kittens work on blogs

The net changes bloody quickly.

Trends come and go and the thing that was working really well yesterday might not be so hot today (except for kittens, they’re always big). Part of being successful online is being able to “predict” that.

In this post I want to talk about a few things that are working extremely well for blogs right now. Hopefully some of them apply to you.

Let’s do it.

Success is often a product of timing

If you take a look at any niche (online or offline) you’ll notice that there is a huge segment of people who became successful because they did something right at the right time.

Darren Rowse got big as blogging did, as did Facebook Pages and Amy Porterfield.

You might even argue that people like Elvis, the Beatles, etc. wouldn’t be anywhere near as successful if they emerged at a different time.

The best example for me these days is my buddy Glen who is absolutely killing it by helping people who are totally confused by the post-Panda SEO environment. He has scores of people paying him extremely good money to sort out their ranking issues.

Being successful online is a lot about knowing when to jump on a trend and when to ignore it.

Things that are working for blogs right now

As this site is mostly about helping people with their blogs I thought I’d talk about a few things that are working extremely well for bloggers at the moment.

1. Micro-site experiments

There are a lot of bloggers these days (as there always have been) having success by building a lot of smaller micro-sites based around a single product and then promoting them heavily with advertising.

These sites are basically landing pages that are filled out with a bit of information to make them look more robust and then use conversion optimisation techniques to sell affiliate products.

The interesting thing about these sites is that the set up cost is next to nothing with a shared hosting package where you can add ‘unlimited’ domains, and they almost totally bypass Google. Of course, search traffic is still awesome but you can now do really well by just buying Facebook Ads and knowing how to split test some offer pages.

The other reason this is a good thing to get into is because it gives you so many ideas about what works and what doesn’t. You can then apply these successes and failures to your main blogs and reap the benefits.

2. Facebook Ads directly to an email submit form

I got an email recently from a reader who had started a fashion blog after reading my post and gone on to get almost 17,000 subscribers in just a few weeks using Facebook Ads.

She basically just had a giveaway and then sent people to a landing page with an opt-in form where you enter your email to subscribe to a mailing list and enter the competition.

As a result, she now has a massive number of email subscribers that she can use to grow her stable blogging asset and, over time, start to dominate Google rankings by leveraging that network.

If you’re wondering, I’ll be doing a full case study of her offer and method in the next couple of weeks and will show you the exact page then. Sorry to make you wait!

3. Fixed sidebar ads/promotions

If your blog is anything like mine you’ll have readers scrolling through a massive amount of long form content. This can often mean a lot of space in the sidebar that goes to waste.

Now, I’m not an advocate of clutter. I think most bloggers have too much crap in their sidebars. But there is nothing wrong with using a plugin like Fixed Widget to put a second opt-in form in your sidebar to follow people along as they read.

I experimented with one of these for a week and it increased my email sign up rate by about 0.3%. Not huge but also not bad for literally three minutes work.

patflynn

Pat Flynn added some nice photo-based graphics to his sidebar (above) when he launched his new design. I don’t know about how well his are converting but it seems like a really clean way to drive people to the places that you want.

4. Premium services

Everyone knows that membership sites and training courses are big but there is now a real trend towards premium services where you charge a much high rate and service a fewer number of clients.

I am a big fan of this model.

By charging a higher price you are usually freed up to provide a better service with more one-on-one time and better support. It also is good for the person providing the service because you can be more selective about the customers that you take on which, again, leads to a better service.

These types of things work extremely well when launched from a blog that has an existing readership that really likes the content that is being delivered but wants to go deeper with the subject matter.

5. Aggressive SEO

This one is going to seem a little bit controversial because, when it comes to blogs, I’m a big fan of taking a slow and content-based approach to SEO.

That being said, there are a lot of people out there eating my lunch with more aggressive SEO.

For example, there is one blog in my niche that started in July last year and got 4,000+ backlinks within two weeks and started outranking some really big authority sites for a massively profitable keyword.

That sucks.

But it’s also really good for that guy and anyone else who is smart/brave enough to try some more aggressive methods.

I have to warn you, though. Don’t do this on any blog you want to risk being penalized into oblivion. Because Google is getting very good at detecting people who are just trying to game them.

6. Video (especially text video) on landing page promotions

Video has always been big but it seems like it is being solidified as a way of boosting conversions on internal landing pages.

On a blog, you might want to use a video on your Start Here or About Us page as a way to introduce yourself and your brand and build some instant trust with your new reader.

video landing page

But the really cool stuff happens when you start to use video on a landing page within your blog that either leads people to your sign up form or the purchase of a product. Glen does this extremely well on Marketing Inc as you can see above.

A lot of these types of things you can get done on Fiverr or do it yourself with a camera and a bit of a talking head video.

What trends have you exploited?

I’d be interested to know whether you have jumped on a trend and seen it work really well for you. What made you take the leap? What did you learn from the experience? Have you ever had any big failures doing this?

Please leave a comment and let me know.

65 Comments

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  1. Michael Gorman on June 24, 2014

    Wow, 2 Ramsay offerings in 24 hours-I’m going to digest these pearls of wisdom several more times to extract the juice!

    1. Ha ha. Don’t get used to it!

    2. Rob McNelis on June 24, 2014

      I agree! More frequency and less length is my vote! Always love the content from blog tyrant πŸ™‚

      1. Stop it! πŸ™‚

        1. Test

  2. Diana Marinova on June 24, 2014

    2 posts in one day? (at least i see them both today!) What has gotten into you, Ramsey πŸ˜€

    I have been playing with the idea for premium services for a very long time – i never seem to make it a priority though. It’ high time for me to make my blog a priority and start making money with it! Thanks for regular reminders and great ideas, Ramsey.

    I am curious to see your case study about growing your list with FB ads. From the scarce info you gave about this lady and her fashion blog email list growing – i am skeptical. In my experience, subscribers who opt-in for the sake of winning a freebie are never good subscribers – if you are planning on nurturing a community of loyal blog readers and potential buyers of your product(s) and service(s), that is…

    1. Yeah that is going to be an epic post. She has done so well in such a short amount of time. I’m applying some of her ideas for myself first just to see how I can go and have more to report about.

      1. Diana Marinova on June 24, 2014

        Good to hear – numbers are impressive indeed – but as with everything, numbers don’t mean much out of context… you may have 1 million subscribers but if they don’t care about you and what you have to say and/or sell, they are useless to you.

        So please, pretty please, make sure you include in your case study feedback about the quality and the loyalty of those subscribers the lady gathered for these first few weeks, no matter their numbers. It’s often seen phenomenon people opt-in for a giveaway and after not winning anything, they opt-out… not good πŸ˜€

        Enjoy the World cup and Wimbledon… and get some sleep, will ya? πŸ˜‰

        1. Will do. I have been curious about that as well.

          1. Yosef {This American Bite} on June 24, 2014

            I’m very curious about this too — what sort of time frame are you thinking for sharing this? I’m not trying to pressure you into a hard date, but I am curious if this will be weeks or months?

          2. Maybe next week or the week after.

      2. noufalbinu on June 24, 2014

        I think Your Grvatar in replay comment Looking just above comment πŸ™‚ It is a Intresting trick.

  3. Mahesh Mohan on June 24, 2014

    Hey Ramsay,

    The URL of the link with anchor “started a fashion blog” is incorrect.. it’s showing 404. Check out! πŸ˜‰

    1. Oh whoops! I added the www again. Cheers.

  4. Israel Smith on June 24, 2014

    Gosh. All solid stuff. Thanks man. πŸ™‚

    *typo alert: “Success *IF* often a product of timing…” .. *IS …?

    1. Israel Smith on June 24, 2014

      PS LOVE the idea of Facebook ads for email signups. 17,000 subs in a few weeks?! Amazeballs. Can’t wait for the case-study.

    2. Thanks!

  5. Benjamin on June 24, 2014

    Talking about fixed sidebar, things like the hellobar work very well too (on my blog at least).

    Although after watching some visitors browse my blog, I noticed it easily bothers people too. So you have to find whether it’s worth it or not.

    1. Yeah the HB has been working well for me. I only took it off last week but reckon I might be adding it back.

    2. Ramsay’s buddie Glen has a far better one called ViperChill bar I think which can advertise aff stuff or collect emails πŸ˜‰

      1. ViperBar – yeah. Only he does’t give support for it anymore.

  6. Micro sites is something I’m playing with now. It feels weird not to focus on gobs of content and seo as the primary game plan, but, its nice not to rely on an algo too πŸ™‚

    Can’t wait to see the case study as well. As mentioned in the comments above it will be interesting to see how those 17k subscribers worked out – does quantity beat quality?

    1. Yeah, I’ll make sure I incorporate that information for you both.

  7. Mike Glover on June 24, 2014

    hmmmmmmm….

    #1 and #5 sound kind of *SPAMMY* and are quite risky if you hope to build any lasting traffic and authority in the SERPs.

    1. Hi Mike.

      It’s absolutely a hard one.

      The thing is, if everyone is doing it it means the “honest” people are less likely to earn. So not sure if it’s smart for them to just not participate.

      The other thing is that these short term sites might not last a long time but they earn enough in a short period of time to make it worth it. Just build one, then another, etc.

  8. Premkumar Masilamani on June 24, 2014

    Hi Ramsay – I read your blog for a while and commenting for the first time.

    Every specialist talks about building an email list. I do have an email subscription option in my blog. But I dont like selling ads or products via email. What good is an email list to me?

    Can I still make money (not millions, just $10) without compromising my values?.

    Please let me know.

    PS: After many many months of serious thought process, I am OK with being an affiliate for books… Books only.

    1. Hi Premkumar.

      The main purpose of an email list if you don’t want to promote products is that you can then promote new blog posts that you write and get an instant source of traffic.

  9. Back to back Ramsay πŸ˜€ You put cats again. You must having been chuckling to yourself knowing I would hate it

    1. It’s time you come to appreciate the wonder of the feline species. πŸ™‚

      1. Never! Never I say with an evil laugh and cackle!

  10. Thanks for the post! I’m excited to read about the Facebook ads case study for the fashion blog. Some people have a lot of luck with this strategy and others fail miserably. Can’t wait to see how she did it πŸ™‚

    1. Awesome!

  11. AfricaInside on June 24, 2014

    Hi Ramsay, thanks for the great info. I am wondering what widget you used for your sidebar sign up photo and box? Is it the one you mention, Fixed Widget? Thanks.
    Lori

    1. Hi Lori.
      No that’s just one I designed and Viktor my coder hand coded into the design.

  12. Rob McNelis on June 24, 2014

    I’ve dabbled in the micro site thing and its completely replacing my need for a blog.

    1. AfricaInside on June 24, 2014

      Rob, I was curious about your micro site dabbling and went to your TunaHack but it lead to a mistake code. Lori

  13. Brian Yee on June 24, 2014

    The thing most excited me is second one- get subscribers through Facebook ads, can’t wait for the case study! πŸ˜€

    1. Oh it seems like a lot of people are really excited by this!

  14. Jimmy Verner on June 24, 2014

    What do you mean when you say “almost totally bypass Google?”

    Thx.

    JV

    1. Hi Jimmy.

      I mean that you don’t have to rely on Google traffic to make your money. It’s a much safer method in that respect.

  15. Some great points, Ramsay.

    On #2, while a lot of subscribers could seem like a good thing, I have noticed that giveaways and competitions do not really create lasting subscribers, or paying clients. I found that providing good content, great products and given time, readers can be converted to customers. Creating quick, inflated lists would cost more (email subscription services at that level cost quiet a bit), and lead to a lot of unresponsive audience or unsubscribes.

    On #4, I am actually moving to that model now–providing concierge services to people who are really interested in long term success and would need what I offer.

    Video is something that I find successful too, and images. I really would like to invest more time in creating video content…a little hard to do with a two year old running around during the day…and then I have to be quiet when I am working in the evening, since it is bed time for her. Have to use some creative thinking on making this work.

    1. Awesome. Please come back and let us know how it goes.

  16. Thang@noodlies on June 24, 2014

    As always great advice.

    1. Thank you!

  17. liz@lifedreaming on June 25, 2014

    Cats and 2 posts in one day – you are amazing Ramsay.

    Fair play to people creating microsites, marketing the crap out of them, making money and moving on – not my thing but viva la difference!

    I’m more interested in long content, once a month that has vids and activity sheets and interviews – that’s what I’m creating from August.

    I’m also going to be exploring Twitter ads as some research is showing they convert higher than FB ads.

    I was guest speaker yesterday at the Dublin Biz Womens Network [big deal for me!] and spoke about social media for solopreneurs.

    I’m trying to take a long view for my biz and am going to be playing in more in G+ [follow you there], Twitter & Pinterest.

    Some stats I showed the women startled me when I found them – 44% of online sales from social media channels come from Pinterest! I know – could have knocked me down with a feather – and that’s where my customers are so I’m going to follow some biz brands and see how they do it.

    What tech/plugin did you use for your banner opt in form Ramsay? I have to redesign all my optin forms after doing a complete redesign and rewrite of my site.

    It’s never ending.

    Well done you on the 2 posts.

    Liz

    p.s if anyone is interested you can have a look at the presentation I gave yesterday ‘Social Media for Solopreneurs – Seeing the Forest & the Trees’. I taught myself Prezi as I was creating the presentation and the group loved it.

    http://prezi.com/r7u2xinj-1y9/social-media-for-solopreneurs/

    1. Few things.

      Please let me know how the Twitter Ads go. I’ve been meaning to try but can’t be assed learning a new platform.

      Congrats on the talk! Make any good connections?

      Which form are you talking about? There aren’t any plugins on this site for that though – it’s all hand coded by my buddy Viktor from CrazyXHTML. He is an absolute wizard.

  18. FlashFreeOnline.com on June 25, 2014

    Hi!

    As usual, very good tips πŸ™‚

    I’m testing them in my personal blog but, can you recommend me the best (in your opinion) sharing social plugin for WP?

    Thanks and best regards

    1. Hi there. Not sure as they all have different functionality. Add This seems good.

  19. Nabil Ansari on June 25, 2014

    Great tips. I recently started a blog in the ‘dating’ niche. But I’m more focused towards getting back into a relationship, because this niche does not seem to have any kind of authority website. I haven’t seen any results yet (and I hate sharing links in the comment sections of the websites that I really do care about).

    But I really liked the idea of micro-sites. It is because I have already selected an affiliate product, and will soon be promoting on my website. If I knew this micro-site thing earlier, I might have given it a shot. BTW, what are you upto Ramsay?

    1. Hi Nabil.

      What do you mean?

  20. CanΒ΄t wait for the case study regarding Facebook Ads.
    Nice post once again. Aggressive SEO really seems to have itΒ΄s impact, but for a big downside πŸ˜‰
    The Micro-Site thing looks like something i have to take a closer look at, since iΒ΄ve always wanted to try split-testing and PPC and the like.
    Thanks, Ramsay

    1. Yeah seems like this study is going to be very popular.

  21. Rosh Sillars on June 30, 2014

    Timing is everything. I got my start helping photographers with social media in 2007. It took me around the world. Today it’s tougher, but not impossible.

    Good points on the ads to landing page. I’ve had good success there too.

    Rosh

    1. Thanks Rosh. Any predictions about what’s next in your niche?

  22. I really like the new look of your blog. I started a blog in 2014, thanks for always posting content that helps new bloggers like me! I was going to just go with a free blog domain but after reading one of your posts, I got my own domain. Thanks again!

    1. That’s awesome! Thanks so much Kay.

  23. I for one am mostly interested in the micro-sites as I’m getting ready to jump into that business myself at the moment. I have high hopes for it and am enjoying the research so far, but I’m thinking about two different ways to go about it (or maybe just do both):

    1. Alone standing micro-sites that rely heavily on SEO
    2. Micro-sites that still rely heavily on SEO, but that are related to my main site and could thus serve to build links to my main site and guide traffic as well.
    The only thing I’m a bit worried about with that is: if they should ever be penalized, will that reflect hard on my main site?

    Glad to have you back more frequently, by the way:)

  24. Kevin Duncan on July 1, 2014

    Hi, Ramsay. Not my first time visiting, but first time commenting!

    I’m looking forward to reading the Facebook Ad case study you have in the works. That many email subscribers in that short a time period is crazy!

    Of these 6, the only one I do is the fixed sidebar. My posts are typically 2k words or more, so my readers were seeing a lot of white space. Making a newsletter form “sticky” did the trick!

    Great article. Looking forward to your next one.

  25. Lewis LaLanne on July 1, 2014

    I don’t know if it was really a “getting opt ins” trend as much as us just following what we saw the guys at Conversion Rate Experts were doing with their opt in collection.

    Instead of the normal opt in/subscribe form, they only had a clickable image at the top of their home page offering free goodies with a “Download Now” button on it.

    Once clicked, you get redirected to a page with long form copy on it that gives you details on the goodies that can be yours free . . . if you’ll only tell us what your best email to send them to is where you are then presented with the opt in form.

    This button KILLS it for us. It has performed better than any other opt in box we’ve ever tested. And we first implemented this almost a year ago.

    I guess it’s still kicking ass for those guys at Conversion Rate Experts as well because they’re still using it too but now in a bigger blown up header graphic (at least that’s what version of their site displayed for me today).

    Thank you Ramsay for continuing to illuminate me on the topic of what’s working now. It’s always nice to see a list like this from a plugged-in pro like you that shaves a person’s learning curve about what to pay attention to.

  26. Hey Ramsay
    Thanks for the tips!
    I am also seriously trying Facebook ads with leadpages at the moment, and I think I am slowly finding the sweet spot. Takes some time and tweaking, but getting there.

    That in combo with top quality visuals that post well on G+ and Pinterest are working great for me (ie. long vs wide). I just added a quick Infographic to a post that was already doing well this week, and it has accelerated on Pinterest.

    Keep up the awesome work
    ashley

  27. Nigel Merrick on July 3, 2014

    Hi Ramsay

    Some really great ideas in here (as usual!) and I especially liked the Facebook ads idea for promoting an email sign-up page. I’ll be experimenting with this myself soon, so I was pleased to see you recommending this too.

    In fact, I can see that Facebook advertising is fast becoming an essential in the new “pay to play” world that FB is creating, which I personally don’t think is a bad thing (although a lot of others are complaining about having to pay, but we’re running businesses, right? LoL).

    I love your new site design too – clearly a lot of hard work has gone into it.

    PS: Am I the only one that was expecting a bonus tip in here? The title mentions 6, but the cute photo at the top has 7 cats in it, hinting at a missing tip hiding in here somewhere πŸ™‚

  28. Great stuff. I didn’t have a good experience with Facebook ads, but perhaps if they just lead to sales pages it could work.
    Do you have an opinion about podcasting?

  29. I like the idea of microsites. I see so many opportunities with creating a net of such resources using them to drive traffic to your main blog.
    To bad that my website is too young for that and that it’s in Russian.

    It’s going to be my no.1 seo tactics when I start an English speaking blog.

    1. keerthi on July 9, 2014

      Nice

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