Here we go again.
The 7,809 word series on how to blog and do it well.
Remember, this is part two in the series. You can find the first part in which we covered content that sells and setting up your blog for success right here.
In this post I am going to cover a lot of areas so make sure you bookmark it for future reference.
If you read the whole thing in one go you might need to get some sunshine.
NOTE: This post contains some affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of these links I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!
Breaking it down part two
In this post we are going to be covering a lot of ground. Like last time, I want to give you a sort of contents here at the start so you can move around the post to areas you are interested in. They are:
- Using social media
(Facebook, Twitter and all the reasons you need them, etc.)
- Growing your blog’s traffic
(SEO, keywords, going viral, analytics etc.)
- Making money from your blog
(Adsense, Ebay, affiliates and how to make good money from home)
As I am writing this post mostly in the evenings there is a good chance I am going to miss some important points. Feel free to drop a comment and point out my ineptness or make some suggestions that you think might help some other bloggers. I always love hearing what you guys have to say.
Using social media
Social media is now too good to ignore. Even a year ago I felt like you could get away with not having a Twitter and a Facebook page. Not anymore. And its not because people demand that you get on there, its just because there is so much to be gained from having a presence. If you aren’t using social media to promote your blog and interact with your readers then you are missing out on a lot of growth and, potentially, cashola.
1. Just – be – natural
I had to open this section with what is undoubtedly the simplest piece of advice but something that a lot of people struggle to do. One person who didn’t struggle and who used the technique to amass over 3 million followers was legendary guitarist and all-round nice guy John Mayer. Here is what he had to say to Kanye West when he finally got on Twitter:
“Yo, @kanyewest, welcome to twitter. Try not to use it as a marketing device. Tweeps will see through it. Give them YOU.”
John has since deleted his Twitter account stating that no one who ever did anything meaningful was wasting time Tweeting all day. He might have a point there. But one thing I hope he considered is that his latest album Battle Studies only hit number one in the USA because of his Twitter followers. I am a self confessed Mayer addict having listened to his music everyday for close to 10 years now. And even though Battle Studies was a real let down to me, I still bought it because I felt like I had some stake in it after listening to John Tweet and blog about it for over a year.
When you Tweet or use Facebook you need to give them YOU. Just like John says. People will become loyal to you and your work. Take Blog Tyrant as a much smaller-scale example. I don’t have a face or a real human name but because I am open, honest and answer emails and Tweets I have a loyal following of amazing bloggers after only 12 blog posts.
2. Remember, you’re a blogger
One thing that is really important to emphasize is that we are talking about blogging, not social mediaing. Sometimes I see people spend so much time on Twitter and Facebook that they forget to build their blog and create more content.
Social media, in my opinion, serves two purposes. Firstly, it gets you in touch with an audience that might otherwise not ever find your blog. In this sense it is about promotion. Secondly, it gives your readers a chance to get to know you better; a second way to interact with your site. It is by no means a life force of its own like a blog.
Sure, people make money from Twitter and Facebook but that is not what we are talking about. We are talking about being good bloggers. Don’t let your social media time outweigh the time and effort that you put into your blog.
3. Customize, customize
Both Twitter and Facebook allow you to customize your profiles/pages to brand them to your own identity. This is important and it is something that all the good bloggers do. I spent about 30 seconds doing mine (as evidenced by the shocking design) but some other guys do it really well. Here are some examples:
They are all changed in a way that differentiates them from the other accounts out there. The Facebook pages are edited using FBML which allows you to add extra tabs and use HTML code to add nice images that get people interested. You can read how to do that here.
4. Think of it as a business dinner party
When you go to a dinner party you aren’t there with the mindset that this is your job now. You are there to get your name out and make connections. That is how you should think of social media for blogging, as a way to make connections with fans as well as people who can influence your career.
For example, I quite often send messages to Darren Rowse and Brian Clark on Twitter and, if its a good one, they normally answer straight away. This is a fantastic way to gradually build up familiarity so that if you ever have a guest post you want published or a new product that you want launched you might be able to get their help.
At the end of the party, however, you always go home. And the same is true of social media and your blog. For so many people now I feel like social media has become a major distraction as opposed to the helping hand that it’s supposed to be.
5. Focus on Facebook
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I think you should focus your social media energies on Facebook. Now, I know a lot of bloggers do well on Twitter and that is fantastic. But, the signals all seem to be pointing to Facebook as being the one that hangs around and makes the most impact. Let’s have a look at why.
- It is a page
You get more functionality than just 140 and can have pictures, links, videos, etc. all in one place. This gives you opportunities to draw people in.
- It is more functional
Not only can you have threaded conversations with your fans, you can also use FBML to change the way your page looks and works. This is a massive advantage that Twitter lacks.
- It has better results
Darren Rowse has talked about how Facebook gets a much better response on things he posts than Twitter. It might not be the same for you but it is worth noting.
Now I am sitting back and waiting for the reasons as to why Twitter is better. Go ahead, I’d love to be wrong on this one.
Growing your blog’s traffic
Each time I start a new section of this post I say to myself “why the hell am I doing this?” because it is such a gigantic topic. In part one of this series Guarav asked me whether I would have anything left to say about blogging once the series is over, a good question. I hope everyone understands that these two posts are just very very broad strokes. Its kind of like visiting an art gallery; you look at everything but don’t really comprehend anything fully. You could spend lifetimes studying and writing about each individual painting and that is the same with these blogging topics. There is plenty more to talk about.
1. Get your on-site SEO sorted
The first thing we need to do, even before working on great content, is ensure that our website is set up to succeed on Google. The last thing you want is amazing content held back by a poorly optimized theme. Let’s talk about a few of the little on-site SEO tricks that you need to work on.
- Header tags
Your blog posts should be set up so your headers are tagged according to their importance. The name of the site is usually h1, the blog titles are h2 and the main points of the post (mine are in orange) are h3. This is important. You need to change your Stylesheet to make them look nice.
Head on over to this post about the top plugins and make sure you have all the ones relating to SEO. Google Sitemaps, for examples, is something that you really don’t want to miss out on.
You need to make your permalinks something meaningful and inclusive of the keywords that you want to target. I use a structure that just uses the name of the post without any dates or anything but I often shorten them. For example, the first part of this series was /how-to-blog/ without any of the other keywords in there.
- Interlinking posts
When you write your blog posts you should link to other blog posts that you have written. The best way to do this is to use the keywords that you are targeting. For example, instead of saying “you can read it here” I say in the first part of the series on how to blog and use the keywords as the link. This is important. Don’t do it too much because it can look spammy. It should always be natural.
SEO is a massive area that I will be writing a lot more on in the next few posts. I still don’t understand even a tenth of what there is to know but I have picked up some cool tricks and white-hat tactics that allow me to rank some blogs and website really well. In the meantime I recommend reading SEObook, SEOmoz and Viper Chill to get your head around the SEO basics.
2. Getting post titles right
To be perfectly honest, the amount of traffic you get is going to be directly related to how good your post titles are. I have clicked to read articles on Twitter that I have absolutely no interest in because it had an enticing and captivating title. How well you do on the social media networks will really depend on whether your titles get people interested.
The problem is that this topic has been done to death. I have written about post titles again and again and so have the big guys like Brian Clark. I don’t really want to go over it again so I will just rehash three very basic points:
- Ask questions or pose them
Your title should either ask a question about a topic or create one in the mind of the reader.
- Be controversial
This doesn’t mean be an asshole but it does mean say something that is a little bit off center. For example, you might be controversial because you are very individual, not just because you are trying to shock people.
- Be specific
Go back and look at my post titles and you will see things like $2,000 in 8 Months and 7,809 Words and 11,908 Visitors. These specifics go a long way to giving credibility and distancing yourself from the usual generic claims.
Remember, as I said in part one, your post titles are like a mini advert for your blog. You need to balance reader satisfaction with the idea that your title needs to draw people in.
3. Using Market Samurai to grow your traffic
I have talked about Market Samurai a few times now but want to keep pushing it because I think it is really so freaking amazing. It is a brilliant tool for anything to do with SEO but it is especially cool for bloggers who want to look up some high traffic keywords to base their articles around.
Here is the idea. Some keywords get more searches than others. You might be writing articles about “getting toned abs” when in fact “abs toning” gets far more searches and has less competition. This is the kind of thing Market Samurai does perfectly. You can do searches based around keywords, backlinks, page rank, competition, etc. This allows you to formulate your blog posts based on what people are searching for, how likely it is that you will rank for it on Google, etc. It is like shooting crabs in a barrel.
Obviously, you want to make sure you are writing for people and not search engines. But when you think about it, Google is designed to help you find the best articles from the best websites. So sometimes you need to take both in to account.
4. Comment on blogs, websites and forums
In this post on how to grow blog traffic I talked about the fact that I guest posted a lot. That is good but it is only one piece of the puzzle. The next step is to go out and find 20 or 30 blogs and forums in your niche and become active in those communities.
Now, I am not going to go over this again because I have already written another huge post on using comments to grow traffic. What I will say is that there are some key factors you need to look at in order to understand whether or not the blog or forum is worth your time. These are
- Number of comments
If a blog post gets lots of comments its likely it has a good community and a fair amount of traffic. And while your comment can get lost in the other ones usually these are more worthwhile.
- Thread count
Visit forums and find the sub forums with the most active members and the best threads. Interact in there. Sometimes it is best to do it from an account that is not related to your website and you can just drop links to your blog and talk about the topic in that post. Don’t spam though.
There are some blogs out there that all the big guys read. If you become active there you can get the attention of some big players. Find them and tap into them.
I really don’t worry to much about finding high page rank blogs or anything like that. If the blog is a good one chances are it will become a high page rank in a few years. Focus on getting involved in the community, making friends and getting visitors.
5. Expand your reach (videos!)
When blogs first came out I bet there were a whole bunch of journalists, authors and magazine editors who thought that it would never catch on. Well it did and in the same way video is here to stay. And more than that, video is driving a lot of traffic to blogs and tapping in to visitors that you would otherwise never see.
A few months ago I hired a fitness model/instructor and we spent half a day making videos of her giving instructions on how to do Pilates and Yoga exercises. I then upload these to Youtube and use keywords that I have researched on Market Samurai. These videos are great because they give my blog readers (a fitness site) something to look at other than content as well as having a new way to reach people.
And here is the real kicker. If you rank well on Google for a certain blog article you can do a video for the same topic and try and get it ranking as well. That way you can have the top results in Google for video and text links and really drive some traffic. Tip for you: video aren’t that hard to rank on Google.
You don’t need to overdo it. Just use a relatively good web cam and download some free video editing software and you are away. Your first video could be done instead of the next post you were thinking about. Talk about the topic for a bit and then open it up to comments and questions. People will get to know the real you.
6. Pump out the content, smartly
The most important thing, however, is to pump out a lot of content but do it smartly. I have noticed in the past that my blog didn’t really gain money-earning traction until around 60 posts. After that it was pretty easy to make a few bucks. That being said, Blog Tyrant only has 12 posts and is already doing fairly well. So it is about being smart.
When you decide on your content strategy you need to consider a few things. These tips are very important to please think about them.
- Are you aiming for mass content?
If you are aiming for mass content you need to be careful to keep it consistent and targeted at the right keywords. You also need to explore outsourcing options to see whether you can increase the amount you are publishing.
- Are you aiming for niche articles?
If you’re trying to do something like me then you need to focus less upon keywords and more upon value. Solve problems with your articles. This doesn’t mean disregard writing about popular keywords, but it does mean putting a new spin on them.
Are you aiming for time defined content?
If you are writing a blog about updates, new products or news then you need to make sure you are getting in on the action fast and providing not only the news, but a unique take on that news.
You need to be very careful to define what type of content you are producing and base your time around that. Sometimes a mixture of the three works well. For example, you might want to have one or two news items per week and then one in depth piece.
Making money from your blog
This last section is pretty much going to be an introduction to the next month on Blog Tyrant. These topics are going to be touched on here and then explored in much more depth later on. Please make sure you subscribe to the RSS or join up to the email list to make sure you don’t miss out on the fun. I am going to talk about a lot of the different ways I make money and how you can take your blog to that next level.
1. Is it a money maker?
The best place to start is by going and reading my post on why blogging is a waste of time. While I do believe that every blog can make some money, it has to be said that not all of them should try. For example, you might be a lot better off putting your time and effort into making money another way as opposed to living like a struggling musician for the rest of your blogging career.
2. Money is the in mailing list
This is going to be a big topic in the next few months on Blog Tyrant: building mailing lists and then using them to make money. For a long time now I have been hearing (and telling people!) that the best way to make a sustainable living from a blog is to build a mailing list of people who are interested in whatever it is you are about. Some of the reasons they are so good include:
- You can promote other products
Whenever you launch a new product you can shoot the email list and let them know.
- You can launch new blogs
A big mailing list (10,000+) means that you never have to start from scratch again because you automatically have a good following to launch a new blog from. This is very important for diversifying your income.
You can promote affiliate offers
Imagine having a list of 50,000 loyal reader and being able to send out and email promoting your friends products where every sale gets you 50% commission. It is money for nothing.
I know you are going to be upset about this but I am not going to talk about how to grow an email list today. That is a subject I will be addressing later this month on Blog Tyrant. And for anyone still reading, I want you to know that the topic of emailing lists and making money is going to be a big part of something I am launching on Blog Tyrant in a few months time. You are really going to want to be a part of this.
What I will say is that you need to think about capturing those emails today. Don’t put it off; make it a big part of your strategy today.
3. Adsense comes at a price
Adsense works extremely well in some situations. For example, if you have a product website that just brings in scores of traffic from Google and gives people only a little bit of information, then Adsense will work quite well. But for bloggers it is a different story. Why? Because every Adsense click that you get is a visitor lost.
Now, lets put things in to perspective. If you have a blog that gets 10,000 unique visitors a day then it doesn’t really matter how many you are sending away through Adsense clicks because you are going to be making a decent income. But there is always the opportunity cost to consider and that cost is the fact that that user won’t sign up for your newsletter, follow you on Twitter or interact with your site in a meaningful way. Sure, you made $0.20 to $1.00 from them but it wasn’t a $37 ebook sale or a $9.99 monthly subscription fee to your premium content area.
Before using Adsense you should consider the cost and the alternatives. Can you hold off making short term money with Adsense while you look to build something more sustainable?
4. Reinvest into the blog
A very big part of making money in any business is taking a percentage of your earnings and reinvesting it back into the business for things like R & D and marketing. It seems as though every bricks and mortar business does this but I rarely hear about bloggers doing to. We hear a lot about “make more content” but not as much about reinvesting. That is a shame.
As a general rule you should try to set aside 5% of whatever you make to reinvest back in to the blog. Its actually a small amount and if you can be brave and use more then you will find that you reap even bigger rewards. Some of the things you can do with the money include:
- Hiring new and better writers that can cover different topics
- Hiring cheaper copywriters to create bulk content
- Advertise your blog on Facebook, Google or other blogs in your niche
- Set up a new sister blog
A big part of making money on your blog is spending money on your blog. Of course, you need to track and tweak all of the spending that you do so you aren’t wasting anything, but it is vital that you learn to put that money back into the business early on. I wish I was told this as a junior blogger.
5. Diversify and trickle down
The last thing I want to say in this “introductory” section on making money is that you need to have a diversify and trickle down mentality. This is how you can be sure to have money in the long term, regardless of whether the climate dries up.
So what do I mean by diversify and trickle down?
One of the main things that I have been trying to do over the last year or so is diversify my income so that I am not left high and dry when one stream dries up. If you have been reading the blog for a while now you might have heard the story about my first big blog, a fitness site, that was paying my rent and putting food on my table until the one day that Google banned it. I woke up and found that I had been de-indexed from all search results for absolutely no reason. I was in trouble. If I had diversified it wouldn’t have matter.
Trickle down means that the money comes from a variety of sources that are all pretty even in distribution. For example, a big blogger might make his/her money from a four way split between Adsense, advertising, ebook sales and affiliates. Over time these start to earn more and more as you get more visitors and as you add more streams.
Remember, these is some exciting news coming up on Blog Tyrant soon that will have a lot to do with how much money you can make on your own blog, how big you can grow an email list, etc. I hope you will all subscribe so you don’t miss out!
Ask your questions!
I know you guys are going to have some great questions so feel free to leave a comment and I will answer each and every one of them. I will probably close the thread after a few days because it can be hard to keep coming back and answering day after day so make sure you get in early. I would also be happy to read any complaints you have about areas I didn’t touch on. There will probably be some of those as well!