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How To Turn Your Blog Into A Profitable Business

Recently I went to the Connect Now conference and had the chance to hug Darren Rowse, meet Gary Vaynerchuk and hang out with my social media friends. One year ago, I didn’t think I’d be able to accomplish something so awesome.

blogbizfunnel_cover_thumb.jpgSkellie was one of the people that made this possible. She wrote this killer book, The Blog Business Funnel (aff), which presented a new model of making an income from your blog.

The Blog Business Funnel

Skellie argues that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to monetize a blog via traditional methods such as direct advertising, affiliate sales and adsense. She highlights a system which shows bloggers how they can make plenty of money doing what they’re best at.

She recommends “using word-of-mouth worthy content to generate targeted traffic, then using your knowledge and insight to generate trust.”

How it helped me.

I’ve struggled with the idea of launching a business from my blog for years. I’ve had lots of issues and was flailing around, trying to find a model that aligned with my business goals and my promotional ethic.

I had read a lot of business products about how to build a profitable business but they were separated into different niches: sales, blogging and freelancing. I was getting the information I needed but I had no way to fit it all together.

Skellie took us through key launch strategies and details how we could apply them to our own business. I’m heavily into product launches yet it never occurred to me that it could apply for services. We are in the prelaunch stages and already have huge demand. We have several larger companies willing to send smaller jobs our way as well.

I knew that my business would be successful because I had an established blog and had worked hard to create trust with my audience. What I didn’t expect was for it to be doing this well less than a month after the launch.

Why it’s so awesome.

It fits into the third tribe marketing model.

I’ve struggled with the concept of promoting myself. It’s hard. I wanted to get the word out there but didn’t want to seem sleazy or that I was trying to take advantage of my friends.

I was able to learn how to sell myself and my business by just doing what I was already doing. Hanging out online, being darn useful and creating high quality content. She taught me how I could leverage that interest in a way that benefited everyone.

Skellie has extensive practical experience

I was fortunate enough to catch up with Skellie in Melbourne. She is the real deal. This is the model she used to rock it online and leverage that success to get employed by Envato. I watched her grow from a compelling blogger to someone that commanded respect in the industry. Everything she writes is from personal experience – experience that most bloggers don’t have.

This isn’t for everyone.

Now, I love Skellie. She is one of the few bloggers I get totally fan girl over. I was worried that this would affect my objectivity so asked a friend for his opinion.

Frank Wall is a hiking blogger. His site is primarily monetized via advertising and ebook sales. He didn’t get as much out of the ebook as I did. He was intrigued by the idea and really enjoyed Skellies writing but it didn’t fit with his method of monetization.

I agree. Skellies book was perfect for me because I know I wanted to create a freelance business based off the success of my blog but had no idea how to accomplish this. I spend six months kicking arse with my guest pots and let my blog stagnate because I didn’t know how to handle the demand for my services.

Why I love Skellie

There is one blogger that I credit for igniting my passion in this industry. She showed me that you could write beautifully, no matter the topic. She revolutionized the industry for me and I’ve used her as inspiration. This blogger is Skellie.

I review a lot of products. This is the best value ebook I’ve seen in a year. Learn more about it here (aff).

Jade’s Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this product in exchange for my feedback, and get no affiliate commission.

30 Bloggers To Watch in 2010

In this post Jade Craven shares her thoughts on 30 bloggers worth keeping an eye on in the year ahead!

Update: You can now follow all these guys from the one twitter list! Check out Blogger To Watch.

1. Dave Navarro

Follow @rockyourday

Dave was featured as one of tomorrows star bloggers in 2008 and has continued to impress in 2009. His tenacity and hard work have helped cement himself as a leading blogger and  coach. He has a truly impressive resume with guest posts on Copyblogger, two product reviews here on Problogger and joint ventures with other high profile bloggers.

2009 has been the year where he strategically built up his profile to become a respected member of the blogging community. In 2010, I expect he’ll be leveraging that profile to provide more awesome resources to help bloggers succeed. You can check him out at The Launch Coach and be sure to sign up for his advance discount list and for advanced notice of his More Buyers Every Month training.

More on Dave:

2. Skellie Wag

Follow at @Skellie

Skellie has kept quite for most of 2009. She has focused on her work at Envato and providing the occasional killer resource at Skelliewag. Despite her absence, many bloggers still credit her as one of their favorite bloggers.

I hope we will be seeing a lot more of Skellie in 2010.

More from Skellie:

3. Sarah Prout

Follow @sarahprout

Sarah Prout runs a boutique publishing company called Sprout Publishing. She creates cool products targeting business, bloggers, social media professionals and entrepreneurs.

She has caused quite the stir in the local social media scene with her blog, Entreprenuerial sparkle. She has built a strong reputation on delivering quality products and being really useful to her twitter followers.

You can check out my review of her Twitter Success Blueprint at Twitip and find out about her new course, Sprout Buzz. I am so keen to learn what awesome projects she’ll be working on next year.

4. Johnny B Truant

Follow @johnnybtruant

Johnny B Truant was rocking it at his humor blog before getting the attention of Naomi Dunford. He offered to be a guinea pig of her Online Business School and started guest posting on Ittybiz about his attempts to build an online business.

He raised his profile quickly with strategic guest posts and free offers. He quickly became a fixture in the blogging community and restructured his online presence so that all posts are hosted at Johnnybtruant.com.

He now makes a considerable income through technology consulting, affiliate commissions and sales of his product Zero to Business. You can check his new venture with Charlie Gilkey at Charlie and Johnny Jam sessions.

I hope he expands his products available in 2010 and that he continues to provide his awesome guest posts.

More from Johnny:

5. Leo Babauta

Follow @leobabauta

Leo was already widely regarded in the blogosphere, but this year he has shown why he commands so much respect. He has released two new blogs – Mnmlist and Zen Family Habits as well as courses at A List blogging Bootcamps. He has also released the free minimalist theme, the ebook on minimalism and the motivation handbook.

He has done this on top of promoting his book The Power Of Less and maintaining the high caliber of writing at Zen Habits. He shows no signs of stopping in 2010 with rumors of more projects in the works.

More from Leo:

6. Ali Hale

Follow @alihale

Ali Hale has made waves in 2009 with her staff blogging, guest posts and subsequent release of her Staff Blogging Ebook. She has set a new standard for high quality guest posts.

She has recently launched her blog at Aliventures where she provides in depth articles and comprehensive product reviews. I believe she will be contributing even more to the blogging community in 2010.

More from Ali:

7. Yaro Starak

Follow @yarostarak

Yaro Starak has shown bloggers’ just what they can achieve if they dominate a niche. Yaro started blogging at Entreprenuers Journey and has created a drool-worthy product funnel.

He has released a series of membership sites targeting bloggers at all levels of success including the very successful Blog Mastermind. I’m hoping he releases some new products in 2010 and continues to show bloggers what can be achieved through perseverance and delivering high quality content.

More from Yaro:

8. Joanna Penn

Follow @thecreativepenn

Joanna has been the hidden success story of 2010. Her blog, The Creative Penn, has had a lot of success in both the local and international blogging communities. She is developing a strong reputation for providing high quality content and is famous for providing high quality links on twitter.

She shows how rising stars can be useful and gracious. I know her blog is just going to get even better in 2010 and feel honored to be part of that journey.

9. Naomi Dunford

Follow @ittybiz

Naomi Dunford is awesome. She has a shaved head, conspires against a duck and likes to swear. She also has one of the freshest blogging voices online.

Her blog, Ittybiz, is one of the best resources on how to market your blog and business. She provides tonnes of free material and affordable courses as well as other courses like Marketing 101, Marketing School, SEO School and Online Business School for her loyal customers. So many of my friends credit her for their inspiration and success. She is fresh from a recent redesign and I can’t wait to see how her site evolves in 2010.

10. Chris Guillebeau

Follow @chrisguillebeau

Chris has received a lot of attention with his blog, the Art of Non Conformity. His unique philosophy and compelling writing style propelled him to authority blogger in less than 279 days.

He has released a number of unconventional guides including the Unconventional Guide to the Social Web, Unconventional Guide to Art and Money and partnered with skilled writers to deliver niche products. His full range of products are fantastic.

2010 will see Chris travel to fascinating countries, release more unconventional guides and the publication of his first book.

More from Chris:

11. Mike CJ

Follow @mikecj

Mike has created a name for himself in the blogging niche. He become a Problogger in 2008 thanks to Mikes Life and his two travel blogs.

He stood out with his practical blog posts and fast developed a community around Mikes Life. In 2009, he released his blogging course  and twitter guide. In 2010, he has just released Beyond Blogging (cowritten with Nathan Hangen.)

12. Dan Schawbel

Follow @danschawbel

Dan Schawbel is a brilliant example of an authority blogger. He has risen to the top of the personal branding niche having released a book, magazine and awards.

In 2009 he expanded the personal branding network with the creation of the Student Branding Blog. His content is syndicated by Forbes, Reuters and Fox Business.

In 2010, I think we will see Dan take niche blogging to a whole new level. I feel privileged to watch it happen.

More from Dan:

5 Ways Blogging Can Make a Difference For You in This Economy

13. Jonathan Fields

Follow @jonathanfields

Some of you may not know Jonathan. He is a blogger, author and speaker. That’s the simple version. His bio described him as

a giddy dad, husband, New Yorker, multi-time health & fitness industry entrepreneur, recovering S.E.C./mega-firm hedge-fund lawyer, slightly-warped, unusually-stretchy, spiritually-inclined, obsessed with creation, small-biz and online marketing-catalyst, speaker, direct-response copywriter, entrepreneur-coach, yoga-teacher, columnist, author, once-a-decade hook-rug savant, pro-blogger and career renegade™ gone wild.

He wrote a fantastic book called Career Renegade and released a killer report, The Truth About Book Marketing. He’s spent this year helping as many people as possible – whether it be through his speaking events and workshops or the creation of new projects like Tribal author.

It will be fascinating to see what he accomplishes next year.

More from Jonathan:

14. Marko Saric

Follow @howtomakemyblog

Marko has had astonishing success during 2009. He marked a year at How To Make My Blog and successfully launched his Twitter Marketing ebook. He earns a consistent income through his Thesis theme reviews and blog consulting. He did a fantastic presentation about how to build a better blog at a recent meetup in London.

I hope 2010 brings more products and presentations because he brings a lot to the blogging community.

More from Marko:

15. Charlie Gilkey

Follow @Charlie Gilkey

Charlie Gilkey is many bloggers secret weapon. He is a business and productivity coach that writes at Productive Flourishing.

He recently launched Email Triage and has joined with Johnny B Truant to produce monthly Jam Sessions.

He will be released more affordable products in 2010, as well as helping more bloggers kick arse. I cant wait to see what he and his clients achieve.

16. Robb Sutton

Follow @robbsutton

Robb has impressed many with the success of Mountain Biking 198. He has received over $100’000 in review products which he spoke about in his book Ramped Reviews . He now works on his network while blogging about his journey to success at Robb Sutton. You can check out his comprehensive free ebook, Ramped Blogging, while there.

He shows how people can apply practical business schools to the blogosphere and what you can achieve when you don’t doubt yourself. He does done multiple guest posts and podcasts this year and I look forward to hearing about his future projects.

More from Robb:

17. Gary Vaynerchuk

Follow @garyvee

What can I say that hasn’t already been said? He crushed it during 2009.

He launched Vaynermedia, a business specializing in building brand equity. He signed a 7 figure book deal with Harper Studio and released his best-selling Crush it. He has had many high profile press mentions and television appearances.

Gary has given many bloggers something something to aspire to. Knowing him, he’ll give us even more next year.

18. Chris Brogan

Follow @chrisbrogan

Chris has accomplished so much this year. His book, Trust Agents, became a New York Times bestseller. He touched a lot of people with his overnight success video series and grew his blog to almost 40’000 subscribers. I’ve had trouble with keeping up with all he’s accomplished this year because he has done so darn much. He works incredibly hard to ensure that his work helps as many of us as possible.

Judging by his business wishlist, he will be achieving so much more in 2010.

19. Michael Martine

Follow @remarkablogger

Remarkablogger has been a good friend this year and it has been a pleasure to watch his site grow. On top of his blogging and coaching duties, he helps market the Headway wordpress theme. This theme has really impressed a lot of my designer friends, and I know they have great plans for it.

Michael is definitely someone to watch in 2010. I just hope that, despite his success and accomplishments, he’ll always be the awesome guy I’ve come to respect.

20. Lea Woodward

Follow @leawoodward

Lea and her husband, Jonathan, have shown that you don’t need to stay in one place to rock the blogosphere. They have taken one blog, Location Independent, and developed an entire community around it.

The expanded the blog to create a network – using the birth of their daughter Mali as motivation for Location Independent Parents. She also expanded to develop a series of Location Independent guides.

2010 will see them expand their product range as well as develop the Location Independent community. If you are aspiring to blog while traveling, they are a must read.

21. David Risley

Follow @davidrisley

David is now a fixture in the blogging community. He tells it like it is at his DavidRisley.com blog and makes 6 figures a year from his PC Mech blog and products such as the Blog Masters Club.

He has taught us so much this year and will continue to do so during 2010. It will be interesting to see what new projects he comes up with.

More from David:

22. Glen Allsopp

Follow @viperchill

Glen Allsopp has a resume that would make many established bloggers envious. He has guest posted at many high profile blogs and is a successful staff blogger. He launched Cloud Living to much acclaim and has followed that up with another killer ebook - Reality Switch. I’ve loved learning about Glens story, both at PluginID and Viperchill.

More from Glen:

I’m confident that his business will skyrocket in 2010 – especially with his $1 million case study.

23. Laura Roeder

Follow @lkr

Many bloggers owe a lot of their success to Laura Roeder. She has shown how you can leverage social media effectively and how to market with class. Her blog, and business, boomed in 2009. She released a paid version of The Dash, launched her Creating Fame course and developed that into the Creating Fame Classroom (and more like Backstage pass to Twitter).

I hope she continues to create more brilliant information products in the new year and that she continues to provide so much value to the community.

More from Laura:

How to Make Deals with Bigshots in Less Than 10 Minutes

24. DM Scott

Follow @dmscott

DM Scott isn’t the sorta guy you normally see on these lists. I met him at a Social Media Masterclass and was blown away by his blogging knowledge. He has written two successful books – World Wide Rave and The New Rules of Marketing and PR. He has released many killer free ebooks and blogs at Web Ink Now.

He is someone you should get to know if you want to learn how to get world wide attention using social media. He knows his stuff and I’m sure he’ll be providing high quality content beyond 2010.

25. Darren Rowse

Follow @problogger

Darren already rocks the blogging community. He has a top 100 technorati blog, is one of the co-founders of b5 media and is the inspiration for many leading bloggers.

He took things to a completely new level in 2009. He launched Problogger.com, a personal blog as well as 31 days to become a better blogger Workbook.

I’ve heard that he has amazing things planned for his other blogs and can’t wait to see how he develops Twitip and Digital Photography School.

26. Collis Ta’eed

Follow @collis

Collis Ta’eed is many bloggers’ worst nightmare. I don’t want to know how much money I’ve spent on market places like Theme Forest and Graphic River.

Envato has grown so much this year. They have launched many new marketplaces, blogs and tutorial sites. They have cemented themselves in the creative communities.I’m really excited to see how Envato will develop next year. I hope that I can somehow even be part of it.

Also valuable are the E-books that Collis is part of from Rockable Press – how to be a Rockstar WordPress designer and how to be a Rockstar Freelancer.

More from Collis:

27. James Chartrand

Follow @menwithpens

2009 has certainly been a busy year for James. When he isn’t pumping out content on Men with Pens, he is actively commenting or connecting to the community via twitter.

2010 will be for interesting for James after the recent revelation that he is, actually, a she. James is still one of the best ‘blokes’ I know, but this story has really set the blogosphere on fire. It will be very interesting to see how it unfolds in the new year. Will she release a book? Will mainstream press pick up the story? I don’t care – as long as she continues to bring class to the blogosphere.

Also co-authored by James is the Unlimited Freelancer e-book.

28. Caroline Middlebrook

Follow @cmiddlebrook

Caroline Middlebrook was one of the star bloggers during 2008 but has slowed things down this year to work on her software project.  Her income has been consistent despite only spending only one hour a week.

Caroline will be launching her software project later this month. It will be interesting to see how her blog and project evolves in 2010.

More on Caroline:

29. Adam Baker

Follow @manvsdebt

Adam shows that you don’t need to be a metablogger to be successful. He has indirectly taught me, and many others, so much about engaging your community. He writes at Man Vs Debt and has spent most of 2009 traveling/working in Australia and New Zealand.

Adam celebrated the 6 month anniversary of Man Vs Debt with a fantastic article about how NOT to suck at blogging. I’m genuinely excited to see how he develops the blog over the next 12 months.

More on Adam:

30. Sonia Simone

Follow @soniasimone

As the senior editor at Copyblogger, Sonia has the finger on the pulse of the blogosphere. She shows how you can make writing informative and fun. She’s joint ventured on many awesome products this year including Freelance X Factor and Marketing For Nice People. She recently launched the Remarkable Marketing Blueprint – something I’m still annoyed I missed out on.

If you want to excel at content marketing, Sonia can help you. I’m sure she’ll be providing many opportunities to do so during 2010.

Who would go on your list?

These are the people that made it onto my radar this year, but I know there are many fabulous bloggers I haven’t met yet.

Share who you think are the bloggers to watch and why. Some of them may be featured in future Problogger posts.

Disclaimer: While there are affiliate links in this post, none of them are mine.

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

A Guest post by Jade Craven.

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

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

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

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

4 Ways To Earn Money By Helping People

Give Free Stuff strategically

strategyImage by Anil Jadhav

How Johnny did this:

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

How You Can Do this

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

Case studies.

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

Provide calls to action regularly

callImage by kozumel

How Johnny did this:

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

How you can provide calls to action:

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

Case Studies:

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

Find your people.

people

Image by Elvire.R.

How Johnny did this:

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

How to do this:

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

Case studies.

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

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

Selling something? Focus on selling solutions.

solve

Image by Doug88888

How Johnny did this

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

How you can do this:

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

Case Studies:

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

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

What you can learn from the course

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

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

Lets discuss how you can learn from each strategy.

The Humorous videos.

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

So – how can you adopt this to your launch?

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

Avoiding Hype

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

So – how can you adopt this to your launch?

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

Cool Bonuses

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

So – how can you adopt this to your launch?

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

My call to action:

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

Join a Forum and Start Participating [Day 9 - 31DBBB]

Your task today in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge is to join a forum that relates to the topic of your blog (or, if you’ve already joined one to spend 10-15 minutes participating in it).

One of the questions I always get new bloggers to ask when it comes to finding readers for their blog is ‘where are your potential readers already gathering online?‘ One of the places I encourage them to go looking for those potential readers is on forums on related topics to your blog.

Forums are fantastic places for bloggers to participate for a number of reasons:

1. Profile Building – put consistent time into a large forum on your topic and you can build a significant profile in your niche. I’ve seen it happen in my own photography forum numerous times where people have produced such value and shown off their expertise that they’ve actually developed fans among other forum users.

2. Driving Traffic – create value and become a useful resource in a forum and people will want to know more about who you are and what you do via your signature and or profile page. You’ll also sometimes have opportunity to share some relevant links to things you’ve written.

3. Understanding Your Niche – the hidden benefit of joining a forum that many don’t talk about is that for a new blogger a forum can actually be a fertile ground for gathering ideas and understanding the needs of potential blog readers. Go to any forum and you’ll begin to see the same questions being asked over and over again. The questions actually annoy some regular forum members but you as a blogger should be taking note of such questions and writing posts that answer them because they are usually signals of problems and needs that people have on those topics. I know if I’m ever in need of a topic to write about on my blogs that forums are one of the first places that I go looking for topics.

Spend some time today searching for forums in your niche. Once you find them, join up and start participating. The key is to spend time being as useful as possible to the forum. Your main activity should NOT be leaving links to your blog but answering questions, making connections and generally being as useful as you can to other members of the forum.

Here are two posts on building a blog with Forum Traffic that you Should Read:

I could say a lot more about building your blog up by participating in forums – but we’ve covered the topic a few times on ProBlogger previously. Check out these two posts:

Note: if you can’t find a forum on your exact topic look for them on related topics. If you can’t find any at all, perhaps it is a signal that you should start one at some point. Forums can actually be great additions to blogs.

Update: Day 9 – Promote Your Blog by Finding a Forum to Participate In – People are sharing and exploring this task together over at the forum… you could start there!

Want More?

This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.

Join over 14,000 other bloggers and Get your Copy Today.

27 Must Read Tips and Tutorials for Bloggers [Day 6 - 31DBBB]

Today your task in the 31 Day challenge to Build a Better Blog is to do some learning from successful bloggers.

To do this I’ve asked nine bloggers that I know and respect to nominate a few posts from their own blogs archives that they believe would be most helpful for bloggers wanting to improve their blogs.

You might choose to read just a couple of the following links if you don’t have a lot of time up your sleeve today – but as someone who has just read through them all I suspect you’ll benefit most by reading as many of them as you can – there’s some great advice in this lot!

Here are the posts that the bloggers I asked nominated as their best tips for bloggers:

Seth Godin from Seths Blog

Rand Fiskin from SEOmoz

Skellie from Skelliewag

Chris Garrett from ChrisG

Yaro Starak from Entrepreneurs Journey

Jeremy Schoemaker from Shoemoney

Maki from Dosh Dosh

Liz Strauss from Successful Blog

Daniel Scocco from Daily Blog Tips

Chris Brogan from ChrisBrogan.com

Which of these posts did you resonate with most and find most useful? Share in the discussion here, or over at the forum thread dedicated to this Daily Task: Day 6 – Learn from Successful Bloggers.

Want More?

This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.

Join over 14,000 other bloggers and Get your Copy Today.

Online Profits Course Launches with 50% Discount

Online-Profits.pngOne of the best group of internet marketers and bloggers that I’ve seen assembled into a teaching group have joined around a new Internet Marketing and Online Business training program called Online Profits which launches at 50% off today.

But you’d better be quick – it closes to new members at the end of the week.

The course is actually the baby of Daniel Scocco from Daily Blog Tips and numerous other successful blogs but what is special about it is the group of mentors who are experts in a number of fields relevant to growing an online business. The mentors are:

Yaro Starak, Neil Patel, Hamlet Batista, Michael Gray , Tamar Weinberg, Daniel Scocco, Zac Johnson, Courtney Tuttle, Nathan Rice and Skellie Wag.

Together they have expertise in blogging, SEO, affiliate marketing, web design, social media, advertising, content creation and much more. I really like this approach – instead of basing the course around one or two people with great experience in a couple of things but only a general knowledge in other important aspects of internet marketing – Daniel has assembled a group of experts in numerous fields who together will offer an amazing collective wisdom and set of experiences to the community.

As a result the list of 21 modules and 66 lessons that make up the course are quite impressive. Here are the main modules (you can read more about each and see all lessons here):

Module 1: Introduction and Business Principles

Module 2: Domain Names

Module 3: Setting Up Your Website

Module 4: WordPress

Module 5: Web Design for Entrepreneurs

Module 6: Business Models

Module 7: Selecting Your Niche

Module 8: Blogs

Module 9: Other Types of Websites

Module 10: Web Content and Copywriting

Module 11: Basic SEO

Module 12: Advanced SEO

Module 13: Generating Traffic

Module 14: Social Media

Module 15: Web Metrics

Module 16: Selling Advertising

Module 17: Email Marketing

Module 18: Affiliate Marketing

Module 19: PPC (Pay-per-Click)

Module 20: Landing Pages

Module 21: Selling Your Products

I feel a little exhausted and yet inspired just looking at that list. I can’t think of a lot more I’d want covered if I were starting an online business. Daniel tells me that the lessons will come in both text and audio. There are also private forums for participants and mentors to interact, interviews and case studies, tools and resources and more.

Daniel sent me a couple of lessons last week and they were both comprehensive, practical and useful. The kind of teaching that would definitely be understandable by beginners but also helpful to anyone in the early to intermediate stages of developing an online business.

Online Profits launches today (12 Jan) at 50% off and will close its doors on 16 January until late 2009 so that the mentor team can concentrate on those who join up.

There is a 30 day money back guarantee and you’re able to withdraw from the course at any point and only pay up to the point you’ve participated in.

Read full details of Online Profits and Signup Here.

Blogging With Audacity

Keeping You Posted by Skellie.This is Skellie’s last post before Darren gets back from Blog World Expo. You can continue reading her blogging, online entrepreneurship and social media articles at Skelliewag.

Audacity is one of my favorite words, as I believe it encapsulates one of the best ways to approach blogging, and in my humble opinion, a wonderful attitude to life. Here’s a simple definition:

  1. Fearless daring; intrepidity.
  2. Bold or insolent heedlessness of restraints, as of those imposed by prudence, propriety, or convention.
  3. An act or instance of intrepidity or insolent heedlessness: warned the students than any audacities committed during the graduation ceremony would be punished.

As you can see, the word suggests an approach that is willing to circumvent ‘the done thing’ in favor of gaining what is most important to you. It’s a unique word in that it has both positive and negative meanings!

As you’ll know, people are often criticized for being audacious, which is a good way to stop people being audacious. Humans generally feel uncomfortable when people act outside the norm. Of course, most successful people make a habit of doing just that. And the same goes for successful bloggers.

It’s conventional that people:

  • Don’t ask for more than is offered to them
  • Don’t try to talk with people who are better known or higher status than they are
  • Don’t admit their failings and mistakes
  • Don’t celebrate success publicly
  • Don’t try things that could fail badly
  • Don’t change their mind once it has been made up
  • Don’t give up, no matter whether circumstances and goals change
  • Don’t question what everybody else does
  • Don’t ask others for help (just think about how often we begin such a request with a pre-emptive apology)

With the above in mind, let’s look at the behavioral patterns of most successful bloggers. Of course, the same could be said about successful entrepreneurs, sportspeople, scientists, musicians or anyone else who excels at what they do. Audacity links them all together.

They DO negotiate higher rates and better deals. They DO say no. They DO understand that they have a lot of value to offer, and that the value they provide is worth something. That’s why audacious people earn more and can sell more expensive products and services: because they are confident that what they provide is worth it and don’t sell themselves short.

They DO communicate with experts and learn from them. If their first efforts to open a dialogue fail, they try new and creative ways to get the conversation started. They realize the best way to learn how to do something is talk to people who’ve done it before. They also know that, because most people assume that experts will be impossible to get a hold of that very few people actually try, making the chances of success much better than they seem. (If I assumed Seth Godin or Darren Rowse or Brian Clark or Leo Babauta would be unwilling to talk, I never would have talked with all of them, nor would you be reading this blog post!).

They DO come to terms with their weaknesses, admit when they have made mistakes and failed to follow their own advice. It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable in this way, but you can’t work around your weaknesses until you openly acknowledge them. Best of all, readers feel more strongly connected to you because you become a more relateable figure.


Photo by .Luc.

The DO make their successes public. So many bloggers trying to be ‘authorities’ are afraid to clearly outline the reasons why they know their stuff, usually afraid that it will be seen as boastful. In fact, people really want to know whether they’re receiving advice from a reliable source. How often have you come across a ‘make money online’ blog only to wonder whether the blogger behind it was making any money at all?

Too many would-be experts with amazing successes never achieve the recognition they deserve because they are confined to omission and under-statement because we are encouraged from a young age never to toot our own horn. Of course, ‘toot your own horn’ eventually comes to encompass any good we might speak about ourselves and our achievements, often leaving readers in the dark. There’s a difference between saying “I’ve done this and you never will” and “I’ve done this and I would love to help you do it to, with what I learned along the way.”

They DO try things that might well fail. Because what if they don’t? And if they do, will it really be so bad? Few great successes come without risk. In fact, the amount of possible risk and possible gain usually travel hand in hand. Successful bloggers are always experimenting and most of them have failed spectacularly more than a few times but these aren’t the things we focus on because that failure has been accompanied by wonderful successes.

They DO discard ideas that they once believed but now doubt. They DO have changes of heart and changes of mind. They don’t stick with one method or opinion doggedly because it is now theirs. They try to avoid assumptions as much as is possible.

They DO give up. They don’t stick with obviously failing models until they’re driven into the ground. They don’t doggedly pursue the same goals even when new goals seem more important or attractive. They don’t let the cultural imperative to ‘finish what you start’ trap them in unrewarding pursuits.

They DO question what everyone else is doing. They never assume that anything popular must be good. They don’t assume (without thought) that popular beliefs are correct, or that popular courses of action are the best ones. They temper the wisdom of the crowd with their own observations and research.

They DO ask others for help. They DO admit to others when they have no idea. They’d rather take five minutes to email someone who is bound to know the answer to a question than spend six days searching for the right information on their own, just to have to avoid admitting a gap in their knowledge. They ask dumb questions and aren’t afraid to seem stupid once in a while.

Does the above list resonate with who you are, who you’d like to become, or who you feel you’re steadily becoming? To be a successful blogger and entrepreneur (if you’re making money with a blog, that’s what you are), to seize opportunities and make your own opportunities, you need to start living and blogging with audacity. It’s not a dirty word. In fact, it’s an excellent guiding star for any entrepreneurial blogger.

***

I want to take a moment to welcome Darren back from Blog World Expo and to thank him for letting me take care of ProBlogger this week. It’s always a joy to write here. Thanks for having me!

The Truth About Creating a High-traffic Blog

Keeping You Posted by Skellie.Skellie wrote this post. For more, you can follow her on Twitter.

Did you know that some blogs receive over one million visitors each month?

Have you ever wondered how they do it?

This kind of traffic isn’t easy to attain, but the pay-off for a high traffic blog with hundreds of thousands of page views each month (or more) are considerable. With that kind of traffic it’s hard not to make good money!

Most blogs with huge amounts of traffic are in fact run by a dedicated staff of writers who can churn out content much faster than a single blogger could ever hope to manage. Part of the reason these blogs are so highly trafficked is because a repeat visitor knows there’s likely to be something new every few hours or so. They have reason to visit multiple times during the day. Examples of blogs like this are the Gawker Media blogs, such as Lifehacker and Kotaku.

Most of us don’t have the money or the desire to take on a large contingent of writers to keep our blogs updated every few hours. The good news is that huge traffic is still possible at a single-author blog. Look to StevePavlina.com, Zen Habits, Entrepreneur’s Journey, even ProBlogger itself (I pick these examples because you’re likely to be familiar with them, but there are so many others). These are just a few examples where a single-author blog is receiving hundreds of thousands of page views each month, and in some cases, over a million.

Can we do the same?

These are the kind of stats we dream of for our own blogs, but most of us doubt that this would be possible for us. This is probably because the steps involved in getting there seem very blurry. You’re producing great content, growing in size slowly but surely, gathering new loyal readers and increasing your traffic, but you’re still miles away from the kind of huge audience those blogs experience. What are the factors that separate the average blog from these super high traffic blogs?

This is the point where you expect a cop-out — for me to say that it is, of course, great content that separates those blogs from the average. Unfortunately, your expectations won’t be met here. I’m not interested in content right now. At least, not directly. In fact, your content may be just as good, or better, than any one of the blogs I’ve mentioned, or any other successful single-author blogs you can think of.

What I am interested in, and I hope you will be too, is to know where that traffic is coming from.

On a multi-author blog producing reams of content it’s likely to receive many of its ‘visits’ from single visitors who make multiple return visits each day, in addition to high search traffic due to the vast amount of content archived at the blog, and social media traffic, because multi-author blogs generally have the resources to break important stories. When we look at single-author blogs, however, traffic sources are going to be coming from very different places.

Instead of producing dozens of posts each day a blog run by one person is probably going to be producing, at most, a handful of posts per day. The average level will probably be one post per day. For this reason, single-author blogs probably can’t expect visitors to return five or ten times a day to check for new updates. So, we knock out that traffic source.

I want to suggest that very highly trafficked single-author blogs are knocking the ball out of the park in at least two of the following three core areas:

  • Search
  • Social media
  • Evangelism

The last one is a must. Waves of social media traffic come and go and search engine traffic can disappear with the next Google algorithm update. If readers evangelize your content, as they do for Steve Pavlina, Leo Babauta, Yaro Starak, and you have probably done for Darren Rowse (by recommending him to a friend, or linking to one of his articles with a glowing recommandation) you will find it difficult to receive anything but huge traffic.

Performing exceptionally with at least one of the others is also very important, and it’s particularly useful if you can master both.

SEO

Most single-author blogs with huge traffic are getting a lot of that from search (sometimes as high as 20%). Some blogs, however, will never receive exceptional search traffic, no matter how popular they get or how much SEO work is done on them. After all, most people use search to solve a problem. They want to know how to do such and such thing, and the problem is that they don’t. So they search. However, some blogs are not so much about providing answers as they are about asking questions. Others might provide answers to questions you didn’t know you had. If you’re seeking to be entertained, they might entertain you in a way you never would have searched for on your own.

One of the best blog posts I’ve read in recent memory was Errol Morris’s dissection of two pieces of war-time photography in an effort to decide whether one of the pictures was faked. It was called ‘Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?’ and generated over 900 comments. Were people searching for this content before they found it? Very unlikely. Even putting the photographer’s name in the headline probably wouldn’t have improved the SEO situation very much, but it still didn’t hurt the story any. In fact, it went on to become a viral sensation.


Photo by victoriapeckham.

Social media

I relate the above example to show that some topics suit high levels of search traffic much better than others. If you feel you’re in the latter camp it’s still very possible to receive high levels of traffic, but you’ll find it much easier to so with the help of social media. If you’re not setting StumbleUpon on fire with your posts you should aim to get some love from Digg or Reddit. If you don’t know how to do that, hire someone who does and get them to write for you once a week. There are plenty of talented writers out there, looking for work, who really ‘get’ social media. Look for for an excellent front-page story on Digg that relates to your blog topic and then find out who wrote it. If you’re lucky, that person may be looking for more work.

Once you’ve produced a great post, get a top user to submit the content before anyone else. You’d be surprised at how easy this is if they think the content is good. Once it’s done, let their network take over. With a talented writer and a bit of audacity it’s surprisingly easy to go popular on social media pretty much, well, whenever you want to. But that’s material for another post, another time.

Case studies

Let’s examine three blogs that I’ve mentioned above. First, this one, ProBlogger. I’m pretty certain most of Darren’s traffic comes from direct links (evangelism), search (a high percent, due to practical topics and clever SEO), and StumbleUpon (a whole lot of it). While most of us are receiving traffic from these sources, high-traffic blogs take this to another level. The importance of evangelism from the reader base is the driving force behind all these things. ProBlogger wouldn’t rank as high in search if thousands of people hadn’t linked to it using juicy keywords. It wouldn’t receive loads of StumbleUpon traffic if its readers weren’t motivated to vote for it.

Next, let’s think about where Zen Habits is getting its traffic from. I’m not sure about the level of search traffic it gets, but I know it receives an exceptional amount of social media traffic from StumbleUpon and Digg. I also know the reader base is highly evangelical and links to Leo’s articles regularly. The blog is also spread through word of mouth networks. Once again, the success on social media probably wouldn’t have progressed as far as it has without an evangelical reader base. That factor is essential for the other factors to exist.

Evangelism

By now you will have noticed I’ve been throwing the word ‘evagelical’ around a whole lot without really explaining what I mean by it. The word comes from religious evangelicals, so it’s best to start there. While the word has been appropriated to describe a particular group of religious people, it has also been absorbed into the language of marketing.

To evangelize something really just means that you are passionate about it and try to get others to be passionate about it too (in a religious context, this would be a particular understanding of God). In fact, I want to suggest that you’ve done some evangelizing whether you are religious or not. If you’ve forced a tattered copy of your favorite book into the hands of a friend, you’re evangelizing it. If you told someone their next laptop should be a MacBook Pro because you love yours, you’re evangelizing the product. When you tell an aspiring blogger that they really should be reading ProBlogger, you evangelize this blog. When you link to it, vote for it or recommend it via word of mouth, you are evangelizing it, and the same goes for any blog you enjoy and try to share with others.

The key difference between the average blog and a high traffic blog is that the high traffic blog has an evangelical following: people who think, “My God, more people have to see this!”

Someone who only skims your posts will register on your stat counter but they are not going to spread the ‘gospel’ of your blog to others, so to speak. An evangelical reader might stumble every post they read and link to you every week. They do the kind of things that allow you to rank highly in search, and to get torrents of traffic from social media. In other words, to build a high traffic blog you need to create a highly evangelical audience.

What makes someone passionate and evangelical about a blog?

It’s not fluff. It’s not controversy for its own sake. It’s not self-indulgence. It’s not stale formulas. It’s knowing deeply the kind of individuals your audience is made up of, what their needs and wants and dreams are, how you fit into that, and how much you can make their lives better, whether it’s by making them smile, laugh, cry, go ‘Ah-ha!’, feel empowered, feel informed, entertained or more skillful.

The amount of improvement you make in the lives of your readers will be in proportion to the amount of effort they put into evangelizing your blog and helping it become more popular than you may ever have imagined.

4 Quick and Simple Ways to Increase Page Views on Your Blog

Keeping You Posted by Skellie.Skellie wrote this post. For more advanced blogging tips and strategies, visit her blog, Skelliewag.

When selling advertising spots on your blog the metric that advertisers value most is page views, or ‘impressions’. More page views equals higher value advertising spots on your blog. While the obvious solution to increase the value of your ad spots is to increase the amount of traffic your blog receives, you can also do a number of quick and easy things to yield more page views from your existing traffic.

1. Develop the habit of self-linking

I was recently referred by a friend to read a post at Steve Pavlina’s blog. I enjoyed the post immensely, and because it linked out to other relevant posts on the blog, I found myself spending several hours swinging like a monkey from post to post, devouring new ideas voraciously. During that time Steve probably squeezed about 10 – 20 page views out of my single visit.

Most bloggers don’t self-link anywhere near as much as they could. This is a particularly beneficial habit if page views directly correlate with your income. When a reader is deep into your post it means the topic you’re writing on is of keen interest to them and so, related content is also likely to be of keep interest. If you don’t make readers aware of this as you write, it’s a lost opportunity: not only for more page views, but also for a greater level of reader engagement in your blog.

2. End with related posts

Bloggers are increasingly using a WordPress plug-in to link to related posts at the footer of each post. This is a clever move because it gives readers options to continue at the point when they are most likely to be looking for them (when they have just finished reading one of your great posts). You can handle this automatically through the plugin and give up some control over what appears or hand-pick posts to link to, which will of course take more time but gives you maximum control over the links that are chosen.


Photo by nate steiner

3. Use your sidebar to build page-views

Think about the three best blog posts you’ve ever written. Are they on the main page of your blog right now? Chances are that at least one of them isn’t, unless you’ve hit a real purple patch at the moment!

Just because this wonderful post is not on the main page doesn’t mean nobody but the odd wandering search visitor should find it. Highlighting your best posts in your blog sidebar (usually under a ‘Popular Posts’ list) is an excellent way to drive page views while also keeping your best posts evergreen.

4. Create multi-page posts

Have you ever started reading a fun top 100 list at a website only to discover that they’d given each item its own page, forcing you to click 100 times? Most people will find this excessive, but it is a clever tactic if the content is actually worth it. Blog posts also make good candidates to spread long posts over several pages, and there is a WordPress plug-in designed to do this. Of course, it’s important to always be mindful of stopping before the point where it becomes frustrating for your audience.

Here I’ve presented just a few ways to yield a greater number of page views from your existing audience. I’m sure I missed a few good ones, so add your ideas in the comments!