6 Shortcuts for Online Success. These Tips Might Save You Years.

60 amazing comments

shortcuts to success

One of the main goals I have for Blog Tyrant is to save bloggers time.

So much of what one learns about succeeding online comes from patiently waiting around and making a hell of a lot of stupid mistakes.

If I can help you guys avoid some of that then I’ll be happy.

Today I want to share with you some of the main things I’ve learned about how to shortcut your success online be it in blogging, marketing or sales.

Let’s do it!

Shortcuts? How about alarm bells?

Whenever I hear about shortcuts I usually get skeptical because it often means doing something dodgy or giving people the impression that you don’t have to work hard.

I don’t want to do either of those things.

When it comes to my own online activities I try extremely hard to be as ethical as possible, and I work really hard to try and make things work.

But that doesn’t mean you have to go the long way.

As I mentioned in the opener, over the years I’ve picked up some really valuable tips and shortcuts simply be being online so much and trying out so many different things. By sharing these with you I can, hopefully, save you from making those “longer” paths your own path.

So the idea isn’t to cheat or make you think it’s easy when it’s not – I just want to show you some stuff that I’ve learned in the hope that it’ll maybe change your own direction.

Six shortcuts for (hopefully) faster online success

What I’d like to know is show you a few shortcuts that you can use to speed up your progress.

I’ve only mentioned six points because I want to go into a bit of detail about the things that I feel have made the most difference for me.

1. Give away as much as possible (and keep doing it…)

Something that all the biggest bloggers have been doing since the beginning of blogging time is giving away quality stuff to the right people.

It’s actually quite an interesting thing to watch.

When you look around at the most successful bloggers you see that they really aren’t afraid to give away information and ideas that they could be charging a premium price for.

Take the Quicksprout University as an example. Neil has produced a massive library of tutorials on singular topics.

quicksprout university

This type of thing would help him get his ideas and brand in front of so many more people because, when bloggers see it, they can’t help but link to it in articles about blogging success. 😉

But what do I sell if I give everything away?

That’s one of the big questions that bloggers seem to ask when presented with the idea that maybe they should be giving more away.

In the end I think it’s a very legitimate question. But what you find is that you really increase your reach by creating a lot of free content. You end up building a brand and mailing list (more on that later) that is more engaged, excited and open to your product.

Of course, you need a strategy for your blog and you need an idea of what you want to sell/promote in the end. But don’t let that get in the way of giving away massive value first or concurrently.

It won’t take away from your market.

2. Experiment with new stuff instead of polishing

This is one concept that I have talked about a few times now.

I think the reason I bring it up so often is because it personally took me a long time to learn this lesson, and if I repeat it here on the blog I can kind of reinforce the idea in my own mind.

When you first start a blog you want to just kind of make everything look and feel amazing. And that continues on as your blog grows.

But what you often find is that you spend 95% of your time tweaking the last 5% and that 5% doesn’t really matter as much as you think it does.

Some things I have tried that turned out well include:

  • Launching before you think it’s ready
    I took a really long time to launch the new Blog Tyrant responsive theme because I didn’t feel like it was ready. But as soon as I put it up I had a lot of improved results like more sign ups, comments and better Google rankings.
  • Trying new offerings and lead magnets
    Sometimes when it’s going well it’s tempting to just leave it as it is. But if you have a new idea for a free offering or lead magnet you should always give it a crack because you might be surprised at the new results.
  • Tweaking designs and campaigns to odd versions
    Sometimes you think that a red button will always outperform a pink one. But you don’t really know til you try it. Some of the experiments I’ve done on ad campaigns, opt-in forms, etc. have really surprised me and taught me a lot.

Of course, you need to use your own intelligence when doing this stuff. Don’t just make changes for the sake of it.

Taking action and learning from the experience often gives you better results than sitting around researching. – Tweet this.

3. Buying ads (or negotiating them for free)

Advice I find myself giving more and more is: spend some money!

It’s a concept that a lot of bloggers still have a really big aversion to.

It’s a shame.

A blog is like any other business – you need to spend money on things like marketing, promotion and set up if you want to do it properly. Imagine starting a restaurant and not doing any advertising or building any new signs or purchasing a new fit out.

And the great thing about online advertising is you can get results for very little spend.

Let’s say you have just $20 a month to play with:

  • Build a free giveaway and series of follow up emails;
  • Set up a quality landing page that promotes your lead magnet and the related mailing list;
  • Use Facebook Ads and create a niche-specific campaign promoting that landing page;
  • Tweak your ads for performance and cost;
  • Promote an affiliate product or paid product to your mailing list;
  • Continue advertising using a percentage of sales.

This kind of thing might not set you up for life, but it can give you a small stream of income that you can use to give yourself a pretty decent education in how online marketing works.

And if you’re smart you might be able to tweak it to the point that you can start a whole new business. Have a look at this case study on how to launch a blog and get over 17,800 subscribers.

It’s possible.

And it’s also possible to negotiate ad space for free.

One strategy, as an example, is to approach a big forum or message board in your niche and offer to do moderation/content creation for a month in exchange for an advert. Often these online communities are running on a small budget and don’t have money to employ staff. It can be a good way to get some exposure.

Test the performance and see where to go next.

4. Learn how to test stuff and interpret the data

As I’ve hinted to up above, learning how to test things is a really big part of maximising your success online.

It’s very important to move away from guesswork.

Let’s take the homepage opt-in form of Blog Tyrant as an example.

homepage test

With this one email opt-in form location there are at least 5-10 things that could be affecting conversions: the ugly mug in the photo, the title, the social proof element, the eBook offer, the email submit text, the button text, the button color, and so on.

By using a bit of split testing you can run different versions and see which one leads to the most submissions.

But it’s vital not to stop there.

For example, you might offer a new lead magnet and find that your submissions go up by 40%. That’s great.

Right?

Well, what if none of those email subscribers open your emails after they get your eBook? Or, worse still, what if they mark your emails as spam?

What you want to do is develop a philosophy of testing that focuses on end-results. The final conversion.

By doing this you can take months off of your progress because you will start to know exactly what is causing the results.

5. Focus on the email addresses even if/when profits are flowing

Something you hear pretty regularly from bloggers is that they wished they had started collecting email addresses earlier on.

Usually this is for two reasons.

Firstly, some bloggers find it a little bit technologically daunting to set up an email subscription form that is stored somewhere like AWeber and as such put it off for a few months.

Secondly, other bloggers/marketers might crack some form of making income through affiliates or another method and kind of forget to focus on collecting subscribers. Once the income starts to fade away they are left without the backup.

All of the longterm, successful businesses that I have seen on the internet have done so through the creative, useful and genuine relationship with a growing list of email subscribers.

Sure, people do it without it.

But they often don’t last long.

If you want to make your blog a stable giant over the next 5-10 years then it’s pivotal that you start to really focus in on getting email subscribers and then maintaining that relationship. That means focusing on valuable content and figuring out how to increase your open rates.

It’s okay to be a bit aggressive in this area.

There’s nothing wrong with using a pop up or slide out box like I do here on Blog Tyrant.

slide out

That slide out box appears after people scroll down the page a little way and leads people to a landing page that explains more details. It’s a blogging tactic that converts really well while being minimally invasive.

6. Build a team to free you up for your main work

See the graphic in the eBook above?

That cost $10 on Fiverr and was done in about 15 minutes.

In the old days I would have jumped on Google and spent hours researching how to design, build and create one by myself. I then would have bought a program, created something ugly and then been so frustrated with the outcome that I never bother to launch it.

One of the most valuable lessons one can learn in the online space is that you don’t have to be doing everything.

In fact, you shouldn’t be doing everything.

What you want to do is use sites like Freelancer and Elance and companies like Chris Ducker’s to build a team of trusted and skilful coders, designers, writers, accountants, etc. around you so that you are free to work on what you’re good at.

Try to see this as an investment rather than a cost.

What tips can you share?

Do you have any tips to share about things that have sped up your progress towards online success? Please leave us a comment below because it might really help someone who is just getting started or is struggling with one particular aspect of online business.

SO, WHAT'S NEXT?

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60 Comments. Join in. *Closed after 30 days*

  • Neil

    Hi Ramsay
    Great post. It will help new bloggers a lot. Point 3 and 5 are especially important. Will try these.

    Neil


    1. Ramsay

      Fast reader. 😉


      1. Neil

        Actually I just skimmed. Reading properly now 😮


    2. Niks

      Really its very helpful, You right neil its really very helpful for blogger, now i like to try point 6… once again thanks ramsay for your valuable informative post.


  • Diana Marinova

    Nice post, Ramsey, a good reminder – for a long time reader, there isn’t anything new here, you’ve been sharing these shortcuts plenty if times 🙂

    However, the most valuable lesson here, for me anyway, is learning to let go. Don’t try to do everything yourself, here and now – delegate, outsource… End of the day, it really saves time – it helps you not get lost in details and focus on what’s important instead.

    Thanks for the great morning read 😀


    1. Ramsay

      Hi Diana.

      Thanks for the comment. I’m trying to do a bit of a balancing act between basic and advanced content lately. Thanks for sticking around while there’s some stuff you’ve heard before.


  • Lisa Frideborg

    Thanks for this, Ramsay. I find the fiverr tip very useful for creating an ebook cover as I am currently working on one and want it to look professional (unlike my previous work lol). I run and operate a micro-business and the one thing I have failed to do, although I try to take as much of your (always very helpful) advice on board as possible, is to move from wordpress.com to wordpress.org. I’m still in a sort of paralysis about it as I know the initital move of all three sites would take up so much of my time and energy. Would you suggest moving just one to start with and which site would be best to move. The biggest or the newest?


    1. Ramsay

      Maybe it might be better to start with a newer easier migration and get the hang of it and see what issues arise? Make sure you talk to your server admin first as they will give you a lot of good advice. In the end, it’s a pretty simple process if you have someone helping you. Shouldn’t take more than an hour or so.


      1. Lisa Frideborg

        Thank you. That makes sense! 🙂


  • Adrian

    Hi Ramsay,
    Thanks for your great post. The point about spending money is a great truth, I needed really long until I saw it.

    About getting email Addresses. I wanted to ask you for a long time: what popup plugin are you using? popup domination? I wanted a popup like yours that don’t interfere so much with the user. When I set up popup domination I werent able to find a way so the user can navigate the site without having to close it first. May be you can tell us something about how you did it…

    Adrian


    1. Ramsay

      I don’t have a pop up on here anymore. Just the slide out.


      1. Adrian

        Now I understand, it’s not called a popup! Its obvious now, but at first I thought a “popup” could also “slideout”. At least I know were to look for it.
        Thanks!
        Adrian


  • Steve | Groomiest

    Shortcut tips coming from a long cut dude 🙂

    Can we just say this aint ‘just’ a short cut article but a golden nugget that bloggers should put in place.

    Free-ing up time is a good thing and fiverr has been the best thing to happen to bloggers, so far 🙂

    Wonder how much $5 gig can change your blog! Get on fiverr.

    Lovely article, as usual.


    1. Ramsay

      Ha ha. Thanks, Steve.


  • Chris

    1. Make sure every blog post has a clear CTA. Do you want the reader to read another post, subscribe, make a comment, or check out a product? They should never get to the end of the post with nothing to do next. The longer they are in your site the more you are building trust.

    2. Don’t waste time tracking stuff like number of twitter followers or daily page views. Track conversions, time on site, and the effectiveness of off-site stuff like ads and guest posts.


    1. Ramsay

      Perfect summary. As always! Thanks Chris.


  • Sue Anne Dunlevie

    Hi, Ramsay,

    I’m the Fiverr queen – they are the best if you use a “Top Seller” each time.

    You taught me the value of a pop-up and it increased my sign-ups by 50%! (I use an exit intent one)

    Thanks,
    Sue


    1. Hemapriya

      Hi sue,

      I am also looking for a good exist intent pop up, can I know what pop up you are using.. Thanks in advance


      1. Sue Anne Dunlevie

        It’s Optinmonster but SumoMe.com makes a free one.

        Sue


    2. Ramsay

      Oh no Sue! Not an exit pop up. You’ve changed, man. 😉


  • jo

    Great information as always Ramsay, thank you. I’ve been a bit apprehensive to use fiverr but you’ve given me the nudge I needed.


    1. Ramsay

      Hope it works. Let me know if you find anything good.


  • lucas

    hey Ramsay great post, could you tell me whats the plugin that you use on the shares of facebook I really liked the whay the plus open to other media and stimulate the share.

    Thanks Again!!


  • Chris Catris

    Hi Ramsay, huge fan of what you’re providing! I am 11 months into my blog and your tips are priceless.

    I am realizing how important giving away free valuable content is.

    Gary Vaynerchuk, who i’m sure you’re familiar with, made millions on this principal.

    Anyway thanks 🙂


    1. Ramsay

      He certainly did.

      Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad it’s helping.


  • Elise Xavier

    #2 is in my opinion the best piece of advice listed here – or that can be listed anywhere on the web for that matter.

    We’ve all heard it before, but it’s certainly hard advise to follow. That being said, it works! I don’t care about creating flops anymore. Might as well give ideas a shot. Think them out thoroughly before you begin, get them, for the most part, to where you want them to be, and then just go for it! Much less harm in failed projects (your time wasted) than in ideas that were never tried (who knows how big it could become?).

    I also wanted to point out that #3 can be taken a step further if you count the fact that specific apps and plugins on WordPress or social media can be taken as advertising costs so to speak. Apps like Revive Old Post are a lifesaver – help you to automate resharing of your own content, and to essentially buy yourself time and advertisement thorough your own social media channels, which are concentrated with people who like what you’re doing already after all.

    Great article. Always happy to read your new posts.


    1. Ramsay

      I’ve never heard of that plugin. I’ll check it out. Thanks for the recommendation.


  • Shawn Washburn

    Ramsay, I’m so thankful that I found your site many months ago, when I finally got up the guts to pursue my passion to write more purposefully. I’m just getting started (blog launched two weeks ago), but I’ve bookmarked and re-read so many of your posts and view them as some of my go-to references as I build and grow.

    In my short time, I’ve struggled to focus on my content and not get pulled away into tweaking this and that visually on the site. I also see the value in growing an email list and I’m hoping to get to the point where I can create something to give away that would be helpful, encouraging, or useful. Your points 1 and 5 both seem to join with this and ultimately I want to make it as convenient as possible for people to read the content and interact.

    I love your point in #2, as well, about not just making changes for the sake of it, but to have a purpose. I plan on taking that to heart as I grow my blog. Thanks so much.


    1. Ramsay

      Thanks Shawn. I’m glad it’s helping. The free giveaway is so important – I’d really recommend creating something amazing as soon as possible.


  • Arbaz Khan

    Hey Ramsay,
    Amazing post and I completely agree with all the points.

    However I never really thought of giving away everything I had for free. But to make it work I need to plan a strategy so that even if I offer most of the things for free, it proves profitable for me in the long run.

    Thanks for sharing the post.
    Keep up the good work! 🙂


    1. Ramsay

      Not saying you have to give everything away for free, but don’t be afraid to give a lot.


  • gaurav

    Hi Ramsay,
    Again a great post and for a 5 month old blogger your tips are priceless. with you tips i increased my subscription to 500 within a month.
    I realized Its important to give something for free in initial days.

    thanks again..


    1. Ramsay

      Thank you!


  • MJ

    Ramsay, Do you offer any coaching services? and how can I apply???


    1. Ramsay

      Hi MJ.

      Not at the moment but might be opening up again soon.


  • Cathy Mayhue

    I find the idea of sharing all that you have for free very practical, atleast for starters, when you are still in the fringes, as far as knowledge goes. Writing a blog about what you know, firms up your concepts and sharing it with others, help raise new questions and in your endevour to answer them, your expertise with the topic increases.
    I have seen more transparent you are in your blog, you get more professional opportunities with better wages.


    1. Ramsay

      Sounds pretty spot on to me!


  • Tom Southern

    There’s always something reassuring about your blog posts, Ramsay. They act as a soother to my nervous blogger syndrome. 🙂 This post is no exception. I love the way you offer gentle but explicit advice for making blogging work.

    My takeaways from this: #1. A blog is like any other business – you need to spend money on things like marketing, promotion and set up if you want to do it properly.

    #2: Give. Give away. Give more.

    In response I’ve just signed up to offer free Q&A calls for my list and anyone else who wants to take the frustration out of getting traffic.

    Keep on doing what you’re doing Ramsay. It’s a great soother and motivator.

    Cheers!


    1. Ramsay

      Thanks Tom. That means a lot. Gentleness is something that I honestly try to cultivate it many areas of my life so I’m glad it’s coming through even a little bit.


  • Mark Curtis

    Hey Ramsay,

    As always I enjoyed the post. You know, each time you write one, if I’m busy at the moment, I make sure to bookmark and read it later.

    Not only has your advice been very beneficial to me, but the comments that you seem to rack in so quickly also provide an extra benefit.

    Anyways, not much to add. Just wanted to say thank you.

    Mark


    1. Ramsay

      Thanks, Mark.

      Yeah I often say that the comments are more useful than the articles! There is so much goodness in them.


  • Nico

    Giveaways are always good. In my opinion though this is an area where too many people are offering the same product (hello eBook). Like the example of the Quicksprout University, a nice example of a product that goes above and beyond the average eBook. Another nice example sits at the top of your blog with a nice H logo.


    1. Ramsay

      Yep.


  • Andrew M. Warner

    Hey Ramsay,

    Great tips here.

    Regarding giving everything away, I have that same question as well. I’m a person that likes to give away useful information. I want readers to get as much knowledge as possible, but then the question comes up. “What do I sell them, if I give all this away?” But if you think about it, we give away so much free information on our blogs that keeps readers coming back. So it makes sense … you just have to have a strategy like you said.

    I’m experimenting with my blog now in an attempt to grow my list. I have split tests going on and the whole 9. Because you’ll never know what’s working, or needs improving, unless you test things out and find out.

    Great post as usual.

    – Andrew


    1. Ramsay

      Thanks Andrew. Let me know if you have any interesting results.


  • Chris

    Great read, again.

    Love the part about screwing around with e-book covers. I have done that before as well. Finally learned the lesson to just find someone that is better than me at it. Wish I had learned it sooner, but I guess you have to make the mistake first to really learn it.

    Chris


    1. Ramsay

      Yeah I think you’re right. Sometimes you have to go through it.


  • John @ Bidable

    Your blog post touched on something that i’ve been telling those who wanted to start blogging. Some would say it is easy to be a blogger, i always tell them that blogging is the same as any other business, you have to put effort into it, building your network of people, growing your followers among other things, and sometimes you can achieve this through marketing and advertising. Your blog post really affirmed what i have been trying to say.


    1. Ramsay

      Thanks John. I think it’s a really important distinction.


      1. John @ Bidable

        Yes indeed…


  • Glen Dayton

    Cool. Thanks for the path finding. For a newbie like me it is comforting to know someone is willing to help me avoid some of the known mistakes. (I’ll have a chance to make entirely novel mistakes).


    1. Ramsay

      No problems, penguin! 🙂


  • Jeevan

    Thank you so much for a helpful blog! I am daunted by step 4….I’m still confused as to how to go about split testing and how it works? I read your blog on that, which was also helpful.


  • Michael D Gorman

    I am growing to like your blog more & more Ramsay, and I mean that in a wholesome manly sense 😉 Your practical approach is such a breath of fresh air amid all the honey traps that promise so much but deliver the ‘usual stuff’ when you get down to it. I am putting together a blog that I want to appeal to mature people braving the online space, because I know many of them are both sceptical, and lacking in confidence about self publishing in general – it makes it hard; but I also know there is gold among the over 40’s that the internet is just so ready to receive – quality is the stuff, and you have that.


  • Carly

    These are great tips, Ramsey! I have a simple fashion blog http://www.DressesAndDenim.com and am considering spending a good chunk of money advertising it. There is international fashion blog website (seems to get tons of traffic) that accepts paid guest posts for $500. I haven’t been able to land any other paid or un-paid guest posts on fashion blogs. Do you have any advice on whether I should do the paid guest post or invest the money in Facebook Ads?
    Thanks for all the great advice. My blog has became much more successful, since I have started reading your blog and following your advice.


  • http://Consensus.elo.me/

    I coyld not refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well written!


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  • vipin joshi

    Very nice and helpful tips Ramsay, defiantly it will help the new and old bloggers as well thank you for sharing.


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