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How to Earn Money Online with Advertisers


Jenny Lawson (a.k.a. The Bloggess) has been posting a series of videos answering some of the most common questions she gets asked – and one video that I think might help you guys is this one about making money with advertisers on your blog. You can also adapt this information if you’re a podcasters or web TV producer as well.

Jenny’s blog has nothing to do with blogging and social media, but I still recommend you check it out. It’s hands down one of my favorite blogs of all time! She’ll also be speaking at BlogWorld New York in June, so if you can’t get enough Bloggess, join us there to laugh with us live.

Ten Simple (but Costly) Blog Mistakes


Sometimes, the difference between a profitable blog and a blog that doesn’t make any money isn’t major. In fact, it can boil down to just a few simple mistakes. Of course, every blog is going to be different, with different goals and meeting different reader needs, so not every tip is right for every person. But in general, here are ten really simple mistakes to fix that could be the difference between financial success and failure:

1) Filling Prime Real Estate with Other People’s Ads

In my high school graphic design class, I learned something that I still carry with me – a person’s eye naturally moves like a giant “S” across a page. That means that you’re prime real estate is at the top right. Online, anything “above the fold” (aka, the space you can see without scrolling) is also good. What do you have filling these spaces? I see a lot of people with ads in this space. Unless the most important thing for you is to get clicks on your ads (like if your main monetization strategy is a PPC program), why are you just giving this real estate away? Fill the top right with ads for your own products or affiliate products. Sales will jump. Or, use it for mailing list sign-ups, which you can use to drive sales in the future.

Another high-value place? The very end of your posts. When people are done reading, give them something valuable to do, like sign up for your mailing list or check out your product.

2) Not Including a Search Option

If there’s no search option on your blog, people can find stuff on Google instead, right? Right…but will you be #1 in the search results? Let’s say that I remember you reviewing a product but can’t easily find the post. I can search on Google, but what might pop up is someone else’s product review or someone else mentioning that you reviewed that product.

Even for your own products, you might not come up first on Google. One of your affiliates with awesome SEO can easily beat you out, simply by optimizing their posts. While this will still sell your products, you’ll have to pay an affiliate fee whereas on your own site, it’s pure profit. Don’t risk it. Just include a search bar on your blog and you don’t have to worry about it.

3) Avoiding Affiliate Links

If you talk about products often, why would you not sign up to be an affiliate? You don’t have to link everything you mention, but Amazon affiliate links can be easily added when you mention something in a post. Share a Sale and Commission Junction are also two great places where you can find product affiliate links – I’ve used both with success, and usually these affiliate programs give a better commission than Amazon. People are taking your recommendations when purchasing a product. Why shouldn’t you earn a bit of a commission.

When someone approaches you to ask for a review, this is definitely something you should ask as well. Most people have affiliate programs for their products, and if you’re doing them the favor of reviewing their product, the least they can do is allow you to earn a commission for anything you sell.

4) Underestimating the Eagerness of Your Readers to Buy

A few months ago, I was reading a blog that I really enjoyed, so I signed up for the blogger’s mailing list. I got several emails per week from this blogger, and while they were all interesting, not a single one tried to sell me anything. So I asked the blogger…why? His response was that he didn’t want to turn off readers with sales. Now, I definitely think that some people overdo it, but your readers are your fans – they want to buy the things you recommend or products from you. It’s silly to never sell, in my opinion.

The blogger took my advice and added in a sales email about once a month (so, one every 10 – 15 emails) and is now making a boatload of money that way. To date, he’s had no one complain and sees no greater unsubscribe numbers than with non-sales emails.

5) Paying Too Much for Hosting

Shop around. Are you getting the best deal? You want to avoid a shoddy hosting plan to save money, but some companies are waaaay overpriced. Ask your connections on Twitter or Facebook. People can recommend some great hosts that might be better AND cheaper than the host you chose at random.

Even look at the hosting plans offered by your company – do you need the plan they sold you or is their a cheaper plan that would serve your needs? Companies love to upsell you, and you might be paying for stuff you don’t use. It takes about ten minutes to check out the hosting plans available and you could save a lot of money every year that way, especially if you have multiple sites.

6) Not Including Clear Contact Information

If I want to purchase an ad on your site, how do I get in touch? If I can’t find your email address or a contact form in about 20 seconds, I’m gone. Make a contact page and put it somewhere very easy to see on your site. Don’t hide it on your about page. Don’t put it half-way down your sidebar in a small font that’s lost between ads and navigation tools. I don’t understand why bloggers don’t make it easy to be contacted…unless, I guess, they don’t want to be contacted? The best blogs, in my opinion, make it idiot-proof, listing contact information in multiple easy-to-see places.

Personally, I like it even more when I see an actual advertising page for potential sponsors to learn more. Creating an advertising page on your site that’s clearly listed in the top navigation bar or footer (the two places advertisers typically check first) will tell them that you’re open to selling ad space, that you’ve actually thought about your prices (so you’re a professional), and that they’re likely to hear back quickly.

7) Being Too Humble About Your Products

Dude. You’re awesome! Your readers won’t be reading your posts or following your tweets or subscribed to your emails if they didn’t like you. Don’t be afraid to tell people about your products.

In fact, your products should be front and center! Not only that, but when you talk about your products, don’t be humble. Talk about the advantages of your product and, although you should be clear and honest if there are people who won’t benefit from the purchase, make sure you sell it. If you’re not comfortable with sales, let your fans speak for you by posting testimonials. I’m always willing to give away a free copy of my book if someone (especially someone known in my industry) is willing to write a testimonial.

8 ) Crazy Long Sales Letters with No Buy Button until the End

Long sales letters drive me nuts. I understand that they work, otherwise people wouldn’t use them. But just because they work in their current long form doesn’t mean they couldn’t be better. Don’t confuse the fact that you’re making sales with success. If you sell 1000 products on launch day, you might be jumping for joy…but what if I told you that you had the potential to make 10,000 sales? Not so exciting anymore, is it?

I’ll be one of those people who hits the back button, in many cases, if you don’t have a “buy” button near the top. I certainly want to read a little about your product, but I’m there for a blurb, not a book report, and other readers probably feel the same way. So keep your long sales letter with the buy button at the end, but put one closer to the top too for those of us who are sold already.

9) Lack of Formats

This one is specifically for those who create informational products, which is a lot of readers. If I could do one thing differently with my last product launch, it would be to offer not just a downloadable PDF file, but also multiple other formats. Some people still like print. Others will jump on board if you offer a kindle version. Heck, some people even want content broken up and sent via email over time.

If your products are expensive, I think it also make sense to offer different payment structures. Give a discount for those who can afford to buy your product outright, but make it possible to pay in small chunks for readers on a budget. You don’t want to offer so many options that things are overwhelming, but a few choices will help get your product in the hands of more readers, and it doesn’t take much effort to offer multiple options.

10) No Affiliate Program for Your Products

If you’re selling stuff, are you offering an affiliate program? If not…why not? You’ll have a virtual sales team that are only paid when they sell something if you set up even a low-payout affiliate program! I have to love beyond love a product to write a review if I’m not getting a commission. Even then, if it’s a busy week, I might not make time for it. If you have a great affiliate program, though, you’ll see a major boost in your sales, and most of those buyers will be people you never would have reached otherwise, so it’s not like you’re losing money by paying affiliates, at least most of the time. The benefits greatly outweigh the disadvantages, and best of all, it only takes a few seconds to set up an affiliate program through a company like E-junkie.

It’s your turn – what changes have you made on your blog that resulted in big jumps in profit?

The Truth about Blogging for Other People (part 2)


Today, we’re talking about blogging for other people. Head over to Part 1 first to read about what you can expect to be paid and the perks of blogging for clients.

Let’s jump right back into it by talking a little about what you can expect when blogging for other people

The Freedom

When you blog for yourself, you and write whatever you want whenever you you want. When you blog for clients, that’s not the case. Some have extremely detailed instructions and others have no idea what they want and are looking to you to be their expert in blogging. In my experience, the more freedom I get, the better, but I’ll also take on projects where they have very specific requirements if the price is right and the topic interests me.

But what you have to understand that no matter how much freedom your client gives you, what they say goes. A client can come along and take down or edit your post, or they can even fire you if you write something they consider to be a major problem. I highly recommend that you have a contract with your client, and for this contract to outline just how a post with your name attached can be edited. I once had a client complete butcher something I wrote, making me look like a fool and misrepresenting my opinions. Sure, he was well within his rights to post whatever he wanted on his blog, but it had my name attached to it, so it was a problem.

Work with clients who are a good fit for your personal brand so problems are less likely to arise. For example, I’m an extremely opinionated, and although I’m willing to “play nice” on a client site, I won’t change who I am on Twitter for the sake of a blogging gig. Some clients have a problem with that because I occasionally curse or post NSFW material on my own sites and social media profiles. That’s okay – those clients aren’t a good fit for me and I’m not a good fit for them. Remember that ultimately your brand is most important, so stay true to who you are. If you change yourself for a blogging gig an that gig ends, then what? few jobs last forever.

The Tasks

When you blog for yourself, the entire success of your site rests on your shoulders. You write, edit, promote, respond to comments, find sponsors/advertisers, create products, run mailing lists, write newsletters, attend in-person and virtual events, develop your social media outposts…the list goes on and on and on and the work never ends.

When you blog for other people, you might do all of the above or you might do a single task. Most of the time, it’s somewhere in the middle. You’ll write posts but are also expected to do at least a little promotion and help develop the overall brand of the blog. The more you’re expected to do, the more you should get paid if you’re paid a flat fee. Of course, if you’re paid on performance, the more effort you put in beyond just writing, the more money you’ll make.

Remember to outline exactly what you’re being expected to do in your contract. Some clients expect to see results, but that isn’t possible if someone isn’t promoting. If you’re not being paid to do that, make sure that your client understands that it’s necessary to be successful. Otherwise, they may assume that you’re not doing a good job writing posts and fire you.

It benefits you to do at least a little promotion with your posts, even if you’re not being paid for it. You don’t have to spend hours a day tweeting, liking, stumbling, and the like, but taking a moment to push out the link once can help drive a little traffic, which is an incentive for the client to continue working with you. It also can help you – as a writer, you always want to proudly promote your work, since it could lead to more clients in the future.

As a freelancer, you’ll benefit if you can offer more services. Clients want to hire one person when necessary, rather than hiring different people to write, handle social media, format posts, etc. Not every client will pay for every service you offer, but the more things you know how to do, the better.

The Truth

The truth is this – blogging for other people is hard. You don’t have the stress of trying to make your own business succeed, but there are a whole host of other stresses that come along with this job. Here are a few last pointers if you’re consing this career option:

  • Sometimes, clients don’t pay. They promise you money and they just disappear, argue that you didn’t fulfill the contract, or whatever. It isn’t always malicious – sometimes clients just run out of money. A strong contract can only protect you so far. Make sure you work with people you trust and people with great business plans.
  • You aren’t always going to agree with the direction a client takes with the blog. You should always politely speak your mind, but not all clients will hear you out or take your advice. It can be frustrating.
  • A client can hurt your business if they feud with other people. Online, people often take sides when there’s an issue, scandal, or problem and if you’re working for a client, you might be lumped in with them even if your opinions differ. Yes, you can leave, but sometimes it’s hard to reverse damage is done to your online reputation.
  • Clients can be very demanding. They often don’t realize how much time your tasks take. Don’t be afraid to say no or ask for more money if you’re asked to take on additional tasks.
  • The customer isn’t always right, but sometimes you have to do things you think are silly to please them. For example, I have a client that insists on meeting every single week on Skype to catch up with what we’re doing and go over blog goals. That would be fine if we actually had new stuff to go over, but every week, we talk about the same things. The meetings are completely unnecessary from my point of view, but to him, they’re necessary, so I do it. I also had a client who insisted that I watch a very 101-level WordPress video before working on his site. I could have produced a better video with my own WP experience, but it made the client feel assured that I’d be right for the job. Sometimes you just have to do these things.

The ultimate truth I suppose is that blogging for other people is right for some and not right for others. Personally, I love it because it allows me to do what I love most – write – without worrying as much about all the other blogging work that has to be done. Some people don’t like giving up that control, though. Do your research before you jump into freelancing, and take projects that are right for you. Some of you out there might love it as much as I do.

The Truth about Blogging for Other People (part 1)


If you would have told me, back in the late nineties, that I would someday be paid to blog for other people, I would have laughed at you. Not just giggled. We’re talking sort-milk-out-of-my-nose laughter. I loved blogging back in those early days, back when LiveJournal and Xanga were all the rage and all of us high school kids poured our hearts out online…of course, behind a protected screen so only our friends could see.

I never imagined that blogging could become a profession.

Yet, today, that’s exactly what I spend 99% of my time doing. When I first started freelance writing, I took on all kinds of gigs, but over the years, I’ve noticed that the majority of the jobs out there are for blogs. Some clients are hiring bloggers to work on an ongoing basis, where you’re required to help promote and build the brand as well as write, format, and otherwise prep posts for publishing. Others order groups of posts sent via email and they take care of the rest. Clients also order ebooks to sell or give away in conjunction with their blogs or sales letters to promote products based on their blogs. But the point is this: if you want to be freelance writer, you want to learn about blogging.

Blogging for other people is very different from creating your own blog, however. Most of the advice you’ll read online is for those who own their own blogs, and while some of that advice certain holds true, there’s so much more to it if you want to be a successful blogger for a client. And the truth about blogging for other people? It isn’t easy. Let’s go over some of the basic information you need to know about this blogging path to get started.

The Money

Okay, I’ll start with the question that everyone has but that is a little embarrassing to ask. How much do you get paid to blog for other people? The fact of the matter is, there’s no one easy way to answer this question.

First, there are a few different ways to get paid. Some bloggers are paid a flat fee per post (or a flat fee per month with a minimum post requirement). This is great for the blogger, since you can plan your budget more easily and schedule your time in a way that makes sense. You can also get paid based on performance. When your posts do better, driving more traffic, you’ll make more money. The advantage here is that many clients see it as more “fair” and affordable to work this way, and as a blogger, you have the potential to continuously earn more from posts you write, since posts can get popular even long after they initially go live. Some clients combine these two payment methods, paying a smaller flat fee and then monthly performance bonuses.

I recommend staying away from performance-only based payment unless the blog already has a track record of success. The main draw to blogging for other people is the guaranteed money; if you want to be paid based on how good you are at SEO and post promotion, you might as well create your own site and upload ads yourself. It’s almost as much work as doing that.

But just how much can you expect to make?

To be honest, I’ve seen clients offering gigs that pay anywhere from just a few dollars per post to hundreds. It depends on the content and nice, the blog’s current traffic/revenue, and what skills you can bring to the table. In general, you’ll be paid less for news posts and paid more for op-ed or how-to pieces. My non-scientific guess at average (once you dismiss all the jackholes that want you to write for free) is $10 to $20 per post.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should only take jobs paying at least $10 per post. It might make sense for you to take a blogging job that pays much less, especially if they can offer a ton of exposure to your personal site. If you spend hours creating long, thoughtful, heavily-researched posts, though, even $20 probably seems laughable – in this case, you should expect to be paid $100 or more. There’s no one right answer when it comes to what you should charge or what offer you should except.

The Perks

When you blog for others, there are perks beyond a paycheck. These fringe benefits might make a lower-paying gig worth your time. Some benefits you might get include:

  • review items related to your niche
  • access to celebrities in your niche for interviews
  • free travel to conferences and other events
  • links back to your own blog if you have one
  • links back to your freelance writing site/portfolio, which can help you get more clients
  • free company products like t-shirts and tote bags
  • name recognition in the niche

The perks really vary by blog. Once, I wrote for a blog and someone sent me free candy to review. Another time, the company gave me a complete profile page where I could post links to everything from my social media accounts to my writing portfolio. And of course, writing here at the BlogWorld blog allows me to go to the best conference in the world!

Click here to continue on to read Part 2, where I talk about freedom, tasks, and more.

Do You have Fun when You Blog?


It may seem like a simple question, but today, especially when so much of us are chomping at the bit to get out there and have some Saint Patrick’s Day fun, it’s worth analyzing. Do you have fun when you blog?

I think for all of us who’ve started our own blogs, the knee-jerk reaction is, “Yes! Of course I do!”

But when you think about it…do you?

Yesterday, I posted “Time Really is Money (but so is love)” – a post about the need to balance making money with following your heart when it comes to blogging. I think that’s a topic that I could write about for ten or twenty more posts, to be honest, because it’s one I struggle with myself. Sometimes, the best things for our readers (at least, the things that they want the most that will translate into the most sales, ad clicks, etc) is not necessarily what we feel passionate about doing. It’s difficult to find a balance.

And sometimes, I think that it’s important to take a step back and really examine the beast our blogs have become, especially if you’ve been blogging for several years. Your blog probably has evolved since the day you started it, and there have almost certainly been bumps along the path you’ve taken. Is the blog you run today what you set out to do – or something better?

The answer isn’t always yes. If your experience is anything like mine, you spend a lot of time depending your career path to people who don’t really “get it” – the same people who think blogging is still the same thing as keeping an online journal. Defending something, as well as being extremely close to a project, has a way of warping the situation in our own minds.

Regardless, even if the blog you’re running today is exactly what you set out to create, you might not enjoy it anymore. We all get burned out. We all have changes in our lives that cause us to lose passion in certain projects. Again, when you’re constantly defending something, it can warp your own ideas about it. It can feel like a failure to admit that it is time to move on, either to another blog or to another industry altogether.

But it isn’t. You aren’t giving up and more than when you started blogging you were giving up on the corporate world. You were just moving on to be happier in your career choice, and that’s something you can do again. Don’t doubt yourself. If you love what you’re doing and are still having fun doing it every day, keep going, full steam ahead, even if you aren’t making much money from it. But if you’re getting bored with it or otherwise unhappy? It’s time to reevaluate, even if you are making a healthy income.

After all, isn’t that why you got into blogging in the first place – to get ahead from doing things you hated every day at work?

There are days I hate blogging. I get frustrated or feel uninspired or whatever. I think that’s true for all of us. Just don’t let that be your truth every day.

Time Really is Money (but so is love)


“Don’t forget to pay yourself.”

One of the best piece of advice I ever received as a blogger is that along with paying affiliates, editors, designers, and anyone else who provide services to make your blog possible, you have to pay yourself. You deserve to be compensated for your time – and only after that can you truly calculate profits.

The “time is money” argument is nothing new, but sometimes it is one we forget when we’re waist-deep, slogging through the work being done on out own projects. How many hours do you spend blogging? And promoting? And on social media? And writing ebooks? And working on design or doing updates? And traveling to conferences? And whatever else is on your massive list of “things-to-do-to-become-an-a-list-blogger”?

And, most importantly, what kind of hourly wage do you deserve? If you were paying someone else to do the job that you do, what would you pay them per hour. This is, at minimum, what you should pay yourself.

That’s not to say that we can all do that, at least not yet. But when you measure the success of your monetization efforts, it is something to take into consideration. If you spend 10 hours a week on your blog and make about $2000 per month, you’re actually doing much better than someone who spends 40 hours a week blogging and makes $4000 per month. When comparing statistics, it’s relative. Remember that, no matter whose figures you’re reviewing or how you’re comparing your blog to someone else’s blog.

Something else that I believe is important to remember – money isn’t everything.

When I first started working as a freelancer (blogging and otherwise), I was working…gosh, probably 60 – 70 hours a week, maybe even more some weeks. I was doing it just to make ends meet, and I lived in a relatively inexpensive part of the United States. My boyfriend at the time (who is coincidentally also my accountant and is still one of my best friends) was extremely supportive, but also didn’t really understand the choice. I was killing myself to make less than $30,000 a year. I’m not especially good at math, but I wasn’t even making minimum wage once you crunched the numbers. Why would I do that, plus have all the stress that goes along with not having steady income, not having benefits, being responsible for my own business, etc.? Why not just work at Burger King at that point?

Because I loved it.

Granted, I knew that working hard would pay off in the end (and it has, or at least, it is starting to), so I don’t think you should kill yourself working if you aren’t ever going to get anywhere, no matter how much you love your blog. Really, though, I loved what I was doing and I really believed in the work. He supported that, even if his idea of what a career should be is different. It’s time I’ll never get back, but just as time is money, love is money too.

How much would you pay, for example, to go to the movies for two hours? Most of us will shell out $10 for a ticket. Sometimes we like the movie, and sometimes we do not. That means we’re paying $5 per hour for the chance to be happy and entertained.

If you apply that same logic to your work as a blogger, it snaps into sharper perspective I think. When I started, maybe I was only making $7 an hour, but I was also happy, which was worth another $5 an hour for me, using the movie ticket logic – so I was really making $12 an hour, which starts to not look quite so bad. Of course, you have to pay your bills. You can’t give metaphorical “happiness money” to your landlord. But if you can make ends meet, sometimes its okay to financially struggle through the foundation years if you’re building something you love.

I guess, my overall message in this post is this: Be practical, but also follow your heart. Find that happy medium between time as money and love as money, and work toward both types of currency as you’re building your blog.

Jonathan Fields Talks About Manifesto Product Launching


“In the greatest crisis, you can find the greatest opportunities.” – Jonathan Fields

Jonathan Fields has used manifestos as a way to create a sales funnel, which is a completely different type of product launch tool. At BlogWorld 2010, he spoke about what a manifesto is, why this is a good way to launch a product, and how you can go about doing it. Let’s take a quick look at his steps to create a manifesto:

  1. Manifestos need to be heavily designed, both outside so the readers pick it up and inside so it remains attractive and easy-to read.
  2. Pick a a killer headline.
  3. Give it heft. A manifesto isn’t a glorified blog post – some of the most popular manifestos are 20, 30, even 100 pages. Says Jonathan, “”There’s such thing as too long. There’s only such a thing as too damn boring.”
  4. Make it a pattern interrupt. You want to disrupt a person’s mindset, give them something new and perhaps even shocking.
  5. Tell stories. A manifesto is all about connecting to tell people about your ideas and stir up emotions, and the best way to do that is with personal stories.
  6. Highlight a big problem in the lives of your community members.
  7. Agitate the problem. Again, you want to stir things up.
  8. Share high-value resources and action steps. You showed people the pain, and now you want to relieve it.
  9. Hold back the hardcore “how.” If you intend to launch another product, like a source or book, using your manifesto, you need to give them 75% or even 90%…but also give them something to buy later.
  10. Include a call to action. At the end, while someone is emotionally attached, give them a call to action – subscribe to your list, buy your product, whatever. Don’t lose them.

This was one of the best speakers I saw so far at BlogWorld Expo, so I highly recommend checking out Jonathan’s site to learn more.

Analyzing Your Market’s Wallet


I know a lot of people who have a lot of really good ideas. They start blogs. They write great posts. They engage readers on social networking sites.

And they fail.

At least, in terms of making a living as a full-time blogger, they fail, because they never actually make any money from their work. They might have thousands of followers on Twitter and dozens of comments on every blog post, but the best ideas in the world can’t save you from failing is you forget one key step: analyzing your market’s wallet.

When I first started freelance writing, I took a job with a fairly well-known blogging network at the time, which I won’t name here. They had great ideas for blogs – relevant topics that were in popular niches. They hired some great writers and built up a nice little community. The problem? They never actually thought about how they were going to convert pageviews into sales. Sure, they made a little money getting people to click on Google ads, but Adwords alone isn’t going to drive any blog to success.

It comes down to asking yourself two questions:

  1. Who is my average reader?
  2. How does my average reader spend his/her money?

Let’s use some fake blogs I’ve devised as examples. Say I write a cooking blog, where I post recipes and reviews of kitchen products. Here’s how I would answer those questions:

  1. My average reader is female, between the ages of 25 and 50, and likely married with kids or thinking about having kids.
  2. My average reader has to be careful with her money. She spends it first on bills and then on things that will improve her family’s life.

Of course, this blog probably has male readers, retired readers, single readers, etc. We’re going for an overall average here. Now let’s look at a complete different blog. Say I run a site that posts movie reviews and red carpet news. Here’s how I would answer those same questions:

  1. My average reader is likely between the ages of 15 and 35, enjoys celebrity gossip and pop culture, and is single or newly married.
  2. My average reader spends money on entertainment, but is often short on cash. He or she probably has some credit card debt, but will splurge to have fun with friends.

Again, not every reader will fit those descriptions, but we’re going for average here.

The common blogger, whether writing at the cooking blog or the movie blog, tries to make money the same way – posting banner ads. It just doesn’t make sense. Yes, you’ll make some money that way if you build traffic, but you have completely different readers with completely different needs and spending habits. Why would you ever try to make money from those people in the same way? It doesn’t make sense.

Instead, take some time to more closely analyze your market’s wallet.

  • When they make emotional purchases, what do they buy?
  • Do they shop online or at brick-and-mortar businesses?
  • How much spending cash to they have after paying monthly bills?
  • Why problems do they have in life that they would be paying to solve?

That last one is a biggie, because it’s how you can make sales. Going back to my examples, at the cooking blog, one of the problems readers have is not having more time with their families. Would they be willing to pay for a cookbook that taught them how to get kids involved in the kitchen? It’s likely.

You don’t even have to create products at this point if you’re not able to do so yet. Sign up as an affiliate and start selling products on commission. Once you’ve brainstormed the items that your market is purchasing, it’s easy to offer those products and see an immediate jump in profit on your blog.

Analyzing your market’s wallet is easier in some niches that others, but it’s an important step no matter what your blog is about. Unless make a few bucks with Adwords every month is you idea of a decent income, you have to treat your blog more like a business. The best blog idea in the world will only be a hobby if you don’t sell something to your readers.

A Disney Case Study: How to Dump Your Readers in a Blog “Gift Shop”


When I first started writing for the NMX blog (BlogWorld at the time), it was just after I spent a week in Orlando, which included two days at Disney World. Needless to say, I had Disney on the brain, and lucky for you all I jotted down a few ideas for blog posts that had hit me while on vacation.

Yes, I know I have problems when I’m brainstorming blog post ideas and monetizing techniques while at the Magic Kingdom. Don’t judge me.

I’ve been to Disney World in the past, but something that is so striking to me every single time I go is just how good this company is at getting you to buy crap. Seriously. I came home with about $30 worth of junk that I not only don’t need, but I don’t even really want. And remember, it’s just me; I don’t have kids nagging me to buy even more useless tchotchkes. There are products for sale packed into every corner of that darn park, and instead of becoming blind to it, as is often the case with overexposure, people just buy more.

So why does Disney items sell so well? Why do people really care about the approximate 231,390,908 gift shops in the park? It’s not just about wanting a single souvenir to take home – why does nearly everyone leave with bags and bags of Disney crap?

Value and Excitement

The first thing that Disney does, better than any other park in the country in my opinion, is get you excited. You’ve paid a park admission fee, so it isn’t like you get to go on rides for free, but when you’re standing in line it seems like what you’re getting is free, since you aren’t handing someone money to board a roller coaster or boat or whatever.

What you get for “free” is pretty amazing. Even as an adult, you can imagine that the animatronics and special effects are real. Some of the attractions allow you a peak into movie sets. Some allow you to step into your favorite Disney movies. Some even have allow audience participation, which puts you in the middle of the show. All of this builds excitement. If you’ve never been to a Disney park, let me assure you – it is not just for kids and it’s not like typical run-of-the-mill amusement parks. You’ll get excited about their attractions no matter what your age. You leave nearly every attraction giggling and giddy, or at least, I did (and I’m pretty sure most of the adults around me did as well).

The Dump

This is the kicker – at the height of your giddiness, Disney does what I call “The Dump” and shoots your into one of their gift shops. They aren’t just nearby; in some cases, you exit the attraction through a gift shop. And not just any gift shop – a gift shop specifically themed to sell items relating to the content you just saw.

In a split second, visitors to the park become consumers. Those aren’t Mickey ears you’re wearing, it’s a sign that hey, I’ll buy anything if I’m tempted, like ridiculous mouse ears even though I’m a grown man. You had so much fun on the ride that you can’t possibly leave without an item to remind you of it. You’re so excited that you want to take home items for your family so they can share in the excitement. You don’t just want to buy. You need to buy.

Disney is sneaky, too. They have theme gift shops, but within each, they also have items that are kinda-but-not-really related. For example, in the Pirates of the Caribbean gift shop, they had a section of Nightmare Before Christmas items. Ok, he’s a skeleton, but that’s about the only link between the two themes. It doesn’t matter. For those guests who missed the excitement, who didn’t really have a high level of enjoyment for that particular ride, there are other popular niche areas of the store to explore while the rest of the family is buying pirate hats and eye patches.

Because you need an eye patch. You suddenly are overwhelmed at the thought of how you survived this long without one in the first place.

I digress. The point is that Disney hits you with a hard sell at the moment when you’re most emotional excited about the theme. They know that if you walk out and move on to the next attraction, it is unlikely that you’ll come back to buy something. At the very least, if you return, you’re probably only going to pick up something specific, like a single small item for a nephew that’s interested in pirates. You aren’t going to make emotional purchases.

The Blog Gift Shop Dump

You might be wondering why I’m going on and on about Disney gift shops, but those of you who have been reading my posts for a few months now know that I always have a point, even if I take a long, rambling road to get there. Today, the destination I hope you’ve realized by now is this: If you excite your readers with content first and then try to sell them a product then and there, they’ll be more likely to buy.

Essentially, you should be dumping your readers in a gift shop of sorts on your own blog.

People are already doing this, in some cases, without realizing it. Think about the last time you posted a review on your blog, especially for something you really liked. At the end, you likely gave the reader links to purchase the product or service, and hopefully you are an affiliate so that you make a cut on that money. You weren’t psychoanalyzing your readers to find out when they’d be most emotionally invested in the potential to buy – you just did what makes logical sense. You read how much I liked this product. Here’s a link to go buy it.

Let’s say you posted a review and then posted a separate link to buy a few days later. Even people who read your review initially won’t be as enticed to buy as they were immediately after reading the review. You could have converted sales, but by not dumping your readers into a gift shop when they were most excited, they got distracted and lost interest or spent their money elsewhere.

If you’ve ever attended a free webinar, you’ve probably noticed the same gift shop dump mentality. People with a product to sell will spend an hour or two getting you excited, and then they’ll whip out the “buy it right now” hard sale at the very end. And you know what? People buy. They need the product more then they’ll ever actually need it ever again, even when they have it. It’s the emotional response we have as human beings.

So, in closing,

  1. Post something free that has a high value.
  2. Get your readers excited about the content
  3. Sell something immediately following the free content.

That’s the gift shop dump mentality. Disney uses it. Almost every successful six-figure blogger I know uses it (even if some don’t realize it). You can use it too.

Paying for BlogWorld, part 1


I follow the hashtag #BWE10 on Twitter to keep my finger on the pulse of what people are saying about BlogWorld. Sadly, it seems like a number of people are making the decision not to come because they don’t have the money for it.

I understand that completely. I’m not someone with deep pockets, and a trip across the country isn’t cheap. It’s not a matter of whether or not a ticket to BlogWorld is worth the money. Although the upfront price may look expensive at first, you’re getting a ton of value for the cost of a ticket. I think you all realize that. The problem is, no matter how good of a deal something is, if you don’t have the money, you don’t have the money.

If you’d like to go to BlogWorld, even if you think you don’t have the cash, I’d like to help you brainstorm some ideas to pay for the trip. I recommend booking your BlogWorld hotel room right now. Go on, I’ll wait. Your card isn’t charged until October, and you can cancel for free before then if you honestly don’t have the money in the end. You don’t want to get stuck without a discounted room if you decide you can go at the last minute. Booking a hotel room, even though you can cancel if you change your mind, makes things see more official, so it’s a motivator to actually make money to go.

OK, let’s get into the meat of this post. How can you go about paying for this trip? Here are some fab tips – and not a single one involves taking off your clothing, joining a pyramid scheme, or

  • Sign up on shareasale.com‘s* site to be a part of the BlogWorld affiliate program and start encouraging your friends and readers to attend BlogWorld. You’ll make $30+ for every person who attends through your affiliate link, and it’s something you can easily promote not only on your website, but also on your social networks.
  • Contact companies directly to ask for sponsorship. I’ve seen some people tweeting about wanting a sponsor, but not having much luck. You have to man up and contact companies directly. Look for companies that aren’t attending BlogWorld and come up with a comprehensive sponsorship package. Maybe you’ll wear their t-shirt for one day in exchange for paying one night of the hotel room or maybe you’ll hand out their business cards with your own in exchange for buying the actual ticket. Give companies options to fit any budget. Don’t forget to approach local business that have an online presence.
  • Sell some ad space on your blog specific for BlogWorld sponsorship. Again, this involves cold-calling companies directly, which can be uncomfortable, but is much more successful than simply posting a notice on your blog. Note that you expect more traffic than normal as you’re blogging about BlogWorld and again, have multiple price points for different budgets.
  • Offer some blogging services to companies to help cover costs. For example, you could approach local businesses in your area and offer to set up free WordPress sites with their theme of choice for them for a set amount of money. Or, you could help a company optimize their site for search engine traffic. Or, you could help a company edit their stylesheet to customize a theme. Draw on your own skills. Note that you’re raising money to get to BlogWorld. People are more likely to jump on board if they’re part of a cause of some sort.
  • Put a tip jar on your blog. I’ve never had a ton of success with these, but if you mention specifically that you’re trying to raise money to attend BlogWorld, some of your readers might donate. Make sure to add some affiliate links as well and note that they can also tip simply by buying a product they were going to purchase anyway, since you’ll get a cut of the money. Amazon is a great affiliate program for this, since they have so many items people buy anyway.
  • Create an information product, like an ebook or video series, to sell on your blog. You can go all-out and do a huge project, but if you simply don’t have the time, create something small and sell it for $10 – $20. If just 100 people buy your $20 product, that’s $2000 to put toward your trip, which is almost enough to pay for it completely, depending on your travel costs.
  • Find bloggers in your area and arrange a carpool. This isn’t really relevant if you are flying, not driving, but for bloggers who live within driving distance of Las Vegas, spliting the cost of gas/parking for a van or SUV between six or so people can really cut your costs.

I know, I know – a lot of you are looking at this list and thinking, “this doesn’t help, I’m doing these things already and still don’t have the money to go!” Don’t worry! I’m compiling a list of other ways you can cut costs in your daily life to save up money for this trip. This list was blogging-specific, but never fear. I am the Queen of Pinching Pennies, and I have some cool tricks to share with you.

Keep in mind that all of the tips in this post (and my next post) can be used not just for BlogWorld, but for any trip you want to take, even a vacation.

*Disclosure: That’s an affiliate link.

Allison Boyer is a writer for BWE’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. As the Queen of Pinching Pennies, she thinks she needs a crown and a cape. Or at least a tiara.

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