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The 3 Emails You Must Send During a Launch … and a Fresh Alternative for Bloggers

Are you ready to launch a product from your blog?

Not an affiliate product, but something you created with your own flesh and blood?

After many late nights spent honing that ebook, ecourse, or coaching program?

Whatever it is, if you’re ready to release that puppy, then it’s time to commit to it and launch it.

Launching is going to disrupt your normal blogging lifestyle. Heck—it disrupts everything, including you and your happy audience’s normally scheduled (and expected) activities.

But I’m here today to give you some good news and the lowdown on what you need to do to keep this disruption to a minimum.

In this blogging primer for launches, you’ll learn:

  • how to warm your readers up to the idea of you launching a product
  • ways to keep the communication non-spammy
  • when and how to offer pre-launch content
  • easy-to-remember basics on “email” marketing during your launch.

You’ll get to see this topic through the lens of known bloggers and marketers, but I’ll also reveal my own use of each one of these strategies and concepts.

So, if you’re ready to turn your blog into a product-launching, money-making, name-taking machine, keep reading!

1. Blogger to launcher basics

Many bloggers who have never created and sold their own products wonder how to make the leap and start offering something for sale. Even after you’ve created a product, it can still feel somehow taboo to offer something for sale.

I thought I’d done plenty to warn the world that I was open for business. I wrote an ebook, told some people about it, and then I just let it sit there.

When I was ready to launch for real—with a real program—I had to start over again. Not just because I’d been dormant since my last launch, but because I’d even shifted the focus of my site—drastically.

I went from talking about general personal development and productivity to writing primarily about launching—especially for the first-timers who didn’t feel like they could compete with so called gurus.

There’s really no graceful way to do it. The only rule I’ve seen others follow and that I also practice is this: treat your mailing list, your readers, and your followers as friends coming along the journey with you.

So that’s exactly what I did.

I probably could have made my product sales page a blog post too, but I’ll save that test for another day!

Using this approach, I turned my perpetually inactive blog to an active one and then was able to pull off a moderately successful launch that gave a major boost to my mailing list.

The moral of the story (yes, I’m saying it again!) is: include your list during the first and every launch—and they will come along for the ride.

But what’s really happening behind the scenes? Is it as easy as just those four blog posts and a sales page?

Yes—it is that it easy, but it’s important to include a few other key actions to make sure those posts hit the hardest, and do their job to promote your launch.

Here’s how to make the switch from blogger to blogger with a business:

  1. Give plenty of lead time. You must warn and inform your audience. Tell them how to interact with you, and how long they can expect the launch to last. Be friendly, honest, and ask for their support. Don’t tell them to buy, buy, buy.
  2. Start an interest list early. Segmenting your list is a great way to make sure that if you are emailing your audience, the only people you do email are ones that have clearly said, “I am interested.”
  3. “Teach” your readers to take action when you prompt them. Make sure you always ask for people to hit Reply with questions about your emails, leave comments, do some homework based on your latest post, or click to read the post. Think about every communication and every post as a chance to call your readers to take some direct action—click this, comment below, share if you like, answer this question.
  4. If you aren’t doing this already, respond to every single comment and email you get. It’s easier to do this with a small list, but even making that effort with a larger list goes a long way.

Imagine you’re about to do a big life project. Would you keep it to yourself until the day before? Or would you tell your friends, family, or partner? Most likely, you would not be able to hold your excitement in that long.

Take the same approach with your readers and you’re likely to get a much warmer response come launch day.

2. Handling the irregular communication glitch

So what happens if you’ve warned people and they still don’t warm up to your exciting pre-launch news?

Your readers are comfortable with how often you show up in their inbox. And every single person who launches a product online deals with some kind of negative reaction or complaints about irregular communication.

People are used to hearing from you once a week. That’s it. That’s all. Then, all of the sudden, you’re sending out emails every day, reminders to grab the ebook for an introductory price, to sign up for the webinar before the spaces are filled.

It’s a little overwhelming, and it can be hard for your readers to switch gears.

The good news is there’s a super-easy way to transition your readers into the messaging and offers you are about to start making (on a regular basis, hopefully).

Here are just a few ways to transition readers and avoid communication complaints.

If you send out a formatted newsletter…

Add a section that says, “coming soon,” or simply add your free and paid offers to the bottom of the newsletter.

This way, people will always expect that you offer something. You can also add a “coming soon” section to your blog sidebar to make sure the RSS subscribers who click through see what you’ve got.

Here, you can see social media marketing trainer and consultant Alicia Cowan added two of her offerings to the bottom of her very simple newsletter template.

Email by Alicia Cowan

2. If you send a text-only, more personal email…

Add a P.S. that explains you’re working on your first product, and maybe a link to an interest page. I’ve done this with new or semi-new coaching offers and had a great response. You could even just say, “Hey, I’m working on my first ebook, and I could use your help. Want to know how? Hit Reply and ask me!”

I first learned this from Dean Jackson. I kept seeing his P.S.s and thinking they were awesome. I don’t use them every single email, but when I’m not sure how to share what I want to offer to my list, I use a P.S. and just ask people to hit Reply.

Email by Dean Jackson

Here’s how I applied it to launch a fairly new coaching service offered on my site. No link, just a simple “Hit Reply if you want to know more.” Did it work? Yes: I booked out all my sessions for two months using this technique.

Email by Anne Samoilov

3. If RSS is the way most readers receive your message…

Make sure to write a blog post about your upcoming launch, and put messages below your post and/or on the sidebar of your blog asking people to sign up for the interest list.

Corbett Barr always mentions what’s coming soon and you can easily read about it in the RSS feed of his site Think Traffic. His messaging comes across as natural, informative, and non-pushy.

For example, in this post he talks about lessons he learned during the launch of Fizzle, an online training membership site. And he links to the sales page—smart and easy. His audience appreciates getting the behind the scenes and he likes sending people to his sales page. It’s a win-win.

Email for Think Traffic

4. Do all of your opening soon/open/closing soon messaging in the body of your normal communication

Marie Forleo does a great job of this by changing the bumper on all her Marie TV videos to the next event or project she’s working on.

Check out this example to see her B-School bumper.

Email for B-School

3. Planning a minimum viable launch

Now let’s talk about the absolute minimum of emails you must send during a launch.

I’m talking here about the only ones that you should write separately from your normal newsletters or emails to your list. Here they are.

1. We’re opening soon

This is a simple email that warns and informs your audience that you are doing something outside the norm. Tell them what you’re up to, and what to expect during the launch period. They’ll thank you and won’t unsubscribe.

In this example, not only did I warn subscribers, but I used my favorite spot in the email to do it: the P.S.

Email for Anne and Corbett

2. We’re open

Laura Roeder has switched to this kind of straightforward messaging too. Her Creating Fame program now only announces the opening and closing of the program enrollment, or new waves of enrollment.

Email by Laura Roeder

Chris Guillebeau does the same thing with his World Domination Summit. I went back to see if this had changed from the first WDS, but realized he does the same thing every single time. He opens it. Then he warns. Then he closes it.

Email by Chris Guillebeau

3. We’re closing, or this special launch period is over

First, you may be asking: Do I need to close? What is “closing”?

Closing is simply ending your run of launch material, emails, and the push to promote your product. Sometimes it’s closing enrollment. Sometimes it’s just stopping the hardcore promotion. Whatever you decide, whether you should close your launch is a whole other topic.

Let’s say for the sake of example you’ve chosen to close your launch on a specific day. This can actually be done by sending two emails on closing day. I highly recommend it is two emails sent on the last day: one early in the morning, and one later in the day a few hours before you close.

Catherine Just, one of the members of Fearless Launching, was in the midst of her Soul*full ecourse launch. She was feeling a lag in sign ups at the mid-point in the launch. Though this is quite natural and happens even on higher profile launches, Catherine was bummed. Who wouldn’t be? So, on the day she closed, I suggested she send two emails—one super-early and one later in the day close to closing time.

First, she sent this short and sweet, early-morning email:

Email by Catherine Just

And here’s the longer thank you email she sent a few hours before closing:

Closing email by Catherine Just

The results were outstanding. People new to her list signed up for the program and she got several sign ups in the last 24 hours (and then some on the day after closing).

It was just the right amount of push and honesty to get her readers and new readers to take action!

The reason these types of emails work

For some reason—perhaps because they aren’t trying to pull anything, but they get a reaction and cause you to think about your situation and what you struggle with—these email types get very few complaints.

People are like, “Oh okay, you’re open. Cool.” There are only a few options for them. The emails feel nice, respectful, and non-invasive.

Use these emails and examples as inspiration for your own launch. Think about being direct, and think about how your readers are going to react. Don’t be as worried about how well the emails are written. Instead, think about speaking in the voice they know and love: yours.

Bonus: launch “email” marketing for bloggers

Throughout this post, we’ve looked at examples of emails, ways of communicating about your launch, and how to warm people up to the idea of your launch. No matter how many launches you do, you need to think about this every single time. Your approach will evolve as your readers and followers evolve.
Here’s how simple your launch can be, when your primary focus is (or has been) blogging.

Spoiler alert: What I’m about to suggest might have you scratching your head and wondering if it’s possible, or if it will even work…

Keep it on the blog

Instead of writing emails for your launch, you could just write blog posts.

In fact, instead of having a separate launch site with launch videos and special launch content, keep it all on your blog: no need for a separate site.

How can you have a product launch without email?

Well, you tell me! Some of the biggest blogger launches have happened directly from the blog.
Think non-invasive, expected, adding value—and posts that are live on your site forever!

Instead of hiding your precious launch content on a separate site, pop it on your blog for the long-term effects to your business and site. If it’s sitting on another separate site, how are you going to keep getting regular sales for your program?

Who’s done it?

…and many, many more!

How successful was it?

This approach makes it easier to build trust, easier to get all your readers’ attention, and much easier to sell them on reading your message. If people are only on your RSS feed, they might not even see a launch email. This approach makes your launch available to everyone.

As I mention above, I did this during my first launch of a program—the first real product I offered from my site. I used the month prior to my open-cart date as a chance to focus on my topic, so I loaded my readers up with articles related to launching.

Derek Halpern of SocialTriggers.com has also done this for the pre-launch of Blog That Converts. When I chatted with him about it prior to publishing the series, I asked him, “So this is like an intro course to Blog That Converts? That gets them ready for the program?”

He said, “Exactly.”

Not only is he setting his customers up to be ready to take his course, he’s keeping the content on his blog, so that there’s no break in the flow of how he normally delivers his content.

He still announces each post via email, but in a very expected way for his audience.

Action point: create a series of posts that cover mini-topics within your program or product.

Don’t be afraid to test

If you’re feeling a little braver, try a mix of emails and posts. The worst that’s going to happen is that people might tell you that you’re emailing too often.

If you start to see your readers revolt or a flurry of unsubscribes, all you need to do to change your course: space out your emails, turn emails back into blog posts, and so on.

I’m definitely a huge fan of pushing your readers just a little. Don’t go to the extreme, but give them a taste of what it feels like to get these launch-devoted emails. The next time around, it won’t feel so foreign to you!

During the fall 2012 launch of Fearless Launching, I wrote a series of emails for the launch in addition to blog content. Half way through the enrollment period, I sensed it was getting too much from my readers, because they told me so.

This post started an email—and ended up a blog post only! Check it out and see if you can tell where it sounds like an email at first: http://www.annesamoilov.com/email-during-launch/.

I turned a few of the more sales-y emails into blog posts, or just cut them completely. But I wouldn’t have known to do this unless I’d tested and written a few direct emails about the launch.

Action point: Write an email and tell people why it’s important to know whatever it is you’re teaching. Why is this topic important?

Analyze your results

If you’re going to test, you better analyze the results, too.

All that means is this: watch your open rate, taking note of which types of emails get opened and which ones do not.

Watch traffic on blog posts and the response to your emails. You’ll need to use your gut at first to understand what all these numbers mean, but that’s okay. If you see that your blog posts get tons of comments and the emails get hardly any opens, you can draw conclusions about what’s best for your audience.

Watch where people click, comment, and speak up. This is valuable feedback. So listen up!

All too often you will learn new strategies for connecting with your audience, for writing a better email, for tips on selling without being schmucky … and you will try them but not spend the time to see how they worked for your business and your audience.

Action point: Make sure you check your analytics account daily during your launch. Look at the number of visits, bounce rates, and most importantly, traffic sources.

Your homework

There’s a lot of action you could (and should) take from this post, but before you get into any of it, answer these three questions in the comments below. I’ll personally respond and let you know the best next step for you!

  1. Do you have a product that you want to launch, but you’ve been afraid to make the leap because you’ve never offered something for sale before to your readers?
  2. No matter what size your audience is, are you getting consistent response, reaction, and engagement from your readers in some form?
  3. Have you tried to launch something on your blog and got no response? Can you make any guesses as to why?

Contributing author Anne Samoilov is an online launch + business strategist who coaches overwhelmed entrepreneurs ready to launch. She’s also the creator of Fearless Launching, an online training program for first time online product launchers.  Learn how to launch and build a business based on simplicity over on her blog, chat with her on Facebook, and download her special gift for Problogger.net readers: a launch email resource guide.

How to Brand a Blog Product: Tips from the Pros [Case Study]

Branding. We’re always talking about it, but too rarely do we stop to think about what it actually means. So today I thought I’d step through two great examples of blog product branding and see what tips we can take from these stories. The products I wanted to look at are conferences, which I mentioned in my last Blogging in Brief post.

Amphitheather

Image courtesy stock.xchng user gozdeo

Whether or not you run a conference off the back of your blog isn’t important. I’ve chosen conferences as the example because they’re such a personal, real-time embodiment of a blog’s brand and ethos. Since conferences are often the biggest-ticket item on a blog’s product list, bloggers tend to put a lot into promoting them, so this is a really good way to learn about the branding techniques the pros are using.

The conferences we’ll look at here are very different: Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit and the BlogHer ’13 conference.

World Domination Summit: rockstar branding

This conference’s homepage combines casual and cool really well. To me, the background map image says “wordly, adventurous, unpretentious.” And the other thing that draws the eye on this page—the still photograph from the video—says “rock concert!” I wonder if you feel the same when you look at it?

WDS homepage

The navigation items are also casual-sounding: Story, Schedule, and Headquarters. Unusually, they’re sub-titled, and those subtitles are cheeky and fun. The page’s call to action follows the same spirit: “In July 2012, a small army of remarkable people converged on Portland, Oregon for a weekend of strategizing and adventure. Join us in 2013?”

Language is an important part of branding, and this site proves it. Instantly we know that this conference is going to be a blast.

Clicking around, again the imagery stands out. Most of it looks creative, like the Instagrammed photos we see on Twitter. People are important in these shots—the black-and-white Featured Guests photos look really natural (and their “bios” focus in on the personality and what they’ll teach in a candid, friendly way). But the imagery also focuses on the things you’ll enjoy if you attend: the Portland atmosphere, good food, and an exciting, rock-concert vibe.

Overall, that’s what I get from this conference site: that WDS is going to be an exciting and fun adventure. No wonder it’s already sold out!

WDS also lists its attendees on a map on the homepage. Clicking on the map shows you a profile of the attendee, along with the distance they’re travelling to get to the conference. This is a great way to underscore the value of the conference to peers of the site’s visitors—it’s almost saying, someone like you is willing to travel 576kms to get to this conference. What are you missing out on? Again, to me this reinforces the rock concert vibe.

There’s also a link at top-right of that map which takes you to “The Worldwide Dispatch”—a complete overview of the social media footprint of the event and its attendees, which is great for social reputation-building.

BlogHer: educating women bloggers

BlogHer looks to be targeted at women bloggers who want a kind of blogging “professional development” program. The site offers access to a lot of conferences that carry the BlogHer brand, but we’ll focus on the main conference.

The homepage image is an important one: it shows attendees talking one on one, but that crowd stretches off into the background. Instantly we get the idea that attendees will make personal connections with large numbers of people, and have the opportunity to share stories and learn from each other.

BlogHer home

The navigation for the conference material is very straightforward: Agenda, Register, Sponsors, Attendees, Speakers. And the copy manages to communicate enthusiasm with clarity. The homepage call to action says simply, “Be sure to join us and register now!” And here’s the description of the “Newbie Breakfast”:

“BlogHer welcomes our new attendees to a breakfast dedicated just to you! Spend some time with other attendees just as nervous and excited as you are. Grab a plate, make a buddy, and kick your conference off on the right foot. We’ll offer you some helpful tips to get the most out of your conference experience, walk you through the program, the sponsors, and the social ecosystem of BlogHer ’13.”

This conference sounds fun and very welcoming. There’s no “edge”—the site definitely communicates that attendees will get the opportunity to learn in a comfortable environment.

Speaking of attendees, this page is another interesting contrast with the WDS version. The BlogHer Attendees page is clear, not fancy, and puts attendees front and center. Click on a person, and you’ll see that their profile is designed to allow you to connect with them directly, perhaps even before the conference.

While the information is similar to that presented about WDS attendees, it’s presented differently. It gives access to the attendee’s social media presence, shows their activity in the BlogHer forums, and has space for chats too. Where WDS attendees answered questions about dreams and ambitions (and “What’s your superpower?”), the BlogHer profile is less confronting, providing a snapshot of the individual, and access to communicate with them.

Where personalities might be the focus for WDS, at BlogHer, it seems relationships are most important. It’s a subtle distinction, but I think it’s an important one.

What can we learn?

This quick analysis provides some valuable insights that we can use to review our own blog products, and our blogs themselves, to make sure that our branding is as strong as it can be.

1. Make your products themselves emphasise your brand

Every product we make should be an extension of our core brand. We can see that WDS is an extension of Chris Guillebeau’s blog, The Art of Non-conformity. The imagery and language reflects the attitude on which Chris’s blog is founded. And the presentation of speakers and attendees really emphasises the individualism of the people who’ll be at the conference.

The conference looks like it’ll be even more non-conformist than The Art of Non-conformity—it’ll take this much-loved brand to a whole new, more intense level. Every blog product should do that.

2. Target your audience with every aspect of your product’s presentation

The BlogHer conference site embodies the unintimidating nature of this conference. From the simplicity of the navigation to the opening call to action on the home page, you get the sense that the conference is big, inclusive, and welcoming.

The site is simple to use, and there’s nothing unexpected—unlike the WDS site, which is full of surprises, from the nav subtitles to the map. These presentations have been carefully designed to home in on the emotions that the target audience is likely to feel about attending the events, and create a sense of connection on each of those points.

Both sites tell the target audience, “meet other people just like you.” What’s interesting is how clearly they communicate what “just like you” means—and how much that differs between the two products. Do your blog products connect with their audience this strongly?

3. Communicate your product’s point of difference with perfect clarity

A quick glance around either site communicates its point of difference.

WDS is for those who want to live an exciting, untemplated life.

BlogHer is for women bloggers who want to connect and learn about blogging.

Importantly, you don’t need to read the page copy to understand these differences—the imagery, rich media, page designs, and taglines do a lot of the work. Nothing on either site is inconsistent in this regard. But a as a prime example of that communication, compare the agendas for both conferences.

Here’s the WDS agenda:

WDS agenda

And here’s the BlogHer agenda. BlogHer has multiple events running simultaneously, with titles like “Interest & Identity (Presentation: What Type of Social Media Leader are You? / Roundtable: Beyond the Vertical, Into the Niche),” and provides a brief description of each one.

The agendas of events, and the lists of speakers, are really where the crux of a conference lie. So it’s really interesting to see the differences between these presentations for these two events—instantly we can see these brands’ points of difference.

The critical elements of any blog product should embody its point of difference.

4. Back up that branding everywhere

WDS—and The Art of Non-conformity—targets people with a spirit of adventure—people who are embracing the journey of their lives.

So it makes sense that the WDS site includes interesting details about the city in which the event’s located. It makes sense to mention how far each attendee is travelling in their profile. It makes sense to have a “Headquarters” navigation item, which echoes the idea of having a “home base” when you’re on holiday—a place where you can relax and focus, and which you head out from each day on a new adventure.

Meanwhile, the BlogHer Agenda helps users out with links to an “at-a-glance” session list, and links to speakers and additional program announcements right under the page header. Again I get the feeling that the BlogHer attendees are going to be well looked after—they’ll never get lost at this event.

BlogHer more info

These little things seem like, well, little things. But they add up to consistent branding that speaks to the audience on multiple levels simultaneously. That makes the product branding trustworthy.

5. That’s right: everywhere

Blog product branding isn’t about creating a coherent atmosphere through your product and its sales pages—you also need to look at the way you’re communicating about it on your blog, on social media, in any content or off-site marketing you do (including ads and promotions), and so on.

That might mean you need to be selective about the information you provide to affiliates. It might mean you avoid guest-posting on certain blogs that don’t reflect the ideas or ethos that your product is promoting.

Don’t just limit your branding to your own sites and efforts: try to ensure that the keys to your product’s ability to connect with customers are consistent wherever it’s mentioned.

More branding tips from the pros

I know many of you have blog products of your own, so it would be great to hear what you’ve learned about blog branding and product branding through your own work. Let us know your tips in the comments.

Blogging in Brief: Ebooks, Print Books, Conferences and More

From what I can tell, most bloggers are off to a flying start this year. Lots of great discussions going on on social media, and some interesting plans in the works for many…

Launching an ebook in 2013?

If you answered “yes” to that question, take a look at this post from Shayne, who helps me with both dPS and ProBlogger products.

This post contains some key issues that I think most bloggers probably don’t look at in detail before we launch an ebook. We’re so excited to get our products out there that we could, unwittingly, be undermining their success.

Shayne looks at the issue from a really strategic viewpoint in this post. I hope it helps you!

Blogger in print … and on tour

Congratulations to Matt Kepnes, who’s released a print book through Penguin: How to Travel the World on $50 a Day.

This is another great example of what can happen when you build a strong brand and following online. If it’s something that interests you, take a look at our guides for becoming a print book author:

Not only that, but Matt’s heading off on a book tour of the States during February. So if you’re in a city he’s visiting, head down and say hello—he’s published the tour dates on his blog. And tell him Darren sent you!

Conference planning 2013

We announced this week that this year’s ProBlogger Training Event will be held on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. But we’re not the only ones to have released conference details recently.

My 10-in-1 Content Creation Strategy [Case Study]

This guest post is by Wayne Turner of MurrayKilgour.Com.

Content creation calendars and schedules are the bane of most serious bloggers’ and content managers’ lives, depending on which side of the creative block you’re on.

I straddled this fine line on many occasions until my Eureka moment. Having amalgamated my home radio and video studios I realised that I could double up on content creation with my business-consultant partner, a content reservoir of genius proportions.

Soon we had discovered a 3-in-1, then a 6-in-1, and finally a 10-in-1 content creation strategy.

When I say “radio and video studio” (actually my third bedroom), be assured it’s not exactly state of the art, although I have slowly acquired suitable equipment and created a workable dual studio.

In saying this, anyone with a computer, some sort of USB audio interface/mixer, a reasonable microphone and digital video camera or DSLR can achieve the same results. In this article I assume you are familiar with your gear so I’m not going to go into any detail on how to use each piece of equipment in the process.

Time costs!

One of the most valuable, and rarest assets of a successful business consultant is time. To maximise the genius of my partner, when time is in such short supply, is a hectic operation usually resulting in a minimal flow of great content. This is where my Eureka moment has paid incredible dividends and saved many hours in the generation of multiple pieces of content at once.

Because we use a joint audio and video, green-screen studio, when we sit down and record a session, we create both an audio and a video recording simultaneously. The following ten points outline the quality content that we create from each five-minute recording session.

We now have this down to such a fine art that we can do six, five-minute recordings in 40 minutes. For me as the content creator, this is heaven, as it enables me to work in my genius. (A little side note here: your genius is simply working in your passion and talent, and I believe you need to be doing this for 80% of your working time.)

How it works

So, it all starts with one content creation session—just one!—where we have learned to maximise both time and genius. Of course there is preparation required to make the session go smoothly, and a good knowledge of your field of expertise is essential, but once we’re in studio, this is how the magic happens.

  1. The primary piece of content is a video for uploading to our YouTube channel and if we choose, we upload it to iTunes as a video podcast. We also embed the same video on our blog at MurrayKilgour.com. A well-prepared, quality video is the basis for this whole process. We use either a script or a series of bullet points to make the recording. I personally enjoy using a script with a DIY teleprompter, because of my radio background. Cheesycam.com is an awesome resource for DIY ideas and equipment—a lot of it DIY or reasonably priced new gear.
  2. The recorded audio track becomes a podcast which is embedded on our blog, and most often is uploaded to our Living on Purpose iTunes podcast channel as well. There are many other podcast sites to upload to, but we choose just iTunes. If you are unable to create video, the podcast can become the audio for a Slideshare video presentation, so give the audio the same good preparation as you would a video.
  3. We send the mp3 audio recording to a transcription contractor hired through eLance.com for transcription at $2 per recording. From this transcript, we create a blog post for our site, a guest post for another website, or an article for a site like ezinearticles.com. This invaluable piece of text is also used as a caption or transcript with our videos on Youtube for SEO purposes. Because it’s accurate, we gain the additional traction of having hearing-disabled people able to enjoy your video using the Youtube subtitles feature.
  4. The video we have created, if it’s not placed on our YouTube channel, can now form part of a multi-part video ecourse. We use an Aweber autoresponder to give this away for free and gain subscribers to our blog, but it can be monetized in the form of a paid video ecourse. You can determine the value or purpose of the content here.
  5. We again take the transcribed text and repurpose it into a ten-part ecourse delivered in the same way as the video ecourse: as a bonus for signing up as a subscriber to the blog. This method has been extremely successful—we’ve signed up thousands of subscribers to our blog this way.
  6. The transcribed text now adds real value when it is compiled into a section or chapter of an ebook to be used as a giveaway or sold on the blog as a free download. This is where the value of the method comes in, because many bloggers battle to get into writing an ebook. We edited, added and modified a lot of the text to create an ebook, but what this method did was give us a great quantity of raw material to work with. We had created more than 140 podcasts by the time we woke to the fact that we could compile a quality ebook using that material.
  7. I am in the fortunate position of being a breakfast show producer for a local radio station, so the podcast becomes a regular slot on our community radio station, Radio CCFm, which has 250 000 listeners. But before you say this is a privileged position, I can assure you that, as a producer, I can say most local radio stations are always looking for quality content, especially if it is free. So short podcasts with a good intro and outro may become a regular feature on radio stations and give good traffic to a website.
  8. With the advent of HD video DSLRs it is possible to produce high-quality video footage for TV programs. We repurpose our five-minute content creation session again in the form of a short TV program for a local community TV station, Cape Town Television. If it’s quality content and free, TV stations will take your show—especially if it’s relevant to their viewers.
  9. When we repurpose the transcribed text into an ebook, the audio becomes part of an audio book. You might say that this is pushing it, but I use the audio as a companion free audio book to the photography ebook I sell on my website. It’s a bonus for the buyer and for me, because I didn’t have to do anything extra to create it.
  10. Finally, blog posts, audio, and video make an amazing weekly or monthly newsletter. I do this using Aweber templates, which are free with the subscription. We try to do it on a two-weekly basis, as we don’t always have enough content for weekly mailings. It works perfectly for a monthly newsletter and I would advise this when you’re starting out. The amount of content you generate will determine the frequency.

Ten points sounds good, and I thought that adding an eleventh point might be a bit much, but here’s a bonus idea. What we’ve done is created a boxed DVD set for offline and online sales as training modules. Not all people are excited about online, and some like a physical product in their hands. In our business we use all of the above content in its different forms as part of a DVD boxed series for sale to our coaching clients. They love it and we love it—especially the time it takes to create!

Unlimited content

There are no limits to how you can use your content if you begin with the end in mind, but the emphasis must be on quality content. When you sit down in front of the camera and microphone, think “end product,” and design your process to get the most out of the content creation session. I’m sure that most people can easily create seven of these ten pieces of content out of just one five-, ten-, or even 30-minute recording session.

So, think big in your content creation, begin with the end in mind, and maximize your time and effort to produce content that will attract the best traffic and convert those people into buyers. Your success will result from the quality of content you produce. So give it your best!

Wayne Turner is a multimedia strategist specialising in photography, radio and video at MurrayKilgour.Com. If you’d like to go to your next level in life and business by working in your genius you can sign up for our free ebook, Living on Purpose.

How to Get Paid to Double Your Blog Traffic: a Technique 99% of Bloggers Won’t Dare Try

This post is by Shane MeLaugh of imimpact.com.

Imagine if this traffic screenshot was yours:

Analytics

Of course, your traffic levels might be more or less depending on the size of your blog and how long you’ve been blogging, but the purpose of this post is to show you how to double your blog traffic—while getting paid to do it.

The above screenshot reflects traffic to my previous blog two years ago, at its infancy. Then I made a simple change and something significant happened.

Here’s exactly what happened:

  • I doubled my blog traffic almost overnight and it kept growing every month.
  • I was able to build a sizeable mailing list.
  • I made a total of over $100,000 in a two-year period because of this simple change.

Watch this short video to see what the change was, that caused this increase in traffic:

Yes, that’s it. One product resulted in big increase in traffic and a very healthy income, all at the same time.

You’ve probably read several articles on increasing blog traffic, but you’ll rarely hear people tell you to create a product to increase your blog traffic.

Creating a product is often seen as something that’s difficult to do, so many bloggers shy away from even trying.

By creating a product however, you’ll be able to:

  • grow your blog traffic
  • build your expertise
  • build a strong email list
  • make a lot of money.

I’ll be explaining more about how to do this later in this post.

I’m Shane Melaugh from imimpact.com and the result I’m sharing above was from two years ago. Does that mean it doesn’t work anymore? Absolutely not. Product creation continues to be my main method for increasing traffic to my websites and it works better than ever. The reason I’m sharing a case study from two years ago is because:

  • this was my first attempt, with no experience or leverage, so anybody can do it
  • I had a relatively new blog with no email list, few connections and little traffic
  • it works wonders, but it seems no one ever talks about this method.

Why creating a product is the best way to increase your blog traffic

Quote 1If you take a look at the screenshot above you’ll notice that my blog was receiving well below 200 visitors a day before my first product release.

Your blog is never too small to create a product. In fact, if I were to start again from scratch I’d create a product, even with no existing traffic at all.

Here’s why.

1. You give people an incentive to market your business

The best way to grow your blog is by getting support from other bloggers and marketers in your field and the best way to get this support is by creating a product.

No blogger will send an email promoting that awesome blog post you wrote to a list of 10,000 subscribers no matter how great your blog post is. However, many bloggers will happily send one or several emails to their list promoting your product if it’s a good enough product and they know they’ll get affiliate commissions.

Instead of just linking to you out of goodwill, they can promote you, knowing that it helps their audience, it helps you and it also helps them earn some money.

2. You establish your blog with the right readers

What’s better to have: a blog with 1,000 monthly visitors or a blog with 10,000 monthly visitors?

You bet it’s the blog with 10,000 visitors, right?

Wrong (sometimes, at least).

It’s not just about traffic quantity, but also about traffic quality. You can have thousands of visitors who don’t engage with your content, don’t share your content, don’t leave comments—they just eat up your bandwidth. Or you can have a small group of highly engaged fans who give you feedback and spread your message through social media.

The great thing about selling a product and getting affiliate promotions is that it adds customers to your mailing list and to your blog readership. Happy customers are some of the most engaged and helpful readers you’ll ever have.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll take 1,000 happy customers over 10,000 anonymous browsers any day of the week.

3. You build a business, not a blog

These are two very different things that are easily confused.

There’s a huge difference between building a blog of 10,000 monthly visitors in two years before creating a product and building a blog with the same 10,000 visitors in the same two years’ time while making $100,000. The difference is that the first one is a blog while the latter is a business.

4. Most bloggers won’t dare to do this

This approach is unlike guest blogging, article marketing, or SEO. It isn’t something you can easily do. To succeed, you have to commit yourself and think long term and this is why most bloggers won’t even dare to create their own products.

Releasing a product was an effective way to grow your blog two years ago, it’s effective today and it will be, for a long time to come. You’re doing something that’s “difficult” and so you have less competition.

As Tim Ferriss said in his book The 4-Hour Work-Week:

“The fishing is best where the fewest go, and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone else is aiming for base hits. There is just less competition for bigger goals.”

A 4-step plan to creating your own traffic-boosting product

I recently released a free comprehensive one-hour video and case study report that explains the process behind my six-figure launch, but here’s a summary of the steps I took to create my first product.

Step #1: Market and product research

Quote 2Research will make or break your product.

Creating a successful product isn’t about thinking and creating a product based on the first idea that pops into your head; you need to research who your audience is, what kind of product they want, where they hang out, the exact terms they use, and how much they’re willing to pay.

Creating a generic product in a popular niche won’t work. It’ll be more effective to create a solution to a very specific problem rather than trying to cater to all the problems your readers experience.

In my own case, I observed during my research that a major problem my audience face is getting traffic; after further research, I observed that most of them have problems with SEO and that the most challenging problem for them when it comes to SEO was building backlinks.

There was the idea for the product I needed to create!

How to research

Researching what your audience wants can be very complicated if you’re a newbie without a strong audience, but this doesn’t always have to be a problem. Here are a few ways you can research to find out what your audience want:

  1. Try gathering feedback on industry related forums where you’re already active.
  2. Conduct a survey with your existing audience, no matter how small, or get support from fellow bloggers to send the survey to their audience.
  3. Offer free products, in the form of an ebook or multimedia, to gauge response and feedback to see how people will respond to a similar paid offer.
  4. Help people one-on-one, via Skype or email, to find out what their major challenges are; this will also reveal exact terms and key words they use and this can be very powerful marketing material.

Step #2: Create your product

Your product doesn’t have to be high-end or massive for you to get results.

You can create a product in an afternoon, then sell it for a few bucks and grow your audience at the same time. A perfect example of this approach was implemented by Becker and documented in a recent guest post here. One example he cited was creating a $5 product and selling 6,000 copies, gaining 6,000 new subscribers as a result.

While that kind of thing can work, the approach I took was to create a high-end product.

This took me a few weeks of effort and research, but it was well worth it. I focused on making the product of very high quality, and constant updates were added in its lifetime. The focus with this product was to make it so valuable that buyers would become lifetime fans.

Step #3: Create an affiliate program

Getting affiliates to promote your product will be a huge part of making it successful.

Once your product is unique and of great quality, you’ll experience success by getting affiliates to help you sell it; you’ll be able to make money and grow your network at the same time.

Luckily, it’s very easy to set up an affiliate program for your product these days. You can simply list your product on an existing affiliate platform/marketplace and everything else is taken care of.

Step #4: Market your product

Quote 3I can’t emphasize enough that no matter how great your product is, it is bound to fail without marketing.

Creating a product is not a substitute for marketing.

There are various ways to go about marketing your product. Here are some ideas.

1. Viral marketing

The best kind of traffic you can get is viral traffic. In this context, I’m not talking about “going viral” in terms of getting a huge windfall of traffic, but the kind of traffic that self-perpetuates.

You can’t make something go viral, but you can create systems where traffic always leads to more traffic, even if it’s on a very small scale.

For example, I offered a discount on the price of my product. But customers could only access this discount by tweeting a link to my sales page or sharing it on Facebook. This didn’t lead to a massive flood of traffic, but it kept traffic coming in and it lead to extra sales and extra exposure. I explain more about this and another “mini-viral” traffic method in my case study report.

2. Solo ads

I purchased a few solo ads, which are just paid emails to other people’s mailing lists. This helped get some initial momentum for my product launch and contributed to the total sales made, as well.

3. Affiliate traffic

This will be the most powerful aspect of your marketing. The idea is to get other bloggers and marketers with a huge list and audience to promote your product. An affiliate doesn’t need to have a product to promote your product.

There are three very important steps to benefiting from affiliate traffic and they are:

  1. Sell a great product.
  2. Ensure your product is highly specific; very few people will promote generic products since these products are everywhere and they’ll have gotten a lot of offers to promote them but no one can resist promoting a specific, “new” kind of product.
  3. Try to get as many affiliates as possible on board; the more the merrier. You should expect a lot of affiliates not to take you up on your offer but the more people you contact the higher your chances of success. This isn’t about the numbers, though; make sure your affiliates don’t lack in quality and quantity.

Questions?

In almost 2,000 words, I believe this post contains all you need to know about getting paid to double your blog traffic. But if you still have questions, let me know in the comments.

Shane Melaugh is an Irish guy from Switzerland. He owns imimpact.com, a blog about increasing the bottom line for online business owners by creating unique and compelling offers, growing web site traffic and maximising conversions.

How to Name Your Next Blog Product

This guest post is by Greg McFarlane of Control Your Cash.

Here are some sample products, most of them ebooks, that I recently saw available for sale and/or free download on some popular blogs:

  • “Ten Steps To A Better Golf Game”
  • “Creating Your Personal Life Plan”
  • “How To Make Money Online”
  • “23 Gluten-Free Recipes For You And Your Family”

Alright, I lied. I made up some of the titles, but I defy you to tell me which.

What do each of these titles have in common? Not much. Just dreariness of the first order, that’s all.

I’m repeatedly amazed at how so many bloggers can have scintillating information to share with their readers, and then, when it comes time to ask those readers to commit additional time and or money, opt for the uninspiring.

The act of buying your blog product involves minimal expenditure of your readers-cum-customers’ energy—just a few clicks are required. It takes almost no effort for them to buy. But it takes even less energy for them to ignore what you’re selling and move onto the next, flashier thing. So be that flashier thing.

Your product might have amazing and helpful content, but I’ll never know that if I can’t make it past a dull title that doesn’t compel me to buy.

Swap generic for specific

Take the first example above. If you’re a golfer, there isn’t a magazine, instructor, nor smug low-handicap playing partner on the planet who hasn’t offered to improve your game via one method or another. Of course your readers want to improve their game. That’s what golfers do! In fact, it’s all they do. Even Rory McIlroy would like to find a way to shave off a fraction of a stroke.

So here’s a blogger with a legitimate offer, presumably, yet he gave it as generic and unexciting a name as possible.

To create a worthwhile title, one that gets readers’ attention and compels them to act, you have to tailor it. Quantify. Be specific, not general. Swagger a little bit. Regarding our example, here are some ideas:

“Never 3-Putt Again”

The bane of the weekend player. Nothing’s more frustrating than sweetly swinging one’s way onto the green in regulation, only to end up bogeying. A title like this resonates with its audience, who can immediately empathize. Granted, it doesn’t say a word about wood and iron play, but being specific (obviously) requires you to omit certain stuff.

Or if that title doesn’t strike your fancy, how about:

“Don’t Toss Your Bag In The Ocean Just Yet”

Again, every golfing reader has been there and done (or certainly contemplated) that. “I was this close to selling my clubs on Craigslist and taking up pottery instead. But you’re saying I might not have to?”

Speak to your readers

This goes back to knowing your audience: what they want, what they’re visiting your blog for, why it matters to them. Gently persuading your blog’s visitors to maybe, if they’re not doing anything else, perhaps give serious consideration to possibly buying your products doesn’t work. It can’t. The volume of similar messages is just too overwhelming.

Like it or not, blog products are impulse items. Someone with an itch and a few shekels to spare sees what you’re selling and decides to buy. This isn’t as involved as shopping for a car or a house is.

My blog’s topic, personal finance, is more universal than golf. All of us, from the destitute university student to Gina Rinehart, would prefer more money to less. But if I wrote an ebook titled “Your Money-Making Action Plan”, my site’s online store would be covered with cobwebs.

Instead, I tried to err on the side of snappiness and provocation when naming the products I sell on my blog. They include:

Not to ruin the surprise endings for you—not that there are any, anyway—but “Your Boss Is Smart. You’re The Idiot” is about how to start your own business and, by extension, stop having your employer be the primary beneficiary of your toil.

Meanwhile, “The Unglamorous Secret to Riches” is about how to find underpriced stocks with the potential to appreciate. Which is done by the decidedly prosaic means of perusing financial statements: looking at balance sheets and their ilk with a critical and discerning eye. The activity itself is somewhat mundane, but on a per-hour basis it can pay handsome rewards.

Titles that touch a nerve

With the first title, I again empathize with readers, and touch a particularly sensitive nerve. Most of us have, or have had, bosses whose judgment we’ve questioned. We think, “I could do that easily. Why aren’t I in the corner office?” Well, here’s why. And maybe you don’t want to be in the corner office anyway. It just means that there’ll be one fewer level of management on top of you.

But if you start your own business—taking the necessary precautions beforehand, having the requisite capital available, and knowing which forms to fill out—you can enjoy the self-determination that you’re missing out on in your current and unfulfilling employee/employer relationship.

Titles that buck the trend

With the second title, I turn the idea of a “get rich quick” scheme on its head. Most of my personal finance blogging contemporaries also write for-profit products that ostensibly teach readers how to build wealth. But those bloggers seldom do more than tell those readers to clip coupons, hold yard sales, downsize their living quarters, etc.

Few bloggers in my realm tell their readers, “Here’s what to do with your savings. Forget about building an emergency fund. Instead, buy stocks. But not just any stocks, and not just well-publicized ones. And here’s the truth—there’s nothing exciting about the groundwork involved in doing this. It involves dry columns of numbers that you’ll have to decode the meaning of. But as boring as that sounds, if you want to make additional money, it beats the heck out of taking additional shifts at work. The excitement comes in the future, when the investments you bought (and that everyone else ignored) finally start to increase in value.”

Create a difference that sticks

With tens of thousands of blogs in existence, the tendency is toward homogeneity. Right now, without exaggeration, I could find you a thousand “mommy” blogs that all say essentially the same thing: here are some foods you should never feed your kids, here are some Halloween costume ideas, here are some unsubstantiated threats to children’s safety that I’d nevertheless like to blow out of proportion and share with you.

It’s hard enough to find a unique, singular voice in a crowded marketplace as it is. But by giving your products names that stick in your readers’ minds, you’re giving yourself a crucial point of differentiation.

Greg McFarlane is an advertising copywriter who lives in Las Vegas. He recently wrote Control Your Cash: Making Money Make Sense, a financial primer for people in their 20s and 30s who know nothing about money. You can buy the book here (physical) or here (Kindle) and reach Greg at [email protected].

Trial by Fire: a Beginner’s Attempt at a Product Launch

This guest post is by Ryan Derousseau of R.M.D. Media.

Unlike most bloggers who share their experience on ProBlogger, I haven’t quite seen the fruits of my labor turn ripe—yet. I only launched my blog on social media and media outreach a couple months ago. I’m a newbie to this whole blogging thing.

My decision to launch the blog fit well with my background, since I work as a journalist and a social media manager. But jumping into a blog of my own meant I had to do more than just write about my niche.

It involved truly marketing my own business, building readership (not just benefiting from a standard readership that I’m used to through the magazines I write for), and developing my brand. I think we all can relate here. It’s a move that has come with some trial and error.

In order to build this brand quickly, I wanted to develop an ebook and offer it for sale. “What better way to jump into the world of creating sales marketing copy and grow readership quickly?” was my thought.

Of course, this meant a bunch of reading and strategizing on how to ensure I had some following before launch, in order to help spread the word of my new product, The Insider’s Guide to PR.

I tried to do all the things that the experts tell you to do: join an affiliate network, find partners to help with promotion, guest post, write a sales page well in advance, and on and on. Along with those tools, I’ve tried some other endeavors—some from experts—that I launched or prepared prior to the ebook release, in order to see the effects I desired. I want to share some of those with you.

But this post isn’t about how effective these strategies were, as I’m not an expert at launching products (it’s my first one, remember). Instead, I’m sharing my experience, to help spark some ideas for you. Maybe this will lead to some other, better, ways to promote your product, which I overlooked.

Tactic 1: Leaking details of my ebook

When I was about a month out from launching my first online PDF, I started leaking tidbits from the book. I did this in order to build buzz and enthusiasm, but also to highlight my expertise, since I was a new blogger.

At first I began to leak ideas that are shared in the book. For example, I wrote a post on the types of media pitching campaigns that a consultant, independent business owner or entrepreneur could use to plan outreach. (This has actually become one of my more popular posts to date.)

These types of posts made for great content for the blog, provided knowledgeable “pillar material that I can use for months and years to come, and were easy to write since I had already developed the ideas in the ebook.

But I went further then that, as I began to have a clear launch date in mind. Once I did, any time I referenced something that would relate to my book, I began to say things like “And you can read more about this in my upcoming guide to PR.” That way, I encouraged the reader to check back, if they had interest in hearing more.

And it worked. About two weeks before my launch, I was at an event hosted by a client, and they asked me about the guide. That was exactly what I wanted to hear!

Tactic 2: Developing a product to encourage newsletter signups

If you’ve delved into building a newsletter list before, then you have heard this over and over again: “You have to offer them something!” So I listened to the shouting, and did.

In my Guide, there are free email templates for pitching the media. I took the ones for pitching guest posts, and turned that into a free offering in order to encourage signups. I then published a blog post announcing the new free offering, which I promoted heavily.

It’s still difficult to just do that and expect a ton of email newsletter signups. After all, if no one sees the post, how can they sign up?

So at launch, I decided to test the effectiveness of this strategy by earmarking a portion of my advertising budget for encouraging newsletter signups. Instead of pointing people to my product, these ads point them to the newsletter. Once they sign up, they receive a copy of my sales site, so they still learn about the book.

The issue with this tactic is that it’s leading to tons of clicks, but few sign ups. While I wish there were more, each one is very valuable, so it has been worth it. But moving forward, instead, I will offer the first chapter of my Guide to see if that entices more opt-ins.

Tactic 3: Offering consulting to encourage new clientele

One thing I wanted to try was to offer a consulting-like service prior to the ebook launch. This idea came from a partner I work with, and I thought it was so great that I put together the offering the day after our conversation.

Unfortunately, it proved ineffective at encouraging signups or promoting my ebook.

And looking back on this, it’s clear to see why. I put together the plan so quickly that I didn’t have time to promote the offering besides a blog post and some tweets (not enough!).

However, I do see the strategy working out now that I’ve launched. Because the service is in place, I don’t have to constantly promote it, but people who are on the site, and looking at possibly purchasing the ebook, can see that I also have this consulting service. They may prefer this service instead, or are simply comforted to see that I also consult. I’m not sure which, but I saw pageviews to my consulting page jump by a factor of eight in the week of launch, compared to the week prior.

That can only mean potential for success down the road. But it also means I can quickly change tactics after the book promotion dies down, to focus on consulting services. It gives me options—something you need at the early stages of a business.

Tactic 4: Sharing the guide free

One thing I did as soon as I launched the guide was send a free copy to anyone and everyone who helped me in some way prior to the launch. This includes partners, mentors, those that I reached out to in order to ask a question, my parents, and others.

I also told them to share the guide with anyone they liked. I did this because I’m not just looking for sales; I’m also looking for readers and newsletter signups.

By offering the guide to those who supported me the most, I provided them with content that they could use to further cheerlead my efforts. That could lead to a number of other opportunities down the road as well. And who knows who in their network can send my pageviews, and sales, flying?

What works for you?

While I’m sure I’ve missed steps in the process, these are the key tactics I tried before my first product launch.

I’d love to hear what you found effective—and what failed—as you launched your first product, second product, or 20th product. It’s a learning process, and there’s no better way than trial by fire. Still, might as well make that fire as dim as possible, right? Share your tactics with me in the comments.

Ryan Derousseau is Director of R.M.D. Media where he provides advice on media outreach and social media. And receive the first chapter of his new e-book by signing up for his newsletter here.

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

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

Tracks

Image courtesy stock.xchng user Thoursie

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

  • guest posting
  • participating on forums
  • SEO.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blogger and news lists: the hard way

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

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

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

Product creators’ lists: the easy way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My product creation blueprint for blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 3. Find big list owners

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

Step 4. Collect the emails

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

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

Step 5. Treat your new subscribers like gold

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The results

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

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

You were meant to make products

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last night I made $9.

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

Because I made $9 last night.

While sleeping.

While completely unconscious.

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

Perhaps this goal is familiar?

Perhaps you share the same goal?

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

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

Why start right now?

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

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

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

Boom.

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

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

“Big deal,” you say.

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

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

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

Motivation

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

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

Learn what works

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

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

Collect names and true fans

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

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

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

Where do you want to be in two years?

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

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

Are you a serious blogger or an amateur?

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

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

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

What do I sell?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do I sell?

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

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

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

A warning and a kick in the pants

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

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

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

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