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How a 30 Minute Reject Post Brings Me Hundreds of Subscribers a Week

This guest post is written by the Blog Tyrant.

Three weeks ago I wrote a guest post for a large blog that got rejected on the grounds that it contained ideas that had already been discussed at the blog. Now that same post is bringing me hundreds of email subscribers every week. Let me tell you what happened—and explain how you can replicate some of that success.

Graf-_6026-sm
Creative Commons License photo credit: Julian Stallabrass

How I turned a failed post into a subscriber magnet

Ever since I first thought about selling a blog I knew that I had to grow my email subscriber list. I’ve talked about it in my post on how to blog and I’ve talked about here on my Problogger guest posts. It is your mailing list that allows you to grow a large online business that outlasts the ups and downs and brings in considerable income.

The rejected post

Seeing as I had spent a fair amount of time building sites and blogs, and experimenting with growing a mailing list I thought I would make it a regular theme on Blog Tyrant. People seemed interested. In order to grow my readership, though, I knew I had to write exciting and relevant guest posts about themes that are closely tied to my blog. So I wrote an article called How to Grow Your Email List by 120% Overnight that talked about some strategies I had used to massively boost my email subscribers.

It got rejected. Actually, it’s the only guest post I’ve ever had rejected.

The free ebook

After I had cooled down and patched up the hole I punched in my office wall I sat there staring at the post. For some reason I didn’t want to just use it on my own blog. Something was telling me not to. Then, on a whim, I thought I would just turn it into a free ebook and give it away on my site to anyone who subscribed by email (nothing new). I wrote the copy, added the email subscription form and went to bed. The next day my email subscribers had gone up by 200 addresses. The day after that, 120 addresses. Hundreds of people were subscribing to my blog to get this free ebook.

Why is this ebook so successful?

I started to wonder why this ebook was so successful. I have other blogs that give away free ebooks but none of them seem to pull in subscribers at the rate this one does. After a while, I realized that I’d carried out a strategy without even thinking about it. In an effort to promote my new site, I had inadvertently pre-promoted the launch of my ebook.

I went back and looked at all the guest posts I’d written in the past few weeks which were still bringing in traffic. In every single one, I had talked about growing a mailing list, the importance of community, or something to do with that rejected-post-turned-ebook.

In essence, I had built a whole lot of hype around the ebook without even realizing that I was doing it. If I was a marketing firm I would have charged a lot of money for that strategy!

How to replicate that success

Duesenberg SSJ Roadster replica
Creative Commons License photo credit: Ed Callow [ torquespeak ]

Now that I’ve admitted to the shameful fact that I did all this by accident, I want to talk about a few ways that you can replicate that success on your own blogs. These few steps are key to making sure the whole thing goes down well.

1. Research that ebook subject hard.

The subject of that ebook is of utmost importance. I go to so many sites where the free ebook is a bit wishy-washy and not really that exciting. You don’t want that. Look at your analytics and find out why people are coming to your site. Look at competitors’ blogs and see what posts have gone viral. Find bestsellers in your niche. Research hard and come up with a subject and title that’s really compelling to the people that you write for.

To be honest, the title and subject are almost more important than the content. Sure, my ebook has excellent tips that I really did use, but it’s not even 20 pages long, and it only took me about an hour to put together including the coding and the cover design. You want to make sure you get it right.

2. Create guest posts that target and promote your ebook.

Here is where the magic takes place. You want to write a good ten or 15 guest posts for blogs in your niche that target readers of your new ebook. Now, you don’t have to directly mention the ebook like I’ve done in this post. You just need to generate interest, as I managed to do in my other Problogger guest posts Why I Leave Your Blog, How to Make Your Blog Addictive, and Why Your Blog is Not Going to Make You Rich.

None of those posts directly mention any ebook, but they do spend a lot of time talking about mailing lists and growing a community as a way to make big dollars. If you landed on my blog after reading one of those posts and saw the ebook, you’d probably be more likely to download it than any other random visitor. In the affiliate marketing world, this is called pre-selling; Darren calls it a sneeze page.

3. Generate more interest in the comments.

Once your guest posts are published, it’s important to get over to the pushing site and interact with people in the comments. Share as much as you can about the topic, and try to dispel any objections that people might have. What you’re doing by taking this course of action is giving people a secondary gentle push in your blog’s direction. They might not love you after they read your guest post, but they certainly should be open to liking you after you talk to them in the comments.

4. Make sure your call to action is strong.

The last thing you need to do is make sure the signup area on your blog contains a good, clean, strong call to action. Put it in one of the blog hot areas. Make sure you use copy that gets people excited, and allows them to give you their email without worrying that you’re going to abuse it. Most internet marketers agree that you need to use a direct call to action that tells your visitors exactly what they need to do to subscribe. Don’t leave it up to chance.

Bonus: how to give away a free ebook with Feedburner

Not everyone out there can afford to use Aweber to give away free ebooks to email subscribers. Unless you’re making good revenue, it can be a little bit expensive. For that reason, I want to show you how to do it completely free with Feedburner. It’s not quite as efficient, but it works well for me and a lot of other bloggers.

1. Upload your ebook to your server.

Go to your FTP area and upload your ebook into the root folder. If it’s small enough you can just go into your WordPress Dashboard and upload the PDF as an image. Copy the address of the ebook.

2. Get your FeedFlare template.

While your FTP is open, download this file. Unzip it, open it up with Notepad or Wordpad (not Word) and edit the information that I’ve filled out for you. Once you are done, hit save and upload it to your root directory without changing the name at all. It should appear as an XML file if you’ve done it right.

3. Edit Feedburner

Now log in to your Feedburner account and activate FeedFlare (it’s under Optimize). Scroll down to the Personal FeedFlare heading and add the URL of the XML file that you just uploaded to your root directory. The URL should be http://youblog.com/feedflaretemplate.xml

4. You’re done!

Every time someone receives a Feedburner message from you, there will be a little ebook download link at the bottom of the post. I’d recommend making an instructions page for people so they don’t email you asking where it is. Just let them know that the free ebook will be at the bottom of the posts that arrive in their inbox.

Conclusion

This strategy of pre-promoting an ebook has worked extremely well for me in the past few weeks. I’m getting hundreds of new subscribers every week, and they are all turning out to be valuable members of my community who comment, interact, and share my posts. Try it out if you haven’t already.

I’d really like to know if you know any other ways to promote your blog or a product on your blog. Please drop a comment and let me know.

The Blog Tyrant has sold several blogs for large sums of money and earns a living by relying solely on the internet. His blog is all about helping you dominate your blog and your blog’s niche and only includes strategies that he has tried on his own websites. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook or subscribe to his feed for all the juice.

Why Your Blog Is Not Going to Make You Rich (Or Pay the Bills)

This guest post is by the Blog Tyrant.

$100,000 a year? $500,000 a year? A million? These are figures I bet most of us think about from time to time. But I’m here to tell you a sober truth—something that you probably won’t like the sound of.

Your blog is not going to make you rich. It might not even pay the monthly bills.

But don’t lose hope yet. There is a (very shiny) silver lining to this article: I am going to show you what you need to do to get up to those wonderful figures. In this post I’m going to give you a few important facts and tricks that my multimillionaire uncle passed on to me; facts and tricks that translate to the blogging world very very well.

Aston Martin V8 Vantage
Creative Commons License photo credit: Ed Callow [ torquespeak ]

The millionaire’s advice

Let’s start this post with the advice that my uncle gave me. When I first heard it I think I probably told him to “go away” under my breath. But as I got deeper into my own business I realized how insanely important the advice had become. Especially because I learned the hard way. Let me illustrate.

My first blog was a fitness blog that I ended up selling for $20,000 after just eight months. Before that time, however, the blog paid my bills with a consistent AdSense income. It wasn’t a lot of money but it met my needs at the time. That was until Google banned it from the search results without warning, and without reason. I woke up one day and my excellent rankings for some super-high traffic keywords were gone. And so was my money.

Right at the moment my uncle’s advice came floating back to me:

You must always have a short-term source of income that pays the bills, two medium-term projects that supplement the income, and one long-term project that’s a year away from fruition. Always.

It is powerful advice that every rich person I know pays attention to (consciously or not). I, however, had totally ignored it in my youthful arrogance. I had put all of my eggs in to one basket and as such I had nothing to fall back on, and nothing to look forward to. I was in trouble.

Applying the advice: diversifying my business

So what did I do? Well I went out and cleaned toilets. I worked at a gym as a cleaner for over a year while I built up a new empire. I worked at the gym in the mornings and then came home and, after sleeping for an hour, plugged away at blogs and my other online businesses.

It was different now. Now I was applying the advice. Instead of just building up one blog, I was working on several while building small product websites. I was also working on ideas for the long-term project so that I had something to look forward to.

And this part is important. As the medium-term projects began to fall into the short-term income category, I created new medium-term projects. The trilogy of short-, medium-, and long-term must always be in play. I am trying very hard to remember that.

Why you need to diversify to be rich and safe

Adidas Pro Model
Creative Commons License photo credit: Julien Menichini

Your blog, as it is today, is not going to be enough to make you rich and safe. Okay, you might get lucky and be the next Huffington Post or Mashable and never have to worry about money again. But the chances are good that you’ll be like me; you’ll have to be smart about your future and your income. And to be smart you need to develop projects: one short-term, two medium-term, and one long-term project.

1. The short-term income

The short-term income is the work that pays the bills while you work on your other projects. The important thing to remember is that it doesn’t need to be blogging. It doesn’t even need to be glamorous. Like I said before, I worked as a cleaner at a gym in the mornings. It was one of the smartest business decisions I ever made, because it allowed me to still have a full work day to devote to the other projects, since I worked from 6am to 11am.

It also got me a free gym membership, which, trivial as it might seem, allowed me to work out daily and completely de-stress my system. That is a very important thing to do when you’re worried about money. Lift weights and run. If you just sit at home all day in your own company, you won’t realize how stressed you’re actually becoming.

2. The two medium-term projects

The medium-term projects are those that you’re working on to eventually take over your current short-term income. Remember, it’s a good idea to generate your short-term income from more than one source: the more diverse it is, the better. These medium-term projects should be no more than a year away from turning consistent revenue. They can take the shape of:

  • blogs
  • product websites
  • affiliate websites
  • content creation deals
  • partnerships
  • etc.

As they start to make money, you can put them into the short-term category and begin to create new medium-term projects. Perhaps these will come from your long-term category or perhaps you will see new opportunities that you can place directly into the medium-term area.

3. The long-term project

Your long-term project should be ambitious but achievable. It should be one of those ideas where you sit down and think about how much money it would make if only you could get it off the ground. Well, partner, the money coming from your short- and medium-term gigs is what you’ll use to get this idea running.

What I’ve come to discover is that it’s all about these long-term projects. The toilet cleaning, the short-term, the medium-term—all this is a method that gives me the finances and experience to get my big ideas happening.

Blog Tyrant is actually a long term project of mine; it earns me no income at the moment, but I have something absolutely massive planning, which will be launched in a few months’ time. At that point, the blog will fall into my short-term group.

How to make it all happen

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Brian K YYZ

Sure, this approach sounds good, but how do you get it to work? How do you divide your time, and how do you manage all of the different problems that arise during the process?

Here are a few of my own suggestions but I would love to hear any advice that you might have — please leave a comment and let us hear your thoughts.

1. Focus on helping others, always.

The very first thing I want to mention is that you have to focus on helping others. This is both a marketing and an ethical concern.

Why is this important? Firstly, the products and websites that do the best are the ones that solve a need in a person’s life. I talked about this a lot in my article on how to make your blog addictive. Today a lot of products are created that don’t solve a need — instead, they create a new one. Forget it. Help people.

The second reason why this is important is because if it all fails you will have no regrets. And if it succeeds, you will spend your life helping people.

2. Take risks.

When you go to invest money in the stock market, the broker will say something like “the biggest returns come from the biggest risks”. At some point you have to decide whether or not you are a risk-taker. If you want to be making $100,000+ a year from the Internet, you’ll need to take some risks. You need to risk your time, maybe some of your savings, and definitely some of your sleep. But these risks should be managed and controlled — and well thought through. This isn’t like buying a lotto ticket: it’s like making an investment in the near future.

3. Stick to a routine.

Make a routine and stick to it. Don’t deviate from it at all — if you do, sooner or later the whole thing will fall in to a heap. Divide up your day or your week into the different categories. For example, I spend the weekends working on long-term projects, the mornings on medium-term projects, and the afternoons working on my short-term stuff. It works well. It works best when I stick to it.

4. Don’t give up early.

One of the biggest mistakes I’m guilty of is giving up before I’ve seen an idea through. For example, a few years ago I bought a whole bunch of domain names with the intention of creating a little group of product sites to dominate one particular niche. It didn’t pay off right away so I put less and less time in to it. Now, when I look back, I realize that these websites would be making a huge amount of consistent money without much work at all. The problem was that I didn’t keep my long-term motivation in check.

5. Use verticals.

A vertical is a product that you launch to compliment another product that you already have. A good example of this is the iPod, which makes Apple more money from iTunes, product cases, headphones, etc. If you can use your existing projects to help launch new products, you can cut out a lot of the hard work.

Conclusion

Your blog is not going to make you rich unless you diversify. Darren does it, Shoemoney does it, and my multimillionaire uncle does it. If you want to have longevity in any business, you need to make sure you’re diversifying your assets so that you’re not left high and dry if one of those income streams suddenly dries up.

If you have any stories about this approach, or advice on starting new businesses, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

The Blog Tyrant has sold several blogs for large sums of money and earns a living by relying solely on the internet. His blog is all about helping you dominate your blog and your blog’s niche and only includes strategies that he has tried on his own websites. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook or subscribe to his feed for all the juice.

Three Problems that Make Me Leave Your Blog in Three Seconds

This guest post is by the Blog Tyrant.

“Wow that’s an interesting looking title you’ve got there, I think I’ll check out that blog.”

That’s what I think. But three seconds later I’m gone, never to return again.

Despite racking your brains for amazing titles, composing literary marvels to dazzle your readers, and spending hours on your blog’s design, you still lost me. In this post I’m going to show you three serious problems that’ll make me leave your blog in three seconds (or less). Be very careful to fix these if they’re present on your site.

I need to open this post by reiterating a simple truth. It is a truth that applies to all businesses, not just blogs. And that truth is:

One loyal reader is worth thousands of one-time visitors

It’s true that one loyal reader (or customer) is worth more than thousands of one-time visitors. One loyal reader will do more for your blog than thousands of one-offs will.

Think about it for a second. Who is it that leaves comments, links to you on their own blogs, talks about you to their friends, Diggs and Stumbles your latest posts, and, eventually, buys whatever products you sell from your blog?

It’s the loyal guys. It isn’t the thousands of mindless drones who just sit there clicking Stumble, Stumble, Stumble, all day long and not interacting with the pages they land on. It’s your loyal readers. Sure, there are some exceptions like affiliate and product websites where you’re just sending super-targeted traffic to the landing page. But we’re talking about blogs, and on blogs, it’s the community that matters.

The three mistakes I’ll explain here will kill your chances of gaining loyal readers. Even if you answer readers’ questions and create content that will help enrich their lives, you are going to lose them if these silly little mistakes appear on your blog. If they do, fix them as soon as possible.

Three problems that make me leave your blog in three seconds

Let’s get into the bulk of the post and sort out these injuries that are crippling your blog. And as always, if you have others that I’ve missed, please leave a comment—your advice might help someone take their blog to the next level.

Problem 1: Lack of comments

One of the first things I do on a blog is check out how many comments there are. A lack of comments instantly turns me off, because I consider comments to be a good metric for determining how useful the articles are. If my initial scan turns up lots of “0 comments” notices, I almost always just close the window.

In my first ProBlogger guest post, on how to make your blog addictive, I talked about social proof and the fact that people need to see that other people are involved on a blog before they themselves get involved. Human beings really don’t like being first—it’s too scary.

How can you fix it?
How can you get more comments on your posts? I talked a little bit about that in my article on blog commenting, but here are a few extra ideas.

  • Change the default “0 comments” text.
    The first thing you should do is change that horrid default text that says “0 comments” to something more interesting and engaging. On Blog Tyrant posts where there are zero comments, the note reads, “Leave a comment, handsome.” That’s much more personal than “0 comments.” To change this text on your blog, just go to your Main Index Template file in your template editor, find the section called php comments_popup_link, and change the relevant areas. I also change the other text in that section, so instead of saying 5 Comments it says 5 Intelligent Opinions.
  • Ask for comments.
    The next thing you need to do is specifically ask for comments. Design your articles in such a way that they really encourage people to leave comments and share their thoughts. This has a lot to do with not answering all their questions in the post itself, but can also mean putting a question in the title or the first paragraph of your post. There is a danger here, however, as if you constantly ask for comments, and no one leaves any, you’ll start to look even more lonely.
  • Create a “buddy” group.
    This is something I used to do years and years ago, and it worked quite well. Find a group of blogs in your niche that don’t get many comments, and send them an email explaining that you’ll leave comments on their posts if they’ll do the same for you. It works really well.

If you’ve been blogging for a long time now, and you still aren’t getting many comments, it might be time to ask some hard questions. In my post on why blogging is a waste of time, I touched on the issue that many bloggers are afraid to ask: are you sure blogging is the best career path for you? Most of the time, however, you can fix a lack of comments with a few little changes here and there. But make sure you do, because “0 comments” looks horrid.

Problem 2: A butchered theme

The second thing that makes me leave your blog super-fast is when your template or theme is ugly, hard to navigate, and has been tweaked so much that it no longer works correctly. If I had a dollar for every time I visited a blog that had been tweaked to the point of looking terrible, I’d be as rich as Bill Gates. The reason I find this so offensive is because it shows that you don’t really care about your users’ experience.

Image credit: duerschi

One of the ways you can make it in the blogosphere is by appearing bigger than you are until you actually get there. And part of that is having a slick theme that functions perfectly for your readers. A lot of experts say that the content is the only thing that matters, but I personally think that’s garbage. I’m sure there are hundreds of excellent articles out there that I haven’t read because the site was too hard to get around, or too ugly to take seriously.

How can I fix it?
Because this issue of an ugly theme covers so many different areas of your blog, I want to offer a few broad suggestions that might help you.

  • Get a custom theme designed.
    The first thing that I’ll tell anyone who is going to take their blog to the next level is to get a custom theme designed for it. This is an amazing way to brand your blog and make it unique. However, I’m aware that it’s quite expensive and probably not an option for most beginner bloggers. If you fall into that category, move on to the next point.
  • At least get a logo designed.
    Big corporate logos that need to represent a brand can cost tens of thousands of dollars. We aren’t there yet. Go to Google and type in “cheap logos” and spend $30 to $100 getting a pretty simple logo made for your blog. It won’t change your world, but it will help your readers take you a bit more seriously.
  • Choose a simple, clean, and mostly white theme.
    The next option is to choose a theme that’s very simple, clean, and mostly white. Forget about black backgrounds and swirling colors everywhere, white is what people are used to reading on, and anything else is upsetting to the eyes. Your theme should be content-focused and really simple; don’t distract your readers with too much other than elements that are going to get them to subscribe or read more content.
  • Don’t edit it yourself unless you make it perfect.
    WordPress is fantastic because it lets you add plugins and edit the theme to add social media icons and other things to your blog. The problem is that people edit the template themselves and end up making it look like a pre-school painting. Unless you know how to make the spacing and graphics work well together, please don’t edit it. Go to Rent a Coder and hire someone with knowledge to do it for a few dollars.

Take the time to present your content in a beautiful and easily navigable way. Don’t clutter the eye, and definitely make sure any additions that you make to the design enhance your blog branding.  It is very important that you appear as professional as possible.

Problem 3: No original ideas

The last problem is probably the most serious, and unfortunately it’s the hardest one to solve. When a blog has nothing new to offer, readers can smell it a mile off. In fact, by a quick glance of the front page you can usually tell whether or not you are going to find something new on a blog. And if there’s nothing new to read, the window gets closed pretty fast.

Let’s be clear about something here. You don’t need to have some amazing new idea like Stuff White People Like. That whole concept is totally original and something that I’ve never seen before.

What you need to do is present your work in a different way from your competitors; you need to differentiate yourself from them. Go and have a look at your blog and ask yourself why a visitor would read your content over another blogger’s. Unless you can think of some solid reasons as to why your offering’s different, you aren’t going to retain me.

How do I fix it?
Fixing this problem can be hard if you didn’t start your blog with some original elements. That being said, there are some things you can to do differentiate yourself as you go along.

  • Find an angle.
    Everything you write about should have an angle. Even if you’re writing about a topic that has been done to death, you can still usually find a semi-unique angle to present it from. That angle needs to percolate through your blog and change the way you write titles, opening paragraphs, draw conclusions, and so on.
  • Brand yourself differently.
    Closely related to the angle idea is the idea of branding yourself differently. People usually think that branding is just having a different logo, but it’s so much more than that. It is how your blog is perceived by others and where it is positioned in the market. Take Subway as an example. This brand is positioned as the only healthy option in the fast food industry, and as a result it’s killing this market space. The branding is all centered around why Subway is a healthy choice and will help you lose weight. Make sure you brand your blog in a way that promotes your angle and helps readers to perceive you as different and valuable.
  • Find out what others aren’t doing.
    One way I find ideas for blog posts is to go to the major websites in my niche, look at their most popular posts, and see what they did—but also what they didn’t do. If you can identify something that’s missing, and tap into that, you’ll usually get people interested. This is even more likely if you realize that what the blogger has written about is incomplete or incorrect, and you can challenge them on it. I think one reason my blog post on selling a blog went to the front page of Delicious.com and got picked up by newspapers is because it didn’t hold anything back—a lot of the other articles out there seemed to not quite show you the whole process. That is now a theme on my blog: share everything.

There really aren’t any original ideas out there. People have been thinking for a very long time now, and chances are that if we think of something, someone else has already thought it. The task, then, is to present your ideas in an original way or make it seem like you are different from the next blog. Unless you can do that, people will have no reason to stay on your blog, or come back once they’ve left.

What do you think?

What makes you leave a blog super-fast? Is it the design? Is it the grammar mistakes? Or is it that you just feel like you’ve seen it all before?

The Blog Tyrant has sold several blogs for large sums of money and earns a living by relying solely on the Internet. His blog is all about helping you dominate your blog and your blog’s niche, and only includes strategies that he has tried on his own websites. Follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his feed for all the juice.

How to Make Everybody Happy

A Guest post by Stanford from Pushing Social. Image by superbomba.

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Your blog is like the popular kid at school.

It needs to look great, be funny, smart, and remember everybody’s name. It’s a tough job.

But the hardest part of the job is keeping everyone happy.

You are probably figuring out that your readers are not all cut from the same cloth. Although they may share a common interest, each has his or her own reason for visiting your blog. Some are casual readers, while others are hardcore fanatics that devour every word.

It’s easy to believe that every reader will be satisfied with your 300-700-word post. Not so. In fact, your standard post may only satisfy a fraction of your readers and leave the rest wondering, “Where’s the beef?”

If you want your blog to grow, get passed around, and inspire an engaged community, you’ll need to write content that makes everyone happy.

Wait, you can’t make everybody happy … right?

I know that blog readers — myself included — can be a fickle crowd. There’s a handful of blogs that I read daily and I have impossible standards. They need to write exactly the type of posts I like, publish them regularly, and never, ever, disappoint me. I’m a tyrant and so are your blog’s readers.

The problem is that you can’t write multiple types of posts every day to satisfy every reader.

But can you make all of your readers happy?

Crowd -> community -> core

Yes you can … by being smart about the content you produce and where you place that content.

It’s useful to think about your audience as overlapping circles of readers. At the center are the core readers. A little further out is your community of regular readers. Furthest out is the crowd, who occasionally visit. All together, these folks form the ecosystem for your blog.

Every day, people read your content and naturally settle into one of these circles. Your goal is to move the crowd to the core.

Let’s take a look at each group and some techniques for keeping them happy.

The core

These folks are dedicated to you. They visit your blog every day and are the first to comment, retweet, and mention your posts. You may even know these fans by name. Core readers are the first to sign up for email courses, pre-order products, and join your affiliate program.

Your goal as a “tribal leader” is to find and connect with your core as quickly as possible.

Core readers are disproportionately influential. Don’t be fooled by their small followings — their enthusiasm is infectious and they can rally a crowd through sheer persistence.

How to make core readers happy

Core readers hunger for more than your usual posts. They want to dive deeper into each of your posts and are starving for more detail. These folks have devoured your archive post and relate to you on a visceral level. You need to kick it up a notch to keep them satisfied. Here’s how to do it:

  • Go deep: Use email courses, private forums, and ebooks to give the core a deep dive into your content. My own Spectacular Posts email course is designed to give my core readers new information that I haven’t covered in a post. I don’t hold anything back because my core reader has an insatiable appetite for more information. So does yours.
  • Keep your eye on them: Create a list of your core readers in Twitter and bookmark their Facebook pages. Friend them, follow them, and regularly visit their blogs. Make sure they know that you are cheerleading for them.

The Community

Community readers are regular visitors to your blog. They are infrequent commenters but frequent retweeters. The community makes up the bulk of your blog’s traffic. They appreciate a consistent message and hate surprises.

How to make the community happy

  • Be reliable: Your community wants a steady supply of information that serves their needs. They share your goals and interests and want to hear more from you. Consistent posting encourages them to visit your blog often. Over time, you earn their trust and convince them that you have a resource worth sharing.
  • Use “edutainment”: Community readers plow through a lot of blogs every week. Dry, me-too posts are easily drowned out. To raise above the clutter, you need to combine entertaining and interesting viewpoints with your topic. These mashups can combine Lady Gaga and Blogging Tips or Ant Swarm Behavior and Project Management. This is guaranteed way to stand out in the RSS reader, and catch the eye of super-influencers too.
  • Be relevant: Community readers have a low tolerance for loosy-goosy, feel-good content that isn’t practical. They were attracted to your blog because you helped them solve a problem. They keep coming back because you are interesting and have a viewpoint that fits them like a glove. Don’t disappoint them. Keep an editorial calendar that continually delivers on-point content.

The Crowd

Outside of the community lies the crowd. Crowd readers are usually referred by another source. They are not regular readers and may only spend a few seconds on your blog. Your topic is likely to be complementary to the crowd reader’s main interest, but not a tight fit.

It’s tempting to dismiss the crowd since they aren’t your bread-and-butter readers. But smart bloggers work to satisfy the crowd because they bring fresh perspectives to the community. Your goal should be to turn the occasional crowd reader into a regular community or core reader.

How to make the crowd happy

  • Guest post: As you know, I’m a huge fan of guest posting as a way to reach readers that lurk outside your community. Guest posts allow other more influential blogger to vouch for you, giving you enough credibility to attract a larger audience. It’s not a mistake that many up-and-coming bloggers spend a large chunk of time guest posting to reach the crowd.
  • Build outposts: Outposts are social networking sites where you maintain a profile and special content. Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are popular outposts that represent online watercoolers for millions of users. Pick one outpost to start with, and invest some time to build a presence there. Link your outpost to your blog and regularly post content there. Over time, your outpost will get on the crowd’s radar screen and start escorting new readers to your blog.
  • Be a peacock Don’t be shy. Every once in a while, write a post that grabs attention. Your post can be provocative, epic, or piggy-back on a popular topic in the news. These “peacock posts” get noticed by influencers and passed along to their network. Even though it’s hard to tell if your post will be a barn burner, you can increase your chances by regularly writing them!

What do you think?

Can you make all of your readers happy? Which technique will you try first?

Stanford obsesses about how to get passionate people’s blogs noticed and promoted at Pushing Socialexcept when he’s fishing with his boys. Follow him to get the latest about his new ebook “Get Noticed.”

How to Make Your Blog Addictive Like World of Warcraft

A Guest Post by The Blog Tyrant

Self portrait in room listening to Orbital_remix_MMIX
Creative Commons License photo credit: andronicusmax

World of Warcraft has over 11 million subscribers paying monthly fees. It is one of the most addictive video games of all time. In fact, there are several websites devoted to just helping people quit the game. There is even a “detox center” in China that addicted kids are sent to. It is that bad. And while I don’t think these addictions are particularly funny, I do think we can learn a lot of valuable lessons from WoW that we can apply to our blogs. In this post I am going to show you how you can make your blog addictive just like World of Warcraft.

Unethical? Did they made it addictive on purpose?

A few months ago there was a TV show where a video game company was being sued over the death of a teenager who died as a result of being addicted to their game. During the case it was exposed that the company had hired psychiatrists to make the game play as addictive as possible and this addiction was the cause of the death. While the show never made any mention of names, a lot of people assumed it was based on WoW because there was a real life law suit on a similar matter. There had also been a lot of reports where medical experts said that the game was more addictive than cocaine. As to whether it was talking about WoW we don’t know and saying so would just be speculation.

As I have already said, I don’t think these addictions are funny. And if a company knows that their product is doing harm to kids and then continue to make it more and more enticing then I think some ethical questions have to be raised. The downside to any capitalist system is that the desire for profit often outweighs the side effects. And this is a shame.

I do not wish to celebrate the fact that some people are addicted to WoW, but I do think we can learn some valuable blogging lessons from their example. The reason I think it is okay to delve into these “tricks” is because I don’t think anyone will ever become addicted to a blog. And if you can grow your blog with these methods and then use it as a platform to help people I think that is a very good thing.

How to make your blog addictive like World of Warcraft

love wins
Creative Commons License photo credit: mangpages

Now that I have ranted about my ethical concerns we can get into the bulk of the post. I am going to go through a bunch of WoW features and then show you why they are so addictive and how you can apply that to your blog. As always, if you have any other ideas or thoughts please leave a comment and let us all know.

1. Appear popular

The first reason that WoW is so addictive actually starts before you even play the game. Before you even buy the CD. Every gamer you know has played Wow, all your friends are talking about it and you constantly hear about it in the media. This sets up the game in a very positive way because it makes you feel like you are missing out. When I heard that 11 million people were subscribed to the game I just had to take a look at what all the fuss was about.

This phenomena is called social proof and it is anything that shows someone that they aren’t the first to try out your service. People do not like to miss out on popular things but they also don’t want to be the first to try it. If you can appear popular you take away their concerns and set yourself up for success.

How you can apply it to your blog
There are quite a few ways you can apply these social proofs to your blog. Remember, you want to make people feel curious about all the other people involved but you also want to address their fears about being the first to try something. In order to do this you can try:

  • Showing recent comments
    Show your recent comments in your sidebar. This instantly tells people that there are other people interacting on your blog and that you have some level of popularity. Showing your recent comments is a wonderful idea as it also gets people involved in any discussions that you might be having.
  • Use Wibiya
    Wibya is a new toolbar that I am starting to see on a lot of the big blogs and websites, including Darren’s Digital Photography School. And yes, it is free. All you do is sign up for an account and then add some code to your site and you have this nifty new footer that shows everyone the number of people on your site, how to connect with social media, etc. It is a very useful way to make your blog appear less static and more dynamic.
  • Reference readers in posts
    When you are writing a post it is a good idea to give shout outs to people who visit your blog. For example, if some guy called Ben left a really good comment about something relevant to your latest post, why not give people a link to the discussion and mention his name in the article? This has the dual effect of showing that you get comments as well as increasing loyalty by being very personal and in touch with your readership.
  • Use subtle testimonials
    Everyone knows about testimonials on product websites but for some reason people don’t use them on blogs. A subtle and well placed testimonial can do wonders for making your blog more sticky. For example, in your About page you might want to have some dot points about your traffic, subscriber numbers or comment count. This has the effect of showing people that others are using your blog without plastering it all over your sidebar.

Appearing popular is important if you want people to feel like they need to be a part of the action. It is terrible when you arrive on a blog that looks lifeless and dead. On the other hand, when you arrive on a site that is awash with conversation and energy you just have to get into it. Be creative with your social proof.

2. Leverage people’s need to be in a group

Something very similar to point number one, and one of the most addictive things about World of Warcraft, is the fact that it leverages people’s need to feel a part of a group. This is a very primal and subtle psychological phenomena that all humans possess. We find partners, get married and have kids. We play team sports, join clubs and hang out in packs at school time. Humans need to feel part of a group.

When you play WoW you don’t play by yourself, you join groups of players from around the world and form guilds. Sometimes these guilds become very close and chat by email and IM and often log on at the same time each day to play together. This is an extremely powerful tool for making the game addictive, especially if the people have trouble making friends on the outside world. If you want to make your blog more addictive you have to leverage people’s need to be in a group.

How you can apply it to your blog
So how do you apply this to your own blog? How do you make people feel like they are special and a part of a group that wouldn’t function properly without them? Here are a few ideas:

  • Send emails
    When someone leaves a comment on your blog they usually leave their correct email which allows you to shoot them a message to thank them for commenting and let them know that you appreciate their input on your site. Now, there are plug ins that do this automatically but that is not what I am necessarily talking about. If someone leaves a great comment you might want to send a personal message thanking them for their expertise. Or if someone constantly leaves comments whenever you write you should thank them for the frequency. Make sure you reward the aspect of their behavior that you want them to continue.
  • Refer comments to other readers
    One of the first websites I ever sold was a fitness site that was mostly used by women. Over time I built up some very loyal readers and a lot of them were fitness experts, personal trainers and dietitians. If someone posted a question in the comments about a workout or diet plan I would occasionally send emails to the experts asking them to help them out. These experts then become frequent users of the comment section and always seemed willing to be a part of the action.
  • Name your team
    Something extremely subtle but extremely addicting is a team name. In the gaming world it is called a clan. Some clans are extremely hard to get in to and involve several “try out” phases. For example, in WoW you need to be at a certain level before even being eligible to join. Once you are in though you have brothers who look out for you in battle, give you hints, etc. It is just like high school! Giving your loyal readers, subscribers and commenters a clan name is an easy way to maximize the team spirit.

Make people feel like they are part of an exclusive group and you will have fans for life. Everyone needs to feel as if they have some sort of ownership in the blog, as if it might not be as good if they stopped visiting. This group mentality is an extremely strong tool for all online marketing.

3. Lure with the promise of rewards and new features

Why do people spend their entire lives playing Wow? Partly because the game is incredible, partly because the pollen outside gives me hay fever and partly because there is the ever enticing possibility of leveling up. Why is reaching the next level so amazing? Because you get to access new powers and weapons and challenge new bosses. You also get the bragging rights associated with being a level 80 as opposed to a pitiful 79.

Oh WoW
Creative Commons License photo credit: videocrab

Blizzard (the makers of WoW) constantly add new things to the game. They tweak the maps to make sure they are perfect, they change the damage of certain spells by minor margins to make the battles more interesting and they periodically release new updates that allow you to access new bosses, maps and, of course, levels. All of this keeps the game fresh and new and stops boredom setting in.

How to apply this to your blog
To make your blog feel super addictive you need to have a reason for people to come back. It has to be something that compels them to check back again and again and they have to feel like they might win or gain something new by doing so. Here are some ideas:

  • Have regular competitions
    Your blog should have regular (but not too regular) competitions that give away something useful. The prize could be won by leaving a certain amount of comments, subscribing to a feed or mentioning your blog on Twitter. Whatever your competition is it should be interesting. Something that gets people talking. Shoemoney and Overnight Prints did this extremely well once with his business card competition.
  • Have a long term but secret release
    One of the coolest thing Darren ever did on Problogger was build up a new feature that he was adding to the site. This created a lot of buzz as it wasn’t really something done before. Now the great thing about this was the way he did it; very subtly. First he acquired the domain name www.problogger.com which he previously didn’t own. We knew something was up. Then he dropped a few hints over the months. Finally he launched a new community on the address once everyone was seething with curiosity. Perfectly done. Try and have a long term reason for people to keep checking back on your site.
  • Plan your content and reveal it carefully
    We all know that you need compelling content to succeed but what a lot of people fail to do is release that content in a way that is interesting and alluring. WoW doesn’t just let you access all the maps and features at once. You’d be bored of it in a day. Rather, they slowly let you at it after you have earned it with interaction and game time (and subscription fees!). Try and think of your content in a similar way. An example we all know of is Darren’s 31 Days to Building a Better Blog.

Your content alone should be enough to get people to come back to your blog. But, if you add an extra incentive, some kind of nifty reward or new level, you are going to generate a lot of interest amongst those regulars out there. Without new levels, weapons and magic spells WoW would be dead and gone by now. So what are you adding to your blog in order to keep it exciting and new?

4. Create an alternative world for your readers

The real fans of WoW don’t see it as a game, they see it as an alternative world. A world in which they can perform magic, make friends, conquer towns and change. When playing World of Warcraft you get an almost identical physiological response to events that take place as if they had actually happened in real life. When you run into battle you get an adrenalin rush that makes your vision fuzzy and when you can’t solve a puzzle you get flooded with stress and frustration.

How to apply this to your blog – The ultimate way to make your blog addictive is to create an alternative world for your readers. A place where they can go and get away from the problems of their daily life and absorb themselves in a community of like-minded people. A place where they learn new things, feel more powerful than they really are and discover their inner potential.

  • Make it as interactive as possible – A blog should not just be a place where you read/write about something. That might have been the original intention behind their popularity but now they are so much more. If you want people to become addicted they need to be involved on every level. Let them suggest topics, ask questions in the comments and chat to you on Twitter and Facebook. Ask your readers for help and give them tasks to solve. The more interactive your blog is the more time people will want to spend there.
  • Make it beautiful and easy to use – Your blog’s design is so important because it has to sell your content. Read that carefully because I think a lot of people fail to grasp the idea. Your design sells your content. How many times have you left a blog because it was ugly or the font size was too small or the colors hurt your eyes? That could have been Shakespeare himself writing that blog and you wouldn’t have cared. Make sure your design is beautiful and your navigation is as simple as possible. The look and feel of your website should become like a second home to your readers.
  • Solve real world problems on your blog – One reason that people find it hard to leave WoW is because it solves some of their real world problems. The classic example is the kid who struggles to make friends in school but in Azeroth he commands an army. Your blog should always try to make people’s lives better. Your content should address issues in their life, even if only indirectly. But what if you run a product blog that only talks about antique cans or something equally as boring? Well make sure that you address concerns, give amazingly detailed responses and help people find the answers they seek. What do your readers want to feel and discover? What makes them happy? These are essential questions to know if you want to create an alternative world for your fans.

What do your readers want to feel and discover? What makes them happy? These are essential questions to know if you want to create an alternative world for your fans. And creating an alternative world is the best way to make your blog sticky.

Conclusion

This post could go on forever because World of Warcraft gets so many things right. In fact, it might have been quicker to just write about what they do wrong! In any event, if you give people rewards, help solve their real life problems and make them feel part of a group you are part of the way there. Perhaps most importantly, however, you should do as Blizzard does and constantly add new features, content and always be testing for ways to improve and grow. Now go outside for a while.

About the Author

The Blog Tyrant has sold several blogs for large sums of money and earns a living by relying soley on the internet. His Blog is all about helping you dominate your blog and your blog’s niche and only includes strategies that he has tried on his own websites. Follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his feed for all the juice.

Instant Blogging Karma: Lennon Was Right

a guest post from Larry Brooks as Storyfix.com

Instant karma’s gonna get you…

To be honest, I never really liked that song. The melody and cadence always gave me a headache, which is probably why I never really paid much attention to the lyrics.

Until recently. Perhaps it was no coincidence that it suddenly blasted through my stereo as I was working on a blog post the other day.

And it made me realize how much information is available if we’ll only pay attention.

… gonna knock you right on the head…

If instant karma’s gonna get me – and if you don’t recognize that paraphrased lyric, or the song title, or if your first thought is that Lennon was the name of a Soviet tyrant, then you’re too young to worry about karma anyhow – then I may be in trouble.

In my efforts to become an online entrepreneur, perhaps I’d violated a key principle of the physics of human relationships. What some people call karma.

… better get yourself together, some day you’re gonna be dead…

But I do understand the principle, now more than ever. As a blogger, I’ve experienced the rebound effect of getting as good as you give.

In fact, in my brief experience online, I’d say it’s the most powerful principle available to anyone looking to upgrade and grow their blog.

… why on earth are you there, when you’re everywhere…

From the outset I blindly followed the best advice I’ve ever heard: give away all the content and value that you can. Give it away freely, with a clear head and a kind heart, expecting nothing at all in return.

This is a business model that would make your economics professor roll over in his retirement home bed.

And it first, that’s what it got me – nothing at all.

But soon or later it kicks in. It works. In fact, it fuels everything. From daily site visits to subscribers and – here’s the punchline – to product sales.

… how in the world you gonna see, laughin’ at fools like me…

When I published my first ebook last summer, I applied this principle to setting a price for it. My web guru suggested I charge $29.95. It was a 100 page ebook, about half the size of a bound book you can hold in your hands, and this price was more than three times what you’d pay for it as a paperback.

Instant karma was gnashing its teeth at me even thinking about it.

… who in the world you think you are, a superstar?

So I priced the ebook at $9.95.

The orders flowed in, and more than one buyer commented on the great price. After hundreds of copies sold, not a single buyer took me up on my money-back guarantee. (Until, to be honest, six months later… that, too, is part of the physics of human relationships.)

In fact, one reader sent me $50 with a note that explained the overage was a thank you for all the great content I’d been supplying since the launch of the site.

… instant karma’s gonna get you, knock you right off your feet…

Recently I offered a two-for-one offer on two of my other ebooks, which are much longer and sell for the whopping sum of $14.95. Nearly 200 orders poured in over the next three days.

So here’s what I’d tell anyone who asks me how and why my ebooks are selling and my blog is growing as it is: respond to anyone and everyone who takes the time to comment on your site. Make gracious and value-adding comments on the sites of others who blog in your chosen space. Send a thank you note to everyone who buys your ebook or product. Not a template, send a personal message.

Be more than a part of the community, be a voice within it.

And trust the process. Allow the power of time and karma to work its magic.

… come and get your share…

Blog with faith. Blog with passion. Blog with hope and vision.

But most of all, blog with the intention of giving it all away. It’ll come back to you in spades.

… we all shine on…

Larry Brooks is the guy behind Storyfix.com, an instructional resource for writers of fiction and those who love them. He has three ebooks available through his site, his new novel is just out, and Writers Digest is publishing his book on “Story Engineering” early next year. And, with all due respect to the song writer, he prefers the U-2 version of Instant Karma over Lennon’s.