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The Blah Blah Blah Blogging Rules. F It.

I’m having a rule-following problem. As in, don’t want to follow them.

Which rules? These ones:

  • Use snappy titles containing a question, the words “How To” and jarring adjectives. Do not be cute, arty, or poetic. Copy-write. Read the titles on the cover of The Enquirer or Cosmo and do what they do. Your title is more important than the post, itself.
  • Give advice. Provide value. Solve problems. Don’t talk about your cat or your sex life.
  • Make it scannable. Break up text with headers.
  • Make is scannable. Use lists.
  • Make it scannable. Use boldface and italics to emphasize your point.
  • Be brief, simple and stick to one topic. Your readers are only scanning it, anyways.

The Blogging Rules, Flouting Them, and the Faux-Rebellion.

Here is my confession: I’m a lit-on-fire blogger (who hates the word blog, cringes when I’m called a blogger, and resists the word “post”) but I don’t want to play by these rules.

I want to write wild, long, passionate, raw and real. I want to create art. I want to write words that land and burrow and inhabit my people. (I should just admit that I’m a wannabe poet and call it a day. Then no one would EVER read/scan my stuff. And so I blog.)

Here is my second confession: I adhere to the Gospel of Doowhatchalike. My titles are posts in and of themselves. I often write loooooooooooong pieces – sometimes 2,000 words or more. I insert my opinions and streams of consciousness and wackadoo digressions all over the place and they’re usually more interesting than the ostensible topic. And then I post pictures of my cleavage.

But just between you, me and the double D, I’m not a rebel.

I may have a vivid imagination and torrid/insane romantic life (thanks, vivid imagination!), but otherwise am so screamingly normal that it makes your normal tawdry. This is me: 9-5, kids, stability, friends, family, education, achievements, regular oil changes, a yard that doesn’t raise the wrath of strata, blah blah blah.

Why then, in my blog – my baby, my heart, my love, my creative offering to the world, my own thing – do I have to follow the rules? Why do you?

The Revolution Will Be Blogged

Recently, at my own site, I asked: Why do you blog?

The answers were many, varied, and invariably wonderful:

I blog because I love to write; blogging is just another form of expression for me. – Amanda Farough, Violet Minded

Though I may never become a writer who makes millions through my craft, blogging has given me the opportunity to affect the lives of others with my words. – Maven, A Fabulously Good Life

I blog because I’m the savior of the world and if everyone would just listen to me, we would all be better off, but then, I can’t even save myself sometimes so I guess that’s not true either.

I blog because I love run-on sentences.

I blog because the Infinite source of the cosmos calls me to it, that or is constantly warning me to stay away from it. Either way, I’m pretty bad at listening. – Steve, Life Change For You

I started blogging initially because it I was bored, dateless and cold on one January Friday night in Chicago. True story – Laura Cococcia, The Journal of Cultural Conversation

I am a glutton for personal development. whut.

I blog about it because I do my best thinking when I’m talking. I learn things as I explain them to others. I realize truth about myself, ugly ones and damaged ones and foreign ones, when I’m not stuck in my own head.

I blog because blogging is gangsta, and I got a gangsta lean. – Carlos Velez, Conscious Me (coming January 2010)

I needed a space where I could support my own interests, where I’m the Queen Of My Own Domain! It was also a challenge to push myself to try something completely new…to get unstuck and out of a rut. – Eileen, Blue Bird Luxe

I also consider it a creative act and a political act – any woman blogging now is raising a voice for all those womens’ voices which were silenced throughout history. And as the famous quote by Adrienne Rich states: When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her. – Lianne Raymond

…I blog because I want a revolution, I’m adverse to guns, and toddlers aren’t great at protest marches (unless they’re protesting the lack of third bowls of ice cream or fourth green bananas). – Arwyn, Raising My Boychick

To recap: we’re blogging for creative expression; to affect the lives of others; because the-cosmos-made-me or we’re bored and dateless and got a gangsta lean; for challenge; as a creative and political act (be the revolution), and lions-and-tigers-and-bears, OH MY.

Nobody said this:

  • To follow the rules
  • To do what everyone else is doing
  • To turn my blog into a cliché
  • To make money (whaaaaaa????? NOBODY? – okay, a few)

My point: blogging can be transformational.

You know why?

Because it is writing – and we might say, oh you don’t have to be a good writer to be a popular blogger, but for the most part that is a big wiggly lie – and we’re doing it daily.

Those two things, together, mean we’re thinking about THINGS and working through them. A-ha moments are practically guaranteed.

And then there are the people. Wow, the people. Blogging lets us find our people and that is a revelation. It is like coming home to a love-in, only everyone keeps their clothes on (usually) and talks pretty about thinky things. It is beautiful. It is soul food that doesn’t make you fat.

Transformation, community, freedom, creative expression.

That’s why some (most?) of us are blogging. We’re not looking for another set of rules to obey.

Nope. Not even one person jumped on the couch to scream “I LOVE THE RULES. Katie Holmes, Schmatie Holmes, I WANNA MARRY THE RULES!”

So WHY all the Blogging Rules?

So what’s up with the rules? Who made these rules anyway? Why do we need them?

Even more importantly – let me put my social science hat on here and run a really good query – where do they come from?

Dearest Reader, I knew you’d ask, so I did the research. And this is the answer:

F it.

That’s not a code and I’m not alluding to a bad word. That’s really the answer. That’s how people read online.

F for fast. That’s how users read your precious content. In a few seconds, their eyes move at amazing speeds across your website’s words in a pattern that’s very different from what you learned in school.

In our new eyetracking study, we recorded how 232 users looked at thousands of Web pages. We found that users’ main reading behavior was fairly consistent across many different sites and tasks. This dominant reading pattern looks somewhat like an F and has the following three components:

  • Users first read in a horizontal movement, usually across the upper part of the content area. This initial element forms the F’s top bar.
  • Next, users move down the page a bit and then read across in a second horizontal movement that typically covers a shorter area than the previous movement. This additional element forms the F’s lower bar.
  • Finally, users scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement. Sometimes this is a fairly slow and systematic scan that appears as a solid stripe on an eyetracking heatmap. Other times users move faster, creating a spottier heatmap. This last element forms the F’s stem.

That’s not reading. That’s scanning – that’s a person who ended up on your site thanks to Google, and who is searching for an answer to a question. A solution. Maybe even something to buy. And that’s where The Blogging Rules come from.

Readers read the headline, maybe the first line or two, and then scan the body of the piece. Hence: great titles, strong leads, headers and lists.

Blogging Rules: Your New Best Friend. Alas.

The rules aren’t random. They’re a guide to crafting effective online content that gets read (errr…scanned).

Larry Brooks, the writing guru behind the rampant writing usefulness that is storyfix (and he’s so much more than that, too – he’s in love with me although he doesn’t know it nor does his wife. Vivid imagination, say hey!) writes in his blog about the importance of following the rules.

As in: if you’re a writer, and you want to get published, you better learn the storytelling conventions and rock them out. To the letter. Or resign yourself to being an undiscovered ungenius.

The same is probably true with blogging. The rules are about how people read online. And you want them to read your stuff, right? I mean that’s why we’re blogging, yes?

My inner imaginary rebel just nodded, sighed and said F it.

________________________

PS – Want more on the rules? Here’s a quick, top ten list of good stuff you can find here at ProBlogger. (Ah-choo!)

  1. Striking Findings from an Eye Tracking Study
  2. Behaviors of the Blogosphere Study Results
  3. What is a Blog?
  4. 18 Lessons I’ve Learnt as a Blogger
  5. Writing Good Content
  6. Post Length – How Long should a Blog Post Be?
  7. Granular One Topic Blog Posts
  8. Using Titles Effectively on Blogs
  9. Scannable Content
  10. Writing Blog Content – Make it Scannable

__________________________

Kelly Diels is a wildly hireable freelance writer and the creator of Cleavage, a blog about three things we all want more of: sex, money and meaning.

Six Ways To Make More Money As An Affiliate

By Johnny B. Truant

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that affiliate marketing is the easiest way to make money online. You don’t have to create a product or develop a service, you don’t need huge amounts of focused traffic the way you do with AdSense, (I started using AdSense a year ago and just recently passed the $100 minimum payout), and you don’t need to do a ton of advertising or SEO to make it work.

All you really need is an audience to whom you can refer products and services.

Of course, the above statement is true in the same way it’s true that you only need food, water, and shelter to live. It’s technically accurate — but personally, I’d like to have Netflix and a few Twix bars, too.

I made around $20,000 in my first six months from affiliate marketing, and the following are a six tips I’ve found that will take you from bare bones to a legit affiliate income.

1. Establish trust

Technically, you can make a few bucks here and there even by tossing out links to people who don’t know and/or like you. I think of these as “cookie toss” sales, because most affiliate setups dictate that each time a person clicks on an affiliate link, that affiliate’s cookie (which identifies the customer as “belonging” to that affiliate) overwrites any previous cookies on the customer’s computer. If you’re on Twitter during a launch and toss out a bunch of affiliate links for the product that everyone is promoting, there’s a chance that your link will be the last link someone uses before buying. You didn’t really refer the sale; you lucked into it.

A far better way to go is to actually have some credibility with your readers, audience, and peers. If you have a blog, work on building bulletproof trust with your readers. If you’re on Twitter, tweet with some integrity, and be a real person rather than a selling drone. If your people like and respect you, they will believe you when you say a product or service is worth buying.

2. Promote only products you honestly believe in

Don’t be a shill. Once you start promoting as an affiliate, you’ll quickly discover how many things are out there to promote. If you hop on every one, your people will turn away because they’re always being sold to. Worse, they won’t believe that your recommendations have any merit because you’ll recommend anything. There are plenty of good things out there, so be a true “raving fan” of a product you like rather than a hawker.

3. Don’t promise the moon (i.e. tell the truth)

No product or service is perfect, so don’t pretend it is. There is a strong tendency (especially in online marketing) to oversell. Everybody’s course will triple your income in two days; every program is guaranteed to whiten your teeth and wax your new Ferrari while filling your hot tub with supermodels. People are smarter than to believe the BS, so don’t feed it to them. (And as a bonus, if you tell the truth, you’ll sleep better at night.)

If you want to go really nuts with this principle, you can take the contrarian’s approach like I did when I promoted a course by pointing out its foibles and the fact that you may well totally fail online. (By the way, I ended up being the top-selling affiliate for that course.)

5. Disclose your affiliate relationships

This really isn’t a bonus item anymore, actually. The Federal Trade Commission is now saying that bloggers must disclose that they will make money if people buy through their affiliate links.

The good news is that disclosure can be a good thing if you’ve established trust already. Loyal readers won’t care that you’ll benefit if they believe that your praise of the product is honest, or if they were planning to buy anyway.

6. Offer bonuses

This is a great one. Recently, I offered to give my $297 Zero to Business program to anyone who used my affiliate links to buy Copyblogger’s Teaching Sells course, which I honestly think is spectacular. Because my course added almost $300 in value to their purchase, customers loved it. And because the commission for Teaching Sells exceeded the price of Z2B, I loved it.

I think the biggest, simplest key to affiliate marketing is honesty and integrity. If you lie, yes, you may make sales — but those people who were lied to will never buy through you again. If on the other hand you build relationships and tell the truth, affiliate marketing results in a natural synergy. You refer people to good products that they will enjoy and benefit from. When they buy, you benefit, too. And when they benefit, they come back to thank you from the referral. In all likelihood, they’ll trust your future recommendations in the future — and then everyone benefits again.

Hey, it beats a plain old “food, shelter, and water” existence, right?

——–

Johnny B. Truant writes about online business, turkeys, and occasionally SpongeBob SquarePants’ pet snail at JohnnyBTruant.com. He invites cool folks to join his laid-back Jam Sessions call series and to connect with him on Twitter @johnnybtruant.

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The Paint By Numbers Guide To Artful Blogging

A Guest Post by Greg Hayes from Live Fit Blog.

Do you subscribe to the idea that blogging is an art form? I do.

Britannica Online defines art as “The use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others.”

If you’re a blogger, then by definition, you most certainly engage in the following activities during the creation of content:

  1. Creative Writing
  2. Web Page Design (Aesthetics)
  3. Idea Development (Novelty)
  4. Social Media (Shared Experiences)

When we start our blog, we read the A-list bloggers, and they repeat the mantra of blogging, “CON-tent, CON-tent, CON-tent!” Yet, its so easy to get caught up in the allure of unique visitors, page views, and keyword content. All the background noise distracts us from the core of what we do, which is, in reality, a form of art.

Creative Writing

Like all other forms of art, the gift of creative writing is enhanced through practice and study. Research into the habits of many successful authors shows that most are well-read people. Reading the work of others shapes your own creative writing skills. Being well read keeps ideas flowing, and prompts you to expand your skills.

In the online realm, read the works of Copyblogger, Write to Done, and Men With Pens. These are places to hone your writing skills. There are others as well. Seek them out.They are masters at the craft of writing, and just like any student, studying will hone your skills.

Web Page Design

The artistry of blog design can take many forms. For instance, what experience do you hope to provide for your readers. If you look at Zen Habits, you’ll find a very clean design, with a strong focus on core content. Leo Babauta’s page design clearly adheres to the theme of his content, which is minimalistic in nature.

By contrast, John Chow’s site is geared toward the process of making money online. Readers should expect to find more advertisements and promotional materials. This is consistent with the experience John Chow is attempting to create for his readers.

These are just two examples. The point here is to choose a blog design that is consistent with the experience you want to create for your reader. Within those constraints, the options are endless.

Idea Development

The odds of choosing a truly novel niche are slim. There are very few subjects around the net that haven’t been covered in some detail. But, the same holds true for painting. Paintings of women are a dime a dozen. But there is only one Mona Lisa.

The process of creating a work of art demands novelty. No matter how crowded your niche, the experience you provide for your readers is what will differentiate you from the crowd. So, whatever you do, DON’T try to copy the success of others. Instead, study the success of other artists. Learn from them. Then apply what you learn in your own unique way to provide something new and fresh for your audience.

Social Media

Works of art are meant to be shared with others. What value would the works of Van Gogh or da Vinci bring to the world if they were secreted away, never to be seen again? The same holds true for your blog. Get out there and socialize with others in the online community. Take advantage of Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and all the others to share your work with the world. Revel in both the praise and critique of your works. It’s all part of the process.

Blogging is a unique art form. It blends aspects of creative design, writing, technical development, graphic media, and other skills to create something new and unique for readers around the world. It provides a novel, open platform for sharing new ideas. Take advantage and push the form to its limits. This is the essence of artistry.

About the author:  Greg Hayes writes Live Fit Blog, a blog with tips about living a balanced lifestyle, fitness, what it means to be a father, friend, husband, and much more.

How 12 Experts Make Money Through Their Blogs (And How You Can Learn Their Secrets)

A guest post by Jade Craven

Update – The offer in this post has been extended to Monday due to some server issues that Dave had.

I review a lot of information products. Rarely, does one impress me as much as More Buyers Mastermind. Rather than provide a pitch, I thought I’d explain why I believe so strongly in this product.

For the busy people, here’s the rundown:

  • It is becoming hard to directly monetize your blog
  • Dave Navarro has released a seminar, featuring 12 people who are making a LOT from selling products.
  • This is one of the best valued products available online.
  • He has released a LOT of content as part of his pre-launch – including an awesome twitter contest. Read the ‘P.S’ to find out.

Why its getting harder to monetize your own blog.

It is getting harder to monetize your blog via direct methods. There are more people publishing content online and more competition for the advertisers. Additionally, the global financial crisis has also slashed the revenue of many who relied solely on few methods.

Many people are now transitioning and offering more products and services. Just look at Darren – he recently launched a paid forum and an ebook.

Solution: A teleseminar from 12 people who are making A LOT online

David found a solution: 12 people who are making a LOT from selling products and services. The More Buyers Mastermind is a seminar featuring 12 awesome bloggers. Dave interviews top talent including:

  • Chris Garrett
  • Michael Martine
  • Chris Guillebeau
  • Naomi Dunford
  • Brian Clark
  • Laura Roeder

Every person on that list makes their income based on their blog. Lets re-examine that list:

  • Laura Roeder sells information products and consulting services
  • Brian Clark creates and recommends products at Copyblogger
  • Chris Guillebeau makes the majority of his income from his Unconventional Guides
  • Michael Martine sells a SEO ebook and consults at Remarkablogger
  • Chris Garrett offers his freelance services and sells an e-course
  • Naomi sells multiple online products and brainstorming consults

Now, they still make a decent income from advertising banners and affiliate income. The bulk, however, is from the indirect methods.

You need to act fast…

After this Friday, Dave is raising the price to $197. After 30 days, it will almost triple in price. (Update: Dave has extended this offer until Monday due to some server issues).

Some people avoid buying because they assume the product will come on sale eventually. Dave doesn’t offer discounted products. I agree: his products are awesome value as it is. That’s why you should take advantage of the entry level price now – its very rare you get a seminar this valuable.

Who is  Dave Navarro?

dave-navarro2Dave Navarro is the highly successful blogger behind Rock Your Day and The Launch Coach.

He has become a good friend of mine. Ever since I reviewed ‘How to Launch the **** Out Of Your Ebook‘ here on Problogger, he has gone out of his way to help me. At first I thought he was trying to suck up but I quickly learned that he naturally loves helping people.

I am not kidding about this. Anytime I tweet about my posting commitments, he reminds me not to burn myself out. He’s THAT awesome.

Why it is so valuable:

Its less than $10 a call

I’ve bought a lot of products. Anything less than $30 a call is a bargain. Dave is offering you 12 calls for $97.  You also get the additional coaching calls and workbooks. Most of these people charge over $100 for an hour of their time. Their information products are often just as high.

Dave will ask the right questions

I’ve listened to other audio products by Dave and he has the skills to get the exact information you need. You wont be paying for a product targeted to the beginners.

My final Opinion.

I’ve bought a lot of information products. Dave is one of the few people that consistently delivers.

I doubt that there will be another seminar this valuable in this price range. As Dave often says – ‘Price is what you pay. Value is what you get’

Bonus 1: Competition and Content

Dave has released 3 free workbooks as part of his launch cycle. They are accompanied by three of the best blog posts I have read.

Additionally, he has launched a twitter contest with over $2000 worth of prizes.

Call to action: Click here to check out the awesome workbooks and

Bonus 2: An extra goody

Dave knows that you guys may struggle with the cost of the course. He is willing to provide you with extra value by offering one of two Problogger resource. You can choose from:

  • 6 months free membership to the Problogger.com community
  • A free copy of the 31DBBB workbook

Just contact Dave after you’ve purchased. He’ll send you your product after the launch has died down.

Call to action: Click here to take advantage of this limited bonus. 

Disclosure: Dave Navarro is a good friend of mine. I have received review copies of his products. This does not affect my endorsement of this product.

Win Dinner with ProBlogger and Special Guests at Blog World Expo 2009

OK – this is a competition that is only for those attending Blog World Expo (please don’t comment below if you’re not attending). I know that excludes most readers but I hope we can include everyone a little by posting some pictures of the event.

The prize is a free dinner with me and some of my blogging buddies at BWE at the lovely Fiamma Trattoria and Bar** in Vegas.

I’m still confirming which other guests are coming but we have 3 spots open to ProBlogger readers – hence this competition.

Contest Rules

1. You must be attending Blog World Expo 2009 in Las Vegas, NV.
2. You must be available for dinner on Wednesday night, October 14th at 6pm. We cannot change the scheduled time or modify to suit anyone’s schedules.
3. You must provide your own transportation to and from the event.
4. Since we will need to place your name on a guest list, you will need to provide identification at the door upon arrival.
5. To enter, simply leave a comment below – make sure to use your REAL name and your most often checked email address in the name and email fields. Lara will do the draw using random.org on Tuesday at 4pm Eastern Time (NY, USA) and will contact the (3) winners privately via email. Please then confirm receipt of the email before 8pm ET.

*Please don’t leave a comment if you’re NOT available to attend the dinner. Because we’re running on very short notice, we need to keep this process as streamlined as possible, and weeding through comments wouldn’t help! Thanks for understanding!

** Dinner graciously provided by Fiamma Trattoria and Bar at MGM Grand @TasteMGMGrand.

How One Blogger Made $3k a month by Helping People – And How He Can Help You

A Guest post by Jade Craven.

JohnnyBTruantHave you heard of Johnny B Truant? He started writing at ‘The Economy Isn’t Happening’ but recently, he revealed he’s made $10’000 in 3 months. In his Ittybiz column, he told how he made nearly $3’000 in one month. He’s also written a couple of guest posts here on ProBlogger here and here.

What really attracted me to him was that he didn’t earn this money by taking advantage of people or using questionable tactics. He did it by finding out what people wanted and providing them with a solution that benefited them both.

In this post, I’ll talk about how Johnny did it. I’ll provide strategies and case studies so you can apply these tips to your on blog. I’ll even talk about the tactics he used to promote his killer new ecourse, for those who are looking at selling information products from their blog.

Finally, I’ll give you an exclusive discount for that e-course Zero to Business – just skip to the bottom if you want 10% off.

4 Ways To Earn Money By Helping People

Give Free Stuff strategically

strategyImage by Anil Jadhav

How Johnny did this:

  • He released a free instructional ebook about setting up a blog.
  • He did free website setups in return for testimonials

How You Can Do this

  • Barter your services with other skilled bloggers
  • Release an introductory report
  • Do free work in return for references or exposure
  • Do case studies highlighting your skills.

Case studies.

  • Leo Babauta, Skellie and Chris Garret got a lot of exposure because of their guest posting.
  • Neil Creek takes headshots of attendees at twitter meetups for use on their social media sites. He has received a lot of praise over this, both from the local twitter community and international photographers. He has gone on to get many more clients and enquiries.
  • Darren used to do case studies on his blog as an advertisement for his consulting. He no longer offers this service.

Provide calls to action regularly

callImage by kozumel

How Johnny did this:

  • He would frequently have P.S at the end of his post – including a few humorous ones
  • He would simply state “Call to Action”

How you can provide calls to action:

  • In the conclusion of the post, tell the reader what you want them to do
  • Give them an incentive to click through

Case Studies:

  • Ali Hales guest post on Problogger. She talked about the topic of staff blogging before encouraging people to check out her ecourse. As an extra incentive, she gave the readers a discount code.
  • Dave Navarros post on Freelance Folder, where he encouraged the readers to give an example in the comments.

Find your people.

people

Image by Elvire.R.

How Johnny did this:

  • He got a guest posting slot of Ittybiz, offering himself as a case study
  • He is on the faculty of Project Mojave
  • He has guest posted on the places where his target readership hangs out

How to do this:

  • Find blogs that attract the kind of people you want to target. See if you can guest post on that blog.
  • Seek  work and joint venture opportunities
  • Look for regular writing opportunities

Case studies.

I don’t need to offer any case studies. Look around at your favourite blogs. Do you see the same people being featured? Are the same people interacting? They are the loyal fans.

Are you a loyal fan of anyone? You’ll usually find you tend to hang out in that persons group. You may buy from more than one person. These are the people you want to connect with.

Selling something? Focus on selling solutions.

solve

Image by Doug88888

How Johnny did this

  • He offered wordpress installs at a discounted price. To compensate, he asked that people buy through his affiliate link
  • He sold group coaching to those that couldn’t afford the price of individual coaching..
  • When realizing that people were still needing information, he created a course that was cheaper than getting Johnny to help them through the process.

How you can do this:

  • See if you can offer a service at a discounted rate in exchange for purchasing something through their affiliate link
  • Find creative ways of making your products more affordable without underpricing yourself.
  • Listen to your audiences needs and create products to help them.

Case Studies:

  • Sarah Prout does this in her Twitter Success Blueprint. She realized that businesses needed an affordable way to learn about twitter, so she created an ebook with information catered to professionals, as well as other twitter users.
  • Men with Pens do this with their blog critiques. They offer a discount for ones offered on the blog.

I know many people hate being sold too. Rather than promote his course Zero to Business, I’ll talk about what you can learn from it.

What you can learn from the course

There are three main things I loved about the promotion strategy:

  • He created humorous videos with viral potential.
  • He purposely  avoided hype in his sales page
  • He provided real and useful bonuses

Lets discuss how you can learn from each strategy.

The Humorous videos.

  • He mocked a number of the key sales tactics in the internet marketing niche
  • In his letter to his affiliates, he recommended that people promote the videos rather than the product

So – how can you adopt this to your launch?

  • Offering a quality resource that your affiliates can promote
  • Mock some of the common techniques used in product launches in your niche

Avoiding Hype

  • Johnny repeated several times that this product would provide technical solutions. It not make them rich.
  • He then explained the costs of learning this if you paid his normal consulting fees.

So – how can you adopt this to your launch?

  • Talk about the practical reasons about how your product can help someone
  • Explain to them how your solution is better value than the alternative

Cool Bonuses

  • He provided individual coaching to the first five people that signed up
  • He offered group coaching to those who signed up by a certain date.

So – how can you adopt this to your launch?

  • Offer bonuses that are exclusive and are not freely available to other marketers
  • Offer bonuses that will provide real value to the majority of your buyers

My call to action:

  • If you want 10% off Johnnys e-course, Zero to Business, just use the word ‘problogger‘ as the discount code. Its that easy.
  • If you want to check out Johnnys blog, go on over to his fancy new site.
  • If you want rants about zombies, check out his twitter feed.

How a Flip Camera and My Blog Got My Business Over $20,000 of FREE Publicity

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Mark Hayward. You can follow him on Twitter @mark_hayward.

Do you ever feel like you want to pull your hair out over the lack of return (you feel like) you’re getting from your small business blogging and social media efforts?

Man, sometimes using social media for small business promotion can be frustrating!

In my two most recent ProBlogger guest posts I discussed, How to Go Beyond Your Small Business Blog and Create a Social Media Footprint and 10 Tips for Blogging Your Way to Small Business Success.

But you should know, I was not always a proponent of blogging or social media.

As a small business owner I completely understand your aggravation, and perhaps disappointment, with blogging.

In fact, a couple of years ago I was right there with you.

To be sure, when I pursued my dream and opened a small business in the Caribbean I lacked any semblance of a marketing plan, so I thought I would do what everyone else was doing, and turn to the Internet.

I had heard about the power of blogging and social media and using them as tools to help promote small business. Sadly, perhaps like you or someone you know, I envisioned that I would put up a few blog posts and offer some tips in forums and customers would come rushing.

In fact, for the first few months that I owned my business I thought I was doing everything right, such as, posting helpful information to my blog, visiting forums that were relevant to my niche, and even sneaking in a little bit of reputation management.

However, after about six months (what I thought was a long time) of consistent effort I felt like the return on my time and effort was just not happening.

In essence, I was done with social media and blogging!!

My Social Media Awakening

On the very day I told my wife that I was finished with this blogging, FLICKR, and YouTube stuff I found an email in my inbox that would change the course of my small business and my view towards social media forever. (I am not making this up for poetic license.)

Serendipitously, on the very same day that I was supposedly done with blogging forever, I received an email from a writer for Islands Magazine and she wanted to feature the story of how I opened my business in the Caribbean.

What was so amazing you ask?

In my opinion, my initial social media and blogging efforts had finally paid off. The writer had found my business from video that I had uploaded to YouTube and then posted as part of a story on my small niche blog.

Unfortunately, I am not sure what the exact search term was that the writer used, but four key results from my initial blogging and social media goals had happened:

  1. While seeking some video the writer discovered my niche blog through a Google search.
  2. The niche blog led the writer to my small business website.
  3. From the website the writer learned about my story.
  4. The writer contacted me for the feature.

Or, stated more simply:

One $100 FLIP Camera + Niche Blog Post = $20,000 plus of FREE publicity

You have to understand, I had NO advertising budget for my business and along comes this amazing $20,000 marketing opportunity at no cost. Even better, the Islands Magazine article has led to numerous other (free) publicity opportunities for my small business, including a quarter page write up in Conde Nast Travel and mentions on various travel websites.

Yes, it was then that I became a TRUE blogging and social media convert!

Major Lessons Learned

The above experience taught me many lessons about using blogging and social media for small business marketing. The following are but a few:

  • Goals – Set your goals early. My primary reason for having a niche blog and posting video, photos, and text was to ensure that I had a presence that ranked well in Google so that potential customers (and magazine writers) could find me.
  • Consistent – Be patient and consistent in your small business blogging efforts. I know sometimes it is awfully hard not to compare what you are doing to others, but stay focused and committed.
  • Measurement – Find out which blog posts and social media sites provide the best return for your time and effort. (When you first get started this is mostly done through trial and error.) Also, don’t look at number of visitors to your blog, look at WHO is visiting your blog and how they are finding you.
  • Results – The truth of the matter is, we are all still at the infancy stage when it comes to using social media, and perhaps to a lesser extent blogging, for small business marketing. You just never know when the hard work that you are doing on a daily basis now might pay off later!

Strangely enough, with thanks to a FLIP camera and a blog post, some interesting intangibles have also arisen from the Islands Magazine article.

  • The Islands Magazine article set me up as an expert in pursuing the dream of moving to the Caribbean and opening a business. On a weekly basis I receive emails from people who are seeking assistance with trying to do what I have done. Not only do I enjoy helping them, but it’s a great way to keep my business in their thoughts.
  • Islands Magazine gave me a powerful backlink. According to Matt Cutts, and the most recent WordCamp talk he gave Straight from Google – What You Need to Know, when it comes to search rankings and the power of backlinks, the Google algorithm is affected by the authority and the relevancy of the site that is linking to you. Thus, a travel magazine with a PR5 linking to my travel related business site, provides me with a solid link and some added Google juice.
  • Almost a year on and the Islands Magazine article is still consistently the number two or three referring site for my business, and with the current economic downturn any extra website traffic is always welcome.

As a final takeaway message, I would just like to say that even if you do not have the subscriber count of Darren Rowse, Brian Clark, or Chris Brogan … DONîT GIVE UP! Your small business blogging and social media efforts will pay off.

Mark Hayward lives in the Caribbean and built up a clientele for his small business using nothing but social media. He tries to help beginners make sense of social media and how they can use it for business promotion. You can follow him on Twitter @mark_hayward.

How Long Have you Been Blogging? [POLL]

It’s been a couple of years since I ran this poll and I’m curious to see if the readership of this blog has shifted since then – so….

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Looking forward to seeing the results on this.

Do You Do Affiliate Marketing on Your Blog? [POLL]

Affiliate Marketing is one income stream that many bloggers experiment with – but how many are attempting to make money in this way?

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Once you’ve voted – here’s a few posts on the topic for those wanting to explore it more.

Don’t know what Affiliate Marketing is? Check out What is Affiliate Marketing.