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28 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Working With Brands

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Brilliant Bloggers is a weekly series here at BlogWorld where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every week, we’ll feature three of the most brilliant bloggers out there, 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: Working With Brands

Working with brands in an interesting way to monetize your blog. The most common approach is to simply join an affiliate program. You can also approach companies to ask for review products or negotiate other sponsorship packages, such as sidebar ads or conference attendee sponsorship. I’ve worked with tons of brands over the years, and the results have been a mixed bag. Some brands are extremely blogger friendly. Others still think that social media is a phase. In any case, I definitely recommend checking out the beyond brilliant Working with Brands post Michele McGraw wrote right here at the BlogWorld blog…and then head to the below posts for even more brilliant advice.

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

10 Tips for Working with Brands and PR Companies by Naomi Ellis

Before you start working with any brand, this is a post you should read. I love Naomi’s advice – her tips give you everything you need to know to get started. When I first started working with brands, these are definitely things I wish I would have known. Follow Naomi on Twitter @sevencherubs for more great advice.

Working with Brands: Reputation, Requests, & Saying No by Ashe

I love this post because it is a bit of a reality check. Working with brands can be awesome…but there is also the potential for some major suckatude. You don’t have to say yes, even if a brand approaches you. Not every brand is the right fit for you and your readers – and this post is a cautionary tale as to why that’s the case. After checking out the post, you can follow Ashe on Twitter @ashemischief.

Conference Sponsorship: What Bloggers Can Offer Brands by Leticia Barr

Conference sponsorship is an awesome beyond awesome way to work with brands as a blogger. This post by Leticia Barr gives awesome advice – especially about how to best work with brands so that the relationship is mutually beneficial without breaking conference rules. No conference, BlogWorld included, wants to kick people out so many sure you learn about their policy before working with a brand for conference sponsorship. After reading this post, check out Leticia on Twitter @techsavvymama.

BONUS: Preserving Your Integrity When Working With Brands I know this series is called “Brilliant Bloggers” but if you want to work with brands, you need to watch this video with David Segura, the CEO of Giant Media (@dseg10)

Even More Brilliant Advice:

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

Next Week’s Topic: TBD

I’d love to include a link to your post next week – 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 Make Massive Money During Q4 2011

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It comes around the same time every year, yet so many of us just let the huge holiday cash cow craze pass us by. I know I’m guilty of looking at the coming 4th quarter of the year and always saying, “Next year I’ll be ready!”… but then I find myself in the same spot the next year, wishing I did more and was ready. One of the major problems with gearing up for the fourth quarter and all the big sales events, is knowing what to focus on. Instead of trying to make money off everything, you have a lot to choose from and focus in on.

Halloween

One of the most exciting and profitable times of the year! Forget about the candy… everyone wants the costumes, and they are willing to shed out the big bucks to get them. Sure, there might be huge Halloween outlets stores in your area, but everyone is really flocking to do their research and buying online. Through the use of affiliate programs, you can simply create a resource web site or blog about Halloween costumes, then earn any where from 10-40% on all referred sales. Some families are buying all of their costumes online, which can bring in orders in the $200-$300 range! If you aren’t ready for Halloween this year, make sure your spook yourself into doing something next year!

Black Friday

If you didn’t have to wake up in the early morning hours to go to work, would you? It’s amazing what people will do to find discounts and deals during black friday. Standing outside of a store for days to find that perfect gift for just a few dollars cheaper. How are people finding the right stores to go to, and those most have deals? Easy… they are looking online. There is a massive amount of money to be made by having your own black friday deals web site. You can offer coupon codes and link directly to online stores… all earning you a commission on each signup or sale!

Christmas

Even if everyone has spent all their money during Halloween and Christmas, they will do whatever they can to scurry up some extra money for Christmas spending. It’s the craziest time of the year and we are seeing better online revenue numbers every year. How long before you get in on the auction. Don’t worry about focusing on Christmas as a whole, but instead focus on the hot items and gifts that everyone is trying to buy. If you can’t find a direct affiliate program to earn commissions on an item, try looking at Target, Amazon and Best Buy.

New Years

Oh no! The year is over… there’s nothing to cash in on any more… NOT! Now you have New Years, when everyone is telling themselves they will look better in the new year, eat better and live a better life style. Sure, it may only last few a few weeks or a couple months at best, but it doesn’t mean people aren’t going to be spending a ton of money on weight loss methods, ways to quit smoking and so much more.

If you aren’t taking advantage of any of these massive opportunities in cash in during the next few months, you really need to look at your priorities. Even if you aren’t ready to dedicate a lot of time into something new, make sure you make an attempt, and it will make it that much easier for you to cash in next year!

Selling your Blog or Podcast? Here are Some Things to Consider

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If you have ever watched the TV show “Pawn Stars“, you’ve seen this haggle. The Expert comes in and says the antique is worth $10,000. Instantly, the owner wants all of the ten grand. He doesn’t realize that keeping it in a box in the attic didn’t help the appreciation. Then the Pawn Stars crew reveal they need to make a profit and ultimately offer $4,000 for the item. It’s the same with URLs.

A website is more than just a URL (Unless you have something like Pizza.com). A few weeks ago, 2 URL’s were set up for auction, one being xxx.com. They asked for $5 million reserve and nobody took the initial bid.

So when it comes to your Ifoundthiscoolwebsite.com, it might be a nice URL, but why buy a Ferrari without an engine?

Last week I was approached to buy a website. They wanted $3,000 for the site, but when I looked at their statistics, all I saw was a site with no traffic. The site hadn’t been updated since January and some of the images weren’t working. Further, the people couldn’t tell me who their active audience is.They were betting on the sale of the URL, but their site was in shambles.

The previous week I ran into another person selling their show. It was the same situation – They wanted to sell the URL and podcast, but couldn’t prove they had a listener base.

I made offers on both, but they were both turned down. They don’t realize that I have to spend time to rebuild a base. I cannot buy a pile of junk with a flag on top.

The idea in buying an existing URL is to get a new user base. Have a new group of viewers and listeners come into your website. Yet, by getting these properties, I have to do all the legwork trying to find out the audience.

If you sell a car, you give it a good wash, make sure the basics are done (oil changed, brakes fixed, interior detailedÖ). If you sell a house, you get an appraiser to let you know what needs to be corrected before you put it on market, then you have to keep the house clean and looking it’s best while the realtor parades people though at odd hours in the day. So when you sell your website or podcast…

It’s not tough to do, you just need to discipline yourself during the sales period. Here are some ways to do that.

Make upgrades to your site

If you are on WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or another CMS, update the core files and all plugins to current versions. Try to make sure 95 – 99% of your site is working properly (there are always going to be dead links), fix image problems and site malformations. Make the site look presentable.

Start putting up content again until the sale.

I know you don’t want to do this, but if you haven’t posted anything in 3 weeks or more, then half of your traffic might be gone. Repair the damage by posting again. If you run audio or video, post updates and smaller shows. Anything to keep people around for the sale.

Hire someone to help

Some people cringe on the word “hire”. But if you can get someone that cost you $40 a week for 8 weeks, that $320 could mean an extra $500-600 in a sale (or more). If you cannot update it, get someone else to do it.

Install 3rd party tracking systems

Any type of statistical program will help in the sale. Google Analytics is the most obvious program to put on your page. There are other sites that offer free statistics monitoring to a point. If you can tout ranking numbers, people will be more apt to buy.

Promote on other sites and through friends

Just like you did when you started – Go to other websites and comment on posts. Get traffic to your website. Think about putting $50-$100 campaign together on Facebook. The more traffic and better ranking, the quicker you can get a buyer for your site.

Offer to stick around after the sale

You don’t need to tell your audience your site or show is for sale. But offer those buying that you will be around for a small period while the transition completes. Plan a date that you exit the site so the new owners get a chance to keep the audience. Remember – any type of change (especially abruptly) and you could lose your audience.

Most important – Know when your selling efforts are working, or if you need a new strategy. If people are not biting on your sale price – even after you try these items – then you might need to re-evaluate your site’s worth.

Talk with your friends. Ask them if they go to your site or show. If they say no, ask why. You might get that golden nugget that, once changed, could command the right price.

The shinier the object, the sooner it gets sold. You might even make a little more money than you expect. It may take a little work, but the end result could make it worth it.

23 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Sales Letters

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Brilliant Bloggers is a weekly series here at BlogWorld where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every week, we’ll feature three of the most brilliant bloggers out there, 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: Sales Letters

If you sell a product online, chances are that you use a sales letter to help promote that product. Every has their own idea of what a sales letter should and should not be, but the fact is that some simple convert better than others. I love the brilliant advice in the posts linked below – and yes, some tips contradict one another. Do what is right for you and your blog/products!

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

How to Make Salesletters Interactive by Michel Fortin

Way back in 2006. everyone was talking about Michel Fortin’s The Death of The Salesletter, where he made a bunch of predictions about the future of this kind of writing. I highly recommend reading it and drawing your own conclusions, but the post I wanted to talk about today is his advice on how to make your sales letters more interactive. This post gets into the nitty gritty technical information you nee to make a brilliants sales page on your website, and although it seems a little confusing and difficult, if you take everything step by step, I swear it’s not that hard! I’m actually bookmarking this post for myself for the next time I do a sales page on one of my blogs. After checking out the post, you can follow Michel on Twitter @michelfortin.

Are Long-Form Sales Letters Dead? by David Risley

People are announcing things “dead” all the time, and rarely is it true. However, in this post, David tells about his own experiences with sales letters and how long sales letters might really be dead, at least for some people. Good news – if you like this post, not only can you find more of the same all over his website, and he’s also the track leader for the BlogWorld LA 2011 Monetization Track. You can also find him on Twitter @davidrisley.

How to Write a Sales Letter by Brent Hodgson

New to sales letters? This is the post you need. Of course, there are lots of different ways to write sales letters, but this post gives you some basics so you can get started. After checking out Brent’s post, you can follow him on twitter @brenthodgson.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

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

Next Week’s Topic: Working with Brands

I’d love to include a link to your post next week – 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.

Why You May Want to Say “NO!” to Advertisers

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Advertising space on the sidebar is undoubtedly one of the most popular ways for bloggers to make money. You can use Google or affiliate products to fill ad spots, but it’s always my goal to actually find a sponsor – someone who wants to purchase that advertising space. I don’t have advertising on my career blog or Blog Zombies (yet), but on the blog I write anonymously, I sell anywhere from $300 to $1000 worth of advertising per month. Considering that I don’t have to do much work for that money (most companies approach me), I’d say it’s a pretty sweet deal.

That said, sometimes you have to tell an advertiser the scary n-word: NO! Here are a few situations that I’ve experienced where it was better to just walk away:

  • The product would have hurt my reputation.

Most people are smart enough to realize that just because you have an ad on your sidebar doesn’t mean that you use the product/service or even recommend it. It’s a fine line to walk, though. Before you take someone’s money an slap up a banner, take a moment to check out their business. If they’re doing something shady or selling a low-quality product, your readers could get hurt or lose money, and they’ll associate those negative experiences with you. The best case scenario is always to work with companies for products you like to recommend to others, but at least make sure the advertiser isn’t going to hurt your reputation.

  • You’re driving people to a competitor.

Sometimes, it can make sense to work hand-in-hand with a competitor in your field. For example, I once traded advertising with another blogger selling similar products as mine. It made sense because we both got about the same amount of traffic and offered one another a percentage of the sales. Keep in mind that it’s not always a good idea, though. If you blog about shoes, for example, and the majority of the profit you make comes from selling affiliate products, advertising a discount shoe store on your sidebar where people can go to get the same shoes you’re trying to sell, but at a cheaper price, may not make sense. Think about the potential profit you’ll be using and make sure that the amount you’re charging for the ad is at least twice as much. Otherwise, say no.

  • The advertiser is difficult.

Once, I had someone contact me to ask for advertising rates and traffic information, which I more than happily shared. True story, this is the real email reply I got, name/company removed:

“Hi Allison,

We think your rates are fair, but we’re a small company and need to receive a discount. We can pay $X now and a little more in two weeks to pay for the remainder of the month of advertising. How can we pay you? And don’t say paypal!

Thanks,

Jane, XYZ Company”

I have to read the email several times because I really couldn’t believe it. In some cases, I’m willing to negotiate a price, but to demand a discount for no reason other than the fact that you’re a small company is a little ridiculous. I’m a small company too, so does that mean I should charge more? The “And don’t say paypal!” really made me roll my eyes too. I work with almost all of my clients through this service. Sure, I’m happy to accept a check instead – but not for half a month of advertising from a company that can barely afford to pay it.

The bottom line is that this advertiser clearly showed that it would be difficult to work with her. Could I have used that extra cash? Sure! But my time really isn’t worth the headaches she would likely cause, especially considering that I’d have to deal with her every two weeks.

The bottom line is this: Yes, selling advertising on your blog is a great way to make money, but it doesn’t always make sense. Sometimes, it is okay to say no to advertisers – and for your blog, advertising might be a bad idea altogether. Try to look at the big picture to ensure that advertising is going to have a positive effect on your long-term goals, not just a positive effect on your short-term wallet.

Every Blogger Has to Sell – But Do You Know Where to Start?

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My first blog didn’t sell anything. Neither did my second or third or a couple more after that. Even my longest running blog — my personal blog — didn’t have anything for sale on it for quite a while.

That blog was launched as I was starting my freelance writing career and quickly became a home for my work — it’s where I kept a list of my clips and showcased the work I was doing. Even then, though, there was no buy button. It was only when I started actively promoting the fact that my services were available for hire that my blog really started going somewhere.

Getting Something Out of a Blog

Part of my problem as a blogger, at least initially, is that it’s easier to work on my blog when I know I’m getting something out of the effort I’m putting in. That might be a matter of establishing expertise, raising donations or actually getting money back out of the process — but I need to be able to associate my work with a reward.

Blog readers have similar expectations: even when they aren’t putting money on the table to get a product or a service from you, they are always paying you with the attention of currency. Your readers expect you to, at the bare minimum, sell them the ability to keep reading what you write in exchange for the time and effort they spend on reading your posts, commenting and promoting them.

You almost certainly want more than the currency of attention, though: it’s rare that a blogger just writes things with no further ambition beyond getting posts read. You may not be selling something in order to directly make a living from your blog. You may be promoting your employer or you may be fundraising for a non-profit. You may also be taking a more round-about approach to getting a benefit — maybe you’re establishing your expertise to land a better job. No matter what your goal is, though, there’s is ultimately a point where money changes hands.

The Crucial Starting Point

As a blogger, I’ve struggled with understanding what I’m selling at times. Getting clear on exactly what you want your readers to do and benefit you is a defining moment for any blogger — and it’s where you need to start. If you can’t immediately tell me what you expect to get out of blogging, you need to take a piece of paper and a pen to a quiet room and figure it out.

Once you’re clear on that, consider how you’re telling your readers what you want them to do. I’m a big fan of being as forthright and open about what you want your readers to do. For one thing, that makes your readers a lot more likely to act. For another, it means that you won’t face any questions about transparency.

So, what are you selling?

Three Myths About Website Flipping

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When it comes to buying and selling websites, you may have a few questions. Let’s quickly run through three myths about website flipping that will help you better understand the concept and possibly buy or sell a web site really soon.

#1 – No One Would Buy My Website

You would actually be surprised at how well websites and blogs are selling today, especially ones that have content and are ranked in the search engines. Ranging from a couple hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars… all types of websites and blogs are selling. There are over 1,000 active daily listings at Flippa.com, and over 50% of the listings are actively being sold.

#2 – I Know Nothing About Flipping Websites

It’s actually much easier than you think. I actually just released a guide book on the process. Through the Flippa market place you can easily setup a listing for your website, as they walk you through the process and you simply fill out your website’s information, stats and revenues. If you can use eBay, you can start flipping web sites.

#3 – My Site is Already Making Money. It Would Be Dumb to Sell

Just because your site is making money, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sell… it actually means the opposite. Some websites are selling for 60 to 100 times their month earnings. These numbers are likely, but most are selling for the 20-30 range. Weigh your options and see if it’s better for you to run your website, or possibly sell for a big pay day.

I’ve been successfully buying and sell websites for many years and I hope these beginner tips and myth busters have been useful for you. If you’d like to learn more about site flipping, take a look at my new 140+ page book titled “Flip This Web Site“.

Three Tips for Selling Your Blog

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A non-traditional, yet excellent way to generate revenue online is through the buying and selling of web sites, and blogs are no exception. While some bloggers are passionate about their topic and could write about it forever without any intention to sell, others may find blogging tiresome after a while and want to move on. Or the idea to sell a blog might come when a blog receives rapid growth and the blogger wants to quickly flip it.

Either way, it’s important for you to know the steps to take before selling your blog so you can get top dollar. Here are three important tips to make sure you get the most revenue for your blog should you ever sell.

1.) Established Blog and Purpose

Many people are buying web sites and blogs, but the ones that grab the attention of buyers are ones that are established and have a true purpose. I’ve purchased a few blogs for over a thousand dollars that didn’t generate any revenue, yet they were heavily targeted. Finding a quality niche blog is what a lot of buyers are looking for. If you are going to sell your blog, make sure you and your audience know exactly what your blog is about.

2.) Full Stats and Information

Anyone can create content and slap up a wordpress blog, so there needs to be some real content and value to your site. Using services like Google Analytics, you can heavily increase the end purchase price for your blog sale. Analytics and visitor stats show where people are linking to your blog, how long readers stay on your site and where you are ranking in the search engines. All very important factors when a buyer is determining how much they are willing to pay for a web site or blog.

3.) Revenue Generating Blog

Lastly, we have revenue, the main driving factor behind any web site evaluation. Many web sites and blogs listed on domain and web site market places will go for 10 to 30 times monthly revenue earnings. Factor in the authority, age and niche of the web site and you can sway either way. A web site or blog that is proven month after month revenue generation will almost always sell for more than a site that is just loaded up with content and getting page views.

Using a combination of the three methods above, you can create a winning auction listing for your web site or blog. The last thing you want to do is post your site for sale and have little to no information and stats to back it up.

I’ve been successfully buying and sell web sites for many years and I hope these beginner tips have been useful for you. If you’d like to learn more about site flipping, take a look at my new 140+ page book titled “Flip This Web Site“.

Amazon Warns CA Affiliates – It May Pull the Plug on Their Accounts

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Well, I got a nice email in my inbox this afternoon from Amazon, saying that they will have terminate my affiliate account if the new sales tax measure passes in California. Yes, I am set to lose a huge monetization strategy for some of my blogs because I live in sunny Southern Cali. *sighs*

This isn’t the first time Amazon has had to cut out affiliate programs in states. They’ve already shut down those residing in Illinois, Hawaii, Connecticut and North Carolina because they passed legislature similar to California.

The legislature involves a sales tax measure that will ultimately treat Amazon Affiliates the same as retailers with brick and mortar stores – thus requiring them to pay a sales tax.

The email read as follows:

Hello,
For well over a decade, the Amazon Associates Program has worked with thousands of California residents. Unfortunately, a potential new law that may be signed by Governor Brown compels us to terminate this program for California-based participants. It specifically imposes the collection of taxes from consumers on sales by online retailers – including but not limited to those referred by California-based marketing affiliates like you – even if those retailers have no physical presence in the state.

We oppose this bill because it is unconstitutional and counterproductive. It is supported by big-box retailers, most of which are based outside California, that seek to harm the affiliate advertising programs of their competitors. Similar legislation in other states has led to job and income losses, and little, if any, new tax revenue. We deeply regret that we must take this action.

As a result, we will terminate contracts with all California residents that are participants in the Amazon Associates Program as of the date (if any) that the California law becomes effective. We will send a follow-up notice to you confirming the termination date if the California law is enacted. In the event that the California law does not become effective before September 30, 2011, we withdraw this notice. As of the termination date, California residents will no longer receive advertising fees for sales referred to Amazon.com, Endless.com, MYHABIT.COM or SmallParts.com. Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned on or before the termination date will be processed and paid in full in accordance with the regular payment schedule.

You are receiving this email because our records indicate that you are a resident of California. If you are not currently a resident of California, or if you are relocating to another state in the near future, you can manage the details of your Associates account here. And if you relocate to another state in the near future please contact us for reinstatement into the Amazon Associates Program.

To avoid confusion, we would like to clarify that this development will only impact our ability to offer the Associates Program to California residents and will not affect their ability to purchase from Amazon.com, Endless.com, MYHABIT.COM or SmallParts.com.

We have enjoyed working with you and other California-based participants in the Amazon Associates Program and, if this situation is rectified, would very much welcome the opportunity to re-open our Associates Program to California residents. We are also working on alternative ways to help California residents monetize their websites and we will be sure to contact you when these become available.

Regards,

The Amazon Associates Team

I’m still kind of shaking my head. And looking for ways to get involved. Have sales tax laws impacted you in any way?

Erica Douglass’ Seven Steps to Passionate Pitches

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I’ve been a bit of an Erica Douglass fangirl since I first read her Failure Manifesto back in August 2010. So, when I heard that she would be speaking at BlogWorld New York 2011, I made sure to put her session on my “absolutely cannot miss” schedule. I even wrote it in pen. Pen!

I wasn’t disappointed. If you missed Erica speak (or missed BlogWorld New York 2011 completely), I highly recommend keeping your eyes peeled for the forthcoming virtual tickets that will be available at the BlogWorld Expo site so you can listen to a recording of her session and see her slides.

Erica’s session was called “How to Passionately Pitch without PO’ing Your People” – and like many others at BlogWorld, she spoke about how we need to remember that email marketing can work. Erica gave us seven great steps to creating the best pitch emails possible:

  1. Have a clear, concise call to action. What do you want your readers to do? Don’t make them try to figure it out. Tell them exactly what they should do!
  2. Include at least three links to buy – and one within the first 200 words. Don’t make them read a huge email if you hooked them in the first paragraph.
  3. Never apologize for pitching a product. Whether its yours or an affiliate product, you’re recommending something of value. Don’t apologize for the price because it makes it sound overpriced. If it’s worth the cost, stand behind it.
  4. Set a price anchor. When you start talking about a product, your reader will automatically start comparing it to things they already know. You want to do that first so that when you tell them the price it is much lower than the thing already in their head.
  5. Make readers feel like they are getting a special deal. Why should they buy from you, especially if others are selling the same products? Many people are happy to give you a special discount code for their readers, or you can throw in some of your own giveaways for people who buy from you.
  6. Give readers a sense of urgency. If not, they’ll put it off until “someday” and someday will never come. Make your offer only available for a limited time before the product is no longer available or the price goes up.
  7. Follow up with at least one additional email – preferably two. Erica’s formula is a post and email on the first day, a second email about two days later, and a third email (plus additional post) three to four days after that. You don’t have to be annoying, but if people are responding well, sending follow-ups allows you to earn even more.

Of course, this is just the bare bones information from Erica’s awesome presentation. Again, if you want to listen to the whole thing, stay tuned so you can pick up a virtual ticket, which will give you access to recordings from BlogWorld New York 2011.

Thanks, Erica, for a great session – easily one of my favorites of the show! Readers, check out her story and more great advice at Erica.biz and follow her on Twitter @ericabiz.

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