Close
Close

How I Lost 80% of My Traffic Overnight (And How I Got it Back, Plus More!)

How I Lost 80% of My Traffic Overnight (And How I Got it Back, Plus More!)In today’s episode of the ProBlogger podcast, I want to tell you a little story.

I want to tell you about one morning in 2004 when I realised my blog, which I’d recently established as my full time source of income, had hardly any traffic coming to it. I lost between 80 and 90% of my traffic literally overnight, and I couldn’t figure out why. You can imagine that when my traffic took such a shocking nosedive, so did my income! It was one of the biggest wake-up calls I’ve had in my career, and it changed the way I blogged from that day forward.

When I look back, I probably think I was a bit complacent about traffic, and I really hadn’t thought much past what Google could bring. So when Google stopped bringing it, I wasn’t sure what to do. I had worked my way up to a point where the blog was thriving, and so I went into coast mode rather than ensuring that it had longevity.

It’s funny that although I thought it was the end of the world at the time, I’m actually really grateful it happened because the steps I took to rectify it ended up growing my blogs much faster than before.

In today’s episode I’m going to outline the steps I took to not only recover the traffic I lost, but to drive it even higher, and what you can do if disaster happens to strike you!

You can find the ProBlogger podcast shownotes here.

Further Reading:

7 Popular Blogging Tips That Don’t Always Apply

7 Popular Blogging Tips That Don't Always ApplyThis is a guest contribution from Larry Alton.

Ask anyone on the web for advice on blogging, and you’ll undoubtedly get a response. Survey a hundred people—including readers, amateur writers, experienced professionals, and even industry influencers—and you’ll likely find dozens of common themes emerging between them. That’s because there are certain general “best practices” that everyone knows, or everyone’s heard, as they make their way into the blogging world.

For the most part, this advice is helpful. It can guide you through the ropes as you become more acquainted with the industry and more familiar with your specific blog. But there’s one problem, and it’s a big one: this advice doesn’t always apply. 

To explore this, I’m going to focus on seven pieces of advice I hear all the time (and explain why you shouldn’t necessarily follow them):

1. Write a new post every day.

This advice comes from two ideas; one, that if you write a post every day, you’ll stay committed to the project and have a reliable flow of work getting to your blog, and two, that the daily addition of new content will be valuable for your search engine ranks and visitors alike. These are both true, but with one important caveat—the content you write has to be good. If you force yourself to write a post every day, but you don’t have anything valuable or unique to say, you’ll end up spinning your wheels. The proper advice is “try to write a post whenever you have a good idea, and try to have good ideas as often as possible.”

2. Controversy breeds attention.

I’m actually a proponent of this in most cases, but as with the first piece of advice, it only applies to certain situations. Controversial posts tend to take one side of a hotly debated issue. The theory is that this one-sidedness will fire up both sides of the debate, and your post will become a central feature in a bustling comment thread and a flurry of backlinks.

However, if you aren’t careful, you could damage your reputation. Controversy is fine, but only if it’s backed up with objective research, and acknowledgements to both sides of the debate. Otherwise, you’re making bold claims with no backup 

3. “Good” content will always become successful.

I see this one a lot from practitioners who claim that if you write “good” content for a long enough period of time, eventually any blog can become successful. There are two problems with this. First, what constitutes “good” content isn’t the same for everyone—it’s a vague term. It could mean informative, or entertaining, or detailed, or enlightening, or any mix of other qualities. Second, good content isn’t always enough. You also have to be socially active enough to promote your blog to new people and committed to your audience enough to retain them once they start reading.

4. Comment on other blogs.

Blog comments do serve several functional purposes. They help you engage with your community. They give you an opportunity to post a backlink to your blog. And most importantly, they give your personal brand more exposure, which creates new opportunities for people to find your blog.

The unfortunate thing is, most blog comments are ignored these days, and link building isn’t as simple as it used to be. Comments can help you, but only if applied to the right posts with the right community and with the right intentions. As a general rule, community participation is good, but self-promotion will only burn you.

5. Find a niche and stick with it.

If you want to stand out in this oversaturated content market, you need to have a strong, unique niche for your blog. That much is true. But sticking with that niche forever is a bad plan for most blogs. Doing so can rob you of future opportunities for great posts by limiting your range, and can make your readers feel bored or irritated by the end of it. Stick with a niche at first, but don’t be afraid to expand.

6. The more content you have, the better.

The more pages your site has, the more Google has to index, and the more posts you have to promote, the more potential readers you’ll have. This thinking leads many to the conclusion that more content is always better. But remember my first point—exhausting yourself trying to make posts for the sake of making posts is going to leave you with inferior content. More content is better only if that content is a consistent and high quality.

7. Write more posts like those that have performed well in the past.

This is advice I follow as a general rule of thumb, but if followed religiously, it can hurt you. Take inspiration from your previous posts. See what factors worked for certain posts and what factors didn’t work for others, then combine them in new applications. Merely revisiting the same topic is going to alienate your readership and possibly compromise the success of your blog. Conjure up new topics based on that information rather than recycling old ones.

To reiterate, I’m not saying any of this advice is explicitly bad, or that following it will ruin your chances at becoming successful. However, you need to be careful which of these you follow and how you follow them. Each blog is inherently unique, so you’ll need a correspondingly unique strategy if you want to make it a success.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately

Reading Roundup: What's new in blogging this week / ProBlogger.net

Welcome to the weekend, Roundup-style!

50% of Content Gets 8 Shares or Less: Why Content Fails and How to Fix it // BuzzSumo

Ah, the dreaded talking to an empty room syndrome. It sucks when you write a great post and you hear crickets! BuzzSumo to the rescue – they analysed one million posts and found that content failed 50% of the time, and why. Thankfully, they’ve also got tips to help you ensure your content doesn’t fall into that failed 50!

We’ve Lost Nearly Half of Our Social Referral Traffic in the Last 12 Months // Buffer

And if you think your social network-referred traffic is down, you’re not the only one! I’ve definitely seen it on my own blog, and I remember when it hit Amy Lynn Andrews, too. Kevan Lee discusses what Buffer is doing to get out of the slump.

Tumblr Rolls out Instant Messaging on Both Web and Mobile // TechCrunch

Is Tumblr your blog platform of choice? Well chatting with your cohort just got easier…

How to Make Better Facebook Video Ads // Social Media Examiner

Not only do we know Facebook Ads work, but we also know Facebook Video works in terms of reaching our audience. Now we can do Facebook Video Ads? Run, don’t walk, people! Get on that train.

Learn to Code with the Women of Star Wars: The Force Awakens // Mashable

Rey and Princess Leia will tell you all you need to know in Hour of Code, a free online tutorial. If you’ve been waiting for the right time to finally crack the code (heh), now might be it!

pen-writing-notes-studying

The Simple Way to Get Better at Business Writing // Seth Godin

This was everywhere last week, and for good reason – it’s solid advice.

10 Hacks to Save Time and Boost Productivity // Entrepreneur.com

You could read these 10 hacks, and follow them up with the recent post: Feeling a Bit Lost? 4 Ways to Boost Productivity and Motivation on Your Blog. You’re welcome!

Stop the Local SEO Tunnel Vision and Think Beyond the Basics // Moz

Interest was high on last week’s post here about local SEO for blogs, so you’ll enjoy this next-level take from the SEO masters.

New iOS9 Notes App Has the Power to Transform How You Use Your Phone // News.com.au

Hellloooooo tickable lists! I use notes A LOT both on my phone and on my laptop and love that they’re synced. This just changed the game for me.

Creative Email Subject Lines that Restart Stalled Conversations // HubSpot

Taking care of your mailing list is such a high priority, that it pays to revive flagging enthusiasm in the right way. I have to say I’m not too keen on some of the more defensive-sounding ones though. I always get annoyed when the headline is something like “Oh, am I bothering you?” – it sounds more passive aggressive than probably intended! And the likelihood that I’m not opening your emails because you’re bothering me is pretty minimal. It’s more like I’ve got less time to read these kinds of emails these days. Would love to hear your thoughts though!

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama or be entertained on Facebook.

How to Build A Culture of Community on Your Blog

How to Build A Culture of Community on Your Blog

If you were listening to the episode 60 of the ProBlogger podcast, you would have heard me talking about why I think it’s so vital that bloggers create a culture of community on their blog to help deepen relationships with their readers and to drive engagement. I also promised a follow-up podcast on how to do just that!

Today’s episode is part two of building a culture of community and I wanted to talk about the strategy of how to create an atmosphere of belonging, what you should aim for, and how to go above and beyond just encouraging engagement, but to foster a sense of ownership and even collaboration with your readers.

There are 7 ways I think are useful in creating a culture of community to help your blog come alive. As i mentioned in the last podcast, there’s no real way to have it happen overnight, it just takes time as you build trust with your readers. These seven steps will help you on your journey though, so grab a pen and take some notes!

You can find the show notes of episode 61 here, and as always, I welcome your feedback on the podcast in the comment section. What have you done to create a culture of community on your own blog?

Further Reading:

How A Simple Blog Led To Writing For Forbes, Mashable, and TechCrunch (and 7 Tips to Help You Do it Too!)

How A Simple Blog Led To Writing For Forbes, Mashable, and TechCrunchThis is a guest contribution from Josh Steimle.

I’ve had the privilege of my writing being published on Forbes, Mashable, TechCrunch, Time, Fast Company, VentureBeat, Entrepreneur, and several other publications, and if you aspire to see your writing in mainstream publications like these, perhaps there is something in my story that will help you get there.

The writing I’ve had published has brought me speaking opportunities, a book deal, and more than 1000% growth for my business. I’ve been able to interview and network with my marketing and business heroes, all in the last two and a half years. Prior to that, my writing had never appeared in a mainstream publication. I was just a guy nobody had heard of, posting here and there on my blog, with a small handful of readers. This is the story of how everything changed. 

10 Years of Solitude

I started blogging before blogs existed. There wasn’t any strategy. I didn’t have a plan. I just enjoyed writing. When I started blogging I didn’t care if anyone read what I was writing. I wrote for myself, and if anyone else enjoyed it, that was icing on the cake.

In the first 10 years I wrote over 700 blog posts. I didn’t write consistently. I might blog 10 times one week, and then not blog for a month. Sometimes I didn’t blog for several months, and then I would return with a flurry of activity.

I wrote about entrepreneurship, and the experiences I was having. Most of my writing didn’t attract any comments. Occasionally some of my writing, like my post about 75 ways to tell you might be an entrepreneur, seemed to strike a chord. But my blog never brought me any business. No client ever contacted me and said “I was reading what you wrote on your blog and I want to hire your agency!” No publisher ever asked me to compile my blog posts and turn them into a book. As near as I could tell, the people reading my blog were mostly family and friends, and I was ok with that.

Dumb Luck

Sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time and despite this, you almost mess it all up anyway.

In 2012 I was talking with Cheryl Snapp, a friend of mine who runs a PR agency. She had helped me get an article published on the Fast Company website after I told her I wanted to get some logos from big publications to display on my company website, you know, in an “As seen in…” section. I noticed Cheryl had written some articles for Forbes, and I casually asked her how she landed that gig. She explained to me that Forbes had a few hundred paid staff writers, but several hundred unpaid “contributors” who wrote for free. She told me she thought it was worth asking to see if Forbes might be interested in me as one of their contributors. “If they take you on, you need to write an article once a week. My editor from Forbes is coming to town in two weeks, I’ll introduce you!” she told me. That sounded cool. There was just one problem. I was really busy already. I didn’t think I had time to write an article every week. Thank heavens I kept my mouth shut.

Two weeks later I went to the event where I met Tom Post, then-editor of the entrepreneurship section of Forbes. Cheryl arranged for me to talk to him while he and I were in line dishing up lunch. I assume he didn’t know anything about me yet, so I was surprised when he said “I read your article in Fast Company. I wish you had published it in Forbes.” I wasn’t able to get more out than a stammered “Thanks…” before he followed up by saying “I’ve also been reading your blog. I like what you’ve got there. We’d like you to write the same stuff for Forbes.” All I could say was “Sure, I’d love to!”

10 years of blogging with nothing to show for it but my own self satisfaction, and the next thing I know I’m writing for Forbes.

But then the real work began.

Diversification

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. But if you only have one basket, take good care of that basket [tweet that!]. My first goal when I started writing for Forbes, the one I repeated to myself every time I submitted a new post, was “Don’t mess this up, don’t mess this up, don’t mess this up.” But I did mess up–twice. The first time was when I posted something about politics. Tom told me to never do that again. He made it clear I was brought on to write about entrepreneurship and I should stick to my subject. Another time I mentioned in a public forum that I was getting too many requests from startups that wanted me to write articles about them. The way I worded my complaint made it sound like I was too busy to write for Forbes. Tom found my comments, and told me since I was too busy we might as well part ways. I pleaded my case, explained what I meant, and he gave me another chance.

With Forbes I had all my eggs in one basket, which was a distinct improvement over having no basket at all. But I realized it could disappear at any moment, and it would be a good idea to branch out and write for other outlets and leverage my work at Forbes to do so.

My first attempt was to get into TechCrunch. I wrote an article about a tech company, submitted it, and it was rejected without comment. I asked for feedback, and I got one sentence. I didn’t understand what the sentence meant, and still don’t, but I recognized one thing–different publications are looking for different things. What works for Forbes isn’t what works for TechCrunch or Mashable, and as a writer it’s best to respect those differences rather than try to convince an editor they don’t know what they’re doing. As it turned out, the article that wasn’t the right fit for TechCrunch was the right fit for VentureBeat.

Which Way Is Up?

Each publication sits within a hierarchy of sorts. Forbes is a top tier publication. Your hometown newspaper is somewhere lower. Even though I could publish everything I wrote in Forbes, I tried to spread my writing around as much as I could, just in case. I figured even if I somehow lost Forbes, I would then have evidence of my writing in many other places, and I could use that to pitch other top tier publications. I moved downward in the hierarchy and wrote for regional and niche publications you may not have heard of, like the South China Morning Post (the “New York Times of Hong Kong”), Hong Kong Business Magazine, Marketing Magazine, and TechinAsia.

At the same time I kept trying to make lateral moves. VentureBeat was one of those. Then I got in with Entrepreneur, which has been another great outlet for me. One of my recent articles on Entrepreneur was syndicated by Time, allowing me to claim that publication as another big name in my quiver. And I kept on pitching TechCrunch, as well as Mashable, but to no avail.

Sometimes It’s Who You Know

My intro to Fast Company and Forbes came through a friend. Similarly, when I got into TechCrunch and Mashable it would also be because of who I knew. I had submitted work to Mashable before, but without any response. Then, through pure serendipity, my agency hired a part-time writer who happened to have written some pieces for Mashable. I told her about my desire to write for Mashable, so she put me in touch with her editor. I pitched the editor on a piece I had written, it was well received, and then…that editor went on maternity leave for two months. I’m all about maternity leave and babies, but I wish I would have gotten my article submitted a week earlier. For the next two months I couldn’t do anything but wait.

When the editor returned she reviewed my article again and published it. I was in! Now that I have a relationship, I still have to submit articles, but I get feedback rather than the silent treatment. But that doesn’t mean everything I write gets in. One of my pieces was rejected, due to Mashable having published too many articles on a similar topic lately. No problem, I just published it on Forbes instead, where it has received 30,000 views. For me, that’s pretty good, since most of my posts attract around 4000 views. That’s another benefit of writing for a bunch of places–if it doesn’t work in one place, you can pitch the same content somewhere else. And Forbes always has my back. That’s why they end up with 80% of my writing.

TechCrunch was also a personal connection. After reaching out to several writers there and trying to get feedback on why I was getting rejected, I gave up. But then I happened to meet a TechCrunch writer, started a correspondence with him, and then met him in person for dinner. My intent wasn’t to pitch him on anything, but I was curious to know more about TechCrunch. It wasn’t until months later when I was writing a story for Forbes that I realized I had something that might be a good fit for the big TC. I sent it to my friend and asked him if he thought it was something TechCrunch would be interested in. The next thing I knew he had given it to his editor, his editor contacted me, and then it was published. Oh wait, that’s not quite how it happened. In reality his publisher told me the article wasn’t the right fit but, but…he said if I rewrote it (and he gave me some specific tips) then it might be. I rewrote the article, resubmitted it, and then it got published.

Your Story

That’s the start of my story. But yours doesn’t need to take 10+ years, or even two, to come to fruition. Things are a bit clearer in hindsight, and if I had to do it over again, here’s the 7-point plan I would put into action.

  1. Blog. Yes, I would still set up a blog, but I would focus in on one niche topic. Become the expert on that one topic, and resist the temptation to write about anything else. Do this well enough, and the publications may come to you and you can skip all the other steps.
  2. Start niche. When you start reaching out to get published elsewhere, start locally, or with a niche publication, and work your way up. Use your blog as evidence you can produce the kind of content they want.
  3. Leverage. As soon as you get three or more pieces published in one place, leverage that to get into another, slightly up the totem pole, until you get to a top tier publication. Then leverage your work sideways. At this point, it’s easier to approach editors because they can see they don’t have to test you, because someone else has already done that for them.
  4. Educate yourself. I got a pitch today from a company that wants me to write an article about them for TechCrunch. The problem is, their business is definitely not something most TechCrunch readers would be interested in. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure the guy who sent me the pitch doesn’t read TechCrunch, or he would also know this, and he never would have pitched me. If you don’t regularly read a publication, don’t count on being able to pitch them successfully.
  5. Network. Get to know who the writers are at the publications you want to write for. Read what they write. Follow them on Twitter. I create Twitter lists for each publication, like this. If you can meet writers in person, so much the better. Never introduce yourself to a writer by saying “I really want to write for your publication, can you help me get in?” Writers introduce friends, not random strangers, to their editors. What writers are more willing to do is give advice, so ask for advice. Write an article, send it to a writer, and ask “Do you think this is the type of article your publication would be interested in? Why or why not?”
  6. Keep pitching. I gave up too easily with TechCrunch and Mashable. I was saved only by coincidental meetings with people who could and were willing to help me. What I now realize is that I probably could have gotten in with both of them two years ago if I had been willing to write five articles for each one, rather than writing one or two and then giving up. Remember, it’s never a waste to write an article. If it gets rejected, just publish it somewhere else. If nobody else will publish it, you’ve always got your blog.
  7. Once you get in. For good heavens, feed the editor! She didn’t bring you on so you could write one article and disappear. Keep sending content on a regular basis and keep the relationship alive.

If you’re focused, you can execute this plan within six months and be writing for just about any publication you want.

Josh Steimle is the CEO of MWI, a digital marketing agency with offices in the U.S. and Hong Kong. Pitch him @joshsteimle.

Why You Should Make Building Community a Priority in Your Blogging

Why You Should Make Building Community a Priority in Your BloggingDo you ever feel as a blogger like you’re talking to an empty room?

I know I have definitely felt that way! Particularly when I first started Digital Photography School. But if you feel that way too, I want you to know: you’re not alone.

When you write a blog post, you hope that your readers will interact, leave a comment, acknowledge that you’ve even written something, and today I’m going to talk about how to do just that – deepen that reader engagement, and some reasons why I think this is so important (particularly for those just starting out).

Today’s ProBlogger podcast is the first of a two-part series, following up in the next episode with some really practical tips on how you build community.

The first thing I want to tackle is to talk about why you should try to deepen reader engagement. I know especially when first starting out there can be more of a focus on creating good content and promoting it (and there are a handful of established bloggers who make it a point not to encourage community on their sites), but most of the successful bloggers I know have invested time and energy in really inviting and facilitating a collaborative environment.

But back to the beginnings of Digital Photography School when I made a choice that really impacted how people responded to it: in this episode I discuss when (and how) I realised the choice I made meant I was missing out on the key factor that was really going to help my blog take off.

I also give 9 reasons why I think creating community is so incredibly important, and a couple of tips for getting through the negative flip side – building community takes real time and effort!

You can find episode 60 of the ProBlogger podcast show notes here.

Further Reading:

 

 

 

A 3-Step Blueprint for Smart Affiliate Marketing

A 3-Step Blueprint for Smart Affiliate Marketing: get the best out of affiliate sales with these tips on ProBlogger.netThis is a guest contribution from Anil Agarwal.

Building a blog that gets huge traffic isn’t necessarily hard, but converting that traffic into sales can be.

Most people think they can make a living online by increasing their website traffic. In reality, though, it’s not about any old traffic- it has to be targeted. You have to bring laser-focused audience to your sites to grow your sales and overall monthly income.

There are literally hundreds of genuine ways to make money online but if you want to make money even while you sleep, you need to consider affiliate marketing.

We all know affiliate marketing is a great income source for most successful online marketers. Pat Flynn, John Chow, Zac Johnson are just a few who are using affiliate marketing to make a living from, and doing very well at it.

If you are wondering how to replicate this success for yourself, I’ve outlined a 3-step blueprint that most that could see success for you. Are you ready? Let’s jump into the details.

Step 1: Position yourself as the go-to guy in ONE field

You want to be the EXPERT and be known as the go-to guy in your field. Not just any random marketer or blogger who is looking for ways to make a living by selling affiliate products.

You should become an authority in your field. But here’s the thing: online is heavily crowded and getting past the noise to set you as an expert is really hard.

So how can you be the go-to guy?

Simplify your niche. Pick one topic and become an expert at it. Position yourself as the number-one person in that field. People should think about YOU when they are looking for solutions to the problems relating to your field.

Everything starts with a niche. Truth be told, you are more likely to be successful if you’ve honed in on one topic, and you do it well. If your blog is too broad then you may find a more diluted audience is reading it.

So pick ONE topic and become a pro at it.

Why pick a small field? The number one reason is it is much easier to get noticed as an expert in a small field. You may ask if you can really make more money by serving small audience, but yes, you can. I’m not suggesting you to stick to ONE topic, once you build your expertise at one field, you can broaden your content, but you’ve got a foothold by starting small.

Step 2: Help others, build trust, and increase social proof

Before you start your affiliate marketing journey, make sure to ask yourself “Am I doing this just for the money?”

Whether you know it or not, the money you make online is directly proportional to the people you help. If your blog audience thinks that you are forcing them to click on your products, you won’t succeed.

They won’t buy from people whose intentions are just about making more money. Instead, if you add value and promote products that truly solve their problems; they will become more interested in your offer. That’s what really counts in creating a successful affiliate marketing strategy.

Your affiliate marketing journey should start from helping people and making your audience feel better. The byproduct of doing that is making more money from your efforts. Successful affiliate marketers are the ones who serve first.

Trust is the online currency. If you want to make more money? Start building trust and make others like you. How can you do that?

Building an email list is one of the best ways to directly engage with your audience, and below are three simple yet effective ideas on building a huge email list.

#1. It all starts with amazing content:

Content is king, they say. It’s really true and your primary focus should be on creating epic content for your audience. Your blog readers should have a compelling reason to visit your blog often and there’s no other better way to do that besides creating valuable content that addresses their problems.

And how do you actually create informative content that your readers would love to comment on and share with their friends?

Do extensive research.

Research backed and in-depth articles always perform well in search results. Also too, plenty of readers are now looking for one stop guides to find solutions to their problems in one post.

For instance, if someone is looking for ways to lose 4 kgs in 4 weeks, they would happy to spend their time on reading an in-depth article that covers everything from proper diet to weight loss tips. This not only helps you serve your audience in a better way but you can gain instant trust if they find your content valuable.

Put in more time when creating content. Give priority to quality over quantity. Make sure your content is well researched and backed by data and also includes several images.

Include email opt-in forms in the most visible places on your blog (I highly recommend you to put them in the top of your sidebar and end of your blog posts) to sign up for your email list. If your audience read through all the way to the bottom, they will sign up to you if they find actionable strategies from your content. That’s the way to grow a high quality list without irritating your audience.

And send a newsletter to your email list when your post goes live. Ask them to share with their network, if they really find your content informative, they will bring you more exposure by spreading the word.

#2. Put your email optin forms in the right places:

If you want to boost your email subscribers, find the most converting places on your blog to add your email sign up forms. Here are few of the most visible places on your blog that helps you quickly grow your email list.

Feature box: Derek Halpern introduced the feature box that helps you put a prominent optin form that sits on top of your blog home page. If a visitor lands on your site, they can’t ignore your feature box. If you give them compelling reasons to subscribe, you’ll be amazed with the results.

Sidebar: Your blog’s sidebar is the most visible place, don’t ignore it, grow your email list! Instead of using random ads or articles, use an optin form. If you are giving a free eBook, include a compelling image and it helps you convert more visitors into subscribers. Also use strong call to actions instead of using “sign up”, “subscribe” etc.

Hellobar: Hellobar helped DIYthemes to gain 1180 additional email subscribers just in 30 days. Hellobar sits at the top of your site and no one can ignore it and most probably it’s the first thing everyone will see after landing on your site.

Slideup box: One of the remarkable ways to grow your email list is to use a Slideup box. Buffer uses this amazingly and it performs extremely well for them. Over 30% of their signups come from their Slideup box alone.

Below is a breakdown of a typical month and the sources that help Buffer to grow their email list.

anil

So don’t forget to place your email optin forms in the right places if you want to quickly grow your email list. Just in case, if you are interested in seeing Buffer’s Slidup box, here’s the screenshot:

A 3-step Blueprint for Smart Affiliate Marketing

#3. Give an incentive:

One of the simplest ways to quickly turn your visitors into email subscribers is by offering something free. Almost every blogger gives away an eBook, video, plugin etc as an incentive to grow their email list. Do you know why? Because it works.

But make sure you are not building a list of freebie seekers. The only problem with a free incentive is that the people who subscribe to your email lists are mostly freebie seekers. If you don’t build awareness about the products you promote, they won’t buy anything you sell. So make sure to carefully use your free incentives while building your list. Educate them about the products you promote and more importantly increase your social proof to turn freebie seekers into loyal customers.

Increasing social proof isn’t easy. But if an authority blogger in your industry says nice things about you or what your site offers, it immediately builds trust.

Everyone including the authority bloggers like Pat Flynn and Neil Patel use social proof really well on their blogs to increase their conversion rates.

A 3-step Blueprint for Smart Affiliate Marketing

If you are wondering about increasing your overall brand awareness, here’s how to build your social proof so your conversions will go up:

Include visual testimonials. Ask for a testimonial from an authority blogger in your niche. If they share even a nice little sentence about you or your blog, it will help you skyrocket your conversion rates. Make sure to include their image while using them on your blog. This also immediately builds credibility to your landing pages.

Use logos. If you write a guest post for an authority blog or someone mentions you, include them in a logo format and place it on your homepage and landing pages. Neil Patel does this very well; he uses this to increase his conversion rates. Did you know that his conversion rate went down by 10% when he removed all the logos from NeilPatel.com? So add logos that include mentions or the guest posts you’ve written so far, it instantly builds trust among your readers.

Step 3: Find the right products that solve your audience’s problems

This is the key that helps most successful online marketers to make plenty of cash: choose the right product to promote. Don’t promote a product just because it is offering you high commissions. It’s the surefire way to spoil the bond with your audience and email subscribers, unless it truly helps them too.

So how to find the right affiliate products to promote?

There are two simple ways.

  1. Find out what other top bloggers are promoting on their blogs.
  2. Go to affiliate marketplaces and carefully choose the products that are highly related to your blog audience and topic.

I suggest you to filter the affiliate programs like this one on ClickBank in the following way:

A 3-Step Blueprint for Smart Affiliate Marketing

Make sure the Gravity of the products you want to promote is a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 100+ and the average commission are a minimum of $25 and a maximum of $150+.

That can do the trick; it can help you choose the RIGHT products for your audience, also helps you make high commissions for every product you recommend.

You can also check out other marketing places like CJ.com, ShareASale.com etc where you can find great products. 

In a nutshell, you need to pick the products that suit your audience needs and wants. And use your email list and blog as a combination to talk about the products you promote. Don’t forget to network with the influencers in your niche if you want to grow your audience and brand awareness.

So what are you waiting for? One of the top indicators you will become successful at affiliate marketing is how fast you implement the strategies you learn. So don’t wait for the right time and take immediate action. 

Final Thoughts

There’s no magic formula for making a living from affiliate marketing. Every successful online marketer starts with the one thing: they provide incredible value to their audience. They know their readers wants and needs and they promote the right products that help them make more sales even while they sleep.

Let me know your thoughts on the affiliate marketing. Do you have any more strategies that help people to increase their sales? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Anil Agarwal is the guy behind Bloggers Passion blog where he is helping readers in building their first professional blog and at the same time, helping them build high quality traffic to their blogs.

15 Questions to Ask to Help Identify Your Blogging Niche or Focus

15 Questions to Ask to Help Identify Your Blogging Niche or FocusIn today’s episode of the ProBlogger podcast I wanted to talk about the nitty gritty of defining what your blog is about. Not just to pigeonhole anybody, or to put any constraints on your creativity, but to help you hone in on what you want to provide and how you want to come across online.

This is a question that’s particularly important to think on when you’re first starting out (although experimentation is also encouraged!), but still useful when you’re already established to ensure you’re working within your goals. It’s also ok to change your mind as you go!

Most successful blogs do have a niche or a topic, and in many cases it’s the reader demographic and not so much the topic niche that drives the content. You can cover a large amount of topics if your readers are parents, or retirees – topics can really depend more on the audience than the niche itself.

If you’re struggling with defining your niche, then I’ve got 15 questions for you to ponder – grab a pen and a notebook and jot down your answers as they come to you, and hopefully by then end you will see some themes emerging… and some focus for your site.

You can hear the podcast and questions below, and find the show notes over at episode 59 of the ProBlogger podcast here.

Further Reading:

5 Ways to Ramp Up Comments on Your Blog

This is a guest contribution from Alex Ivanovs.

Comments feed the writers soul with proof of work well done. It’s easy to think that not everyone likes comments, but the truth is that comments are what makes us believe in our content and its usefulness. The feeling you get from not receiving any comments on the content you write can be pretty devastating. You invest so much time into writing and publishing a post, and in the end it seems that you wrote it just for yourself.

The idea that nobody cares is quite painful. Comments are the blogger’s currency, and how long can you keep going on for when you’re broke?

Copyblogger, CNN, and Michael Hyatt are some of the most known names that have decided to abandon comments altogether, which puts more pressure on social discussion and sharing.

It’s important to remember that blog comments are not a metric of success, even some of the most popular blogs today are struggling to keep up with consistent comments, and the following concept shows what’s true for any blogger:

5 Ways to Ramp up Comments on Your Blog
(photo credit: CoSchedule)

I think it’s unrealistic to have a blog where 50% of readers would also be commenters, this would mean that a post that is read 1000 times would yield 500 comments, which is quite unheard of. If 1% of 1000 readers leaves a comment, that makes for 10 comments — a much more realistic number.

What are the options to stirring up the pot and getting more comments out of the content we publish?

1. Blogger mentions (name-dropping)

Name dropping is the act of giving someone credit for the work they have done, which in many cases is going to be a specific person who may or may not be influential. By giving someone else credit for the work they have done, you can utilize that mention to reach out to them and tell them where you credited them.

8CASpDd

 

Jasmine Henry from Writtent shared a post about formatting blog posts, and throughout the post she mentioned several content sources that verified her claims, including our very own Darren Rowse.

Remember to:

  • Mention bloggers only if their opinion is truly relevant. Don’t do it for selfish purposes.
  • Reach out to the bloggers you have mentioned in your post by asking them to participate in discussion, respect their decision not to.

2. Comment to get comments

Having trouble being seen by others? Perhaps the issue is not the quality of content, but your lack of presence on other important blogs and platforms that could yield new visitors and commenters. Sites like BizSugar and Inbound are great for discovering new blogs, both new and seasoned.

Once you discover a previously unknown site that has content that’s relevant to yours, start engaging the writers in insightful discussions to form basic relationships. If successful (you get a reply), start aiming towards building a more serious relationship, such as: social media follows, link out to your own content, reach out to propose a guest column.

What you need to keep in mind that it’s important to know which blogs you’re leaving comments on. Big media sites like TechCrunch, Huffington Post, and Entrepreneur are all very active content platforms, but leaving comments on these sites isn’t going to yield any reasonable results, the reason why is because these sites write about every topic imaginable, which results in the audience being more widespread, whereas an audience that’s looking for specific niche content is more than likely to engage in discussion.

3. Share valuable content

Sharing valuable content can be misunderstood. You don’t have to aim for 2000 words, or name-drop 20 influential bloggers, what you need is to ask yourself, “If I was a visitor to this site and I read this piece of content, would it make me want to leave a comment? Do I feel like I have to respond?”.

A piece of content that’s organized and easy to digest, is naturally going to attract comments. A piece of content that’s a wall of text is going to be ignored. It’s that simple.

4. Confident opinion

New bloggers can get the wrong impression on the way blogging works. The idea that we have to write big posts with lots of information is well-known amongst the marketers, but is it really something that WE need to do? An honest and confident opinion will go much farther than a post that’s built around the idea of living up to the 2000 word limit to be a contender for the Google’s first page.

If something can be said in 1000 words and still provide immense value to the reader, why should you force yourself to find an extra 1000 words to feel safe about your rankings? Ask yourself, “Who am I writing for, a real human being, or an algorithm?”.

This brings us to the next point:

5. Love what you do

Why do you blog? Is it for growth purposes, to promote your business, to keep track of what you have learned, or to strive for financial freedom? All are good causes, but we must learn to find balance between all, otherwise we risk putting too much focus on one thing and forget about the rest.

New bloggers will inevitably struggle with the idea of having to get good rankings to be successful and popular, when in fact there are so many other ways to promote oneself.

The lesson here is that people can tell the difference between content that’s written passionately, and content that’s written for the purpose of gaining something back. You should not write about topics that you don’t feel connected with on some level, otherwise you will be chunking out content that lacks one of the most important ingredients; passion. When you’re passionate about what you do and what you write about, it can spark a passionate response in the reader.

Benefits of passionate writing:

  • Readers can identify with you on a deeper level, which in turn attract likes, shares and subscriptions.
  • Writing becomes an experience of joy. It’s easier to write about the things you love.
  • We develop deeper connection with our writing and that helps us to stay empowered and full of enthusiasm.

The lessons in this post are very clear, we must focus on providing value that comes from a place of transparency, rather than a place of need and want. We should give before we get, and we should not waste our and others time by forcing invaluable actions.

ProBlogger is is a great example of how readers feel connected and engaged in the published content, neither Darren nor the editors of this blog would encourage forceful content, it has to be insightful and spark a train of healthy thought.

What do you do to ensure readers share their thoughts with you on your blog?

Alex Ivanovs is a passionate writer who works in the field of technology, personal growth, and blogging. You can find his other work on SkillCode, and you can follow him on Twitter: @skillcode.