ProBlogger https://problogger.com Blog Tips to Help You Make Money Blogging Thu, 16 Sep 2021 12:17:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.1 https://i2.wp.com/problogger.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/cropped-PBFavicon-1.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 ProBlogger https://problogger.com 32 32 The ProBlogger Podcast is designed to help you build a better blog. With a mix of teaching, case studies and actionable challenges Darren Rowse will teach you to create compelling content, find readers for your blog, deepen the engagement you have with those readers and to make money through a variety of income streams so that you can sustain your blogging. Darren has been been blogging since 2002 and making a full time living from his blogs for over a decade. His blogs Digital-Photography-School.com and ProBlogger.com are read by over 5 million readers per month. If you’re looking to take your blogs to the next level and make money online - this is the podcast for you. Darren Rowse clean episodic Darren Rowse darren@problogger.net darren@problogger.net (Darren Rowse) Copyright © 2020 Problogger.com · All Rights Reserved Blog Tips to Help You Make Money Blogging ProBlogger https://problogger.com/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/problogger_podcast-891.jpg https://problogger.com TV-G How to Avoid The Danger of Becoming a Self-Centered Blogger https://problogger.com/becoming-a-self-centered-blogger-how-to-let-your-blog-go-3/ https://problogger.com/becoming-a-self-centered-blogger-how-to-let-your-blog-go-3/#comments Thu, 16 Sep 2021 12:16:25 +0000 https://problogger.com/becoming-a-self-centered-blogger-how-to-let-your-blog-go-3/ The post How to Avoid The Danger of Becoming a Self-Centered Blogger appeared first on ProBlogger.

Updated post first published Jun 19, 2008  Letting Your Blog Go #3 Another way that some bloggers let their blogs go is to let their blog become more about them and their own needs and less about the needs of their readers. A blog will only ever be successful if ...more

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How to Avoid The Danger of Becoming a Self-Centered Blogger

Photo by Andrew Draper on Unsplash

Updated post first published Jun 19, 2008 

Letting Your Blog Go #3

Another way that some bloggers let their blogs go is to let their blog become more about them and their own needs and less about the needs of their readers.

A blog will only ever be successful if it fulfills a need for readers in some way. This need might be for information, tips, inspiration, entertainment, community etc.

Problem:

I’ve seen a number of blogs over the years rise to popularity only to fall in a heap when the blogger took their readers for granted.

This can happy in many ways:

  • bloggers whose posts become stuffed with affiliate programs/paid reviews
  • bloggers who become too big for their boots (arrogance)
  • bloggers who just promote their own work and don’t acknowledge their readers or other blogs in their niche

Let me say that I understand how easy it is to let your blog slip in this area. Sometimes the temptation to make your blog self serving rather than reader serving is great – however you need to keep the balance right (and it is a balancing act because a blog needs to serve you too).

Solution:

The solution is to know your readers and why they come to your blog and to work towards being a useful blog that fulfills their needs.

Tips for Having a Blog that Serves You AND Your Reader:

Every now and again it is worth doing an audit or review of your blog in numerous areas. One of these should be around how useful your blog is and how much you focus upon your readers. So do a review in this area by asking some of the following questions:

  • How many of my posts have practically helped people lately?
  • What percentage of my posts contain affiliate links or paid reviews?
  • Have I heard any recurring reader complaints lately?
  • How much reader interaction do I have (in email and comments)?
  • Do I answer reader questions?
  • What have I given to my readers?

If you are out of balance with your blogging here are a few suggestions that I’d make to right things (based upon previous posts here at ProBlogger):

Ultimately, when you find that your blog is starting to serve you more than readers its about refocussing your blog. Draw a line in the sand today and make it the start to a more useful experience for your readers.

Remember – it’s about Balance

Do keep in mind that for a blog to be sustainable in the long term it can’t be ALL about your readers. Yes they need to be front and center in your mind – but YOU need to get something out of your blog too. This might simply be personal satisfaction, building your profile, earning some money or something else – but unless you gain something from it you’re likely to burn out from your blog.

Get the balance right and you’ll be well positioned to have a blog that not only helps do something for you but that helps others along the way.

Further resources:

In the ProBlogger PLUS FREE Member’s Library we’ve got a downloadable worksheet for you on “How to Make an Impact With Your Blog”. If you’re already a member, just sign in to download. If you’re not a ProBlogger PLUS Member, it’s free to join.

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Tips To Help Your Blog Stay ‘On Topic’ https://problogger.com/getting-off-topic-how-to-let-your-blog-go-2/ https://problogger.com/getting-off-topic-how-to-let-your-blog-go-2/#comments Thu, 09 Sep 2021 11:03:52 +0000 https://problogger.com/getting-off-topic-how-to-let-your-blog-go-2/ The post Tips To Help Your Blog Stay ‘On Topic’ appeared first on ProBlogger.

Updated post first published Jun 18, 2008 Letting Your Blog Go #2 One way that I see some bloggers ‘letting their blog go‘ is to become distracted and move off topic more and more. When I asked readers why they unsubscribed from a blog’s RSS feed they told me that ...more

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Tips To Help Your Blog Stay ‘On Topic’

Photo by Regis F on Unsplash

Updated post first published Jun 18, 2008

Letting Your Blog Go #2

One way that I see some bloggers ‘letting their blog go‘ is to become distracted and move off topic more and more. When I asked readers why they unsubscribed from a blog’s RSS feed they told me that the forth highest reason was when blogs change focus or go off topic.

Problem:

There’s nothing wrong with a personal blog that covers many aspects of your life – but IF you’ve decided to start a blog with a niche focus that sets out to cover a particular topic – it can be quite frustrating for readers to suddenly be hearing about other aspects of your life in every second post.

The problem isn’t that you post about a wide array of topics – but instead it’s about setting up reader expectations that you’re going to talk about one thing and then that you go off topic and keep talking about other things.

This can happen for numerous reasons.

  • For some it’s just that you get sick of writing on your chosen topic
  • for others you run out of things to say on that topic while other interests come up
  • for others it is tempting to write off topic content because it might bring in more traffic or make you more money (eg I saw one blog recently that was on business start writing about Britney Spears in every second post because they saw it as a fast way to get traffic).

Solution:

The ‘solution’ really is to identify what you want to write about, to name it so your readers know what to expect and then to stick to that topic.

Tips To Help Your Blog Stay ‘On Topic’:

Implementing this solution can be more challenging than it sounds of course – but here are a few thoughts that come to mind on how to do it:

Define Your Niche

It’s pretty hard to stay on topic if you don’t know what your topic is. I’m presuming that most ProBlogger readers have already done this stage so I won’t go over how to do it again (if you havn’t yet chosen a niche check out my post on choosing niche topics for your blog).

Redefine Your Niche

Most blogs start out targeting one niche and then at some point in their life need to make adjustments to it. This is perfectly natural as blogs are quite evolutionary. It may be that you need to change niches completely – but in most cases this will involve simply broadening or narrowing your focus.

Some bloggers make the mistake of starting out with a niche that is so broad that they can’t keep up with it without burning out – in these cases I’d advise focusing down on one aspect of the topic. Some bloggers choose a niche that is so narrow that they can’t find enough to say on the topic – these bloggers need to broaden their focus.

Occasionally I’ve seen bloggers successfully completely change their blog’s topic from one niche to another. This is possible – but if you have an established readership it’s going to mean you need to manage the process as readers can become very loyal to a blog and it’s focus.

Communicate and Manage any Changes

Making adjustments to the focus of your blog is fine – however some bloggers get into trouble with it in communicating it to their readers. It’s amazing how much ownership a blog reader takes over a blog.

Readers invest time into reading a blog and participating in the conversations that go on in it – as a result when you make a change in something as fundamental as the topic of your blog they can find that process challenging and push back. If you are making a change you might like to:

  • involve readers in the process (ask for their feedback and suggestions)
  • share reasons for changes that you are making
  • ask for their involvement in the transition (people are more likely to accept a change that they are actively participating in)

Going Off Topic

Once you have a niche defined you then need to make some decisions about if, when and how you will ever go ‘off topic’.

Thinking about this before you do will help you to know if you’re doing it too much. Some might say you should never go off topic – but I think there are ways to do it that can add something to your blog. The question I always try to ask though is ‘does publishing this post add or take value from my blog’.

Going off topic can help to show a different side of you, draw new readers to your blog, add interest to a blog and more… but it can also prove to be a distraction and the difference between people perceiving you as an expert in your field or not.

Have Your Say

Do you go off topic on your blog? What have you learned about how and when to do it? How tight is your niche? Do you mind when other blogs go off topic?

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9 Tips to Help you Post More Frequently On Your Blog https://problogger.com/lack-of-posting-how-to-let-your-blog-go-1/ https://problogger.com/lack-of-posting-how-to-let-your-blog-go-1/#comments Thu, 02 Sep 2021 13:01:49 +0000 https://problogger.com/lack-of-posting-how-to-let-your-blog-go-1/ The post 9 Tips to Help you Post More Frequently On Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

Updated post first published Jun 17, 2008  Letting Your Blog Go #1 Problem: Perhaps the fastest way to let your blog go is to stop posting to it. It can happen for many reasons whether it be your life getting busy, suffering from a bout of bloggers block or becoming ...more

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9 Tips to Help you Post  More Frequently On Your Blog

Photo by Juli Moreira on Unsplash

Updated post first published Jun 17, 2008 

Letting Your Blog Go #1

Problem:

Perhaps the fastest way to let your blog go is to stop posting to it. It can happen for many reasons whether it be your life getting busy, suffering from a bout of bloggers block or becoming distracted by another project.

Most bloggers go through one or all of these issues at one point or another and as a result posting frequency can drop, if not stall completely.

Solution:

The solution is pretty obvious – if you want a vibrant blog – you do need to post to it.

While your archives might contain a lot of great content and people will find them via search engines – if you’re wanting to grow your blog you will only be able to do that if you add fresh content on a regular basis.

I know it’s not easy – all successful bloggers go through patches where it’s challenging to keep things rolling – however if you put your mind to it you can definitely get things back on track. It is never too late to get your blog rolling again!

9 Tips to Get Posting Frequency Higher On Your Blog:

1. Set Goals and Deadlines – If you’ve let your blog go through lack of posting – set yourself some goals this week to pull yourself out of your rut. Don’t be too ambitious – but set yourself some achievable goals to get yourself going again. Perhaps your goal will be simply to post once this next week. The week after ramp it up to twice, the week after aim for three times….

2. Try Something New – one of the tactics that I find most helpful in getting my posting frequency back up is to try something new on my blog. Whether it be tackling a topic I’ve not looked at before, starting some kind of project or competition, starting a series of posts or writing in a different style or voice – sometimes doing something ‘new’ can not only give you energy but your readers also.

3. If you’re suffering from Bloggers Block – I’ve written a series of posts on how to battle bloggers block and have compiled it all into one page here. One of the tips in that series is to try a new blogging environment. I regularly get out of the house to do some blogging (cafes are my favorite place) but really any change can be helpful. If you’re not able to actually take your computer out of the house (you don’t have a laptop) then grab a notebook and head out with that to brainstorm topics, write or do some planning of your blog.

4. If you’re simply feeling apathy towards Blogging – I’ve written a post on Declaring War on Blogger Apathy which has a few practical suggestions on how to get through that challenge. One thing that I mention in that post is to try writing shorter posts. I find that sometimes I get quite uninspired if I set myself the task to write a long post. It all can seem a little overwhelming and a little too much like hard work. So why not break down the topic into something more bite sized? I find that when I do this I can get a post written quite quickly and also find that readers sometimes appreciate something a little more focused and able to be read quickly.

5. Develop a Points System – Last year I posted about a points system that one blogger developed to keep their blogging moving along. While it might not be perfect for you – I like the idea of it and it can easily be adapted to suit your situation.

6. Set Rewards – some people respond well to rewards and incentives (I know I do). Once you’ve set some goals or made your points system – set yourself a few rewards that you’ll give yourself when you reach certain milestones.

7. Find a Blog Buddy – I mention in a couple of the links above about how I find it motivating to work with another person in my blogging. Share your goals with another blogger (or non blogger if you want) and ask them to keep you accountable to them. If you’re looking for a blog buddy you might even like to ‘advertise’ for one in the comments below this post. Pair up with another ProBlogger reader for a week or two and see what you could achieve together.

8. Repurpose Something from Your Daily Life as a Post – a few weeks ago I shared how one great way to come up with new content is to look at something you already do in your daily life and work out how to capture it and repurpose it as a post. Video yourself doing something, record a conversation, use an email interaction etc. So many things that you do each day are potential content for your blog – the key is to be aware of them and find a way to collect and use them.

9. Start Blogging

OK – I could talk about how to get yourself going for paragraphs and paragraphs – but in doing so I’m probably just distracting you from the task at hand. So now it’s time to go and do it. Step away from the distractions that might be stopping you from blogging and go and do it. Go on – I know you can!!!

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How Inspiring Your Readers Drives them to Search for Information (and Interact) https://problogger.com/how-inspiring-your-readers-drives-them-to-search-for-information-and-interact/ https://problogger.com/how-inspiring-your-readers-drives-them-to-search-for-information-and-interact/#comments Wed, 25 Aug 2021 14:08:14 +0000 https://problogger.com/?p=22847 The post How Inspiring Your Readers Drives them to Search for Information (and Interact) appeared first on ProBlogger.

One of my mantras that I’ve shared many times when speaking, and here in posts on ProBlogger, is to build blogs that: Inspire Inform Interact My experience is that a blog can really come alive when you not only provide readers with information, but also give them inspiration and a ...more

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How Inspiring Your Readers Drives them to Search for Information (and Interact)

Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash

One of my mantras that I’ve shared many times when speaking, and here in posts on ProBlogger, is to build blogs that:

  • Inspire

  • Inform

  • Interact

My experience is that a blog can really come alive when you not only provide readers with information, but also give them inspiration and a place to interact with one another.

One of the first times I discovered the secret of inspirational content was on Digital Photography School (my main blog) when I started posting image collections of great images that I’d found on Flickr.

Up until this time, most of the posts on dPS would have fitted into the “informational” category of posts—they were largely tutorials and how-to type content.

These new inspirational image collection posts were simply collections of images on a theme, with little written content.

For example, here’s one of the early ones—7 Clone Shots. At the time, thise was widely linked to around the web and rose to the front pages of social bookmarking sites like Digg.

These inspirational image posts really resonated with readers, and were the kind of content people wanted to share. They drove large amounts of traffic, so I built them into dPS’s regular posting schedule.

Inspiration leads people to search for information

After a while, I discovered that besides the traffic that they drove to the site these inspiration posts had another impact: they drove people to our “information” posts.

I noticed this one day after posting an image collection of 15 Long Exposure Images. Not only did the post attract a lot of traffic, but I noticed another post on our site was also getting quite a bit of traffic that day—a post I’d written a year earlier called How to Shoot Light Trails.

This second post was not linked to from the image collection post. What I discovered was that people arriving on that post were so inspired by the images in the image collection that they were using our search tool t find information on shooting long exposures—that’s how they were finding the earlier post.

What was happening here was something I’ve seen repeated many times since—people’s inspiration was driving them to seek information.

I also realised that there were other relevant tutorials in our archives that readers inspired by that image collection might find useful, so I updated the image collection post with further relevant reading (as you can see in the screen shot below).

inspiration-information.png

I tracked the flow on to these information posts over the coming days and saw a significant clickthrough rate to these articles.

I also noticed quite a few extra subscribers to the site that week—I guess the combination of inspiration and information hit the mark.

These days I still use this same technique (in fact we’ve done these image collections many times (here are just a few more examples). Just last week I published 27 Great Panning Images [and How to Take Them].

panning-collection.png

You’ll notice in the screen shot above that I started the post with an image and then introduced the topic and included links to two previous panning tutorials. I then have a section at the bottom of the post which mentions the further reading tutorials again.

Once again, this week I can see a heightened level of activity on those older tutorials as a result of those links.

Here’s a chart showing the traffic to the Mastering Panning article mentioned in the image collection:

panning.png

That post (which was published back in 2009) usually gets 150-200 visitors a day, but this week, after I linked to it from our image collection, more than 7000 visitors viewed it in one day. The other post mentioned in the image collection saw a similar spike in traffic.

Inspiration and information leads people to interaction

The last part of this journey of discovery has been to complete the “inspire, inform, and interact” mantra. In the past few months I’d started to follow up each of these inspiration image collections with a post a few days later that invites readers to interact around that topic by doing some homework.

We run these “challenge” posts every weekend to get our readers interacting with us, but I hadn’t not previously made the collections tie in with these interactive posts.

Here’s an example of how I recently tied them together.information-inspiration-interaction.png

  1. First I led off with an image collection—25 Dreamy Images Shot Wide Open (featuring some beautiful images shot with wide open apertures).
  2. This image collection linked to information posts on the topic of Aperture, as well as other relevant tutorials.
  3. A few days later, I ran a ‘Wide Open’ Photography Challenge. This challenge linked back to the image collection as well as the tutorials (and also included a few more inspirational images as examples).

The take-up of our photography challenge that weekend was up on normal figures and it drove a heap of traffic backwards and forth around the site to the image collection and tutorials.

It also seemed to create momentum as the topic built over the week. I had a number of readers indicate that by seeing the inspirational images, reading the tutorials, and then being given an assignment to go away and do, they found themselves really driven to take what they were learning and implement it.

How could something like this work on your blog? Do you inspire, inform, and interact with your readers? I’m intrigued to hear if you use a similar strategy.

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Create a Resources Page to Grow Your Traffic and Income https://problogger.com/create-a-resources-page/ https://problogger.com/create-a-resources-page/#respond Thu, 19 Aug 2021 12:00:00 +0000 https://problogger.com/?p=1058265 The post Create a Resources Page to Grow Your Traffic and Income appeared first on ProBlogger.

  This post is based on episode 74 of the ProBlogger podcast. How many useful resources have you talked about in your blog posts over the years? Chances are you’ve mentioned dozens of them – tools, books, articles, websites, and so on. So wouldn’t it be nice if your readers ...more

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Create a resources page to grow your traffic and income

This post is based on episode 74 of the ProBlogger podcast.

How many useful resources have you talked about in your blog posts over the years? Chances are you’ve mentioned dozens of them – tools, books, articles, websites, and so on.

So wouldn’t it be nice if your readers could find links to them all on one page instead of having to trawl through your archives to find them?

Well, that’s what I’ll be talking about this week – creating a resources page for your blog.

The anatomy of a resources page

I first created the resources page on ProBlogger back in 2008 to serve my readers and answer questions they often asked, such as:

  • “What hosting should I use?”
  • “What domain service is the best?”
  • “What blogging platform is best?”
  • “What tools should I be using on my blog?”
  • “What are the best services to start monetizing my blog?”

It was pretty easy to set up. It’s just a standard WordPress page with links to all the tools and services I recommend. Since then I’ve broken them up into different categories, and included a bit of a spiel about each one.

I’ve also added links to articles that are related to certain sections such as Choosing a Blog Platform, How to Start a Blog and How I Make Money Blogging.

Why I created it

As I said earlier, I created the resources page to serve my readers and answer their questions. Adding a link to it in my navigation area reduced the number of emails I was getting significantly. And when I did get an email about something I’d included on the resource page, I could just send them a “You might find this page useful” message as a reply.

But that wasn’t all it did for me.

Some of the links are affiliate links, and over the years I’ve earned a nice income from that page. Some bloggers have even told me their resources page is the main source of income on their blog. Just keep in mind that if you have too many affiliate links then your readers might think you’ve created it for yourself rather than for them. (I’ll talk more about this soon.)

It also ranks quite well for ‘blogging resources’ in search engines, and so brings in quite a bit of traffic. It’s also something that does really well on social media when I share it.

An embarrassing story

My resources page has served me well over the years. But there was a time when it was probably doing me more harm than good.

After creating the page and adding all the links, I didn’t touch it again for six years. And so when I finally decided to update it, I found a lot of the links were broken. In some cases the tools and services didn’t exist anymore, while in others they’d been taken over by dubious operators.

I also had links to sites I no longer recommend.

So when you create your own resources page, make sure you check it regularly to make sure you’re linking to the right content.

How to create your own resources page

Ideally your resources page should be quite comprehensive so it’s as useful as possible to your readers. But you don’t have to wait until you have pages of links before you create it. When I finally got around to updating mine, I added new resources every week or so for a year.

And before you say, “I can’t create a resources page because I don’t use any tools,” there are plenty of other resources you can list, such as:

  • services you recommend
  • learning resources you’ve used
  • books and ebooks you like
  • training courses you’ve taken
  • other blogs you find useful
  • forums you visit frequently.

And if you’ve created any opt-in incentives, you could add links to those as well.

About those affiliate links

While it’s nice to earn a bit of cash from your resources page through affiliate links, I suggest using them sparingly. Your recommendations should be genuine, useful, and comprehensive – not just those linked to an affiliate program of some sort.

And as I said earlier, your readers will also appreciate the fact you’ve created it to help them rather than just to earn some money.

If you do have affiliate links in your resources page, you should make that clear. For example, here’s what I have on my own resources page:

Note: Many of the links on this page are affiliate links, and will earn ProBlogger a small commission if you sign up to the services. This adds no cost to you but helps keep ProBlogger sustainable. It’s also worth noting that almost all resources mentioned on this page are resources that I’m a signed up, paid up and regular user of.

Most of my readers are okay with that, especially when I mention that I pay for and use many of the products I recommend.

Rather than having just a bunch of recommendations, I suggest telling your readers why you recommend each one. It doesn’t need to be an essay. All you need is a short sentence about why you recommend it, who it might be relevant for, and how you found it useful.

You may even want to approach some of the companies you’re linking to and ask if they can put a deal together for your readers. That way your readers can get not just the product you recommend but also a discount or some sort of a bonus.

Time to spread the word

Once you’ve created your resources page and added some useful content, it’s time to tell everyone it’s there.

Start by linking to it from as many areas on your blog as you can. Add it to your navigation area, your menu, your sidebar, and anywhere else that’s prominent.

You might also want to add it as a call to action at the bottom of your blog posts (e.g. just above your comments section).

Think about what you should call it. Do you think anyone looking for your content would type ‘resources page’ into Google? Perhaps ‘Tools and services’ might be a better title, especially if they’re mostly what you’re linking to.

While your resources page will be mostly text, that doesn’t mean it needs to be boring. Try to think of what images you could add to make it more appealing. Perhaps you could add smalls screenshot of the tools, or covers of the books you recommend.

And finally, make sure you keep it up to date. Believe me, you don’t want it to become outdated. Set up an alert to check it every month or so. You could even add it to your editorial calendar so you don’t forget.

Over to you

I hope I’ve convinced you that creating a resources page for your blog is a good idea. And if you’ve got one already, I hope I’ve convinced you that waiting six years to update it is a very bad idea.

Let us know about your resources page – what it’s called, what’s on it, and how it’s doing in terms of visitors and traffic.

 

Photo by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash

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Optimize Your Social Media For More Traffic and Engagement https://problogger.com/optimize-your-social-media/ https://problogger.com/optimize-your-social-media/#respond Thu, 12 Aug 2021 12:00:00 +0000 https://problogger.com/?p=1057922 The post Optimize Your Social Media For More Traffic and Engagement appeared first on ProBlogger.

This post is based on episode 73 of the ProBlogger podcast. For the past month or so I’ve been talking a lot about email lists – how to grow them, incentives you can use to grow them, and even how to take advantage of them through autoresponders. But this week ...more

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Optimize your social media for more traffic and engagement

This post is based on episode 73 of the ProBlogger podcast.

For the past month or so I’ve been talking a lot about email lists – how to grow them, incentives you can use to grow them, and even how to take advantage of them through autoresponders.

But this week I want to talk about social media, and how you can use it to get even more traffic and engagement on your blog.

The power of social media

As I keep saying, email is still the best way to connect with your readers. But if you’ve set up your email list and are sending out newsletters regularly, it’s worth turning your attention to social media. It’s a great secondary point of connection, and can help you drive traffic to your blog and connect with your readers even more. (It also helps you connect with those readers who aren’t interested in email.)

But the social media space is constantly changing – not just in the platforms available but also in the way they work. I’m sure Facebook changes its algorithms whenever the wind changes direction. And unless you’re getting results, taking the time to create and publish social media can feel like a complete waste of time.

So it’s worth taking a look at how you’re using social and what you might need to change. Even if your results don’t change, you might find a way to create and publish your posts more quickly. And as we all know, time is one of most precious resources.

A change in direction

Back in 2014 I looked at how I was using social media and realized I needed to make some changes, particularly with my ProBlogger accounts.

For a start, they were quite boring to look at. Back then the bulk of my tweets were about new jobs on our job board and the latest posts on the site. And I didn’t include visuals with any of them.

Another other problem was that I really wasn’t offering much to my followers. Most of my posts were focused on selling. There were no links to evergreen content. I wasn’t promoting my new content very well either, and I was posting quite sporadically.

A big reason for all of this is that I was spending a lot of time managing the social media accounts for Digital Photography School (my main blog). I didn’t have any systems or routines in place to feed any of my accounts, and so it came down to how much time I had and where I spent it.

And even if I could spend 10 or 15 minutes creating a visual to go with my post, it seemed like a waste of time. In a matter of minutes my post would disappear, never to be seen again.

But by the following year I’d completely changed my approach to social media. And based on the feedback I started getting from my readers and followers, I was getting the results I was hoping for. People would come up to me at conferences and say, “Hey, I’ve noticed something’s different about ProBlogger. It seems more professional. It seems like you’re doing more stuff.”

So what changed? Well, a lot. But rather than list everything I did in that 12 months, I’m going to give you four questions that I want you answer.

Why? Because answering these questions will give you a framework for auditing your social media – no matter what platform you’re using.

1. Where are my readers?

Do any of your readers hang out on social media? If so, where do they hang out?

There’s no point in hanging out on Twitter if all your readers prefer using Facebook. Yes, you might be able to attract new readers there. But you won’t be able to provide your current readers with any real value, because none of them will see your posts.

So find out what social media platforms they use, and whether they prefer one over the others.

How? By asking.

Whenever you chat with a reader, ask what social media platforms they use. Add the question to your newsletter. Include a question like “What social networks are you using?” in your next survey. You could even ask other bloggers in your niche what social media platforms they tend to focus on.

For platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn, you might want to go a little deeper. Are there any particular groups they like hanging out in? And how do they feel about live streaming? Some of your readers might prefer to sit back and listen rather than having to read.

Which brings me to my next question…

2. What type of content do my readers respond to?

Take a look at the posts that got lots or shares, retweets, comments, etc. Do they have anything in common – images, video, quotes, links – that your readers seem to prefer?

When I analyzed my ProBlogger, I found my readers responded very positively to visual content. On our Twitter account, any tweet with a nice graphic or image got retweeted and shared five times as much as text-only content. And it was the same on our Facebook page.

Live content also seemed to have a big impact on our readers. While those Twitter chats, Facebook Lives and webinars weren’t shared a lot, the readers who joined me in those interactions became incredibly engaged. So much so that they became advocates for the blog.

On Twitter, I found that any posts where I shared the slides from a talk I was giving did really well. These scored on two fronts – they were visual, and included good information.

So take a look at the kind of content you (and others in your niche) get good responses from, and use it to help you decide what to post in future.

3. How often (and at what times) do I want to post?

To answer this question you’ll need to take a few things into account:

  • the platforms you use
  • how many social media accounts you have on each one
  • how much time you can spend engaging on them
  • how much content your readers want.

With these in mind, create a calendar and start mapping out when you want to share content on each platform. Do you want to tweet five times a day? Ten? Fifty? It’s totally up to you. And while you may not need (or even want) to post on Facebook 50 times a day, you should come up with a number that you’re happy with.

Once you’ve decided how many times you’ll post each week, and slotted the times into your calendar, it’s time to think about what you’ll be posting. And this is where your answers to the second question will come in handy, because you can start slotting the types of content that readers like. You might decide to post a quote each morning to get people thinking, and perhaps something funny on Friday afternoons to get them ready for the weekend. On Sundays you might share links to longer content so they read it while sipping a cup of coffee.

Of course, the more content you want to post, the more work it’s going to take. Which is why you need to ask yourself one more question.

4. What’s the most efficient way to post my content?

If you’re just starting out on social media, you might be able to get by with creating all your posts manually. But as your blog becomes more popular, and your readership grows, you may find it more and more difficult to find the time.

So what can you do?

One option is to outsource the work to someone else. Tell them what you want to post, and the content you want to link to, and have them create and publish the posts. This can be a great option if you know what visuals you want, but don’t have the skills to create them yourself.

However, you may need to do a trial run before handing your social media posts over to someone else. If your is heavily tied to you (as ProBlogger is to me), then you need someone who can write posts in the same voice you use for everything else.

Another option is to take advantage of some of the tools that are available. We use CoSchedule – an editorial calendar that has some amazing tools for scheduling social media posts. Whenever we publish a new post on ProBlogger we also schedule five Twitter posts and four Facebook posts to go out at various times over four weeks.

Final thoughts

Before I wrap up this week’s post, I need to remind you that the changes I’ve talked about in this post took me a year to make. Auditing your social media platforms and making the changes isn’t something you can achieve overnight.

And it’s not something you can do once and then forget about either. As I said, these platforms are constantly changing, and what worked a year ago might not be working as well now. You need to keep doing it, though how often is something you’ll need to work out for yourself.

So are you ready to optimize your social media? Let us know in the comments.

 

Photo by Carlos Alberto Gómez Iñiguez on Unsplash

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How to Make Money on Your Blog by Becoming an Affiliate https://problogger.com/becoming-an-affiliate/ https://problogger.com/becoming-an-affiliate/#respond Thu, 05 Aug 2021 12:30:00 +0000 https://problogger.com/?p=1057535 The post How to Make Money on Your Blog by Becoming an Affiliate appeared first on ProBlogger.

This post is based on episode 72 of the ProBlogger podcast. We often talk about making money by creating products and selling them on your blog. But you can also make good money helping other people sell their products by coming an affiliate. How good? Well, over the years I’ve earned ...more

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How to make money on your blog by becoming an affiliate

This post is based on episode 72 of the ProBlogger podcast.

We often talk about making money by creating products and selling them on your blog. But you can also make good money helping other people sell their products by coming an affiliate.

How good? Well, over the years I’ve earned more than half a million dollars from affiliate marketing through Amazon’s affiliate program.

And the best thing? I didn’t need to spend hours deciding what products to sell. Someone had already done that for me.

Cashing in on bestsellers

A while back I found myself sitting in a bookshop waiting for my partner to finish her shopping. And I watched the customers walking and out I noticed something interesting.

Nearly everyone who walked in went straight to the wall of ‘Top 20’ books, grabbed one, paid for it, and walked out.

I’m not sure why it was happening. Maybe these people were getting in the latest trend. Maybe they didn’t want to miss out. Or maybe they just wanted something to read, and figured a best-selling book would be a safe bet.

And it got me wondering.

Could I do something similar on my blog?

From bookshop to blog

At this point I was already using Amazon affiliate links on Digital Photography School. But after seeing so many people buy one of these Top 20 books, I decided to create a bestseller list of my own.

I created a post that ranked the photography books my readers had bought through my Amazon affiliate links in the previous year. (I didn’t have a lot of commissions back then, and so needed a year’s worth of data to create my list.)

It was a pretty simple post – a short introduction (where I made it clear I was an Amazon affiliate), followed be the ten bestselling photography books people had bought through the site.

And how did it go?

Well, not surprisingly my affiliate income went up. It doubled in the first week, and doubled again the next. And it wasn’t just the books that people were buying. They were also buying other things while they were on the Amazon site.

What did surprise me was the level of discussion the post generated. People began debating why particular books were on my list, and suggesting other books worth buying.

More bestsellers

Of course, photographers don’t just buy books. They buy cameras, lenses, tripods, lights, and dozens of other products.

And I’ve probably created a bestseller list for every one of them.

I usually run them two or three times a year, often as a series of posts. I’ll start with a post that says something like, “This week we’ll be looking at some of the most popular products according to our readers”. And then during the week I’ll include a few ‘bestseller’ posts, along with other other posts for those who aren’t interested in buying anything.

These posts always do well. People click through from our newsletter and our social media posts, particularly on Facebook.

No data? No problem.

Even if you’re not an Amazon affiliate, or haven’t been one long enough to have the data you need, you can still earn money through affiliate links.

Amazon isn’t the only online store that has an affiliate program. I’m also an affiliate for B&H Photo Video, and so I could just as easily create a bestseller list based on the data I get from them. There are also providers such as Ultimate Bundles that let you earn money by selling bundles of ebooks and ecourses.  

And if you’re an Amazon affiliate but don’t have many sales, you can still create a bestseller list. Amazon creates its own bestseller lists based on sales, and there’s nothing stopping you from using their list to create your own.

If you’re selling your own products on your site (such as ebooks), you could create a bestseller list for them. Your readers will probably appreciate it, as it will help them decide what to buy on your site. You could even offer a coupon code for the biggest bestseller for a limited time.

Over to you

As I said, I’ve earned more than half a million dollars from being an affiliate. And while I can’t guarantee you’ll make that kind of money, I hope the tips I’ve given you will help you earn money on your own blog.

Want to know more about affiliate marketing and other ways to earn money from blogging? Then check out our Four Pillars of Blogging: Make Money Course.

But in the meantime, see how much money you can make by creating a bestseller list of your own.

And let us know how you go.

 

Photo by Brittany Bendabout on Unsplash

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How to Use Autoresponders to Drive Traffic and Profit https://problogger.com/how-to-use-autoresponders-to-drive-traffic-and-profit/ https://problogger.com/how-to-use-autoresponders-to-drive-traffic-and-profit/#respond Thu, 29 Jul 2021 12:33:43 +0000 https://problogger.com/?p=1055909 The post How to Use Autoresponders to Drive Traffic and Profit appeared first on ProBlogger.

    This post is based on episode 70 of the ProBlogger podcast. Last week I talked about creating an opt-in incentive to increase your email subscriber numbers. I also mentioned that one of those incentives could be a series you deliver over a number of weeks. Well, this week I want ...more

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How to Use Autoresponders to Drive Traffic and Profit 

This post is based on episode 70 of the ProBlogger podcast.

Last week I talked about creating an opt-in incentive to increase your email subscriber numbers. I also mentioned that one of those incentives could be a series you deliver over a number of weeks.

Well, this week I want to talk about how you can deliver that series using an autoresponder.

What is an autoresponder?

In its simplest form, an autoresponder is a series of emails you set up for new subscribers. Then whenever someone subscribes, they receive the emails over time at predetermined intervals – once a week, once a month, or even with specific delays between each email.

Setting up an autoresponder can take a bit of time and effort. You need to write all the emails, and then set up the queue that distributes them all. But once you do, the emails get sent out automatically without you needing to lift a finger.

How you can use an autoresponder

An autoresponder is a great way to tell your new subscribers (who may not know much about you) who you are and what your blog is about. It’s also an opportunity to show them you’ve got something valuable to say, and to build some credibility with them.

You can also use one to keep your list warm. As I said a couple of weeks ago, there’s no point having an email list unless you stay in touch with your subscribers. If you don’t, they may forget they subscribed and wonder why you’re sending them emails. An autoresponder can take the pressure off needing to create regular emails.

Of course, what they’re really good for is driving traffic to your blog, which in turn can drive sales. If you’ve got a product or service to sell, an autoresponder can help you make the sale and ultimately build your brand.

 

How to set up your autoresponder

So how should you set up your autoresponder? That will largely depend on your goals, and what you want to achieve with your blog. But here are some examples of what you can do with one.

For starters, you could use one to send subscribers a series of welcome emails that take them through different parts of your site. As I said earlier, you can use these emails to talk about who you are and what your blog is about, and show that you’ve got something valuable to say. Putting all this information in a single email could overwhelm some people But spreading the information out over a series of emails makes it easier to build a relationship with your readers.

As an example, the autoresponder I use on Digital Photography School takes my readers through the site, introduces them to our forum and social media accounts, and talks about what they’ll get for subscribing. You could create a similar one to let your subscribers know about the social media channels you use.

It’s worth letting them know about your email schedule. Saying something like, “You’ll be hearing from us once a week” (or however often you’ll be sending them emails) tells how often they’ll be receiving them, and helps to build anticipation.

You might also want to include some of your evergreen content. Our Digital Photography School autoresponder sends out a series of emails once a month or that introduce our subscribers to some of our archive content they may have otherwise missed. This not only drives traffic to your site but also demonstrates the wealth of information you’ve got in your archives.

Another thing you can do is include one of your best posts somewhere in the sequence. Not a link, but rather the full post.

One of our autoresponder emails on DPS invites those subscribers who’ve been with us for a few months to participate in a survey. As well as demographic information, we use it to find out where they are and what level of photography they’re at. We also ask them what their problems are, what their questions are, and what they’d like us to write about.

This information is gold for us. If we ever run out of things to write about we can just look at everyone’s answers to those questions to come up with fresh topics.

Another option is to create some sort of community activity. You can direct your subscribers to a blog post or forum topic that created a great discussion thread. It’s a great way to build social proof and show you have other readers.

Other types of emails that you might want to send would be more sales-related ones. If you have a product that you sell, an ebook or a course, or a physical product, you could actually build into your autoresponder sequence an email that offers that product at a discount or that promotes that product in some way. This is effectively like doing a little mini launch of your product every day forever. Just say you have that set up 60 days after someone becomes a subscriber, it might be the fifth email that they get in the sequence. They’re warmed up, they’ve been seeing some of your evergreen content, they feel welcomed, they’ve engaged in the community on your blog, and then you send them a coupon code to your ebook and they get that sort of 60 days in.

If you’re getting subscribers every day to your newsletter, that means every day someone’s getting that offer made to them. You’ll find, over time, that the sales that you get from those types of sales emails actually do add up quite a bit. I know that every day someone’s getting an offer through an autoresponder email that I set up years ago on my blogs and it’s paying off today.

You could do a similar thing with an affiliate promotion. You might want to promote somebody else’s product as an affiliate. You might want to do a deal with that particular person, say there’s someone else, another blogger in your niche who has an ebook. Ask them if they’d be willing for you to send out a coupon code to your subscribers as part of your autoresponder sequence. You just need to make sure that that coupon code is valid forever because people are going to continue to get that email for a long time.

There’s a whole heap of other things that you could do as part of an email sequence. You could set up emails that are case studies that are results of research that you’ve done, all kinds of stuff. Pretty much any kind of blog post that you’ve written you could repurpose that into an autoresponder email.

A few other tips that you might want to think through as you think about the types of content to put into your autoresponder sequence. Firstly, the content really needs to be evergreen. People are going to continue to get that email for as long as you keep it in your sequence. If you’ve got something that’s more news-related or more timely that something is going to date, you probably don’t want to include that as an autoresponder email. You might want to send that out as a single one-off email to your whole list or a segment of your list.

 

Make it Evergreen

Ultimately, your autoresponder needs to be evergreen and it needs to focus upon your reader and their needs. While you might want to have lots of sales emails as part of your autoresponder, people aren’t going to respond very well to those sales emails if they don’t feel like they’re getting some value from you and the other emails that you send. You want to get the balance right between selling and delivering real value to your particular readers. This really comes down to understanding who your readers are, what their problems are, and delivering content in your email that’s going to take people on a journey and bring about change in their life in some ways.

 

Take Your Readers on a Journey

A simple exercise that you might want to do is to actually identify the change that you’re trying to bring to your subscribers and actually break down how to bring that change. I’ve used this example before but the change I’m trying to bring on Digital Photography School is I want to give my readers creative control of their cameras. I want to get them out of automatic mode and to have full control of their cameras. The emails that we send as part of our autoresponder try to help our readers to achieve that outcome. We send them emails on composition, we send them emails on how to get creative control of their cameras and how to understand exposure, how to hold their camera.

We actually take our readers on a journey, so hopefully, by the end of them being subscribed to our newsletter, they’re actually going to learn photography. If they do that, they’re going to be much more open to those sales-type emails that we will send from time to time in the mix. Think about the change you’re trying to bring and map out a sequence of emails that are going to help to bring that about.

The other thing that you might want to think about is the state that your readers are in as they view you. How do they actually see you when they subscribe to your email? The chances are that when someone subscribes to your email list, they might be kind of interested in your topic but they may not know who you are. They might be even suspicious about your intentions, they might be unsure about whether you’re someone that they should be listening to. They might be unsure about how to use your site, they may be unaware of your past history, the past content that you’ve created.

Actually put yourself in the shoes of a subscriber and the type of suspicions or the type of questions, the type of view that they have of you. Actually, try and move people along not only in the topic that you’re writing about but the state and their view of you. You want to take people from being maybe a bit suspicious and standoff-ish of you to being someone who actually knows who you are. Someone who likes you, someone who trusts you, someone who’s a customer of you, someone who’s an evangelist for you.

That’s ultimately where we want to take people. How could you design a sequence of emails that actually helps them along in that journey of feeling closer to you? If people do business with people that they know, like, and trust, how could your email sequence move people along that?

What I’m trying to get you to think through here is your first email, probably you don’t want to come across as too salesy. You want it to be something more about building trust, building credibility. Then your next emails, maybe it’s more introducing them to the type of things that you’ve got on your site. Helping them to understand how to use the site.

Again, this builds trust and likeability. It’s about just trying to lead your readers along that journey and not going too fast with the emails that you send. Now, there are different approaches to this and I’ve heard other people say that they just start with the sales email and it works for them. I’m a little bit more gentle with the type of emails that I send.

 

What Frequency?

The last thing I want to briefly touch on is how often should you schedule emails. I get that question a lot and what other emails should you be sending. I’ve already mentioned that autoresponders are just one type of email that you can send. The other type again gets called different things with different email service providers, but AWeber calls them broadcasts. These are where you manually set up an email to go to your full list or a segment of it. You may just want to target particular types of people who may be subscribed at a certain time or that have clicked on previous links, but that’s getting a little bit more complicated. Here, these are emails that you send out to your whole list, let’s just say.

For me at Digital Photography School, once we have an autoresponder set up, we also send out a weekly newsletter. These are things that I manually set up every Thursday and send to our whole list. These have our latest blog posts and other timely updates. Again, sometimes it’s got evergreen content in it but this is not an email that I want to send out again and again and again, I just want to send it out once to my list.

Now I also send out other emails when we launch a product. This is another type of email that I send out to my list. You can already see here, I’ve got our newsletter, I’ve got product launches when we do a new product, and then I’ve got autoresponders. You want to get the balance right here between keeping your list warm, sending out regular emails, and not overwhelming your list with too many emails. Here’s how I use email newsletters to drive traffic and make money.

How to Use Autoresponders to Drive Traffic and Profit

The different tools will help you in spreading your emails out a little bit, so AWeber, who we use on Digital Photography School, I send out our broadcasts, our newsletters on Thursdays. It goes out the same time every week. I send out product announcement type emails always on Tuesdays, so I know there’s a couple of days. Then our autoresponders, AWeber allows you to choose which day of the week that they can be delivered on.

I block out Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday because I don’t want to be sending out emails three days in a row. I don’t want my readers going, “This guy just keeps sending me emails.” Typically, those autoresponder emails usually go out sometimes on Mondays but usually Saturday, Sunday, or Friday. Just to spread them out a little bit. Use those types of tools and think about how often am I going to be sending out the extra emails that are not part of the autoresponder.

I would encourage you to try and send out emails at least every 30 days just to keep your list warm, but not too much more than twice a week. You probably really don’t want to go more than twice a week. It may be that if you’re doing a big product launch, you may actually want to pause your autoresponder and some of the tools will allow you to do that if you feel like you’re going to be sending out a couple of emails in a week about a product launch. You probably don’t want to be sending out autoresponders during that week as well. The different tools will allow you to do that.

The other thing that you might want to consider is using an autoresponder as part of an opt-in. Yesterday, in the last episode, we talked about using opt-ins, so getting people to subscribe to your list by giving them a free ebook. One of the alternatives that you could give them is a free seven-day course that you deliver via an autoresponder. This is a really effective way of getting people not only onto your list but getting them engaged with your emails which is something I talked about in the last episode.

If you’re a photography site like us, you might set up an opt-in where readers who subscribe to you get the seven days of emails. Just short seven emails that are just really good basic tips on how to use a camera. This is actually something we’re considering doing for Digital Photography School. Then at the end of the seven days, they don’t get daily emails after that because they might just be a bit overwhelming but you might then set up every 30 days they get just an extra tip that continues to keep them engaged in some way.

 

#todaynotsomeday

My challenge today is for you to set up an autoresponder, to get it off your someday list, and to actually get it on to your today list. If you don’t have an autoresponder yet, map out a sequence of emails. You may only want to map out the first 5 or 10 emails; don’t go too far. You can add to your autoresponder later by adding in extra emails to it and I would encourage you to do that.

If you’ve already got an autoresponder, my challenge to you today is to do a bit of an audit of it. Is it up to date? Are you sending out emails that are dated, that look bad, or that have out of date of information? Are those emails converting? Maybe dig into your stats and actually work out which are the ones that get all the clicks, which are the ones that generate sales, and which are the ones that maybe people are unsubscribing after they get it. That’s a really good one to check out. If you’ve already got an autoresponder, should you be adding some new emails into it? Should you be extending that in some way?

These are the types of things that are often on people’s someday list. Whether you’re sending out for the first time or whether you are doing an audit of your existing autoresponder, I challenge you, today you spend on your autoresponder.

Just let me finish this story. A few years ago, I was out on a walk and I realized I’d let my autoresponder list. I hadn’t really looked at it for a while. I’d set up about 12 emails in my list and those 12 emails went out over about a nine-month period. New subscribers were getting these autoresponders for about nine months and then there were no more autoresponders going out. They were just then, at that point, getting newsletters.

I was like, “That’s okay on some levels, I send out newsletters every week so my readers will be feeling engaged but maybe I should be adding in a few more emails.” I came home for my list and I decided to add to my autoresponder list by just simply doing an offer to my readers on one of my ebooks. I added that extra email to my autoresponder. Over the next week that email began to go out to my readers.

I actually looked at the results of that one email that I sent. It took me an hour, maybe an hour-and-a-half to write the email and to add it to the autoresponder. That one email generated tens of thousands of dollars over the next 12 months. It was a small thing that I did today, or I did on that day, that continued to pay off over the long haul.

What are you going to do today that’s going to get something off your someday list and on to your today list? I would love to hear what you are going to do as a result of this podcast. You can let us know on Twitter or on Instagram if you want to do it visually using the hashtag #TodayNotSomeday. This is the hashtag we’re using for this series of podcasts and there’s been some great engagement on it already,

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Create an Opt-In Incentive to Increase Your Email Subscriber Numbers https://problogger.com/create-an-opt-in-incentive-to-increase-your-email-subscriber-numbers/ https://problogger.com/create-an-opt-in-incentive-to-increase-your-email-subscriber-numbers/#respond Thu, 15 Jul 2021 12:15:00 +0000 https://problogger.com/?p=1055623 The post Create an Opt-In Incentive to Increase Your Email Subscriber Numbers appeared first on ProBlogger.

This post is based on episode 69 of the ProBlogger podcast. Note: This article contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase anything via my link I may earn a small commission at no cost to you. (And in some cases, ProBlogger has negotiated special deals for our readers with these ...more

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Create an opt-in incentive to increase your email subscriber numbers

This post is based on episode 69 of the ProBlogger podcast.

Note: This article contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase anything via my link I may earn a small commission at no cost to you. (And in some cases, ProBlogger has negotiated special deals for our readers with these recommended suppliers).

Last week I talked about newsletters, and what you can do to increase your email list subscriptions.

One of the tips I suggested was to offer your readers some kind of incentive for them to subscribe (also known as an ‘opt-in’ or a ‘lead magnet’). And today I’d like to talk about the kinds of things you can offer as an opt-in.

Why you need an opt-in

Obviously, having an opt-in will help you grow your email list. After all, who can resist a freebie? But with the right offer you can do a lot more than just increase your subscriber numbers.

For starters, you can show your readers that you know what you’re talking about. Giving them something that could change their life or solve their problem shows that you’re a credible source of information.

It can also build trust and goodwill with your readers. Not only have you created this product for them, you’re also letting them have it for free. It shows that you care more about them than your bottom line. And that can make a lasting impression on people.

Finally, it can go a long way towards turning your readers into customers. You’ve proven that you can produce a quality product packed with useful information. So when one of your paid products catches their attention, they’ll be far more inclined to buy it because they know it will be just as useful.

A note to established bloggers

If you’ve been blogging for a while then you may already be using an opt-in on your blog. But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. It might be time to create one that’s more up to date. Or you could create a second opt-in that targets a different type of reader. You may even want to create one specifically for a post that’s getting lots of traffic. So don’t think you can sit there like the smug kid who finishes their test before everyone else. You’re not done yet.

What you can offer your readers

Now that you know why you should have an opt-in, it’s time to talk about what you can offer your potential readers.

Ideally, your opt-in should help your reader solve a problem relatively quickly. It gives them not only a quick win, but also an incentive to subscribe because you might be able to help them again.

Of course, to make this work you need to know what problems your readers having. And to find out you may need to do some research. What are the most common questions your readers ask you? What are people searching for when Google sends them to your blog? You may need to create a poll, or look at your Google Analytics data. But it will be worth the effort to find out, as you’ll be able to create an opt-in that gives your readers that quick win they’ve been looking for.

How to deliver your opt-in

So how can you give your readers the information you’ve promised them? The most common opt-in bloggers offer is a PDF of something they’ve written – an eBook, a report, a guide or a white paper. It could also be a cheat sheet, checklist, template or sample document (e.g. a sample contract).

But it doesn’t have to be a written document. You could offer them a mind map, an infographic, a blueprint or a process you use.

And these days you can offer audio recordings and even videos as your opt-in. Maybe you have a series of podcasts that explain a process from beginning to end, or even a series of videos.

The advantage of having a series is you can set things up so your series is delivered one instalment at a time over multiple weeks. This will encourage people to stay subscribed so they don’t miss out on any of the steps.

You could over something like a ten-minute consultation over Zoom. However, you may want to limit this to the first ten subscribers, or you could find yourself facing hours upon hours of video chats.

You could give away software such as Lightroom presets or WordPress plugins. You could offer the first chapter of your eBook. Or you could give them membership to your Facebook group of forum.

The choice is yours.

How to promote your opt-in

Once you’ve created your opt-in, you need to tell everyone about it. We covered this to an extent in last week’s post, but it’s worth repeating.

Tools such as SumoMe and LeadPages can help you get your opt-in noticed. But you should also be promoting it regularly on your social media accounts.

Make sure you mention it in your posts, particularly those that are closely related to what you’re offering. You may even want to mention it in your newsletter in case your subscribers forward it to their friends.

And if you’ve got the budget, you might want to consider advertising your opt-in on Facebook, Twitter or another social media platform.

Over to you

So now you know what you can create as an opt-in, how you can package it, and how you can tell your readers what’s on offer. So what are you waiting for? Have a go at creating your first (or perhaps your next) opt-in, and tell us how it all went in the comments.

 

Photo by Boris Smokrovic on Unsplash

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How to Increase Your Email List Subscriptions https://problogger.com/increase-your-email-list-subscriptions/ https://problogger.com/increase-your-email-list-subscriptions/#respond Thu, 08 Jul 2021 12:30:00 +0000 https://problogger.com/?p=1054864 The post How to Increase Your Email List Subscriptions appeared first on ProBlogger.

This post is based on episode 68 of the ProBlogger podcast. Note: This article contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase anything via my link I may earn a small commission at no cost to you. (And in some cases, ProBlogger has negotiated special deals for our readers ...more

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The post How to Increase Your Email List Subscriptions appeared first on ProBlogger.

How to increase your email list subscriptionsThis post is based on episode 68 of the ProBlogger podcast.

Note: This article contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase anything via my link I may earn a small commission at no cost to you. (And in some cases, ProBlogger has negotiated special deals for our readers with these recommended suppliers).

If you’ve read more than a handful of ProBlogger posts then you’ll know how strongly I feel about having an email list for your blog. As far as I’m concerned, it’s of the best ways (if not the best way) to connect with your readers. That’s why it’s part of our “Today not Someday” series, along with information on how to create products and sell them on your blog.

So yes, having an email list is important. But as you can imagine, having an empty list (or one that has only your family’s email addresses) isn’t going to help you much. So today I want to talk about how to increase your email list subscriptions.

How I got started

When I started Digital Photography School back in 2007, RSS was being hailed as the Next Big Thing. Every blogger was adding the big orange icon to their site so people could subscribe to their feed.

At least that’s what they were hoping would happen.

Unfortunately, RSS feeds weren’t the easiest things to subscribe to or keep up to date with. And for people like my father, an aspiring photographer who wanted to subscribe to my blog, that big orange icon may as well have been in Japanese.

I tried to help him. I went over to his house, set up an RSS feed reader for him and said, “Just run this piece of software and you’ll be able to read the latest posts from the blog.”

But of course, he never did. He really only used the web for email. So I set up an email list, and started sending him newsletters with the links to our latest posts.

And then I thought, I wonder if anyone else would rather get a newsletter with all the links than have to deal with RSS, and added it to the blog as another way to subscribe.

As it turned out, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done for my blog. (Thanks, Dad!)

Today we have a few thousand RSS subscribers (who probably subscribed back when it was all the rage), and around 900,000 email subscribers.

You do the math.

Why email?

So why email? Sure, RSS may not have taken off like it was supposed to. But a lot has changed since then, and we have so many other platforms now – Facebook, Twitter, and so on.

Well, the most obvious answer is that pretty much everyone with an internet connection knows how to use email. And most people check their email every day.

Another reason is you can pretty much guarantee it will get through (well, at least until the spam filters get involved). When you create a Facebook post you’re pretty much at the mercy of whatever algorithm they’re using that day. This means you can keep in regular contact with your readers, which helps you build a trusting relationship with them.

And unlike Facebook and Twitter posts that can disappear in a matter of minutes (of not seconds), emails stick around until the reader makes a conscious decision to delete them. Which may explain why around 90–95% of our eBook and course sales come from our emails, even though we post the same offers on our blog and social media channels.

(Actually, there’s another reason email might work so well for sales. Unlike our blog, our emails don’t have any AdSense advertising or other potential distractions.)

Don’t have an email list for your blog yet? Then you really should join up with an email service provider and create one. Some of them even offer free plans for those who are just starting out. (Don’t even think about sending your newsletter from your Gmail account. It will only end in tears.)

Here are three email service providers we recommend:

  • Convertkit, which is free for up to 1,000 subscribers
  • Mailchimp, which is free for up to 2,000 contacts
  • AWeber, which we use for both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School

You may also want to check out our post that compares email service providers for bloggers.

Things to keep in mind

Once you’ve created your email list and are ready to send out your newsletter, you need to keep a few things in mind.

  1. Keep your list warm. If you don’t keep sending regular emails to your subscribers, they may forget they actually subscribed in the first place.
  2. Add value wherever you can. Don’t use your list just to sell stuff to subscribers. Make sure you include something useful they don’t have to pay for.
  3. An empty email list isn’t much use. For your newsletter to be of any use you need subscribers who’ll read it.

Fortunately for you, that’s what the rest of this post is all about.

Getting subscribers

Unlike that RSS icon, which didn’t offer much flexibility at all, there are plenty of ways you can ask people to subscribe to your email list. You get to choose the words you use, the visuals that go around them, where they sit on your site, and even how your newsletter is delivered.

Unfortunately, all that choice can make it all seem a little overwhelming. So here are six things you should focus on.

1. What’s the benefit?

When you’re trying to get people to subscribe to your list, don’t just say, “Subscribe to get our weekly newsletter”. Tell them what they’ll get out of it (besides your punctuality).

On Digital Photography School we’ve tried things like, “You’ll take better photos”, “You’ll get creative control of your camera”, “You’ll develop confidence as a photographer”. Could you say something similar that’s related to your niche?

And don’t just choose one. Test out different calls to action you came up with to see which one works best.

2. Offer an incentive

While you may think receiving your newsletter is a good enough reason for people to subscribe, it doesn’t hurt to offer something else. Yes, you may find that some people only subscribe to get your freebie. But with the right incentive this can dramatically increase your email list subscriptions.

3. Try different colors and visuals

One of the tests I did in the early days of my blog was trying different pictures around my calls to action. I had a designer put together some really beautiful pop-up kind of calls to action, and we set up the blog so each one would appear in rotation.

I also designed one of my own.

Now I’m no designer, and when I saw my pop-up next to the designers mine looked nowhere near as smooth as theirs. But it was a bit cleaner and simpler (not to mention uglier).

And when we got the test results, the conversion rate of mine was 30% higher than all the others.

So try out a few different options. Try different buttons, calls to action,  colors, photos, bullet points, and other ways your calls to action look. It can make a big difference.

4. Try collecting emails in different ways

When I first added the email subscription option to Digital Photography School, it was just a text field that said something like, “Enter your email address to subscribe to our newsletter”. And after putting it there I was getting 30 to 40 subscribers every day.

About a year later I added a pop-up that appeared on my site 30 seconds after people arrived and asked them to subscribe. I was worried that it would seem too aggressive, and would affect my bounce rate. But what actually happened is my new subscriber count jumped to 300–350 subscribers per day. (And my bounce rate didn’t change one bit.)

There are plenty of other tools you can user to collect email addresses. And they’re pretty easy to set up. Mailchimp and Aweber have their own built-in tool, but other tools are available. Right now we’re using SumoMe, which also includes other email list-building tools. We also use OptinMonster, a conversion optimization toolkit.

5. Don’t forget your blog posts…

One of the most effective ways I’ve found to grow my list is by asking readers to become subscribers in the content I produce.

This is particularly effective when you’re doing a series of blog posts that run each day for a week, or even once a month for six months or so.

For example, in Digital Photography School we run a week-long series of posts once a month. And in every post we had a simple line at the start saying it was part of a series and that you could subscribe to get the rest. It was the first time we’d used that type of approach, and our subscriber numbers that week were around 50% higher than normal.

So try and build some anticipation with a series of blog posts and see how it works.

6. … or your archives

Another good place to put calls to action is in any hot posts you have in your archives.

You probably have at least one post that gets a lot of traffic from Google. And because people are coming straight from Google (and may never come back), you can afford to be a little more aggressive with these posts. Put a call to action to subscribe at the top of the post. You may want to even include a graphic.

You can do the same for other key pages on your site – your about page, your contact page, or any page that’s getting a lot of traffic.

Over to you

I hope I’ve got you thinking about how you can increase your email list subscriptions. Let us know what you’re going to do in the comments.

 

Photo by Tijs van Leur on Unsplash

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7 Areas to Focus on During Your Mid-Year Blog Review https://problogger.com/mid-year-blog-review/ https://problogger.com/mid-year-blog-review/#respond Thu, 24 Jun 2021 12:17:52 +0000 https://problogger.com/?p=985463 The post 7 Areas to Focus on During Your Mid-Year Blog Review appeared first on ProBlogger.

This post is based on episode 131 of the ProBlogger podcast and has been updated for 2021. A lot of bloggers do an end-of-year-review, where they analyze how everything went in the previous year and set goals for the new one. But when you set such long-term goals, it’s worth checking ...more

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The post 7 Areas to Focus on During Your Mid-Year Blog Review appeared first on ProBlogger.

7 areas to focus on during your mid-year blog review

This post is based on episode 131 of the ProBlogger podcast and has been updated for 2021.

A lot of bloggers do an end-of-year-review, where they analyze how everything went in the previous year and set goals for the new one.

But when you set such long-term goals, it’s worth checking in occasionally to see how you’re doing and make sure you’re still on track.

And that’s where the mid-review comes in.

But what exactly should you be checking? How can you tell whether you’re doing well? And what are the warning signs that you might need to make some changes?

Over the years I’ve come up with seven areas that I focus on whenever I’m reviewing my blogs.

  1. Content
  2. Traffic
  3. Engagement
  4. Monetization
  5. Technology
  6. Productivity
  7. Your wellbeing

Today I want to explore those seven areas with you, and the questions you might ask yourself when analyzing each one. Starting with…

1. Your Content

Looking at your posts, what topics, categories and formats have worked well over the past six months? Did your list posts do particularly well? Are you still getting responses to that rant you posted three months ago? Is your audience crying out for more interviews?

You might also want to analyze whether some mediums worked better than others. Did posts with infographics do better than those with just text? How did your audience react to your videos and live feeds? Is the audience you’re attracting with your podcast worth the time it takes to record and produce it?

Don’t forget to look at the length of your more popular posts. I recently looked at my Google Analytics and saw that some of our longer posts have done really well over the past six months, which means I should probably write more long-form posts in the future.

Finally, look at how frequently you posted fresh content. Did you meet the deadlines you set for yourself at the beginning of the year? How did your audience react when you posted more or less often than they expected?

This is a good time to take another look at your editorial plan (or create it if you don’t have one). Do you have enough ideas to keep you going for the rest of the year? Do you need to re-think some of your topics, categories or formats to better suit what your audience? This is the perfect time to make those adjustments to you have a clear roadmap that will take you where you want to go.

If you determine your content needs some extra attention, our 7-Day Content Sprint Courses might give you the boost you’re looking for. Or if it’s a more fundamental revision of your content strategy, my Four Pillars of Blogging: Create Content Course will help you set the right foundations for moving forward with your content.

7 Areas to Focus on During Your Mid-Year Blog Review7 Areas to Focus on During Your Mid-Year Blog Review

2. Your Traffic

Take a look at your blog traffic for the past six months. Were there any spikes? If so, try to find out what may have caused them.

About a week or so ago we had a big spike in traffic on Digital Photography School. And nearly all of it was driven by one post: How to Photograph Fireworks.

And that makes perfect sense, as the 4th of July is when America celebrates Independence Day.

That same post has been spiking around this time for years (as well as on New Year’s Eve). And so we now promote it heavily on occasions such as these when everyone wants to photograph fireworks. We’ve also written more content about it to capture more traffic and readers.

On the flipside, were there any troughs in your traffic? Is there a pattern that might help you pinpoint what’s causing them? We often see a dip in traffic the day after Independence Day, presumably because everyone’s recovering from the celebrations. You may also see dips on weekends, or on particular dates. What can you do to make those dips less frequent or less severe?

What’s the overall trend with your traffic? Is it going up steadily, or has it plateaued or even dropped? What about over the past month or so?

If your traffic is dropping, you need to analyze it and see if there’s any way you can reverse the trend. At one point we noticed our mobile traffic on both Digital Photography School and ProBlogger dropping, which was a wake-up call for us to optimize the design of both sites so they’d work better on mobile devices.

Have you been doing anything specific (e.g. writing guest posts, posting more updates on social media, creating more shareable content) to bring more traffic to your site? If you have, was it a good use of your time? And if you haven’t, is it something you could try to bring those traffic numbers back up?

If you do need some help with getting traffic to your blog, my Four Pillars of Blogging: Finding Readers Course provides your roadmap to supercharged traffic.

7 Areas to Focus on During Your Mid-Year Blog Review

3. Your Reader Engagement

What do your readers think of you and your blog? Are they engaging with you? Think about the number of comments and emails you’ve been getting, and whether that number has been going up or down over the past six months.

You should also look at your bounce rate and how often people share your content. This will help you determine how your readers feel about your content, and how open they are to receiving more.

What are your open rates like on the emails and newsletters you send out? What kind of engagement are you getting on social media? What’s the most frequent complaint of praise you hear from your readers? Hearing the same message (good or bad) regularly from different readers can help you understand how they feel about you and your blog.

Occasionally I get an email saying “You’re doing too much promoting” or “You’re always trying to sell us something”. I’m sure every blogger gets an email like this once in a while. But if I hear the same thing multiple times from multiple readers, it’s a sign I may need to readdress how much content I charge for and how I give away.

Ultimately, what you’re trying to work out is whether or not you’ve delivered value to your readers. Has their reaction been positive, or do they feel you’ve taken more than you’ve given?

One way to find out how your readers feel about you and your blog is to create a survey and encourage them to take part. This can help you find out not only how they feel, but also what you can do to change how they feel for the better.

You might also want to come up with a community project or challenge your readers can take part in to increase engagement.

I can’t over-emphasise the importance of building community to the success of your blog. All successful blogs are communities and if you want to turn your blog into something special, something that will grant you financial freedom, and something that will help countless people then you must create a community out of your blog. My Four Pillars of Blogging: Build Community Course distils my years of blogging experience and expertise into clear action points that will increase engagement and build relationships with your readers and grow a community around your blog.

7 Areas to Focus on During Your Mid-Year Blog Review

4. Your Monetization

For those of you who have monetized your blog (or are trying to), you should analyze your income streams and how well they’ve been working over the past six months. (I’m sure you check how much money you’re earning far more frequently.)

Start by looking at the overall trend. Has it increased, decreased, or remained steady? Are some income streams (e.g. advertising, affiliate promotions, selling products or services) doing or better or worse than the others? Are there any that you’ve been thinking about trying but still haven’t implemented?

You may need to look at the figures over a full year (or even several years if you have them) to spot any trends you may need to consider.

If you’re selling a product or service, does most of your revenue come from launches or long-tail sales? Some bloggers fall into the trap of focusing too much on the launch of their product. The sales come in quickly at first, but then they quickly die down. The product then sits there until they either discount it or do another launch.

If that sounds like your sales curve, you may need to come up with a way to increase those long-tail sales. Perhaps you could use an autoresponder that sends your newsletter subscribers on offer a month or so after they subscribe. You might also think about making the products more prominent on your website. After all, how can people buy something if they don’t even know about it?

If you’re monetizing your blog with sponsors rather than products or services, you may need to think about approaching new sponsors. Have you seen businesses advertising on other blogs in your niche that could be potential advertisers on yours? Maybe you need to review your media kit as well.

You could even create a promotional calendar in the same way you created your editorial calendar, especially if you plan on launching new products or services. This will help you plan not only the development and launch of your product, but also when to start talking about it to build excitement and anticipation.

If you’re ready to (or struggling to) transform your blogging hobby into an income-generating business, my Four Pillars of Blogging: Make Money Course takes you through the many and varied ways to make money blogging, gets you to create your own monetization strategy and focuses you on what to do to develop your revenue streams.

7 Areas to Focus on During Your Mid-Year Blog Review

5. Your Technology

How has your blog been running from a technology perspective? Have you or your readers experienced any outages or downtime? If so, you might want to think about switching to a better hosting provider.

Are you running the latest version of your blogging platform? What about your plugins? Do you need to update them, or perhaps even replace them if they’re no longer supported? Now if the time to get everything up to date so your blog is secure.

Is your blog’s design still working? Could it do with an update, or even a complete overhaul? Is it mobile responsive? (If not , then it needs to be.)

Are there things that simply don’t work anymore, either from a technology or a reader perspective? The last thing you want is for readers to be leaving your blog because they’re annoyed or confused.

Now is also a good time to look at the tools and services you’re using for emails, landing pages and the like. First of all, are you still using them? If not, you can save yourself some money by cancelling your subscription.

And if you are using them, are they worth the money you’re paying for them? Is there something out there at a similar price point that could do a better job? (Remember to factor in the effort it will take to make the switch.)

For more tech tips, check out our technology portal.

 

6. Your Productivity

How productive have you been over the past six months? What aspects of blogging did you spend most of your time on, and was it worth it? And if you took the time to set up some workflows, how effective have they been?

Sometimes it’s hard to know just where all that time has gone. A while back I installed a product called Rescue Time, which tracks how you use the time you spend on your computer. It’s a pretty confronting tool to use, but it helped me realize where I was wasting time. It even helped me pinpoint where I was spending time on things that felt productive even though they weren’t.

How can you make better use of your time from now on?

We’ve got plenty of productivity advice to help you.

 

7. Your Wellbeing

Finally, it’s time to check the most vital component of your blog – you.

How are you going with your blogging, and with life in general?

It’s an important question to ask, because your blog’s health depends a lot on your own health – physical, mental, spiritual and emotional. And so you should spend as much time (if not more) on looking after yourself as you do on looking after your blog.

A major aspect of our wellbeing is the relationships we have with family, friends, acquaintances and so on. But you should also take the time to think about the relationship you have with your blog.

How do you feel about it? Are you still passionate about the topic? Does the thought of writing a new post excite you? Or does it feel more like a burden you have to bear?

If your passion or energy for your blog is waning (or missing completely), you may need to take a break. You may need a holiday. You may need to get some help. Or you may just need to change the direction of your blog in some way.

You may also need to ‘fill your cup’. Employees in traditional businesses often attend training courses, seminars and conferences as part of their professional development. But as bloggers we don’t have a human resources department booking training courses and seminars for us to attend.

And so we need to manage our own professional development.

Is there a book you could buy that would help you with your blogging? Is there a seminar on new research in your niche you could attend? Is there an event coming up where you could meet other bloggers?

As bloggers we need to keep learning and developing ourselves and our knowledge. Because we can only put into our blogs what we put into ourselves.

 

Planning for the Future

How much time should you spend reviewing your blog? That’s up to you. You could spend days researching and answering all of these questions. But I encourage you to answer at least one question from each of the seven areas.

And then come up with an action plan to address them all.

No matter where your blog is now, I hope your mid-year blog review will help you create a plan to put it in an even better position by the end of the year.

So what area will you focus on first? And what questions will you be trying to answer? Let us know in the comments.

 

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

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A Cool Tool for Monetizing Your Facebook Group https://problogger.com/monetizing-your-facebook-group/ Thu, 17 Jun 2021 12:00:00 +0000 https://problogger.com/?p=1053670 The post A Cool Tool for Monetizing Your Facebook Group appeared first on ProBlogger.

(Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links, which means I get a commission if you make a purchase by following one my links) Do you have a Facebook group? If so, how do you convert your Facebook Members to email subscribers and sales leads? We’ve been testing a pretty cool tool ...more

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The post A Cool Tool for Monetizing Your Facebook Group appeared first on ProBlogger.

A cool tool for monetizing your Facebook group(Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links, which means I get a commission if you make a purchase by following one my links)

Do you have a Facebook group? If so, how do you convert your Facebook Members to email subscribers and sales leads?

We’ve been testing a pretty cool tool that does exactly this, allowing you to create Facebook group funnels in minutes.

Having a Facebook group can be great for building a community around your blog. But if your group members aren’t already subscribers, how do you convince them to sign up? And how do you monetize this audience without posting sales posts in the group or pitching them via DMs?

Most importantly, how would you keep communicating with your Facebook group members if Facebook shut down your group tomorrow? (Yes, it can and does happen.)

Our ProBlogger Community Facebook group has more than 20,000 members, while our Digital Photography School Facebook group has more than 100,000 members. And both have paid community managers looking after them. So we’re keen to see whether our investment in this social media channel can show a return we can measure alongside the intangible benefits of awareness and community building.

Email marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) tools with Facebook group functionality do exist, but these are often quite expensive. You can also build your own automations, integrations and workarounds with tools like Zapier. But we wanted something that was simple, easy to use and affordable.

Fortunately, we found a tool called Group Leads that ticks all those boxes.

Our new tool

Group Leads is a chrome extension (you just install it in your web browser) that allows you to:

  • manage your Facebook group membership application and approval process
  • capture email addresses
  • trigger an email autoresponder.

It’s a relatively new solution, launching about a year ago along with number of similar solutions built around developments in Facebook’s group question features. This allows you to use new membership question types to ask smarter questions from your group members.

As with all new software, it’s had a few teething problems. And because it integrates with Facebook, issues often need to be ironed out when Facebook makes any big changes.

But despite these minor frustrations, we’re finding it’s well worth the monthly subscription, which is quite affordable. It saves us time in group administration, and generates revenue from new customers.

I won’t go into all of its features. (You can read all about those on their website.) What I will go into is how we’re using it.

Basic setup

One of the best things about Group Leads is how easy it is to set up. There’s nothing too technical, and their help documentation and support are both good.

Here’s all you need to do to get it up and running.

  1. Install Group Leads chrome extension to your browser.
  2. Click a button to add your Facebook group to your Group Leads account.
  3. Modify your Facebook group membership questions to ask for an email address.
  4. Create a Google Sheet to house your Facebook group contacts.
  5. Integrate your autoresponder (email service). Group Leads can integrate with 33 different autoresponders, including popular services such as AWeber, Active Campaign, Convertkit, Drip and Mailchimp.

And that’s it. You’re now ready to start generating email leads from your Facebook group.

Optional features

Group Leads includes a couple of optional features.

Auto-Approve

Mirroring Facebook’s own auto-approve option, Group Leads can admit members based on criteria related to them:

  • answering your application questions
  • supplying their email address
  • agreeing to group rules.

Both of our Facebook groups are quite large (we receive hundreds of applications for Digital Photography School each week), and so we switched Auto-approve on.

Welcome Messaging

You can also send automated Facebook messages (DMs) to new and declined members, and tag new members in welcome posts.

We’re not doing this because we’ve heard reports of Facebook cracking down on DMs.

What we do

But why would people joining a Facebook group give you their email address?

We generate email leads via Facebook the same way we do on our blog – by offering an incentive (lead magnet) in return for subscribers opting in.

So for ProBlogger we ask:

“As well as access to the ProBlogger Community Facebook Group, would you like access to any of the following resources to help you grow your blog?”

We then deliver these resources via the ProBlogger PLUS Member Library.

And for Digital Photography School we ask:

“Would you like to access our Library of downloadable Ultimate Photography Guides? Access is via our free membership, which includes a weekly newsletter.”

In each case, access to the resources is granted via an automation triggered in our email system by creating a subscriber with the specific tag from Group Leads.

The automation also triggers a welcome sequence of emails to the new subscriber.

The results

We’ve been using Group Leads with our ProBlogger Facebook group since April, and have already added hundreds of new email subscribers. And of those, around 10% have gone on to purchase a product or enrol in one of our courses.

Over time we expect more of these new subscribers to buy something from us, and more sales to those who have already purchased (lifetime value). In the meantime, we’re adding new subscribers from our Facebook Group every day.

Based on this success, we added our Digital Photography School Facebook group to Group Leads in May. (The Group Leads Starter Account lets you have two Facebook groups on the same account, which suits us perfectly.) And while sales results are harder to track in this case, we’ve already added a couple of hundred new email subscribers through this channel.

Tips

  • Get Group Leads. If you have a free Facebook group (i.e. the members didn’t buy anything from you to gain entry) there’s little risk and a big upside to implementing a lead generation tool such as Group Leads.
  • Start with a clear objective and pathway for your new subscribers. Make sure you have something tangible to offer as a lead magnet. It’s even better if it progresses your subscribers closer to a sale.
  • Set up your systems to track and measure your results. Think about how you’ll track your Group Leads tagged subscribers through to making a sale.
  • Test, test, and test again. Before you flick the switch to go live with your new Facebook group lead generation system, make sure you’ve tested it and ironed out any kinks in the user experience and that all your tag-based automations trigger like they’re supposed to do.
  • Keep a close eye on it. (If you’re used to being fairly hands-on with admitting new members to your Facebook group, you’ll be used to this.) But as I said earlier, whenever Facebook makes a change it can create hiccups with the extension.

Over to you

Do you have a Facebook group? Think Group Leads could help you get more subscriptions? Let us know in the comments.

 

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

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3 Things You Can Do to Protect the Content on Your Blog https://problogger.com/3-things-you-can-do-to-protect-the-content-on-your-blog/ Thu, 10 Jun 2021 12:52:32 +0000 https://problogger.com/?p=1053441 The post 3 Things You Can Do to Protect the Content on Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

This post is based on a guest post from Abhishek of Budding Geek. One topic that comes up a lot at ProBlogger is plagiarism. More specifically, people want to know how they can protect their blog content from being copied and re-posted without their permission. In our Facebook group people we ...more

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The post 3 Things You Can Do to Protect the Content on Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

3 things you can do to protect the content on your blogThis post is based on a guest post from Abhishek of Budding Geek.

One topic that comes up a lot at ProBlogger is plagiarism. More specifically, people want to know how they can protect their blog content from being copied and re-posted without their permission.

In our Facebook group people we often see questions like these:

  • “What software do you use to check for plagiarism?”
  • “What’s the best way to get a site taken down? Someone is scraping my blog and putting it all on their site – including my name.”
  • “I recently discovered that another site had copied one of my articles and republished it without my permission. Does anyone know of a tool for tracking down articles on other sites that are clearly plagiarized from my own?”

Having people copying your content and posting it as their own is bad enough. But when ‘their’ content starts outranking yours in search results, it just adds insult to injury.

Now, I’ve written a post that talks about what to do when someone steals your blog content. But as the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. So how can you stop people from grabbing your content in the first place?

How they get your content in the first place

Unfortunately, it’s practically impossible to stop someone from copying your content. If a browser can access it (which needs to happen if you want your content to appear on the web), then pretty much anyone can.

And that’s how a lot of people steal content from other people’s websites. They simply view the content in their browser, and then copy and paste it into whatever they’re using to publish ‘their’ content.

However, there’s another way people can steal your content, and that’s by subscribing to your RSS feed. With the right software, they can scan your posts and republish them in a matter of minutes. The software can even replace your main keywords with synonyms automatically.

As I said, you can’t really stop this thing from happening. But you can make the process of copying your content a lot harder, which may make it difficult enough for them not to bother.

How to protect your content

Here are a few ways you can give your content some protection from these plagiarists, and hopefully convince them to stop doing it.

1. Disable text selection on your blog

As I said earlier, a lot of people copy and paste content from other people’s blogs. And so stopping them from using copy and paste on your blog will make that process a lot more difficult.

If your blog is a WordPress site, you can use the WP Content Copy Protection plugin to stop them from using:

  • right-click
  • image drag/drop/save
  • text selection/drag/drop
  • source code viewing
  • keyboard copy shortcuts such as CTRL A, C, X, U, S and P).

2. Watermark your images

If you use images on your blog (and you probably should be to break up the text), then you need to protect them as well.

One of the simplest ways is to add a watermark to your images. Not only does it show you own the copyright for your images, it will also make people think twice about copying them (or even hotlinking to them) as they’ll have your blog’s name all over it.

While you can do this in most graphics packages, there are also online sites such as Watermarkly that will do it for you.

Important note: While you’re free to do this with images you’ve created yourself, check the licensing information before you do it with images you’ve downloaded from somewhere else. The last thing you want is to be guilty of stealing someone else’s content.

3. Manage your RSS feeds

Now let’s look at the second way these people can steal your content – through your RSS feeds.

One simple way to stop it (or at least make it a lot harder to do) is to only offer partial feeds. Yes, it means your readers will have to click a link to see the full post. But it also means the plagiarists will have to do the same, which may put them off.

Another option is to use a WordPress plugin such as Copyright Proof, which:

  • provides a digitally signed and time-stamped certificate of content of each post you publish (to prove you’re the creator and therefore own the copyright)
  • adds a combined certification, copyright, licensing, and attribution notice at end of each post.

As with watermarking your images, it won’t stop your content from being copied. But everyone will see that it’s been taken from your blog without your permission

Over to you?

As I said earlier, you’ll never be able to stop people from stealing your content completely. But hopefully these tips will make stealing yours much tougher, or at least not worth the effort.

Do you have any other tips for protecting your content? Feel free to share them in the comments.

 

Photo by Eric Krull on Unsplash

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12 Tips for Affiliate Marketing to Help You Monetize Your Blog https://problogger.com/tips-for-affiliate-marketing/ Thu, 27 May 2021 12:00:00 +0000 https://problogger.com/?p=1052831 The post 12 Tips for Affiliate Marketing to Help You Monetize Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

This post is based on episode 51 of the ProBlogger podcast. This week’s post is all about affiliate marketing – one of the many ways you can make money blogging. I’ll tell you what it is and how it works, and then give you 12 tips you can use to ...more

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The post 12 Tips for Affiliate Marketing to Help You Monetize Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

12 tips for affiliate marketing to help you monetize your blog

This post is based on episode 51 of the ProBlogger podcast.

This week’s post is all about affiliate marketing – one of the many ways you can make money blogging. I’ll tell you what it is and how it works, and then give you 12 tips you can use to earn more from this type of monetization.

What is affiliate marketing?

In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is when you earn money by helping someone else sell their product or service.

As you can imagine, over on Digital Photography School we talk a lot about camera equipment – cameras, lenses, tripods, etc. And whenever we mention a particular product we include a link to that product on Amazon. That way, if the reader likes what they see they can buy it from Amazon without needing to search for it.

In effect, we’re helping Amazon sell their camera gear. And so Amazon rewards us by paying us a small commission each time a reader buys their camera gear through one of our links.

Here’s a diagram to illustrate how it all works.

For this to happen, we joined their affiliate program. They then gave us a unique code we’ve added to all our links to let them know the buyer came from our site.

Why businesses like affiliate marketing

More and more businesses are offering affiliate programs that work in pretty much the same way. Why? Because it’s a much safer way of spending their advertising dollar.

When an advertiser pays you to have a banner ad for their business on your site, there’s no guarantee they’ll get a return on their investment. That banner might get a thousand clicks, but it could just as easily be ignored completely – especially now that ad blockers are so popular.

But with affiliate marketing, it doesn’t matter if no-one clicks on the affiliate link because they didn’t pay you to put it there. And they only have to pay the commission once they’ve made the sale.

When affiliate marketing works best

While this might seem like an easy way to monetize your blog, don’t expect to be living off your commissions any time soon.

Affiliate marketing will work best if your blog has these three qualities.

  1. Perceived authority or expertise on a topic. If you’re seen as someone who knows what they’re talking about, can be trusted, and has authority, then you’ll have a much better chance of someone clicking on one of your affiliate links.
  2. A trusting relationship between you and your readers. Affiliate marketing works much better when your readers feel as if they know you, trust you, and have a relationship with you.
  3. Readers who are in a buying mood. Not everyone comes to your blog intent on buying something. But if you regularly review products on your blog then they may well be ready to buy when they get to the end of your posts.

Affiliate marketing also works better when you have a lot of traffic. But it needs to be the right kind of traffic. There’s no point bringing people to your blog who aren’t the slightest bit interested in the products you’re linking to.

Different types of affiliate programs

The Amazon model, where you’re effectively helping them sell products on their site, isn’t the only way to do affiliate marketing.

There are also affiliate networks such as Rakuten Advertising and Commission Junction, where you promote a variety of products from different suppliers.

There are also private affiliate programs you can join to help people sell ebooks and courses, such as our own Ultimate Bundles affiliate program.

Tips to help you get more out of affiliate marketing

Now that you know more about affiliate marketing, here are 12 tips to help you earn more from having it on your blog.

1. Make sure you’re committed to your readers

You need to take your relationship with your readers seriously, because if you promote the wrong product it can do a lot of damage. Make sure it’s relevant to them, and never promote anything you wouldn’t be prepared to buy yourself.

2. Aim for the affiliate sweet spot

An important part of affiliate marketing is knowing about your readers’ wants, needs and desires (which, as a blogger, you should already know). That puts you in a good position to recommend an affiliate’s product that can fulfil those wants, needs and desires.

But you also need to find a way to talk about that product and what it can do for the reader without it sounding like sleazy sales talk.

So what you’re looking for what I call the affiliate ‘sweet spot’.

It’s where the needs of your readers, the products you’re promoting and the way you’re promoting them are all in perfect balance.

3. Choose the right products for your audience

As I said earlier, you need to make sure that what you’re marketing is a good fit for your readers. And that can mean more than just the products themselves.

Most of my readers on Digital Photography School are beginners who don’t have a lot of money to spend. And so I’m much better off selling $20 ebooks than $2,000 courses. And even when we do promote higher value products, we usually offer something similar at a lower price.

4. Go beyond banner ads

Many affiliate programs will give you different options for promoting their product. As well as the raw link, they may also offer banner ads or buttons to put on your site.

These days, most people mentally ‘filter out’ these kinds of things (assuming a plugin hasn’t hidden them already). Instead, put them in any post where you talk about the products. You can also put them in your email newsletters and social media posts.

5. Make sure your reviews are transparent and genuine

Don’t say a product is perfect just so people will buy it. Be honest, and tell them what they might not like about it. Or at least point out that it will suit some people better than others.

Your readers will appreciate your honesty – especially when you help them avoid a purchase they may end up regretting.

6. Use social proof

People often make purchasing decision of what other people are buying. If something is popular, then it’s probably for a good reason. And they’ll use this ‘social proof’ to gauge what they should buy.

If your affiliate program gives you information on what people have been buying through your links, you can use this information to create a ‘bestseller’ list with affiliate links to the most popular items. And because they’re the biggest sellers, your reader may be more inclined to make a purchase.

7. Drive traffic to your best converting promotions

Another tip is to drive as much traffic to the pages containing those bestselling items as you can. Whenever we create these kinds of lists I drive as much traffic to them as I can through social media. I also mention them in our newsletter, and create links to them in our site navigation.

8. Be transparent and use disclaimers

Whenever you’re promoting a product for financial benefit, you have a moral obligation (and probably a legal one) to disclose that you’re making money from it. It’s another way to build trust with your readers and strengthen your relationship with them.

It can also give them an incentive to buy products through your affiliate links, as they’ll be helping you by making the purchase.

9. Track your results

Most affiliate programs have some kind of reporting system. Use it to find out what promotion method works best for you. Some even let you use different links so you can track what worked on social media versus what worked in email.

10. Try different promotion methods

Whenever you promote a product that has an affiliate link, don’t just stop once you’ve written about it. Think about other ways you could talk about the product – in your newsletter, on social media, in a post interviewing the creator, etc.

Here’s a graphic showing a possible sequence of events for promoting a product.

Of course, you don’t need to do them all. Just choose the ones you think will work for you.

11. Try seasonal promotions, events and bundles

Each year we do a ‘12 Days of Christmas’ campaign on Digital Photography School where we negotiate deals with different affiliates every day for 12 days before Christmas. (We also throw in a few of our own books.) And every day for those 12 days we offer a different deal to our audience.

You might me able to do something similar. Or you can simply look for any specials that are being offered on the likes of Amazon and let people know about them.

You can do the same for other occasions, such as Thanksgiving or Cyber Monday.

12. Balance the frequency of your promotions

With so many products available online, you could easily promote one every day. But chances are your readers would quickly get sick of the constant promoting. And that’s the last thing you want.

So think about how often you’ll promote a product. You could have a ‘Pick of the week’ post each Friday that talks about a new product you’ve spotted. Or you could base your promotions around particular times of the year such as Christmas and the end of the financial year.

Over to you

If you’ve never done affiliate marketing on your blog before, then I hope this post has given you some ideas about where you might start. And if you’re already monetizing your blog with affiliate marketing, I hope these tips will help you get more out of it.

Want to learn more about creating a profitable blog? Then check out our Make Money course.

 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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5 Tips from Full-Time Bloggers https://problogger.com/tips-from-full-time-bloggers/ Thu, 13 May 2021 12:00:00 +0000 https://problogger.com/?p=1050752 The post 5 Tips from Full-Time Bloggers appeared first on ProBlogger.

This post is based on episode 155 of the ProBlogger podcast. About five years ago I started using a new piece of software for creating and distributing surveys. As you probably know, I’ve been using surveys for a while to learn more about my readers and their needs. As part of ...more

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5 Tips from Full-Time Bloggers

This post is based on episode 155 of the ProBlogger podcast.

About five years ago I started using a new piece of software for creating and distributing surveys. As you probably know, I’ve been using surveys for a while to learn more about my readers and their needs.

As part of my testing process, I sent out a survey to a list of 50 full-time bloggers asking one simple question: “What’s the number one tip you’d give a blogger who’s just starting out and wants to become a full-time blogger?”

The software did what I expected it to do, and soon I had replies from nearly everyone on my list. What I didn’t expect was the variety of answers I got back.

Or rather, the lack of variety.

In the end, there was so much overlap and similarity in their responses that I ended up with five tips. And those tips are just as relevant as they were five years ago, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Here they are (in no particular order).

1. Be yourself

“Just be you. Speak in your own voice, and don’t try to be anyone else. Swim in your own lane.”

“Be yourself.”

“Keep it real.”

Find your authentic voice.”

“My best tip is to write about what you love and have experience in. Honesty comes out in your writing.”

“Only write about what you’re passionate about, your own unique experiences.”

“Don’t copy, find your own voice and use that. Remember, cover bands don’t change the world.”

“If you’re passionate about something, let it shine through in every aspect of your blog. Don’t get so caught up in watching stats and gaining followers that you forget why you started blogging in the first place. Be authentic and make those connections organically, because those are the people who’ll stick with you during your rollercoaster journey of ups and downs.”

“Write about something you’re genuinely interested in. In a crowded space, the best way to stand out is to be yourself. There’s no-one like you. Your story, your opinion, your voice, and your humor are all unique. Tap into that.”

I love this piece of advice. It may take you a while to work out who you really are. But that last comment is spot on: The way to stand out is to find out who you are and to let it come through in your voice.

2. Be consistent

Out of the 50-odd people who responded to my survey, almost a quarter of them mentioned being consistent.

“People like consistency.”

“Be consistent and be yourself.”

“Be regular with your writing. It really helps to keep the momentum going for both you as the writer and your readers.”

“Blogging is never about one post. It’s your body of work that you’ll become known for.”

“Keep going, keep talking, and keep taking consistent action no matter how small. When you look back in a year you’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come.”

Be consistent with the content you deliver. Be genuine in what you write about, and how you deliver your message. If you do those things, the money and business side will naturally start to flow.”

“Keep going, and stay true to your voice and the info you want to provide.”

I talk about being consistency a lot here at ProBlogger, and that you need to keep creating content no matter how well you write. Sure, you may have a post go viral and bring you a heap of traffic. But unless you have a large archive of content to keep those readers on your site – posts, videos, tweets, etc. – that traffic will disappear as quickly as it arrived. And that’s why consistency is key to making a full-time career from blogging.

3. Be persistent

Along with being consistent, a lot of the replies talked about being persistent.

“It takes time to build a good blog.”

“Beware. It’s going to be a lot of work.”

“Slow and steady wins the race.”

“Keep going, it can take time to grow.”

“Keep going and keep learning.”

Keep going. If you feel like quitting, reconnect with your why and keep going.”

“Persist for you, not the numbers.”

If you want to enough money to be a full-time blogger, you need to keep going no matter what. Make no mistake: it’s going to be a while before you start earning enough money to even consider going full-time. And the only way you’ll make it is to keep writing great content.

4. Give it a go

Of course, these tips won’t amount to anything unless you actually create your blog and start writing content for it. And that was the fourth tip that came out of all those responses.

“Jump in and give it a go.”

“My biggest tip is to just start. So many people want to start a blog. They worry about how they won’t be good enough, or compare themselves to established bloggers. If you don’t start, you can never build on it. Don’t worry it not being perfect because it will never be perfect, no matter when you start. So start now.”

“If you haven’t started, start. And then stick at it.”

Every full-time blogger I’ve met became successful by finding their own path and their own distinct way forward. But they all shared one common trait: they started out with nothing. No blog, no readers, no traffic, and no idea what the future held in store for them.

I was no different. My email list was just as empty as theirs to begin with, and I ended up subscribing just to get it above zero. Later on I subscribed my dad, my wife, and a bunch of other people I knew.

My first email went out to 17 subscribers, and I wondered why I’d even bothered creating and sending it out, especially as no-one had clicked on any of the links.

But my next email went out to 30 people, and a couple of people did click on the links. And the next week it went out to 45 subscribers, and I got even more clicks.

Today I have more than 750,000 subscribers on that list. And it brings in a lot of traffic to my blog, which helps me earn enough money to be a full-time blogger.

Will you have similar success with your blog? I can’t tell you that. But what I can tell you is that it will never happen unless you give it a go.

5. Do something meaningful

The last tip I got out of my survey results was to make an impact by doing something meaningful.

“Reach the heart of your readers because the more hearts you touch, the more the numbers will start to follow.”

“Do something meaningful to you and your readers. If it means something to you, you’ll be able to get through the tough times. If you do something meaningful to others, you’ll do something that people will want to connect with and share.”

Know your why. Know why you’re blogging, and then write it down so you can wave it in front of anyone who tells you that you should be doing something else. You might blog to make money, to draw up business, to help others, to connect with others, or to simply be creative. Figuring out your motivation for blogging will stop you from being overwhelmed by all the things you could or should be doing with your blog.”

This tip really resonates with me. Knowing your why will influence the direction you go, and help you to make wise choices about what to do.

What’s your tip?

Imagine you found my survey in your inbox. How would you answer my question? What would your number one tip be? Let us know in the comments.

 

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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The Power of Being Vulnerable https://problogger.com/being-vulnerable/ Thu, 06 May 2021 12:00:00 +0000 https://problogger.com/?p=1050096 The post The Power of Being Vulnerable appeared first on ProBlogger.

This post is based on episode 255 of the ProBlogger podcast. A lot of bloggers feel that showing any sign of weakness will damage their reputation and weaken their authority . And so they talk only about their successes, and never about their fears, doubts, or mistakes. But I’ve learned from ...more

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The post The Power of Being Vulnerable appeared first on ProBlogger.

The power of being vulnerable

This post is based on episode 255 of the ProBlogger podcast.

A lot of bloggers feel that showing any sign of weakness will damage their reputation and weaken their authority . And so they talk only about their successes, and never about their fears, doubts, or mistakes.

But I’ve learned from personal experience that being vulnerable and talking about the not-so-successful decisions you’ve made can be incredibly powerful. And while showing vulnerability can be risky, it it’s done right it can provide a number of benefits.

And that’s what I want to talk about this week: being vulnerable with your audience.

My first experience with vulnerability

When I was 16 I did a course in public speaking, which included a series of five-minute talks. I was incredibly nervous, and proceeded to fill my five minutes with as many facts and theories and as much how-to information as I could. And while it was all good information, all I could think while looking at my audience was, Are they even listening to me?

After my talk, the teacher gave me this piece of valuable feedback: “You need to include something a little bit more personal. Share something about yourself”.

For my next talk I decided share a story about a mistake I’d made. And I can still remember the entire audience leaning forward as I shared my moment of vulnerability. They were more than interested. They were captivated.

And that’s when I learned about the power of being vulnerable.

My Medium experience

A few years ago I wrote an article about my third mid-life crisis. But while I talked about my career as blogger in that article, it wasn’t really a blogging article. And so I submitted it to Medium.com instead.

It was definitely a risk, because showing ‘weakness’ like I did could have eroded some of my authority or even frustrated some of my readers and listeners. After all, I’d built my brand and reputation about creating useful content.

But the feedback I got from those who read my article (bloggers and non-bloggers) was staggering. Here are just some of the highlights.

  • The article received 8,000 views, 1,400 “Claps” and 38 comments.
  • It resonated with a much wider age range than expected (20–85).
  • People responded with personal, vulnerable, and in-depth comments.
  • More than 350 people joined the Facebook group to discuss the article.
  • Real-life friends, family members, blog readers and complete strangers contacted me, and talked to each other to form a community.
  • People found it refreshing that I was transparent and didn’t always have it all together.
  • The feedback gave me energy and freedom.

With power comes responsibility

Vulnerability can be contagious. When you show people that you’re willing to let your guard down and show some vulnerability, a lot of them will do the same.

But while that can be a positive, you also need to realise that you could be opening the proverbial can of worms for some people. And so you need to be there to care for them, respond to them, acknowledge them, and value them in some way. And depending on how many people read what you’ve written, that can involve a considerable amount of time, effort and energy.

What to consider before you show vulnerability

While being vulnerable can be a powerful thing, you need to consider what you’re saying. There’s always the risk of oversharing, which can potentially damage your brand and your reputation. And depending on what it is you’re sharing, you can also hurt other people – even if you have their best interests at heart.

So here are four questions you should ask yourself before you hit ‘Publish’.

(Full disclosure: I didn’t come up with these questions myself. I’m actually borrowing them from a post Aimee Beltran wrote for BlogPaws. It’s a great post, and you should definitely read it when you finish reading this one.)

  1. “Am I ready to share this?” As much as you want to show your vulnerability, it may be too soon to do it. You may not be in a good space. You may need time to process information, or deal with your emotions. And remember: being vulnerable may be lead to other people being equally vulnerable. Are you ready to have those conversations with people?
  2. “Why am I sharing this?” Are you doing it just to get back at someone, or to get lots of traffic? If so, then you may want to think twice. Perhaps you’re doing it to help others, or even as a form of therapy. If that’s the case the question might be “Why are you sharing this here?” You might be better off sharing your story in a different place where you have a more suitable audience.
  3. “Am I oversharing?” As I said, oversharing can potentially damage both your brand and your reputation. So you may want to get a second opinion on whether you should be publishing what you’ve written. You may want to ask your friends for their opinion, or try it out on a smaller group of people. Another option is to sit on it for a few days and then come back to it. You may feel a lot differently about what you’ve written.
  4. “Will this hurt someone I love?” This is an incredibly important question to ask yourself. In my Medium article I talked about periods of my life that I shared with my friends and family, and I didn’t want to offend any of them. So I had to work really hard –rewording and expanding some parts, and deleting others – so I could show my vulnerability without hurting anyone else.

Ready to show some vulnerability?

I can understand you wanting to keep your vulnerabilities to yourself. But I truly believe that being vulnerable with your audience will help you in the long run.

You don’t have to be vulnerable in every post you write. And your vulnerabilities don’t need to be the entire focus of your post. You can quickly mention something that didn’t quite go to plan, and then either move on or use it to create a teaching moment. And over time, your readers will get a much better idea of who you are and the journey you’ve taken to be where you are today.

So how are you going to be vulnerable? Let us know in the comments.

 

Photo by Oxana Lyashenko on Unsplash

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What Every Blogger Needs to Know about Email https://problogger.com/what-every-blogger-needs-to-know-about-email/ Thu, 29 Apr 2021 23:14:08 +0000 https://problogger.com/?p=1049085 The post What Every Blogger Needs to Know about Email appeared first on ProBlogger.

This post is based on episode 251 of the ProBlogger podcast. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: email is one of the best ways (if not the best way) to connect with your blog’s readers. You might think email is outdated, and that communicating on social media will give ...more

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The post What Every Blogger Needs to Know about Email appeared first on ProBlogger.

What every blogger needs to know about email

This post is based on episode 251 of the ProBlogger podcast.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: email is one of the best ways (if not the best way) to connect with your blog’s readers.

You might think email is outdated, and that communicating on social media will give you the best chance of attracting readers. But you have no control over any of those platforms, and so you’re at the mercy of whatever changes they make.

But with email you have complete control over every aspect of your communication. And if you’re not using it, you really are missing out.

But that’s easier said than done. How do you actually set up an email list? How do you get people to subscribe to it. And when they do subscribe, what do you send them?

So this week I’d like to answer some of the questions you’ll inevitably have if you’ve never done this before. Starting with…

Choosing an email provider

One of your first decisions will be to choose an email provider. Gone are the days when you manually copied and pasted people’s email addresses into a long distribution list. These providers do all the hard work for you, and provide the tools you need such as:

  • forms for people to subscribe (and unsubscribe) from your list
  • allowing people to confirm their subscription (double opt-in)
  • templates to help you create your newsletter
  • scheduling when people receive your newsletter
  • sending your newsletter in batches so it isn’t flagged as spam
  • segmenting your list based in various attributes (country, language, etc.)
  • statistics on who opens and reads your newsletter.

How much you will need to pay will depend on the email provider and the numbers of features you need. However, a lot of them offer a free option based on how many subscribers you have in your list.

We have a guide in our ProBlogger PLUS Members Library that compares the various email providers so you can choose the one that best suits your needs. And here’s a blog post to help you even more.

Once you’ve settled on an email provider, the next step is…

Setting up your subscription forms

Pretty much every email provider will have forms you can place in your header, your sidebar, and even your posts, to collect people’s email addresses. And you can often tailor these forms to match your blog’s design and appear in different ways. You may need to experiment a little to find the most effective places to put these forms. You want to make them prominent without getting in your reader’s way.

Once your forms are in place, you should subscribe to your blog to make sure everything is working. Are you getting the opt-in message to confirm your subscription? Are you getting a message or some other indication from your email provider that someone has subscribed? Can you bring up the list of subscribers and see your own email address? Can you unsubscribe, and does your email address disappear from the list when you do?

Once you’ve set up your forms and tested everything out, you just need to wait for your first subscriber. (Of course, you’ll be working on creating more content while you’re waiting, right?)

And once you get your first subscriber, it’s time to start…

Sending out your newsletter

You now have your first subscriber (although hopefully you’ll have more than one). The question is, what do you send them?

What you include in your newsletter is totally up to you. But here are a few ideas on what you could include:

  • A paragraph about your latest post with a link to the full post on your blog
  • A teaser on what your next post will be about
  • Links to interesting articles you’ve read
  • Something you’ve learned
  • A famous quote that resonates with you (and perhaps the reason why)
  • A bit of information about you, or what you’ve been up to since the last newsletter
  • Suggestions on what they’d like to read about on your blog
  • A question they could answer, which could then be used in a future post (with their permission, of course).

And here’s a blog post that goes into content for your newsletter a little deeper.

As I said, what you put in your newsletter is totally up to you. Just make sure it has some useful information that can give your readers a ‘quick win’.

And your newsletter design doesn’t need to be overly fancy either. Don’t put off sending it out because it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles other newsletters have. What’s most important is that you send it.

And make sure you keep sending them, no matter how many subscribers you have. Don’t think you have to wait until you have 100 subscribers to make it worth your while.

But what happens when you have everything set up and people still aren’t subscribing? If that happens you may need to think about…

Creating an incentive to subscribe

If you’ve ever subscribed to a newsletter on another site, chances are you were offered some incentive in return for subscribing – a free PDF, a discount on your next order, etc.

This can be a good way to entice people to subscribe to your newsletter. You could create a simple PDF offering tips on how to perform a particular task or other information related to your niche.

Unfortunately, you may find that some people subscribe just to get your free offering. And once they have it, they unsubscribe the first chance they get (probably by using the link in your newsletter).

Of course, if the content in your PDF is as useful as the content on your blog they’ll realise it’s worth being a subscriber and stick around. However, there’s another way to get them to stay subscribed for longer – the email sequence. This is where you keep sending more useful information every week (or whatever timeframe you choose) as an incentive to stay subscribed.

The information you send could be more ‘freebies’ like your initial offering. But it could also be a series of emails that steps them through a process in greater detail. And at the end of each email you hint at what’s coming in the next one, which gives them more incentive to stay subscribed so they don’t miss out.

Creating an email sequence like this is a great way to build a relationship with your readers. Over time they’ll see that you really do want to help them with the content you’re creating. And it won’t be long before they realise that and become a regular reader.

We have a number of these email sequences at ProBlogger. But one of the most popular incentives is our 6 Months of Blog Post Ideas, where people can sign up to get 30 blog post ideas every month for six months. It’s a way to give those who subscribe a quick win (30 ideas within minutes of signing up), but also keep delivering those quick wins over time.

Another opt-in we have is our Ultimate Guide to Start a Blog Course. While it doesn’t necessarily create a quick win, we’ve found that the people who sign up for it have stayed with us as readers and listeners. They’re grateful, and it shows the power of creating something for free in exchange for an email address.

Ready to set up your email list?

As I said earlier, email is one of the best ways you can connect with your readers. And the tools available today make setting up a subscription list, gathering email addresses and sending out regular newsletters quite easy.

So choose your provider, get those forms on your site, and get ready to make a real connection with your readers.

And let us know how it all goes.

 

Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

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How to Hire Writers for Your Blog https://problogger.com/hire-writers-for-your-blog/ Thu, 22 Apr 2021 11:47:42 +0000 https://problogger.com/?p=1048498 The post How to Hire Writers for Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

This blog is based on episode 169 of the ProBlogger podcast. Most blogs start out as a solo effort, with one person doing all the writing, marketing and social media updates. That’s certainly how I started all my blogs. But while I still produce most of the content on ProBlogger, it’s ...more

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The post How to Hire Writers for Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

How to hire writers for your blog

This blog is based on episode 169 of the ProBlogger podcast.

Most blogs start out as a solo effort, with one person doing all the writing, marketing and social media updates. That’s certainly how I started all my blogs.

But while I still produce most of the content on ProBlogger, it’s a completely different story over at dPS (Digital Photography School). There I have 50 writers and one editor working for me to produce 14 new posts every week.

And I don’t write any of them.

So how did I go from writing all my own content to having a team of writers doing it all for me? And should you be thinking of doing something similar with your blog?

I can’t really answer that question for you. But what I can do is tell you how and why I did it, and point out the pros and cons of doing it.

But first I need to tell you something important.

This isn’t the endgame.

Don’t think you need a team of writers before you can consider yourself a successful blogger. There’s nothing wrong with doing it all yourself, no matter how long you’ve been blogging and how many readers you have. In fact, having multiple people writing for your blog could do more harm than good, especially if it’s a personal blog or one where you’re central to its branding.

But if your blog’s focus is on content and information rather than your personal view on things, then bringing in multiple writers might be worth considering.

The dPS story (stage 1)

When I started Digital Photography School back in 2006, I wrote three posts a week. At that stage I was an intermediate-level photographer and had done a few weddings, and so wrote content aimed squarely at beginners. And while that may seem limiting, I came up with around 200 topics I could write about, which would keep me going for a good couple of years

Back then my goals were to:

  • build my traffic
  • build up my archives
  • rank in search engines
  • hook people into subscribing to my blogs and email lists
  • build my brand
  • build a bit of engagement.

And while they were all important, it was building that engagement that helped me take the blog to the next stage.

The dPS story (stage 2)

One of the things I did to build engagement was to start a Flickr group. It was the perfect place to engage with other photographers. And looking at the photos they posted I could tell that some of them knew a lot more about photography than I did.

And they seemed more than happy to share their knowledge. Many of them read my blog posts and provided great information in their comments.

And it got me thinking. Would they be willing to write guest posts for the blog?

Now I could have sent them all an email saying, “Hi. Would you be interested in writing a guest post for my blog?” But I decided to take a somewhat gentler approach. I simply asked them if I could use their comments as part of a blog post. And most of them were totally fine with it.

I also set up an area of the Flickr group where people could submit tips for me to include in future blog posts. (I made it blatantly clear that’s what I’d be doing with their contributions.) If I was doing a post about portrait I’d ask for tips and tricks, and pretty soon I’d have enough for a post. In fact, some of them were so long and detailed that they became posts in and of themselves.

A lot of the photographers let me use their photos in my posts, and even provided information about the equipment and technique they used to create it. I also got to interview them about various shooting scenarios (wedding photography, landscape photography, etc.)

Some of them emailed me to say how much they enjoyed contributing to the blog. And in my reply to thank them I said that if they ever wanted to write a longer piece I’d be happy to talk about it.

At this point Digital Photography had been running for a couple of years, and there was a real sense of community and engagement on the blog. And because of that, a few people agreed to write guest posts despite the fact I couldn’t pay them. They simply wanted to give back to the community. Later I created a “Write for dPS” page where people could submit their ideas, and soon I had a pool of guest writers who were all willing to contribute one guest post a month.

And this paved the way for…

The dPS story (stage 3)

By now the blog was growing steadily and getting more and traffic. But I wanted to keep the momentum going by increasing our publishing frequency. My aim was to publish 14 posts a week (two each day), which meant I needed a team of writers I could rely on to create great posts week after week.

But that’s a lot to ask of someone who’s been doing it for free. And so I started contacting people who’d written guest posts for us and asked if they’d be willing to write a post a week if I paid them.

We started with two regular contributors, and paid them US$50 per article. They were also allowed to promote their eBooks on the blog, which helped them earn even more.

As the blog got more traffic (and more revenue) we grew our team of writers and started publishing more and more posts each week. We now have a team of 50 writers working together to produce 14 posts a week. Some of them write a post every week, while others write one every month.

As you would expect, some of them become so successful that they no longer have the time to write for us. Which means we need to hire more writers from time to time. And here’s how we do it.

The hiring process

Rather than advertising for a writer whenever we lose one, we hire people in batches. We tend to advertise every few months of so, and typically hire five people at a time.

We start by posting an advertisement on the ProBlogger job board. In that advertisement we clearly state the kind of person we’re looking for. We also ask each applicant to submit a sample of their work to help us make our decision.

A week later we stop accepting applications and start going through them all.

We start by sending those we know aren’t a good fit an email that says something along the lines of “Thanks for applying. We’re really sorry, but we can’t progress your application”. (We use a template to make it as quick and easy as possible.)

We then send an email to those we’re interested in that says, “Thanks for your application. Here’s what happens next. We’ll be in touch soon.”

Nest, we sort these applicants into groups (‘Great’, ‘Good’ and ‘Okay’). We’ll grab as many people as we need from the ‘Great’ group first, and if we still don’t have enough we’ll move to the ‘Good’ group, and so on.

We then tell the people we’ve short-listed about the job – what it entails, what it pays, etc. – and ask them to write a trial post for us (which we pay for). This helps us determine not only the quality of their work, but also what they’re like to work with. Can they deliver on time? Are they high maintenance? Do they understand what WordPress is and how to write for that audience? Will they respond to comments people make about their article?

It’s also a way to see whether their style resonates with our audience – what voice they write in, how accessible their content is, how inclusive they are, how clear they are. And it also gives us a chance to see how our audience will respond to them. Do they get a lot of comments? Do they write in a way that’s engaging and gets lots of shares? You get a real feel for people through this process.

And if we’re happy with them (and they’re happy with us), we hire them.

Hopefully this story will help you find writers for your own blog. But before you start putting out offers, I’d like to point some of the pros and cons of having multiple people contributing to your blog.

The pros and cons of new writers

Let’s start with the benefits. Obviously you’ll have more content to publish on your blog, which both your readers and Google will appreciate. But having multiple writers can also add a variety of personalities and styles of writing to your blog. And any one of them could bring in a new wave of readers.

It also allows you to publish more specialized content. One of the benefits of having so many people writing for Digital Photography School is it now has so much more content that’s written for expert photographers – content I could never write myself.

But there are also a few drawbacks. It takes time to find, select and train new writers. And if you don’t have a dedicated editor in your team, you may find yourself editing every post that comes through as well.

You may also find that some of your readers don’t like a particular writer’s style or personality. If that happens you need to consider whether keeping them on is worth the potential risk to your readership, and even your brand.

And of course, most regular contributors will expect to paid.

Over to you

For those of you who have been thinking about hiring writers for your blog, has this post helped you make your decision? Let us know in the comments.

And for those of you who already have multiple people writing for your blog, do you have any tips or advice you could add?

 

Photo by Museums Victoria on Unsplash

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10 Things You Should Know about Blogging (from Someone Who Didn’t) https://problogger.com/things-you-should-know-about-blogging/ Thu, 15 Apr 2021 12:00:00 +0000 https://problogger.com/?p=1047942 The post 10 Things You Should Know about Blogging (from Someone Who Didn’t) appeared first on ProBlogger.

This post is based on episode 100 of the ProBlogger podcast. As you probably know, when I first started blogging I was very much a novice. I knew nothing about design, domains, or setting up a website. (I didn’t even know to ‘bold’ a piece of text.) But in the 18-odd years ...more

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The post 10 Things You Should Know about Blogging (from Someone Who Didn’t) appeared first on ProBlogger.

10 Things You Should Know about Blogging (from Someone Who Didn’t)

This post is based on episode 100 of the ProBlogger podcast.

As you probably know, when I first started blogging I was very much a novice. I knew nothing about design, domains, or setting up a website. (I didn’t even know to ‘bold’ a piece of text.)

But in the 18-odd years I’ve been blogging I’ve learned a lot. And today I’d like to share 10 things that would have saved me a lot of time, effort and anguish if I’d known them from day one.

1. Treat blogging as a business

If you want your blog to be a business, then you need to treat it like one.

From the moment I started making money on one of my blogs I dreamed about making a career out of it. Even though I was making only a few dollars a week, I still thought that if I could increase my traffic and learn how to use monetization strategies a bit better then it could become a full-time thing.

And I slowly turned that dream into reality.

And when I say slowly, I mean it. I managed to increase my earnings by 10% each month, which sounds great until you realize that equates to around 30 cents. But looking at one of the many spreadsheets I created, I could see that if I kept it up for another six or seven years I’d be making enough to do it full-time.

At some point I told my wife Vanessa about it. She humored me at first, but one day she replied to me pointing at my spreadsheet with “In seven years’ time we’ll both be 37 years old and have kids. If you really want to be a full-time blogger, you need to escalate this.”

And that’s when I got really serious and started creating deadlines for things. At that point I wasn’t quite earning enough to do it full-time, and so I get myself a six-month deadline. And if I wasn’t doing it full-time by then I had to get a full-time job doing something else.

I started cold-calling business owners and asking if they wanted to advertise on my blog. After a lot of knockbacks I got my first advertiser, who paid me $20 a month to advertise his business on my blog. And over time that figure slowly rose to a couple of hundred dollars a month – not enough to live on by any means, but an important step towards my goal.

I also started working on strategies to bring more traffic to my blog, which led to more advertising opportunities, as well as other ways to monetize my blog (which I’ll talk about soon).

Today I’m living the dream of being a full-time blogger. But it never would have happened if I didn’t start treating it like business.

2. Identify who you want reading your blog

One of my strategies for increasing my traffic was working out who I was writing it for. And that meant working out who I wanted to be reading it in the first place.

The more you know about who’s reading your blog, the better you’ll be at engaging with them and creating content that meets their needs.

When I started Digital Photography School I began to think about reader profiles. And over time I came up with a number of personas for the kinds of people I wanted reading my blog. For example, I created a reader named Grace who was a ‘mamarazzo’ and loved taking photos of her kids. And having her as one of my ‘ideal’ readers instantly gave me ideas on what I could write about to engage her and meet her needs. Here’s more about how to create your own reader profiles.

If you’ve been blogging for a while you may already have a number of people reading your blog regularly. And that gives you the perfect opportunity to find out more about them and how you can serve them better on your blog. You could send them an email asking about the kind of content they’d like to read on your blog. You could create surveys to find out more about them. You could even arrange to meet some of them (face to face or virtually) and get to know them even better.

3. Don’t ignore email

One of the best decisions I ever made was to start a newsletter for Digital Photography School (and later ProBlogger).

When blogs first became a thing, most of them asked people to subscribe to the RSS feed by having a big orange “Subscribe to my blog” button they could click on. But unless you a) knew what an RSS feed was and b) had an RSS reader such as Google Reader to read it with, it wasn’t much use.

And so I created a simple newsletter so the readers who understood email could receive a weekly newsletter from us. And soon it became the most popular way for people to subscribe to our content. Even in 2010 we had 80% of our readers subscribing by email and only 20% by the RSS feed.

And while email is great for our readers, it’s also a great way for us to:

  • drive traffic to the two blogs
  • drive sales of our products
  • build our community.

Social media can be a great way to communicate with your readers and bring in traffic. But you can’t control it, and so you’ll always be at the mercy of the platforms and their algorithms. With email you have total control, and while not everyone will read your newsletter at least it will be their choice rather than someone else’s.

If you haven’t set up an email list, stop reading right now and set one up. Yes, it’s that important. Here’s a podcast which tells you everything you need to know about getting started with email.

4. Try different ways to monetize your blog

One of my early forays into monetizing my blog was setting myself up as an Amazon affiliate. At the time I was already promoting books, and becoming an affiliate meant I could earn 8% commission on any book someone bought through me promoting it. I wasn’t getting a lot of money, but having that second income stream diversified and increased my income.

These days there are plenty of ways you can monetize your blog – advertising, affiliate marketing, continuity programs, memberships, selling products and services, and so on. And you don’t have to choose one over all the others. There’s nothing stopping you from creating multiple revenue streams by using different monetization methods. Here’s an article that covers all the basics of making money blogging.

5. Create something to sell

Speaking of monetization, one great way to earn money from your blog is to create something to sell.

Another one of my dreams was to sell ebooks on my blog. Both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School are teaching blogs, and so it seemed logical to try and monetize what I was teaching my readers in some way.

After putting it off time and time again, I eventually created my first ebook – The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography. It was basically a collection of my best articles about the topic from the blog (which I disclosed very clearly from the outset), along with some interviews with portrait photographers.

I had no idea if anyone would spend $15 on content they could pretty much read on the blog for free, but I put my ebook on the site anyway.

Within 24 hours we’d sold 1,100 copies and made $15,000. And by the end of the week that number grew to 4,000 copies.

This is why it’s worth creating something you can sell, especially if you have a loyal audience. It also demonstrates why building trust and rapport with your readers is so important.

What could you create to sell on your blog? For some ideas this article talks about how to create products and sell them on your blog.

6. Create content that informs, inspires or interacts

If you’ve ever heard me speak then you’ll know I’m a big fan of creating content that informs, inspires and interacts.

Most of the content on my blogs fits into the ‘information’ category. Our bread and butter is teaching people, and 90% of our content is tutorials and how-to articles. And it helps us sell that information in the form of products and courses), and recommend other people’s products as an affiliate.

But occasionally I sprinkle in  in some inspirational content to go along with our information. On Digital Photography School we have an article titled Eight Tips for Long Exposure Photography, which explains how to take cool photographs using this technique. And the article was quite popular. But the following I week I published Long-Exposure Photography: 15 Stunning Examples, which showed the results you could get from using the long exposure technique.

And the readership of that first article went through the roof.

So try experimenting with content that informs, inspires or interacts with your readers, and see if you can find the perfect combination for your blog. This article explains how.

7. Look for ‘sparks’

When you’ve been blogging for a while, there’s a good change that your energy and enthusiasm will start to wane. Which is why it’s important to look for ‘sparks’ that reignite them and keep you going.

At the end of the day I ask myself two questions:

  • “What gave me energy today?”
  • “What gave those around me energy today?”

For me, it could be a post, a tweet, or a reader’s reaction to something I’d said or done. But whatever it is, I make a note of it so I can repeat it when I need to get that energy back.

Whether you’re a blogger, a podcaster, a YouTuber or something else, pay attention to what gives you and those around you energy. They’ll not only keep your energy levels up, but could also help you become more profitable by exciting your readers and listeners.

8. Be active

For years I’ve had a question printed out and sitting next to my computer: “What action will I take today that will grow my blog?”

It’s all too easy to become passive and reactive. Think of the time you spend reading and responding to emails. While it’s important to interact with your readers, the best entrepreneurs are out there taking action by creating new things rather than reacting to what other people are creating.

Think about how you use your time. Are you being reactive, or are you being constructive?

When I decided to create my Essential Guide to Portrait Photography ebook, I got up early every morning and worked on it for 15 minutes. And once it was done I spent that 15 minutes on other things – collating it, finding a designer, learning how to get it online, researching shopping carts, and creating my sales page and emails.

All up it took me three or four months. But as I said earlier, we sold 1,100 copies in the first day. And as the sales racked up all I could think was, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”

Be an action taker.

9. Let your worlds collide

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that it’s okay to share your passions with your readers, even if they fall outside your niche

In 2011 I was approached by CBM, a not-for-profit that helps people with disability, to go to Tanzania and see the work they were doing . They work in a hospital with people who have a range of issues – women with maternal health issues and fistulas, people with cataracts and blindness, kids born with clubbed feet and orthopedic issues.

I was excited about going, and seeing what they were doing. (I’m passionate about disability, and giving those who are marginalized a voice.) But they wanted me to blog about it and share what I saw, and I wasn’t sure how my readers would react.

As it turned out, they responded really well. In fact, it strengthened my relationship with them. I got a lot of emails saying things along the lines of, “I’d never seen that side of you before and I suddenly feel like I can relate to you a lot more”.

It also gave me the opportunity to use my influence to do something that really mattered to me, and to bring  some attention to the good work CBM was doing.

If you’re passionate about things that matter and are meaningful, let your worlds collide a little and use your influence to not only benefit you and your readers, but also to make the world a better place in some way.

10. Don’t forget the readers you already have

Finally, you need to look after your readers.

Some bloggers are so obsessed with getting new readers that they seem to forget about the readers they already have. Yes, it’s important to grow your readership. But the readers you have now can play a big part in making that happen.

For a start, they can help you spread the word about your blog. If they like it, then chances are they’ll tell other people about it, and encourage them to take a look.

They’re also more likely to buy your products, respond to your affiliate messages, and otherwise help you monetize your blog. And the more you can earn from your blog, the more likely you can keep it growing and attracting new readers.

What have you learned about blogging?

As I said, I’ve learned a lot about blogging over the years. And I’ve probably learned a lot more than what I’ve listed here. But what have you learned about blogging since you started? We’d love to hear about it.

 

Photo by Charlein Gracia on Unsplash

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How to Update Your Blog Design (and Why You Should) https://problogger.com/update-your-blog-design/ Thu, 08 Apr 2021 12:00:00 +0000 https://problogger.com/?p=1047327 The post How to Update Your Blog Design (and Why You Should) appeared first on ProBlogger.

This post is based on episode 71 of the ProBlogger podcast. When was the last time you took a long, hard look at your blog’s design? While having great content is important, your blog’s design will also play a part in how successful it (and you) will be. If new readers ...more

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The post How to Update Your Blog Design (and Why You Should) appeared first on ProBlogger.

How to Update Your Blog Design (and Why You Should)

This post is based on episode 71 of the ProBlogger podcast.

When was the last time you took a long, hard look at your blog’s design?

While having great content is important, your blog’s design will also play a part in how successful it (and you) will be. If new readers find the navigation confusing or can’t make sense of what’s in the sidebar, they may never come back to read your latest masterpiece.

Even if they do hang around, they may not take the action you want them to take simply because you haven’t told them what you want them to do.

Your blog’s design can also affect other aspects of your blog, such as:

  • keeping readers on your blog for longer
  • getting more page views
  • getting more comments
  • getting more clicks on affiliate links
  • selling more products and services.

So this week I want to point out a few ways you can update your blog design, as well as talk about another option.

Look at your sidebar

If your blog has a sidebar, it might be time to give it a bit of a spring clean.

Sidebars often get cluttered over time. You start off with just a few basic elements, but over time you discover new links and tools, and before you know it you have 20 different elements on your sidebar.

And like pretty much everything else on the web, some of them can quickly break. Even worse, some of them can become security risks, especially if they haven’t been updated in a long time.

Another issue with sidebars is how well they function on handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets. If your readers can’t even see your sidebar elements on their phone, how can they possibly use them?

So look at each element on your sidebar, and think about whether you need it. If you don’t, get rid of it. But if you do, make sure it still works, is secure, and can be seen no matter how people are accessing your blog.

Look at your navigation

While your blog may not have a sidebar, it will almost certainly have some form of navigation. And it can play a big a big part on how people find your content. When it’s working well, people should be able to find your content quickly and easily. But if you haven’t looked at it for a while, it may not be working well for you or your readers.

Your menus are especially important, as readers tend to use them quite a bit. Are any of the links in your menu broken (e.g. linking to pages that no longer exist on your blog)? Are they pointing to information that’s out of date or no longer relevant?

Does your menu include categories you no longer write about? You may not want to highlight the fact you haven’t written about a particular topic in years.

Do you need to reorganize your menus? Do you have too many sub-menus, or even sub-sub-menus that make it difficult to find your content? And again, can they all be accessed easily on a smartphone or tablet?

Look at your calls to action

What do you want your readers to do on your blog?

When you’re just starting out you may not have any products to sell. In fact, you may not be monetizing your blog at all. However, you might still like your readers to comment on what you’ve said, and share your post on social media.

But are you actually asking them to do it, or just hoping they will?

By having a clear call to action at the end of each post, you can tell them what you’d like them to do. But it doesn’t need to sound like an order. You can easily say something like “What do you think about this? Let me know in the comments” or “Know anyone who might enjoy this post? Feel free to share the link”.

And what about the rest of your blog? Would you like them to subscribe to your newsletter? Find out more about you by reading your About page? Hire you for their next project? Buy your products?

Then you need to tell them.

Take a look at your calls to action, and make sure they’re still relevant. And see whether you need to add new ones, or put them in more prominent places. (If there’s a particular page or post that’s doing really well in Google Analytics, it might be a great place to add a CTA or two.)

Consider giving it a complete overhaul

If you’ve been blogging for a while, then you may find your blog’s design may no longer suit your content. This can happen if you’ve started writing about new topics, or have pivoted your blog completely.

You may also find that your design simply doesn’t work anymore. These days it’s important for your blog to be responsive so it can be accessed on phones and tablets. And so if your blog isn’t responsive, you may be losing readers.

Perhaps you just don’t like the look of it anymore. You might think it looks ugly, or is cramming too much information into a small space. Maybe you don’t like the colors, or think it has so many different fonts it looks more like a ransom letter than a blog.

If that’s the case, it might be time to give your blog’s design a completely overhaul. Fortunately, you can usually do this without losing any of your content. (But I’d still make a complete backup of your blog, just in case.)

Obviously I can’t tell you how you should design your blog. But here are a few suggestions that can be incorporated into just about any design:

  • Keep it as simple as possible. The less complex it is, the less that can go wrong.
  • Keep the number of fonts and colors to a minimum. Two or three of each should be enough.
  • Use plenty of white space. You need to give the various elements on your blog room to breathe (and to stand out).
  • Keep everything consistent. Once you’ve chosen your colors, fonts and other stylistic features, use them throughout your site to tie everything together.

Over to you

So what do you think your blog needs in terms of a design update? Can you get by with adjusting your menus and sidebar? Do you need to add more calls to action? Or do you need to tear down the walls and start again? Let us know in the comments.

 

Photo by pan xiaozhen on Unsplash

The post How to Update Your Blog Design (and Why You Should) appeared first on ProBlogger.

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