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How a Flip Camera and My Blog Got My Business Over $20,000 of FREE Publicity

Posted By Darren Rowse 17th of September 2009 General 0 Comments

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Mark Hayward. You can follow him on Twitter @mark_hayward.

How a Flip Camera and My Blog Got My Business Over $20,000 of FREE PublicityDo you ever feel like you want to pull your hair out over the lack of return (you feel like) you’re getting from your small business blogging and social media efforts?

Man, sometimes using social media for small business promotion can be frustrating!

In my two most recent ProBlogger guest posts I discussed, How to Go Beyond Your Small Business Blog and Create a Social Media Footprint and 10 Tips for Blogging Your Way to Small Business Success.

But you should know, I was not always a proponent of blogging or social media.

As a small business owner I completely understand your aggravation, and perhaps disappointment, with blogging.

In fact, a couple of years ago I was right there with you.

To be sure, when I pursued my dream and opened a small business in the Caribbean I lacked any semblance of a marketing plan, so I thought I would do what everyone else was doing, and turn to the Internet.

I had heard about the power of blogging and social media and using them as tools to help promote small business. Sadly, perhaps like you or someone you know, I envisioned that I would put up a few blog posts and offer some tips in forums and customers would come rushing.

In fact, for the first few months that I owned my business I thought I was doing everything right, such as, posting helpful information to my blog, visiting forums that were relevant to my niche, and even sneaking in a little bit of reputation management.

However, after about six months (what I thought was a long time) of consistent effort I felt like the return on my time and effort was just not happening.

In essence, I was done with social media and blogging!!

My Social Media Awakening

On the very day I told my wife that I was finished with this blogging, FLICKR, and YouTube stuff I found an email in my inbox that would change the course of my small business and my view towards social media forever. (I am not making this up for poetic license.)

Serendipitously, on the very same day that I was supposedly done with blogging forever, I received an email from a writer for Islands Magazine and she wanted to feature the story of how I opened my business in the Caribbean.

What was so amazing you ask?

In my opinion, my initial social media and blogging efforts had finally paid off. The writer had found my business from video that I had uploaded to YouTube and then posted as part of a story on my small niche blog.

Unfortunately, I am not sure what the exact search term was that the writer used, but four key results from my initial blogging and social media goals had happened:

  1. While seeking some video the writer discovered my niche blog through a Google search.
  2. The niche blog led the writer to my small business website.
  3. From the website the writer learned about my story.
  4. The writer contacted me for the feature.

Or, stated more simply:

One $100 FLIP Camera + Niche Blog Post = $20,000 plus of FREE publicity

How a Flip Camera and My Blog Got My Business Over $20,000 of FREE Publicity

You have to understand, I had NO advertising budget for my business and along comes this amazing $20,000 marketing opportunity at no cost. Even better, the Islands Magazine article has led to numerous other (free) publicity opportunities for my small business, including a quarter page write up in Conde Nast Travel and mentions on various travel websites.

Yes, it was then that I became a TRUE blogging and social media convert!

Major Lessons Learned

The above experience taught me many lessons about using blogging and social media for small business marketing. The following are but a few:

  • Goals – Set your goals early. My primary reason for having a niche blog and posting video, photos, and text was to ensure that I had a presence that ranked well in Google so that potential customers (and magazine writers) could find me.
  • Consistent – Be patient and consistent in your small business blogging efforts. I know sometimes it is awfully hard not to compare what you are doing to others, but stay focused and committed.
  • Measurement – Find out which blog posts and social media sites provide the best return for your time and effort. (When you first get started this is mostly done through trial and error.) Also, don’t look at number of visitors to your blog, look at WHO is visiting your blog and how they are finding you.
  • Results – The truth of the matter is, we are all still at the infancy stage when it comes to using social media, and perhaps to a lesser extent blogging, for small business marketing. You just never know when the hard work that you are doing on a daily basis now might pay off later!

Strangely enough, with thanks to a FLIP camera and a blog post, some interesting intangibles have also arisen from the Islands Magazine article.

  • The Islands Magazine article set me up as an expert in pursuing the dream of moving to the Caribbean and opening a business. On a weekly basis I receive emails from people who are seeking assistance with trying to do what I have done. Not only do I enjoy helping them, but it’s a great way to keep my business in their thoughts.
  • Islands Magazine gave me a powerful backlink. According to Matt Cutts, and the most recent WordCamp talk he gave Straight from Google – What You Need to Know, when it comes to search rankings and the power of backlinks, the Google algorithm is affected by the authority and the relevancy of the site that is linking to you. Thus, a travel magazine with a PR5 linking to my travel related business site, provides me with a solid link and some added Google juice.
  • Almost a year on and the Islands Magazine article is still consistently the number two or three referring site for my business, and with the current economic downturn any extra website traffic is always welcome.

As a final takeaway message, I would just like to say that even if you do not have the subscriber count of Darren Rowse, Brian Clark, or Chris Brogan … DONîT GIVE UP! Your small business blogging and social media efforts will pay off.

Mark Hayward lives in the Caribbean and built up a clientele for his small business using nothing but social media. He tries to help beginners make sense of social media and how they can use it for business promotion. You can follow him on Twitter @mark_hayward.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Awesome post! And congrats on your success. It’s absolutely crazy to see social media drive the traditional media space.

    In fact, my girlfriend was just watching that crazy wedding entrance on the Today Show (which was originally uploaded to Youtube).

    Sheer insanity. Good luck and hats off though!

    — Jason Drohn

  2. Darren, first of all motivation and support is always desired!

    Secondly, I need to add video to my site, which will hopefully up my google rank and convey my easy going chit chat style that I’m known for.

    One thing: I am a bit shy on film! Guess I’ll need to get some mighty courage for this step.

  3. found nothing important….

  4. It’s amazing what daily actions can bring in the long term. Congrats!

  5. Congratulations to your success, and thanks for another great brain challenging article.

  6. Great story, glad to hear your big break came right in the nick of time!

    … maybe I need to get a flip camera!

  7. This is a great lesson in patience and perseverance. While I didn’t learn any new techniques to make my blog fly, I love hearing success stories that come from people who though they were failing and ended up successful!

  8. Thank you for the post. Even if some do not find something new, your story is your own experience that can help motivate others to push on the world of blogging.

    As blogging nowadays are not as easy as in the past (every minute has a new blog setup), that is why all the more bloggers have to go deep into their niche.

    Yes, I do have the intention to quit a few months back, but all because of a sale that motivated me to carry on, and thus making more sales and having more traffic to my blog.

    Keep up the good work!!!!

  9. I think it’s amazing what social media is doing for bloggers as well as business owners.

    If you can spend a little time being yourself and making friends on places like youtube, facebook, and twitter, you basically have a following that didn’t cost you a penny.

    You can send that free traffic to your blog or wherever you like with a simple tweet or status update, and a percentage of them will click through and see what you want them to see.

    I’ve been using social media for about 45 days now, and I’ve seen a huge difference in the amount of visitors to my blog. To be honest, the number of daily visitors to my blog have DOUBLED.

    So it’s really great to see a post about social media, and how it can gain you tons of publicity without costing a cent.

    Way to go!

  10. Great story. If we could all get noticed by a major newspaper or picked up by the AP, it would be an incredible boost.

  11. You have mentioned that you loaded some videos on YouTube and your videos goes popular with Google search.
    I think YouTube is the second largest search engine like Google and it is the best publication tool for the bloggers and podcaster.

    The second wonderful tip you have mentioned about “Consistent” I found some failure bloggers I studied why they failed.No doubt,your topic describing the strong reason better than me.
    Thank you for sharing the loaf of meat….

  12. I like this story. What Mark is trying to say is NEVER GIVE UP! Just when you think the end is near another door opens up. You just have to keep trying and use every resource you can think of to succeed. Thanks for the post, it is very motivating.

  13. In essence…one should never just give up. You never know when the tipping point will happen (sometimes a lot sooner than expected!).

  14. You said it all, I was making nothing (ZERO) from my blogs and website, but now I make something without spending much to host and build it.

    You just have to be persistent with whatever you are doing and try to find a mentor like Darren to keep your head and fingers up…

    Good luck to all ya beginner’s..

  15. Thank you. I NEEDED this right about now.

  16. Thanks for the reality check. It just goes to show that just having a blog isn’t enough. It also takes persistence and a bit of luck.

    Aside from the blog and posting on forums, were you actively promoting yourself or using SEO techniques at the time?

  17. For most of us, our blogs aren’t going to be picked up by anybody. So, I understand why people are a little “uninspired” by the post. For me, I thought it was an inspirational story and congratulations on your success.

  18. Consistent discipline pays off every time. Unfortunately many of us expect instant recognition and that is just not realistic. Although, I would always prefer to be the optimist, not the pessimist.

    Thankfully there are those like you that share your sage advice and encouragement for us that have those thoughts of “why keep it up?”

    I love happy endings.

  19. Actually, the author mentions that he in fact GAVE UP on social media and blogging.

    Fortunately for him, he received the email that very day.

    Maybe I’m naive, but I feel like these days you can’t get away with posting a video you took using your camera phone and hope to get anything from it.

    As a side note, I used to work for a company selling advertising in magazines. We would call up local businesses and be like,

    “Hi this is X calling from Super Awesome Magazine. Our upcoming issue is going to be about and we want to schedule an interview with you.”

    They’d get all excited and then we would go and sell them thousands of dollars worth of ads!

    This guy lucked out and found an actual journalist. Way to go.

    Shameless plug: http://www.vipinternetmarketing.com

  20. It just goes to show you…you should never give up…NEVER.

  21. This was a very intresting read and I look forward to the next tid bit of information.

    Sometimes I think its just down to pure luck!

  22. The question I’d ask is “how much do you put into it before you give up?”

  23. Great post.. social media and blogging can definitely be a little frustrating so it’s great to read/hear success stories like this on a regular basis. Just have to keep producing content and keep pushing it out to as many eyes as possible!

  24. Consistency is a major reason why many people fail. They lose interest and stop working.

  25. It is really hard to be patient and consistent when there is no results. Your did a good job.

  26. I am not as negative as some people who left a comment here. Yes, it can be tough to come up with new interesting topics every day, but I received an invitation to speak at a seminar in Johannesburg in Dec. 2009 because of one flip-cam-video I made: http://planyoursafari.com/blog/booking-a-complete-safari-online-is-it-possible/
    Not bad for a couple of minutes of interview.

    Good luck bloggers and keep going.

  27. Excellent Post! Social media, video marketing & other SEO related task are definitely helpful in building backlinks, traffic and leads to your websites and this is something i do for small local business to promote their products or services. Your success in social media is one true testimony. Thanks for sharing your success, i enjoyed reading your excellent blog post and keep it up!

  28. I always find motivation when I read your posts. You’re definitely not a get-rich-quick Guru. I’ve read one of your interview in an ebook I bought online before, and it was clear that it takes time to generate such 6 figures income. To me, your blog is one of the most reliable making money online resource. Congrats for your success.

  29. First of all congratulations and thanks for sharing the tips. I really liked your article and the way you come up with social media is really fantastic…..So, I just wish you best of luck!

  30. Congrats Mark, always good to read a success story :)

    However this does sound a little bit like luck. Like many blogs that have taken off, the success usually turns out to being in the right place at the right time.

    I think in your case the same result could have been achieved through networking? I have always found the biggest leg ups come from meeting the right people and having the right conversation.

    Sometimes a proactive approach is required, all too often bloggers seem very passive, just sit back and let the site do the work. Sure that can work, I’ve proved that, but going out and making things happen by persistently engaging with people who can lift you can get you there a whole lot faster.

  31. very inspiring post. I will not give up to build blog like you :)

  32. Very inspiring post… I liken my blogging and social media efforts to eating a healthy diet and exercising. It doesn’t pay off right away but if you stick with it, it really pays major dividends. Unfortunately, many will pack it in and bail out when they aren’t seeing the results right away — just as they would with diet and exercise.

  33. Wow!

    You did a great job. I guess you are not a just a mere blogger who shares blogging tips but you are a good internet marketer as well.

    I mean, you made your blogging activity not just a hobby but a business.

    That’s why, I want to treat my blog not just my hobby but also a business that needs some business strategies, attentions and quick follow ups to your costumers (readers).

  34. Flip video cameras are the *best*! Congratulations Mark : )

  35. Wow – What a post! Thanks for the encouragement.

    Mark, this post fuels my desire to keep posting vidoes and eventually, I’ll get it right and will create a social media wave!

  36. Thanks for the story Mark, you were the very first person I followed once I finally gave in to Twitter about 6 weeks ago. I definitely need the inspiration right about now! I’m still trying to figure out how I can make a video that will work for me, but I’ll get there eventually. Thanks again!

  37. This was a great post. Even when it seems like nothing is working it does. I just recently received an email from someone writing a book. They wanted to use one of my articles in their book. Not quite as big a story as yours but still extremely motivating.

  38. Wonderful post…I had the editor of OK! Magazine (supermarket tabloid) find me on the Internet, wanting a quote for their magazine on a relationship couple who was making the news at the time. Had I not blogged, had I not made my presence known on the Internet, that would have never happened. A week later, I was buying that OK! Magazine with my quote in it.

  39. Mark’s small business link at the end of the article seems to go to a site with just a bunch of sponsored links. Is that the correct address?????

  40. Ok now come see my blog, and I would like the same 20,000 offer :)

  41. Thanks for your post! We need to share positive success stories about blogging. I find somedays when I’m writing I feel like an audience of one…Me…and without feedback, it can seem isolating. But I too subscribe to the “Never Give Up” mindset and am determined to carry on. Cheers to everyone!

  42. 18 months and I’m still hammering away. Always inspiring to read success stories

  43. good post, congrats on your success. its true that for all your efforts when does it seem worth your time. but persistance is everything because one day it will just work. ive learnt this lesson and im putting all my experiences and tips on my blog for those who need help with anything.

  44. Ya even though my blog is not doing 100k in visitors a month im still happy that im averging 50 visitors a day and a couple adsense clicks.


  45. Good on you, Mark! A killer headline, a gripping tale and a feeling of uplift at the end. Loved it. Best regards, P. :)

  46. Good to read this story. Its inspirational to hear the true story of success.
    And the “Major Lessons Learned” are helpful as well to a new blogger like myself.

  47. thanks its very motivate me to keeping up in blogging

  48. I liked the way you put your amazon link with the word Flip Cam right after the story.. Interesting choice.. You..my friend are a true pro-blogger:)..nice article also…kinda wants me to take my guitar(& laptop ofcourse for blogging) and move to a nice island..

    Nice post

    Super Blogger Tricks

  49. As much as I hear it, I never get tired of being reminded about consistency. It’s something I’ve always struggled with, but lately I’ve kept trucking and it’s been paying off.

  50. It’s quite amazing sometimes, how day after day, we strive to pursue our goals without seeming to make any real progress, when all of sudden, we make a meaningful breakthrough of some kind.

    It may be small, but it’s still progress in the right direction. The key, is to continue to take those steps and not to give up.

    This post exemplifies that message perfectly.


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