Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!
from Kanwar Manoria Digital Inc. https://kanwarmanoria.digital/uncategorized/hello-world/
So, you’d like to take blogging for a test drive, eh?
See if you like it or not before ponying up the bucks for a complete self-hosted WordPress setup?
You’ve probably heard you can start a blog for free, and indeed you can. The big question is:
What’s the best free blogging platform right now?
And the answer is… it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.
In this post, we’ll go over all the different free blogging platforms and give you the pros and cons of each, but first, let’s stop to ponder a more fundamental question:
Table of Contents
Do You Even Need a Free Blogging Platform?
Blogging can be expensive.
If you’re a seasoned blogger who’s been around the block a time or two, who’s already figured out which ideas work and which don’t, it’s easy to chalk up these costs as the price of doing business. Spend money, make money. Wash, rinse, and repeat.
But what if you’re a beginner learning how to start a blog for the first time? What if you’re someone who hasn’t yet figured what works and what doesn’t?
I’ll let you in on a secret…
You can experiment just as well on a free blogging platform as you can on a self-hosted WordPress setup with all the bells and whistles.
Actually, you can experiment better on a free blogging platform since the learning curve isn’t as steep.
Do you really want to experience the inevitable growing pains of blogging while forking over large piles of cash each month?
Free blogging platforms allow you to confirm your blog topic has potential, spy on the competitors in your niche, and test your ideas without spending any of your hard-earned dough.
So which one is best?
Well, that’s the thing:
No Blogging Platform Is Right for Everyone
Different bloggers have different needs, and different blogging platforms are good for different things. Ultimately, “best” will depend on you and your situation.
That said, each of the platforms we’ll discuss do have common traits (besides being free). Let’s briefly look at them before we dive in:
That last one can be both a blessing and a curse.
Once you get serious about blogging, the limited customization options of free platforms will likely hold you back. When you’re just starting though, the limitations will help you focus on what’s important: the aforementioned testing of your ideas.
Alright, enough prologue.
Ready to find out which platform is best for you? Let’s go.
#1. Medium: Best Platform for Simplicity
First up is Medium.
Founded by Evan Williams, one of the founders of Twitter, Medium launched in August 2012 to much fanfare, and it’s grown into a behemoth. According to the New York Times, as of May 2017, Medium was up to 60 million unique visitors each month.
That’s considerably less than WordPress, but Google Trends indicates the tide could be turning:
The red line in the graphic above represents the number of worldwide searches for “wordpress” during the past five years. The blue line represents the number of searches for “medium.”
Granted, some of those “Medium” searches could be for the TV show of the same name that starred Patricia Arquette from 2005 through 2011.
Nonetheless, it’s growth is impressive.
How Do You Get Started?
Medium offers multiple ways to register.
Don’t want to remember yet another password for yet another account? No problem. Sign up using one of your social media accounts.
Go to Medium.com and click the “Get Started” button:
Choose Google or Facebook. You’ll then be asked to log into your (Google or Facebook) account. Once you authorize Medium to access your account, it will redirect you back to Medium.
To get to your Medium account in the future, all you have to do is click “Sign In” on the homepage and choose the “Sign in with Google” or “Sign in with Facebook” option.
Or if you already have a Twitter account, it’s even easier. Choose the “Sign In” link instead of the “Get Started” button, and you’ll see the following:
Click the “Sign in with Twitter” button (even though you haven’t yet signed up).
If you haven’t already logged into Twitter, you’ll be asked to log in and then authorize Medium to access your Twitter account.
Click “Ok,” and you’ll be off to the races.
What Do You Get For $0?
A simple, beautiful WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) blogging platform that embraces minimalism.
After you join, click your avatar (the floating head) in the top-right corner of the page and then, select “New story.”
You’ll land on a clean, easy-to-use editor.
Where to insert the title for your post is clearly defined. So, too, is where to begin typing your first sentence.
Every change you make gets automatically saved in the background. And as you type, you begin to see exactly how your finished post will appear to your readers.
That’s the beauty of a WYSIWYG editor.
There’s no guessing, no wondering, and no trial and error. If your post looks good in the editor, it’s going to look good when your post goes live after you click the “Ready to publish?” button.
And speaking of what happens after publishing, there’s something else Medium offers you for the whopping price of zero dollars and zero cents:
The chance to be featured in front of their 60+ million readers.
Write something that wows people and, if it receives enough love from readers (they click a “clap” button to show their approval), it could get featured as one of Medium’s top stories on their app and website…
Or in their “Daily Digest” email…
Such a spotlight would mean lots of new eyeballs on your content.
Who Should Use Medium?
Seriously, though it isn’t perfect, you’ll be hard pressed to find a blogging topic or niche that Medium can’t service.
This is especially true if your niche will be self-improvement or entrepreneurship. Medium puts your content, your message, front and center to your readers.
As Evan Williams once put it: “Medium is not about who you are or whom you know, but about what you have to say.”
All have things to say, and all have found homes on Medium.
Who Should NOT Use Medium?
Microbloggers (you’d be better off using Instagram — more on that later).
Those who don’t plan on using their blog for writing (photographers, podcasters, etc.).
Anyone who likes to color outside the lines.
Medium is all about the written word. Sure, graphics embedded into Medium posts look great, but in the end, it all comes back to the words.
Medium is best for those who love words. It excels at typography. It uses an abundance of white space so that its text has a perfect canvas. It embraces a minimalistic design so that nothing distracts your readers from your precious — yes, I’m going to repeat it — words.
Look at this example screenshot from a post written by Jeff Goins:
Black text on a white background. A simple, easy-to-read font. It’s a perfect arrangement for Jeff’s strong, unique voice.
Medium offers no glitz, glam, or sparkles. And, unlike WordPress.com (which provides a few basic design themes and customization options), Medium is one size fits all.
What you see is what you get.
If you like what you see, great. If you don’t, there’s not a lot you can do about it.
Final Word on Medium
What are the Pros?
What are the Cons?
Conclusion: If the written word is your preferred medium, you’ll do very well with Medium. It’s an easy-to-use platform that puts your words front and center, and it’s the platform we most often recommend to beginner bloggers.
But is it the right choice for everyone?
Let’s look at the other options…
#2. WordPress.com: Best Sandbox Platform
Source: Lorelle on WordPress
Launched in 2005, WordPress.com is a turnkey blogging platform built on the open-source WordPress.org software.
In any given month, over 409 million people will view more than 21 billion pages on WordPress.com’s network of blogs. In September 2018, more than 70 million posts were published and over 52 million blog comments were written.
In short, WordPress is quite popular.
How Do You Get Started?
Signing up for a free account takes only a few minutes.
Go to WordPress.com and click the “Get Started” button to get to Step 1:
You’ll need to enter your email address, a username, and a strong password.
Next, enter a few details about your blog for Step 2:
For Step 3, enter an address for your site:
Once you’ve typed something, you’ll get a list of options. Be sure to select the “Free” one.
Finally, in Step 4 you pick a plan. Again, choose the “Free” option.
What Do You Get For $0?
WordPress.com’s “free for life” plan gives you numerous features, including:
Let’s look at those features in more detail:
A couple of definitions are probably in order…
First, what’s a domain? See the address bar at the top of your browser? What comes after the “https://” is the domain.
In the case of this site, the domain is smartblogger.com. For my site, it’s beabetterblogger.com.
And in the case of WordPress, the domain is wordpress.com.
So what’s a subdomain? If the domain is the parent, the subdomain is the child. Anything between the “https://” and the domain is a subdomain.
That’s what WordPress is offering with its free subdomain.
So, if I wanted to start “Kevin’s Awesome Blog” on WordPress.com, my subdomain might be something like kevinsawesomeblog. Readers would type kevinsawesomeblog.wordpress.com in their browser to view my site.
It’s not a good look if you’re a business (more on that later), but for a sandbox blog where you’re testing your ideas, it’ll do the trick.
Jetpack Essential Features
WordPress.com doesn’t allow third-party plugins (unless you upgrade to their “business” plan). So, if your buddy tells you about this “amazing” WordPress plugin “you’ve got to try,” you’re out of luck until you upgrade to a self-hosted WordPress site.
However, WordPress.com’s free plan does come with many built-in plugins that offer everything from spam protection to contact forms.
For a complete list of the built-in functionality that WordPress.com offers, check out their plugins page.
Possibly WordPress.com’s best feature (beyond the price) is its extensive support system and knowledgebase.
You can find virtually anything you need to know about using their free platform in WordPress.com’s Support section. To call their collection of how-to articles merely “extensive” would be an understatement.
And if you have a specific question you need an answer for, they have you covered there too.
Visit the WordPress.com forum, search to see if anyone has had your same question, and browse the answers. Can’t find the solution you need? Post the question yourself.
Whereas Medium prevents you from customizing the look of your blog, WordPress.com gives you options.
With “dozens” (93 at the time of this writing) of free themes from which to choose, WordPress.com offers design flexibility that isn’t available with Medium and the other free platforms.
What we’re saying is…
You get a lot for “free.”
Who Should Use WordPress.com?
WordPress.com is a solid platform for almost every type of blogger.
Do you want to be a self-help blogger? Good news — WordPress.com will meet your needs.
Want to blog on food, pets, or politics? You’re in luck.
Just want to write about life? That’s WordPress.com’s jam, my friend.
Source: The Next Adventure
But WordPress.com is good for more than just blogging. You can also use it for projects and e-commerce stores, which isn’t something the other free platforms can claim.
That gives it an edge over the other options. If you want to blog and do something else with your site, WordPress.com offers flexibility the others do not.
However, it’s not a good fit for everyone…
Who Should NOT Use WordPress.com?
If you want to blog for a business, you should skip WordPress.com and look into Medium or LinkedIn (which we’ll discuss in a moment).
Because it makes you look like a cheapskate.
Free is wonderful, but using WordPress.com when you’re a business is the equivalent of handing out business cards with the printer’s logo on the back of them.
Doesn’t exactly scream “I’m a professional,” does it?
If you’re hoping to join a blogging community where your posts have a chance to be discovered by new audiences, you should look elsewhere.
Medium shines a spotlight on the best their members have to offer. If you write something great, it has a chance to be featured and seen by millions.
WordPress.com? Not so much.
Here’s a screenshot of the most-recent “Editors’ Picks” on the official WordPress.com blog:
There might as well be tumbleweeds blowing across the screen.
Final Word on WordPress.com
What are the Pros?
What are the Cons?
Conclusion: If you’re a non-business blogger who wants an easy to use platform that gives you some control over customization, WordPress.com is a solid option — especially if you plan to transition to self-hosted WordPress someday.
#3. LinkedIn: Best Platform for Professionals
Source: Darren Rowse
Next up is LinkedIn.
Primarily used for professional networking, LinkedIn also offers a publishing platform. This allows any of its 560 million users (as of September 2018) to write posts that could (potentially) be read by any of the 260 million members who are active in a given month.
How Do You Get Started?
Go to LinkedIn.com, and you’ll see this window encouraging you to join:
Enter your name, your email, and a strong password. Then click the “Join now” button.
You’ll then be asked to answer a few simple questions:
It sounds like a lot, but it’s fairly harmless.
Still, if you feel the urge to throw your computer into the dumpster, we won’t blame you.
What Do You Get For $0?
A free-to-use publishing platform that’s focused on professionals and business contacts.
If you’re already a LinkedIn member, publishing your content will be easier than WordPress.com, Medium, or any other blogging platform.
Because it’s built right into your LinkedIn profile. Click the “Write an article” button and start writing.
Who Should Use LinkedIn?
Anyone who wants to reach professionals and businesses.
After all, that’s what LinkedIn is all about, right? Nurturing business relationships.
Source: Syed Balkhi
Blogging on LinkedIn helps to cultivate those relationships.
When you write an article, LinkedIn will notify your existing connections. If your article is great (and why wouldn’t it be?), they’ll take notice. Write more and more great articles, and they’ll start to see you as an authority.
And, like with Medium, great content on LinkedIn has a chance to get noticed by those outside your list of connections.
If one of LinkedIn’s editors sees your masterpiece and decides to feature it on one of LinkedIn’s numerous channels, your work gets exposed to a giant audience of interested, like-minded professionals.
Tip: Want to increase the chances a LinkedIn editor will see your article? Share it on Twitter and include “tip @LinkedInEditors” in your tweet.
Who Should NOT Use LinkedIn?
This one is pretty straightforward…
If you aren’t a working professional, or you’re not looking to reach working professionals, you’ll be better off choosing one of the other free platforms.
Final Word on LinkedIn
What are the Pros?
What are the Cons?
Conclusion: If you’re looking to write posts that will reach professionals and businesses, LinkedIn is the best free blogging platform available.
#4. Instagram: Best Platform for Visuals
A photo and video-sharing platform that’s owned by Facebook, Instagram is one of the largest social media sites in the world.
As of June 2018, Instagram has 1 billion users worldwide. The previous September, they had 800 million users — a growth of 200 million in only nine months.
Even if you subtract everyone who follows a Kardashian or has posted a photo of themselves impersonating a duck, Instagram offers an audience of well over 75 people.
How Do You Get Started?
On a personal computer, go to Instagram.com, and you’ll see the following:
Enter your phone number or email address, your name, your desired username, and a strong password. Then click the “Sign up” button.
Or, skip all that and click the “Log in with Facebook” button (assuming you have a Facebook account). If you aren’t already logged in, it will ask you to log into your Facebook account.
You could also do the above using the Instagram app on your mobile device.
What Do You Get For $0?
You get an extremely popular social media platform that’s perfect for microblogging.
What’s microblogging, you ask? Here’s how it works:
You get a great image. Maybe it’s a photo you took on your camera, or perhaps it’s a Creative Commons image that perfectly fits your current shade of melancholy.
You upload the image to Instagram.
And for the caption? You write a short blog post.
Here are a couple examples:
In the above screenshot, Sarah Von Bargen cleverly plugs a course she offers in the midst of a tiny, bite-sized post (accompanied by a photo of assorted beverages).
And in the below screenshot, my friend Jaime Buckley (in true Jaime Buckley style), uses Instagram to publish an eye-catching graphic alongside 107 inspirational words on parenting.
That’s microblogging — and it can be done very, very well using Instagram.
Who Should Use Instagram?
Anyone who focuses on highly-visual topics.
Make-up artists, hair stylists, clothing stores…
The list goes on and on.
If you’re someone who can combine great visuals with short posts that pack a punch, you can have great success using Instagram as a microblogging platform.
Who Should NOT Use Instagram?
If your idea of a great image involves pulling out the iPhone 3G you’ve had since 2008 and snapping a photo, Instagram may not be the platform for you.
If you tend to draft novels when you write, Instagram’s 2,200 character limit when writing captions could prove problematic.
Also, if your target audience tends to shy away from mobile devices for any reason, Instagram might not be the best platform to test your ideas. Instagram started life as a mobile app. Mobile is where it shines, and it’s where most of its users call home.
(So, if you’re planning to start a Wilford Brimley fan club, it’s probably best to skip Instagram.)
Final Word on Instagram
What are the Pros?
What are the Cons?
Conclusion: Instagram offers a great microblogging platform geared toward visual topics. However, it is not kind to fans of the great Wilford Brimley.
#5. Guest Blogging: Best Platform for Building Your Authority
Sometimes, the best platform for your work is someone else’s popular blog.
Why? Because it can mean instant credibility.
Once your post publishes on a site like Smart Blogger, Forbes, Lifehacker, or Business Insider; people look at you differently.
Yesterday, you were just you — a talented, attractive writer living in obscurity. But then, after having your work published on a well-known website, you’re now seen as a subject matter expert in your field.
What happened? Guest blogging happened.
How Do You Get Started?
There are two approaches to finding sites where you can contribute guest posts.
The first is easy…
Check to see if the blogs you already like to read (that are relevant to your niche, of course) accept guest post submissions.
Browse their “About” or “Start” pages. Try their “Contact” page. Sometimes, they’ll make it easy and have a “Contribute” or “Write for Us” link in their navigation menu or footer.
The second approach involves utilizing Google’s and Twitter’s search capability.
Here’s how it works:
As you can in the screenshot above, you can query a topic (in this example: “blogging”) along with a search phrase (“write for us”).
Google returned a list of results that contained both of those search terms/phrases.
Click on the results that look promising, browse the sites, and see if they’re a good fit. Not all sites will be worth your time. Skip the ones that aren’t. Bookmark the matches.
Then try some other, similar queries:
And so on.
Replace “blogging” and “blogging tips” with whatever topics you would like to write about.
Searching for guest blogging opportunities on Twitter follows a similar routine:
Type “guest post”, “guest blog post”, “guest article”, etc. in the search box. Twitter will give you a list of tweets where people used those exact phrases.
Every time someone proudly tweets that a guest post they’ve written has been published on someone’s site, as Meera Kothand does in the above screenshot, it’s saved by Twitter for posterity. And it allows you to go on an archeological hunt find it.
Scroll through the results.
Based on the title of the guest post and the site that published it, you will have a good idea whether or not it’s a match for you. Keep scrolling until you find some possibilities. Click the link in the tweet, browse the site, and bookmark it for later if you think it’s a contender.
What Do You Get For $0?
You get the chance to put your words in front of already-existing, relevant audiences.
Jon wasn’t an unknown when he wrote How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World as a guest post for Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger in 2011, but he was an unknown to me until I discovered the post a few years later.
Then everything changed.
It didn’t matter that Jon was already well known by most thanks to his former role at Copyblogger; for me, his ProBlogger post was a gateway drug.
Jon went from being an unknown — a riddle, wrapped in an enigma, smothered in secret sauce — to an authority on blogging I had to read.
That’s the power of guest blogging. Every time you put your words in front of newly targeted audiences; you have the chance to gain fans for life.
Who Should Guest Blog?
Anyone who wants to build their credibility and boost their authority.
How can guest blogging do that, you ask? Let’s use me as an example.
Before I wrote my first guest post for Smart Blogger, the only people who viewed me as an authority on blogging were my wife and maybe one of our cats.
My site, Be A Better Blogger, was less than a year old. After reading a post about quitting your job and moving to paradise written by some guy named Jon, launching my own “blog about blogging” sounded like a great idea.
So that’s what I did. I was on unemployment at the time, and I had a lot of free time on my hands.
And I was doing a great job in such a short period.
The only problem?
I had little credibility. Few saw me as an authority on the topics I was writing.
Then I received an email…
Jon’s editor, the talented Glen Long, invited me to write a guest post for Smart Blogger (formerly known as Boost Blog Traffic).
That guest post…
Led to a second opportunity…
Which led to a third…
Which led to the post you’re reading right now.
It led to opportunities like writing for Syed Balkhi over at OptinMonster.
It led to being asked to provide quotes for dozens of blog posts and articles.
It led to flattering, tongue-placed-firmly-in-cheek emails like this one from James Chartrand:
It may not have led to tons of traffic for my website or large crowds chanting my name in the streets, but guest blogging did something that would have taken me considerable time to do on my own:
It legitimized me.
Hey, and speaking of website traffic…
Who Should NOT Guest Blog?
Anyone who wants to build up their own blog.
The reason? It isn’t very efficient.
You would better off publishing your masterpiece on your website, even if it isn’t yet popular, rather than on someone else’s — even if their website is very popular.
Please don’t misunderstand: Guest blogging is a great way to gain credibility; however, it isn’t a great way to get traffic to your blog. Not anymore.
Guest blogging may have been a nice traffic source in the past, but those days are long gone.
In his eye-opening article on the topic, Tim Soulo determined guest blogging was a poor return on investment if your goal was to generate traffic to your website.
According to Tim’s survey of over 500 bloggers (which included yours truly):
That doesn’t mean you should never guest blog. It just means you need to be clear about your reasons for doing so.
Guest blog for credibility, for boosting your authority, and for building your brand.
Don’t guest blog if you’re hoping for traffic. More often than not, you’ll be disappointed.
Oh, and there’s one more group who shouldn’t guest blog:
Those who want to take shortcuts.
There’s both good and bad when you’re putting your words in front of a large audience. If your post teaches them something new, inspires them, or gives them something juicy to chew on; they’ll remember you for it.
And if it sucks? Yeah, they’ll remember you for that too.
Guest blogging is a great way to build your authority, but it’s also a great way to destroy it.
If you’re not willing to put in the time and do the work, guest blogging isn’t for you.
Final Word on Guest Blogging
What are the Pros?
What are the Cons?
Conclusion: Guest blogging is a great way to build your authority and get your content in front of new readers. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. However, it’s unlikely to generate tangible traffic to your blog.
Making the Switch to Self-Hosted WordPress
Technically, there’s one more free option out there…
The WordPress.org software — the same software used by WordPress.com — is free too. It’s free for any and all to use.
However, just like there’s no such thing as a free puppy (once you factor in food, veterinarian bills, and replacing all your shoes after they’ve become chew toys), WordPress.org’s software isn’t actually free once you add up the other expenses.
See, to use the software, you have to install it on your own web host. That costs money.
Is this something you will want to do eventually? Absolutely. Just not right now. Not when you’re getting started.
So how will you know when you’re ready?
Jon recommends making the switch once you reach a 20% outreach success rate.
What does that mean? Let’s break it down:
Step #1: Register for a Free Blog
Sign up for Medium, WordPress.com, or whatever free platform best fits your needs.
Step #2: Follow Jon’s New Method for Starting a Blog
If you haven’t read How to Start a Blog in 2018, do so immediately.
(Well, not immediately. Finish reading this post; leave us a comment; and share it with all your friends, loved ones, and acquaintances. Then, by all means, immediately after saying hi on Twitter, go and read Jon’s excellent tutorial.)
In the post, Jon shows you how to conduct a miniature outreach campaign where you email 10-20 influential bloggers and ask them to share your blog posts.
Once you’ve hit a 20% success rate, you’re ready to make the transition.
Step #3: Switch to Self-Hosted WordPress
Jon’s post also offers guidance for making the switch. When you’re ready to choose a web host, be sure to read WordPress Hosting: A Brutally Honest Guide That’ll Save You Money.
It’ll help you pick the best host for your needs and budget.
What’s the Best Free Blogging Platform for You?
That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?
You now know why testing your ideas on a free blogging platform when you’re just starting is a good idea. You now know the pros and cons of Medium, WordPress.com, LinkedIn, Instagram, and guest blogging. And, you now know how to get started with each of them.
So which one is it going to be?
If you want my honest opinion, the answer is simple…
The best free blogging platform is whichever one will get you to stop dipping your toes into the water and start diving in head first.
The next blogging masterpiece isn’t going to write itself.
Are you ready?
Then let’s do this thing.
About the Author: Kevin J. Duncan runs Be A Better Blogger, where he uses his very particular set of skills to help people become the best bloggers they can be.
The post The 5 Best Free Blogging Platforms in 2019 (100% Unbiased) appeared first on Smart Blogger.
Ever wish you could grow your blog to millions of readers?
Do you wonder if it's even possible?
In this interview, Maat van Uitert shares how she was able to do it.
Listen to the Interview
Maat van Uitert – Her Blogging Story
Maat started her blog back in 2015. Her family had moved to a farm in Southeast Missouri and there weren't any jobs available.
When she moved, she didn't know anyone and was looking for something to do.
When she stumbled onto blogging, she thought it would be a fun hobby.
She could use her blog to share what was going on in their lives.
And what was going on in their lives? Chickens.
Chickens were a big part of their lives and were family pets. Talking about Backyard chickens was a natural way to talk about what they were into.
That was the start of her blog, Pampered Chicken Mama.
In the beginning, she didn't look at it as a business. She didn't even know it was possible to make money with a blog.
But then she started learning more about blogging. She learned that it was a good income source.
So she went all in and grew it into a huge platform with 20 million readers.
Today, there's a team behind the blog and it's a solid business that provides for her family.
Her Content Creation Evolution
When she first started her blog, her content was about farming in general.
But the problem was that nobody cared. It became necessary to refine the topic a bit.
So she started digging into her area of expertise to help her refine. Her area of expertise was
animals, and more specifically, chickens.
So she started creating content about caring for chickens as food producers.
Then she came to a big revelation – people who kept chickens for food aren't buyers.
But people spend money on their pets. After realizing that, she made the smart decision to focus on people who kept chickens as pets.
She structured her content in that way because she needed to make money to take care of her family.
Growing an audience
When Maat started taking her blog seriously, she started focusing on growth.
She knew she needed an audience, and did what it took to grow hers.
For her blog, it was all about 3 different strategies:
How to Network with Other Bloggers
When Maat started her blog, she joined Facebook groups to connect with other bloggers. Especially bloggers in her niche (Homestead).
She would then reach out to these bloggers to network with them.
Those relationships eventually evolved into a support group of bloggers.
This also led to some guest posting opportunities. However, those guest posts didn't result in a lot of traffic for her.
Search Engine Optimization
When it comes to SEO, you have to understand keyword research and where your competition is.
Here's a secret – there are websites that spend a lot of money on SEO research. You can look at what those websites are doing and figure out how to rank based on that.
If you combine that with doing some of your own keyword research, you have a recipe for success.
Using those tools, you can find good keywords and analyze your competition.
Once you understand those things, you can develop an editorial calendar targeting the right keywords.
Here's how you can optimize your posts for your chosen keywords:
Social Media Marketing
Maat noticed that she was getting most of her Social Media traffic from Pinterest.
To double down on what was working, she decided to go all in on Pinterest.
To refine her Pinterest strategy, she constantly analyzed what was working for her.
If a certain kind of content was getting more pins and repins, she would create more of that content.
Her focus was on doing more of what was working.
Why? Because that was driving page views and resulting in more money.
Her recommendation is for you to do the same – focus on what works.
Bringing in the human element
One day, Maat was giving a talk about caring for chickens in Tennessee.
During the talk, people kept asking her how to do things. Her response was sharing things they could do.
But they wanted to know how SHE did things. This was her first hint that her audience wanted to know more about her and her family.
A year ago, she started talking about her children having special needs.
When she opened up about that, she started getting personal messages from people all over the world.
They were sharing with her about how they kept chickens because of their special needs children.
That's when she realized the importance of sharing about her life.
It helps to create community.
Today, she includes a personal story in every email she sends out.
She also includes family stuff in the editorial calendar.
How to get millions of page views
When asked about how to go from where you are to having a blog with millions of views, here are her tips:
Maat's Passion for Parents of Special Needs Children
Parents of special needs children need to know that blogging is a viable way to support your family.
When you build an online business, you're able to take care of your family better. There's a lot of flexibility if you build your business in a smart way.
The key is to build in a way that you can remove yourself from the business.
Here are Maat's tips for removing yourself from your business:
If you are a parent of special needs children and want to know more about building a business, visit TeamMaat.com
The post How to Grow a Blog to 20 Million Readers – with Maat van Uitert appeared first on Become A Blogger by Leslie Samuel.
My journey to making money blogging wasn't a rosy one.
In this post and podcast episode, I share some of that journey with you as well as lessons learned.
Listen to episode
There were three deposits in my PayPal account. Two $27 deposits and one $16 deposit – a total of $70.
It was at that moment that the course of my life changed. I now knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that making money online was possible.
Yes, I saw all the sales pages before and heard the stories – stories of those that had come before me making tons of money.
That had never been my reality.
You see – I had tried making money on the internet before. Allow me to share those experiences with you.
Stocks with the pastor
One day I walked into our choir director's home – pastor Graham.
I was a student at Andrews University at the time and was a member of the Deliverance Mass Choir (DMC).
I don't remember why I was there, but I remember seeing something I had never seen in person.
He had three computer monitors next to each other, and I was instantly in love. Not with him, but with having multiple monitors.
On two of those monitors, there were all kinds of screens with numbers, graphs, and tickers.
He had been investing in the stock market and was making a decent amount of money.
Fascinated, I asked him to teach me how. He explained the basics, and I was ready to go.
He warned me to try it out with a dummy account.
That's precisely what I did – I invested in the stock market with fake money. What happened? I was “winning.”
I had done some research and found a company that seemed like it would increase its value.
So I dumped my fake money in, and things turned out very well.
I was OBVIOUSLY a pro at this stock market game.
It was time to take the next logical step – throw in some real money in the game.
That's precisely what I did. I took $4,800 of my tuition money and invested in a company that was obviously going up.
It wasn't a problem though – I knew I'd make my money back and then some. I'd have more than enough money to pay my tuition, and then I'd have more money to invest.
What followed was an emotional rollercoaster. One day I'd be up $600, and the next day I'd be down $600. It oscillated back and forth for a few days, until one special day.
On that day, something happened. I wasn't sure what it was, but I knew it wasn't good.
I woke up that morning, and my investment was down $2,000. What the heck had taken place?
However, I knew that fluctuations happened all the time. Surely, it was gonna come back up. So I held on to it.
Unfortunately, it kept going down, and down, and down.
But it was too late for me – I was already emotionally invested, and couldn't pull out.
It HAD TO come back up . . . But it didn't. But yet – I couldn't see myself taking out less than I had invested until I had to.
I eventually pulled out, when my investment was down to $136. But I pulled it out because I needed to pay rent and didn't have enough money to do so.
My part of the rent was $162.50, so I had to add $26.50 to my “$4,800 investment” to pay my rent.
I never invested in the stock market again (but don't worry – I will get back at it soon, now that I know much more about it).
12 Daily Pro
In case you're wondering if I learned my lesson, allow me to disabuse you of that notion.
I didn't. I should've learned not to put money into something without fully understanding it. But I guess that wasn't exciting enough.
So I went on to something else. Something where I was sure I could make WAYYY more money WAYYYYYYY faster. The name was 12 Daily Pro.
It was something some of my college friends had gotten into. They were making money effortlessly.
All you had to do was sit in front of the computer and watch 12 websites flash on the screen for 12 seconds each.
That's it. For every day you do that for up to 12 days, you'd make 12 % of your money back.
Yes, with only 144 seconds of work per day, you could make 12% of your investment back. Moreover, after 12 days, you'd have 144% – for a profit of 44%.
Now that's better than any other investment I knew of. How exactly did it work? WHO KNOWS and WHO CARES? 44% is a fantastic return.
I knew I had to be smarter with this “investment.” So I only “invested” $100. I know – you think I was stupid. But hey – it worked. In 12 days, I had $144. Take THAT!
So I took the obvious next step – I “invested” $2000 of my wedding money.
Side note: My fiancee at the time trusted me so much that she allowed me to do that because I was so confident. She's amazing, and I was an IDIOT!
Day 1 – 12%, Day 2 – 12%, Day 3 – 12%. Everything was looking pretty good.
Day 4 – 12%, Day 5 – 12%, Day 6 – 12%. I told you – this stuff was working, and I was pumped.
Day 7 – The site went down.
At this point, I was a little nervous, but I knew it would come back up. Sites experience technical issues every so often. It was nothing out of the ordinary.
I reassured my wife, and the other people I convinced to dump their money in, that everything would be ok.
That wasn't the case. A few days later, the site was still down. I had no idea what was going on.
That was until I got a call. I don't remember who it was, but the person told me to turn on the TV.
They were working with the owner (read: fraudster) and were trying to get our money refunded.
I was fortunate to get my money back. Unfortunately, there were many others, including people I convinced to join, who didn't.
I decided never again to invest any money without fully understanding what I was doing.
I needed to be able to trace exactly where the money was coming from. I needed to understand how every step in the process worked.
Why I HATE Internet Marketing Scams
I didn't lose a ridiculous amount of money online (although $4,800 did feel that way at the time).
But I was able to experience firsthand how it felt to lose a significant amount of money. Not just that, but as you can imagine, losing $4,800 of tuition money had negative ripple effects.
I've been working online since 2008, and have seen a lot of “money-making opportunities” come and go.
And I've seen a bunch of people fall for many scams. Scams that make the creators rich at the expense of others.
And I hate it because real people are being hurt. So many people lose their savings and even retirement because of these scams.
Some even lose their families. This is terrible and needs to stop. Unfortunately, it won't. Not completely.
Because there will always be people, who will do anything for their own personal gain.
Fortunately, there's always something you can do to make sure you don't fall prey to these scams.
What I learned from internet marketing scams
I'm glad that I fell victim to these scams. Why? Because those scams taught me a few things.
1. Empathy above annoyance
First off, they enabled me to empathize with others who are looking for success the way I was.
I was looking for the “easy button” like so many people are today. If I hadn't experienced this, it would be easy for me to write off people who are looking for the same thing.
I know how it feels to be in a tough financial situation. I know how it feels to desire a quick win and a flood of extra cash pouring in from who knows where.
As a result, I can help to guide people who are susceptible to these scams.
2. Don't do what you don't understand
While the stock market isn't a scam, I didn't fully understand how it worked.
With 12 Daily Pro and the other scams, I didn't understand any of it at all.
All I cared about was that I could make money.
Now, before I make any financial “investments,” I need to understand what I'm doing. I take responsibility for my actions.
No more blind faith or, more accurately, blind hope.
3. Follow trusted, transparent experts/mentors
When I started to follow people who were doing what I wanted to do, I started having some success.
These experts had been there, done that, and were transparent with what they did.
The best mentors don't have anything to hide. Instead, they were very forthcoming with information. They spilled the beans.
I read their blogs, followed their social media posts, and took their courses.
By following these men and women, I was able to do what they did and see results.
4. Follow through with consistent action
This is where most people fail. In every program that I've been through, the majority of people never follow through.
They buy the course, take a few steps and then fall off the face of the planet.
Those who show up, follow instructions, ask tons of questions and then take action, succeed.
I always tell my Blogger Coaching Club members this…
When I took my first course on blogging, I was probably annoying to the other members.
I was on every call and asked tons of questions. So were a handful of others.
We showed up and kept showing up. We created content and have been doing so for over a decade.
And we're still around.
5. Work HARD!
Building any business is hard work. Don't believe the hype you read on those flashy sales pages.
Every successful blogger I know worked hard to get where they are. While they do have a lot of leverage today, they still work hard.
Fortunately, with the kind of business we're building, it's possible to get to a point where you don't work as hard.
I know I'm not there yet after doing this for ten years
Making money blogging
On that day when I received those first payments in my PayPal account, my life changed.
Because I knew I could do that over and over again. My hopes were validated.
That was the starting point for everything I've been able to do.
I want to get you to that point. That's why on November 1st, 2018, I'm doing a 30-day Blog Income Challenge in my coaching club.
If you can see that it's possible for YOU to make money, you will be more likely to follow through.
Are you willing to follow the training? Are you ready to be challenged to take action consistently for 30 days? Are you willing to work hard?
If so, join me, and let's do this.
The post The Failures That Lead to Me Making Money Blogging appeared first on Become A Blogger by Leslie Samuel.
Let’s begin with a simple fact:
Anyone can start a blog, but not anyone can start a blog other people want to read.
In the throes of self-pity, you might be tempted to believe it’s because of the fickleness of human nature, a lack of influential connections, or perhaps the realization of how difficult building an engaged audience actually is.
And you would be partially correct. All those factors do play a part.
But what if I told you the primary cause of failure for bloggers is actually their choice of what to blog about? Not their connections, not their persistence, not their understanding of how blogging actually works, but the accidental, unfortunate decision to write about the wrong blog topics.
You might be skeptical, and rightfully so. The good news is, I’m about to prove that assertion to you right now. Even better, I’ll show you how to uncover exactly what to blog about, increasing your chances of success 100X.
Blog Topic Insights from Studying 13,360 Bloggers
Over the years, my team and I have mentored 13,360 bloggers in every imaginable niche, language, and style. Everyone from meteoric success stories like Laurel Bern to thousands of students who have struggled to break through the noise.
And we’ve noticed some patterns. Some very interesting patterns.
Data from students shows us that some blog topics get traffic quite easily while others are nearly impossible. For instance, you can blog about square-shaped tomatoes with as much vigor and persistence as you like, and you’re never going to take off, because… nobody cares.
In fact, the range of blog topics where you can expect to both get substantial traffic and monetize is relatively narrow. Some blog topics that seem plausible from the outset, such as freelancing, actually don’t have a prayer of success.
In other words, your choice of what to blog about is critical. If you make the wrong decision, you can execute every traffic and monetization technique flawlessly, and none of it will work, because having the right blog topic is critical.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to finding your blog topic:
Step 1: Choose a Popular Niche
Before you write a single post, it’s worth asking yourself a simple question:
Is anyone in your niche getting significant traffic?
If not, what makes you think you can be the first?
For some reason, people are happy to invest hundreds or even thousands of hours into publishing content without stopping to consider if anyone else has ever been successful. Worse, they believe that competition is bad. They take pride in being the first person to write about a topic and believe that’s an opportunity.
It makes me want to cry. Not only is that perspective flat-out wrong, it’s tragic because it leads you to invest time into projects that never had a prayer of success.
So, how can you tell if a niche is popular or not?
The easiest way is to reference a research library like the one we have in Freedom Machine. It does all the heavy lifting for you by giving you a list of successful blogs, their most popular posts, and examples of how they monetize.
But let’s say you don’t have that. What can you do?
There’s no exact science to it, but here’s the process I recommend:
Find a List of Popular Blogs in the Niche
This is trickier than it sounds.
Let’s say you’re blogging about how to trade stocks. Does that put you in the “stock trading” niche, the “investing” niche, or something else?
My advice: go to the broadest category that makes sense. In the case of trading stocks, that would actually be the “personal finance” niche, assuming you’re targeting people who want to trade stocks for themselves (more discussion about this later).
From there, just run a simple Google query like “best personal finance blogs”, and chances are, you’ll find several lists to browse through:
From there, you just need to dig a little deeper and find out how popular those blogs really are.
Plug the Blogs into Ahrefs to Uncover Their Traffic
One of my favorite things about Ahrefs (affiliate link) is it gives you both social and search data. Let’s go through an example, and you’ll see what I mean.
In their Site Explorer, you can type in any URL to pull a report on the site:
You’ll get back a report with an enormous amount of data. Going back to our trading stocks example, let’s say I found out that Mr. Money Mustache is one of the most popular personal finance sites, so I plug it into Ahrefs. Here’s what comes back:
And that’s just a sample. In the left sidebar, there are lots of additional reports where you can go even deeper.
If you want to look at social traffic, for example, you can click the “Top Content” link, and here’s what you get back:
There’s all the content on the site, sorted by total shares. As you can see, the top 10 posts all crossed 2,000 shares, so it looks like Mr. Money Mustache is doing well from a social traffic perspective.
Personally, I like to see at least five sites within the same niche with at least five posts above 1,000 shares. That’s usually enough to start guessing what readers in the space want to read more about. More on this later.
A Word of Warning about Popularity
Stop for a moment and think about another question:
What’s your end goal for building a blog?
I’m guessing it’s not just to get a bunch of traffic and feel good about yourself. You want to turn that traffic into money somehow, right?
Well, some niches are dramatically easier to monetize than others. You can get a lot of traffic writing about the daily activities of celebrities, for example, but that doesn’t mean you’ll make money blogging about it.
Some niches can only be monetized through advertising. A good example is the news. Every time you read an article on a news site, they get paid a few cents for an “impression.” That’s how they survive.
If you do the math though, it takes a lot of traffic to start earning enough from advertising to quit your job or do anything meaningful. Like… hundreds of thousands of visitors per month.
For that reason, when my team evaluates popular niches, we also look at how the blogs are monetizing. Ideally, we want to see people selling some type of products and services because those genuinely have the highest ROI on blogs. If all we find are popular sites stuffed with ads, it’s a bad sign.
The bottom line?
Popularity is good, but it’s not enough. When you’re doing research, also pay attention to how blogs in the space are monetizing.
Step 2: Choose a Single Tribe That’s Hungry for Content
When you’re researching a niche, you’ll notice blogs seem to focus on different types of readers.
In the personal finance niche, for example, blogs like Get Rich Slowly and The Simple Dollar focus on fundamentals like secure investments, living frugally, and so on. At the same time, there are other blogs like I Will Teach You to Be Rich and Mr. Money Mustache that focus much more on how to increase your income and improve your lifestyle.
If you feel like those sites are fundamentally different, you’re right. While they both occupy the personal finance niche, they serve different “tribes.”
Here’s what I mean by tribe:
A tribe is a group of people who congregate online around common interests.
In the personal finance space, the two biggest groups are “save and invest” people and “increase your income” people. Neither tribe is right, but they don’t really mix well with one another. You won’t find a blog focusing equally on both tribes.
So, how does this help you?
It allows you to narrow in on your target audience. Here’s what to do:
Name the Tribe for Each Popular Blog in Your Niche
Earlier, we talked about identifying at least five blogs with more than 1,000 shares on at least a few posts. Now let’s go back and figure out which tribe they are talking to.
For instance, here are the popular posts on Mr. Money Mustache:
Do you see the pattern?
Mr. Money Mustache is clearly positioning himself for getting rich and against extreme frugality in some of his most popular posts. In other words, he’s speaking primarily to the “increase your income” people.
So, go through your list of five blogs. Based on their most popular posts, who are they resonating with? If it’s not immediately clear, here’s how to figure it out:
When you’re finished, you should have a pretty good idea about who’s interested in reading what. From there, you’re ready to…
Choose the Tribe That’s the Best Fit for You
Not all decisions can be made with spreadsheets and numbers. To succeed at blogging, you also need to consider what you enjoy talking about. The sweet spot is the overlap between your interests and everyone else’s:
For instance, let’s say all of the blogs you studied were suddenly interested in having you take over as Editor-In-Chief. Ask yourself…
In other words, you’re looking for an existing blog and tribe to serve as a model for what you want to build. It’s already built a following, so it’s clearly viable, and you feel like you could also contribute in a meaningful way.
That’s what I call the Zone of Magic. Ideally, it’s where you spend all your time.
What to Do It If You Don’t like Your Options
Before we move on, there’s one important question we need to address:
What if you’re not a good match for any of the existing tribes in your niche?
Approximately 60% of the students who go through our flagship course, Freedom Machine, find themselves in this exact situation. They have zero interest in writing about any of the topics they find on other popular sites in their niche. Even worse, they feel like those bloggers and their tribes just “don’t get it.”
If you find yourself in that situation, here’s a little tough love for you:
If there’s not an existing tribe who’s clearly interested in the same things you are, and you start a blog anyway, you’re essentially telling people they are wrong and need to change the way they think. In general, people don’t respond well to this. Not only will they refuse to share your posts or buy your products, but they might send you some hate mail as well.
The better, safer, and ultimately much more rewarding approach?
Go back to the drawing board and find a tribe whose interests align with yours. Instead of fighting them, just figure out where they want to go and show them how to get there.
Step 3: Write About Their Proven Interests
Which would you rather write about: topics you think your readers might like, or ones you know will get traffic, because you have proof of those topics being popular in the past?
Obviously, it’s better to have the proof, right? You might as well invest your time where you have the best chances of success.
In this section, I’ll show you how to uncover those proven interests, as well as put your own spin on them. Let’s jump in.
Drill Deeper into the Site Stats
Earlier, we used Ahrefs (affiliate link) to examine the most shared posts on Mr. Money Mustache. Let’s go back to that:
In general, the highest-quality shares are the ones from Facebook, so I tend to sort posts that way instead of by overall shares. Save these for later by running a custom export of the first 20 rows and saving it to your computer.
The next step is to dig into the keywords driving the most search engine traffic. You can find those by clicking on “Organic keywords” in the left sidebar.
The default sorting by traffic is fine, but if you’re a beginning blogger, I would recommend eliminating all keywords with a keyword difficulty (KD) over 40. Again, do a custom export of the first 20 rows and save it to your computer.
You should go through the same process for all the most popular sites serving your tribe. By the time you’re finished, you’ll have a list of dozens or maybe hundreds of posts proven to be popular with your audience.
Choose Posts Where You Can Add Value
So… now you have a big list of popular posts on other sites serving your tribe. That’s obviously useful information, but here’s the big question:
How do you use that information without sounding like a copycat?
You didn’t get into this to regurgitate the ideas of other writers. You want to publish content that’s uniquely you.
Copy the topic, not the advice.
For instance, one of Mr. Money Mustache’s most popular posts is Getting Rich: From Zero to Hero in One Blog Post. The topic is getting rich, and the advice is to live simply and frugally on half of what you make.
If I were to write a post on the same topic, I would talk about getting a remote job where you can live in a cheaper country like Mexico but continue making US dollars. In other words, I would give completely different advice on the same topic, and I would interweave my own story of moving to Mexico into it.
I’d also choose a different headline like, “How I Became a Millionaire from My Wheelchair.” Again, it’s the same topic, but an entirely unique headline. No one would accuse me of being a copycat.
You can follow the same approach with the most popular topics in your space. Scan through the list of posts you exported from Ahrefs (affiliate link) and choose the ones where you can write about the same topic but give your own unique advice.
Write a Better Version of That Post
Okay, you’re almost ready to write your post. Finally!
Before you start scribbling down your thoughts, consider two final questions:
It’s like the old saying, “Stand on the shoulders of giants.” When you find a popular posts model, you always want to know why it worked, and you want a good idea of how to improve upon it.
At some point, I’ll write a post detailing exactly how to do that, but here’s the short version. There are five ways to improve upon any post, and they all begin with the letter ‘D’:
For instance, the Getting Rich post on Mr. Money Mustache is pretty short and lacks a lot of detail, so if I wanted to compete, I would probably write a much more comprehensive manual for getting rich, clocking in at 3000+ words. I might also add in my personal story, giving it extra drama.
Regardless of which method you choose, here’s the bottom line:
Your goal is to write the best post ever published on a proven, familiar topic.
Is it easy?
Hell no. Usually, it’s a lot of work.
But this is how you win.
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 Can’t Move Anything but His Face.
The post What to Blog About: The Data-Driven Guide to Choosing Blog Topics appeared first on Smart Blogger.
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I hated the book “Think and Grow Rich.”
So many people recommended the book to me that I attempted to read it at least four or five times.
Notice the word “attempted” in the previous sentence. There’s a reason for that. I was never able to get through the first few chapters.
I’d start reading it and then get turned off by its seemingly heavy focus on getting rich.
And you know what? It turned me off.
But it kept happening – people I know, trust and respect kept recommending it. And yes, it annoyed me.
Then while attending Cliff Ravenscraft's Free the Dream conference, it happened again.
Cliff got on the stage and boldly proclaimed – if you haven’t read the book “Think and Grow Rich,” you need to.
Fed up, I made a decision. I was going to power my way through the book regardless of how I felt (I listened to the Audible version).
That way – I could at least be able to point people to all the reasons why I hated the book.
There was only one problem. From the beginning of the book to the end, I found myself LOVING what it said.
It was at that point that I realized that I wasn’t receiving the value of the book because I wasn’t ready.
I needed a huge mindset shift. And that’s precisely what has happened. My mindset has shifted as a result of my experiences in business.
Also, a lot of this has to do with my mastermind group who challenge me to think bigger.
I want to share with you the major lessons I drew from the book. Lessons that WILL change your life (and business) if you take them seriously.
Side note: I HIGHLY recommend for you to listen to the episode. I share much more of my full journey through this process.
Listen to Episode
It’s ALL about Mindset – THINK and Grow Rich
This was my first revelation. My mindset issues were so significant that it caused me to repel the book. I hated the book without even knowing what it stood for.
The first few pages challenged my previously-held beliefs, and that made me uncomfortable.
Thank God I decided to go at it again.
And in the book, Dr. Hill relayed the idea that one of the most significant powers we have is the ability to control our thoughts.
If you control what you think, you will control what happens to you. To be successful, you have to have a success mindset. And once your mindset is right, other things fall into place.
Does that sound a bit woo-woo? Well, I’ll take it even further.
The laws that govern success are as immutable as the laws that govern nature.
If you drop something from the top of a building, it will fall. Why? Because the law of gravity never fails. That law doesn’t change.
Likewise, if you leave a garden untouched for a long time, weeds WILL grow. The beautiful flowers that were once there will die.
There will be various changes that will result in a not-so-beautiful used-to-be garden.
These processes are natural and are governed by the laws of nature.
What many people don’t realize is that success is the natural result of having a success mindset. If you change your mindset, you change your outcome.
There are laws that govern success. If we apply those laws to our lives and focus our minds on those laws, success is inevitable.
The Importance of a Definite Major Purpose
Too many people wander around in life letting life happen to them. They are passive in their pursuit of happiness/success.
They work at a job because it’s the job they have, not because it’s in alignment with what they feel called to do.
Unfortunately, success hardly ever happens this way.
If you want to increase your chances of success, decide on a definite major purpose. The following four questions will help you define your definite major purpose:
Once you’ve determined your definite major purpose, write it down and read it at least twice daily. Once when you wake up and once before going to bed.
Success is the result of the little things
One of the problems I’ve had in life is that I’m quick to pursue big goals. Yes, I know – that doesn’t sound like a problem. Well, not directly.
The indirect result is that I’m not as consistent with the little things. Also, because the goals are so big, and often so far off, I tend to get distracted and move on to something else.
Take for example when I made the huge announcement last September. I was going to grow my YouTube channel to 100K subscribers in a year. I went at it hard for a month and then fell off.
But what I know now is that it’s the little things that result in success. The things you do each and every day.
The habits you develop. The stuff you read every day. The content you create every day. The morning routine you go through every day.
Over time these things add up. You will achieve your definite major purpose much quicker that way.
The Importance of Going the Extra Mile
This sounds obvious, but most people rarely ever do this. We go to our jobs and do what we have to do to get a paycheck.
We start a business, and there are certain things we know we have to get done. That's how we get paid by our clients or customers.
But do we go the extra mile? I’m reminded of a verse in the Bible:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance.” – Colossians 3:23
Is this how we approach what we do on a daily basis? Is this how we approach the little things? I can’t speak for you, but for me – this hasn’t been the case.
But now I see that if we live our lives this way, success is inevitable.
Success (and being rich) isn’t primarily about money
Yes, the thing that held me back from reading this book isn’t even what this book is focused on.
Yes, the focus is on becoming rich. But richness, as Dr. Hill defines it is way more than just about money.
In fact, here are the twelve great riches he addresses:
When I read this, I want to shout from the mountaintops – “YES, I WANT TO BE RICH.”
Because I know that when I’m rich in those twelve areas, I will have had a ridiculously awesome effect on the world.
In fact, I will have changed the world at a pretty tremendous level – and that’s my goal.
Also, please note where “financial security” is found on that list. It’s dead last. It doesn’t mean it’s not important, but it’s there for a reason.
It’s why we see so many examples of financially secure people being extremely depressed.
Money alone doesn’t bring fulfillment. But if you’re a rich person in the truest sense of the world, fulfillment is a natural byproduct.
My “Think and Grow Rich” Progression
This book has changed my life, and I’m only at the beginning stage. I loved it so much that I ended up listening to it four times in two weeks.
Besides that, I’m going through their home study course. Next is their online distance learning program and in-person Leader Certification Class.
My goal is to become a certified Napoleon Hill Foundation Leader. Why?
You will see and experience the changes in my content.
Yes, I will continue to teach you how to blog. But I will focus much more on the mindset issues that need to be overcome to be successful at it.
That will be a core aspect of what I teach going forward, and I look forward to growing with you.
What it Means for my Coaching Club
This is the part that I’m most excited about. If you’re a part of my coaching club, you will see the most significant changes.
Why? Because I interact with you on a near-daily basis. I will be pushing you like never before.
I want you to embrace the mindset changes that will increase your chances of success. Mindset will be a core part of the new training.
I will be doing an entire module on mindset. As I answer your questions via video in the Facebook group, you will notice a bigger focus on mindset.
You’ve decided to invest in your success, and I’m going the extra mile to deliver the highest level of value ever.
If you’ve ever wondered how to earn passive income from your website, this is post is going to become your new Bible.
Not only am I going to teach you the basics of affiliate marketing, but we’ll also dive into some real examples from professional affiliate marketers who are making thousands or even millions of dollars per year.
In other words…
Want to make a few extra bucks on the side without doing much?
I got you covered.
Or maybe you’re wondering how to become an affiliate marketer and quit your day job?
You’ll find this useful too.
Let’s jump in.
Table of Contents
So What Is “Affiliate Marketing,” Anyway?
Well, here’s our (somewhat long-winded) definition:
If you’ve been listening to us for a long, you’ve learned that bloggers make money by building an audience that trusts them, and then offering products or services that will genuinely help that audience.
Affiliate marketing is really just a quicker way to offer products and services without creating them yourself.
In practice, it’s a modern interpretation of a very old idea — getting a commission on a sale. You introduce your readers to products or services from trusted companies or individuals and get a commission on any sales to customers you send their way.
For bloggers, that means you find a product or service that you like, promote it to your readers, and earn part of the profit on each sale that you make.
Simple idea, right?
Let’s see an example.
In our WordPress hosting post, we give readers the ins and outs of how to choose an excellent host. A portion of readers want to know who we recommend based on those criteria, and so here’s what we say:
The arrow is pointing to an affiliate link. If anyone clicks on that link and buys from them, we earn a commission
Bloggers can include links like this in blog posts, emails, social media posts, and much more. We’ll get into all the possibilities later.
For now, though, it’s important that you know exactly what affiliate marketing means — as well as its potential for you as a blogger.
Why Affiliate Marketing Rocks for Bloggers
At Smart Blogger, we’re big fans of selling affiliate products and services.
Here are three compelling reasons why we think you should look into it, too:
All pretty significant advantages to you as a growing blogger.
But that’s not all. There are additional benefits to affiliate marketing as well.
Sounds pretty good in theory, right? Let’s see if affiliate marketing is right for you.
The Types of Bloggers Most Likely to Succeed with Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate income can look pretty attractive, but you need to have a few things in place first if you want to succeed.
For instance, don’t jump into the deep end if you’re still figuring out how to start a blog.
Instead, make sure that:
Hold Off on Affiliate Marketing if…
If you already have a list of at least a few hundred people and are planning to sell services like coaching, consulting, design, writing or other professional services (as in legal advice, finance, or real estate) in the short term, it’s probably best to hold off on affiliate marketing.
That’s because for service providers, your best bet is selling services first. It’s simply your most profitable way to start monetizing.
You can consider adding affiliate offers into the mix once your money-making machine from services is running smoothly.
Still with me? Great!
How to Sell Affiliate Products (Without Selling Your Soul)
Affiliate marketing has gotten a bad rap in some circles because of unethical marketers who annoy their readers with junk ads, offers that don’t apply to them, or general spam.
These bloggers have given affiliate marketers an unsavory reputation.
But when affiliate marketing is done right, it’s a positive, powerful “engine” for generating value for you and your readers.
The bloggers who succeed understand this simple truth:
Your relationship with your audience, and the trust that you build with them, is your single most important asset.
The importance of trust can’t be stressed enough. You have to invest the time and effort to constantly nurture trust with your audience — and take care never do anything to betray that confidence.
So whenever you’re tempted to cut corners or venture into the murkier regions of affiliate marketing, just remember you’re risking the relationship with your readers. In other words — don’t do it!
The Simple Golden Rule for Success
Here’s our foolproof rule for success as an ethical affiliate marketer:
You should only become an affiliate for products that you have personally used — even if that means purchasing a product so you can kick the tires and decide if it’s something you can recommend.
Why? Because your reputation’s on the line.
Think about it: what’s the first thing you do when you need a new doctor, mechanic or building contractor?
You ask for recommendations from people you trust. Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful marketing tools.
But when you get advice from friends that turns out to be bad, you can’t help but wonder, “What on earth were they thinking?”
You probably won’t value their opinion as highly the next time around — if you even ask them at all.
As a blogger, you can’t afford to have your good name damaged because you didn’t do your due diligence and check a product out thoroughly.
And doing it right makes everything so much easier.
When you can honestly and wholeheartedly recommend a product or service that you’ve tried and liked, your marketing will simply work.
You won’t feel sleazy or unethical. You’ll be legitimately excited about the product — and your audience will appreciate your authenticity and feel confident buying from you.
That’s a good place to be — for both you and your readers.
But in case this is all sounding a little too to good to be true, a few cautions are in order.
Behind the Hype: The Realities of Affiliate Marketing
Most good things have a downside, and affiliate marketing is no exception. But if you’re aware of the potential trade-offs and pitfalls, you can enter into it with your eyes open.
So let’s start our reality check with a few cautionary points.
Quick and Easy to Set Up Doesn’t Mean Instant or Free
Selling affiliate products is certainly quick and easy when compared with creating, marketing and delivering your own products. But that doesn’t mean it’s a breeze.
You’ll have to take care in choosing which products to represent — and you’ll need to invest time and at least some money into finding the best affiliate products for your readers.
And you can’t expect miracles or overnight successes. You’ll need some trial and error to discover what works and build a mix of offers over time.
Earning While You Sleep Doesn’t Mean “Set It and Forget It”
No blog income is truly, completely passive. If you’re looking for an “easy button,” don’t become a blogger!
Even when you’re set up with some affiliate offers, you have to continue the work of growing and engaging your audience — and that means creating great content and building trust with your readers.
Without a loyal and engaged audience, you’ll struggle to find success via affiliate marketing. And without a growing list you’ll quickly “burn out” the audience you already have.
The best way to think of it is like this: affiliate marketing is a money-making add-on to a successful blog, not an alternative to a successful blog.
Even Smart Bloggers Can Make Dumb Choices
Many bloggers have been fooled by unscrupulous merchants. If an opportunity seems too good to be true, it probably is. Even if a merchant is above-board, they might not be a good fit for your audience.
Likewise, you shouldn’t let yourself be seduced by the tactics of less ethical affiliate marketers. You can find numerous tips and tricks in affiliate marketing forums that might help you make a quick buck but could quickly break trust with your audience.
Here are some quick tips to help you stay safe:
Now that you know the pluses and minuses of affiliate marketing, let’s dig in for a behind-the-scenes look.
How the Affiliate Marketing “Engine” Works
Even though it’s based on a simple idea, affiliate marketing can be complicated, especially when you start getting into the nitty-gritty details.
The section will help you understand the most important concepts without drowning you in technical detail.
Let’s start with some basic definitions.
Affiliate Marketing Glossary
Affiliate marketing has its own terminology, which can be confusing at first. But if you become familiar with these concepts, you’ll be well on your way.
Here are a few terms it’s important to know:
Affiliate — the partner who promotes the merchant’s products for a commission. Also called the publisher.
Affiliate agreement — a contract that both parties agree to specifying the rules, responsibilities, rates to be paid and other legalities.
Affiliate link — a trackable URL that identifies the affiliate as the source of targeted traffic to a merchant’s site. (A click on an affiliate link counts as a referral.)
Affiliate network — an online marketplace where merchants list their products and where affiliates can find products to sell.
Affiliate program — a program set up by merchants to pay commissions when affiliates refer people to their products.
Commission — a percentage of the total sale that is paid to the affiliate for referring the sale.
Cookie — in affiliate marketing, cookies are used to assign a unique ID to the buyer in order to tag the purchase as being referred by you. Cookies usually have a predetermined lifespan, so that even if the buyer doesn’t purchase right away, you will still get credit for the sale if it occurs within that timeframe (often 60 days or more).
Customer — the end user or purchaser of the merchant’s product or service.
Merchant — the owner or creator of the product or service. Also known as a retailer or brand.
Referral — credit for a click or a sale that occurs when the affiliate sends traffic to the merchant’s site.
The Mechanics of Getting Paid for Promoting Affiliate Products
Affiliate marketing can get pretty technical. Fortunately, you don’t need to know all the details to get started.
The actual mechanics run in the background, thanks to the merchant’s affiliate program software.
But here’s a quick look behind the scenes:
Here’s a graphical overview to help you visualize the process:
The flow is pretty straightforward once you understand it, and it works the same no matter what kind of product you’re promoting or how established you are as an affiliate marketer.
So let’s look at the typical progression for a blogger who’s serious about making affiliate marketing a major source of income.
The Three Levels of Affiliate Marketing Mastery
As you mature as a blogger and affiliate marketer, you’ll pass through three distinct stages — each one with its own strategies and typical earning levels.
Knowing what level you’re at is important. If you try to skip ahead and use strategies you’re not ready for yet, you’ll likely fail.
Use these descriptions to figure out where you are in your blogging journey and build from there.
Stage 1: Getting Started
You can start selling to your list once you’ve proven that your topic has legs — i.e., you have enough engaged subscribers to prove your blog is a viable money-making platform.
Generally speaking, you’re ready for this stage once you have 500-1,000 email subscribers and at least 10% of them are opening your emails. At this point, you can start testing products to see what your audience is likely to respond to.
Applicable strategies: Experiment with a few products or services to find a “core earner” and round out your affiliate offers with a few complementary digital products (ebooks, packaged services, download products, etc.).
Typical earnings: Up to $250/month, enough to cover your expenses and maybe the occasional treat.
Stage 2: Ramping Up
Once your blog is more established and you have a few thousand subscribers, you’ll be ready to up your affiliate sales game.
At this stage, you’ll be publishing quality content on a regular basis and continuing to grow and engage with your email list. You’ll be starting to build relationships with influencers serving similar audiences.
You’ll also now have some experience selling to your subscribers, and you’re beginning to understand what they like and need from you. You’ve found at least one product that’s earning consistently and may also have plans for your own products.
Applicable strategies: Continue to look outside your core offers to find additional solid-earning products and services. Seek to identify additional smaller-earning offers that also sell consistently.
Typical earnings: Around $500–$2,000 per month — a nice part-time income.
Stage 3: Full Time Earner
You’re now considered a top-tier blogger, with an email list of 10,000 subscribers or more.
It’s easier now to network with the big influencers because of your accomplishments and reputation. You’ll be invited to participate in major product launches and promotions.
You’re also a pro at selling to your readers, building sales funnels and writing sales pages.
Applicable strategies: Build closer relationships with the “big name” authorities, participate in high-ticket product launches, and run your own major email campaigns.
Typical earnings: You’re now making a full-time income from your blog!
Of course, relatively few bloggers will successfully progress to this final stage, but you can still achieve significant success and satisfaction from the earlier stages.
Also, some bloggers may deliberately deviate from this path. For instance, if you’re serious about creating your own products, you might start to replace affiliate products with your own offerings around Stage 2.
In other words, you can start monetizing your blog with affiliate sales, using the experience to generate revenue and learn what your audience will buy, then pivot to your own products with a much greater confidence in your product focus and your subscribers’ willingness to buy.
Now that you know the typical stages bloggers go through on their affiliate marketing journey and figured out where you belong, let’s dig into how you find the best products to promote.
How to Decide Which Products to Promote
You can represent many different types of products and services as an affiliate.
Some are more profitable than others, but usually most of your affiliate income will come from one or two “ringers” — core products that just about everyone in your audience needs and which also pay a good commission.
As you progress, you can add complementary products to round out your offerings and help your audience in new ways, but identifying your core earners is an essential first step.
We highly recommend that you start with digital products, services and courses for this simple reason:
They usually have greater earning potential.
Digital products generally pay higher commissions than physical products because there is much less overhead to produce and distribute them.
They also have the advantage that the merchant is often an individual rather than a company, so you can build a personal relationship with them that will increase your status as a blogger and future success as an affiliate.
That said, physical products can be a good option for certain niches, but we’ll focus on digital products for the most part (although we revisit physical products below).
So what’s a potential ringer?
Your best bets are mid-priced ($200–$2,000) courses or services that could potentially benefit almost all of your readers at some point in their journey.
Once you start generating steady affiliate income, you can offer other similar products, hosted services or ebooks that allow you to help more people (or help everyone more thoroughly).
Let’s look into the product options for bloggers.
Option #1: Digital Downloads
Digital downloads are online resources that your readers can access instantly, without having to wait for a package to come in the mail (as is true for physical products).
They could be audio or video files, PDFs, ebooks or even links to webpages where the content lives online.
Do it! But expect higher earnings from other options on this list.
Option #2: Online, Hosted and Professional Services
When it comes to selling services as an affiliate, it’s important to concentrate on those which will be accessible to your entire audience no matter where they’re located (as opposed to service providers who serve local customers only).
In other words, don’t limit your earning potential by geography.
Your best bet is to represent online, hosted or professional service providers/influencers you’ve worked with in the past and have full confidence in.
Examples of professional services:
Examples of online/hosted services:
Do it! Especially if you can find an excellent service provider who can potentially help nearly everyone in your audience at one time or another and who can be a strong, steady income generator.
Option #3: Online Courses
Online courses are an important subset of digital products, especially for bloggers, and the market is huge. They’re so popular that they deserve their own category on this list.
Online courses exist on just about any topic you can think of. They range in price from free to thousands of dollars, with higher-priced programs promising big results for students.
Do it! Help your readers in a big way, and earn big at the same time.
Option #4: Physical Products
If you decide to represent physical products on your blog, your best bet is to choose high-quality, distinctive products that that will appeal strongly to your specific audience.
Avoid commodity products that your readers can buy anywhere — the commissions are so small you won’t make worthwhile money unless you can drive tremendous traffic to your site.
Commissions on physical products are usually fairly low because of the overhead of production costs, storage costs, shipping, etc. So unless you are planning to build a large review or shopping site, physical products will probably be a very small portion of your blogging affiliate income.
However, if you have a favorite tool of your trade, a must-have gadget that will make your readers’ lives easier, or a high-quality recommendation that you’re sure people will be thrilled with, go ahead and offer it.
You’ll build goodwill even if you don’t make a lot of money.
Offer physical products only under certain circumstances:
Products might be a good fit for how-to, hobby, fitness, cooking, fashion, food blogs and similar niches.
You should now have plenty of ideas for types of products you can represent.
Here’s how to go about finding the best options for you.
7 Simple Steps to Affiliate Marketing Success
Follow these seven steps and you’ll be well on your way to building your own affiliate marketing machine, even if you’re just starting out.
Step 1: Identify the Desirable End Goal
The key to finding products that your audience wants to buy is knowing the goals they hope to achieve and the obstacles that are holding them back.
Once you understand your audience’s aims and what’s keeping them from achieving them, you can find products that help them get where they want to go.
Don’t worry — you don’t have to be a mind reader. You just have to know how to listen to what your audience is already telling you.
The easiest and best thing to do is to tap your current readers for details, but even if your list is small, you still have lots of options.
Let’s see how to discover your audience goals and roadblocks.
1. Mine Your Readers’ Emails and Blog Post Comments
Gather up and read through feedback you’ve already received from your readers through email or comments on your blog.
2. Go Ahead and Ask Them by Email
Send your readers an email and ask them what their biggest frustration or obstacle is right now, and how you can best help them.
3. Look For Clues Left in Public Places
Read the discussions in online forums in your niche as well as on sites like Quora. Amazon book reviews on your topic are also enlightening.
Whatever source you use, look for statements that start with phrases like:
“I’d love to…”
“Someday I’d like…”
“I’m frustrated by…”
“I can’t seem to get past (barrier or challenge)…”
“I hate it when…”
Collect your responses into a spreadsheet or document and look for commonalities.
Then choose a much-wanted accomplishment that you know your readers can achieve if they complete certain steps.
Step 2: List the Steps Needed to Reach the Goal
Once you’ve found a desirable end goal, list out all the steps that your readers need to take to get there from where they are now.
You’ll find your audience’s objectives, stumbling blocks and challenges in these steps. Once you know these, you’ll be able to look for products to help your readers along their way.
Let’s use our example of the indoor herb garden.
The steps your readers need to take probably look something like this:
Sound about right? Good.
Now you can start identifying your audience’s needs.
Step 3: Determine What They Need to Get Ahead
Look at each of the steps you’ve outlined and figure out what types of tools or resources your readers need to accomplish each step.
They might need physical products such as fertilizer, or they may need software, services or knowledge that they can get from a course or book.
Any tools or resources that are either essential to success or dramatically increase its chances (or provide greater ease or speed) are good candidates for affiliate sales.
Here are some examples for specific groups:
Here are some recommendations for each of the main blogging niches to help you generate ideas of your own:
Using these examples as a guide, brainstorm a list of all the products that you think would help your audience the most.
We’ll narrow down your list in the next step.
Step 4: Choose a Product to Promote as an Affiliate
As an ethical blogger, you’ll always be constrained in the products you choose to represent in one of two ways:
No matter which approach you take, expect to have to invest time and money into researching the best products for your audience.
Here are your three options, listed in order of preference (with your best option listed first).
Option #1: Promote Products You Already Know and Love
This is probably the most common way bloggers get started with affiliate sales.
You become an affiliate for something that you’ve used yourself, had a good experience with, thoroughly tested and feel good recommending. You should be fairly confident that others will get the same results you did (or better), as long as they do the work.
If you’ve found great success from a course, mastermind, or ebook that your readers could also benefit from, it only makes sense for you to spread the word and share your results.
Do an inventory of the products, services and courses you already have experience with. You might have a list of a dozen or more.
Which of these would you be thrilled to promote? Cross out any that don’t fit the bill.
Now simply check to see if the merchant has an affiliate program (some won’t but you’ll probably be surprised at how many do).
Do a Google search for “affiliate program” + [product name], or simply email the merchant and ask.
Then run your remaining options through this Good Affiliate Product checklist:
The products that tick all the checkboxes are your best opportunities for affiliate income. As time goes on, add as many of these products to your mix as you like.
You’ve found your first product! Apply using the merchant’s process and start promoting.
If you’re just dipping your toe in the water of affiliate marketing, this first option may be enough to get you started.
However, most bloggers will want to try one or both of the next two options, too.
(And you’ll have to explore these options if you don’t have an existing product you love that is also a great match for your audience and offers an affiliate program.)
Option #2: Partner with Influencers to Represent Their Products
As mentioned earlier, one of the best ways for you to build relationships with the authorities in your niche is to promote their products to your audience.
So if you don’t have any product, course or service in mind already, try this approach next.
Start by asking for recommendations from people you trust. Spy on your favorite influencers’ sites to see what they have to offer. Check each product’s social proof and testimonials and see if they pass the Good Affiliate Product checklist above.
Bloggers who have affiliate programs will often have an application process (sometimes formal, sometimes not) that you can go through to be approved.
Usually, you’ll need to show that:
If you have all of these things in place, you can approach the influencer and simply ask. Sometimes — especially if they already know you — they’ll even approach you first and offer.
Also, it helps if you’ve been building a relationship with the influencer prior to asking them to become an affiliate.
If you want to work with top influencers doing huge, Jeff Walker-style launches, you might need to invest months or years in building those relationships.
Note: Requesting an interview is a great way to start getting to know an influencer. After that, just keep nurturing your relationship and building your list. You will probably need 5,000-10,000 subscribers to start gaining attention from the biggest authorities.
Good product candidates (ones that could become core offerings) will fill a vital need for your audience:
If the influencer is serious about building affiliate relationships, they may have program information on their website and/or they may have already mentioned the opportunity in emails to you.
If not, just ask!
Let them know that you’re familiar with their work and whether you’ve had positive experiences with their other products.
Here’s how to approach an influencer and get the scoop:
Subject: Possible affiliate relationship?
Hi [First Name],
I’m wondering, do you have an affiliate program for [course name, ebook, your services]?
I have a blog at [your blog] helping [audience] with [mission]. I’ve got [X number] email subscribers and good engagement from my list.
I’ve [followed your blog/read your book/taken your related course/used your related service] and [say a little about the results you’ve achieved]. It seems that [prospective affiliate product] could also be a good fit for my audience.
Is there any way I can review [product] to be sure?
Let me know. It would be great to be able to help my readers [achieve desirable result] with [product name].
If you don’t already know any influencers in your niche offering what you’re looking for, try a Google search for
“affiliate” + [product] or [topic] or [company]
For example, a search for “affiliate build emergency fund” shows these results:
Out of this list, the Busy Budgeter looks promising.
You could check their site to see whose products they are promoting, and look into whether it would be right for your readers, too.
If you find some excellent products using these first two options and want to stop here, you’re all set.
However, if you want to keep exploring opportunities (now or in the future), go ahead and move on to Option #3.
Option #3: Find Products via an Affiliate Network
If you don’t have any direct experience with or knowledge of products in your niche that could help your readers, you can often find good affiliate products on affiliate networks.
But be aware — this approach requires that you invest time into research and money into purchasing products to try out, more so than the first two options.
That’s because there’s less trust and prior knowledge involved from the outset. You have to do your due diligence to protect your reputation and the credibility you’ve built with your readers.
When you work through a network, you typically won’t know the merchant ahead of time and usually won’t build a relationship with them (your business relationship is with the network).
As one of the biggest affiliate networks, Clickbank represents physical products as well as digital downloads. Be sure to research and test potential affiliate products the best you can before signing on. There’s a lot of junk on Clickbank, but there are high quality products as well.
Buy products that look promising and test them. Most aren’t very expensive.
As usual, review all potential products through the Good Affiliate Potential checklist.
Here are a some specific tips for finding affiliate products on Clickbank:
Here are some tips for finding affiliate products on Amazon:
You can review and vet products on your blog for quality and value, saving your readers time and headaches. You may even be able to claim a tax write-off for the expense of any purchase.
Aside from Clickbank and Amazon, there are many good networks to find physical goods:
Once you find a product or two that are likely to be great offers, you need to apply and get approval.
Step 5: Get Yourself Set Up as an Affiliate
Whether you work directly with a merchant or through a network, you’ll have to apply, be approved and provide certain information so that you can be paid.
At a minimum you’ll need to provide:
In turn, the merchant must provide you with:
Here’s what some typical affiliate links look like.
Example link that directs to the merchant’s home page
Example link to another page on the merchant’s site
You’ll also usually get some tips and useful assets for marketing the product (often found in a welcome guide or on the affiliate reporting site).
These could include:
If you use a network like Amazon, you’ll get your own link for each of the specific products you promote.
Be sure to check your specific network’s help or support pages for more information.
Tip: If your audience is global (which many bloggers’ are), you might want to check out geniuslink for tracking overseas sales through Amazon, iTunes and Microsoft Store.
Step 6: Start Promoting Your Chosen Affiliate Products
Few things destroy a good relationship with your audience as quickly as too many pushy sales messages. The last thing you want is for readers to think you care more about squeezing every last penny out of them than you do about helping them succeed.
So make sure to balance out your offers with lots of valuable non-promotional content. Every once in a while (say, every one in four emails) you can include a specific call to action to ask your readers to buy a product.
Remember, free content builds a reservoir of goodwill with your readers. Keep filling that well by giving and people will be much more open to sales-related emails when you send them.
In addition to emailing your list, you’ll also cross-promote your offers in many different ways, at different times and through different media.
Many of these promotional efforts will be “soft sells” — links, reviews, resource pages or informational posts added specifically to gently guide your readers toward products that they may need.
Start off by collecting all the social proof that you can:
Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income recommends becoming an authoritative, credible source of information on the products that you sell.
But what does that mean exactly?
Well, people are often a little skeptical of the information they find about a product on the merchant’s own site, assuming it’ll always paint a glowing picture. This means you have an opportunity for your blog to become the go-to destination for more even-handed information about the product, describing its positive and negative points.
Let’s see your options for promoting your affiliate products.
Option #1: Add Affiliate Links in Key Places on Your Blog
Don’t let your biggest asset go to waste. Make the most of your website’s real estate by using these tried-and-true methods to get your readers’ attention:
Here’s an example of ProBlogger’s resource page:
Option #2: Create and Promote Custom Content
Custom content strategies will be the backbone of your affiliate promotional efforts.
Use as many of the following different strategies as make sense for your blog and audience.
Note: All of these strategies assume that you are already sending traffic to the latest content you’re creating by emailing your list on a regular basis (at least two to four times per month) to let them know what’s new.
A) Write Reviews
You can write detailed reviews of products, courses, books or software products you promote as an affiliate.
Your reviews can focus on a single product or compare competing products side-by-side.
The second approach arguably builds more trust and gives you the opportunity to promote multiple products at the same time, giving your readers the information they need to choose between them.
B) Write Definitive Content on a Related Topic
You can write a definitive, comprehensive post on your site to educate your readers and “soft sell” your products.
For instance, you could write an ultimate guide to setting up a WordPress blog and include your affiliate links to your favorite hosting providers.
Whatever the topic, make sure that it’s evergreen content — information that’s likely to be useful and valuable for years to come.
You can create blog posts, videos, infographics or anything similar — but whatever you do, it should not be a sales page.
Finally, your content must be excellent — make sure it’s an authoritative list post, an epic how-to post, an ultimate guide or some otherwise epic content.
C) Write Guest Posts to Promote Your Definitive Content
The advantage with writing content for someone else’s blog is that you get to tap into their (hopefully large) audience.
When looking for potential targets, make sure that the host blog’s readers are likely to be interested in your post’s topic and looking for solutions to problems your affiliate products can solve.
Also, do your research to check that the host blog gets a fair number of comments and/or social media shares and that they credit and link to guest authors.
Most blogs won’t allow the author to include their own affiliate links (but it’s worth checking). The next best thing is to link to the definitive content on your own blog, either naturally within the body of your post or in your author’s bio.
D) Conduct Interviews
You can interview people who’ve had great success using the product so that your audience can hear their stories — think of it as a kind of audio testimonial.
If the merchant is an individual rather than a company, you can also invite them to chat about how their product works and why your readers will find it useful.
E) Create Valuable Bonus Content
Assuming it’s allowed by your affiliate agreement (sometimes it’s not), you can create bonus content, exclusive to your readers, that helps people get even more value from the affiliate product.
People love bonuses! You can create many types of bonuses fairly quickly and easily while still giving your readers excellent value.
By the way, this is a fantastic way to differentiate yourself from other bloggers representing the same products.
Here are some example bonuses you could offer:
Option #3: Craft Promotional Emails for Your Subscribers
Your email list is your biggest asset when it comes to driving traffic to your offers.
Assuming you’re already emailing your list on a regular basis — for example, every Tuesday, every two weeks, etc. — you can also run occasional promotions where you email your readers more frequently.
If your mailing list software allows it, you can segment interested readers onto a separate interest list, so that only people who raise their hands will receive your free informational and promotional emails.
But even if you can’t segment your list, you’ll want to provide lots of valuable content and build anticipation for your product offers.
Here are some quick ideas:
If you’re promoting a low-priced product like an ebook, digital download or hosted service on an ongoing basis, you might do something as simple as using a P.S. or signature link in your regular emails, with occasional emailed links to custom content.
For courses, masterminds, services or higher-earning products, you might do something closer to an official launch once per year with softer launches once per quarter.
And of course, always follow your merchants’ lead. If they run major launches twice a year, for example, you can participate in those and take advantage of the natural momentum these launches often create.
You may have a different promotion plan for each product.
Example Email Sequence
Custom email sequences are especially effective for your core products.
You’ll usually send out a series of five to seven emails spread out over a timeframe spanning a week or two.
These can be run in parallel with your normal blog emails or you can “pause” your regular content for the duration of the sequence.
A sample seven-email series might look like this:
* Warning: Only use scarcity or urgency tactics if they are genuine and you intend to stick to the limits or deadlines. Telling readers a deal ends for good at midnight, then offering it again the following week, is a surefire way to lose their trust.
The important thing here is to try different approaches for each product, see what your audience responds to best, and don’t give up!
Option #4: Run Exclusive Live Events
Finally, you can run live events to introduce your audience to your products.
Webinars are the most popular way to do this, and you can host them on your own or as a joint venture with the merchant. (Usually, though, merchants will only participate if you can attract a certain number of attendees.)
If there’s already strong interest from your readers in a particular product, you can make it the focus of your webinar, giving attendees one of the following:
More typically, the webinar will focus on a particular outcome that the audience wants to achieve and then position the product as a way to achieve those results more easily or quickly.
A common way to separate webinar content from product content is using the webinar to explain what you need to do to achieve a certain goal, and leaving the product to dive into (or facilitate) the how.
Importantly, the webinar should be valuable even to people who don’t end up buying the product.
To give an example, if you were promoting a software product that automates blogger outreach, your webinar could talk about high-level strategies for outreach that attendees could implement manually, then position the product as a time-saver that lets you focus on the relationship-building instead of the initial outreach.
Tip: to get the most from a live event, remember to publish and promote your webinar replays for people who weren’t able to attend first time around.
Don’t Forget to Track Everything to Discover What’s Working Best
Whichever options you choose for promoting your affiliate products, you’ll want to know which are producing the best results.
Pat Flynn recommends Pretty Link for this. You can create clean, easy-to-use-and-remember links plus get analytics so you can see exactly where people are coming from and what strategies are working best for you.
Most importantly of all, be patient. Don’t expect to get any of this right the first time out. Keep building a strong foundation of content and continually test and try new things.
Step 7: Comply with Legal Requirements (and Best Practices)
In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that you let people know you’ll earn a commission.
But even if it isn’t required by law where you’re located, we recommend it. It’s just good business.
Don’t be afraid to be transparent. People will appreciate your honesty and want to support you to repay you for making their lives better.
So wherever you share an affiliate link, whether it’s in blog posts, web pages, or emails, let your readers know that you stand to earn a small commission if they buy through you — and if they choose not to use your link, no worries.
Assure them that you wouldn’t recommend any products if you hadn’t used them yourself or were confident they could help them.
It’s also a good idea to create an Affiliate Disclaimer page on your website.
Here’s an example of our own disclaimer page at Smart Blogger:
We’re also clear on how those affiliate links might look within blog posts.
And finally, thank people before and after for using your links.
How to Start Affiliate Marketing
That dream you’ve had of making money while you sleep isn’t just a silly fantasy.
It’s a completely achievable reality.
Sure, it’s not as easy as pushing a magic button, but with a little knowledge and persistence you can definitely do it.
Once you’ve gained a respectable following, affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make money blogging.
And the best news is that it’s so easy to get started. All the steps are spelled out in this post.
Simply identify the one big thing everyone in your audience needs to reach their goals and start there.
Choose a great digital product that you believe in and share it. Tell the story of your successes.
Provide lots of valuable content that helps and educates your readers, and take care not to be too salesy.
Be honest and transparent. Nurture the trust that readers place in you.
And finally, be patient.
All your efforts will pay you back with that sweet “cha-ching” of overnight deposits into your bank account.
The post Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: A Step-By-Step, Comprehensive Guide appeared first on Smart Blogger.
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You’ve seen it for yourself. These days, there are a gazillion different ways to broadcast your thoughts online.
Blogging, podcasting, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat — the options are overwhelming. Are you supposed to do all of them? If not, which ones are most important? What if you are talented in one medium and terrible in another?
ARGH! It’s so confusing.
Well, here’s the good news:
In this post, I’ll do my best to answer those questions. Even better, I’ll give you answers that include taking things off your plate, not putting more things on.
In other words, everything is about to get a whole lot simpler. Let’s jump in.
Why Trying to Do Everything at Once Is a Mistake
Some influencers are doing it all. They have a blog, podcast, YouTube channel, a bunch of social media accounts with tons of followers — everything.
From the outside, it’s impressive. You might even think that’s what you have to do if you want to make money online.
But here’s a little secret:
Behind the scenes, most of those influencers are paying entire teams of helpers. In the rare case where they are doing everything themselves, it also leaves them without any time to monetize all that content, so many “social media influencers” are actually broke.
The reason why?
No one gets more than 24 hours in a day. It doesn’t matter how smart, fast, or multi-talented you are — you’ll never be able to do everything well.
You have to choose. The question is… how?
How to Figure out What to Focus on
Thankfully, this one is simple. Just answer one question:
In what medium can you develop a top 1% skillset?
At first glance, this might seem like a strange question, but let’s break it down.
There are three types of media: the written word, audio, and video. Chances are, you’ll be better at one than the others.
For example, writing has always come naturally to me. Even when I was in school, I could write essays 10X better than everyone else and barely exert myself at all.
For you, maybe it’s something different.
Maybe engaging people with your voice and having interesting conversations comes naturally to you. In that case, you should start a podcast.
Or maybe you’re captivating on video. Ever since you were a kid, you’ve been a natural entertainer.
Wherever you shine, that’s the medium you should focus on.
But here’s the caveat:
Don’t just jump in and expect to be successful. Success with any kind of content marketing isn’t about being good. It’s about being among the best.
Here’s what I mean:
The Staggering Difference between Being Good and Being Great
Once upon a time, I was an NFL (American football) junkie, and I was always intrigued by the pay difference between players.
The star of your team might make $20 million a year. The backup to your star, however, might make $2 million or even less.
Was this because the star was 10X better?
Not even close. In a professional sport, even the backup players are among the best in the world. At best, a star might be 50% better than his replacement.
So why do they pay him 10X more?
Because games are a matter of matchups. One player being just a little bit better than his opponent can mean the difference between winning and losing. If you have an entire team of players who are just a tiny bit better, you win the Super Bowl.
You see the same thing in the Olympics. The silver medal runner might be just a fraction of a second behind the gold medal winner.
And content marketing works the same way.
The rewards go to the best of the best. You can be a good writer or podcaster or YouTuber and have mediocre or even terrible results.
In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say something controversial:
If you’re not prepared to be among the best in your niche, content marketing isn’t going to do anything for you at all. You might as well quit.
Before you get too discouraged though, here’s the other side of the coin:
If you diligently upgrade your skills over time in a medium where you have some natural talent, you can almost always be among the best.
Let me explain…
How I Became One of the Most Popular Writers on the Web
Over the last decade, my work has touched over 200 million people — about 1 out of 8 people in the English-speaking world.
Crazy, right? Obviously, I must have some secret.
But I don’t. I followed the exact method I’m teaching you here.
I recognized I was a naturally talented writer, so then I spent years improving my writing skills to the point of being among the best in the world. It took me about three years to begin to get noticed and another two years after that for people to start thinking of me as “the blogging guy.”
During those years of practice, I wrote 1,000 words every single day. In the first year, I also wrote 100 headlines per day. Added to that, I spent one or two hours per day reading the work of other top bloggers, dissecting why they were popular, and deliberately practicing incorporating their techniques into my own work.
It’s the same process an athlete uses to become an elite player in their sport. Identify natural talent, practice like hell, and then do your best to be in the right place at the right time.
Content marketing is no different. It’s a sport, and there are winners and losers.
The medium doesn’t matter. Blogging, podcasting, YouTube — the vast majority of the rewards go to the people at the top.
The question is, are you willing to put in the work to get there?
It doesn’t always have to take three years as it did for me. I spent a lot of time running in circles because I didn’t have anyone to guide me. With the right coach, you can progress much, much faster.
And that brings me to my most important point.
The Formula for Being an Insanely Successful Person
It’s all about stacking top 1% skills.
Let’s say you have some natural talent as a writer. You invest in some good training, work like hell, and gradually become a top 1% writer.
But that’s not the end of the story.
Now you’re getting lots of traffic, but you’re not making much money, and you realize it’s because your marketing sucks. So again, you invest in some good training, work like hell, and gradually become a top 1% marketer.
Again though, it’s not the end of the story.
Because now, you’re making some pretty good money, but you’re working night and day, and you want to hire someone to help you. Problem is, you’re a terrible manager and leader, but again, you decide to suck it up, invest in some good training, work like hell, and gradually become a top 1% CEO.
The above story isn’t a fairytale, by the way. It’s the story of the last 10 years of my life.
And it’s actually a pretty common story. Regardless of profession, the most successful people in any field get there by stacking 1% skills on top of each other.
So, let’s bring this full circle:
When to Branch out into Podcasting or YouTube
Assuming you’re a blogger, you should wait until you’ve mastered blogging.
Let’s take me as an example.
I’ve spent the last couple of years improving my skills as a CEO. It’s been a painful, gradual process, but I think I’m starting to “get it,” and that’s one of the reasons why the company is now growing faster than it has in years.
Am I among the top 1%? Not quite, but according to these stats, I’m getting pretty close. I think it’s just a matter of time.
So, what’s next?
I’ll pick another media and become the top 1% there. I have some natural talent with podcasting as well, so that’s probably the next skill to stack on top. On the other hand, I don’t think I have much natural talent with video, so the chances of me starting a YouTube channel where I’m the star are pretty slim.
And that’s fine. We don’t have to be great at everything.
The key is to be great at one thing… and then another thing… and then another thing.
If your first “thing” is writing, I’m your man. We have some of the best training there is for writers, and we’re expanding it all the time.
But do me a favor…
Don’t start a podcast or YouTube channel while you’re trying to learn how to write. That’s the equivalent of someone training for an Olympic marathon deciding to become an Olympic swimmer and skier all at the same time.
That’s never going to happen. Not unless you’re inhuman, anyway.
So, pick just one medium. Focus on it. Get really, really, really great at it.
And then enjoy the rewards of being at the top.
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 Can’t Move Anything but His Face.
The post Why You Shouldn’t Start a Podcast or YouTube Channel (Seriously) appeared first on Smart Blogger.
Hello I am Claude 32 years old. I have been doing internet marketing for 7 years and successfully running 3 e-commerce stores. I like to share tips with people aobut online business.