You want to make money as a writer, right?
You’ve told everyone on Facebook (including your weird aunt) that you’re available to write. You’ve been writing guest post after guest post to showcase your talent and get your name out there. Maybe you’ve even landed a few jobs already. (Good for you!)
But then a potential client emails you with the question, “Do you offer ghostwriting services?”
And you’re stumped.
Maybe you’ve heard of ghostwriting. Maybe you have some idea what a ghostwriter is. Or maybe you wonder if it involves ouija boards in some way.
You don’t want to look like an idiot by emailing back to say, “Err… what do you mean?”
That sounds like a good way to send your potential client running for the hills.
But don’t worry — I’m about to tell you everything you need to know about ghostwriting, starting with…
What IS Ghostwriting?
You might already have some hazy ideas about ghostwriting. When I first heard of ghostwriting, I thought it was just used for celebrity memoirs.
It turns out memoirs are just the tip of the iceberg. Ghostwriting is everywhere — from independent authors using Kindle Direct Publishing to popular bloggers using WordPress.
So what is it?
When you ghostwrite, you let someone else put their name on your work. That is, you don’t get any credit — at all.
Typically, the person who commissions the work will own the copyright, which also means they can modify or republish the work in any way they see fit.
So why would someone hire a ghostwriter? Are they too lazy to write their own stuff?
Not necessarily. People hire ghostwriters for many different reasons, but the most common ones are:
It’s nothing new, either: ghostwriting has been around, in one form or another, for centuries.
To give you a better idea what being a ghostwriter may involve, my own ghostwriting has included:
As you can see, ghostwriting has a spectrum from something akin to an editing relationship to writing a piece from scratch.
And it’s growing in popularity.
The demand for ghostwriters is so high it’s now taught in schools — California State University, Long Beach offers a Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program led by Claudia Suzanne.
Of course, I’ve only ghostwritten for blogs.
Authors like Roz Morris have written whole books as ghostwriters, which is a far more involved process that includes extensive interviews with the client.
But Why Would You Let Someone Else Take Credit for YOUR Writing?
Assuming you want to build up your own brand as a writer, why would you want to be a ghostwriter?
After all, you won’t get any of the credit. Your name won’t appear anywhere on the piece, and you probably can’t tell anyone you wrote it.
So why do so many writers ghostwrite, and why do so many love it?
Well, because there are major benefits:
Benefit #1: Being a Ghostwriter Pays Exceptionally Well
One huge reason to be a ghostwriter is money. Ghostwriting tends to pay better than regular freelancing.
After all, having your name attached to your words is valuable for you as a writer. When you have a byline, you can use that piece of work to showcase your talent, build your reputation, and potentially attract new clients.
So it’s appropriate (and standard practice) to increase your fee to compensate for the loss of these advantages.
There’s no exact rule of thumb for how much extra you should charge for ghostwriting over regular freelancing. Personally, I tend to increase my fee by about 15%–20%.
On top of that, once you’ve established a ghostwriting relationship with someone, it often results in ongoing work for you. Most people want their writing to be consistent, so it makes sense to stick with the same writer.
In other words, you have consistent work at a higher rate than usual. That’s quite a plus, isn’t it?
Benefit #2: Ghostwriting Lets You Develop Closer Relationships with Big Names in Your Field
As a ghostwriter, you’ll normally work quite closely with your client. You may be privy to their rough notes or mind maps, or you might interview them on the phone or in person.
Chances are, you’re also focusing your ghostwriting on a particular area of expertise (especially if you’re writing for a blog).
This means you’ve got a brilliant opportunity to get to know and be affiliated with someone well-established in your field.
You’ll find that you get valuable insights into the “behind the scenes” of a top blog, or you get a clearer idea of how a big-name author works and thinks.
This may be eye-opening! It could give you some ideas for how best to move forward with your own business when you start your own blog.
And as you build up closer relationships, or even friendships, with your client, they might share your other work on social media, bringing you a lot of extra traffic. (Several of the people I ghostwrite for have supported me in that way.)
If you ever need a favor or need some advice, there’s a good chance they’ll be very happy to help.
So much of blogging success depends on getting a helping hand from other bloggers — particularly those with a large audience and a great reputation in their field.
Ghostwriting brings you into close contact with exactly those people.
The Counterpoint: Why You Might NOT Want to Be a Ghostwriter
There are a couple of big concerns that writers have about ghostwriting:
“But surely that’s not ethical?”
“But why should they benefit from my hard work?”
“But what about building my platform?”
These are real, valid concerns. And for you, they may be deal-breakers.
So let’s dig into them.
Objection #1: “When You’re a Ghostwriter, You’re Helping Someone Fool Their Readers — That’s Unethical”
When you’re a ghostwriter for someone, they pass your words off as their own.
Which begs the question…
The authors who hire ghostwriters certainly think it is! But not all writers or readers agree. Many feel that some types of ghostwriting are more ethical than others.
For instance, think about these two scenarios, which are on opposite ends of the ghostwriting spectrum:
Personally, as a reader, I’d feel comfortable with situation #1. The thoughts in the e-book belong to the blogger, but the ghostwriter has helped shape them.
Situation #2, however, seems a lot thornier. As a reader, I’d feel cheated by that.
I’m buying the e-book because I want the blogger’s expertise — not that of a ghostwriter I don’t know.
If you’re thinking of ghostwriting, you have to make up your own mind about what is — and isn’t — ethical. Where would you personally draw the line as a ghostwriter, if at all?
For more thoughts on the rights and wrongs of ghostwriting, check out Patty Podnar’s post Is Ghostwriting Ethical?
Also, Amanda Montell’s Your Favorite Influencers Aren’t Writing Their Own Content—These Women Are is quite eye-opening about some of the less ethical practices in the ghostwriting world.
Objection #2: “It’s Too Painful Watching Someone Else Get Praised for YOUR Work”
It may sound silly, but not getting recognition for your writing can be quite painful — unbearable to some.
I have to admit that, as a writer, it can sometimes sting a little to see a blogger receive lots of lovely praise for a post that I wrote every word of. And I’m not alone; many writers find themselves missing the attention and craving the recognition.
It’s no fun watching someone bask in glory that should be yours.
But think of it this way: All that praise is a sign you did a great job. You can be proud of that, and you can feel confident you’ll get hired again!
Also, as ghostwriter Roz Morris points out in an interview with whitefox, it’s not just ghostwriters who go unnoticed by readers:
There are many unsung heroes in the creative industries, and ghostwriters are only one of them. Editors can also make a huge difference to a book and are rarely credited.
So, if you can’t stand watching someone else take the praise, that’s okay. Many writers feel that way. But maybe we should also keep things in perspective.
Objection #3: “Ghostwriting Keeps You from Building Your Platform”
Even if you’re okay with someone else getting the praise, you may still oppose the idea of letting them take credit.
Some writers feel that, to become a successful freelance writer, you need to take credit for every powerful word you write and create an impressive body of work with your name on it. They believe that ghostwriting is essentially a waste of time.
After all, when you’ve got a bio (or at least your name) on every blog post you write, each of those posts helps raise your profile. You’ll be bringing in new readers and potentially new clients through your work — without any additional marketing.
This is essentially the argument that Demian Farnworth puts forward in The Brutally Honest Truth About Ghostwriting:
The first thing every writer should ask is this: What do you want to accomplish as a writer? Is building a personal and visible platform important to you? Will it help you in the long run? If you have to ghostwrite to make ends meet, fine. But beat a hasty path out of the business as soon as possible. It’s your turn to run the show.
I certainly think it’s worth putting some serious thought into how best to make ghostwriting work for you. It might be that you want to solely focus on your own platform (heck, you might even hire ghostwriters of your own, some day down the line!).
But there’s no shame in taking ghostwriting jobs to generate a steady income while you build your platform. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can do both at the same time.
Ghostwriting takes some focus away, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.
By the way: We’ve created a handy visual summarizing this post that you can share and embed on your own site. Check out the image below (click to see a larger view):
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How to Become a Ghostwriter
If you’ve been nodding your head while reading this post, you’re probably wondering…
“Okay, but how do I become a ghostwriter?”
The same way you become a freelance writer.
Here are the keys:
#1. Build Your Content Creation Skills
If you want to be a ghostwriter, you have to learn how to create quality content. What’s this mean? It means:
Nothing will impact your ability to earn real, tangible income as a ghostwriter more than your ability to create amazing content.
So, if you don’t know how, learn.
Further Reading: Check out our resource How to Write a Blog Post – The Ultimate Guide. Once you’ve mastered the basics, read How to Create Content People Will Still Remember in 5 Years’ Time.
#2. Learn the Ins and Outs of SEO
If you can create content that will rank on Google, clients will pay you.
Heck, they’ll throw money at you.
So how can you help your content rank on Google? By learning all you can about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and applying what you learn to the content you create.
Further Reading: Don’t know SEO? Brian Dean has a great guide that will help you learn the basics of SEO fast.
#3. Build an Awesome Portfolio of Sample Content
Ideally, you’ll have three levels of portfolios:
But when you’re just starting out, you need to focus on the first level:
A portfolio that proves you know how to create a decent piece of content.
If you don’t already have your own blog or website, create an account on a free blogging platform like Medium.
Two or three sample posts are enough, and you can get started right away.
#4. Find Your First Paying Client
In the early days, finding those first few clients will be difficult.
Even with solid content creation skills, SEO know-how, and a great portfolio proving you know how to write, finding paying clients without word of mouth and referrals won’t be easy.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
It’ll be a slow process at first, but once you get those first few clients you’ll be set. Do a great job, make your clients happy, and referrals will happen.
Further Reading: Bookmark this giant list of content marketing agencies. It’ll come in handy.
Ghostwriting 101: A Quick Recap
We’ve covered a lot, so let’s review:
Will You Give Ghostwriting a Try?
Ultimately, ghostwriting can be a little divisive.
Some writers feel — passionately — that readers deserve to know exactly who wrote the words they’re reading. Others feel building your platform is too important to let someone else take credit.
But ghostwriting is a good way to make money as a writer.
And it doesn’t mean your platform is off the table. You can be a ghostwriter and have a writing career under your own name. Many writers, including me, simply use ghostwriting as a way to supplement or support their writing passions.
Personally, I think it’s worth it.
Only you can decide whether it’s right for you.
About the Author: Ali Luke blogs about the art, craft, and business of writing at Aliventures. If you’re interested in going further with ghostwriting or any type of freelance writing, check out her epic post: Freelance Writing: Ten Steps, Tons of Resources.
The post Ghostwriting 101: How to Get Paid Big Bucks As a Ghostwriter appeared first on Smart Blogger.
It’s okay to admit it.
That deep, dark secret you don’t want anyone to know.
That thought which keeps you up night after night.
You want… to rule the world!
You want to dominate your industry and be the envy of all. You want the house in the Hamptons and the spoils that go with it. You want two appetizers with your entree.
But you’re afraid.
You’re afraid of what others will say when they hear about your dream. You’re afraid it will seem too big — too crazy. Just like you’re afraid of what the waitress will think if you order onion rings and chicken tenders.
You’re afraid because you don’t know where to begin. You don’t know how to go from where you are as a blogger to where you want to be. You don’t know how to get from here to there.
The good news?
Just like eating an elephant, you don’t do it all in one bite.
World domination — or any major blogging goal — is a journey you take one milestone at a time.
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Why Bloggers Need Meaningful Milestones
When you break large tasks into small, manageable ones, what once seemed big and scary isn’t as daunting.
Renovating your entire home? Start by painting a room. Training for a marathon? Walk to the end of your driveway. Want to start a rock band? Get a guitar and start practicing.
Blogging isn’t any different.
Your journey as a blogger is filled with incremental milestones. They start small, gradually increase in size, and culminate with you owning sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.
Want 10,000 subscribers? Start with 100. Want to quit your job? Focus on making your first sale. Want to be Jon Morrow’s best friend? Get him to notice you.
These milestones comprise your bucket list. They highlight what you’ve already accomplished, what you’re striving toward next, and what still lies far ahead of you.
To help you in your quest, here are the 21 major blogging milestones (and how to reach each one).
Ready? Let’s dive in.
#1. Starting Your Blog
You’ve been talking about doing it forever.
You’ve been reading blogs like Smart Blogger, Blogging Wizard, and Be A Better Blogger for months.
You’ve been planning, scheming, and daydreaming about starting a blog for so long that people have started to worry about that glazed look in your eyes.
So don’t you think it’s time you finally did it?
#2. Writing Your First Blog Post
Bloggers blog. It’s what we do.
So once you’ve setup your blog on WordPress, Medium, or wherever, it’s time to make this whole “blogging thing” official.
It’s time to write your first post.
#3 Getting Your First Tweet
Getting your content shared on social media for the first time is a big milestone.
Each time your posts are tweeted, pinned, or liked, your content is exposed to new readers.
These new readers are potential email subscribers. Potential customers. Potential allies in your quest for world domination.
#4. Receiving Your First Blog Comment From a Stranger
It finally happened.
The moment you discover someone other than your mom is reading your blog.
Your first comment from a stranger.
It’s the first sign you’re engaging a real audience (not just friends and family).
The first indication your words are striking a chord with readers.
The first evidence you have what it takes to succeed.
#5. Gaining Your First Email Subscriber
“The money is in the list,” says every blogger (even if nobody has asked them).
It’s cliché, but it’s true.
Email subscribers are far more likely to read, share, and engage with your content than someone who simply follows you on Twitter or “likes” you on Facebook.
Email cuts through the noise.
A person might receive a few dozen emails in a day, but they’ll receive several hundred (or more) tweets from their followers.
If you want to reach the top of the blogging mountain, you must build your email list.
And it all starts with that first subscriber.
#6. Getting Your First Backlink
Search engines love backlinks — they help them discover how pages are related, and in what ways.
Landing a high-quality link from a relevant website is great for SEO and results in more search engine traffic flocking to your website. And who doesn’t want that?
When a website links to yours, it’s effectively telling Google, “This dude is cool. He’s with me.”
Want to rule the world? You need Google to think you’re cool.
#7. Reaching 100 Visitors in a Single Day
In your blog’s early days, visitors are scarce. Occasionally, you’ll wonder if anyone is reading your blog.
But slowly, little by little, your numbers creep higher and higher.
And then it happens.
The day your blog reaches triple-digit visitors. The day your hard work begins to pay off. The day you get your first taste of power.
Intoxicating, isn’t it?
#8. Receiving Your First Piece of Fan Mail (Well, Email)
This is strange.
You receive an email from a stranger, but it has nothing to do with male enhancement or an unexpected inheritance from overseas.
It’s an email from a reader. And she’s telling you how much she enjoys your blog!
Your first “kudos” email from a reader is a big milestone for bloggers, and those who go on to rule the world receive many of them.
(Mine may or may not be printed, framed, and hanging from the walls of my office.)
#9. Getting Your First Negative Blog Comment
After weeks of praise, attaboys, and well-wishes, you receive your first negative comment.
You try to laugh it off by making a “these are where the tears would be if I could cry” joke, but it doesn’t work.
You’re confused. Hurt. Maybe a little angry. (Plus, your spouse quickly reminds you of the time you cried like a baby watching Field of Dreams.)
Don’t let it get you down. As you gain in popularity, criticism is inevitable.
Consider it a badge of honor — every popular blogger receives negative comments.
It’s proof you’re on the right track.
#10. Landing Your First Guest Post
Sooner or later, you’ll discover that commenting on other blogs and making friends on Twitter will boost your traffic only so far.
You need to reach new audiences.
As the marketing crowd would say, you need fresh eyeballs on your content.
In other words, you need to write a guest post.
#11. Getting Featured in Your First Interview or “Expert Roundup”
When people see you repeatedly mentioned on other sites via interviews and roundups, their perceptions of you change.
Yesterday, you were just an attractive guy or gal oozing talent but drowning in anonymity.
Today, you’re a freaking rock star.
You’re no more knowledgeable than you were moments earlier, but suddenly your powerful words carry more weight with readers. That’s because someone they trust just called you an expert (or treated you like one).
To reach world-leader status, others must view you as an authority. They need to consider you an expert in your industry.
Participating in interviews and roundups is a great way to make that happen.
#12. Hitting Your First 100 Email Subscribers
After having single- and double-digit subscribers for what seems like forever, you finally reach 100. One hundred individuals decide they want updates from you.
These first 100 subscribers are arguably your most important.
They’re the ones who found your blog in its early days.
They’re the ones who decided to follow you before you were popular.
They’re the ones likely to be your biggest supporters as you rise through the ranks and vanquish kingdoms.
#13. Seeing a Post You Wrote Go Viral
Wow. That was unexpected.
One of your posts takes off. It goes viral, as the kids say.
At its simplest definition, a viral post is one which has a life beyond your own promotion of it. As such, it gets considerably more clicks and shares than your typical post.
And, as a result, your blog receives a nice (if temporary) bump in traffic.
Even if it’s short lived, a viral post means more eyes on your content. And that’s just what a prospective world ruler wants.
#14. Getting Mentioned or Followed by an A-list Blogger
When Bob the bellhop from Bolivia mentions you on Twitter, a small handful of people will see it.
That’s even better.
When you’re mentioned or followed by an A-lister, it means much more than a small bump in traffic.
It means you’ve made it onto the radar of someone with influence.
#15. Hitting Your First 1,000 Email Subscribers
Now we’re talking.
Around the time you hit the 1,000 subscriber mark, your emails begin to carry more weight.
You’re able to generate traffic for new posts simply by emailing your subscribers.
You can begin making real money from your blog.
As a rule of thumb, you should be able to make at least $1 per subscriber each month — more if you really know what you’re doing.
#16. Successfully Selling Your First Product or Consulting Session
You tried your hand at sponsored ads. Maybe you even had a little success with them.
But eventually, you aim higher.
You decide to offer your skills as a coach or consultant.
Or maybe you decide to create your own digital product because you like the idea of unlimited income potential.
Whatever the route, the desire is the same: to pad your wallet with twenty dollar bills.
#17 Reaching 1,000 Visitors a Day
When you reach 1,000 daily visitors, your blog will be perched at a level many bloggers never see.
Your blog has momentum, which means your email list starts to grow on its own.
You’re selling more products and services.
Your social media shares are increasing too, which is bringing even more new visitors.
Your hard work is paying off. “Soon,” you say to yourself before laughing maniacally.
#18. Reaching 100,000 Visitors in a Month
When you reach 100,000 visitors in a month, you’ve reached a level of success most can only dream of.
At this level, practically anything you try can be lucrative.
#19. You Hit 10,000 Email Subscribers
As Jon Morrow likes to say: 10,000 subscribers is the “magic number.”
With 10,000 subscribers, publishers beat down your door to give you a book deal.
With 10,000 subscribers, you could make a full-time living as a coach or consultant.
With 10,000 subscribers, you can easily sell a course you have created.
In short, earning a six-figure income from your blog is entirely realistic when you have 10,000 subscribers.
It’s arguably the most important blogging milestone.
#20. Finally Earning Enough Money to Quit Your Day Job
It’s the dream of most bloggers.
Being able to quit your job and blog full-time means you’re able to quit the rat race. It means you can set your own schedule, pursue your passions, and spend more time with your loved ones.
It means you’re the boss.
#21. Achieving World Domination
You did it.
They said it wasn’t possible, but you made it happen.
The world is your oyster. You’re the master of your own destiny.
And it’s all thanks to your blog.
Now it’s time to take a vacation. Maybe even move to paradise. Heck, you earned it.
So What’s Your Next Big Blogging Milestone?
You realize they’re yours for the taking, right?
The house in the Hamptons?
The sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads?
They’re all out there… just waiting for you.
They’re waiting for you to decide, “Today is the day I’ll make my dreams come true.” They’re waiting for you to stop reading and start doing.
So, don’t just sit there.
Work out where you are on the list and what you must do to hit that next big milestone.
And let’s do this thing.
Because the world isn’t going to rule itself.
About the Author: Five years after first writing this post, Kevin J. Duncan’s dreams of quitting the rat race, blogging full-time, and world domination came true when Jon invited him to join the Smart Blogger team as our Blog Editor.
Never give up, folks. Never, ever give up.
The post 21 Blogging Milestones on the Path to World Domination appeared first on Smart Blogger.
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Saving time, making connections with influencers, building authority — these are just some of the benefits of content curation.
But you might also have lots of questions like…
Well, here’s the good news:
In this post, I’ll answer all those questions about content curation and more.
If you’re new to the topic, I’ll explain exactly what content curation is and why you should do it. We’ll also explore some tools and tactics for streamlining your content curation process, saving you loads of time, even if you’ve been doing it a while.
And the best part…
Lots of real-world examples! You’ll see what’s working in the trenches right now, so you can model it for yourself.
Table of Contents
Why Should I Consider Content Curation?
There’s an overabundance of information out there.
As I write, in the early evening, around 3 million blog posts have been published today, all vying for your attention.
Every second there are:
By 2020, an estimated 1.7 GB of data will be created for every person on earth — every second!
No-one can possibly keep up.
But with content curation, they don’t have to. Think of it like this:
Imagine there was only one radio station that played every genre of music and broadcast all the news and talk-back shows ever made. Your passion is country music, but it’s too hard to find amidst the noise of the other content.
Along comes a small, independent radio station dedicated to bringing you the best country music it can source. Everything about country music that entertains and informs you. All curated in one place for people like yourself to enjoy.
Which radio station will you tune into the most?
That’s why content curators are becoming increasingly important in a world of time-strapped, overwhelmed content-consumers. And that’s why every blogger, brand and business should consider curation as part of their content marketing strategy.
What is Content Curation?
Content curation is the art of sourcing, filtering and repackaging all forms of existing content to share with a specific audience to add value to their lives and save them time.
Phew. That’s quite a mouthful.
Let’s break it down into more bite-sized chunks before we delve into the detail of how to do it.
The Benefits of Content Curation
It Makes You a Trusted Authority
When you consistently curate relevant content for your audience — and add value with your insights — you become a go-to person for your topic.
Before long, your audience will turn to you as one of their trusted sources because you know how to filter out the noise and deliver what’s important. You’re making it easier and faster to find what they’re looking for.
Example: Social Media Today is a website and daily newsletter with 104k subscribers. In addition to curating the top news stories and publishing their own articles, they also provide information on industry events and jobs and run regular Twitter chats on all things related to social media marketing.
It Builds Your Credibility
Most businesses publish original content as part of their online marketing strategy. And that’s still a great approach. But sometimes it’s good to combine your advice with those of others. Curating work by other experts proves you care enough about your audience to bring them the best content — not just your own voice — which gives you greater credibility.
Example: If anyone has the right to voice his own opinions it’s Brian Clark of CopyBlogger fame, one of the world’s most influential blogs. But Brian also chooses to share curated content through his weekly email Unemployable for freelancers. It is this generosity of time and knowledge that boosts his credibility and pays back big time when it comes to selling his fee-generating services.
It Establishes Connections with Influencers
Every time you curate content produced by an influencer or include their expert opinion in a curated list post of your own, you are endorsing their views and opening them up to a new audience.
It also helps put you on their radar.
You can draw their attention by tagging them on social media when you share their work, or emailing them a link to your curated blog post. Content curation is a great way to build solid relationships with top influencers in your niche, but only if you get it right. Like this:
Example: Mashable.com is a digital media site, which published a guest post by Aaron Orendorff about growth hacking strategies. In it he curates advice from 25 influencers and includes their headshots and links back to their sites. The post received a total of 4.4k shares across social media, and I bet I know where 25 of those came from.
It Makes You a Trend Spotter
When you spend a couple of hours a day sourcing relevant and interesting content, you can’t help but increase your knowledge. You’ll start recognizing patterns and trends as they’re happening, and gaps in existing content you might be able to fill.
Not only does this add value for your audience, but it also makes you a credible expert in your niche and one to watch.
Example: CB Insights mines massive amounts (I’m talking terabytes) of data to identify and make sense of emerging technology and business trends for its customers. And it puts this to good use by sharing its often-irreverent insights and curated findings in its free daily newsletter to over 537,000 subscribers.
It Can Boost Your Google Ranking (When You Get It Right)
Many people think curated content could harm your Google ranking because it’s seen as duplicate content. And that’s true, if you do nothing but reproduce the original.
But content curation is all aboutadding value.
Bottom line: When they reproduced the original post without adding value, the ranking went down from 4th place to 10th. But when they published an excerpt of the original with theirown summary and links, the ranking shot up to 1st place — even higher than the original post.
Example: SmartBrief.com (“We read everything. You get what matters.”) is a curator of industry news. It’s easy to navigate with every piece of content summarized in their own words, which adds value for their readers and brownie points with Google.
It Can Help Build Your Social Media Following, Faster
As a curator, your output of content will increase, giving you a lot more to Tweet about on a regular basis. But remember, always aim to add value, not simply retweet or share.
Example: TheSkimm is a curated subscription service for female millennials — over 7 million subscribers. It delivers its content via audio, video, an app, and of course, social media: They have 608k followers on Instagram, 246k on Twitter, over 1.1m likes and followers on Facebook, and 465k views on YouTube. That’s an impressive social media presence.
It Can Grow Communities and Conversations
Great content curation encourages debate and feedback. When you add your own insights and respond to audience comments by providing them with more of what they want, it can attract other like-minded people to your knowledge “hug.”
They come not just to seek information from you but also to share content and support each other.
Example: TED.com is one of the best-known global communities. At its core, it’s a curator of ideas, or as they put it in their mission statement: “We’re building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers — and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.” With an online community of tens of thousands, over 11 million Twitter followers, and 35 people watching a TED Talk every second, I reckon they’ve accomplished their mission.
The Myths of Content Curation
It Saves You a Truckload of Time
When done properly, the full process of content curation can take just as much time as creating original content. Sometimes more.
You have to source, repackage and share a ton of information. Sure, this can be done more efficiently with automated tools. But you must also spend time filtering the content, adding insight and perspective, and building relationships with influencers and other publishers.
This is where the real value of content curation kicks in. And it takes time.
With curation, the volume of your published and shared content will increase, but your ability to spend more time with your feet up enjoying a beer won’t.
So, don’t become a content curator if your sole purpose is to save time.
All You Have to Do Is Find Relevant Content and Pump It out to Your Subscribers
If you just share every blog post and article you find on your topic without any filtering, you can do more harm than good to your brand and reputation.
The content you curate will reflect directly on your credibility and reputation, so choose wisely.
You Never Have to Worry About Creating Your Own Content Again
Undoubtedly, content curation is a great way to build authority in your niche, but it’s rare to find a site that relies 100% on curated content. Research has shown that creating your own content is more valuable regarding conversions.
And let’s face it. That’s one of the main reasons we do content marketing of any kind.
The research is explained by Tristan Handy in this post, who says the ratio for publishing curated v. original content on social media is around 60:40.
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, and everyone needs to find their own sweet spot, but it’s not a bad guideline if you’re just starting out.
Content Curation Strategy: How to Get Results
Give Your Audience What It Wants
What are they looking for when they seek information? What are they sharing on social media? Are they looking for comparisons and reviews, or the latest industry trends? Do they want to be entertained, inspired or informed?
Example: Further.com is a curated weekly email targeted directly at Generation X, by Brian Clark, one of the most influential Generation X-ers on the net. He knows what they’re thinking, feeling and aspiring to, and he delivers in spades.
Source Valuable Content
Overwhelming as it seems when you start out, sourcing great content is not hard, especially with so many automated tools at your fingertips.
RSS feed readers are the first go-to source of content for curators. Using tools such as Flipboard allows you to search by URL or topic and collate your content into categories.
Social media is the next main source, and again you have a myriad of tools at your disposal. For example, Social Searcher is a free platform that allows you to search by hashtags or topics and brings up every post published on the major social media sites.
Or you can create a Twitter list to collate the accounts you follow.
Find the right tools from the list below for your content sourcing and collating purposes, and remember to stay focused when you go searching. You can easily disappear down a rabbit warren of irrelevant information.
And finally, don’t forget your own blog or social media pages as a source of content.
Select posts that have done well in the past and may resonate with a new audience. Or think about repurposing or updating an old post. Here’s a great example of curating your content from Copyblogger.
Filter Your Content
Content curation without filtering is a no-no. This is part of the process that’s going to demand time and attention, but it’s worth it.
Once you have a good collection of content, filter each piece through these questions:
If the answer is yes, keep that piece of content and move on to the next step. If it’s no, dump it.
Always Add Value
There’s one more important consideration before you hit that share button. You need to add value.
You know the content is worthy of sharing because you’ve filtered it. Now you need to tell your audience why. The following are some of the ways you can add value:
Make It Look Good
Think about a museum curator. Their job is to present an exhibition of works in a manner that makes sense.
They encourage visitors in by making the collection look enticing. They often separate subcategories by rooms or open spaces. They add information and insights to each piece and present them in a logical flow.
They don’t take random artworks, dump them in the middle of a room and expect visitors to work it out for themselves. Neither should you.
Think about how you’ll best present your curated content on your website or in a newsletter.
And above all, make sure you consistently represent and reflect your brand, whether that’s through the use of your logo and colors, your voice, the language you use or the content you curate.
Example: brainpickings.com by Maria Popova is a fine example of a well-presented and branded website with some of the most thoughtful and insightful curations on the web today.
Aim to make the practice of curation a daily habit.
When you’re starting out, set aside at least an hour a day to source, filter and add value to existing content. Build up a collection of quality content, enhanced with your own insights, that you know your audience will love.
The curating and sharing of content created by others is growing in popularity with proven success rates when it’s done right. And successful curators always follow these golden rules:
Find the Right Distribution Channels and Publishing Schedule
Hands up anyone who’s shared anything on social media.
That’s how easy content curation can be when you’re starting off. However, you should aim to use a variety of distribution channels as your curation efforts take wings. The four main ones are as follows:
Make sure you add your own introduction or insights to shared links, giving your audience a reason to click through to the original. Like this:
This is where you can produce original posts featuring curated content (think “best of” posts, or list posts of tools and resources). Here’s a great example from CXL, which has curated 10 of its own articles in this post.
Send them out daily, weekly — whatever works best for you. Just make sure it’s at the same time each day or week so you can condition your audience to look forward to them. Convince & Convert’s email turns up in my inbox as regular as clockwork once a week with a mixture of curated and original content.
Dedicating a website to content curation is best left until you’ve built your skills as a curator through some of the less demanding channels like social media and your blog.
While you can build a successful content curation site on your own (take brainpickings.org, for example), mainstream information streams like Redef offer up a daily mix of hand-picked content that takes a sizeable team to curate and maintain.
So, depending on the time sensitivity of your curated content and the method you’ll use to distribute it, you might aim to share on social media every second day, and publish a newsletter or blog post weekly, or monthly if that feels more doable.
If you dive right in with a daily email or a dedicated website, you may create a monster you wish you’d never started.
You can always increase the regularity of your content distribution once you become more confident.
Now, set up a social media publishing schedule in whatever program or content curation tool you feel comfortable with. But a word of warning: Don’t schedule social media posts too far in advance. You want them to be as fresh and timely as possible.
The following are some additional things to think about regarding distribution and timing:
Reach Out to Influencers
If you want your curated content to fly, you should reach out to influencers. Here’s how you do it:
First, read this post and start practicing some of the techniques to get on your favorite influencer’s radar.
Next, when you’ve created your first blog post of curated links (a list of the best, or a round-up post for example), reach out to the influencers you’ve mentioned in the post. Here’s how you find their email addresses.
You want to send your email before you publish. Something along these lines:
Hey [name of influencer],
I wanted to give you the heads up that we’re just about to publish a curated list of the top 20 tools and resources for freelancers, and you made the list because [tailor your reason why they made the cut].
We’re hoping to publish within the next few days, and I’ll send you the link as soon as it goes live.
Thanks for being a continued inspiration.
Cheers, [your name]
Now you’ve got their attention, and they’ll likely be curious about your post. As soon as it goes live, send them a follow-up email:
Hey [name of influencer],
Here’s the link to the curated post I mentioned in my last email: The Top 20 Tools and Resources for Freelancers
[Name of influencer’s site] is included as #5.
If you think it deserves a share, we’d be grateful for the exposure.
Either way, we were delighted to include you in our round-up.
Cheers, [your name]
Finally, when you’re sharing other curated content in social media, tag the original creator to let them know you’re sharing their work.
But make sure you add value by highlighting something important. You need to demonstrate you’ve read their work and why it’s of value to your audience.
A simple retweet or share won’t impress them.
10 Examples of Killer Content Curation
The following examples are great picks because they all demonstrate at least one outstanding quality of content curation, and together they showcase a cross-section of distribution channels and topics.
#1. Kottke.org: Blog
In January 2018, Jason launchedNoticing, an email newsletter with a curated roundup of the week’s posts on Kottke.org. He has even curated a collection of more than 2,000 books and products he’s linked to over the years, entitled The Accidental Shop, all of which you can purchase at Amazon.
Why is it killer curation? Because the blog and website are nurtured and maintained by an individual with a strong personable voice. Jason curates and writes about what interests him, but in doing so, he reveals what’s interesting about himself, which is an attractive quality. This organic, hands-on approach to his work has built a loyal following of subscribers and members whom he talks to like old friends.
#2. Deadspin.com: Website
This one is for all you sports lovers, as long as you don’t mind a healthy dose of humor and sarcasm served up with your daily news and commentary. Edited by Megan Greenwell, Deadspin has broken several major stories making it a credible and widely-followed source of sports information for its mainly male community. It also distributes a weekly newsletter to subscribers.
Why is it killer curation? It knows exactly what its audience is looking for and serves them well. It’s brash but unpretentious. It’s a visually appealing site, relying heavily on videos and images. Above all, its conversational tone makes it feel more like chatting to your buddies about the latest game than a staid news site. Bang on brand.
#3. The Moz Top 10: Email Newsletter
The Moz Top 10 newsletter is emailed to subscribers every two weeks. In addition to the newsletter and its prolific social media sites, Moz publishes a blog (with daily updates emailed to subscribers) and its famous Whiteboard Friday videos.
Why is it killer curation? Moz.com (founded by former CEO, Rand Fishkin) is one of the leading authorities on anything SEO and digital marketing. But you knew that, right? So, when they say they’ll share the“10 most valuable articles about SEO and online marketing that we could find,” you know they’ll dish up the goods. This email is killer curation because it’s current in a rapidly changing arena. It’s on point and unfussy, it’s easy to navigate, it adds considerable value and saves time.
#4. Smashing Magazine: Website
Smashing Magazine is a curated information resource for web designers and developers. The website is fun and quirky (what’s with the cats?) while being chock full of articles, books, and even a job postings board. You can also subscribe to a newsletter, emailed out every two weeks.
Why is it killer curation? As you would expect from web developers, the site is beautifully designed and easy to navigate with just the right number of tricks to be impressive, without being distracting. But it’s the community focus that’s most impressive. The passion for their subject matter really shines through, as does their desire to serve and support their audience with the best content and resources.
#5. Rohit Bhargava: Twitter Account
Rohit is the founder of the Non-Obvious company, which monitors and reports on trends and provides weekly insights through its email newsletter. It also runs the Non-Obvious book awards, which is a by-product of all the reading Rohit and his team do to curate ideas for their annual trends list.
Why is it killer curation? Rohit’s Twitter feed is full of links to funny, informative, thought-provoking, trend-setting insights. He has an innate sense of balance between light-hearted and serious, and he injects just enough of his content and promotion to remain credible. Which is why he has amassed an impressive 34.3k followers.
#6. Next Draft: Email Newsletter
Every day, Dave Pell sends out his news round-up — Next Draft. He curates ten items a day that he considers to be the essential, fascinating bits of information you need, without you having to go search for them. Or, as he puts it on his website,“I am the algorithm.”
Why is it killer curation? Because he does thisevery day. He takes content curation to the next level with his analysis and insightful commentary. But he’s also funny, wacky, and devilish enough to make you lust after his next email.
#7. Rocumentaries.com: Website
And now for something completely different — documentaries that rock your world. This is a collection of documentaries from BBC, Channel 4, Netflix, VICE, YouTube and more. You can browse the website or subscribe to the email for the latest picks.
Why is it killer curation? Because the site is wonderfully minimalist and focused. This is for and by lovers of documentaries. Nothing more and nothing less. You can sort by genre, sources, or recommendations and read the original curation notes before deciding which ones to download.
#8. Growth.email: Email Newsletter
This is another simple but highly targeted email. Compiled by Miles Burke, Growth.email delivers ten articles a week that have been carefully sourced, analyzed and curated. The theme, as the name suggests, is about growing revenue and business.
Why is it killer curation? There is no fluff. This is a thoughtfully curated collection of ten articles a week that has the audience’s interests firmly in mind. Miles does this on his own, for free. It’s content curation at its purest.
#9. Really Good Emails: Website, Email Newsletter and YouTube Channel
This site is a curated collection for email marketing geeks. It has curated and showcased almost 4,000 email designs to date, and it provides practical and insightful critiques through its YouTube Channel, Feedback Friday. Every week it sends an email round-up of curated links to its subscribers entitled “News and articles we thought you’d like.”
Why is it killer curation? This is one of those emails I really enjoy seeing in my inbox. It’s inspirational, educational, fun and I think I’ve clicked through to a link from every email I’ve received. Which is what you’d expect from email marketing experts.
#10. Wirecutter.com: Website
Wirecutter provides news and recommendations for its readers about the best gear and gadgets it can find. With detailed reviews, interviews and data, this is a curated gallery of diverse and insanely useful items with links back to the sellers.
The website also has a Deals page with the latest retail discounts updated daily and sent to your inbox via an email newsletter.
Why is it killer curation? This is curation with a difference. The team at Wirecutter spend hours, weeks and sometimes months researching and testing products to make shopping easy for their audience. From TVs to toilet brushes, everything is scrutinized with precision and care to establish the best product to buy in each category. The site is easy to navigate, insanely useful and hugely addictive.
Content Curation Tools
I haven’t set out to give you an exhaustive list. No-one ever could. Tools come and go on the Internet all the time.
Instead, I’ve researched as many as possible to bring you a good cross section of 20 automated content curation tools. Most of them are free, some have a free trial period before you need to start paying, and a couple are for the more dedicated and experienced curators with paid plans to match.
Explore the features and decide which are the best fit for your business.
Best Tools for Sourcing and Collating Content
Feedly lets you source content from almost anywhere on the web and organize it in your feeds. You can sort by topic, save to read later, and even share directly to your social media accounts. Its free for up to 100 sources and three feeds, and $5.41/month for the pro version.
Similar to Feedly, Newsblur is a free personal news reader that allows you to read content from 64 sites in their original format and save by categories. If you upgrade to the premium account ($36/year), you get access to unlimited sources, custom tags and more.
InoReader is another free reader that gives you access to an unlimited number of feeds and archived content. You can use folders and tags to sort and collate your content, and it’s quick and easy to get up and running. The starter plan is just $14.99/year to get rid of the ads and enjoy a customizable dashboard.
Instapaper has a beautifully simple interface and lets you source and collate content from anywhere on the web. The best feature is adding highlights and comments to any article, but you’ll need to upgrade to the premium account for $2.00/month to unlock the unlimited version of notes and other features.
No list of curation tools would be complete without one dedicated to videos. Vidinterest supports videos from YouTube, Daily Motion and Vimeo, and while other tools support a wider range of sources, Vidinterest is free. Plus you can earn affiliate dollars by writing and sharing reviews.
A gazillion tools can help you source content from social media platforms, but I like Social Searcher because you can start using it without registering an account. This gives you access to real-time searches across 12 social media platforms, data analytics and the ability to sort by date or popularity. Upgrade to the basic plan for around $4/month and you can start saving your searches and monitoring data results.
You’ve gotta love Blog Lovin’! It keeps all of the blogs you follow in one place and updates your feed as they publish new posts. It operates like a cross between a news reader and a social media platform, with love and comment buttons and a card layout like Pinterest. And it’s free.
Flow Reader is the best free content sourcing and collating tool in this list because you can combine your RSS and social network feeds in one platform.
Best Tools for Sharing Curated Content on Social Media and Your Blog
With over 19 million users, Crowdfire is a crowd pleaser regarding content curation. Source from social media and other websites and blogs with its new RSS feature. Customize and schedule posts for each social media profile. It’s free for unlimited curation and up to 10 posts/month on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. It’s $9.90/month for the plus account.
DrumUp lets you source, collate and share content across multiple social media accounts. You can get hashtag and content recommendations to suit your audience, share directly from the Chrome extension and track and measure engagement. DrumUp has a limited free plan, and the paid plans start at $15/month.
Triberr is a content marketing tool wrapped up in a community of like-minded bloggers. Firstly, it helps you source and share content across your social media accounts. But you can also follow and share posts from tribes of bloggers and influencers and get invited to become a member. You can get started on Triberr for free, or unlock additional features for $20/year.
If your content marketing is focused on Pinterest and Instagram, this one’s for you. With Tailwind, you can source, schedule and publish across both platforms and monitor and track the success of your efforts. There’s a free trial period, but the paid plan for bloggers and small businesses starts at an affordable $9.99/month.
The Tweeted Times helps you create a curated online newspaper from the most relevant content on Twitter to share with your followers. You can get basic branding and promotion for your newspaper for free, or pay $15/month to unlock more features in the pro plan.
This is the only software included in the list. It’s compatible with several major platforms including WordPress, Blogger and Facebook. CurationSoft is easy to use. You can search for content by keyword across blogs and social media, drag and drop, add your own commentary and post. It comes with a 14-day free trial and costs $49/year for the annual plan or $5/month for a pay-as-you-go plan.
Best Tools for Publishing Curated Email Newsletters
Elink is a visual collection of curated links that are shareable in an email newsletter and other online formats. From Elink you can source content, design and personalize your email, add curated links and send it to your subscribers via Mailchimp. Elink has a free 14-day trial, and then it costs $12/month.
Nuzzel is a free Twitter and Facebook news monitoring and research tool that also sends out automatically generated or self-curated social newsletters. Subscribers to your newsletter receive a daily email containing the top five stories from your Nuzzel feed or any stories you want to include.
Revue is an email newsletter tool that connects to a range of social media and other content curation tools to build the content for your newsletter. It’s free for up to 50 subscribers and $5/month (or more as your subscriber numbers increase).
Best Tools for the Full Package
With Content Studio, you can source and filter trending content and share it across your social media accounts, blog and email marketing platforms. The free subscription allows you to publish up to 500 posts/month to two social media accounts, but you’ll need to upgrade to the $49/month pro plan for unlimited social media and blog publishing.
Publish This is another full package content curation tool that lets you curate and publish content in newsletters and social media accounts. It’s free to start, but paid plans start at a slightly higher $99/month.
With Scoop.it, you can source content and publish it across your social media accounts, in your blog, your website or your newsletters. But you can only publish to one social media account with the free subscription and publish to five with the pro subscription ($14.99/month). If you want to embed on your website or publish newsletters, you will need to upgrade again to plus for $67/month, so this is a tool you will need to grow into.
Can You Hire Content Curators to Do This?
Sure, you can hire a freelancer or VA to do several content marketing tasks for you. But consider a few things before you search Google.
Whenever you outsource work, you’ll have a trade-off. No-one will know your brand and voice as well as you unless they work with you consistently over a length of time.
So, you need to decide what functions of your content curation you are comfortable outsourcing and what needs to be done by you to retain an authentic relationship with your audience. My suggestion is that with a good brief, you can hire a VA to:
You still need to add your own voice and insights to your curated content before sharing it, but a VA can do a lot of the time-consuming implementation tasks, freeing up your time to focus on strategy and relationship building.
And secondly, it might not be a smart move to outsource your content curation until you have mastered the discipline yourself with the aid of the tools available. You’ll be in a much better position to work effectively with a VA down the road once you have tested curation firsthand and understand the needs and interests of your audience.
The Bottom Line on Content Curation
A final word of advice: In your rush to embrace your new curation skills, don’t ever stop writing your own blog or producing your own videos and podcasts. Just ease back a little (remember that 60:40 rule of thumb).
Curation can certainly lighten the load and open new doors, but it will never replace the authority-building power that comes with creating original content.
What it does give you is a stack of new opportunities to build relationships with influencers and turbo-charge your social media following.
Just remember — always filter the content you source, always add value with your own insights and find a publishing schedule that works for you.
The grind of having to come up with something fresh and original on a daily basis is relegated to the past. You’re now armed with the strategy and tools to become a killer content curator!
So, go get ‘em!
About the Author
Mel Wicks is a seasoned copywriter who helps bloggers and business owners bring the ‘wow-where-do-I- sign-up’ oomph to their writing. Give your original content a shot in the arm with her free ‘No-Fluff Guide to Writing Epic Blog Posts Every Time’.
The post The Ultimate Guide to Content Curation (With Examples!) appeared first on Smart Blogger.
It’s an addiction like any other.
Ten or twenty bucks will scratch that itch, but the high never lasts, and before long you’re craving the next hit.
And the worst part? Nobody understands.
Except just maybe a fellow addict…
That’s how I’d introduce myself to the support group. (You know, the one that doesn’t exist yet.) I’d stand up and tell my story to a circle of fellow addicts, who’d nod their silent support.
My own addiction started with an act of vanity — I acquired the .COM version of my own name. That was 17 years ago, and owning a piece of Internet real estate was novel and exciting.
But that first domain registration, like the first high from an illicit drug, set me on the path to dependency.
The Telltale Signs of a Destructive Domain Habit
Like many addicts, I failed to acknowledge my problem until it was too late.
For years I told myself buying domains was just a harmless hobby. Something to do on evenings and weekends to help unwind after work. But over time my hobby became a powerful obsession.
I’d wake up each morning with a head full of new domain ideas and a burning desire to check their availability. At social occasions, I’d sneak out of the room to browse domain resale sites on my smartphone.
And despite plans to become a savvy domain “flipper,” I was selling almost none of the domains I bought, instead keeping them for personal use.
Eventually, my behavior became more erratic. I would buy any domains I could get my hands on — .ORGs, .COs, even .INFOs.
One Monday morning I hit rock bottom when I found a dozen GoDaddy receipts in my inbox for domains that had no practical purpose. Worse still, I couldn’t even remember buying them.
These days I’m on the road to recovery, and my mission is to help other addicts.
So take a careful look at the list below, and see if you recognize any of these destructive behaviors.
If so, you might just be a domain name junkie.
#1. You Just Can’t Quit GoDaddy
When you’re a domain name junkie, you struggle to think about anything else. You spend every idle moment brainstorming cool domains for your “someday, one day” online projects.
And once an idea has surfaced, you simply must know — is the name already taken? It doesn’t matter where you are, at work, at home, even in bed. You have to know.
When you discover the domain has already been taken (the good ones usually are), you start the search for viable alternatives.
And once you’ve dived down the rabbit hole, you can hardly crawl back out.
#2. You Lie About How Many Domains You Own
When you start collecting domains, it’s fun to log in to your account and delight in the breadth of your online kingdom.
But one day you reach the point where that list of domains is a painful reminder of a habit that’s out of control.
When your partner catches you buying yet another domain and casually asks, “How many is that now?” you pretend you don’t know, or deliberately lowball the true number.
But of course, lying is a telltale sign your casual hobby has turned into a serious problem.
#3. You’ve Started Dabbling in the Newer TLDs
In the beginning (well, 1985), just six top-level domains (TLDs): .COM, .ORG, .NET, .EDU, .GOV and .MIL existed, but that list has since snowballed.
Today we have more than 1,500 TLDs including .COFFEE, .LAWYER and .PORN.
On the one hand, domains are more plentiful than ever, and even if your dream .COM is long gone, you have hundreds of other options for snagging a snappy name.
On the other hand, who knows how much prestige these newer domains will hold over the longer term? Nobody wants to build their blog around the domain equivalent of a pet rock.
Some domain junkies won’t look beyond .COM, but if you’re exploring the murkier end of the market (.CM anyone?), it might be a sign that your hobby’s taking a worrying turn.
#4. You Tell Yourself You’re a “Domain Investor”
When your domain account lists tens (or even hundreds) of seemingly random domain purchases, there are two ways to explain it.
Either it’s the result of years of clueless impulse buying from a click-happy domain junkie with no more strategy than a half-blind pigeon pecking in the dirt.
Or it’s the culmination of a strategic acquisition campaign to build a valuable portfolio of undervalued digital assets for future sale.
Not surprisingly, most domain name “enthusiasts” favor the second version.
But deep down, if you suspect there’s very little method to your madness, it might be time to go cold turkey on domains.
#5. You Read the Thesaurus… for Fun
Not every domain you dream up will be available for registration. The truth is, most won’t.
That’s why a thesaurus is a domain collector’s best friend. In fact, uncovering snappy synonyms for your latest near-miss idea can be a lot of fun.
But if a thesaurus has become your favorite bedtime read (you know, just in case a cool domain idea jumps out) it may be time to seek professional help.
Because — wake up call! — it’s a reference book, not the latest Jack Reacher.
#6. You Secretly Stalk the Person Who Owns YourName.com
I was lucky. I grabbed my personal domain before anyone else could.
But if you have a popular birth name, or you were just too slow to the punch, your best options may already have gone. And that really stings.
Because when your name’s John Brown, telling people your treasured home on the Internet is TheRealJohnWBrown.info is plain embarrassing.
And that’s why you secretly stalk the person who nabbed your name online. You stake out their website, mentally mocking their pathetic efforts while waiting patiently for the right moment to pounce.
Because one day, they’ll forget to renew that domain and then, my friend, victory will be yours.
#7. You’ve Felt the Pain of “Lapsers Remorse”
Sometimes you see a domain for what it is — a dumb impulse purchase you’ll never be able to use or resell.
Maybe you tried to make money by listing it for sale at a couple of domain marketplaces but didn’t get the faintest sniff of interest.
So when it comes up for renewal, you do the sensible thing and let it lapse. You even feel good about your level-headed decision.
Weeks later, you casually check to see if anyone’s re-registered it and find it’s now listed on a “premium domains” site for $3,000!
Of course, just because it’s listed for thousands doesn’t mean it’s worth thousands.
But you can’t escape the feeling you let a valuable domain slip through your fingers.
#8. You’re Considering a Domain-Inspired Career Move
Sometimes you’ll stumble across a domain name that’s so good you simply have to own it… even though it’s totally unrelated to your work or hobbies.
The smart move would be to snag it and sell it for a profit to someone who can make good use of it. But like Gollum and that damned ring, you can’t quite bring yourself to part with it.
So your brain starts to explore a future possible world where you become the person for whom this is the perfect domain.
Sure it means throwing away years of hard-won experience and starting a blog in a new field.
But finding a domain this good must be a signal from the universe, right?
#9. You Lose Interest in Domains Moments After Buying Them
Once the buzz of snagging the name you’ve been lusting after subsides, a faint sense of regret can quickly follow.
“I can’t believe nobody bought this yet,” quickly turns to, “I can’t believe I just bought that.”
And the longer you hold onto a domain, the more money you rack up in wasted renewal fees.
The best way to take your mind off this painful predicament? Start scouting for your next domain name.
#10. You Have a Conspiracy Theory about Domain Registrars
Maybe this happened to you…
One day you check a new domain and find it available for the regular price. The next day it’s suddenly a “premium” domain, commanding several thousand dollars.
And you can’t help but wonder:
Did my search alert the registrar to the juicy potential of this previously unrecognized name?
You wouldn’t be alone in your suspicions. Type “do domain registrars” into Google and “steal domains?” is the top auto-complete suggestion.
Are registrars capable of dirty tricks like this? Maybe. It’s difficult to be sure.
But paranoid thoughts like these might be the first sign your harmless hobby is turning into a dangerous addiction.
Learn to Spot the Signs of Addiction Before It’s Too Late
Domain name addiction is real. And it can wreck your life if you don’t catch it in time.
If you suspect you might be addicted, ask yourself the following questions:
If so, you’re likely a domain name junkie.
The good news? With the right support, a full recovery is possible.
But you must take that crucial first step. Acknowledge your addiction.
So repeat after me:
“I’m a domain name junkie. And today’s the day I get help.”
About the Author: Glen Long is Smart Blogger’s operations guy and a recovering domain name junkie. He’s holding a “yard sale” of the best blogging, copywriting and content marketing domains that he’s collected over the years — go check it out.
The post 10 Things You’ll Only Understand If You’re a Domain Name Junkie appeared first on Smart Blogger.
Are you accomplishing your blogging goals?
Are you failing on your New Year's resolutions?
In this episode, you will discover how to get more done that actually matters.
Listen to the episode
I have a confession to make. Over the last 7 or 8 years, I've been a part of an amazing mastermind group.
And at the beginning of the year, we get together to talk about our goals. Every year, I write down my goals for that year and share it with the other members of the group.
We all do it. Yet, if I'm to be perfectly honest, I can't remember accomplishing any of the goals I shared with my mastermind groups.
They are usually large goals, and I find myself putting most of those goals back on my list the next year.
However, over the last month or so, I've made more progress towards my goals than I'd made in entire years previously. Why? Because of the process I've gone through.
A process that I believe can change your life like it has changed mine. One that will make you way more productive. But there's good news and bad news.
The bad news: It's going to take AT LEAST 10 to 20 hours to get set up.
The good news: It'll save you a ton of time and help you get WAY more done.
And I want to challenge you to take this seriously. You in? Then keep reading.
Goal-setting for Bloggers
In order to accomplish your blogging goals, it's important for you to spend the time to work out your blogging goals.
In order to accomplish the blogging goals that really matter, they need to be understood and evaluated in the proper context.
Here are the steps I recommend you take.
Step 1 – Write down (and break down) your life goals
Wait a minute Leslie? Why are we going so deep so fast?
Here's the fact – it will take a whole lot of work to accomplish your blogging goals, especially if they are big goals.
Starting with your life goals helps to give your blogging goals context. It helps you to get clear on your “why”.
In the episode, I walk you through a more detailed process for coming up with your life goals.
Step 2 – Write down (and break down) your business goals
Once you understand your life goals, it's important to then think about your business goals in the context of those life goals.
If you're reading this, you are most likely trying to start a blog as a business. You're not just in it to have an outlet. You want to actually make money from it.
Well if that's the case, you want to set some goals for where you want your business to go. And from there, you can move on to the next step.
Step 3 – Write down (and break down) your blogging goals
Now that you have your business goals, it's time to focus on your blogging goals in that context. By doing it this way, you know that your blogging goals will help you meet your business goals.
And since your business goals are in the context of your life goals, what you do with your blog will help you to accomplish your life goals.
I highly recommend for you to listen to the episode above to see how this all plays out.
How to Break Down Your Goals
In order to break down your goals, there are a few important questions that you want to answer. I also recommend that you write down your answers to these questions.
What is the goal?
This is where you want to get specific. It's not good enough to say I want to make money with my blog. It's better to say I want to make money by selling my first product by a specific date.
Or I want to grow my email list to 10,000 subscribers by the end of the year. Write down your goal and be specific.
Why do I want to accomplish that goal?
If you understand why you want to accomplish your goal, you'll be more likely to accomplish it. Write down your “why” for each goal in one sentence.
If you can't come up with a reason why then it shouldn't be on your goal list.
What are the benefits of reaching that goal?
If you're setting a goal, there will be benefits associated with that goal. What are they? Write them down for each of your goals. If you can't think of any benefits, I can't think of a reason why you'd want to accomplish that particular goal.
What are the pains associated with not reaching that goal?
One of the things I've learned on my journey as a blogger is that people are more likely to take action to solve a specific pain point in their lives.
Getting clear on the pains that are associated with not accomplishing your goal will make you want to fight more to accomplish your goal.
What do I need to know to accomplish my goal?
This is where education comes in. To get to where you want to get, you will have to learn certain things. You can take courses, listen to podcasts, and even read books to help you learn what you need to learn.
However, you need to be clear on what you need to learn so that you can pursue those resources.
Who do I need to engage to help me accomplish that goal?
No man is an island. In order to get to where you want to be, there are people out there that can help you. Knowing who those people are will help you plan out your strategy from connecting with them and engaging them in the right way.
What steps do I need to take?
This is where the rubber meets the road. It's important to come up with a plan of attack. You may not know everything that needs to be done right now. But you can at least come up with a plan of things to do to figure out what needs to be done.
Come up with a plan so that you can know what to act on.
When will I accomplish each goal by?
It's important to set a date. Then your goal becomes real. If your anything like me, setting that specific date will help you to push harder as that date slowly creeps up on you.
Tracking your progress
Now that you've broken down your goals, it's important to have a way to track your progress. It's what you do on a daily and weekly basis that will contribute to the goals that you reach on a monthly and yearly basis.
And tracking your progress will help you to continually be aware of where you are in the process and what's left to be done.
Here are my recommendations:
Choose 3 – 5 goals to start working on
Now that you have your huge list of goals, it can be overwhelming to try to attack them all. In fact, it's virtually impossible and you will be easily discouraged.
That's why I recommend choosing 3 – 5 goals to start with. These are the goals you'll be focused on right now.
Set Weekly goals
At the beginning of each week, determine what you need to accomplish that week to get you closer to accomplishing those 3 – 5 goals by the dates you specified.
Write those down at the top of your weekly planner, which can be a simple notebook or something like The Performance Planner by Zig Ziglar.
Plan your daily schedule and task for tomorrow
Every day, it's important to plan out the next day's schedule and tasks. The last thing you want is to wake up uncertain about what needs to be done.
Your goal is to jump to action as soon as you start your day. Knowing what to do beforehand is essential.
Of course, make sure the tasks your write down will help you accomplish the goals you are focused on accomplishing that week.
Reflect daily on what you accomplished
At the end of each day, take note of what tasks you complete.
More importantly, which goals didn't you work on. Make a note of that. You won't work on every goal every day. However, if you keep seeing a goal show up as not being worked on, that will prompt you to add tasks related to that goal on future days.
Reflect weekly on what you accomplished
It's also important to evaluate how your week went. Where are you in terms of your goals? What did you accomplish? Where could you use some improvement?
What didn't you work on as much as you would like?
Bringing it together
I know – the plan that I'm proposing here will take a lot of work. You're welcome!
Accomplishing your goals takes work. The problem is that most people are already doing the work, but are not doing the right things to help them accomplish their goals.
By having the clarity I outlined in this episode, you'll gain the confidence to know that you're not wasting time. And when it's all said and done, you'll be checking those goals off quicker than ever before.
So what do you say? Will you take me up on this challenge? If so, let me know in the comments area below.
The post Goal-setting for Bloggers: How to Get More Done That Matters appeared first on Become A Blogger by Leslie Samuel.
Letâs cut right to the chaseâ¦
If you want to find the best affiliate networks in 2019 so you can start earning some sweet passive income, youâve come to the right place.
Thereâs no fluff here.
No overwhelming list of 100+ affiliate networks that all sound the same.
No superficial content that doesnât help you answer the only question that matters: whatâs the best affiliate network for me?
Hereâs what weâre going to do:
Iâm going to briefly answer some common questions, show you the top affiliate networks we recommend for 2019, and quickly break down each of them for you.
You will then take the information, choose an affiliate network to join, and start padding your wallet with twenties.
Then letâs get started.
Affiliate Networks: Q&A
Up first are the questions and answers.
Already an affiliate marketing aficionado? Awesome. Click here to jump ahead.
What is an Affiliate Network?
Affiliate networks are middlemen connecting bloggers and entrepreneurs (âpublishersâ) with companies (âmerchantsâ) offering affiliate program opportunities for their products or services.
Through a single portal, affiliate networks give publishers access to numerous affiliate programs.
If that sounds like a bunch of gobbledygook, donât worry. Hereâs the important part:
You monetize your blog with these affiliate programs by using a process called affiliate marketing.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a new twist on an old idea: getting a finderâs fee when you refer a customer.
You introduce your audience to a product or service and, if they buy using your unique affiliate link, you earn a commission.
In short: find a product or service you like, promote it to your blogâs readers, and earn part of the profit on each sale.
Can You Really Make Money with Affiliate Marketing?
Slightly (ahem) on the other end of the spectrum, one of my affiliate programs has earned $3,450 over a span of 3 years.
Thatâs not âquit my jobâ money. Itâs not even âhire Nicolas Cage to attend my birthday partyâ money.
However, as passive income resulting from a single blog post I wrote years ago, itâs not too shabby.
Your mileage can and will vary, of course.
But itâs definitely possible to make real, tangible, passive income through affiliate marketing.
Smart, attractive people just like you do it every day.
So, that begs the questionâ¦
What is the Best Affiliate Network?
Thatâs what Iâm going to help you figure out.
Iâll give you the breakdown (in no particular order) â you choose the network that best fits your needs.
Letâs get to it.
The Scoop on ShareASale
What Makes ShareASale Different?
Thanks in part to its solid reputation, ShareASale is trusted by quite a few big-name companies.
Over 1,000 merchants, such as WP Engine and OptinMonster, are exclusive to the network.
If you want to advertise their products, you can only do so through ShareASale.
Who Should Join ShareASale?
Anyone whoâs looking for a reliable affiliate network that offers a wide variety of affiliating marketing options (thus eliminating the need to join multiple networks) should give ShareASale a try.
Whether you want to offer services, physical goods, or digital downloads to your audience, ShareASale has you covered.
The Skinny on Clickbank
What Makes Clickbank Different?
By focusing on digital products created by entrepreneurs from all over the globe, Clickbank offers affiliate opportunities you canât find anywhere else.
But be carefulâ¦
While Clickbank itself, the network, has a solid reputation, some of the products offered by its merchants can be questionable.
You have to do your homework. If you do, youâll be fine.
If you donât, and you end up promoting some subpar products, your audience wonât be happy.
(For the record: this advice is applicable to every affiliate network.)
Who Should Join Clickbank?
If youâre looking to exclusively promote digital products, and you want (literally) millions of options, Clickbank is a good bet.
#7. CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction)
The Lowdown on CJ Affiliate
What Makes CJ Affiliate Different?
It offers lots of bells and whistles, such as real-time reporting.
That means you can monitor activity on your account as it happens.
(No more having to refresh your browser every five seconds like a caveman.)
Who Should Join CJ Affiliate?
Anyone with an established audience who wants a feature-rich affiliate network will find a lot to like with CJ Affiliate.
However, it may not be a good choice for beginners.
Because accounts are deactivated if you go six months without earning a commission, and because their merchants have a reputation for being picky on who they accept as publishers, CJ Affiliate is best for those who get steady traffic to their websites.
However, if you already have an audience of modest size and engagement, youâll appreciate what CJ Affiliate has to offer.
#6. Amazon Associates
The Rundown on Amazon Associates
What Makes Amazon Associates Different?
By offering the entire Amazon catalog, no affiliate network can match the sheer volume of physical and digital products offered by Amazon Associates.
Heads up, though:
Including affiliate links in emails is against Amazonâs company policy, so keep this in mind if email marketing is your primary method for promoting affiliate products.
Who Should Join Amazon Associates?
Affiliate marketers who are familiar with the Amazon ecosystem will feel right at home with Amazon Associates.
Those looking to promote services should look elsewhere, but anyone who wants to focus on physical and digital products will find millions of different opportunities in hundreds of different categories with Amazon Associates.
#5. eBay Partner Network (EPN)
The 411 on eBay Partner Network
What Makes eBay Partner Network Different?
One thing that sets EPN apart from other affiliate networks is the way it lets you promoteâ¦ unique offerings.
The great Weird Al Yankovich once sang about buying William Shatnerâs toupee on eBay.
With the eBay Partner Network, if such a transaction ever takes place, you could earn a commission on it.
Who Should Join eBay Partner Network?
If your focus is on physical products and you want the peace of mind that comes with doing business with a large company youâre already familiar with, eBay Partner Network is a great option.
The Skinny on FlexOffers
What Makes FlexOffers Different?
When you sign up with FlexOffers, youâre assigned a dedicated account manager to help you navigate the affiliate marketing waters.
This makes it a good fit for both beginners and veterans of affiliate marketing.
Who Should Join Flexoffers?
Donât let its youth fool you.
If you want lots of affiliate options, great support, and quick turnaround on payments, FlexOffers is a solid contender.
The Scoop on Pepperjam
What Makes Pepperjam Different?
Publishers and merchants can communicate with one another inside the Pepperjam system.
Thatâs very unique.
Want to ask a merchant who caught your eye a question? Have at it. Flirt away.
Pepperjam actually encourages communication so strong relationships can be built.
Who Should Join Pepperjam?
If you value transparency and customer support, youâll be hard pressed to do better than Pepperjam as an affiliate network.
#2. Rakuten Marketing (formerly LinkShare)
The Lowdown on Rakuten Marketing
What Makes Rakuten Marketing Different?
Itâs been ranked the #1 affiliate network for 7 straight years by an industry publication that presumably knows about such things.
Who Should Join Rakuten Marketing?
If you want an affiliate network with an intuitive user interface, a great reporting system, and the kind of solid reputation you can only earn by being in the business for two decades, Rakuten Marketing is a great selection.
The Rundown on PeerFly
What Makes PeerFly Different?
PeerFly is known as a CPA (cost per action) affiliate network rather than the typical CPS (cost per sale). The âactionâ could be a sale, but it doesnât have to be. It could be whatever action (downloading an eBook, filling out a survey, etc.) the merchant desires.
Though individual commissions typically arenât as high for CPAs, the number of commissions is usually higher.
Who Should Join PeerFly?
If youâre a beginner or have a small audience, PeerFlyâs CPA model is a good option. Actions are easier to obtain than sales, so your chances of success will be higher.
And if youâre an old pro at affiliate marketing, the large selection and flexible payment options offered by PeerFly should serve you well too.
Itâs Time to Choose an Affiliate Network
Letâs cut to the chase one more timeâ¦
Which affiliate network are you joining today?
Which one is going to launch you on the path towards Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas levels of ginormous passive income in 2019?
You now know the track records and distinguishing details of 9 great affiliate networks.
So now itâs time to choose.
Passive income isnât a myth.
Itâs real. Itâs out there. And itâs yours if you want it.
Are you ready?
Then letâs do this thing.
About the Author: When heâs not busy telling waitresses, baristas, and anyone else who crosses his path that Jon Morrow said he was in the top 1% of bloggers, Kevin J. Duncan uses his very particular set of skills to help bloggers improve their craft.
The post The 9 Best Affiliate Networks for Earning Passive Income in 2019 appeared first on Smart Blogger.
What if I told you thereâs a new strategy for how to start a blog and make money, thatâs 20X faster, requires no software or technical expertise, and costs absolutely nothing up front?
Youâd think there must be some hidden catch, right?
But thereâs not. Itâs totally real.
In this post, Iâm going to walk you through the newest method for how to start a blog, step-by-step, with screenshots and links to all the resources you need. Letâs jump inâ¦
Table of Contents
Should You Even Start a Blog in 2019?
With the dominance of video content on platforms like YouTube and Facebook, you might think the whole idea of blogging is a littleâ¦ out of date. Research tells a different story, though:
And itâs not just companies who are getting great results from blogging. It also works well forâ¦
So, letâs say you fall into one of these categories. Should you just install WordPress and get cracking?
The Old Way to Create a Blog (And Why It Doesnât Work)
A few years ago, I wouldâve said WordPress was the only game in town. Itâs faster, more powerful, and more customizable than anything out there. Thatâs why they power 27% of the sites in the world.
WordPress is also extremely complicated. Hereâs a typical list of tasks for setting up a new site:
If youâre a techie, and youâve done it all before, itâs not a big deal. You can do it all in a few hours.
But if youâre a beginner learning how to start a blog for the first time?
Itâs overwhelming, and once you see how much there is to learn, youâll probably feel like quitting. If you do push forward, you can spend months or even years stuck in a technical quagmire, just learning how to do everything the right way.
Of course, you can always outsource it, but you donât really know what you are doing, your chances of picking the wrong service provider is pretty high. You might get scammed, hacked, or overcharged.
And hereâs the really disturbing question:
Even if you get your WordPress site set up the right way, what if you discover you chose the wrong market or nobody likes the content you are publishing?
It happens all the time. When I was a beginner, I went through three failed blogs before I created one that succeeded. Each time, I spent dozens of hours setting up WordPress, only to discover the blog was never going to work, and I had to start over. If you push forward and set up WordPress without testing your idea first, I pretty much guarantee the same thing will happen to you too.
The bottom line:
Putting it all together, I think setting up a WordPress site is the worst possible approach for a beginner. Youâre just setting yourself up for failure.
Fortunately, after working with thousands of students, Iâve discovered a new method that is much, much easier, not to mention faster, and Iâm going to outline the entire process for you here.
How to Start a Blog and Make Money (the New Method)
The driving principle behind this new method for how to start a blog is simple:
Waste as little effort as possible.
If youâre familiar with the thinking behind The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, everything outlined here will intuitively make sense to you. If not, hereâs the idea:
Innovation is messy. Anytime you create something new â regardless of whether itâs an app or book or blog â thereâs a huge chance of getting it wrong and having to start over.
The problem with blogging?
Most people donât know thereâs a huge chance of failure, so they spend months or even years creating a blog that has zero chance of succeeding. Eventually, they realize where they went wrong, and they start over, but again, they invest months or even years into creating a second (or third or fourth) blog that doesnât work.
And hereâs the part thatâs tough to swallow:
This kind of failure is inevitable. Whenever youâre doing anything new, you will make mistakes and have to start over. It doesnât matter if you are smart, rich, or successful at many other things. The first time you launch a blog, you will fail. Itâs pretty much guaranteed to happen.
The good news is, you can dramatically speed up the process. Instead of wasting months or years chasing a bad idea, you can find out if itâs going to work in weeks or even days. In fact, the process Iâm outlining here often destroys a bad idea within minutes.
You waste WAY less time. Instead of banging your head against the wall for months or even years before you finally figure everything out, you can adapt quickly and get to the right idea within a matter of weeks or months. Itâs at least 20X faster. Probably more like 100X.
So, letâs dive in:
#1. Make Sure Your Blog Is Actually Viable (Not All Are)
Important: The ideas in this section are subtle and hard to grasp. Reread it several times, and think about it carefully. We have tested it on thousands of students starting their blogs, and thereâs no question itâs correct, but itâs easy to misinterpret these rules. When in doubt, consult an expert (like us).
Itâs not fun to think about, but if thereâs no chance in hell of your blog succeeding, wouldnât you rather find out right now?
Well, sometimes you can.
One of the most damaging myths about blogging is the belief that you can start a successful blog targeting anyone, almost as if itâs a one-size-fits-all technology for getting âfree traffic.â But itâs not true. The fact is, blogs are good at getting traffic when targeting specific kinds of audiences, and they are absolutely terrible when targeting others.
Itâs also shockingly common to target the wrong audience. Of the thousands of students who come into our courses, more than 95% begin by targeting a poor or nonexistent audience that will never be able to support a successful blog, no matter how much time they put into it, and we have to use this checklist to push them in the right direction.
Surprising, right? You probably had no idea there was such a thing as a âbad audience,â but itâs true.
Here are some examples:
To be clear, Iâm not saying you canât target these audiences. Iâm saying blogging is an inefficient way of attracting them. Youâre better off using advertising, public relations, attending conferences, etc.
Of course, the obvious question is, âWhy?â Why is it that some audiences are well-suited to blogs and others arenât?
Letâs step through the criteria, and I believe it will become more clear. A good audienceâ¦
Interesting, right? And perhaps a bit unsettling?
The good news is, a rule disqualifying a bad audience usually suggests the adjustment you need to make. For example, the audience of âparentsâ was disqualified by the rule that a good audience must âshare the same perspective,â but by subdividing the audience down to âmiddle-class mothers of toddlers,â we were able to find a viable audience.
Sometimes though, you canât make a topic workable, no matter what you do. In those cases, look at the bright side: you just saved a lot of effort by finding out now rather than after years of trying.
But what if your idea for a blog is indeed viable? Well then, itâs time to do a little good old-fashioned espionage!
#2. Spy on Popular Blogs to See Whatâs Working
Thankfully, this next step is a lot less painful than the first one. Itâs also much easier to explain.
Once youâve verified your blog has potential, you need to study the blogs your audience already reads.
For instance, letâs say you want to start a blog for new homeowners. Youâll teach them how to make simple repairs themselves, maximize the value of their home, save money on their mortgage, and so on.
After going through the checklist above, you discover it meets all the criteria, and â alakazam, alakazoo â you have a workable blog topic. Whatâs next?
Well, the average new homeowner is in their 30s. Many are also parents. Chances are, a lot of them also have at least a passing interest in personal finance. Otherwise, they wouldnât be able to afford a home.
So, hereâs what you do: study the top personal finance and parenting blogs. In particular, you need to uncover their most popular content and learn from the patterns you see.
When you finish, youâll have a list of ideas for blog posts backed by evidence of popularity. While nothing is guaranteed in life, the success of these posts will be far better than anything you might dream up in the shower and decide to write about. As a result, you should have a much easier time outpacing your competitors.
But itâs still worth testing a few of them, just to make sureâ¦
Test Your Ideas for Free on Medium (Not WordPress!)
At this point, you might be tempted to grab a hosting account, install WordPress, and start blogging your heart out, but donât.
Yes, youâve done some cool research. Yes, your ideas for blog posts are far more likely to succeed. Yes, youâre way ahead of most beginning bloggers.
But I hate to break it to yaâ¦
Thereâs an excellent chance you analyzed all those popular posts from other blogs your audience reads and came to all the wrong conclusions. Before going through all the effort of creating a new blog, I recommend testing your ideas on perhaps the coolest blogging platform out there right now:
If youâve never heard of it, Medium is the brainchild of Ev Williams, the geeky and brilliant co-founder of Twitter. He created it to become the largest, easiest to use blogging platform in the world, and heâs managed to attract over 30 million monthly readers, as well as celebrity writers like Matthew McConnaughhay and James Altucher.
And hereâs the really cool part: you can write on Medium and get the chance to have your writing exposed to its 30 million readers, free of charge. Hereâs how:
Now, hereâs the big question:
How do you know youâre ready to switch over to WordPress?
Should you target a certain number of claps? Shares? Comments?
Actually, none of the above. In my opinion, none of those really mean much.
Youâre much better off paying attention to your outreach success rate. You see, influencers are an excellent judge of content. If you can convince 20% of the blogs you email to share your post, and you can hit at least 20% on three different posts, I believe youâre ready to start your own blog.
If your outreach success rate hits 20%, thereâs also an excellent chance at least one of your posts will end up featured on Medium, either on one of the interests or maybe even the front page, driving thousands upon thousands of new readers to your post. Again, not only will that help you build your audience, but itâs an excellent indication youâre on the right track, and itâs time to branch off on your own.
Note: If youâre familiar with the Lean Startup, the approach weâre following here is similar to the idea of an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Instead of creating a product though, you are creating the minimum amount of content necessary to test your post ideas.
Get a Clear (Not Clever!) Domain Name
So, lots of influencers are sharing your post on Medium, and youâre itching to crank up your own site and snag some of that traffic?
Cool. Letâs just take it one step at a time, and the first step is getting a clear domain name.
Put yourselves in the shoes of the visitor. Youâre browsing the web, and you see a headline for a blog post that catches your attention. Maybe a friend on Facebook shared it with you, maybe it came up on a Google search, or maybe itâs just a link in another article youâre reading. Regardless, you click the link, and consciously or not, youâre asking yourself a single question as you browse through itâ¦
âIs this for me?â
Within a few seconds, you have to decide whether to keep reading the post or move on to something else, and the only way youâll stay is if itâs relevant to you. Not just the post, either. When youâre deciding, youâll take in the design of the page, other post headlines, and, yes, the domain name.
For example, consider Entrepreneur.com. Is there any doubt who the site is for? Entrepreneurs, of course!
How about MakeaLivingWriting.com? Obviously, itâs for people who want to make a living as a writer.
Neither names are clever, but they help you decide to stay or go by clearly articulating who they are helping. Thatâs what a good domain name does.
Of course, all the great domain names are taken, right?
Not necessarily. Here are three different methods for finding the perfect domain name for your site:
Use these three strategies to make a list of 10-20 domain names youâd be happy having. You can write them out in a word processor, or if you want to get fancy, you can use a tool like NameStation to generate a lot of ideas at once.
Once youâre finished brainstorming, head over to a site like NameCheap to see if they are available. Click âBulk Searchâ in the search box and paste in your domain names to check them all at once.
Sometimes you get lucky, and one of your favorites is available. If not, you either have to head back to the drawing board for another brainstorming session, or you can go to a premium domain name marketplace like Sedo.
Either way, one word of advice:
Donât get hung up on your domain name. While itâs certainly helpful to have a good one, there are thousands of hugely popular sites with terrible domain names no one understands.
In other words, itâs not really a âmake or breakâ factor for your site. Give yourself a few days or maybe a week to brainstorm ideas, and then make a decision, because once you have your domain name, you are ready toâ¦
Switch Over to WordPress
You knew we had to run into some technical stuff sooner or later, right?
Well, here it is. Thereâs no code, complicated software to install or anything like that, but there are a lot of little steps you need to follow in exactly the right order.
Itâs not too bad, though, I promise. You can do everything here in about an hour, and I have step-by-step guides to walk you through every little detail.
Letâs get startedâ¦
Set Up WordPress the Right Way
The great thing about having a self-hosted WordPress site is youâre in total control. You can change how it looks, what functionality it has, improve its performance, and almost anything else you can imagine.
Complete control also comes at a cost: complexity. There are thousands upon thousands of themes and hundreds of thousands of plug-ins to choose from, and you can easily lose weeks or even months of your life wading through them all and trying to figure out whatâs best for you.
So, Iâm going to take a minimalist approach here. Rather than giving you a huge list of things to do, Iâm reducing it down to the absolute minimum, and Iâll even recommend some specific themes and plug-ins. Before we begin though, let me be clear about one thing:
Your content matters more than anything else.
You can have a site thatâs ugly, clunky, and slow, but if you have great content, youâll still get a lot of traffic. Not the opposite, though. You can have the most beautiful, user-friendly website online, but if the content sucks, nobody will give a damn about you.
So, donât allow yourself to get lost in these details. Focus on making your website functional, and then you can always come back and make it unique or beautiful later.
That said, here are some different options to consider:
The Simplest Option: Elegant Themes
Cost: $89 per Year
You might wince a little at the annual price, but the advantage of Elegant Themes is they give you everything you need in one package:
Now, is every piece of it the best?
No. In fact, I donât think they are the best in any single category.
But the combination of everything put together makes it far easier to get started. The design is also top-notch. Thatâs why theyâve become the most popular theme company on the market with over 400,000 paying customers.
The bottom line:
If youâre looking for a simple, stable solution that will last you for years and doesnât require a âtech guyâ to get up and running, Elegant Themes is the way to go.
The Free Option: A Hodgepodge of Stuff
Soâ¦ what if you canât really afford to spend any money on your blog? What should you do then?
Cobble together a hodgepodge of free stuff into a workable site.
Hereâs what I would do:
Sumo will only last until you hit 500 subscribers, and then you have to either switch to something else or start paying a rather high monthly fee to stay with them. You also have to update everything separately, and youâll have far less support if anything breaks.
To me, those are some pretty big downsides, and I really wouldnât recommend it, but sometimes you donât have any other choice. If thatâs the case, give it a try.
A Quick Word about Caching
Regardless of which option you choose, youâll want to install a caching plug-in before you start getting too much traffic (100+ visitors per day). The two most popular options are plug-ins called WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache.
If youâre looking for simplicity, I recommend WP Super Cache. You can install it, and youâre done. Hereâs a video where a guy gets everything set up in three minutes:
Later, when youâre getting 10,000+ visitors per month, you might think about getting a tech guy who really knows the ins and outs of either plug-in to configure it for you. It really helps, but itâs not worth the trouble or expense for a new blog.
Grow to $1,000 per Month (And Beyond)
In the immortal words of Harry Connick Juniorâ¦
Up to this point, youâve published posts on Medium until itâs clear people love what you write, you switched over to your self-hosted WordPress site, and now you are up and ready for the world. So, hereâs the big question:
When does the money start rolling in? After all, thatâs the point of all this, right?
Wellâ¦ good news and bad news.
The good news is youâve done the hard part. By far, the hardest part of building a popular blog is writing posts other people enjoy reading. Nothing else even comes close.
The bad news?
Thatâs just the beginning.
Now that your blog is up and running, you have to learn the ins and outs of getting traffic, building your email list, and monetizing your site. Even if you have top-notch writing skills, itâll still take you at least 3-6 months to figure all that out.
But think about it this wayâ¦
Nothing worth doing is quick or easy.
Personally, I was a slow learner, and it took me three years to reach $1,000 a month. Thatâs a long time, right? Well, two years after that, we crossed $100,000 per month, and weâve never looked back.
So yeah, itâs hard work, but Iâd say itâs worth it.
Letâs go through some other common questionsâ
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I start a blog for free?
WordPress.com and Medium.com both have free options. Of the two, we recommend Medium, because they feature the best content from writers, and if you get featured, it can send you a ton of traffic.
But the truth?
Starting a blog is never free. Even if you donât spend any money, youâll be investing lots and lots of your time, and thatâs worth something. Donât forget about that.
How do you start a blog to make money?
Your best bet is to blog in a niche where lots of other bloggers are already making money. For example, the marketing, personal finance, and self-improvement niches can all be very profitable. If your goal is to start a blog to make money, those are the least risky options.
But what if you donât want to blog about those topics?
You donât have to. You can theoretically make money blogging about anything, assuming the audience a) trusts you and 2) frequently spends money on products and services related to your blog topic. You can either make money blogging as an affiliate or selling your own products and services.
What should I make a blog about?
It depends on your motivations.
If you want to make money, you should probably start blogging in a well-known space with lots of traffic and buyers, and then stand out by offering exceptionally good content for free.
For more on what it takes to choose a popular blog topic, read this post on what to blog about.
How do I get my blog noticed?
Getting noticed is about three things:
Lots of people obsess over getting the links from influential people, but the truth is, thatâs relatively easy if your content is really the best. Focus on that, and then tactics like these will help it rise to the top.
How much does a beginning blogger make?
If youâre working for another company, you can make as much as $50,000 per year. Professional content marketers get paid very well.
On the other hand, most beginning bloggers are hobbyists. They tinker around in their spare time and seldom make much.
If you do commit to blogging over the long-term, and you start a truly popular blog, you can make millions. Itâs a long road, and most people fail, but itâs worked out well for me.
The Bottom Line on How to Start a Blog
Just getting your blog off the ground is the hardest part.
It might take you a few months or even a few years to build up momentum. And you might feel a little dumb for investing so much time to it, but then that momentum builds and builds and builds, and you wake up one morning to the stupefying yet delicious realization that youâll never have to worry about money again.
Thatâs what happened to me. Might happen to you too, now that youâve learned how to start a blog.
At the end of the day though, thereâs only one way to find out:
Get started and see what happens.
About the Author: Jon Morrow is the CEO of Smart Blogger. Check out his new blog Unstoppable and read the launch post that went viral: 7 Life Lessons from a Guy Who Canât Move Anything but His Face.
The post How to Start a Blog (and Make Money) in 2019: 20X Faster Method appeared first on Smart Blogger.
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