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January 2014

Should Every Company Have a Blog?

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In a world where everyone from Whole Foods to Patagonia is blogging, is it safe to say that you should join the crowd? Is blogging important for every industry, or is it only good for certain ones? How do you know if it’s right for you? To help answer those questions, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of blogging, across industries and subject matters.

The Benefits of Blogging
There’s a good reason so many brands are blogging today: Blogging has a lot to offer. Simply by regularly posting to a blog, brands can increase online traffic, build connections with fans, and more. Below, consider some of the big benefits that come from regular blogging:

Search Engine Optimization: Search engines look for valuable content—and by regularly blogging, valuable content is exactly what you’re creating. The content you create in blogging allows you to establish higher authority in search rankings, and this leads to higher numbers of search traffic for your site.
Lead Generation: When you add persuasive calls to action to your blog posts, you turn your blog into a powerful lead generator. Your calls to action might be the offer of a free ebook download, a request to sign up for your newsletter, or the suggestion that they call you to learn more about your services. In every case, by telling your readers what you’d like them to do, you set yourself up to see results.
Brand Reinforcement: Blogs give brands another way to reinforce their brand messaging. Incorporate your brand’s style and messaging into every aspect of your blog—the design, the type of content, the colors, the logo, etc. By doing this, you reaffirm to followers that you are the brand they think you are—and this builds trust.
Connection with Fans: When prospects go looking for more information about you and what you offer, they often wind up at your blog. Sometimes customers who wouldn’t send you an email will comment on a blog post. What’s more, blogs give you a great format for addressing common customer questions or responding to concerns you’ve heard. Bottom line: blogs provide an approachable format for you and your followers to connect.
Humanizing Your Company: A blog allows you to tell a more personal story for your brand—you can write editorial, opinion-type pieces. You can share behind-the-scenes stories and photos. You get to round out the image that followers have of your brand.

The Costs of Blogging
There’s also a good reason so many brands are hesitant to start blogging: they know blogging takes work. Blogs don’t write themselves, and keeping up with one takes time, effort, and consistency. In fact, here’s a closer look at some of the biggest costs associated with blogging:

Initiative: For a company satisfied with things as they are and have been, jumping into the blogging world sounds tough—because it’s going to take initiative. A business must step outside the norm to conceptualize, create, and use the blog on a regular basis. And for brands content with their current workflow and sales results as well as brands set in traditional methods, this might seem unnecessary.

Time: There’s no way around it—blogging takes time. Whether you’re a small business owner blogging solo or a CEO hiring a marketing firm to blog in your place, in either case, a blog takes an investment. That’s why some businesses decide the cost is too great. They don’t want to dedicate time or resources every week to write.

Creative Energy: Most writers say the hardest part of blogging is coming up with topics—and it’s true. How many business blogs fall into lackluster blog content that does more harm than good? As Gary Fox writes at Social Media Today, “[T]hinly disguised press releases chucked into a blog do not warrant being called a blog.” Regularly generating new ideas takes creative energy that some businesses would rather invest elsewhere—so if you can’t come up with blog content, blogging might not be for you.

Discipline: Unlike a lot of business projects, blogging is ongoing. Keeping up with a blog requires regular discipline. You have to keep coming back, week after week or day after day, churning out new articles. If disciplining yourself or your team to manage a blog seems daunting, you might decide to skip it.

Principles to Help You Decide
So after looking at the benefits and costs associated with blogging, what should you do next? How do you know whether or not join in? To answer that question, here are some general principles about blogging to keep in mind, no matter what your industry:

1. Don’t Let Fear Dissuade You. Every smart businessperson knows fear comes with the territory. If it’s intimidation that’s holding you back from blogging, rethink your reasoning. Couldn’t you learn more about blogging to make it less scary?

2. Remember Short Posts Are Okay. As Rieva Lesonsky writes at Fox News, your posts don’t have to be earth shattering, and it’s okay for them to be short. Moreover, coming up with topics doesn’t have to be a pain. “To save time and stay organized,” Lesonsky recommends that you “create an editorial calendar to schedule your posts.” Take a chunk of time each month or quarter to plan out posts and then just proceed according to plan. By setting aside time to brainstorm, you save yourself the regular headache of not knowing what to write.

3. Your Clients Are Key. One of the biggest deciding factors for companies wondering if they should blog is audience. Think about your target demographic—would a blog about your industry be useful to them? Would they want to read it? Would it add value to their lives? If the answers are yes to these questions, you have good reason to move forward.

4. Consider All Your Options. Blogging is not your only opportunity to generate leads or connect with clients. You could use social media to respond to prospects’ questions. You could use newsletters to churn out helpful tips. So before you jump into blogging, look at your goals and see if they align best with what blogging achieves, or if your time would be best spent elsewhere.

Your Thoughts
Does your business have a blog? Why or why not? What other principles do you consider to be key in analyzing whether or not a brand should blog?

“DO AC” Does Social Media (Sponsored Post)


Hello and greetings from Atlantic City! We’re so happy to have spent time with you at New Media Expo (and on Twitter) during the New Year. And thanks for your interest in our beautiful city! Folks loved our Twitter machine and more than 150 people came to take selfies with Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri.

We’ve been asked time and time again how social media helps influence tourism and ROI. Our role is to change the image of Atlantic City and bring new visitation. Like other brands, we have to be “social” and online to answer questions, give event advice, ideas on where to stay and pretty much develop content to help support our online reputation. Although having social accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Foursquare help…having strategy and campaigns helps out as well.

So how do we do it now?

• Get the community involved in contests that are more than enter to win! We recently launched a #ShowUsYourBling contest (using Pixlee) that asks recently engaged couples to show us your bling. A simple photo upload and catchy engagement story will enter you to with the Ultimate DO AC Bachelor/Bachelorette Party for her and him and 10 friends. In less than one week we received over 900 entries!

• Our advocates and brand ambassadors are always hard at work. During NMX Miss America took control over our @VisitAC Twitter account and answered any and all questions with #AskMissAmerica. We received over 1 million impressions during the chat. And Coming up on January 30th international-recognized DJ Nigel Richards will be discussing #DOACnightlife and chat attendees will be able to win fabulous nightlife prizes.

• A picture is worth a couple of hundred tweets. We regularly ask our social community to share and tag their photos with #DOAC. The best photos get shared across all our platforms. And since Twitter is getting more and more engagement with photos, we shared the photo/Tweet below and it increased our engagement levels 10x!


• Working with bloggers is important as well. That’s why we want to work with you! Take this survey so we can better assess how to work together. We’ll be sure to get back to you. Should you have any questions in advance feel free to e-mail Eric Cortes, Social Media Manager at the Atlantic City Alliance.
For more information about Atlantic City and things to do, follow our social media:

• Facebook – www.facebook.com/DOAtlanticCity
• Twitter – www.twitter.com/VisitAC
• YouTube – www.YouTube.com/DOAC
• Instagram – www.instagram.com/DOAC
• Pinterest – www.pinterest.com/DOAtlanticCity
• Foursquare – www.foursquare.com/VisitAC

We appreciate your support and are looking forward to being able to work with you!

10 Writing Tips for Advanced Bloggers


writing tips for advanced bloggers Just because you’re been doing this for a few years doesn’t mean you have nothing to learn. I’ve collected some of my best tips for advanced bloggers in this post, and I hope you’ll add your own to the end. Here’s how to continuously improve your blog:

1. Challenge yourself to cut your post down by 30% to 50% before you publish.

When it comes to pure writing tips, this one has helped me more than any other tip out there.

Long posts are fine, but only if you’re making every word count. I will gladly read a 5,000+ word post if it takes you that many words to cover the topic. I will not read a 5,000+ word post if half-way through I realize that the rambling author could have accomplished the same thing in 500 words.

Like many bloggers, I started my career as a freelancer, and at that point, most of my clients asked me to hit a certain word count every time I would take an assignment. Subconsciously, I trained myself to write for that word count, which means I’m often wordier than I need to be to get my point across. So, I now challenge myself to cut out at least 30% of my words every time I finish the first draft of a post.

Even if you end up not cutting out any words (or even if you end up adding words), re-reading your post with this kind of “cut the fat” eye will help you polish your work. It can also help you begin to learn your own writing faults and weaknesses.For example, until I started this practice, I didn’t realize how prone I was to using the word “really” unnecessarily.

2. Use the scientific method when giving advice.

I often do not often see bloggers’ advice backed up with proof or even a process of experimentation. A newbie in your field may take your word on something because you’re more experienced, but if you want to hold the attention of mid-level or advanced readers, you’re going to need more than just an opinion.

One of the ways you can do this is by using the scientific method to structure your blog posts. No need to pull out a fourth-grade text book: I covered how to do this here: How to Use the Scientific Method to Write Better Blog Posts.

3. Do some research into the psychology behind what you are teaching.

I talk about psychology a bit on my post about using the scientific method, but even if this is not your process for writing a blog post, the psychology behind what you’re teach your readers can help take your blog post to the next level. Most people are extremely interested in why not just how. So, if your blog posts lends itself to the why part, read into it a little and give your readers some links to find more information.

The king of this is Derek Halpern, so check out his blog if you want an example of someone who does it well.

4. Get out of your feed reader.

We’re all guilty of getting into routines. When is the last time you got out of your own feed reader to find new blogs to read?

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that reading blogs isn’t important. Reading in general is one of the most important activities you can do if you want to become a better writer. Jon Morrow, for example, often advocates spending time reading not just blogs and business books, but also novels (His favorite is Stephen King.)

No matter what you’re reading, though, every once in a while, you have to forget about your favorites for a moment (yes, even Stephen King) and instead embrace new writers so you can continue to grow.

Check out my post about how to find new blogs to read if you’re struggling to discover great bloggers whose names you’ve never heard.

5. Before you publish your list post, write a post to support every point.

Have you noticed that every point in this post has corresponding links to go with it? Believe it or not, I actually started working on this post months ago. As I wrote, however, I realized that each point could become its own post in and of itself.

Linking to supporting content makes any list post more valuable. And if you don’t have supporting content on your own blog, you probably have peers who do. The best list posts are a springboard for readers; they give readers many new ideas so people can pick and choose those they feel are best. From there, each reader can do more research into that specific topic.

If you aren’t providing links, people will do that research on their own, which means that they might not be finding the best content out there.

6. Don’t just ask your readers about their challenges; ask your peers.

One of the best ways to come up with ideas for blog content is to ask your readers about their struggles. They’ll come up with dozens of questions for you! But if you really want to become an authority in your niche, don’t just ask your readers for advice. Ask your peers.

When you write content for beginners, you allow new readers to consistently find your blog. However, beginners often don’t know what they don’t know. You’ll blow minds if you can solve problems they didn’t even know they had! To do this, you have to brainstorm a list of more advanced questions to answer. So, ask more advanced readers about their problems.

Depending on your blog content, this might mean that you have to not only poll your readers, but also seek advice directly from peers. Don’t be afraid to contact a-listers to ask about their most common struggles. You’ll blow their minds too if you can find a way to solve a problem they have.

7. Start recording video blogs.

“I look like a total dork on camera.”

I get a lot of resistance when I suggest that people should start recording videos. Most bloggers, especially introverts, hate how they look on camera. I get it, because I feel like that too. But here’s a secret: most of the time, as long as you look presentable (i.e. you don’t have visible Pig Pen fumes radiating from you), most people will be so focused on whatever you are teaching, that ten seconds after the video ends, they won’t remember what you’re wearing. Your content is what matters!

If being on camera intimidates you, try instead doing some interviews. When you interview someone else in your niche, you’re not the focus of attention, so it can feel a little more comfortable. Check out some great tips for landing interviews here.

You can also record videos where you’re off camera, like screen capture tutorials or video scribing.

8. Use active voice when possible.

In most cases, using the active voice instead of the passive voice will make your sentences more powerful. This trick also helps with editing, since passive voice tends to be wordier.

For those of you who need a quick grammar brush-up, active voice simply means that your sentences are written with the formula “Subject – verb – object.” For example:

The blogger wrote ten blog posts.

“The blogger” is the subject of this sentence, and wrote is of course the verb. “Ten blog posts” is the object, because it is on the receiving end of the verb. If I wanted to rewrite this sentence using passive voice, I would write:

Ten blog posts were written by the blogger.

In this case, we have the same three elements – subject, verb, object – but the object of the sentence comes first and is, thus, highlighted. Sometimes passive voice makes sense, but depending on your writing patterns, you may be using it too often. Could active voice make your writing better?

9. Create a massive resource list around one of the questions you’re most commonly asked.

What is the one question you get the most?

Now imagine this: for every person who asks you this question, how many people have this question as well but have just not asked it?

Whatever that question may be, it makes a great topic for an ultimate resource guide/list about the topic. Think about everything a person needs to know about the topic. Don’t just answer their question. Go above and beyond to cover every detail. You want anyone who lands on this post to be dumbstruck at the valuable information they’ve learned.

Worried that the content is too much for a single post? Instead of creating just one post, create a series of posts, like the one I did about selling digital products (starting with this post). You can do a more formal series where you publish one post per day (or per week) or you can just slip posts in over the course of a few months then do a round-up of the posts at a later date.

As an added bonus, creating a massive resource list is good for SEO. Google has started ranking in-depth articles, but even if you don’t get picked up in this sense, common questions are often typed into search engines, and if your post is helpful, it will likely rank well for that search term.

10. Be helpful, above all.

One of the first things new bloggers learn is how important it is to be helpful. Help your readers and they will reward you ten times over. Help your peers and they will promote you. Help your customers and they’ll buy from you again and again.

But sometimes, in the long list of what we’re supposed to do as a blogger can cloud our judgment. We’re supposed to have a dynamic, clickable title. We’re supposed to use keywords to improve search engine optimization. We’re supposed to quote others in our niche or link to statistics that support our theories. We’re supposed to create pin-able images. We’re supposed to have a call to action at the end of the post. We’re supposed to…

I could go on and on. Above all, however, we’re supposed to be helpful in some way. You can be helpful in the traditional sense, where you’re actually teaching the reader how to do something, or you can be helpful in a less obvious way, by inspiring readers, helping them see the situation in a new way, or even entertaining them.

Before you hit that publish button, make sure your post is as helpful as it can possibly be about the topic you’ve covered. If it’s not, head back the drawing board.

What’s your best writing tip for advanced bloggers? Leave a comment!

Image credit: Bigstock (altered)

Rob Greenlee Announced As New CTO At PodcastOne


Longtime Podcasting veteran and pioneer Rob Greenlee was announced as the new CTO for PodcastOne this morning.  Rob has been a long time friend of and speaker at New Media Expo.

We see this is a significant move for PodcastOne just three short weeks away from CEO Norm Pattiz’s blockbuster keynote on The Future of Podcasting at #NMX.  Rob will be reporting directly to CEO Norm Pattiz who had this to say about the hire:

“No one knows more about podcasts than Rob Greenlee. Having him join our company is a huge boost to our brand, the credibility of the company and the future growth of the platform. We’re all very excited about adding Rob to the executive team at PodcastOne.“

Rob Greenlee has spent the last seven years overseeing the video and audio podcasts platform at Xbox Live, Windows Phone, and Zune as well as managing the business, content partner relations, around the podcasts platform service for Microsoft.

Rob Greenlee

Here is his quote from the official press release:

“I am excited to be joining PodcastOne and being offered the opportunity to help Norm and the  PodcastOne team build a great online entertainment brand that gives much value to audiences and advertisers, I see Norm Pattiz and PodcastOne’s entry into this space as a key catalyst to the recognition and respect this 10 year old medium deserves.”

During his keynote with Leo Laporte, and Stitcher CEO Noah Shanok, the PodcastOne founder threw out several tweetable comments that NMX attendees jumped on. A few examples include this tweet from Jane Boyd:

Radio should be afraid of staying the course. #nmx opening comment from morning keynote on the future of podcasting.

This from Holland Cooke:

@PodcastOne founder Norm Pattiz at #NMX:If I were Howard Stern, I would go to a subscription #podcasting model. Emulate #GlennBeck model.

And they really loved his shoes:

Great shoes Norman Pattiz @PodcastOne #NMX #nmxfashion pic.twitter.com/WiZN4u781g

The overall theme of Mr. Pattiz’s take on the future of podcasting was summerized in this comment tweeted by Justin Wise:

“We’re not worried about what the podcast industry has been, we’re focused on what it’s going to be.” – Norm Pattiz #NMX

PodcastOne’s hiring of Rob Greenlee today is evidence that they are indeed looking to the future of podcasting.

Content Marketing in 2014: Trends You Need to Understand to be Successful


bigstock-new-year---next-and-previou-48446960 Last year around this time, I deemed 2013 the “year of content marketing” and I think I was right. Content marketing has existed for a lot longer than a year, but in 2013, this form of connecting with customers and promoting your business exploded. Today, it seems like every small business, large corporation, and even solo entrepreneur is talking about content strategy.

But the internet stands about as still as a troupe of river dancers. Let’s take a look at major trends in content marketing and what you need to know to succeed in 2014.

Trend #1: Mobile is where it’s at.

According to reports, 22% of the world’s population now owns a smartphone, up from just 5% in 2009. Of course, in many countries those rates are even higher; some companies even have an over 100% subscription rate, meaning that many people have more than one smart phone.

Admit it: you would break out in a cold sweat if you lost your phone. Actually, most of us would feel sick if we just forgot our phones at home. We live and die by our phones, sad as that may be.

So, if your content isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing out on a huge market. A huge, geeky, obsessed market. Do you have a responsive blog theme or a mobile website? What about an app? How do your readers interact with your content via their mobile devices?

Get ahead of the curve. Don’t just make your content mobile friendly. Customize it for the mobile audience to make the experience as good as possible for your mobile users. If you go above and beyond to provide a great user experience, you’ll outpace your competitors. The sad fact is, most content creators are still doing the bare minimum when it comes to creating mobile content.

Trend #2: Content curation is as important as content creation.

Over the past few months, one phrase has popped up on my radar more and more: Miley Cyrus

Just kidding. The phrase I’m really talking about is content curation.

No matter how big your content creation team, you can’t keep up with consumption. That’s where content curation comes in. Your audience doesn’t want to know you as just the person (or company) creating great content. They also want to know you as the person (or company) recommending great content.

If you’re afraid of promoting your “competitors,” you’re thinking about the situation incorrectly. When you share someone’s great content, you get some of the credit, even though you weren’t the creator. You build your brand as the expert in your niche/industry. You do have to be careful with what you promote (you don’t want to send customers away), but don’t be so scared that you only promote your own content. A true leader in content marketing curates as well as creates.

Trend #3: Having a Director of Content on your team is increasingly important.

As your business continues to create more and more content, it will become important to have someone on your team who will manage it all. Your Director of Content should have a diverse set of skills, in order to be able to both create content and come up with a strategy for your content that makes sense for your business goals. This person should also work closely with (if not oversee) your social media team and email marketing team, and they should have open lines of communication with all departments in your business. I recommend hiring someone with the ability to time travel if you can, but content marketing is a big, time-consuming job.

In 2014, I believe it will also become increasingly important to boost your Director of Content’s budget so they can pay for contributors and designers. I know a lot of businesses who aren’t spending much on content beyond their Director of Content’s salary. While there are sources of free content out there, the right Director of Content can stretch even a small budget to give you an amazing return.

Is your business too small for a Director of Content? Then you Director of Marketing better have a strong, strong grasp on content marketing.

Trend #4: Guest posting is bouncing back in new ways.

Over the last three years, guest posting went through some weird transitions. Three years ago, as a freelancer, I had clients knocking down my doors to pay me to publish guest posts on others’ sites on their behalf. Then, things changed. Too many low-quality writers inundated the blogosphere, and most bloggers couldn’t keep up with requests, most of which were for crap posts that didn’t add anything of value to the blog. On top of that, readers began to cry foul as some bloggers published more guest posts than posts of their own.

Many blogs locked down like Fort Knox, no longer accepting unsolicited guest posts. Some blogs decided not to accept guest posts at all. But in the last few months, I’ve seen a bit of a shift. Bloggers are not on guest post lock down like they have been in the past, but what they’re looking for is changing. It isn’t just about quality content anymore. It’s about filling a gap.

No blogger can be an expert on every topic in their niche. So, many bloggers are extremely receptive (and in some cases actively looking for) people who can write about topics where their own knowledge is weak. In my experiences, bloggers are even looking for monthly contributors, not just one-time guest posters.  If you want to make guest posting part of your content marketing strategy for 2014, start looking for those gaps and pitch bloggers on filling them.

Trend #5: The best content is entertaining, not just educational.

In past, we’ve drawn lines in the sand. This content was entertaining. That content was educational. Increasingly, though, I think readers are demanding both.

Entertaining doesn’t mean your blog has to be ha-ha, laugh-out-loud funny, but it does mean that you have to have a little special sauce spread on your posts. Maybe you add some personal stories to help people understand a point. Maybe you improve your writing to add some clever phrases. Maybe it means that you aren’t afraid to be a little goofy sometimes.

I used to say “it depends on your niche” but I don’t think that’s the case any longer. I think your educational posts have to have a little pizazz. Boring content just isn’t cutting it anymore.

So there you have it, my top five trends for content marketing in 2014. What trends do you see for content marketing this year?

Image Credit: Bigstock

How to Optimize Your Author Bio

anonymity on the internet

anonymity on the internet Contributing to blogs is a good way to get your name out there, promote your current projects, and draw traffic back to your site. But not all guest posts are created equal.

If you aren’t optimizing the author bio you get when writing for another site, you might be missing out on traffic and quite possibly, revenue. Here are a few ways to get the most out of your author bio.

Decide on a Format for Your Name

Since you want to start building value around your name, you should pick a format for your name and stick with it. While this might seem fairly obvious, there are a few factors you should consider.

Do you want to use your entire name? Will you select a format for your name that you will keep even if you get married or legally change your name? Do you want to use a pseudonym and keep your real name private?

Don’t think about it too hard, but consider it before you pitch.

Set Up Google Authorship

Also, before you start pitching for contributing opportunities, make sure that your Google Authorship is set up. A big reason why you are guest blogging is to increase the authority of your Authorship. So set up your account first.

  1. Sign up for a Google account. (You more than likely have this already.)
  2. Set up a Google+ account. (This will be synched with your Google account.)
  3. Optimize your Google+ account by completing your profile. (Make sure to add the headshot.)
  4. Add sites that you contribute to. (In your profile you can add links to your author page.)

Google Authorship can be a little confusing, so make sure that you know how to link Authorship through both of Google’s two methods.

Add Links to Social Sites that Matter

In your author bio, it is not necessary to link to every social site that you belong too. Instead, link to the social sites that matter most to business and online authority.

Always link to your Google+ account. This will help trigger your Authorship value, so always use your name as anchor text and link back to your profile page.

Always link to your Twitter account. By including your Twitter handle, you are giving the audience a way to reach out to you as well as giving them your information if they decide to tweet out your article and give you credit.

Sometimes link to your LinkedIn profile. If you are writing in a space that is closely tied to your business, you may want to consider adding a link to your LinkedIn profile as it is a good way to connect with potential clients.

Never link to your Facebook profile. Most of the online world considers Facebook a more personal social platform, so you can leave this one out.

Keep It Short and Sweet

Before you send over you author bio, look around the site and consider the average length of other author bios. Unless you see other authors consistently using long bios, keep yours to about 3-4 sentences.

Anything shorter than that doesn’t say enough. Anything longer, says too much.

Consider the Site’s Audience

Before you go cramming your author bio with links to all of your past, present, and future projects, take a minute to consider what the site’s audience will be most interested in.

If you have a lot of projects and are frequently contributing to sites in a variety of industries, start a list of your projects and note which project is best for which type of audience. That way you can quickly and easily select the project that would most benefit the audience of your latest guest post.

Link to Your Website and Blog

This is probably the most important elements of your author bio. Never forget to link back to your blog, website, and professional portfolio. That link will offer value in terms of traffic sent by readers as well as increased optimization in search through backlinks.

This is a big reason why you are guest posting and contributing in the first place. So don’t forget it.

Show Your Personality

If you have additional space in your author bio after you have added all of the essential elements, go ahead and add a sentence that showcases your personality. Readers like to see real people so mention a hobby, a pet, or an unusual fact that gives readers a look at the person behind the byline.

Ask for a Revision

If you have contributed posts in the past without following these rules, don’t fret. Most publishers are pretty easy going when it comes to revising author bios for their writers. Making a simple request won’t hurt as long as you don’t rush them to change it.

So before you send that next guest post, make sure that your ‘about me’ is optimized to get you the best bang for your bio. How are you using guest posting and author bios to help build your brand?


12 Reasons Why Your Blog Hasn’t Made You a Millionaire…Yet


reasons blog millionaire

A few months ago, we published an infographic highlighting the top young entrepreneurs who have made millions online. Believe it or not, this list doesn’t just include social network owners (like Mark Zuckerberg) and eccommerce business owners. Bloggers were also represented on this list of millionaires.

The next time your parents tell you to “get a real job,” just show them the potential!

That said, if your bank account looks anything like mine, you’re not at that million dollar point…yet. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a more advanced blogger, there are reasons you might have gotten derailed on your way to that million-dollar mark.

If you’re a beginning blogger, here are the main ways you’re sabotaging your efforts to become the next online millionaire someday:

1. You have a traffic problem.

Hands down, the biggest reason that most bloggers don’t make a full-time living with their blogs is that they don’t have the traffic to support it. Making money is always a numbers game. If you have 500 people walk into your jewelry store, you’re going to typically make more sales if you have 20 people walk into your jewelry store. More traffic is better! If you’re wondering what you can do to build your traffic, I recommend getting started with this post: 58 Ways to Get Noticed as a New Blogger

You also need the right kind of numbers. Even if you do have 500 people walk into your jewelry store, but none of them are interested in buying jewelry, you’re not going to sell anything. The same is true of your blog. While you want more traffic, you also want relevant traffic (i.e., traffic from people who are interested in your content and want to buy whatever you’re selling).

2. You don’t invest in your blog.

Blogging is so attractive in part because you can get started without a huge investment. But the truth is, as your blog starts to grow, going for all of the free options isn’t the best choice.

Sure, you can go for a free blog hosted by WordPress, Blogger, or another platform, but if you pay for blog hosting, you have more freedom to make money on your own terms.

Sure, you can install a free theme, but unless you have the time and skills to fully customize it, you’re not going to have as many options, nor will you have the SEO benefits you get with a premium theme.

Sure, you can install only free plugins, but there are also several premium plugins that you can purchase to increase the functionality of your blog.

I might be biased, but I fully believe that investing in education like conferences and online courses are imperative to your continued growth.

If you spend money on your blog the smart way, you’re going to see a return on your investment. Here are the top five ways I recommend spending money on your blog.

3. You’re trying to do everything yourself.

There are 168 hours in a week. If you work full time, that takes up about 40 hours, plus about 5 “lunch” hours while you’re at work. If you sleep 6-8 hours per night, that’s an average of around 50 hours. If you spend an around hour in the morning getting ready and eating breakfast, and around an hour eating diner, that’s  about 15 hours.

Which means you’re left with 50-60 hours per week to potentially work on your blog. I say potentially because you and I both know how much time it takes to deal with chores and yard work, grocery/clothes shopping, family obligations, and errands. My estimate is that the average person who also works really has 10-20 hours per week to spend blogging, if they don’t have any other hobbies or small children.

That’s 2-3 hours per day. Tops.

Millionaires in any industry have teams working with them to help make their business a success. This goes along with investing in your blog – if you want to start growing and making more money, you have to start hiring help. Otherwise, you’re going to hit a ceiling where it’s just not possible to make more money because you’ve run out of hours in the day.

Hopefully, before you hit that point, you’ll be able to quit your job to blog full time. But even then, you can’t magically create more hours in a day. You will need to start hiring a team. If you don’t, and try to do everything yourself, you’ll ultimately be capped by time.

4. You have nothing to sell.

Lots of bloggers get started making money with affiliate programs, sponsored posts, PPC programs, and ad spots on their sidebar. But with all of these money-making options, you’re only making a percentage of the total the sell price. A percentage is better than nothing, but what if you could be making that entire amount (or at least a much bigger percentage).

The key is to figure out a pain point for your audience and come up with something to solve it. For example, say you blog about personal finance. Your audience’s pain point might be not understanding how to best invest their money. If you write an ebook that solves this problem by teaching people how to get started investing, your audience will respond.

Something import to remember: what you think your audience needs might now be what they actually need. In our examples as a personal finance blogger, maybe the problem isn’t that your audience doesn’t know how to invest, but rather that they don’t know how to budget so they have money every month to use for investing. Or maybe the problem is that they know the basics of investing, but lack the motivation. Before you create a product to sell, consider polling your audience and doing some research to find out more about your community. That way, you can create a product they’ll actually buy.

5. You’re in writer mode, not business mode.

I am a content creator first and foremost. I think I do have business skills as well, but my perfect job would just be writing all day. I think a lot of other bloggers out there are similar. That’s why we blog: we love to write.

The problem is that writing alone doesn’t make you any money. You have to charge people to read it in some way, whether that is directly (selling books, for example) or indirectly (through ads on your free content).

Humans, I’ve found, tend to read about topics they enjoy. So, if you’re a writer, you probably read a lot about writing and how to write better. Continue to do that – master you craft. But also read about the business side of things. Learn as much as you can about marketing, about sales, about the ins and outs of running a business. If you can, even consider taking some business classes at a local community college. Get yourself into business mode.

The bonus? Because you are a writer, you are a naturally creative person, and that’s a skill you can’t teach. Lots of business people would love to have your creative skills! So you’re starting with an advantage. You just have to put a little effort into learning about the business side of things.

6. You haven’t networked with other top bloggers.

When I first started blogging, I was scared to reach out to other bloggers. I’m a naturally introverted person, so even online, I don’t go out of my way to meet new people. I would always worry that people would find me annoying or silly.

But you know what? If you’re networking for the right reasons – to be helpful and make friends – no one will mind your communications. In fact, most people welcome them. I love to get emails and tweets from people who enjoy my work or just want to get to know me.

By networking with top bloggers in person (when possible) and online, you’re connecting with people who can also help you build your blog traffic – and remember, traffic is the number one reason you’re not a millionaire. By building real relationships, people will naturally want to promote you, which is good for both direct traffic and for SEO.

7. Your content is still “beginner level.”

There’s something to be said for creating content for beginners. Actually, I think blogs primarily for beginners can be wildly successful. But are you a beginner? If so, you’re going to have a much harder time making money.

By this, I mean:

  • Are you new to your niche, without much experience in the topic?
  • Do you use works like “maybe” and “I think” a lot, displaying a lack of confidence?
  • Are your posts basic information found on several other websites, instead of insightful in some way?
  • Do you fail to link to other posts to support what you are writing?
  • Is your writing level sub-par?

I believe that it is impossible to teach the raw talent that natural writers have, but you can learn to become a better writer. Like I mentioned earlier, go out there and master your craft.

This is important for making money for two reasons. First, whether your reader is a beginner or advanced, they want to buy from an expert. It’s hard to position yourself as an expert if your writing isn’t great. Second, you’re going to get more traffic if your posts are amazing. People share posts that are awesome, not posts that are just okay.

8. You aren’t supporting your community.

When I was a kid, my parents owned a small business (a deli and butcher shop to be exact). On the counter, they always had a can of lollipops for the kids, and the parents really appreciated it. It gave the kids a little treat, something to keep them occupied while their parents took care of business.

My parents didn’t make money directly through the lollipops, but it contributed to their support of the community. It became a tradition for many families to stop once a week, pick up their fresh meats, and get the kids a lolly.

How are you supporting your community?

Let’s face it: there are hundreds if not thousands of other blogs in your niche they could be reading, and quality alone isn’t enough to set you apart, because the Internet is full of great writers. You have to go above and beyond.

If you do, they’ll go from being readers to fans, and it’s much easier to convert a fan into a customer than it is to convert a one-time reader into a customer.

9. You don’t care about SEO.

I’ve made the mistake of thinking that SEO doesn’t matter. “The best SEO is great content!” I would preach. And while I still believe that to be true, over the last year, I’ve made some minor tweaks to my SEO strategy and they’ve made all the difference. You’ll never read a post of mine that is stuffed with keywords unnaturally or written for search engines and not people. But the optimization is there, and it’s cause my traffic to increase.

Which, again, causes your income to increase as well.

SEO is a pain in the butt. People devote their entire lives to SEO, and when Google makes a change, we have to throw what we know out the door and start over again. But the basics do not change, and will help you create better content. Google’s entire goal is to reward good content, and if you start to play by their rules, they’ll understand that your content is good and start sending more search traffic your way.

10. You care too much about SEO.

Just like it’s a mistake to not care about SEO, it’s also a mistake to care too much. I’ve seen sites that are clearly optimized, and while the content is great from an educational standpoint, there is no soul behind it.

Your writing voice and style both matter. SEO brings people to your site, but you keep them there. That’s why a blogger like Jenny Lawson has a huge community of readers despite not optimizing her posts for search engines. Let your personality shine through, so you’re giving readers a reason to become a fan of your blog and a customer of your products.

11. You aren’t giving people what they want.

Remember when I talked about polling your audience to see what then want? Yeah, that’s a biggie. Your content needs to give people what they want or they sure as heck won’t want to buy anything from you or click on any ads.

The best way to give people what you want is to start with a well defined audience. Who exactly are you trying to reach? Think about your readers’ experience levels, sense of humor, income level, gender, and other demographics. A trick I learned from Darren Rowse is to actually write out the bio of a few of your readers. John Doe is a 50-year-old math teacher who enjoys playing the guitar and is reading your food blog to learn how to cook quick meals for his kids. Jane Smith is a 21-year-old college drop out with a strong work ethic who is reading your marketing blog to learn more about finding more customers for the bakery she recently started.

Keep in mind that what people want and what people need are two different things. People often don’t realize what they need, they only know what they want (i.e. what they think they need). When it comes to your free content, give them exactly what they need. Surprise and delight people with information they didn’t even know they needed. But when it comes to selling content? Need might not cut it.

People are usually not willing to drop money when they don’t know they need a product. People buy what they want because they think it is what they need. That doesn’t mean you should give your readers products that are unhelpful, but think about want and need when you are packaging your products.

12. You have no list.

Lastly, one of the biggest mistakes I see bloggers make is not giving people the ability to sign up for your mailing list. Having a robust mailing list can do wonders for your bottom line.

The fact of the matter is that you can’t rely on people to read you blog every single time there is a new post. Some people will, but more often, you’ll get readers who are busy and unable to keep up with all of the great content in their feed readers. If you don’t have a mailing list, you’ll have absolutely no way of reaching those people other than crossing your fingers and hoping they see your newest post.

A mailing list allows you to not only send traffic to your blog by reminding them to read your content, but it also allows you to promote affiliate sales, talk about new products you’re launching, and even sell services like consulting and freelance writing. If you aren’t already building a list, get that set up immediately and start emailing subscribers. Your bank account will thank you!

What changes are you going to make during 2014 (and beyond) to help you make more money as a blogger?

Image credit (altered): Bigstock

Six New Years Resolutions for Small Businesses (That You Can Do Right Now)


Is it too soon to be sick of 2014 predictions, resolutions, and assorted New Year’s fodder? Wait, don’t answer that until you read this post. Here are the top six things you can do right now and be done with your list (until 2015 anyway):

1. Get Mobile

Obvious? Yes. Have you done it? Maybe not. Whatever your business model—from consultant to small business—it’s easier than ever to adopt a responsive design to ensure viewers experience an optimized view of your website. In fact, the majority of templates these days have these capabilities already built in, just make sure yours is or can be adjusted it on-the-fly (WordPress makes it easy). Remember, mobile viewers no longer tolerate sites that are difficult to navigate, slow-loading, or result in irksome moments. You can’t afford to lose them in 2014, so don’t.

Shortcut: If you’re not familiar with responsive design, or want to learn how to trick out your site to accommodate mobile viewers, check out an everything responsive design site.

2. Refresh Your Social Media Presence

If you’re like me, your social networks are live, well, and blasting out content on a regular basis. But how often do you check your business description, followers (and those you are following), and general housekeeping of your social media? Strangely, these are the items that get put on the back burner, even though they’re the first impression people get of your brand. Why not check, edit, and improve for a coordinated effort?

Shortcut: It’s unnecessary to create separate versions of social network descriptions based on differing word counts (always tempting to reach the word count, isn’t it?). Instead use a crisp, concise summary for all networks (Bonus: You’ll never have to worry about one being outdated from another. Consistency is underrated).  

3. Set Up Meetings With Prime Customers and Prospects

You might think the beginning of the year is the worst time to get in touch with customers who are just coming back to work. In reality, this is the best time to reach out. With most people still on a “holiday high”, you can snap up their attention for a quick chat, formal meeting, or lunch date. Once 2014 gets underway, they’ll be too busy with other priorities.

Shortcut: Take a cue from the sales playbook. Offer a specific date and time rather than asking the other party to supply one. People are much more likely to accept or counter with another date. Open-ended offers, on the other hand, are more likely to be put off or ignored.

4. Slot in Conferences, Vacations, and Time Off

Anyone who knows me can vouch for the fact that I’m not a big vacation planner. The reason is simple: When you’re a consultant, you never know when client projects will get you in a pinch (not to mention the ever-present desire to keep the revenue stream flowing). Whether you have an online business, brick-and-mortar store, or consulting service, your busy times likely fluctuate by seasons, holidays, or by client activities. Mine this information at the beginning of the year and allot your time off. It may seem like a risky move, but planned events are 99% more likely to happen if you…plan them. It will ultimately save time, money, and headaches. Remember why you made the choice to go into business for yourself. You don’t work for “The Man”; you work for YOU. Go ahead and take that vacay or staycay!

Shortcut: Take another cue from the sales playbook. Ping your clients about their plans for next year (it also makes you look proactive and an excuse to get in touch). For retail businesses, study the purchasing schedules of seasonal, big-ticket, and regular customers, or conduct a quick online survey to find out buying patterns.

5. Be Ahead of The Curve

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made recommendations to clients based on an understanding of what’s coming next in their industry, a new marketing tactic, or other valuable information I’ve discovered. Sure, they may be familiar with some of these ideas already, but the fact that I can confirm this also validates their choice to hire me in the first place. Not surprisingly, I often get my best info by setting up an organized curating system. Whether it’s making recommendations to retail customers or  clients, they will thank you for it.

Shortcut: Google Alerts is not the only game in town. Check out these newer, customizable site and article curation services, or do a test run to see which ones you like.

6. Consolidate Your Marketing Resources

Say you’re doing email campaigns four times a year, pushing out social media content twice a week, and managing a monthly blog. That’s a lot to maintain, organize, and publish; plus you need to review analytics to determine the best performers. Though I’ve always valued  articles and resources from Hubspot, it took client access for me to discover the power of their marketing dashboard. Still, they can be quite expensive for a small business. For those who view HubSpot as the equivalent of the Microsoft Evil Empire, there are many alternatives, some free (but don’t expect the bells and whistles).

Shortcut: Truth be told, making a move like this is time-consuming. Consider adding capabilities to your marketing operations web site or software once a month. You don’t have to do the whole enchilada at one time, but at least make that first step.

Bonus: Add a Resolution Wild Card: We all have something to do for our business, but often we don’t have the time, resources, or budget to pull it off. We tend to get overwhelmed with the anticipation, or we get busy with other things, or both. But think of your own wish that you want to do…and do it!

What’s your first New Year’s resolution for your business?

And The Winner’s Are… 9th Annual Podcast Awards


It’s time again for the annual Podcast Awards! The ballots have been counted. The awards have been handed out. Your 2013 winners are…

  • Best Video Podcast: Rob Has a Podcast
  • Business: NPR Planet Money Podcast
  • Comedy: The Morning Stream
  • Cultural/Arts: This American Life
  • Education: Grammar Girl
  • Entertainment: The “Walking Dead” Cast
  • Food and Drink: The Beerists
  • Gaming: The Rooster Teeth Podcast
  • General: Internet Box Podcast
  • GLBT: Throwing Shade
  • Health/Fitness: The Fat-Burning Man Show
  • Mature: Savage Lovecast
  • Movies/Films: Film Sack
  • PodSafe Music: Coverville
  • Politics/News: The Majority Report with Sam Seder
  • Religion Inspiration: Mormon Fair-Cast
  • Science: Radiolab
  • Sports: ESPN Fantasy Focus Baseball Podcast
  • Technology: Tech News Today
  • Travel: WDW Radio
  • Best Produced: Rob Has a Podcast
  • People’s Choice: The Morning Stream

Congrats to all of the nominees and winners – and thank you to all the fans out there who voted!!!

People Vote With Their Wallets. Period. (Platinum Sponsor Post)

In 1994 I wrote a script for a twenty eight minute video. To produce the video it cost me $10,000. The video generated over $120,000,000.00 in revenue. Yes, that’s millions. Approximately 20% of that went directly into my pocket.
If you are a writer, blogger, podcaster or producer you need to read this article.If you haven’t figured it out already, I wrote an infomercial. Before you scoff, before you dismiss me and skip this article let me ask you a question. If you knew that people would pay you based on their level of enjoyment of your content would you survive the cut? The more they liked you the more they paid. The less they liked you to less they paid. What if they hated you and you had to pay them? That is the cold, hard truth of how the world really functions.I must admit, I have a very unfair advantage. I am a hypnotist. Not just any hypnotist. The media calls me the greatest hypnotist of all time. I know how the mind operates and I know what causes a person to do what they do. I not only hypnotized my wife to fall in love with me I also hypnotized her to give drugless, painless birth to our two sons at home in the bath tub with no doctors present. When I write copy I hypnotize people to buy my products and when I speak I hypnotize people to run to the back of the room to invest in themselves and my programs.I am very up front and honest about it. My wife will tell you she knew I hypnotized her from the moment we met. She will tell you she’s glad I did. My fans and customers keep coming back for more because their lives have been made better by what I hypnotized them to buy. I hypnotize my son’s on a daily basis to adjust their behaviors so they can live a more full and joyful life. Everybody wins.

Media, whether terrestrial or digital is one of the most hypnotic forms of communication on the planet. With so many choices in media both online and off, it’s essential that you structure your content in a way that not only keeps your audience engaged it also must cause them to take a new action. Whether it’s buying your products or visiting your advertisers sites, or taking some new action.

When I created my infomercial “Passion, Profit and Power!” I knew that I wasn’t only competing with other infomercials. I knew I was competing with all other TV programming. I knew I was competing with print, radio, board games, and any other activity my consumer could choose. You see, the human condition is such that it will always choose the path of least resistance. That’s how people form habits that they know are horrible and still have such a hard time stopping.

All buying decisions are based first on emotion and then backed up with logic. A buying decision isn’t just the choice to make a purchase. A buying decision is any choice. Choosing to subscribe to your blog, choosing to recommend you to friends, choosing to come back again and again are all buying decisions.

If you adhere to a simple formula, you will dramatically increase both your audience and your revenue.

I described this formula during the NMX Hangout with CoachDeb. Watch this now:
I call the formula “E3”. Entertain, Educate, Empower.First Entertain. Funny means money. The highest paid television and movie actors are always comics. Laughter and the joy it brings are highly desirable experiences for most healthy people. When you can make someone laugh you will hold their attention. At the same time any emotional experience will engage people and keep them engaged since human beings are motion junkies. In my infomercial I showed clips of people walking on broken glass, breaking bricks with their bare hands, eating fire and getting hypnotized to do the most amazing things. I knew if I created a show that they would come back and watch again and again eventually they would buy from me.Second Educate. To be an authority you must establish competence. Give your audience useful knowledge that they can not only use, give them information that firmly positions you as an expert. If you don’t believe that your material is content rich enough, come see me, there’s a hypnotist for that.Thirdly Empower. If they are simply entertained and don’t take a new action then you are missing the mark. To create evangelical customers, fans and followers you must alter, add to and improve the quality of their lives. What’s the outcome? What’s the new habit or action? Did you empower them to change their lives, buy your product or spread your message to others? If so, grand slam, out of the park, home run.

I will be entertaining at NMX LIVE! on Saturday night at 8pm. My hypnotic show will have you laughing until you hurt and gasping in amazement. On Sunday at 4:30pm I will be keynoting and teaching you how to massively monetize your online content and more. Plus I am going to be giving away tens of thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. See you at NMX LIVE!


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