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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:
pinterest 1

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!

How to Succeed in the Video Game Blog Niche

This guest post is by David Edwards of A Sitting Duck.

Candy

A screenshot from my game, Candy

This year was a land mark year for A Sitting Duck. What started as a blog and creative community has evolved into a limited company that is on track to publish a multi-platform game very soon.

As John mentioned yesterday, gaming is a large and growing niche, with a massive, very passionate audience. It’s a great space to operate in as a blogger, and a business person.

Top tips for succeeding in the video game niche

Over the last four years I’ve moved from illustrations to animations, and now to interactive gaming. I guess as a blogger/publisher the focus for me has always been to build engaging, free content which then makes it much easier to sell services and products.

Here are my tips to build a successful blog in the video game niche.

  • Start with big games: It’s really important if you want search engine traffic that you write reviews on (or otherwise cover) the big games up front. Sure, the big blogs in the niche will cover them, and they’ll probably get first position in the search results. But often, you can get hits from angles they didn’t cover, like “ How To Pass Level 50 On Angry Birds”.
  • Use big pictures and tweet them: By adding the picture from your latest blog post to Twitter, you’ll get instant attention—and the chance to suggest that there are more to look at over on your blog.
  • Embed game trailers from YouTube and describe what happens on the video: This is such an easy thing to do, and it’s sure to get you extra traffic that the video producers will miss out on, because they’re busy working on more videos!.
  • Make your own videos: It’s no surprise that top video game blog IGN Entertainment  has produced thousands of videos: it works! Video gamers want to see how the game plays, and without actually playing it, a video is the closest they’ll get to the experience. Your best bet is to have a look around for a high-quality capture to stream, and save footage from the XBOX, Playstation, Wii and so on.

Trends do change with blogging, but from what I’ve seen in the video games market, the current popular formula is: upload a video to YouTube, produce a short post blog with extra images, tweet, and find another game to repeat the process with!

Monetization

The Candy Menu

The Candy menu

When it comes to making money, development companies like Thegamebakers.com use a blog to capture a free audience to save money on banner advertising, and sell their own games.

Large video game blogs sell ad space, from a bespoke full skin (like Pocket Gamer), where they fully re-brand the home page to promote the sponsor’s game, to the regular box ads at a more reasonable price.

Monetization gets interesting when you look at the smaller blogs in this space (avergaing 5,000 – 50,000 hits a month). These guys usually go for the approach of selling paid reviews, where developers pay, say, $300 to look at your game and write a positive or neutral review of it (it’s never bad—hence the fee!).

If you did ten or more reviews a month, it would start to work out as a full-time salary. Pocketfullofapps.com is a great example of this approach in action, and that blog’s founder is looking to expand quickly over the coming year.

What are you waiting for?

Overall I’d say you should start off by building up your volume of blog posts and video catalog, as this market is very much focused on quantity rather than quality, thoughtful stuff.

Then, once you have that base, work with other active blogs on videos, get them in on the commentary, and you’ll have the kind of banter that really brings in the video views (thousands, and in some cases millions!).

David Edwards is the founder of http://www.asittingduck.com and produces animations over at www.youtube.com/asittingducktv.

How Bloggers Can Profit from the Weight Loss Niche

This guest post is by John Smith of Weightlosstriumph.com.

The internet is growing every day as more people hear about the concepts of internet marketing, blogging, and other ways to make money online that revolve around carving out their own niche.

But one mistake is becoming very common.

Due to the mass of examples and hype surrounding the marketing niche, most new bloggers believe you have to blog about blogging or making money online to succeed as a blogger.

Wrong!

If you’ve been reading Problogger.net for more than a while now, you’ll notice that is contrary to what is taught here.

The key to building a viable blog business is to having something to offer; you don’t have to force a niche on yourself because it is profitable, nor should you go into a niche because everyone else is in it.

The truth is that every niche has the potential to be profitable.

3 Powerful niches that prove every niche is profitable

You’ve probably assumed from the title that this article will be focused on the weight loss niche and how you can profit from it. But since that niche is popular and competitive in itself, let’s first look at two other examples of niches that you can start a blog in today, and which will probably have more profit potential than a new blog in the blogging or make money online niche.

Niche 1. Animal care

This is an ever-growing niche, with increasing importance in countries like the U.S. According to 2011-2012 data from the APPA, 62% of U.S households own a pet; that equates to 72.9 million homes.

Since this stat counts households with a pet, and there probably two or more people with interest in pets in each household, you can well expect the total number of people interested in pets in the U.S alone to be around 100 million.

Of course, this niche covers various forms of pets, but this number alone proves that there’s an audience for you irrespective of which pet you want to help people with. Not only is there an audience, there’s profit: more than $50 billion US was spent on pet-related services in 2011, and the estimate for 2012 is around $53 billion.

Tomorrow, Problogger.net will look at the pet niche in detail—specifically, at a blog that focuses on domestic pets. If you’re interested in this niche, check back tomorrow for tips and advice that can help you harness the profit potential of pet blogging.

Niche 2. Video games

Another powerful niche you can tap into right now is video games. Almost everyone plays a video game today, so not only will you probably have more than enough to say about the subject, but there’s an unlimited supply of people who will want to benefit from your advice.

Over 67% of US households play video games, and the average gamer spends eight hours a week gaming.

A lot of us barely spend eight hours a week tending to hour blog, so you can imagine the level of commitment you can get from an audience that spends an average of eight hours a week playing games—even when they have little or nothing tangible to gain from doing so.

In terms of revenue, the gaming industry is worth $10.5 billion. Tomorrow, we’ll take a closer look at this fun, exciting, and quickly evolving niche—and see what it takes to build a successful, profit-producing blog in this space.

Niche 3. Weight loss

Today, there are more than 1 billion overweight adults in the world, according to Worldometer, and this number is increasing every day.

Also, according to data from the CDC, 35.7% of U.S adults—more than one-third of the entire US adult population—are obese.

The weight loss industry is now estimated to be worth $60 billion; a huge rise of around 200% from 20 years ago, when it was just a $30 billion industry. In other words, the weight loss industry is growing daily, and there’s huge potential for you there.

Just so you get an idea of how big this is, over $160 million has already been spent on weight loss related products today, and even more has been spent on treating weight loss-related diseases.

The question is, how can you profit from such a massive industry?

How to profit from the weight loss niche

The techniques shared in this section are written with the weight loss industry in mind, but they can easily be applied to any other niche you can think about (including those we’ll discuss tomorrow).

If you’re familiar with the U.S weight loss market, then you probably already know of big commercial weight loss programs like Weight Watchers, Medifast, and Nutrisystem, which sell their weight loss solutions in the form of diet food (or meal replacements). But you don’t have to have big budgets like they do, or open a retail chain, to profit from the weight loss industry.

The non-medical people reading this will probably think you need a degree to pull off success in this niche, but you don’t need that either!

Here are my top tips to help you profit from the weight loss industry.

1. Make value your philosophy

What is your philosophy? What are the set of beliefs that guide your existence, especially as a blogger? I’m sorry, but if it’s just to make money then you’re going to suffer.

We’ve talked about how big the weight loss industry is, but that doesn’t mean there’s easy money here. The reality is that the weight loss industry is one of the most competitive industries online, so unless you can “out-value” your competitors, you’re probably not going anywhere.

Even if you’re not a weight loss expert, your desire to help others change the way they view their lives and health can make a huge difference.

You’ve probably tuned in to the TV to see that expert that lost a lot of weight in three months, or read about the expert who gained weight just to show others how to lose it, via a major digital platform.

The common thread between those stories is that they offer value, and people will be willing to follow the experts as a result.

Of course, the value you offer doesn’t have to be this obvious—or tangible, for that matter; even if you’re just giving someone the motivation to lose weight, it will be a great help.

2. Lead by example

Success in this niche isn’t just about talking the talk, but about walking the walk.

While photoshopping earning and traffic screenshots might work in the make money online niche, people are probably too smart for that in the weight loss niche. Of course, you’ll probably get a follower or two no matter what you do, but it’s only a matter of time before you get kicked out—unless you can walk the walk.

The key is to create a brand that people talk about. Don’t just give people advice and tips that can help them make weight-related changes. Lead by example: let them see that you’ve experienced the same thing as them, and help them find the motivation to make the hard decisions that they—and you—know they need to.

3. Make an offer

Don’t wait for people to start begging you before you make an offer, because they probably won’t.

Make an offer right from the beginning, and make your position clear.

The thing with the internet is there are a lot of freebie-seekers, who want more no matter how much you give. While it’s always recommended that you give a lot of free value before expecting something in return, it’s important to ensure you have the right people in your audience to begin with.

You have to make money because it’s the only way you can keep adding more value to people’s lives, and there are various ways to do this. A few top ways to make an offer in the weight loss niche are:

    • Recommend a product:This is especially easy if you have no expert status in the weight loss niche but want to help people nonetheless. There are a lot of quality weight loss products out there, and you’d have tried a few of them if you really know what you’re doing.You can make an offer by creating a list of your recommended diet, and then reference products you’ve used and trust as an affiliate. This is something I do on my weight loss blog, and the results have been awesome.

      Of course, it’s important not to just recommend a product because you’re an affiliate. Yes, you have to make money, but your end goal should be to change lives. If you find a product very helpful but are not an affiliate for it, recommend it nonetheless. When your readers learn about this, their respect for you will only increase.

      If you don’t know whether your favorite program has an affiliate system, you can check to see if it’s listed on Amazon. If it is, then you can make up to 5% commission just by referring someone to purchase it via your Amazon affiliate link.

      Darren once wrote about his experience with making money from products on Amazon a while ago, and even though the article was written in 2009, the tips in it are invaluable and still apply today. You should read the post for a head start.

    • Offer and package your advice:This could be in many forms. You could offer health consulting to others, you could give speeches to organizations and groups on how to lose weight, or you could create your own product.Not everyone has this option, though, because you have to be actually qualified to give health-related advice. But this shouldn’t be a problem if you know your stuff. There’s a great market waiting for you somewhere!

Your own experience

You’ve probably heard more than once that it’s a good idea to start a blog in the blogging or making money online niche, yet you know within you somehow that it’s not right for you.

Do you have any experience with succeeding in a niche other than blogging and making money online? If you do, share your experience with us in the comments below. And don’t forget to check back tomorrow, when we’ll look at building a profitable blog in the pet and video game niches in more detail.

John Smith is an expert weight loss blogger who likes to help others. Some of his must read posts are on Weight Watchers discount for September, and bistro md delivery discount.

Get Sponsored to Attend the Next Conference in Your Niche

This guest post is by Kylie Ofiu of KylieOfiu.com.

If you attend conferences, the idea that you could get sponsorship to go will certainly appeal.

In 31 Days To Build a Better Blog, one of the tasks is to hunt for a sponsor for your blog.

Even if you’re a smaller blogger, getting sponsorship is doable. You don’t have to have 100,000 subscribers or 50,000 page views a month, although it does make things easier. It is simply a matter of presenting yourself in the best possible way and finding a business—or businesses—that are compatible with you and your brand.

I had between 10,000 and 15,000 monthly pageviews when I negotiated full sponsorship with a big brand to attend a blogging conference. I had only a few hundred followers on Facebook and around 1,000 followers on Twitter—so not a huge following. But that isn’t always the point.

If you have heavily engaged readers, that can be more beneficial than a large following who do not actively share your posts, click on your links, or engage with you on social media. You don’t have to be big to get sponsorship—but you do have to have authority among your tribe.

How to get sponsorship for conferences

Think you’re up for the challenge? Taking on a sponsorship involves some significant work—but it’s worth it!

1. Get prepared

You need to get prepared before you start pitching potential sponsors.

Look over you blog and make any changes you have been meaning to do, but have been putting off. Make sure you social media buttons are visible and your posts are easy to share. You’ll be judged on appearances as well as statistics, so make yourself and your blog look good.

See the post 10 Ways to Make Your Blog More Attractive to Advertisers for more advice.

2. Create a media kit

A media kit is essential for any blogger who wants to work with brands or get sponsorship. It’s basically a few pages on your blog, your audience, your blog statistics, why it and you are fantastic, and what you offer. Keep it interesting, factual and easy to update.

The post Create a Media Kit to Attract Advertisers to Your Blog explains how to do this in detail.

3. What will you offer?

When it comes to sponsorship, aside from your statistics, what you are going to offer or do for the brand or business? That’s what they are really interested in: why they should work with you.

You could create packages that cost a set amount, and include a select variety of things you will do for the sponsors, or you could offer to tailor a package to suit the brand’s needs and outline the ways you can promote them.

Some of the offers you could include in your sponsorship pitch are:

  • Sponsored posts, including a post that welcomes the brand as a sponsor, explains why they’re great, and possibly includes a giveaway or a special discount for their product or service. You could include a link to the sponsor’s site in every post you write about the conference (usually three to five posts in total).
  • Adding the posts to post-conference link lists and blog round-ups.
  • An ad in your sidebar for three, six, nine, or 12 months.
  • You’ll mention and link to the brand from your social media platforms.
  • You’ll include a link to their site from your newsletter for the duration of the sponsorship.
  • You’ll use brand products at the conference such as pens, notepads, tote bags, etc.
  • You’ll mention the sponsor on the back of your business card.

These are just suggestions—it’s up to you to offer items that you feel comfortable with, and which suit your blog and audience. Whatever you choose, make sure you over-deliver and provide real value to your sponsor.

4. List potential sponsors

Some bloggers need to send 50 or more emails before they get sponsorship, so be prepared to contact a lot of businesses. When you’re thinking about who you would like to sponsor you, consider these points:

  • Look at the size of your blog and the size of the business or brand you’re approaching: If you are a small blog, don’t go reaching for big brands to begin with. Instead, look at smaller businesses, bloggers and even local organizations that might suit your blog.
  • Consider having a few sponsors instead of just one sponsor: Four sponsors sharing the cost can make it easier for you to find sponsors.
  • Consider your niche: Are you a mummy blogger, tech blogger, food blogger, or finance blogger? Know your niche and look for sponsors that fit. For example, food bloggers might look for restaurants or food brands. It is unlikely readers of a food blog are going to be terribly interested in insurance ads! They’re there for the food.
  • Talk to brands you’ve worked with before: If you’ve done any freelance writing for a brand, had a lot to do with a brand or business (perhaps they’ve advertised with you before, or you’ve connected strongly on social media), email them about sponsorship.

Think outside the square a little when you’re listing potential sponsors. You could hold auditions for sponsors, or if you meet a reps from a business, product, or brand you’d like to work with, tell them. Opportunities are everywhere!

5. Contact the Marketing department, not PR

In larger companies there are often Public Relations departments and Marketing departments. PR tries to get free publicity, whereas the marketing department is the one with the money for advertising and marketing.

Take the time to find out who to contact by either calling the company, or checking out their website to find the relevant person. Then personalize your pitch to them.

6. Pitch your blog

You can do this by either calling your contact to discuss potential sponsorship, or sending them an email.

Keep it brief; if they are interested, they’ll get back to you. Let them know who you are, what you do, and that you are interested in a potential partnership. Most people do not read full proposals, nor do they want them until they have made some contact with you first, so you won’t need to send your proposal at the first contact.

7. Negotiate

Once you have a brand or business interested in working with you, you will need to negotiate what will and won’t be included.

As you do this, make sure you know what you want, but also be clear on why partnering with you is a fantastic opportunity for them. The arrangement needs to be mutually beneficial, so make sure you only agree to sponsorship tasks that you are comfortable with. Confirm everything in writing and have them sign a contract for the sponsorship.

8. Follow up

Some brands will want updates on the work you’re doing for their sponsorship. If something great happens—a post you wrote about the conference for which they sponsored you goes viral, for example—be sure to let them know.

If you’re work for the sponsor gets positive feedback from readers, keep track of it. Then, when it comes times to discuss renewing the sponsorship, you’ll have strong evidence as to why they should sponsor you again. Towards the end of your sponsorship, do get in contact with the brand to see if they are interested in renewing advertising, or sponsoring you for another conference in future.

Who’ll send you to your next conference?

Be persistent with your sponsorship pitches! Know your worth and actively do your best to present yourself in the best possible light. It’s critical to show why you are a great fit for the brand or brands you want to sponsor you.

It might take some time, but it sponsorship for conferences really is doable. More brands and businesses want to work with bloggers, because we are valuable.

Have you got a sponsor to send you to your next conference? Share your sponsorship tips with us in the comments.

Kylie Ofiu is the author of Blog to Book, 365 Ways to Make Money, among other titles as well as a public speaker, freelance writer and blogger. She shares real ways to make and save money on her blog, as well as what she is doing to go from SAHM to millionaire by 30.

Have You Got What it Takes to Become a Highly Paid Freelance Blogger?

This guest post is by Marya Jan of Writing Happiness

Ask any blogger what the going rate for freelance blogging is and you are sure to get a wide range of numbers.

Some might say $10 or $15. Some would say $30 is more appropriate.

Many professional bloggers and copywriters make in the vicinity of $100 to $250. Heck, Jon Morrow, Associate Editor of CopyBlogger, charges $3k for one post.

I have only been officially “blogging for work” since the beginning of this year and I make around $120.00 per 600-word post. So I am smack bang in the middle, and considered to be making a decent rate.

Most people don’t believe me when I tell them that. They think I am grossly exaggerating. Why would anyone pay this kind of money to have blog posts written for them?

Well, well established businesses and high profile companies do. Blogging is a part of their overall marketing budgets and they understand the value of getting a professional on board.

You might have caught this post earlier on Problogger—Jane does exactly the same thing, except she has gotten herself a regular gig. I, too, am a resident blogger for Open Colleges. I also ghost write blogs for two other businesses and this roughly makes half of my monthly income.

But what about you? Looking at the numbers, is freelance blogging something that interests you and piques your curiosity?

You too could potentially start earning money with the help of your blog.

Become a freelance blogger

Plenty of bloggers are doing it: Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing, Oni of Young Prepro, Joseph Putnam of 5 North Marketing and Tom Ewer of Leaving Work Behind are some of the names I am familiar with.

The idea is simple—but not easy.

You approach businesses that have substantial marketing budgets and ask them if they would like to hire a freelance blogger. Simple, yeah?

If they do need one, the question then becomes, Why you? Why should they hire you over others who charge $5 per post? Or why shouldn’t they get content from firms that provide them with posts for around $15-$20 apiece?

You’ll get hired as a freelance blogger—and a highly paid one at that—when you show your prospective clients that you are worth every single penny they spend on you.

You prove to them, beyond doubt, the skill and expertise you bring to the table. You explain how by paying you $100.00 per post, they are attracting targeted traffic to their site, converting those readers into leads, and further, into paying customers. You detail the return on investment (ROI) they get by hiring you.

Talk is good, but you need something back it up. And here’s how to do it.

You need to have a fairly successful blog

This one seems like stating the obvious, doesn’t it? If you don’t have a blog, how do you even know if you’d enjoy blogging for pay?

Do you know if you could do it, day in day out, on a long term basis? Can you remain committed to a topic of your choice? Do you know how long it takes you to write a 400-word post? A 900-word one? How much should you charge for them? Can you come up with topics on your own?

Really, if you have no experience of consistently writing for your own blog, you will have a really hard time even getting a response from the potential client.

You need to learn to write like an A-list blogger

What do you expect if you want to hire a service professional? That they have all the skills required to do the job, right?

Well, professional bloggers have skills too, even if they don’t have professional degrees in this department. They know how to come up with ideas that are unique and haven’t been done like a hundred times before. They possess advanced research skills to find all the content sources.

They craft headlines that entice people to look, and create effective calls to action. Their posts are scannable, concise, screen-friendly, and share-worthy. In other words, the content they create has the potential to go viral.

You need to show the client clearly that you understand the nitty gritty of blog writing for business. All of the social proof on your blog will help make your case stronger.

And the best thing you can do? Demonstrate your topic expertise. When you show industry know-how, clients know they don’t have to spend a lot of time training you. You know the ins and outs of the market place and hence have more worth than a generalist.

You need to land guest posts on influential blogs

So, for you to get gigs writing for businesses, you need to have some sort of a portfolio. And what’s better than showing off your links on authority sites like Problogger and Copyblogger?

Even if you are an expert writer for print media, writing online is an entirely different beast. While your published clips might impress people and pave the way for you, you still need to demonstrate your skills in writing for the web.

Writing on your blog in one thing; guest-posting on A-list blogs is another altogether. If your posts are good enough for leading blogs and social media sites, they are good enough to warrant adequate pay.

You need to be prepared to act in an advisory role

Can you answer these questions for your client?

  • Why do businesses need to blog? And how will you help them use their blog as part of their overall marketing strategy?
  • Can you offer a mini blog review as an added bonus? Advise them on issues like navigation/usability or freebie offers to increase signup rates etc.
  • Explain to them that by investing in blogging efforts, their ROI will increase significantly.
  • Have you got any data you can present that will back that up? Have you done any paid blogging before? If so, have you got any results that you can quote? For instance, you might say you blogged for so-and-so company and doubled their email opt-ins.
  • Can you advise your client with content strategy? Help them with editorial calendar and blog topics?
  • Can you help them track and interpret the results of blogging?

Really, when you think about it, blogging for business is more to do with online marketing, rather than writing. You are not creating content for them to amuse or entertain people, unless that’s the specific aim of the company itself. You are becoming a part of their marketing team. Gasp!

Still interested?

Marya Jan is a freelance blogger and online copywriter for e-learning, online education and training companies.  She writes at Writing Happiness where she happily helps small business owners revamp their own blog content (and copy). Grab her free book ‘How to Write Blog Content that Works’. Follow her at @WritingH.

How I Started Making $5,000 a Month With My Travel Blog [Case Study]

This guest post is by Marcello Arrambide of WanderingTrader.com.

It has now been just over two years when I entered the world of blogging and I have started to make roughly $5,000 a month with my travel blog blogs.

Blogs, with an “S” at the end—that is one of the main topics of this post. I started off with just one site and now have a slew of travel sites, branched out into other industries like finance with my Day Trading Academy, and have enlisted the help of others in order to maximize profits.

I have been sharing a series of posts on Problogger about how I have been able to churn out a consistent income since starting my blog in May of 2010. 

In this post I will be sharing how I started to maximize my profit from making around $3,000 a month, to making an average of $5,000 a month.

When I wrote the previous post about how I was making $3,000 I received many questions about exactly how I was making that amount money. I want to let you know that I am not here to tell you what to sell or how to sell it. I am explaining the process of how to position your blog to make money.

It’s not about what you sell if you never put your blog in a good position to sell it.

The most important thing is the process of how to get out there, because that is where most bloggers fall short.  If you are interested in learning exactly what bloggers are selling to make money, check out a great post written by Darren himself on how bloggers make money from blogs.

The business mindset

You know the old saying that “when it rains, it pours”? It started to rain at WanderingTrader and I wanted to figure out how to create a hurricane. Most of the people (travel bloggers) I have met started because they want to share their passion with the world. Well, one of my passions is to make money.

I started the WanderingTrader blog as a business, and then started to talk about my passions, day trading and travel. It isn’t about the money in reality, it’s about the act of making it. Competition, seeing what works—the entire business world fascinates me. The fact that money allows me to have my freedom is an even bigger motivator.

I started blogging because I wanted to bring traffic to a day trading company that I was a part of. WanderingTrader turned into my own personal travel blog and now it’s a fully fledged business. Even though my passion about travel hasn’t changed, I also knew that if I wanted to maximize my presence on the internet I needed to think like a business man, not a blogger.

Shortcuts

The most important thing about making money online is exposure, followed closely by authority.  If no one knows that you exist, how are you going to make any money in the first place?  Once I was able to solidify my site as a high-authority website that received sufficient amount of traffic, I was able to start making money with it.

Building a high authority site is no easy task. In the online world it takes time—lots of time. You have to build relationships, guest post on other sites, and find a niche for yourself in a crowded space. So when it came to creating a hurricane from the rain I had falling at WanderingTrader, I immediately thought about building exposure and authority.

Exposure is more difficult to achieve than authority, because you have to personally build that.  Yes you can pay for it, but in the end when you want something done well, you always end up having to do it yourself.  Authority however, is something that anyone can do.

I immediately considered the fact that I could buy a high authority site and start making money with it while I continued to build the exposure for that blog. I was onto something.

A numbers game

I already knew how to make money in the travel niche, so I continued in that same field. I thought, if I had two blogs to make money from instead of one, wouldn’t that double my income?

I was on the hunt for a high authority site that I could buy, and from which I could immediately recoup my investment.  I found a site that was listed as PR 5 and I immediately wanted to buy it.  I contacted a man that stated the owner wanted $1500 for the site, and replied by explaining that I would give him $1000 and not a penny more.

He gave me the classic salesman’s line: “I will present to the owner but I don’t think he will go that low.”

I bought a new, good authority, PR5 site the next day: ParamountTravel.com. I made $7,000 the first month pimping it out to every advertiser I could find. I made sure to add plenty of content to the site before I started speaking to advertisers, to ensure it looked as a high-authority site should.

But as luck would have it, I ended up treating Paramount Travel like a red-headed step-child: in the end, I only put new posts up when more advertisers contacted me. Even so, these days, when WanderingTrader receives an ad inquiry, I can double the sale by pitching ParamountTravel and WanderingTrader as a package rather than just selling ad space on WanderingTrader.

The numbers game on steroids

If I can make that much money with two travel blogs, why couldn’t I make more money with five or even ten travel blogs?

I bought a slew of domains and tried building the sites from scratch, myself.  Turns out there are only so many hours in the day and I never got the opportunity to build the sites’ exposure authority. I haven’t been managing the sites correctly, because life keeps getting in the way. I run a travel blog for a reason: I am currently living overseas in Brazil and am having a great time getting know the Brazilian people. I just finished a recent trip to my second to last country in South America, Peru, and am already making plans to visit Ecuador (the last).

The point of this story is that I set my goals too high. When you try to do everything yourself, you simply can’t get everything done.

Building partnerships

If I can’t build the websites myself, I thought, why not work with other people who want to make money with their blogs? This would allow me to not worry about the websites—I could simply do all the leg work to help build authority for the new sites.

This part of the process wasn’t just about making money, it was about helping others achieve their dreams through a joint venture. I would provide my expertise on the industry, and share their passion for travel. This solution seemed like it would work well on both ends, since I don’t have the time to run many other sites and I know many bloggers who want to break into the online industry.

I have a very good friends that only dream of doing what I am doing and want a little piece of the pie.  Most people want to hide the way they do things, but I consider the online world to be massive: there is enough cake for everyone.

So I made agreements with a few of my friends to help build their websites: I would help with the backend of everything, and they would create the content.  All advertising from the new websites would be split evenly, 50/50.  The great thing about this agreement is that I get exposure across more markets than just travel—there is a translator, a day trader, and single mom in the bunch. The sites we’re working on are:

Maximizing your results

If you are trying to make money online, I would highly recommend that you focus on one site in the beginning so you can get the hang of things. One blog is enough work, and it will take you some time to get adapted to running it.

Most advertisers will find you, and if you are creative enough you will find ways to make money by selling other things other than just what advertisers are interested in. 

Even though it costs money that you don’t have, look to invest in getting some help. Most people don’t value their time highly enough and can spend their time doing things that offer more value to a blog rather than spending time doing back-office work.

One last tip is to think out of the box: don’t just consider the regular process of building a blog and making money with it. If you do something different, people will pay attention.

Marcello Arrambide follows his passions around the world day trading & traveling  on his quest to visit every country in the world.  He has visited nearly 50 countries, lived in 10 countries across 4 continents, and also teaches people how to day trade in the markets when he travels.  You can find Marcello online on his Facebook Page and Twitter.

Why Bloggers Should Freelance

This guest post is by Sid from GeeksMakeMoney.

Blogging can be a richly rewarding experience, and bloggers can sometimes get carried away by their success. I personally know bloggers who look down upon freelancing, but unless you are one of the top league bloggers known the world over, you should probably expand and diversify.

Freelancing gives you plenty of ways and opportunities to grow beyond the confines of being “a blogger,” and it can be of great help in your blogging career.

Whether you are new to blogging or have been in your field for long, freelancing on the side can open up opportunities and avenues that are not always available to ordinary bloggers. You can always tie your blogging activities into your freelancing activities—it’s not hard to figure out how one feeds off of the other.

The trick is to be open to trying out something new, taking risks and learning in the process.

Monetary flexibility

Well, straight to the point: freelancing pays. Blogging might or might not pay.

If you are a new blogger, this is a fairly obvious point. You can freelance on the side and earn some additional income while your blog is still growing and yet to produce significant income itself.

If you already have a blog that earns money, remember that earnings for most bloggers can fluctuate a lot, especially for the medium-sized blogs. Can you honestly tell yourself that you would earn as much or more from your blog a couple of years from now as you are earning today? There are so many factors—Google algorithm changes, established competition, shifting preferences of the audience and plenty more can devastate small bloggers (think Shoemoney or John Chow—if such A-list bloggers can lose audience, so can you).

With freelancing, you have the flexibility to scale up or down your activities and thus maintain your current income streams even if your blog’s earnings fluctuate.

Success story; Oni of YoungPrePro ties his blog and his freelance writing together really well. In fact, he’s now at a stage where he earns tens of thousands of dollars a month only through freelancing. Even though his blog is hugely popular, he prefers to earn money through freelancing because it is stable, reliable, and better paying.

Branding and publicity

If you can contribute your work to a more popular medium than your own blog, and people like your work, you are building your brand by investing in yourself. Freelancing is also a good medium for publicity, and I love any method that pays me to publicize myself!

Freelancing gives you the opportunity to produce high quality content under your name that others will like, and appreciate and present yourself and your expertise to the world. This, of course, is going to be of immense help to grow your blog as people recognize your authority.

Success story: Carol of Make A Living Writing is a prolific and well-known writer, and has written for Entrepreneur, Copyblogger, Seattle Times, and plenty of other popular blogs.

Many can instantly recognize her and her top-quality work, so freelancing helps her grow as a writer and helps establish a higher credibility for her blog at the same time.

Testing new waters

As a freelancer, you get to work on different fields within your area of expertise. If you are a writer, you can write on a variety of topics. This is a great way to explore new areas that interest you and learn more about different niches. You can pick up ideas that you think a blog in this niche should cover and then present your own perspective.

Many bloggers work for bigger publications, then branch out to start their own blogs once they understand the business and topic much more intimately.

Success story: Starre of Eco-Chick was a writer for popular fashion magazines before starting her own successful blog, which is in line with what she wrote for magazines, combining fashion and sustainability.

When she started the blog Eco-Chick, everything was already in place—she knew the field better than anyone else. Isn’t that a solid start for your blogging platform?

Tricks of the trade

In addition to these points, you can also learn insider tricks of the trade when you freelance. When you work as a freelancer and are getting paid to do so, chances are, you are working at a company that is at least moderately successful. You can learn why, and they would be more than happy to teach you because they want your work to be put to best use.

This is a great way to learn how things are done and what works for successful businesses. And that knowledge can prove invaluable when you are actually starting your own blog.

Do you freelance and blog at the same time? Why? And what benefits does it give you? Tell us your stories in the comments.

True to his word, Sid is a blogger and freelancer and has written popular freelancing guides including oDesk Review and Elance vs. oDesk. He is starting out a number of different blogging projects, from understanding fashion to using python in finance. His oldest blog is about penny auctions.

From Blog to Profitable Business in Four Steps

This guest post is by Michael Chibuzor of Content Marketing Up.

Let’s face it: updating your blog on a daily basis doesn’t necessarily make you smart. It might be helpful, but there is more to blogging than writing.

How about doing this online “thing” as if it’s a real business? A brick and mortar business?

I strongly believe you could turn a profit easily if you change your mindset and style.

Of course, you’ll continuously write quality content—after all, that’s what your readers need. But turning your blog into a real-life business would help you connect, share, and breathe life into your blog.

It’s about productivity that leads to profit.

You need confidence to win

There are good reasons why you need confidence in your business. Confidence electrifies you and your readers, and prompts action. Entrepreneurs are risk-takers, yet many bloggers may decide to hang on to outdated principles instead of challenging the status quo.

But we can change that.

With all the noise in the blogosphere, it takes extra wit to attract targeted readers and build a tribe. Without confidence, you won’t be able to organize and manage your business.

You need to challenge yourself to take responsibility.

If you want to build a profitable blog, you must run it like an offline business. You need to master:

  • organization and management
  • customer service
  • social etiquette
  • profit

Those are the four essential factors in building a successful offline business—but they’re extremely beneficial to blogging, too. Are you ready to explore?

1. Organization and management

Jesus picked up twelve men from the bottom ranks of business and forged them into an organization that conquered the world.—Bruce Barton

“How do I get more people to trust me?” many bloggers ask.

Trust isn’t a one-off decision. You need to be consistent and build trust over time. As you interact with the target audience and provide valuable information, your readers will start to take your words to heart.

That is why you need to organize and manage your blog. A well organized and managed blog will soon become the go-to resource for your target prospects and readers.

First, you need to organize and manage your time. Use your time wisely. Your blog attracts people who have needs. They want answers. Use the limited time at your disposal to focus on answering your readers’ questions, and outsource the other tasks to professionals.

The easiest and most lucrative way to stay organized is to outsource. Before I launched my first ebook, I didn’t understand outsourcing one bit. I had to do the entire task myself—market research, keyword research, cover design, writing, and marketing. As a result, my blog suffered, and my engagement with my audience was broken. I also observed a drop in daily traffic and comments.

Like offline businesses, on your blog, the management (that’s you) is responsible for delegation. Use outsourcing as a corporation uses its departments, and your blog will grow and produce better results. Identify your greatest strengths. Outsource the other tasks (find freelancers at Odesk and Elance).

You don’t have to be a jack-of-all-trades to succeed online.

2. Customer service

We’re so used to customers in the offline business, but bloggers often don’t recognize who our customers are online.

Your readers are your customers, and how you treat them is important to your success.

It’s your responsibility to respect your readers and visitors. Address them by name and reply to their comments with the proper salutation. When someone comes to your site, they should feel that you care. They don’t have to be strangers—at least, not any more.

Create an environment of warmth with prospects and readers. When you give away valuable ebooks or software, or something that will make readers remember you, you’re building a solid relationship.When you send a quote to a prospect, send a gift, too. No matter how small it looks, it’ll create a bond between you and your target audience.

Also, your readers need to know what’s happening at your blog. If you’ll be making changes, you should notify them beforehand. Surprises are good, but not at the detriment of your business. And when there’s a complaint, accept it peacefully and with good humor. See your readers as your friends.

Good customer service can boost your online business and expose you to a world of opportunities.

3. Social etiquette

You can’t help it—you’ve achieved so much in life, and feel a bit fulfilled. Perhaps you have a slight tendency to brag when you blog. But is this healthy for your audience? I don’t think so.

Social etiquette is an attitude. It requires you to look at your personal life, and consider how you bring it to the table as a blogger. Those who don’t share, communicate, and help others have problems with their lives. The problem isn’t the blog or the business—it’s their personal life.

If you focus on helping people, there won’t be a room for bragging. Your level of blogging success today is directly proportional to the value you create. So change your approach and focus on readers, their problems, and how you can help.

That’s how you can use etiquette to make your blog a profitable business.

4. Profit from your blog

As your blog grows into a business and you build its uniqueness, you’ll begin to attract high-paying prospects and outstanding offers. Are you prepared for the opportunities your blogging business could create?

Blogging offers different opportunities to profit. When you visit my content marketing blog, you won’t find an affiliate banner or link. I sell my writing services and generate enough income to pay my bills. And guess what? I didn’t apply for any writing job; I was contacted directly by entrepreneurs because they discovered I was business-minded.

Land a job

Perhaps you’d like a secure, and well-paid job. If that’s the case, running your blog like a real business can be of help. I’ve worked with a human resource firm prior to running my online business. Employers were looking for hard working, passionate, confident go-getters who could help reach the organization’s goals.

Most bloggers don’t have these qualities. They see a blog as a tool, rather than the true business that it is. Are you confident to put your blog’s URL on your resume? If not, consider running it more like a business that you can be proud of.

You’ve seen blogs featured at CNN, Fox News, and so forth. Those are no half-baked blogs—they’re manned by savvy entrepreneurs. If they can do it, why shouldn’t you?

Monetize your blog

Most blogs have no product to sell, but they’re updated regularly. I once asked a blogger friend of mine, “Why don’t you monetize your blog?”

“I don’t want to chase my readers away,” he replied.

Who says selling chases readers away? Monetizing a blog is as important as setting up and updating the blog. Without this, people won’t take you seriously. You’ll be regarded as a newbie at worst, and an amateur at best.

Sell a product

Selling a product or offering a service via your blog won’t annoy readers, provided it’s valuable and offers practical solutions to their problems.

If you decide to monetize with affiliate offers, be honest in your reviews. Let readers know you’ll earn commissions when they buy via your affiliate link. This helps to build credibility and shows that you genuinely want to help them.

If you decide to create your own product, spend time with your audience so that you can understand what they need, and build a product that truly delivers.

Do you see your blog as a real business … or “just a blog”?  Is it time you changed your philosophy? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Michael Chibuzor is an entrepreneur, a freelance writer and the founder of Make Money Hi. Are you looking for a creative writer to help grow your site/blog’s traffic and increase sales? Hire Michael to write for you. He loves the color Red. He’s 23 years old and likes to meet new people.