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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

Going Viral: Learn How to Write Popular Posts from This Blogger’s Success


Paula Pant Going viral: we all want it, yet it seems impossible to achieve unless you’re already a popular blogger. What about up-and-comers? Do we have any chance of hitting that traffic jackpot with one of our posts?

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to Paula Pant about how she writes popular posts. Paula will be speaking about the art of jaw-dropping content at NMX 2014 (get your tickets here). Here’s a little preview of what you can expect at the show:

Allison: What has been your most popular post of all time and why do you think it was?

Paula: My most popular post is one that I think the NMX community would also love: Stop Crying That There Are No Jobs. Create One.

I wrote this post after speaking back-to-back at two conferences: one for journalists, and one for bloggers.

I felt that many of the people I met at the journalism conference were feeling pessimistic about the future. Newsrooms were on hiring freezes, were laying off their reporters, or were shutting down entirely. Major newspapers like the Rocky Mountain News had recently collapsed. There was an undercurrent of “we’re screwed.”

Then I went to a blogger conference. Most of the people there had no formal training in writing or storytelling. But they were ultra-optimistic about the future. They spotted online opportunity everywhere they looked.

I’m a journalist-turned-blogger, and I write about shattering limits, ditching the cubicle, and living life on your own terms. My readers are the type of people who refuse to get confined by limits. If no one will create a job for them, they’ll create one for themselves. That’s the Afford Anything way of life.

You write so many awesome posts – what do you think it was about this one in particular that resonated with so many people?

I’ve intentionally cultivated a readership that loves the idea of entrepreneurship, location independence, freedom, and controlling your destiny. The themes of this post fit my readership perfectly, and I used storytelling as my tool to illustrate that theme.

This isn’t an instructional post — it’s a motivational post — but not in the cliche-drenched, “rah-rah” cheerleader sense of the word. It motivates through telling a true-life story, not through reiterating feel-good slogans. Storytelling is our most primal form of linguistic communication; even young children love hearing stories.

How did you come up with a title for your post? Do you think that the controversial message contributed to the popularity?

Prior to this article, I wrote gentle headlines. The headline of this particular article is far more “in-your-face” than what I usually wrote.

After I saw it’s success, I began writing more controversial and opinionated headlines, such as “Quit Thinking About Consumption. Start Thinking About Creation,” and “The Rebel with a Retirement Plan.”

Popular posts are great, but as we all know, readers’ attention spans are limited. How do you keep people engaged after reading the post instead of bouncing onto the next thing?

I keep a call-to-action at the bottom of each blog post, encouraging readers to join my email list. After all, my goal is list-building, not just pageviews. I also internally link from the article to numerous other articles, use the nRelate plugin and the LinkWithin widget, and keep a list of my most popular posts on the right-hand sidebar site-wide. Lately I’ve also started using Opt In Monster to increase my list sign-ups, as well. I’ve been pleased to see that I consistently have strong metrics in average time-on-site and pages-per-visit.

When you were writing this post, did you have any idea how popular it would be? Or did it surprise you?

I had no idea that this post would become so popular. To be perfectly honest, I feel as though I’ve written plenty of posts that are better than this one. But my readers seem to adopt a different view.

I’ve found, in general, that the posts that become most popular catch me off-guard. I’ve learned to stop making any predictions about which posts will leap to the top of my most popular list. Instead, I focus more on the process — writing top-notch posts — and allow the results to unfold as they will.

Thanks, Paula, for a great interview! Remember, you can grab a ticket to see Paula speak live at NMX 2014. Make sure you’re in the audience to ask her any questions you might have about writing great content that goes viral!

How to Partner with Brands to Host Events


carol cain Looking for a unique way to monetize your blog? Tap into your influence! Brands are looking for bloggers who can host events, and one of our 2014 speakers, Carol Cain, has experience doing this. She was generous enough to share some of her tips and experiences working with brands to host events. Check out her advice:

I first started hosting events early in my blogging career, but after I had established myself as a local expert in my city (New York). I was able to leverage my experience and knowledge of the city as a destination and partner with attractions who wanted to reach out to a larger audience, in the most effective way possible. I would partner with local businesses and host Twitter parties and small media gatherings that would deliver the exposure they wanted, but also introduced them to a new group of influencers.

One of my most successful events was a brunch I hosted at the end of a blogging conference, off property, at a Loew’s Hotel in NYC. I partnered with RedPointPR, who represented the hotel at the time and also with Chevy/GM, who offered transportation to guests from the conference site to the event site. That event not only connected media with brands, exposed them to the hotel executives and provided everyone with a networking opportunity, but also reached an audience of over half a million on Twitter. Not to mention, the event was beautifully done.

The key has always been to choose the correct brand image and message as it relates to my own brand and message, over the money.

I also add value to my brand and influence by connecting businesses with opportunities that are not a good fit [for me], with bloggers and media who would be a better fit through references. I don’t make any money doing this, but it adds value in that is continues to support my role as a “expert” for lack of a better word in the space. Part of building a reliable brand and trusted reputation in a way that would bring financial opportunities is not totally wrapped around oneself. A valuable blogger is also one who can serve as a resource and connector to others. This also requires careful consideration, as these referrals are based on trust and confidence in delivery.

Thanks for the advice, Carol! Here are a few more tips for successfully hosting brand events:

  • Make sure you’re not breaking any rules. Often, brands want to host networking receptions and cocktail parties in conjunction with other events, like conference and trade shows. If this is the case, make sure you’re following event rules about outboarding. Don’t jeopardize your relationship with the event to work with a brand that is breaking these rules.
  • Set expectations before the event. It goes without saying that you should have a clear contract with the brand that outlines everything you will be doing before, during, and after the event. But also go a little further and have a conversation about expectations down to the last detail. What are the client’s goals? What do they hope to see from you? Why are they working with you instead of another influencer? For example, your contract might say that you’re going to tweet during the event. Are they expected pre-scheduled tweets so you can spend more time talking to guests? Are they expecting you to tweet pictures? Are they expecting you to use a certain hashtag?
  • Have a backup plan. With live events, nothing ever goes off without a hitch. What if your guest of honor misses his/her connecting flight and doesn’t make it? What if it is snowed out? What if the venue has a problem and cancels the day before? The list of what-ifs is never ending, and you don’t want to pay (or rather…not get paid) for circumstances that are out of your control. Make sure there is a backup plan discussed for postponed or cancelled events so you aren’t left standing without any options.

Have you ever hosted an event in conjunction with a brand? What are your best tips for making sure it goes smoothly?

Introducing the .ME Loyalty Program: Awesome rewards from .ME to you! (Sponsored Post)


NMX December blog post_ME

For over ?ve years, the .ME domain has been the perfect virtual home for talented bloggers looking to personalize their online presence. We are therefore extremely excited to be back in our NMX booth for the opportunity to interact with some of the best and most promising bloggers, from all over the world.

We have developed a wonderful relationship with the NMX family over the years, and have enjoyed seeing the conference blossom and evolve, always at the cutting edge of digital content delivery. Having attended fantastic keynotes year after year, and having seen the work of talented bloggers that came to our booth, we truly have a special appreciation for the effort it takes to produce relevant content of outstanding quality, gain readership and be consistent about maintaining your blog while, oftentimes, juggling other commitments. Blogging is truly a labor of love, and can only be done if backed by great passion – the kind that can overcome burnout, blank page terror and procrastination fairies (yes, these are real. It’s been scientifically proven).

This is exactly the kind of passion we admire, and to honor the wonderful bloggers that are a part of the .me family, we are proud to introduce the .ME Loyalty Program. The platform, which will be available as of January 2014, is an exciting way to collect points and redeem rewards for showing your love for .ME. Rewards include T-shirts, domain name and hosting packages, gift card vouchers and much more!

It’s incredibly easy – all you have to do is:

  1. Sign up at http://dot.me
  2. Collect points
  3. Redeem rewards

Join the conversation, spread the word, bring your friends and become eligible for awesome perks and prizes!

You can join the .ME Loyalty Program during NMX by signing up with Facebook, and using the #domainME hashtag. We would also like to invite everyone attending NMX to stop by booth number 607 to chat with us, pose for personalized photos and take home awesome swag that we’ve designed for the blogger on the go.

For more information about the platform and program, follow our social media channels and keep an eye out for announcements:

We appreciate your support and hard work, and are looking forward to being able to give back to our outstanding community. Become a part of it today and help us make the Internet more personal!

17 Brilliant Bloggers – Blogging During the Holidays


Brilliant Bloggers is a bi-weekly series here at NMX where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every other week, we’ll feature a brilliant blogger, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Blogging During the Holidays

Blogging during the holidays. Are you excited about it? Or do you dread trying to keep up with it? There are many ways to handle blogging during the holiday from refraining from blogging altogether to just writing a fluff post every day. Neither of these is a great idea if you are really building a business.  We found some bloggers who have really great ideas to help you out.

The following list of brilliant blog posts will give you some practical help. And don’t forget to check out our own post about how to effectively schedule blog posts.

Brilliant Blogger of the Week:

  MelACulbertson 4 Steps to Prepare Your Blog for the Holiday Season By Melissa Culbertson

This is a complete guide to blogging during the holidays, with Melissa covering everything from planning your content to editing older holiday posts to writing gift guides. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with blogging this holiday season, check out Melissa’s advice.

Don’t forget to follow her on Twitter at @MelACulbertson when you’re done reading!

Even More Brilliant Advice:

  1. 4 Ways To Blog And Brag About Your Business On Holidays By Ryan Rivera (@ryan_rivera)
  2. 5 Tips to Help You Blog During the Holidays By Ginny Soskey (@gsosk)
  3. 5 Ways to Make the Most of Blogging Over the Holidays By The SitsGirls (@SITSGirls)
  4. Blogging During the Holidays By Emmanuel Banks (@techwalls)
  5. Blogging During the Holidays By Heidi (@TheBloggerBabes)
  6. Blogging through the holidays – and how to keep going without becoming overwhelmed By Paula Rollo (@Paula_Rollo)
  7. Enjoying the Holidays By Allison (@LifesaBowl)
  8. Holiday Blogging: Two Essential Ideas to get You Started By Ashley Robison
  9. Holidays Ahead: Keep Updating Your Website and Blog  By Aaron Hockley  (@ahockley)
  10. How Podcasting Breaks and Frequency Affect Subscribers By Daniel J. Lewis (@TheRamenNoodle)
  11. How to Blog During the Holidays  By Bethy Jones (@bethythewriter)
  12. How to Keep Your Blog From Losing Weight During the Holidays   By Taylor Lindstrom (@GoodInkInc)
  13. How To Make Money Blogging During the Holidays By Taylor Davies (@shutupilovethat)
  14. How to Motivate Yourself to Work During the Holidays By Alyson Stanfield (@abstanfield)
  15. Make Holiday Blogging More Fun: Connect with Other Bloggers  By Leigh Ann Dutton (@ladutton)
  16. Top Notch Tips for Blogging During the Holiday Season  By Hub Staff (@printinghub)

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about blogging during the holidays? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link.

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic:  YouTube Versus Vimeo

I’d love to include a link to your post in our next installment– and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

How to Transform Your Dormant Sites into Fabulous Sources of Passive Income


Transform your dormant sites

If you actually took the time to follow the advice of domain services experts in regards to buying and protecting your domain name, then you probably have a few dormant websites lying around. This is because these experts often advise us to buy as many TLDs of our chosen domain name as we can to protect our brand.

So, let’s say you were lucky enough to get the .com TLD for your preferred domain name and chose to buy the .org, .net, and .biz TLDs as well. What do you do with the three websites you aren’t actively using to grow your business? Believe it or not, you can turn these dormant ones into passive income streams!

What is a Passive Income Stream?

Simply put, this type of income stream provides you with a source of income with little to no need for constant upkeep as soon as the initial investment has been completed. When you write a book, for example, you make the initial investment of writing the book and then getting it published. After that, you simply wait for the sales to come in.

The Value of Passive Income

The value of passive income sources is that they provide you with multiple income streams. This means you earn not just from the business itself, but from a number of other sources as well. The importance of having several income sources lies in the fact that it protects you from a great deal of trouble in case you experience a downturn in your business. Passive income serves as a buffer, so to speak.

The idea of using websites as sources of passive income began when some people created websites with just a few pages of content and then promoted certain products as their affiliates. The owners of those sites earned a certain amount of money for every customer they sent to their affiliates. The only thing site owners had to do to keep their sites running was to update their content from time to time.

With the Google algorithm changes, however, this type of sites started getting penalized and soon dried up. Nevertheless, the field of online passive income remains alive to this day. After all, getting affiliates isn’t the only way for you to turn a dormant website into a passive income source.

Transforming Your Site Today

The key to turning a dormant website into a good source of passive income is to make it valuable to a certain group of people. Let’s take a quick look at two types of websites that are usually meant to earn passive income:

  1. A site that mostly contains pop-up ads, banner ads, and practically any other type of ad you can think of. I’m sure you’ve run into this kind of website several times before. This approach may require the least effort, but it also gives you the least return on your investment.
  2. A website that contains “How-to” articles, updated twice each month. This isn’t completely passive, since you’ll have to post new content from time to time, but it also doesn’t require much effort and is more likely to turn in a good profit.

In the above example, it’s obvious that the second website offers more value to users than the first. That’s why it stands a better chance of turning in a good profit. Here are a few tips on how you can add value to your dormant websites and turn them into good sources of passive income:

  1. Create an ebook

Check out all the “How-to” articles you’ve written or published so far. Do you think you can compile them into a book people would find interesting and helpful? Perhaps there might even be a way for you to expound on one of your articles such that you can turn it into a detailed guide. You could then use one of your dormant sites as an online store for your ebook.

Post a summary and teasers for your ebook on that site and then set up a mechanism to allow visitors to pay for and download the book directly from that site. To promote your eBook, you could post teasers on your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts along with a link to the website. You could even post the teasers and link on your business website.

  1. Create a Subscription Service

As mentioned earlier, you could create a series of articles that offer something of value to people and then post these articles on one of your dormant websites. In order to earn passive income from the site, you could require payment of an annual subscription fee. If you choose to go this route, though, you have to make sure your articles are truly relevant, useful, and interesting so people will consider them well worth the fee.

  1. Create an eCommerce Website

You already have an official website, so why do you need another one for selling products? This question is probably going through your mind right now. Well, whatever your product is, there are sure to be other products that complement it or are related to it in one way or another, right? You could provide space on one of your dormant sites for other brands to sell their products and earn a commission from each sale made.

Let’s assume that your main products are contact lenses. You could earn passive income by allowing manufacturers of lens solutions, lens cases, and eye makeup to sell their products on your dormant site! Of course, the site will no longer be dormant when you do that, but that’s the point, right?

Dormant websites don’t have to remain dormant forever. They can be excellent sources of passive income as long as you know how to design them such that they offer real value to users. You can make use of any of the strategies discussed above or better yet, use them all on the different websites you have. The more passive income streams you create, the less trouble you’ll be in, should your business unexpectedly suffer financial losses. Remember, it always pays to prepare for the rainy days.

Do you have dormant sites? If so, any plans to turn them into passive income sites?

Image credit: Bigstock

Get to the Point: 5 Storytelling Tips for Bloggers


storytelling tips for bloggers

A well-written blog post is like a good story. It makes us feel that we are right there with the blogger. It can teach us things—about life, or work, or making our way in the world. It can make us laugh, or cry, or say, ‘yeah, I had the same thing happen to me.’

Lisa Cron, author of Wired for Story, puts it this way:

“We think in story. It’s hardwired in our brain. Story is the language of experience. Other people’s stories are as important as the stories we tell ourselves. Because if all we ever had to go on was our own experience, we wouldn’t make it out of onesies.”

So how do you tell compelling stories on your blog?

1. First find your point.

Like a story, a good blog post has a point. Your point is your takeaway. If your blog content were a holiday tree, it would be the star on top.

Your supporting ideas are the ornaments. Hang them carefully, and make sure each one points back to the star.

How to do it: Write the main point of your post first. What are you trying to say? What one thing will apply to all of your readers, regardless of their backgrounds and experiences?

I write mine on a sticky note and put it on my computer screen, so it’s in front of me as I write. If you have listed more than one point, your topic is probably too broad. Save the others to use in future posts.

Example: In my post, “The Hollywood Guide to a Better Blog Tagline,” my main point was the importance of a concise blog tagline in attracting and keeping readers who land on your site.  So I started with:

“Some of us watched the inflated, over-the-top, “You’re good,” “No, you’re good” Oscars this spring. I did not. Since my daughter was in the biz, the glamour is gone.

I do remember, however, seeing the blow-by-blow on the front page of cnn.com. And watching the trailers online, I couldn’t help but think. Those folks in Hollywood know how to do some things well, like selling their product in one line. They know how to entice us in 25 words or less.”

So by end of the second paragraph, the reader knows the point of the post: how to entice your blog visitor in 25 words or less. That one point sets the tone for the whole rest of the post.

2. Set the scene.

Good stories start by setting the stage, before the characters show up. By creating an intriguing scene first, you make your readers feel more connected to the story and characters.

How to do it: Paint a sensory-rich scene that invites the reader to jump into the story.

Example: In a post I wrote for Becky McCray’s Small Biz Survival blog, my topic was how to make a business work in a geographically challenging location. In the opening lines, I painted a picture of where I live and hinted at the challenges of living there. :

“There are small towns. There are rural areas. And then there are islands. Islands that have no bridges, only ferries.

Ferries that blow their horns on foggy days. That break down at the worst possible moment, usually when you have an important meeting with a new client. Ferries that will take you back home—if you show up before the last one leaves the dock, at precisely 7:30pm.”

3. Throw in a character, add conflict and stir.

Just as in a good story, interesting characters can make or break your post. You want to create characters your reader can emotionally invest in, so she cares about what happens to them. If you tell a personal story, the main character will be you. In other posts, it may be somebody else.

The conflict in a story is called plot. In a blog post, the conflict is the problem you are helping your reader solve. I opened with a scene that put my reader there with me as I try to beat the clock and make the last ferry from the mainland back to our island home after a business meeting:

How to do it: Create tension with a real world conflict, a problem your reader can relate to.

Example: To continue with the “5 Things I Learned When I Moved My Business to an Island” post, the problem in the opening scene was missing the ferry. But the bigger picture, the greater problem, was how to manage a business successfully when it is located in a remote area. The post continues:

“If you arrive even 10 seconds late, the ferry workers in bright orange vests are pulling the thick ropes in and locking the gate. And you are stuck on the mainland, cursing that ‘careful’ driver who chugged along at 16 miles an hour all the way along the tree-lined road that leads to the ferry landing.

You would have made it if not for her.”

This set the reader up with one of the challenges of operating a business in an isolated location, this one being time spent in commuting.

4. Be sure there is a resolution.

Conflict is good, but if there is no resolution, your reader is left hanging. It doesn’t have to be a happy ending, but the character has to have been changed as a result of what happened. In a blog post, that usually means ending with what you learned, and the solutions you found.

How to do it: You have hooked your reader with a setting, your character and your conflict. Now you need to show her how to resolve that conflict, how to solve the problem.

Example: I ended my post with five tips, things I learned in moving my business from Seattle to a remote, 7.7-square mile island in south Puget Sound. An abbreviated version:

• Get to know your providers and vendors.

• Rethink your ideal client.

• Don’t make your location an issue for your customers.

• Develop an online support network and make friends with social media.

• Don’t shortchange your in-person networking.

That wasn’t the full post, but you get the idea.

5. Read as much you can, as often as you can.

At first thought, this one would not seem to be part of the storytelling process. But I have found that this one strategy has, above all others, helped me become a better teller of stories, which, in turn, has made me a better blogger.

In On Writing, Stephen King says:  “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: Read a lot and write a lot.”

How to do it: The authors of the classics have much to teach us about the superb use of language to drive a point home and tell an entertaining story: Just a few of my favorites:  Ernest Hemingway (for brevity and making every word count); William Faulkner (for evocative use of language); Eudora Welty (for descriptions and setting); and Flannery O’Connor (master of stories with a point).

But reading other, lesser-known authors will help you, too. You will get good at what creates an engaging story—and what does not.

Do you tell stories on your blog? Do you think a good story make a blog post more memorable?

Image credit: Bigstock

12 Days of Giveaways: Free Google+ Download from Amanda Blain


Amanda Blain It’s Day Two of the NMX 12 Days of Giveaways, and today we have something special for you from one of our returning speakers, Amanda Blain! You can get it for free right now here.

Amanda Blain knows how to get results on Google Plus – and that might be the understatement of the year. She’s built a fanbase of over 3.5 million on this platform.
If you’re not sure how to get results for your blog, company, or brand page on Google Plus, pick up your copy of Amanda’s guide today. You’ll learn:
  • The three reasons you need to be on Google Plus
  • Four steps anyone can use to improve their brand page
  • Quick tips for getting started, even if you have no experience

Amanda has the 27th most followed Google Plus profile in the world, which has over 210,000 comments, 230,000 reshares, and 860,000 of +1s on the network.

This guide is available for free for a limited time only! Just tell us where to send it by filling out your information, and we’ll email you a copy to celebrate the 12 Days of Giveaways.

Stay tuned for the rest of our giveaways that are part of our 12 Days of Giveaways promotion. We have lots of awesome freebies available between now and December 31!

How to Build Relationships with A-Listers: An Interview with Ray Ortega


ray ortega Recently, I was lucky enough to get to interview Ray Ortega from The Podcasters’ Studio about the art of building relationships with others in your niche, something he has definitely mastered! Ray went from being just a listener to being a podcast coach and even building friendships with many of the people who inspired him to podcast in the first place. Check out his advice for connecting with a-listers, no matter how new or experienced you are in your field:

Allison: Who was the best guest you ever interviewed for a podcast and why?

Ray: I think the best guest I’ve had on The Podcasters’ Studio was David Jackson from The School of Podcasting.

For me, having Dave on my show represented a personal podcasting achievement, I had come full-circle. About the time I started producing my own podcast, I started listening to Dave and his show about producing podcasts. I had fallen so much in love with podcasting that I wanted to know every single detail I could find on producing them. Little did I know where this adventure would take me (I now produce podcasts for a living).

I listened to Dave at work, to the point of getting a warning to stop listening to my iPod while on the clock. It didn’t stop me. I would listen with one earbud and spend every moment of my waking hours studying all the elements of how to produce the best possible podcast. Dave was a big part of those early lessons and inspiration. Dave and I are now good friends but I’ve often referred to him as a digital mentor.

So having Dave on my very own show was a signal that I had made it to where I wanted to be. I was producing my own podcasts, making friends with others in my niche and becoming peers with those I respected most in the podcasting space.

Having Dave on my show and finding out he respected the work I was doing in the very same niche was a personal signal that I had arrived. Fast forward to today, Dave is a regular co-host on my show Podcasters’ Roundtable along with Daniel J. Lewis and we’ll all be presenting together at NMX 2014. The adventure continues…

It can be really intimidating to reach out to role models. How did you first start developing a relationship with Dave?

Dave had a segment on his show called “Last Five in Five” where the audience could call in and tell him what was the last five podcasts you had listened to? I called in and left my Last Five and Five and that was my first interaction.

However, this doesn’t mean that Dave suddenly knew who I was. I don’t recall exactly how we connected and started getting to know each other but eventually I had him on my show The Podcasters’ Studio.

That’s one of the great things about podcasting, you can go out and ask someone you admire to be on your show and in most cases they will say yes. This is a great way to start building relationships with your peers.

The key is to participate in your community or the community you want to be a part of. In Dave’s case I provided feedback and content for his show. Later on I had him on my show which provided him with an opportunity to reach my audience; more of the same people he was already trying to reach.

In both cases I was trying to provide value before or while asking for anything in return. Over time, you’ll build trusting relationships that last. Dave now co-hosts my show Podcasters’ Roundtable and we consider ourselves good friends.

What tips do you have for getting a-listers to reply to you, even though their inboxes are overwhelmingly full?

As I mentioned before, in most cases, the key to approaching “a-listers” or anyone, is to just ask. In the case of the a-lister, you may have a hard time actually reaching them because they have so many requests for interviews, feedback, guest post, etc.

Pat Flynn is a great example of someone you can’t just email and get a response. His email is just too overwhelmed with requests for his time. But if you follow Pat at all, you know this or you at least know that he can be found other places beyond email.

In my case I wanted Pat to join us on a Round of Podcasters’ Roundtable. Because I know Pat is on twitter and I’m also on Twitter (@PodcastHelper) I simply sent him a tweet. And what do you know? He answered. Within a short amount of time we exchanged tweets and soon after he appeared on Podcasters’ Roundtable – Round 10 – Podcasting “Success” with Pat Flynn.

They key takeaway here is to go wherever the people you want to reach are spending their time. Almost everybody in new media these days has accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. Find them where they are having conversations and start participating.

Things have definitely come full circle in more ways than one! You’re now a well-respected podcaster who has listeners in the same position you were in back when you first started listening to Dave’s podcast. What are the most common mistakes fans make when they email you wanting to build a relationship or work together?

After spending years building my own brand, I’m now in a position where I’m fortunate enough to have people asking me for interviews, etc. If there is one tip I would give after being on the receiving end of requests to work together it would be to keep it short.

I love hearing someone’s podcasting journey, their goals and ideas but when making initial contact, the key to getting a response (at least a quick one) is being short and to the point. This works well in comments too.

I find it much easier to send quick replies to short emails and comments. And I reply to every single email and comment that I see (some get lost in the ether). Perhaps that’s why I like Twitter so much. Short and to the point is very effective in the fast paced environment of new media and social networking.

Lastly, when you do get the chance to work with one of your role models for the first time, such as interviewing them on your podcast, how can you best continue to build that relationship without being too pushy or asking too much?

If you have the chance to interact with someone you respect in your niche and want that relationship to grow, keep providing value. Continue to participate in their community, listen to their podcast, read their blog, etc. and send them feedback.

These are things you should already be doing because you live in your niche. You’re likely already participating in their community because their content is related to your content, the stuff you love to consume and produce. A natural relationship will build from there and over time you’ll likely cross paths and work with the same people you’ve looked up to for years.

Everybody was in your spot at some point regardless of how “successful” they are today. With lots of hard work and a genuine approach to others, you can pull up right alongside those you respect and have a show, blog, channel, as influential and respected as their own.

Podcasting is beautiful because it’s open. It’s open to anyone who wants to do it and those who put in the work will see its rewards be it friendships, professional achievements, money or any number of other ways podcasting pays you back.

Thanks for an awesome interview, Ray!

For those of you who are interested in learning more about podcasting, check out the Podcasting Track at NMX! This is a great chance to start building relationships with a-listers across several niches. Don’t forget to use the 20% off discount code ALLI20 if you are interested in attending the show!

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