t forgot to always add your URL to everything you pin on Pinterest so people can find your blog. Since each additional pin contains my affiliate links, I’ve added the URL to one of my main sites in the description box.

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Upload your affiliate product to a Pinterest board

7. Upload a pin

Instead of adding a pin (because you need to include your affiliate link), you’ll need to upload a pin—that is, a photo—from your computer:

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8. Select the right board

You now need to select the appropriate board … in other words, the board you just created for all these affiliate products. So I’ll select the Books for Success board:

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10. Add a description and URL

You now need to add a description and add the URL to where you want people to land or your affiliate link. Although you’re allowed 500 words, keep the description short and sweet because you want to make sure your affiliate link or the link to your main site shows up:

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11. Point people to your blog via a URL and hide your affiliate link behind the image

In order to add your affiliate link behind the image, you’ll need to go back and edit the pin you just uploaded. You can add your affiliate link inside the description box, but if you do, you’ll want to make sure it’s “cloacked” (aka masked) or you’ll want to use the services of a link shortener like bit.ly.

If you add a long “affiliate” URL that screams “affiliate link!” it’s unlikely anyone will click on it:

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12. Edit your pin

In order to add an affiliate link behind the image—and one that will be accessible every time someone clicks on the image—you’ll need to edit the pin you just uploaded. Once you click on the red Pint It button, you’ll be redirected to a page where you can edit the pin:

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How to add your affiliate link to Pinterest

13. Add your link

This part’s easy: you’ll simply need to add your affiliate link inside the Link box. This will allow the image you uploaded to be fully clickable, and it’ll automatically redirect Pinterest users to any product or service you’re promoting via your affiliate link.

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14. Add your product to Gifts

In order to get you product added to the Gifts page, and to get those cool little price tags featured on your pin, you simply need to add the price to the description box:

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15. The price appears

The second Pinterest’s search engine recognizes you’ve added a price and the dollar sign, it will automatically add the cool price in the upper left corner of your image:

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16. Within a few seconds, your new pin, containing your affiliate link, will be featured on the homepage of every one of your followers:

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I’ve noticed that it’s hard to tell how long it will take for pins with price tags to appear under the Gifts category, because there are so many new additions going up all the time. That said, your pin is automatically added to the homepage of your followers!

There are quite a few little steps to adding affiliate products to our Pinterest profile, but as you can see, it’s quite easy.

In my example, I’ve used an Amazon product and I used my Amazon affiliate link, but you can use the same logic for pretty much any product. The advantage with Amazon is that you could actually include the affiliate link as it appears in the description box without putting off viewers, because everyone has come to associate Amazon with quality!

If you haven’t yet explored adding affiliate products to Pinterest, I encourage you to get started. It’s a great way for bloggers to increase sales of affiliate products, and it’s also a great way to increase the visibility of your blog among Pinterest users!

Krizia (aka Miss K), is an Entrepreneur, Video Marketing Strategist, Video Show Host, Video Blogger, Speaker and International Author! Krizia launched http://www.CreateProfitableVideos.com to help entrepreneurs create AMAZING and IMPACTFUL video messages and discover How to Use video to Attract MORE Clients, Sales and Profits!