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Four New Ways to Monetize a Blog

The ad industry is dead.

Target will only buy remnant inventory. Federated Media, the darling of the online ad world, is just about vaporized. And media behemoth IAC is building a state-of-the-art ad sales system that will work like a trading floor where you don’t even know what content you’re buying—you only see the profiles of the people who are viewing the content right this second.

So how are people going to make money blogging? Here are four ways.

whiteboard

Image by Jeff Kubina, licensed under Creative Commons

1. Build a paywall

This was once seen as impossible. But after growing up online, generation Y reads and writes more than any other generation in history and is therefore more willing to than others to pay for online content.

This attitude has opened up lots of fee-based content models. Today The New York Times is successful in its paywall strategy, and it’s paved the way for bloggers to start looking at this as a viable option. Andrew Sullivan, for example, launched a paywall and raised $100K in a few days.

The problem is that a paywall is limiting rather than expanding in terms of the ways you can connect to the world as revenue options grow and change.

2. Turn your brand into a company and take in investors

As a serial entrepreneur, I saw this option coming early in the blogging game. So I named my blog something that was not attached to the domain name. Then I built up the brand name, sold the brand to investors, and spun off a company.

I don’t know why more people don’t do this. It’s a great way to leverage your community-building abilities, if you have them.

In this scenario, you hold onto your blog and your personal brand and you own stock in the spin-off brand. (And look: I recently gave up the CEO position and went back to blogging. But I held onto the founder’s stock. It’s like a big lottery ticket.)

3. Use your blog as an incubator

The best way to test new companies is to launch them. You could throw up a product offering on a web site, then announce it on the incubator blog. If it takes off, fine, if it doesn’t, then announce the next product.

In this scenario, the blogger is like a full-time marketing team for a range of startups within the incubator. Keep writing good content and you can send your audience to any beta site you need to. In this scenario, you’d get stock in each of the companies that you help launch.

4. Go after a talent acquisition

It’s common these days for companies to buy a startup to get the employees who would otherwise not be in the job market. You could create this same scenario with your blog.

Typically, a talent acquisition is for developers. But I can see it happening for someone who is amazing at PR, for example, and is essentially offering up her social media sauce and her high-powered media network in the talent acquisition of her blog.

Another way I can see this going is that someone uses the blog as a way to display thought leadership in the industry, so the acquisition’s purpose is to have the property attached to the larger brand, but also, to get the talented thought leader behind the blog.

What will you do?

Each of these four ideas takes planning, but with ad sales no longer being a viable option for blog revenue, we need to think more creatively.

Blogs are clearly becoming more and more prominent in the social and intellectual fabric of our lives. Those of us who can adjust in the most creative, big-thinking ways will benefit the most from our blogging talents.

Contributing author Penelope Trunk is a serial entrepreneur, and the author of the bestselling book Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success. She has written for a wide range of publications including Time, Business Week, and the Wall St. Journal, but she likes writing for her blog best: http://blog.penelopetrunk.com.

Internet Freedumb: Are You Falling Prey?

This guest post is by Chris The Traffic Blogger.

I can explain why you’re not making any money online in one word: Freedumb.

The irony of my writing a free post aimed at curtailing your misuse of free offers is not lost upon me. While your eyebrows fuse together and you determine whether reading this information is really worth your time, let me assure you that there is a valid reason for not charging any money for this work.

I absolutely believe that it’s worth quite a bit, but the people who need to read it (you’re in that group) would only purchase such knowledge if they already understood the concepts within it! Ironies abound, and you’ll realize just how ironic this entire volume is the further into it you get. In the end, I know my audience, and this article will target them, which is a skillset you need to learn to for yourself as well.

The greatest danger to entrepreneurs worldwide is the concept of Internet Freedumb. It is more lethal than the IRS, writer’s block, and months of poor sales figures combined. When you allow this cancerous notion to enter into your brain, it becomes the equivalent of quicksand beneath your feet. What’s really scary, and the reason it is remarkably deadly, is the fact that it sounds so damn appealing. Yet nobody seems to address it or feel the need to warn entrepreneurs of its affects.

I refuse to sit back and watch your internet dreams fly out the window. You owe to your business and yourself to read this entire document in a single sitting. Enough words of warning, let’s dive head-first into a word that you see every day but have never had access to the vernacular necessary to properly identify it.

What is Internet Freedumb?

Internet Freedumb is difficult to describe—much like the word “pornography.” I can tell you when I see it, but it’s a struggle for me to nail down an all-inclusive definition. Let’s focus on the result of Internet Freedumb in order to help define it.

The effect of Internet Freedumb on an entrepreneur, when you boil it down, is the entrepreneur thinking that making his or her content entirely free is the only way they can compete in the marketplace. It’s also the belief that creating 100% “free stuff” will lead to lots of traffic. This devolves into the use of advertising as the primary source of revenue, which is almost always done poorly, with little foresight.

Instead of building a business model, victims of Internet Freedumb literally set themselves up for bankruptcy.

The most confusing part about Internet Freedumb is the misconception that giving everything away for free makes people’s lives easier. No, it most certainly does not. How much garbage do you have downloaded onto your desktop? How many pdf’s, links, and videos? Probably far too many. We are bombarded day in and day out by the results of Internet Freedumb. Keep in mind, entrepreneurs ironically do this because they believe it will help them to stand out.

You know what does stand out? A paid product that removes the fluff and filler that makes up most Internet Freedumb giveaways. A $37 price tag sticks out. But even better, a $99 price tag really sticks out. As long as you deliver excellent content that both reduces Internet Freedumb inspired garbage down to manageable levels, and adds your own two cents, you will have a product that truly stands out.

By charging people money, you actually are helping them place a value on your work.

Think about when you want to ask the internet for help, and compare that with times when you want to purchase instructions. When you Google something, it’s usually a single question with a very basic answer. For example: “Dear Google, who invented electricity?” Conversely, you don’t go to the internet for a tutorial on how to learn AP Physics. Instead, you’ll spend your money on a concise, structured book about the subject or, even better, attend a course on it.

If you want to make money online, you need to focus on creating the manuals and video courses that teach people something. These must be objects of value, things that stand out above the wasteland of Internet Freedumb-inspired rubbish. It is only then that you will be able to make a living online.

You must not listen to the skeptics who believe that Internet Freedumb is the only way. Most importantly, you must build a new series of experiences that disprove the Internet Freedumb concept we all seem to initially believe in.

Let me clear up some initial confusion: this disease is not the same as the objects it spawns. Remember, we’re talking about entrepreneurs following a doomed-to-fail mindset, and it’s important to distinguish the cause from the result. The reason for this should be obvious: not all free stuff is dumb. There certainly is a time and a place for free pdf downloads and products. Problems arise when entrepreneurs take this too far, and usually they think that they will solve the puzzle of earning money from their free stuff later.

That “later” doesn’t ever come.

So Internet Freedumb really is just a mentality. It’s a losing mentality that makes you feel like a winner. You’ll think to yourself: “Yeah, I’m giving away lots of great stuff for free and everyone will love me for it!” Unfortunately, you’re just peddling more garbage amongst the gigantic pile of everyone else’s garbage online. You’re not building a business, and you’re certainly not making enough money to justify your hours worked.

Everything we do as human beings is aimed at helping someone (especially ourselves). In most cases, we make the wrong choice for the right reasons. Someone who succumbs to the Internet Freedumb mentality believes that they will help their readers. This is a great reason. Unfortunately, the choice of how to deliver that content (all free, all the time) does not lead to making that reason a reality. This someone also believes that giving everything away for free will get them traffic and money. Sorry, it just never works out that way.

Let’s say you have a really amazing product and are getting ready to price it. All too often, you will drop the price down to ridiculous levels, and eventually give it out for free, because you keep telling yourself that no one is going to pay for it. When someone sees the option to download your product for free or pay $50 for a well packaged tutorial on the subject, you instinctually believe that you’ve made their decision easy.

Unfortunately, our minds tend to consider paid products on a higher quality level than free ones. By giving your masterpiece away, you are devaluing it in the eyes of the reader to the point of possibly not even being worth glancing at.

If you find yourself making pennies from hours of hard work, then you have Internet Freedumb sickness. Don’t for a second believe that this only affects “losers.” In many ways, I myself have been bitten by this bug. Any time you cut corners and produce less than optimal quality content, you are falling for Internet Freedumb. It truly is a disease that destroys your work ethic and the ability to read what your customers want from you.

In the end, subscribing to Internet Freedumb means that you are truly selling out. At first you will think that I am lying to you. “No, selling out would be selling a product.” Actually, by giving away more free garbage, you are basically telling your audience that they aren’t worth creating a quality, paid product for.

The cure

How do we cure ourselves of this deadly disease?

The hardest part about defeating Internet Freedumb is the fact that our heart and brain tell us it’s the right way to go. You cannot defeat these forces without the will to experiment. By being willing to try something new and go outside of your comfort zone, you will have a shot at experiencing the opposite of what you thought had to be true.

Let’s say you ask your audience what kind of product they want you to create, and you actually make it beyond their expectations. If they spend money on your product and love you for it, then you will have a real experience to fall back on anytime someone tells you the Internet Freedumb lie, especially yourself.

Here are four actual steps you can take to experience truths that dispel the lies behind Internet Freedumb.

1. Start using a list

The money is in the list, but for technical or psychological reasons, you’ve been avoiding getting one started.

Let’s cut to the chase and actually get to work on the most important part of your online career. Get a list going!

I recommend Aweber for their “$1 for the first month” deal and easy-to-use tools. If you utilize my tactics outlined in the video course, So You Think You Can Blog, then you should be making a hundred to eight hundred dollars per month in no time.

2. Sell outside products

If you want to disprove the Internet Freedumb mentality sooner than later, you’ll need something to actually sell to your audience. Since creating a high quality product takes time, while you wait to implement one, you can sell someone else’s online product.

I would suggest finding anything above $10 and starting there.

I don’t just want you to disprove Internet Freedumb, I want you to remove it from your brain forever. It’s going to take a bunch of sales from your grateful audience to do that. Thinking along those lines, make sure that you pick a product you both use and love yourself before attempting to sell it.

Now, when you go to sell it, make sure that you don’t just slap a banner on the page and say “Buy this awesome product, I recommend it!” Give it some thought and dedicate your time to writing a review or presenting the product in a more colorful light.

3. Work on your own products

Use video software and a camera to produce at least some raw footage about your niche. Focus on featuring yourself because nobody else can be you. Yes, free has been done before, but a product that you create with your voice, and comprehensive thoughts within it, has definitely not been done before.

Be a new voice even if you’re sharing old information and you’ll be shocked at how much money you can make. At the very least, use a microphone like my Blue Snowball and record high quality podcasts. Just do something, even if it’s not the best presentation the first dozen attempts. But be sure to charge money for it.

4. Surround yourself with winners

Stop hanging out with just the crowd of people who believe in Internet Freedumb. Get out there and meet the entrepreneurs who actually are successful in selling products. Maybe you’ll even learn when it’s okay to use free stuff.

Follow my advice and you will quickly find yourself building experiences which contradict the Internet Freedumb mantra. After a short while, you’ll realize just how stupid it is to follow such a suicidal ideal.

What will it be? A real business based on value or a fake business built on free garbage? You decide.

Chris The Traffic Blogger. Creator of “So You Think You Can Blog” – A video course showing how to make $100,000 per year blogging.

Grow Your Blog Business: The Earn-Millions-in-Your-Flip-Flops Framework [Case Study]

This guest post is by Stephan Spencer of The Art of SEO.

Former mortgage broker and digital information business expert, Susan Lassiter-Lyons built her business online, and grew it to a six-figure income in only seven months.

She attributes her amazing success to a simple framework she developed and perfected over that time.

Recently, I met with Susan and she shared with me her “$1 Million digital business blueprint”. In this post, I’m going to show you these exact, replicable steps to apply to your business. If you’re serious about growing your business online, then you will want to read what she had to say.

Although Susan’s framework won’t make you a million dollars in fifteen minutes like common scams littering the internet, it can show you the simple, proven way to make millions if you put forth the necessary effort.

$1 Million digital business blueprint

Forced to close her real estate business in November 2008 because of the mortgage meltdown, Susan launched her digital information business in January 2009 with a mere $200 in startup capital.

Susan’s ebook, Mortgage Secrets for Real Estate Investors is where it all started. Published nearly four years ago, it still makes $600-$3,000 a month in online sales.

That ebook functioned as a launch point for her business that eventually reached six figures by July 2009. Living by her three-step framework, she is now able to work part-time, with no boss, in flip-flops. Some might call that a dream job.

The framework

Now, let’s break down that three-step framework for creating an online business around your passion.

Step 1. Create

  • Create a product of your own.
  • Acquire the rights to an already created info product to sell as your own.
  • Expand to a product suite.

Step 2. Campaign

  • Start a blog about your topic.
  • Start a Facebook page about your product.
  • Buy some cheap ads on Google to promote your product.
  • Ask others who have websites and subscribers in your niche to email their list about your product.

Step 3. Convert

  • Create a simple website that tells visitors all about the features and benefits of your product.
  • Offer a simple way for them to buy and download the product.

Let’s look at each step in detail.

Create

Before you jump right into creating a product, you should first take a moment to identify your expertise.

Take an inventory of your knowledge by asking yourself these questions:

  • What do people always ask you about?
  • What have you studied extensively?
  • What do you love to do?

The answers to these questions will give you a solid idea about what to cover with your product. Once you have your topic, search Yahoo! Answers for popular FAQs within your subject area. These can form chapters in your book, audio programa, or sections in any of the products you decide to create.

Creating a product of your own

The first obvious option for you to pursue with your info product is to create one of your own.

If you feel comfortable enough, you can create an ebook like Susan did, but there are plenty of other options to choose from to suit your specific skills and abilities: you could write a real book, record an audio program, record a video program, host a teleseminar, host a webinar, or host a seminar. The possibilities are endless.

Acquiring the rights to an already created info product to sell as your own

Most people don’t know this, but there are literally thousands of info products available through private label rights.

If you are having trouble creating a product of your own, this is a fast, relatively cheap way to start a digital business. Through websites like NicheEmpires.com you can browse through pages of private label rights products that you can edit and make your own.

These PLR products are available for around $67! Why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to?

Expanding to a product suite

Once you have your expertise figured out and entry-level product created, its time to expand that into an entire sales funnel to maximize your potential revenue from customers.

There are five elements to a proper product suite. Susan likes to explain these through an example of a golf information product suite.

  • Front-end product: This is the first product you develop. It should be cheap and broad, yet enticing. For example, an ebook titled How to Add 120 Yards to Your Drive, priced at $37.
  • Mid-tier program: A moderately priced product that acts as the next step in expanding the customer’s knowledge about that topic. For example, a quick video course on pitching and putting priced at $200-$300.
  • High-ticket program: A high-priced product that would include all the knowledge you have to offer on the topic covered. For example, the “Ultimate Golf Package Extraordinaire” covering everything you want to know about golf, priced at $2,000.
  • Seminar: A live event with added bonuses, where you can sell your existing products and coaching program to qualified leads. This might take the form of a “Learn from the Pros” live event priced at $1,000 at the door.
  • Coaching program: An option for those that want even more than what your products offer. This can be priced as high as you value your time. Basically, we’re talking about one-on-one personalized training here.

The most important element of this product suite is the front-end product. Once you have the customer hooked, it becomes exponentially easier to sell them your follow up products.

Campaign

Start a blog about your topic

Susan started her blog, TheInvestorInsights.com. She identified her expertise (in this case, real estate investing) and created a forum where she could post and comment on current events and issues gripping the industry.

Through consistent posting she was able to foster a community of active discussions and engaged bloggers who were interested in what she had to say. These bloggers in essence became leads for her informational products, which she was able to effectively sell through this medium.

Start a Facebook page about your product

Word of mouth is by far the best form of promotion. When somebody likes your product, you want him or her to recommend it to his or her friends. A Facebook page can help you accomplish this.

If a person is particularly pleased with your product, they will like your page on Facebook, which will notify their friends. People view the opinions of their friends as much more credible than a traditional sales pitch.

Buy some cheap ads on Google to promote your product

Google offers the most targeted advertisements on the Internet. You can choose from various demographics, including location, and purchase keywords that you believe your target customer is searching for.

In addition, Google allows you to operate on a cost per click basis so that you can control your own budget and make sure you aren’t spending too much or too little.

Ask others in your niche to tell their list about your product

Identify third parties that deal with the same topics as your products. Then offer them a deal that if they will agree to email their subscriber list about your product, you will split the revenue generated with them. For example, you could split the revenue 50/50 with a website that mentions you in their weekly electronic newsletter.

How can a company not be excited about this? All they would have to do is mention your website, blog, or product, and they have the potential to generate income. They can’t lose.

This is definitely a tactic to try.

Convert

Create a simple website that explains the features and benefits of your product

Create a sales page. Make sure it has an intriguing video that explains the features and benefits of your product in a way that inspires the visitor to sign up for your newsletter or buy your product.

Offer a simple way for them to buy and download the product

Use Clickbank or PayPal to make it easy for the customer to purchase your product in one step.

Include an Add to cart button directly under your sales video so the customer can proceed to the checkout without jumping through any hoops.

Is it really that simple?

Susan Lassiter-Lyons has proven that these steps work. While the framework is simple, as you can see, there’s a lot of work in each step. But if you follow her example, while you may not make six figures in seven months, you will put yourself on a path to similar success.

Stephan Spencer is co-author of The Art of SEO (O’Reilly 2009), now in its second edition (March 2012), and author of Google Power Search (O’Reilly 2011). He is the inventor of GravityStream, the automated pay-for-performance natural search technology platform, and the founder of SEO agency Netconcepts. He is a Senior Contributor to Practical Ecommerce and MarketingProfs.com, and a columnist for Search Engine Land and Multichannel Merchant.

Got a Consulting Gig from Your Blog? Don’t Make this Big Mistake

This guest post is by Bill Zipp of Billzipponbusiness.com.

You’re so excited!

The blog you’ve been writing faithfully, the list you’ve been building consistently, the newsletter you’ve been sending out weekly just paid off. You got a call from a reader who’s asked about the Holy Grail of blogging success: consulting.

When you actually talk with this person, you get even more excited.

What this company needs is exactly what you provide, and, unknown to you, many of the employees at this firm regularly read every post you write. They’re ready to work with you and ask this question, “What’s your hourly rate?” (or words to that effect).

Stop!

Any answer—and I mean any answer—you give to that question, no matter how ridiculous $500 an hour sounds to you right now, sets you up for ultimate failure.

Here’s why.

Charging by the hour is unfair to your client

What could be more fair than a simple exchange of time for money, right?

Wrong.

When a consultant charges by the hour, that consultant is best served by a project that extends for many hours. The client, however, is best served by exactly the opposite. The client is best served by the quickest possible solution to the problem.

Do you see the conflict of interest here?

Yes, I know, as bloggers we are an honest, ethical bunch, but the moment a system of charging by the hour is implemented, all of us become blinded by our own self-interest to simple solutions that may serve the client best.

Charging by the hour is unfair to you

Not only is charging by the hour unfair to your client, it’s also unfair to you.

Case in point. I was speaking with a solo consulting client of mine who’s a leading coder for WordPress plugins, and I asked him this question, “Over the years as you’ve done this work, have you become faster or slower as a coder?”

“Faster,” he said (really fast).

“So,” I replied, “when you charge by the hour, you actually get paid less for doing more. Am I right?”

“Yes,” he said (really slow).

But, you say, you can charge a higher hourly rate when your get faster, right? Wrong again.

People will only pay so much money per hour, and there you are getting faster and better at what you do and receiving less for it. Or doing it fast and lying about the actual hours you spend on the project to get paid what you’re worth.

Charging by the hour is unfair to your business

Finally, charging by the hour is unfair to your business.

When solo consulting, there’s only one you with only so many hours in the day and only so many days in the week. You must do the work of your business, write your blog, market, sell, attend to bookkeeping, administration, professional development, and a whole host of others things that come up.

When you charge by the hour, you instantly limit your business’s growth to the time you can trade for money. Your business will be capped by your personal capacity to work.

So you do.

You work and work and work and work, pay your taxes, buy health insurance, invest in technology, and go to the occasional conference or two. Then you come to the end of the year with very little to show for it. Not to mention the fact that you failed to put anything away for retirement.

Remember? You’re a solo consultant and no one’s going to do that for you.

There is a better way!

Yes, there is a better way. It involves not going down the path of charging by the hour in the first place, and learning the secrets to value-based pricing instead. Alan Weiss is the premier thought leader on the subject and presents this approach in his book Value-Based Fees.

Here are four lessons I’ve learned from Alan’s book:

1. Build a trusting relationship with the economic buyer

Many times in the initial conversations of arranging consulting work I’m not talking with the economic buyer, that is, the actual person who will make the final decision and write a check.

This is tricky, because the person I first talk to usually influences the buying decision in some way, so I don’t want to alienate him or her. But that person isn’t the one who can approve the project.

Graciously, but firmly, I work to arrange a conversation with the actual decision maker and begin building a trusting relationship with that person.

2. Identify objectives and outcomes

The next step in this process is reaching conceptual agreement with the economic buyer around the work that needs to be done. Conceptual agreement is found in outlining what objectives will be reached and the measurable outcomes for those objectives.

One of the biggest consulting mistakes I’ve made is rushing this step in my excitement to get started. Lack of goal clarity, however, has ruined more that one consulting project for me. Projects where I ended up doing stuff the client didn’t even want, and not doing stuff that, from their perspective, was absolutely essential.

Invest time up front clearly defining objectives and outcomes. It will pay off in big dividends later.

3. Agree on value

Here now is the very heart of value-based pricing and how I begin to determine what to charge for a project.

If the objectives agreed on are fulfilled and the outcomes for these objectives are achieved, what difference will it make? What monetary value will be gained by the organization?

I’ve found that I don’t need an exact number for this, a range will do, but I do need a number. I even use this discussion as a way to differentiate myself from other consultants by helping my clients understand exactly how they will benefit from working with me.

I bet you’re asking this question right now (because I’ve been asked this question scores of times by the solo consultants I coach), “How in the world do I get people to talk about money like this?”

Remember, you’re a blogger, and they’ve been reading your blog. These people know, like, and trust you. That’s why bloggers have such an amazing advantage in arranging consulting work. Also, you built a trusting relationship with the economic buyer, so they’ll tell you this stuff. They really will!

4. Present multiple options

Armed with value-based information, I present a proposal with three graduated options—Tall, Grande, and Venti.

These options are created from achieving some, or all, of the client’s stated objectives and outcomes. Each option is priced, not on an hourly rate, but on a 10:1 return from the first year’s revenue in completing the project.

I used to present proposals with one solitary option and had terrible acceptance rates. One solitary option has a binary, take-or-leave-it effect (so they leave it). Multiple options create what Alan Weiss calls, “a series of yeses” that lead a buyer into the consulting alternative that makes the best sense for their business.

There’s lots more to mastering value-based pricing, but these are the fundamentals.

It starts with a different mindset

For most of the solo consulting clients I coach, however, the biggest shift they need to make in mastering value-based pricing is the way they think about their business. That’s probably true for you as well.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s the true value I bring to the marketplace?
  • What are the measurable results I deliver my clients?
  • How are people’s lives different when they work with me?

When you have real answers to these questions, you’ll have a value-based mindset and become convinced that you’re worth much more than a mere exchange of time for money.

In other words, if you don’t take your work seriously, don’t expect anyone else to. Ever.

It’s this mindset that’s the key to building a successful consulting practice and the starting point to enjoying the life you’ve always wanted, as a blogger and a consultant.

Speaker, coach, and consultant, Bill Zipp helps busy leaders do what matters most in business and in life. He also helps other solo consultants build a thriving, successful practice. To learn more about Bill’s work visit: http://billzipponbusiness.com/consultants.

9 Content Lessons Ted Turner Can Teach You

This guest post is by Scott Aughtmon of RecessionsSolution.com.

He wasn’t planning on becoming a media mogul. He just wanted his father’s billboard business to succeed. But the content strategy that Ted Turner stumbled upon would change his life forever. This is the story of how hardworking Ted Turner became a media mogul.

But pay close attention, because this isn’t just an amazing story. It’s a story that will reveal a content strategy you can use to elevate your own blogging efforts to a whole new level.

Ted’s early years

Ted Turner was born on November 19, 1938 to Edward and Florence Turner. They named him Edward, but everyone called him “Ted.” Ted’s father Edward started out in the mid-1930s as a car salesman in Cincinnati, OH. In the 1904s, Ed Turner saw that the “driving culture” was growing quickly, so he purchased a small billboard company and moved his family to Savannah, Georgia.

Even though Ed Turner’s billboard business was successful, his alcoholism and violent outbursts made home life really hard for Ted, because he was the brunt of most of his father’s attacks.

Ted’s early business lessons

Ted eventually was put in military school, which was a great experience for him. During his summers, Ted would come home and work for his Dad’s billboard company. This is where Ted really gained his understanding of business.

Later he went on to attend Brown University and first majored in Classics, which appalled his father. (He told Ted it made him want to vomit.) Ted later switched his major to Economics. It didn’t really matter what major he chose, anyway, because he never got a degree. He was expelled for having a girl in his dorm room.

He was confused and unsure what to do next. He turned to the one thing he knew: his Dad’s billboard business. He took on a management position there at 21 years of age. He eventually married a woman named Judy Nigh. They moved to Macon, GA and started a family.

Ted doubles his dad’s revenue

It was around 1961 and Ted was then heading up a branch of his Dad’s billboard business. He was basically running everything. He worked constantly and he was rewarded for his efforts. He was so successful he doubled revenue in two years.

He did such a great job that his father’s business was able to buy out his competitors and become the largest outdoor billboard company in the south. His Dad was doing great professionally, but he suffered from mood swings that led him to take prescriptions drugs. This led him to become addicted.

It was during this time that Ed gave Ted advice he would never forget. Advice that laid the foundation for all Ted would later become and achieve.

The advice Ted never forgot

Ed told Ted to set goals higher than he could possibly achieve in his lifetime so that there would alway be something unaccomplished that he could work on.

Ed told Ted that this was his personal mistake in life. He had set goals that were too small. It was only a short time later that Ed Turner committed suicide.

Ted was in shock as he was suddenly put in charge of his father’s company. All this happened when he was just 24. He comforted himself by throwing himself into his dad’s business. He also decided to take father’s advice: to set bigger goals than others thought were possible.

Ted’s business was growing, but his marriage wasn’t. He divorced and he later remarried again. He was riding high on the success of the billboard industry when he decided to enter a new industry. He was determined to do something where he could make a difference and make a fortune. He decided that the media was his one way to do this.

He began by purchasing radio stations around the south. After purchasing five radio stations, he came to the revelation that TV was the medium with the greatest potential.

The purchase that started it all

In January 1970, he decided to make a move into TV and purchased channel 17, which was a local UHF station. He called he TV station WTCG “Turner Communications Group.” HF stations didn’t have a very large reach back in those days, so Ted ended up losing $1 million the first year.

He knew he had to figure out a way to get more viewers. The idea he came up with would become the content strategy he would use over and over again to become the media tycoon he is today.

He purchased older, cheap programming. This programming consisted of shows like Star Trek, Bugs Bunny, I Love Lucy, and Gilligan’s Island.  As better syndicated shows were dropped by the VHF stations, Ted would pick them up for his station at a really low price. The best thing about these shows was that, even though they were inexpensive, people still liked them and wanted to watch them.

The Atlanta Braves

Ted didn’t stop there. In 1972, he purchased the rights to air 60 Atlanta Braves games for $600,000. This was a tipping point for WTCG. After Ted got the rights to the Braves games, people went out and bought UHF antenna so they could watch the games! One year later his station earned (instead of losing) $1 million.

Ted’s goals and dreams wouldn’t settle for that. In 1975, the Atlanta Braves were up for sale and Ted decided to purchase them himself for $10 million.

You need to understand something important. He didn’t just buy a baseball team. He was purchasing content for his TV station. He did everything he could to get his last place team more attention. And in typical Ted Turner style, he was able to double attendance at the games and double TV ratings at the same time.

But something else was on the horizon. Something that would take him to the next level. Something that would allow him to take the content lessons he learned from buying cheap programming and Atlanta Braves games and leverage them to see even greater results.

Ted’s venture into cable TV

Ted had heard a lot about the then-new cable and satellite industry. This allowed a station to send a TV signal across the whole country for a monthly subscription cost. Ted decided he’d take his little local station and transform it into a national network. (Again he was reaching for those bigger-than-life goals.)

In case you don’t realize it, this was a really revolutionary idea back then. Why? Because people mainly watched the three top network stations: NBC, CBS, and ABC. There weren’t a whole lot of other choices.

But Ted persisted in moving forward. He even went up against the other big networks in the media before congress. He did anything and everything to move things forward for cable television.

The result? Of course, Ted won. The previous restrictions on the cable industry were lifted.

TBS Superstation and CNN

On December 17, 1976 the first satellite transmission of WTCG went on the air. Ted decided the new station should have a new name, so he called it “TBS Superstation.” He continued showing the low-cost programming that he purchased and the Atlanta Braves games.

But Ted didn’t stop there. He realized that cable would allow people to have not just three or four TV stations to watch, but hundreds. He came up with an idea that would change news programming forever. He came up with the idea of a 24-hour news station.

How did he come up with the idea? He knew he hardly ever got a chance to watch the news because of his crazy schedule. He figured other people were the same. He decided his new station would be called CNN, short for Cable News Network. And he decided his network would go live in one year.

Again, remember the era this happened in. No such thing as “24-hour news” existed. News was usually shown in the morning, the evening and at night. That was it.

On June 1, 1980, Ted dedicated the new station. At 6pm it went live for the first time ever and has never stopped airing news since then. No one took them seriously, at first. Network news shows mocked them. But the viewership continued to grow. In 1984, TBS brought in over $200 million dollars. But Ted wasn’t stopping or settling for that.

MGM Studios

In July 1985, MGM studios went on the market. Ted purchased the studio for $1.4 billion. But things didn’t go well. TBS was swimming in debt and their newly purchased MGM division had a string of movie failures.

It looked bad for Ted and it could have turned out that way, except for one thing. The cable industry he helped to launch came to the rescue and bailed him out. They invested money in TBS. He sold part of MGM back to the billionaire he bought it from, but kept the massive film library.

Why? Content.

TNT Network

He aired these movie classics on a new cable station he called TNT or “Turner Network Television.” It debuted on October 3, 1988 with the movie Gone With The Wind. (Ted’s favorite movie.) It ended up reaching 17 million households and was the biggest cable launch in history.

He was reaching greater heights in business, but again his marriage failed. At 49, he heard about Jane Fonda getting a divorce and set his goal to date her. He asked her out, but she said she wasn’t ready to date yet. She told him to check back in six months.

He called her again, exactly six months to the day after that first contact. Guess what? She accepted. (What else? Would you expect anything less from Ted?) He later married her. At this point in life, something was about to give Ted the opportunity to make history.

The Gulf War

Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. It became apparent to everyone that the U.S. was about to attack Iraq. The network news people left Iraq, but Ted asked his reporters if they’d be willing to stay. Surprisingly, four of them said they would.

On January 17, 1991, they reported live as the U.S. attacked Iraq. It was a first in the history of television. No one had ever aired live from a war zone. And remember how the network news stations originally mocked CNN? Well, they aired CNN’s coverage of the war in Iraq on their stations. That brought CNN to a whole new level of respect and boosted it’s audience as never before.

Cartoon Network

Do you think Ted was satisfied yet? Not at all. He purchased Hanna-Barbera Productions for $320 million dollars. And why did he do that? Content.

He now had access to classic cartoons like The Flinstones, The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, Yogi Bear, and more. What did he do with them? He took that content, and the Warner Bros cartoon content he had from the MGM vault, and he created Cartoon Network. It was his fith network.

By 1995, TBS was worth $3.5 billion.

The Time Warner merger

The crazy thing is that at this point, his business had gotten so large that Time Warner approached him about a merger. Ted liked the idea, so they inked a deal. The new company was mammoth. It possessed content in television, news, music and print.

It seemed like a great idea except for one thing. Ted wasn’t running things for the first time. That eventually led to the legendary misstep of Time Warner buying AOL.

Philanthropic work

After the shock of losing control of the companies he founded, Ted refocused all of his creativity and work in a completely different direction. He went on to do great things as a philanthropist. One of his most notable acts was donating $1 billion of his $3 billion for U.N. agencies.

Some of his philanthropic work includes the Turner Foundation, the United Nations Foundation, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the Captain Planet Foundation, and the Turner Endangered Species Fund.

Let me be clear. Everything about Ted Turner is not enviable nor worth emulating, but there is a lot we can learn from his content strategy.

9 Content lessons Ted Turner can teach you

Let’s take a look at 9 content lessons you can learn from Ted Turner.

1. Set massive goals

Don’t be wimpy about what you attempt to do. Aim for the skies. Even if you don’t reach your goals, you’ll still do more than you would have with smaller goals.

2. Think of your website or blog as a channel

If you think about it, even when Ted was selling billboard space he had a “channel.” If you wanted your business promoted to people on the road in the south, then Ted was the man you had to go to. He dominated that “channel.”

Change your website and blog paradigm to this view and see how it gets you to think and act differently.

3. You then must decide what type of niche content your “channel” will provide

With CNN, Ted decided to focus on news. With Cartoon Network it was Cartoons. TNT focused on classic films.

What type of content will your “channel” focus on? You must decide what niche your content will focus on.

4. Your first priority must be to provide content that people desire

Ted knew that any old content would not do. He always made sure to get or produce content that people craved. He did this when he originally purchased the cheap programming and Atlanta Brave rights for the WTCG station. He did the same thing with all of his other stations.

There’s no point in just providing content on your blog. It must be content that people really want.

5. Next, come up with ways to partner with other content creators to feature their content on your channel

Ted uncovered companies who weren’t leveraging their content very well (like MGM and Hanna-Barbera) and he attained rights to share their content on his channel, with his audience.

You could do this by finding great bloggers who don’t have much of an audience, and getting them to create content for you. It would be a win-win. They get exposure and you get content.  You could also do this by partnering with other successful content creators through guest postsinterviewswebinars, and more.

6. Your next priority needs to be traffic, or “viewership”

Ted did this with all of his channels and properties, but especially with his Atlanta Braves team. He did everything he could to promote his content (baseball games), get others talking about it, and so on. You need to do the same.

Brainstorm ways you can increase your traffic. Study how other top digital marketers do this and copy them.

7. As you grow your audience, begin to come up with “original programming”

Except in the case of CNN, each of Ted’s networks started out using other people’s content. But each network eventually went on to produce its own content. One example is Cartoon Network. It probably now contains more original programming than it does content created by others.

As you begin to build your audience, you can begin testing out your own content and discovering your own voice.

8. Pay attention to trends and do your best to ride them to higher levels

In an interview, Ted Turner said of his early success with WTCG, “I was just in there first. I just read the newspapers. You can make millions. All you gotta do is think. You know, just tie the information together. You know, you don’t have to be a genius.”

Check out this problogger post on a great topic generation tool you can use to study trends.

9. Leverage your momentum and growth from one channel to another channel

Ted took the momentum from TBS and used it for TNT. He moved from there to CNN and later to Cartoon Network. He would continually use the attention and knowledge he gained from one venture and parlay it to another one.

Darren Rowse is another great example of this. He used his momentum and knowledge from his photography blog and used it to start Problogger.net. You should follow these wise examples!

For more information on Ted, see CNBC Titans Ted TurnerHollywood Reporter, and Wikipedia, which were used as sources for this post.

Scott Aughtmon is a content marketer, content creation specialist, and a speaker. You can sign-up for a free preview of his upcoming “Content Boosters” course here. Read more of Scott’s insights on his blog or follow him on Twitter @rampbusinesses.

How to Blog to Build Your Product Sales Business

This guest post is by Amy Harrison of Harrisonamy.com.

This article is the final part of a three-part series on how your blog can feed different types of business models. In the previous two articles we looked at how blogging can attract customers who want to hire you to do your thing, or to be coached by you so they can do theirs.

The final piece of the puzzle is looking at one way a blog can be used to sell products to customers. These might be physical products, digital products such as ebooks, or events and training courses.

Writing my blog put my directly in touch with an audience of people who were interested in a subject that I could help them with: copywriting.

As I built readers I became more familiar with the struggles they had, and where they needed help. Their challenges influenced the creation of my first two products, which still sell today even thought I launched them almost 18 months ago.

There’s no way I would have been able to create products that responded well without having a blog to see which posts were popular, which ones received comments, which ones people shared, and which ones got the most traffic. Best of all, I didn’t have to wait till launch day to see if my product was something people wanted.

The blog didn’t just help me get a feel for what products to create; it helped sell the products without being pushy. Here’s how.

Using the blog to set the scene—preparing for a launch

Whenever I’ve launched or promoted a product, the blog has been an invaluable tool in the process.

Even though your products are geared up to help your audience, sometimes you need to raise awareness of the problems they solve, and your blog is a great platform to do this.

Planning your content back from the launch date, you can start brainstorming topics to attract the attention of your ideal customer. When I’m planning a product launch, I’m looking at the key issues and challenges that the product solves and then turning them into discussion topics for the blog. I might also release a couple of cheat sheets and two- or three-page templates or reports that will give my readers a sample of what the full product is like.

This does a couple of things. It raises awareness about the problems, but also the awareness of the “need” to fix those problems along with discussions as to why the problems haven’t been fixed before. That then allows you to introduce the benefits of a product that answers those challenges, questions and hesitations.

It’s like a long sales letter in pieces, except that you’re not pushing hard, you’re simply trying to attract the ideal customer for your particular product.

So, for example, if you were about to release an ebook or course on DIY car maintenance, what would be some of the key issues?

Perhaps the importance of having a properly maintained car, the safety aspects, or how much money you can save by a few home tweaks rather than having to rely on the garage all the time.

Then you could release a couple of checklists about the most important parts to keep maintained on a car.

You could also think about running a number of posts about why people don’t maintain cars properly: breaking myths like “car maintenance is complicated,” or “I’ll void my warranty if I start tinkering under the hood.”

While this is going on, you’re able to start attracting attention from people who are going to be your target market for this kind of product—simply by publishing strategic content on your blog.

Staying flexible

The beauty of your blog is it’s flexible, and you don’t need to decide from day one what your business model is going to be. If you’re still in work and want to launch your blog on the side, you can experiment, find your voice, and find your niche.

And once you do follow one path with your blog, you’re not committed—there’s nothing that can’t be changed. I use a combination of all three blogging models to generate income for my business, and I’m still tweaking and checking in with myself to assess where to place my focus. It’s not a “set and forget” process, but a constant state of evolution.

What I’ve learned the most in three years is that you can plan too much and have ideas about how you’re going to do something, but you learn so much more by just doing. So try things out, get going, and see where the blogging ride takes you in your business.

What about you? How do you promote your products through your blog? Do you use your blog to have seasonal launches or are your products evergreen? Let us know in the comments!

Amy Harrison is a copywriter and content marketer for Personality Entrepreneurs wanting to connect and sell authentically to their audience. You can now download her free report on how to write sales copy when personality is part of your business at Harrisonamy.com.

How to Blog to Build Your Coaching Business

This guest post is by Amy Harrison of Harrisonamy.com.

This article is part of a three-part series on how your blog can feed different types of business models. In the previous article we looked at how blogging can attract the attention of clients who want to hire you directly, for the right price. In this article we’ll be focusing on how your blog can feed a coaching business model.

Potential coaching clients are looking for two main elements when they hire you:

  • confidence that you can do what you say you do
  • the idea that they will enjoy working with you.

Whether you’re offering life coaching, technology training, or marketing consultancy, your client wants to feel like your service is worth their investment, and that you will be easy to work with.

And through your blog you can provide evidence of both.

Build confidence in your expertise

We looked previously at how writing on the subject of your specialty showcases your expertise. This also works well for coaching models because you are letting your audience do a little “try before they buy.”

Not only are they getting to know you and your personality, but they’re getting to sample what they can achieve if they worked with you one on one.

One of the most obvious ways to encourage your reader to move from visiting the blog to hiring you is by offering lessons they can use to see some results. There are plenty of blogs regurgitating generic theory, but if you can break down your blog post into specific lessons (with examples drawn from real coaching clients), you prove that you can do what you say, and build credibility by referencing people who have seen results through your work.

Obviously you won’t be able to name all your clients, due to confidentiality, but you can still use specific examples without revealing identities.

For example, if you’re a marketing coach, which of these pieces of copy do you think are more likely to build your credibility?

“To succeed in social media marketing you’ve got to get your business to stand out and be noticed. If you look different than your competitors, more people will visit your page and you can increase likes to your business…”

Or this:

Last week as part of a client’s Facebook marketing campaign we made a couple of tweaks to their advert and managed to increase clickthroughs by 20%, get 5% more phone enquiries, and generate two sales within the week. Here’s an example of the processes we used to analyse what to change…

What you’re doing with this style of blogging is proving you know what you’re talking about, and making readers more familiar with the way you work with clients (as well as building social proof!)

Remind them you’re a coach with a blog, not a blogger who sometimes coaches…

If you blog regularly, you might find yourself attracting people who were first looking for the kind of coaching that you offered, but then turned into a blog reader, got comfortable and forgot all about the coaching.

This can happen if people get so comfortable with a presence in their lives that they forget the reason they were there in the first place. (I’m getting married this year and in no way is that an analogy to how I think married life will be—honest!)

Sometimes you need to remind your readers that you can also work with them one on one if they need a little extra support. Otherwise your coaching business is taking a backseat to the blog, and you might find yourself with a large audience, being very popular, and getting all the retweets you can handle, but no sales.

If you offer purely free content, people may go to another coach simply because they forget about your services. You don’t want that to happen.

Every now and then, whether on your blog, or on your newsletter, remind your audience about the services you offer—but position that message in a way that’s relevant to them and their problems.

For example, if you’ve done a rocking blog post on the power of NLP and increasing confidence for presentations, let people know that you offer a specific “confidence for presentations course” that can be done intensively over two days by anyone with an upcoming speech, pitch, or presentation to make.

The key is to make it relevant to the topic at hand, and not simply a plug to sell your services.

Tip: Don’t be afraid of giving away “too much” in your content

I’ve worked with coaches who have been afraid of giving away too much about how they work. They feel that if they explain their processes online, people will just use the advice and not need a coach.

However, reading an article and working one on one with a coach is not the same. In my experience, the more content you publish on your expertise, the more people know, like, and trust you, and want to work with you directly.

Remember, someone who wants you to coach them doesn’t just want your knowledge of theory—they want access to you. They want the accountability that comes with having a coach. They want to be able to ask you questions directly rather than interpret a blog post. They want specific tailored answers that they can apply to their life or their business.

They want you. And your blog is a way of attracting them to you.

What about you? Do you attract coaching clients through your blog? Do you find it’s easier to sign up a new client if they’ve been a blog reader previously? Let me know in the comments! And look out tomorrow for the final post in this series, where we’ll look at blogging to support a product business.

Amy Harrison is a copywriter and content marketer for Personality Entrepreneurs wanting to connect and sell authentically to their audience. You can now download her free report on how to write sales copy when personality is part of your business at Harrisonamy.com.

How to Blog to Build Your Service-based Business

This guest post is by Amy Harrison of Harrisonamy.com.

Earlier this year, through emails with ProBlogger about upcoming guest post ideas, I thought about an article about how blogging fed my business model.

This was the first time I’d really considered how my articles linked to the revenue I’d earned in the past three years.

I’m not a particularly prolific blogger, and I haven’t written anything outlandish, controversial—or even had a viral post. But business is very healthy, I’ve been booked solid all year and will be for the next few months, and revenue is growing year on year.

It was only when I sat down to write this post that I saw how 95% of my business is generated through blogging by:

  • clients hiring a service
  • businesses wanting coaching or training
  • customers buying products.

Whether you also have a combination of the above, or focus solely on client work or selling products, over the next three days I’m going to show you how blogging has helped me generate revenue for each of those models.

Hopefully this will give you ideas of what’s possible, and help you tailor your current blogging strategy to better suit your desired business model—whether it’s one of these, or one of the others covered in the recent Blog Business Model series here at ProBlogger.

Today, we’ll look at the first business model in the list: blogging to support sales of a service.

From readers to clients

If, like me, you’re a copywriter or other type of freelance writer, your blog naturally lends itself to promoting your skills. If people can see and scrutinise your writing online, they’ll find it easier to consider hiring you than someone whose work they haven’t seen.

But a blog also supports other freelance occupations when you’re working for hire. It showcases your expertise and personality, making it easier for someone to imagine working with you. If you’re in a service-based business this is very important. You probably know that people buy from those they know, like, and trust, and your blog is a way of building this confidence into potential clients.

If you’re a carpenter and your blog is filled with how-to articles, and the occasional video of you explaining a process, it is the equivalent of one long demonstration of what you are capable of and what you’re like to work with.

As a result, if someone studies your blog and likes what they see, by the time they do approach you to enquire about your services, beneath the surface, they’re already on the path of being “sold” on working with you.

Proving your expertise increases your value (and prices)

Generally speaking, if you approach a company or client looking for work, the balance of power lies in their hands. You’re asking them for something. (If you’ve ever cold called to get clients, you know what I’m talking about).

However, building a solid reputation online through your blog increases your value and lets you charge more because potential clients value your work more.

If you want proof of this, simply look at the difference between the rates of a copywriter, web designer, or developer who has a well-known blog, and those of of copywriters, designers, and developers on sites like elance. Huge difference.

You see, if someone gets to know you through your blog and wants to hire you, it’s not just to do your thing, it’s do your thing your way.

That sets you apart from the crowd, and the more unique you are, the less likely people are to treat you as a commodity that can be beaten down on price.

Specific blogging tactic to attract clients: guest posting

The strongest strategy I’ve found for attracting clients who want to hire me as a copywriter is guest posting and the relationships I’ve built through guest posting.

This doesn’t mean having to guest post everywhere. I can trace back about $20,000 worth of client work ($12,500 from one client for a month’s worth of work) to a handful of guest posts I’ve written on less than four different websites.

Pick the biggest, brightest blogs and make sure they are in your audience’s niche, not just yours. If you make banjos, don’t write on the best banjo-making site (where other banjo-makers hang out), write for the best banjo-playing site (where the players—your customers—hang out).

A few tips that I’ve found to work well include:

  • Pick blogs that have integrity and are well respected among the audience of your ideal clients.
  • Go big! Don’t be intimidated thinking you have to start small—write great content and aim for the best sites!
  • Study the site. Study popular posts, comments, and posting guidelines.
  • Work hard to write an article that will give the audience value.
  • Be polite but persistent if you don’t hear anything. Submit your article and follow up in a week, then a week after that. Try social media, email, and online contact forms to get in touch (but no more than one or two different types of contact methods a week).
  • Prep your own website. Don’t write guest posts before you have any decent content or a newsletter on your own site!
  • Follow up. If you have a successful guest post that increases your traffic and enquiries, start planning more, or even pitch a series of two or three articles so the audience can really get to know you.

What about you? How have you used your blog to attract clients for your service offering? Have you noticed a difference in how potential clients deal with you if they come to you after reading your blog? Let me know in the comments! And stay tuned: tomorrow we’ll talk about blogging to support your coaching or training business.

Amy Harrison is a copywriter and content marketer for Personality Entrepreneurs wanting to connect and sell authentically to their audience. You can now download her free report on how to write sales copy when personality is part of your business at Harrisonamy.com.

Resources for Selling Consulting Through Your Blog

As Ash explained in her post today, using blogging as a platform from which to sell consulting services can be effective and lucrative.

Blogging has long been respected as a method for supporting offline businesses, but as the potential of blogging in general has evolved, so too have the options for those using blogs to sell services.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this business model, have a look at these articles:

Also, don’t forget our series, Build Blog Products that Sell, and ProBlogger’s Guide to Blogging for Your Business—these resources are detailed practical guides that will really help those looking to sell consulting and other services through a business blog.

What other resources and articles do you know of that can help those trying to sell consulting services through their blog? Share them with us in the comments.