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Grab Your Ticket for the 2015 ProBlogger Training Event

Yesterday we released tickets to the 2015 ProBlogger Training Event on 14-15 August here in Australia on the Gold Coast.

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As I write this post 560 bloggers, speakers and team have grabbed their tickets (400 of those went in the first 10 minutes) and under 150 tickets remain.

This year we’ve got attendees coming from all states and territories in Australia as well as attendees flying in from the USA, New Zealand, India and Fiji.

Attendees not only come from all over the place but come from a wide spectrum of niches (everything from bloggers blogging about Fashion, to Health, to Travel, to Food, to Small Business and much more) and also a wide spectrum of experience levels.

Here’s the experience levels of attendees broken down (this doesn’t include speakers or team which all come from the 4-5 years or 5+ years categories).

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There’s a heap more information about the event over on the PBEVENT page – check out details of the speakers and sessions already announced (more to come) and venue and location.

I’m particularly excited about our international speakers this year. We’re bringing out Heather B Armstrong from Dooce, Jadah Sellner from Simple Green Smoothies, Pamela Wilson from CopyBlogger and Ruth Soukup from the Elite Blog Academy.

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If you’re thinking of joining us the cost for bloggers is just $399 AUD (around $300USD depending on the exchange rate on the day) which includes the two days of training, lunches and refreshments both days, a networking party and slides and recordings of all sessions.

Many conferences of this type and length cost upwards of $1000 so we’re pleased to have Olympus on board as a presenting partner. Olympus have substantially subsidised the cost of attending for bloggers this year but will also be adding a heap of value to the conference with some training for bloggers on how to take better photos for their blogs.

If you’re thinking of joining us please don’t wait too long and grab yours here. Tickets will sell out for this event and we’d hate for you to be disappointed.

Where to Find Free Images Online

In a perfect world, we could all take amazing photos, edit them scrupulously, and somehow manage to have enough props and stylish flair to snap the exact image you need to illustrate your post.

In the real world, we have access to other talented people who do that instead!

A roundup of places to find free images online for your blog or social media

I’ve lost count of the posts I’ve pinned, sent to Evernote, or emailed to myself that round up great places to find free images on the internet. To save myself that headache (and hopefully you too!) here they all are, finally, in one place. Pin it for yourself!

Tweet this: 27 Places to Find Free Images Online: @veggie_mama + @ProBlogger

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Pexels

Pexels

from their site: All photos on Pexels are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means you can copy, modify, distribute and perform the photos. The pictures are free for personal and even for commercial use. All without asking for permission or setting a link to the source. So thatattribution is not required. All in all the photos are completely free to be used for any legal purpose.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons has almost 25 million freely usable media files. You need to read their Reuse guide to check out the licensing requirements, though.

Getty Images

Getty Images has more than 50 million embeddable images – just hover over  an image and click the </> icon to get the code to paste into your post.

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Public Domain Archive

Public Domain Archive

Public Domain Images are bloggers who have curated all the images in the public domain they’ve come across in one handy place. Both modern and vintage images to choose from.

Free Images

Free Images (previously stock.XCHNG) have stricter requirements with their licensing, so do check each image before use. Option to purchase other photos as well.

Open Photo

Open Photo has plenty of images, vectors, and even video to choose from.

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New Old Stock

New Old Stock

New Old Stock is full of vintage photos from public archives, free of known copyright restrictions. You could scroll for hours!

Picography

As Picography says: Free high resolution photos. Use them however you like.

Creative Market

Creative Market is a paid service, with a weekly grab-bag of free images, fonts and other goodies to use on your blog.

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Stokpic

Stokpic

Stokpic not only has beautiful images totally free to use for personal or commercial use, they will also email you a package of 10 every two weeks. Their image categories are listed right at the top so you can see at a glance if they have something you’re looking for.

Foodies Feed

All food, all the time.

Stockvault

A very easy search function lets you find exactly what you’re looking for straight away on Stockvault. You can read the permitted usage terms here.

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Unsplash

Unsplash

A great selection of images, to which 10 new ones are added every 10 days. There isn’t any search function or categories list, which can make it hard to find something specific, but the current images are laid out in a grid format for you to view.

Photopin

Photopin has free photos for bloggers and creatives, which are accessed from the search bar on their home page.

A Prettier Web

A Prettier Web has beautiful (and quite girly) free images for bloggers and creatives.

Picjumbo

Picjumbo

Picjumbo

Picjumbo has categories of free images on the left-hand side to help you find what you’re looking for. Everything from abstracts to weddings.

SplitShire

Click the menu box on the upper right-hand-side of SplitShire to find the categories, otherwise, scroll through the offerings.

Death to the Stock Photo

Death to the Stock Photo has a bundle of free images that get sent to subscribers each month, usually in a theme.

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Gratisography

If you’re looking for something quirky and fun, you’ll find it at Gratisography.

Morguefile

To use some of the images at Morguefile, you’ll need to ask permission and link back to the creator, but they’re free and hi-res.

Dreamstime

An easy-to-use list of categories shows itself when you are on the “free images” section of the Dreamstime site.

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Pixabay

Pixabay

Pixabay has tons of public domain vectors, drawings, and photos – all for free. A captcha is necessary prior to download, or you can sign up.

FreeFoto

FreeFoto has 132549 free images to use with attribution and linkback.

iStock

Part of Getty Images,iStock has free photos, illustrations, video, audio, and editorial files in weekly batches.

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Boss Fight

Boss Fight has one mission: To be your final “Boss Fight” when it comes to finding completely free (do whatever you want) stock images, photos, and photography.

Flickr Creative Commons

Flickr Creative Commons is constantly updated with people all over the world sharing their photos for use. Do check each attribution licence, however, as some are stricter than others.

StockSnap

StockSnap also has royalty-free images with no attribution required.

Where to find free images online  Problogger.net

 

And not technically photos, but Entypo has 411 pictograms for use on websites. Fun!

Where are your favourite places to get images? Are you a photographer yourself?

 

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

Building Your Audience From Zero to Traction

This is a guest contribution from Brian Casel.

If there’s one common thread among many of those who build successful businesses online, it’s this: They’ve been able to build an audience, which has helped them gain traction and spread value with a farther reach.

But what if you have no audience yet? Zero subscribers. Little to no traffic. How can you get started, when nobody knows who you are?

I was there about 18 months ago. My blog received less than 20 visitors a day. My newsletter did not exist. I had been blogging for years, but couldn’t connect with an audience, let alone create a product they might buy.

Since then, I’ve turned it around by embracing a three-step strategy I’ll share with you today. As of this writing, my newsletter is up to 5000 subscribers, the blog receives hundreds of visitors per day, and my course has sold multiple five-figures since it launched four months ago.

These aren’t groundbreaking numbers. But to me, they represent the difference between blogging as a hobby (where I was at a few years ago), and meaningful part of my business today.

Now—I’m sure you already know the mechanics of building an audience: Blog posts. Landing Pages. Email lists. Autoresponders. Yadda Yadda. Those are the tools and tech, and there plenty of resources where you can find the right ones for you.

But those things won’t actually get people to stop, take notice, and give you their email address because they want more.

So how do you do that, when you’re still unknown?

Let me break it down with four important concepts:

  • Your “Who”
  • Their “Why”
  • Resonate
  • Exposure

Your “Who”

The most important thing in building an audience, or marketing a product, is to know who you’re writing (or selling) to. The more you know your audience, the easier it is to resonate with them. (tweet that)

But how can you possibly know who your target audience is when you don’t have an audience yet?

A lot of advice out there tells you to hunt for your audience. Do keyword research… Analyze buzz trends on social media… capitalize on current news headlines. They’re telling you to spot a herd of people and catch that wave.

To me, this always seemed like a monotonous and uninspiring way to create content. So I never followed this advice.

In fact, I’m pretty sure none of the folks that I subscribe to — who happen to have very large audiences — never followed this advice either. Probably for similar reasons. They just didn’t want to.

This brings me to my first point: You get to choose your who.

Your who is the person you care about and the person you genuinely want to help. They’re probably a lot like you. Maybe you’re further along in your journey, or maybe they’re further than you. Either way, you guys are probably on the same path.

Do this:

Give some thought to who you want as your readers / listeners / subscribers. This part is totally up to you. At the end of the day, if you don’t care about the people you’re writing for, then you won’t be able to help them, which means you won’t get very far anyway.

In my case, I was a freelance web designer, and I transitioned to a products business. So I decided the my who are my peers — freelancers and consultants who work on the web and want to transition to a products business.

By the way, lots of different people will stumble across your site over time. The vast majority of them won’t be your who. Only a small slice of those new visitors are. Those are the ones you want as subscribers and they’re the ones who you want to see again. So focus your attention on them.

Their “Why”

Finding your who is up to you. But creating content that resonates with them is not.

Now you need to reconcile your who with their why.

Everyone is on a journey. Everyone wants to get to a destination that is different and better than where they’re currently at. This is always changing. For everyone.

If you asked me 10 years ago where I wanted to go, I would have said I wanted to find my career path, and meet a girl.

Five years ago? I wanted to get more clients, and find a home for my wife and I to settle down.

Today? I want to build my products business so my growing family can live comfortably and travel.

Next year? Who knows…

How would your people answer that question? What is their why?

Do this:

Set up a welcome email autoresponder sent to every person who joins your email newsletter. Here’s a screenshot of the email I send to every new subscriber who joins my newsletter:

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Keep that welcome email short and to the point, which is: Ask your new subscriber, “where they want to be one year from now?” I recommend adding, “What’s your biggest hurdle holding you back?”

In the beginning, you won’t have many responses. That’s OK. You’ll get plenty of replies over the course of year.

The fun part is to watch how your audience’s why changes over time. Your understanding of it will change too. The more in touch are you are, the easier it is to write things that help them get ahead, and the more likely your posts will resonate.

Writing stuff that resonates

So you know who you want to be reading your blog, and you’re in touch with the journey they’re on (their why). Now how do you actually speak to that, and create content that truly resonates?

I found a very simple method: Just answer questions.

Every blog post / podcast episode / video / whatever you create should be your answer to a question that your people are seeking an answer to. They have a very specific problem, and your post is the solution. In fact, it’s the best solution they’ve come across in a very long time.

That’s what it takes for a blog post to resonate.

Do this…

Start every new blog post with a question. Have you noticed that the first few paragraphs of this article contained several questions? The idea for this article literally came from a question that one of my subscribers asked me a few weeks ago.

Here are some places I go to identify questions that I could answer in new articles:

  • Questions people ask me when replying to my newsletter.
  • Questions people ask me when I’m out at a conference.
  • Questions that come up in forums and communities that I hang out in—particularly the ones that I feel eager to hop in and answer.
  • Questions found on Quora and Reddit, and similar question/answer sites.

Spend an hour and come up with a list of 5 (or more) questions that your people are asking. Make sure they’re questions that you’re eager to answer. I’m sure there are many that fit this criteria for you.

Exposure

Now I don’t want to give the impression that if you simply write great content that could resonate with the right people, then it will.

It probably won’t.

Unless… you get exposure in places where your people are already hanging out.

Here are the common “tactics” that most people focus on. These have never worked for me:

  • Cold email a popular blogger and cleverly include a link to your new post, in hopes they might tweet it. I tried it. Sometimes it gets that tweet. Great… For a minute. I stopped doing this because I hate the idea of “pushing” my stuff on someone who didn’t ask for it. Plus, they’re super busy and I want to respect their time.
  • “Go viral” on Hacker News, Reddit, Digg.com. I have submitted posts to these a handful of times. Maybe twice my hit the front-page for a while and brought a spike in traffic. Almost none of those folks ever subscribe and return.
  • SEO Keyword Optimize my posts. Have some of my posts done well in search engines? Sure. Do I know how or why that happened? Not really. My goal when I write is to help my people get ahead, and hopefully get them to subscribe so they’ll come back again. SEO traffic typically doesn’t play out this way. The channels I’ll list below do.

So here’s what has worked for me, and what I think you should focus on when you’re just getting started:

Answer questions in forums

I suggest focusing on just one or two online communities that you personally feel connected to.

Find a question you’re eager to answer and post the best response you can possibly fit in the reply box. Then finish by including a link over to your blog post on that same topic.

Don’t simply reply by saying “Good question, I wrote a whole article on it: LINK”. You should actually answer the question right there in the forum, then provide the link for more. Build credibility and earn their trust with your thoughtful reply, then invite them to your site for more.

Case Studies

Readers love hearing about real-world examples of a problem being solved. You still want to be sure you’re answering a question, but your answer (or solution) can come in the form of a case study.

I found that these types of posts tend to get shared and passed around a lot. One of my post popular articles from last year on my System For Selling, where I covered how we set up Trello as our CRM, and our process for handling inbound sales leads. This continues to get passed around, and even wound up getting mentioned on Trello’s blog!

Podcasting

While you won’t get thousands of listeners overnight, podcasts are much less competitive and easier to reach people than a new blog. There simply aren’t as many podcasts as there are blogs.

I also found that podcasts seem to build a more intimate relationship with your audience than readers of a blog. Plus, it’s fun!

Paid acquisition

I wouldn’t recommend this if you’ve never managed an ad campaign before. But if you know you’re way around Facebook ads or Twitter ads, then you might try it as a way to jump-start your email list. Point this traffic at a landing page for a free, educational resource, that is highly relevant to the people you want to reach, and the topics you write about.

I’ve had better success with Retargeting ads, since those are seen by folks who have already found you through organic channels first, but maybe didn’t opt-in to your list on their first visit.

Related: Tips and Tricks to Nail Facebook Advertising With Jon Loomer
The Lowdown on Facebook Advertising, and What We’ve Found Works Really Well

Return Visitors

Now, to be clear: The ideas I just listed above won’t bring in tidal waves of traffic. They’ll be more like drops and splashes. That’s OK for now. They’re only intended to get things going.

What will really move the needle are getting those first visitors to return and to share your content. That’s where your email list comes in.

Here are some ways I found work well attracting those first subscribers to your email list:

  • Offer a free resource, like an email course, highly relevant to your people’s why.
  • Point everything to the free resource: Bylines on your guest blog posts, link to it from your Twitter profile, mention it when you go on podcasts, this is your “gift” that you’re proud to share with anyone who might benefit from it. So promote it.
  • Include bonus content on some of your posts. For example, in my System For Selling post, I offer the exact setup instructions for anyone to download when they subscribe to my list.

The small breaks

As I’m sure you can tell, none of this audience-building stuff happens overnight.

The reality is it’s a long series of “small breaks”. A high profile Retweet. A guest post opportunity. An invitation to be on someone’s podcast. All of these add up and build exposure over time.

Some might see these as “lucky” breaks. But I see them as inevitable opportunities that arise when you repeatedly put yourself out there, serve your audience, and stick with it!

Brian Casel was a freelancer who turned productized business owner. Today he writes his newsletter and blog to help you do the same. Get Brian’s free email crash course on Productizing Your Service.

The 3 Building Blocks of a Blockbuster Blog

This is a guest contribution from digital marketer Pratik Dholakiya.

Whether it is to pour out your musings in black and white, or to promote your business among your target audience, or even to create a record of important events that future generations can look back at years later, the reasons for blogging are as numerous as there are blogs on the internet.

The-3-Building-Blocks-of-a-Blockbuster-Blog

Of the millions of blogs currently online, a very tiny handful can claim to have any real level of success. Success can be measured in readership, virality, monetization, and many other different interpretations based on the primary purpose of the blog itself.

What Your Blog Needs to Be Successful

Here we’ll take a look at what it takes for a blog to be successful from the perspective of building a strong reader base and earning revenue from one’s blog.

1. Pick a Blogging Platform That Gives Your Blog Wings

A blog that you intend to build and nurture for years to come ought to be strong enough to bear the vagaries of time and tide on the internet.

By this, I mean your blogging platform needs to be easy to use, a pleasure to browse through, while simultaneously offering the right level of security to prevent any mischievous hackers from breaking in.

Trouble is – once you start looking the mind-boggling variety of options available – WordPress, Tumblr, Medium, TypePad, and more – will soon confound any beginner.

So before you dive headlong into creating a bunch of blog posts on the first platform that you stumble upon, here are a few basic metrics you must compare these platforms on:

  • Ease of use – Does it take you forever to even figure out how to open the blog editor? Is the reading experience painless? Is it mobile-friendly?
  • Customization – Doe the platform allow you to personalize your blog? Can you install plugins, change the themes or layouts, or even write your own CSS and HTML code if you so please?
  • Security – How secure will your data be? Will the subscriber email IDs that you’ll collect from your blog readers be safe and sound? How easy is it to back up your blog?
  • Cost – Is it completely free? Does it need you to buy hosting separately? Can you afford to pay for hosting?
  • Storage Space – How much free data storage is offered by your platform? Would you need to keep upgrading your storage every now and then? Would you need to move to a completely new platform when you run out of space?

Matt Banner of On Blast Blog has put together a very handy comparison of the best blogging platforms currently available. Weigh your options very carefully before you arrive at a decision.

2. Craft Each Post Like Picasso Giving Birth to Cubism

The best way to build a blog that really resonates with readers is to write about a topic that you are an expert about.

You don’t have to write about some complicated technical field, just because it’s in vogue. Are you a good cook? Start a recipe blog. Love to tinker with your car? Share your automobile expertise with the mechanically challenged people in the world through a blog.

Take Neil Patel’s QuickSprout blog, for example. Patel is a SEO and content marketing wizard, and he writes primarily about his core competence in his blog. His complete ease with the stuff he writes about and deep knowledge of his domain are reflected in every single post that he puts up. This particular post answers the question “How long should an ideal blog post be?”

Patel turns this rather mundane question into a detailed, well-researched and scientific analysis of different post lengths and their impacts on readership, conversions and shareability. By quoting live data points like the one below, Patel makes his post educational, interesting and highly readable.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 12.02.35 pm

Source

And that is exactly what a blog needs to be successful – valuable content that is important to its readers, presented in a sharp, yet easy-to-digest manner.

Why, the best bloggers have readers forking out good money to read content that a lot of others give out for absolutely free – that’s the power of strong writing combined with solid research!

3. Make Your Blog Findable – By People and Search Engines Alike

Creating fabulous content and leaving it to fend for itself is doing a gross disservice to your blog and to potential readers out there.

To begin with, make sure you stick to one central topic in each blog post. This topic would typically be something your users really care about.

How do you find out what users want to read? By using tools like the Google Keyword Planner, KeyWordTool.io or the Moz Keyword Analysis Tool, you will discover the most popular keywords that users are looking for in your specific domain. Write dedicated posts about one or at the most two keywords – thus automatically making your content keyword rich.

Optimizing your on-page SEO is another critical part of having your blog discovered. Invest in free (or paid, if you can afford them) SEO plugins like Yoast or All-in-One SEO, which optimize various aspects of your page without too much manual effort from your end. If you want to take your on-page SEO a notch higher, make your meta data work for you.

Spend time on creating great meta descriptions for each post that will inform your reader what your post is about straight from the search results page.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 12.02.51 pm

Make it a habit to cross reference posts on your blog in new posts that you write, and link to them – this increases visibility for old content and makes it more authentic from the point of view of a search engine.

A key platform that you MUST harness to promote your blog is social media. Put up links to your latest blog post on social networks like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn depending on what type of audience you’re targeting. Organic posts on social media can only take you so far. If your budget permits, create a serious advertising plan on social media platforms to market your blog.

Related:
Tips and Tricks to Nail Facebook Advertising
The Lowdown on Facebook Advertising, and What We’ve Found Works Really Well

One of the first steps you need to take once your blog is live is to work towards collecting a strong subscriber list. A prominent subscription widget on every page accompanied by maybe a lightbox message as the reader moves to exit your blog are good options to start quick. All it takes is one email to your entire subscriber base to jumpstart your readership.

Take up speaking opportunities at local events in your field to widen your audience and raise your reputation in your niche. Attending workshops related to your field exposes you to experts who can help you through both information and contacts from their industry networks.

In Closing

Data shows that 77% of all internet users read blogs.

With half the world’s population now online, that makes it 2.3 billion people who form your potential audience.

Equal portions of hard work and digital marketing savvy tempered with a dash of patience result in a smash-hit blog. Give it a shot. Your blog will thank you for it.

Pratik Dholakiya is the Co-Founder and VP of Marketing of E2M, a digital marketing agency and MoveoApps, a mobile apps development company. Pratik has contributed on sites like Moz, Fast Company, Social Media Examiner, KISSmetrics, and Content Marketing Institute to name a few. He’s a ‘must follow’ SEO expert according to Search Engine Watch and has been named one of the top content marketing influencers by Onalytica. He’s passionate about fitness, entrepreneurship, startups and all things digital marketing.

How to Create Awesome Content From Your Next Event Experience

Image via Flickr user richard.scott1952

Image via Flickr user richard.scott1952

This is a guest contribution from trade show expert Peter Symonds. 

Over the last few years, content marketing has grown from a marketing tactic used to generate publicity and inform customers, into an essential strategy for promoting any startup, SME or large company online.

The basics of content marketing are fairly simple: publish great content that solves your audience’s most common problems, informs them of the latest developments in your industry or teaches them something new and helpful.

Coming up with the strategy is often straightforward. Coming up with the content, on the other hand, can be tougher. From startups to small businesses, many companies’ content marketing campaigns burn out due to a lack of ideas.

If your business exhibits at trade shows or appears at other events, you have a great opportunity to get new content ideas – as well as detailed interviews – from the attendees and influencers you interact with during the event.

In this guide, we’ll share four techniques that you can use to create amazing content for your company blog, YouTube channel, guest blogging campaign, or other content marketing strategy from your next event.

Learn your target audience’s biggest pain points

The most effective company blogs discuss their audience’s pain points. Pain points are issues that your target audience is struggling with – inefficiencies in production or marketing, for example, or problems collecting payments from their customers.

Understanding your audience’s pain points is the key to closing sales and, online, an essential element of creating engaging content that your readers don’t just scan and close, but truly connect with and share.

Use your next event as an opportunity to learn more about your audience’s top pain points by interviewing people who visit you, or the people you meet. Ask them what issues they currently face, what they’re struggling with and what they want to improve.

Prospects are usually eager to answer questions and engage in conversation, unlike online. A quick and simple interview performed on 50+ prospects at a trade show, conference, or networking event will give you greater insight into your audience’s pain points than a month-long online customer survey.

Once you understand your target audience’s pain points, you’ll have a deeper level of understanding about what they want to read, listen to and watch. Dedicate each new blog post to a different pain point and you’ll command attention online.

Take note of the 10 biggest pain points mentioned by your target audience. Break each point down into smaller, highly-focused topics to fill your editorial calendar for the next few months with engaging content.

Build a network of influencers and content promoters

Events can be great places to meet prospective clients and customers. They’re also great places to meet people in a similar situation to you – startup founders and marketers eager to grow their businesses, often through content marketing.

12 months ago, online helpdesk startup Groove had a company blog full of engaging, interesting content. They also had virtually no readers – a situation that many online businesses and startups can certainly relate to.

Groove now has one of the technology startup world’s most popular blogs, with over 1,000 shares on their average blog post and hundreds of thousands of readers. Their promotional strategy was simple: build a network of influencers and promoters.

Building an influencer list over email takes a lot of time. At a trade show, however, it takes only a few minutes of conversation to get to know someone within your niche or industry and discuss how you can work together to promote each other’s content.

Reach out to other marketers and entrepreneurs at your next event and build a list of influencers. Afterwards, invite everyone to a private Skype group, email list, or online community to promote each other’s content via social media.

It only takes a few retweets and status updates to give your next blog post the traction it needs to reach thousands of readers. Focus on building your network at your next trade show and you’ll never worry about content promotion again.

Ask your customers about their favourite blogs and websites

Knowing what your customers struggle with will help you discover new topics and trends to write about. Knowing what your customers already like to read will show you exactly where you should be promoting your content in the future.

From industry forums that attract your target audience to popular blogs that could be major marketing platforms for you, chat to your customers about what they like to read online and you’ll discover hundreds of content ideas and opportunities.

Over the last year, many technology companies have discovered that the “biggest” blogs and aggregators – places like TechCrunch and Hacker News – aren’t quite as valuable as they thought. They send lots of traffic, but rarely is it qualified.

Smaller blogs and communities, on the other hand, are often highly responsive to good content. While they don’t send as much traffic as the big names, the traffic is highly qualified, focused and genuinely interested in learning more.

Don’t just use your next trade show or conference as an opportunity to discover new content ideas for your business – use it to discover where your customers hang out online and the topics they like to read about.

Interview influencers and thought leaders in your industry

Connecting with influencers – entrepreneurs, scientists, columnists, authors and the other well-known people within your industry – is tough. They’re often too busy for the phone, unresponsive via email and surrounded by assistants and other people.

At a conference or networking event, however, many of your industry’s most recognisable names will be far less defensive. They’ll be interested in learning more about your brand and may even provide a short interview about themselves or trends in your industry.

Many marketers are scared to ask for an interview with an established person. The most common fear is that asking for an interview is too selfish and self-promotional – after all, it’s incredibly helpful for your brand’s reputation and credibility.

Most influencers benefit just as much from a video interview for your company blog or YouTube channel as you do. It gives them a new audience, new exposure and the publicity they need for their careers. It benefits both of you in the same way.

Before your next event, reach out to your industry’s influencers via Twitter or email (here’s a helpful guide to getting them to notice your emails) and try to set up an interview. You may be surprised by how many positive responses you receive.

More content ideas

  • Invest in photography – you’ll be surprised how much you can use high-quality images from the event in company literature, on your website, on social media and even for link building
  • Conduct a quick industry-relevant survey of visitors to your booth – use a prize draw as incentive to enter and use the findings to create a press release to promote awareness of your business.
  • Create a time-lapse video of the traffic to your booth throughout the day to document your trade show experience
  • Live blog or Tweet the events of the day as it unfolds using the official event hashtag, offering key tips to those who couldn’t make it
  • Publish a round-up post of 10/25/100 key takeaways from the event and ask the organisers to promote it via social media
  • Make your blog posts more visual and interactive by embedding Tweets, Instagram images and Facebook posts from the event

Are you getting the most from your event attendance?

Events are great opportunities to generate leads and close deals. However, if you think of them purely as sales-focused events, you could be missing out on blog and video content that could strengthen your brand and help your company grow.

Are you really getting the most from your attendance? Treat your next conference or trade show as a sales and content opportunity, and you’ll walk away with both a stack of names and business cards and enough great content ideas to last for the next 12 months.

Peter Symonds is a trade show marketing expert from Display Wizard. For more practical tips on how to increase the ROI of your trade show marketing, download the Display Wizard Guide to Exhibiting at a Trade Show.

 

 

5 Advanced Techniques I Use To Make Money On My Blog

 

This is a guest contribution from blogger Erin Bender from Travel With Bender

Similar to the background story of many bloggers, my blog was born into this world because a friend asked me to write one.

In 2012 I commenced a worldwide open-ended nomadic adventure with my husband and two children, and blogging seemed like a great idea. A blog was the perfect vehicle to share our stories to everyone I cared about back at home without the need for endless repetition.

Have a blog and are thinking of earning an income with it? Erin Bender of Travel With Bender shares her 5 Advanced techniques to Monetize Your Blog on ProBlogger.net

It wasn’t until I met another blogger a few months later that she revealed to me a secret. A secret so potent that I may be strung up for revealing it now. But I have to. I can’t stay silent.

You can make money from your blog. Gasp!

And so for the past three years I have experimented with multiple strategies all stemming from this one spark. Today I want to share with you a taste of the wealth and knowledge I’ve gained.

So buckle up. This is one ride you are going to want to bookmark.

Before I get started: my blog is focused on travel, but these same strategies can work for most industries: technology, fashion, food, finance, kids and more.

These particular strategies I’m sharing are not the typical steps most newbies read about, such as monetizing with AdSense, or the Amazon affiliate program. You really need a lot of traffic to make a decent income from AdSense. I’m talking about making a full-time income without needing hundreds of thousands of visitors each month.

The starting point to monetizing your blog is your audience. Few people will give you money just because you’re awesome (wouldn’t that be cool!). They will do it because you have a decent sized (and relevant) audience and you know how to wield your influence. So once you have built your followers on social media, newsletters subscribers and regular visitors, how do you turn those into an income stream month after month?

5 Advanced Techniques I Use To Make Money On My Blog

1. Content Creation: When A Brand Asks You To Write For Them

Content creation takes place in many forms from freelance article writing, to video blogging, to expert guides, and more. Perhaps you didn’t think about reaching out to those promotion partners you’re working with. Take travel for example – a free press trip as a source of fresh new content on your own blog is great, but when you can also create valuable content for the brand’s blog or magazine, then that’s when you can ask for payment.

Sometimes the brand may be hard to convince up front. However once they see your own blog post, go back to them again. If they’ve loved your work and you’ve developed a strong rapport, often they will be want you to write for their publication.

2. Photography: Offering A Brand Your Images

So this may not be for everyone, but if you are taking killer shots then you should be working it. Offer the brand you’re working a fixed package upfront, which includes 5 or 10 royalty-free images. If you have examples of photos other people have already purchased from you then the sales pitch is much easier.

Most brands are in constant need of high quality photography of their product, service or destination, and your offer can make their life easier. If your forte is in video, then this same approach applies to video editing too.

3. Product Reviews: When A Brand Wants You To Be Honest

Payment for product reviews is not about buying a good review.

So let me start with a few cautions – to make your life easier, choose products you already know or think you will love. Keep reviews honest. Let the brand know of any complications or negatives upfront to see if they have a response and offer to publish those responses alongside the negatives you’re highlighting. Then ask for payment.

You are not being paid for your gushing assessment; you are asking payment for the exposure you are providing to their product or service.

We generally maintain a minimum value threshold for product reviews, and if there is an item value under that amount then we require payment. Think about all the work it took to grow your social media following and now you are receiving delayed payment for that hard work.

Have a blog and are thinking of earning an income with it? Erin Bender of Travel With Bender shares her 5 Advanced techniques to Monetize Your Blog on ProBlogger.net

4. Competitions: When A Brand Wants To Give Stuff Away

Running a competition is a smart technique for generating new social followers and making your readers feel great, but it takes a lot of time. Time to set it up, promote it each day, and pick a winner. Time you could be paid for.

Similar to the product reviews, there may be a minimum payment threshold of items to give away, but if that is not met, ask for payment. The brand has approached you, because they want to reach your audience that you have worked so hard to build. Don’t feel like it’s worth anything less than what you are asking.

If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at Gleam, it makes setting up a competition a breeze.

5. Brand Ambassador: When Long Term Relationships Take The Next Step

When we started our nomadic journey I purchased travel insurance. I then reached out to them after a year and suggested writing for their website. We worked like that for another year. After two years they approached me to expand the relationship, which we built into a brand ambassadorship.

A brand ambassador role can encompass many tasks, but the main task is to promote the brand you’ve partnered with so you want to make sure it’s a product or service you believe in, and one that is a tight fit for your audience.

Tasks might include writing about them occasionally within your regular blog posts, writing for their blog, social media promotion, competitions, event attendance and more. Some ambassadorships are in exchange for products, others may generate a monetary compensation. Each arrangement is unique and requires negotiation to achieve a win-win situation.

I sincerely hope I am still alive after revealing these secrets of the trade. If you dare to share, what ways are you make money from your blog?

Erin has been travelling with her husband and two children since May 2012. It’s an open-ended, unplanned, round-the-world trip discovering amazing places for families. They have stayed in hostels and 5 star luxury resorts, travelled on scooters and cruise liners, danced with leprechauns and cuddled tigers. Nothing is out of bounds or out of reach for this remarkable Australian family. You can find unique family travel insights at her award-winning travel blog, follow her on Facebook, Pinterest or catch her tweeting on Twitter.

Blog Post Idea: Answer a Beginner Question

Stuck for content ideas for your blog? Here is a type of blog post that might spark an idea or two for you – it could even spark ideas for a whole series.

It is something that should be relevant to most niches and topics of blog so pick one, write it up, and when you’re done I’d love to see it in comments below.

A question I had when I started out

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Sometimes the best received posts are the ones for beginners on topics that help them really get started out in whatever pursuit you are writing about.

This is one of my favourite techniques for coming up with ideas to write about is to simply think back a year, two or ten and think about the questions and challenges that I had at that time.

Then I write the answer that I’ve since discovered to that question.

It might seem a bit silly writing about something so beginner or basic but you’ll if you were asking it you can bet others are still asking it today.

Beginners are often an ignored reader in many niches so paying them attention can be a powerful technique.

It’s also great for creating content that will potentially rank well in search engines as Google is a place many people go to ask the questions they’re too embarrassed to ask their friends.

Examples

Beginner photography question

On dPS some of our most popular posts of all time are answering really simple beginner questions. For example my How to Hold a Camera post was inspired by my own mistakes as a kid taking blurry photos.

As I’ve previously written on ProBlogger – that How to hold a camera post was something so basic I nearly didn’t publish it. But to this day it’s had over 600,000 visitors to it (with more arriving every day).

Beginner blogging question

A similar example here on ProBlogger is my ‘what is a blog?’ post. I wrote the post in 2005 and to this day it still gets traffic!

Exercise

So think back – what questions did you used to ask about the topic or topics you write about? Come up with a list and start working through them.

You might even come up with enough to start a weekly or monthly series of posts for those just starting out.

Once you’ve brainstormed get to work and write your post. Once it is published feel free to share a link below so we can see what you wrote!

5 Psychological Blocks that Stop Bloggers Going from Good to Great

This is a guest contribution from Dr Alice Boyes.

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Image via Flickr user Alessandra

 

Blogging is a world of infinite opportunity, but sometimes what’s holding you back is you. Check out these common problems and some suggested solutions to help you kick it up to the next level.

1. Imposter syndrome. 

Imposter syndrome is when, despite your accomplishments, you still feel like a fraud.

As a consequence, you might: avoid networking with people who objectively are at or slightly above your level, avoid reaching for certain opportunities, and avoid pitching yourself. You might imagine other people thinking “Who does s/he think she is?” if you were to approach them.

When you don’t see yourself as a successful, professional blogger you’re less likely to act that way. For example, you may find you’re not regularly stepping up to larger and larger opportunities as your blogging career progresses. Therefore, imposter syndrome can sometimes become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Solutions:

  • Evaluate the objective evidence of your accomplishments.
  • Remind yourself that even if you feel like an imposter, it’s just a thought and having a thought doesn’t make it true. Even if the thought doesn’t go away, if you recognize it as just a thought, you can remove any negative impact.
  • Give yourself self-compassion for how you feel.
  • Ask yourself what you’d be doing differently with your blogging if you didn’t have a sense of imposter syndrome, and do that.

 2. Avoidance coping

Avoidance coping is when you avoid doing the things that objectively should be your highest priority. For example, you avoid writing a pitch to speak at an important industry conference, even though you see it as your best, current opportunity to make a big break through.

Avoidance is usually driven by anxiety, and/or feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of doing something for the first time. You might notice yourself keeping busy doing lower priority tasks but avoiding the tasks you feel intimidated by that could really help you level up with your blogging career.

Solutions:

  • Be mindful of when you’re doing less important tasks too often (e.g., checking stats) and put some limits in place for how often you do these tasks. You can use apps like Stayfocusd to help you.
  • Keep your to-do list simple. Make a point to clearly identify what your number #1 task is so that you have no excuses for not getting it done.
  • Keep a balance between working on everyday tasks like pumping out new articles, and the the types of tasks that could dramatically advance your blogging career.

 3. All-or-nothing thinking

An example of all or nothing thinking might be that you think you need to create witty, Pinterest quote-pics for every single one of your 500 past blog posts. A more achievable option might be that you do this for 10 of your most popular posts.

Sometimes we fail to see decent, middle ground options and get overwhelmed by the “perfect” but unacheivable option.

Solutions:

  • If you feel overwhelmed by something you know you “should” be doing, then scale the task back to the point it doesn’t feel overwhelming. Choose only the part of the task that you think will give you the highest ROI.

4. Running your willpower tank to empty

With blogging, there are a virtually unlimited amount of things you *could* be doing to enhance your success. In reality, it’s impossible to do all of these things. If you find yourself trying to do too much, you’re likely to get caught in the trap of not seeing the big picture and therefore focussing on the wrong things. For example, you’ve committed to blogging everyday and it’s so time consuming that you don’t step back to analyze whether that frequency is actually the most effective.

Solutions:

  • Take micro-breaks throughout the day. Part of the allure of being a blogger is being able to take 5 minutes to sit outside in the sun, anytime you want. Use that opportunity!
  • Take some longer breaks away from the computer e.g., an overnight trip away. Physically getting out of your home environment will help you interrupt your pattern of being constantly attached to your computer, and help you step back and refresh your perspective.

 5. Unwillingness to tolerate knock backs

No matter how well prepared you are, or what great pitch emails you write, there will be times when people say “No” to you, give you critical feedback, or flat out don’t respond.

You don’t need to turn yourself into a robot who is insensitive to these things, but you do need to be willing to tolerate the resulting uncomfortable feelings. You might find yourself ruminating (overthinking) about criticism you receive or mentally rehashing what you could have done differently. If you are prone to rumination, then learn some strategies for dealing with it (my book has a whole chapter full of them).

Solutions:

  • Expect a 50% success rate rather than a 100% success rate. If your success rate when you try new things is much higher than 50%, you’re probably aiming too low.
  • Accept your sensitivity rather than fighting against it. Allowing yourself to experience your natural reactions and using simple strategies like quick mindfulness meditations, helps negative feelings pass quickly.

For many more practical tips like these, check out my book (and the endorsement from Chris Guillebeau).

What are your best tips for dealing with those times when you are holding yourself back from doing things you know you should?

Dr Alice Boyes is author of The Anxiety Toolkit: Strategies for fine-tuning your mind and moving past your stuck points (Perigee), emotions expert for Women’s Health magazine (AU), and a popular blogger for PsychologyToday.com. You can get the first chapter of her book for free by subscribing to her blog updates here.

 

 

How to Get Top Bloggers to Share Your Content and Boost Your Traffic.

This is a guest contribution from copywriter Robin Geuens.

Can I ask you a question?

When you published your first post, did you think youíd get lots of traffic? Did you think that everybody couldn’t wait to comment on a job well done? Did you?

I know I sure did.

But then reality kicked in.

In reality, you publish your first article and nobody reads it. Instead of receiving floods of traffic, you look around and realize your blog is located in a desert with not a single drop of traffic in sight.

The thing is, you’re not alone.

That desert is littered with abandoned blogging dreams. You’re surrounded by people who started out excited, but gave up because there was no one to appreciate their hard work.

Now Imagine this

Imagine what would happen to your motivation if you saw people sharing your articles and discussing what you said right off the bat.

Do you think you’d keep going?

I’m pretty sure you would. It would make things a lot more fun.

Most blogs die because people don’t know how to get that initial piece of feedback. They’re so busy writing, that they forget to do the one thing that matters most as a beginner:

Putting your content in front of people that can make a difference.

You see, when you create good content and you put it in front of the right people, it could get the initial burst of publicity it needs to become popular.

But reaching out to big bloggers can be pretty scary when you start out. You’re opening yourself up to being rejected by the people you admire.

Not fun.

So how do we overcome this?

Simple: you include them in the process.

When you include them, you both get something out of it. You help them position themselves as an authority, and they help you promote your post.

You help them, they help you. Networking 101.

Now, one thing I want to make clear before we get into the tactics is that you have to make sure it’s a win for both of you. Don’t just reach out to influencers because you need someone to promote your content. Make them look good, promote them, and they’ll gladly help you.

Also, don’t try to apply all these techniques all at once. Pick one and apply it. I’ll provide a cheatsheet at the end so you can look at the other techniques whenever you want to.

5 techniques you can apply right now

There are a couple of ways you can get influencers to share your content. The first and easiest one is:

1)Include them in a roundup

Roundups are great because they’re fairly easy to make and they’re really popular. You can make a roundup of the best bloggers, the best articles, or even the best quotes.

They’re great for a promotional point of view as well because they give you a ton of opportunities to reach out.

Here’s a good example: In his post, Robbie Richards made a list of 80 online marketing experts you should keep an eye on in 2015.

He put a lot of time and effort into making sure the reader and the expert got a lot out of it.

Roundup Example

A couple of things to note

  1. He added a link to their site.
  2. He picked three articles you should read.
  3. He added a link to their twitter accounts

All these things make it easier for readers to get to know these bloggers.

The next thing you do is contact every single expert on your list and let them know you included them in your roundup. You’ve got a really high chance of getting your content shared if you do.

Shared by influencers

2) Ask for a quote

Another way you can include influencers in your post is by asking them for a quote.

I love this technique because:

  • You’re building relationships with people you admire
  • You learn something
  • The credibility of your article goes through the roof
  • The experts get to position themselves as an authority and share their knowledge with a new audience

The key to making this technique work is to be very clear with what you want to ask. Asking a marketing expert “how do you become good at marketing?” isn’t going to cut it. It’s a vague question that will get you a vague (or no) answer.

A while ago I was writing a post about why people don’t trust landing pages. To make the article better, I asked experts what their best tip was. Here’s the email I sent them.

“Hi (blogger)

I know youíre busy so I’ll keep it brief.

I’m writing an article about 10 reasons why people don’t trust landing pages ( too much hype, pop-ups, cringe worthy stock images,…) and wanted to show my readers how the pros do it.

If you could give someone one tip to improve the trustworthiness of their landing pages, what would it be?

Of course, I’ll include a link to (blog).

Thanks in advance and have a nice day!
Robin”

One of the people I emailed was marketing legend Neil Patel. He got back to me within a day with some great advice.

Neil Patel Advice

Once the article was done I emailed him to check if I there was anything about his quote that he wanted to see changed (after all, it’s his advice).

Later that day he tweeted the article to his 110k+ followers on twitter, which resulted in a nice spike of traffic to my new blog.

Traffic results from one tweet

One important thing to note is that you need to have systems in place to convert that traffic into subscribers. I dropped the ball on that one and lost out on a couple of them. Lesson learned.

3) Apply an influencer’s advice and show them the results

The best way you can make an influencer look good is to take their advice, apply it, and show them the results (preferably good ones).

It’s a great feeling when someone takes your advice and has success with it.

To do this, go to your favorite blog and look for any “how-to” content you can apply. Here are some examples from Problogger:

You could read that last article, apply it, and show Darren how applying his advice got you more comments. You could even turn it into a guest post.

Let me give you a real example. A couple of months ago I read a post by Brian Dean from backlinko. His article was about how to create content that gets a lot of traffic. I thought it was great so I tried it out.

When my article was done and I did everything Brian had explained, I sent him a quick email showing him the result. Hereís the email and his reply.

Email Brian Dean

4) Interview them

Interviews can be a good way to get your name out, but there can be a bit of a barrier to start doing it. Not everyone is comfortable interviewing people, let alone the people they look up to.

If you’re a little uncertain about it, I’d suggest starting out with just asking for advice like I talked about earlier. It’s a smaller, less intimidating form of interviewing.

A good example of someone who used interviews to build up his following is Andrew Warner from mixergy. He interviewed a ton of people, from marketing legend Seth Godin, to Tim Ferriss, to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

He’s become one of the most connected people on the internet. He learned a ton from talking to all these people and we get to learn with him.

A great way to get big names on your interview is to ask them right before they launch a new product or course. This gives them the chance to promote their new project and you get to ask them questions.

5) Reach out to people who liked similar content

Sometimes the simple and straightforward ways are the best. Just reaching out to people is one of those things. It might not be an exiting technique (it’s a bit boring to be honest), but it works.

Here’s how

Go to Buzzsumo and look for highly-shared articles around your topic. Make sure the articles are closely related to yours. Once you’ve found an article, look at who shared it.

For example, let’s say you created an article about landing page tips.

Finding sharers on Buzzsumo

Next thing you do is email or tweet the people who shared it and let them know that you’ve written an article they might like. You can send them something like this:

“Hey (name)

I noticed you tweeted about (name of the article).

I really like that article (thank you for sharing!). I actually created a more in-depth article about the same topic. I’d love to hear what you think of it. Here it is (link)

Again, thank you for sharing cool stuff

All the best

Robin”

I used this technique with my very first article. I sent about 30 emails and nine people shared it, which is not too shabby. Keep in mind that you’re emailing people out of the blue. Not everybody is going to respond or share your post.

What you should do next

The time where you could build a blog all by yourself is gone. You either have to find a way to work together with people bigger than you, or you’re going to have to spend a lot of time promoting your content.

I know all these techniques can be pretty overwhelming, so here’s what I want you to do

  1. Pick one technique you like and try it out.
  2. Let me know in the comments how it went.
  3. Keep this cheatsheet close so you can quickly check out the other techniques.

Good luck!

Robin Geuens is a copywriter who likes to help you write better emails, create better copy, and make awesome landing pages. You can find him at his blog, Conversionbase.

Top Tips for Getting the Most out of Monetizing Brand/Blog Relationships

Working with brands on blogs is big business, and for one blogger making a full time living through advertising and sponsorships, there are 100 more who’d like to.

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Louisa Claire has been blogging for nine years and runs Brand Meets Blog, where she connect brands with bloggers and trains bloggers on how to work professionally with brands. Having worked with leading brands including Qantas, Kellogg’s, and The Heart Foundation among many, she is passionate about helping brands and bloggers make authentic connections that deliver great value for bloggers, readers, and brands alike.

She’s been around since the early days of brand work on Australian blogs, and has seen the struggles and wins on both sides of the fence – where brands were tentatively taking this leap into new advertising waters, and bloggers realised they had platforms that could become careers.

I recently spoke at the ProBlogger Perth Training Day about the various ways you can monetise your blog (slides and links here, for those interested), and picked Louisa’s very knowledgeable brain about how to get your blog brand-ready. The topic was so large, and her advice so useful, I asked if  we could go into more detail here on ProBlogger. Thanks Louisa!

If you’ve just started moving toward this income stream (or even if you’ve got some experience under your belt), then read on – there’s plenty of tips for you to implement today to get the most out of collaborating with brands (read on for a discounted rate on her brand/blog ecourse!).

*Further reading: Make Money on Your Blog by Partnering With Brands 

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Working with Brands on Your Blog: What You Need to Know

What are the benefits of working with brands on blogs as an income source?

Speaking personally, the positives for me have been huge – I have travelled interstate and overseas as a result of brand partnerships, been paid to write for brands, judge brand competitions and so much more. Just in terms of the experiences and opportunities I’ve had, it’s been fun! For me, fun is huge!

It’s also given me great flexibility as a Mum to be able to juggle little people and school drop offs, upset tummies and all the things that come with parenthood and I’m so grateful for that flexibility. And it helps pay the mortgage, so that’s good too! When I speak to fellow bloggers a lot of these reasons also resonate for them and drive their desire to find a way to make it work for them.

Why do you think it’s such a popular way of monetising?

Because it’s a natural extension of who we are as people! I think that we all love to share the things we love with the people we care about and what better way for bloggers to do this than to partner up with the brands they love and bring them to their readers? It just makes sense!

What are brands looking for when working with bloggers?

Sometimes what brands are looking for at a big picture level is different to what they actually want.

What I mean by that, is that often brands start out looking for reach – this means how many unique views a blog has or more plainly, how many people will see a blog post. What they mostly (really) want is for readers to be moved to act – whether that’s clicking on a link, commenting, visiting their site or more directly, making a purchase – they almost always have a goal that goes beyond simply “how many people will see this blog post.”

The job of the blogger is to help brands see how working with them will lead to that second activity – by showing them that whatever your audience size is, you are able to connect with you readers on a personal level and encourage them to act. For example, you might have a blog with 10,000 monthly uniques, but 85% of those are Australian (or American or UK) readers who have a direct interest in your blog topic. Another blogger might have 50,000 monthly uniques but 50% of their traffic is international and they blog on 3-4 topics so of the Australian (or US or UK – wherever you live) audience maybe only 25% are going to be interested in the topic.

Your job is to be able to explain to brand why your 10,000 uniques are just as useful and relevant to them. (My point isn’t that blogs with big traffic don’t have the same deep relevance as smaller, niche blogs but that the smaller blogs sometimes don’t know how to demonstrate to a brand why their smaller number is actually really good.) Because your goal is to move readers to action, it’s essential to only work with brands that you can truly, authentically endorse and who your readers would genuinely be interested in. It can also be a good idea to consider longer term brand partnerships or a clear focus in the type of brands you work with.

How important are media kits and what would brands like to see on them?

Media Kits are a great way to showcase the best things about your blog in a short, concise way to any interested brand or agency. That makes them an incredibly useful tool for bloggers!

That said, I’d hate for a blogger to be put off responding to a pitch or not initiating a conversation with a brand because they don’t have one – if you can put your key information into an email then that works too. The biggest mistake I see bloggers making with their media kids is making it too long and too hard to find that key information like audience profile and stats.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit.

What are the best ways to make contact with brands?

Bloggers are in such a great position to do this right now because of their experience and comfort level with social media. With more and more brands trying to carve out their own space in social media, bloggers can get in front of them through simple things like sharing their content, commenting, engaging and striking up a conversation. I think if bloggers can keep in mind how they connect with each other then they are on the right track!

Are there particular niches you think work better than others with brands?

At certain times different niches will be “hot” and that will make it easier – health and wellness has been huge recently and it definitely helps if you’re in that niche at the right time.

That said, I don’t think it’s necessarily easier if you blog on a particular niche other than it might be more immediately obvious to you which brands suit your blog. What I think makes a bigger difference is if you have a really clear understanding of who your readers are and what they are looking for because even if you blog on a niche you’re going to have a few core angles that you take on that niche that will impact who you should work with. Your best opportunities lie in working that stuff out.

How can someone who isn’t in an “easy” or “hot right now” niche work with brands?

Gosh, so many ways! Don’t get put off if you don’t have a niche, because in fact you do. Your passion is your niche! And your passion is what your readers resonate with.

Done carefully, your passion can tie beautifully in to working with brands in ways that benefit you and your readers. One of the participants from our course Brandlicious: Your Step By Step Guide To Making Brands Fall In Love With Your Blog, Danielle from Keeping Up With The Holsbys actually identified this for me recently when she said “Brandlicious made me analyse my blog, and who my readers are to best ascertain who I should be working with. It was less about me, and more about my readers. It made me look at things in an entirely different way!

I get really excited when I see bloggers uncovering this and then seeing what it means for them and the brands they could work with and brands pick up on it too!

What mistakes do you see bloggers making who would like to work with brands?

A couple of obvious ones stand out. The first is making it hard for brands to get in touch with them – sometimes I will find a blogger I’m keen to involve in a campaign but am on a tight timeframe and because I can’t find their name/email/other relevant contact information I have to skip them over. It’s always a shame when a blogger misses out on something that could have been great for them for a simple reason like an email address.

The second is when bloggers inflate their stats or don’t look closely at what their stats mean. If you tell brands that your stats are something more than they are then the brand will almost certainly be disappointed by the results. You’re much better off being upfront about your stats and giving examples of how readers engage with your blog and with other sponsored content so that they can have realistic expectations and end up thrilled with the result!

Where do you see the blog/brand relationship headed in the future?

I don’t think there is going to be one path for brand/blogger relationships but some of the things I expect is that brands will look at long term blogger partnerships and ambassadorships.

I also think that bloggers who know how to present like a business and consider the brand objectives and ROI as part of their approach will be in a better position to seriously monetise.

Already we are seeing that brands are interested in Facebook and Instagram as part of a blogger’s community, and that they are also looking at users who are influential on those platforms even if they don’t have a blog. These will be things bloggers need to consider in terms of what they focus on and how they could partner with brands in future.

Louisa has offered ProBlogger readers a discount on her new online course Brandlicious. Head here for the reduced price, and to read more about how to get your blog brand-ready.

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