7 Ironclad Reasons to Podcast (Even If You Hate the Sound of Your Own Voice)

Look, I get it…

You hate the sound of your own voice. You’re unfamiliar with the tech. And you feel much more comfortable typing than you do talking into a mic.

So you may feel hesitant to start your own podcast. Maybe you even feel intimidated by the prospect.

But you should do it anyway.

Because podcasting can pay major dividends for you, your blog, and your business.

Podcasting has been on a steady increase over the years both in the quantity of shows produced and in the volume of listeners.

It reaches people across genres, languages, and economic status, and if you strategically bake podcasting into your content plan, you can reap its many dividends.

Here are seven ways podcasting can help you boost your blog and business.

#1. You Build a Network Your Competitors Will Envy


When you run a podcast, you can invite influencers as guests and interview them one on one. It’s an excellent way to build connections.

Most people like the idea of gaining free publicity for their work, so they’ll often agree to spend 30+ minutes with you to get exposed to your audience.

And when you spend time cultivating the relationship before, during, and after the interview, you can build a powerful network of people who can help you grow your business and blog.

Over the last two and a half years, I’ve interviewed more than 100 guests for my own podcast. While I’m not best friends with every person who’s come on the show, I have kept in touch with people with whom I had a strong connection.

And some cool business opportunities have come out of those, which wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t established the initial relationship through my podcast.

#2. You Can Bask in the Spillover of Other People’s Star Power


Some time ago, I had Tucker Max on my podcast. (In case you don’t know, he’s a three-time New York Times best-selling author.)

His team reached out to me and pitched Tucker as a guest to promote his new business, Book in a Box.

Once the episode went live, I got this message from a friend in my network:

build influence and social proof

Leveraging the authority of those you associate with is a smart way to build influence and social proof.

When you interview people for your podcast, particularly folks with larger followings than you, it boosts your credibility. Your audience will think, “If she has so-and-so on her show, she must know what she’s talking about!”

And you don’t have to wait for your dream guests to come to you. You can reach out to them and explain why coming on your show would benefit them.

Don’t know how? Here’s a great resource on how to land big guests for your show, even if you’re a newbie.

#3. Your Ideas Reach a Brand-New, Highly Engaged Audience


Through blogging, you can spread your ideas to a wide audience. But through podcasting, you can put those ideas in front of a new audience that your blog might never reach.

While there are some people who read blogs and listen to podcasts on a regular basis, many people do just one or the other.

And listenership continues to grow for podcasts — at more than 20% year after year.

Even better, data reveals podcast audiences are super-engaged. A whopping 85% of listeners hear all or most of a show and the average listener consumes five hours and seven minutes worth of podcasts each week.

People aren’t quick to turn off a podcast once they start listening, and they can listen to a podcast while doing something else, like cooking, driving or walking the dog. It’s an ideal medium for busy people.

So repurposing ideas you’ve shared on your blog for a podcast is well worth your time — especially the ideas that have already proven popular.

For example, here’s an article I published on my Inc. column that showed the results of research I’d done with entrepreneurs:

repurpose blogs for podcast material

When I saw the message resonated, I switched up the headline, added a few additional points, and published it as a podcast episode.

repurpose blogs for podcast material - 2

With this one article and podcast episode, I was able to double the amount of people who were exposed to my message.

#4. Your Unfiltered Voice Builds an Even Deeper Bond with Your Audience


You can build a connection with readers on your blog, no doubt. But with podcasting, your audience hears your voice and personality, your inflections and emotions, as well as your laughter.

They’ll feel like they know you much more intimately, which bonds them to you more strongly.

A few years ago, researchers conducted a study where they asked participants to rate their degree of connectedness and bonding after having participated in in-person, video, audio, or written communication with a friend.

As you might’ve guessed, the greatest level of bonding occurred through in-person interactions, followed by video chats, followed by audio.

Instant messaging came in last among the options.

When you consider how the brain processes information, this phenomenon isn’t surprising. Researchers, educators, and consultants Louisa Moats and Carol Tolman explained it in more detail on Reading Rockets:

Spoken language is “hard-wired inside the human brain. Language capacity in humans evolved about 100,000 years ago, and the human brain is fully adapted for language processing… A related fact should be self-evident: Reading and writing are acquired skills for which the human brain is not yet fully evolved.” (Liberman, Shankweiler, & Liberman, 1989) Human brains are naturally wired to speak; they are not naturally wired to read and write.

 
Reading and writing are skills we may take for granted today, but these skills have only recently become prevalent among the human population. By contrast, we’ve been speaking and listening for ages.

It’s no surprise that hearing someone’s voice makes us feel more connected to them than just reading their words.

#5. Your Bank Account Will Get More Direct Deposits


Adding a podcast to your content marketing can directly increase the revenues for your blog and business.

The most common way people monetize their podcasts is through selling sponsorships, or commercial spots that are read before and during an episode.

John Lee Dumas is host of the hit podcast Entrepreneur on Fire. Every month he publishes an income report for the business he’s built around the show. For December alone, his sponsorship revenue for his daily podcast was more than $64,000.

podcasts can increase your revenue

The larger the audience is for your show, the better you position yourself to earn a decent income from third-party sponsors.

But getting sponsors for your show isn’t the only way to monetize your podcast. Many hosts promote their own products and services to their listeners through designated ad spots.

You could highlight your online course, your coaching packages, or even relevant affiliate offers.

My friend Vernon Foster is a podcast coach at PodParrot. He says many of his clients make a ton of money with their podcast by highlighting their own products. He recommends podcasters with audiences of all sizes do the same:

You don’t have to be Tim Ferriss, Lewis Howes or Gary Vee either. There’s [sic] a lot of real estate podcasts you’ve never heard of that are quietly making a small fortune selling high-ticket [offers].

 
Side note: I met Vernon through my podcast, which goes to show how it can help you build your network!

#6. You Give Google More Reason to Notice You


Bloggers have long been on the hunt for ways to drive traffic to their blogs through SEO. The good news is that podcasting can help you with that as well.

Whenever you publish a new episode, you can add relevant written content to the “show notes” page on your website, which is indexable by search engines. Transcripts and detailed notes with time stamps are smart ways to add content to your site that might rank for long-tail keywords and draw more traffic.

Not only that, podcasting can also help you get links, which can boost your site’s authority in the eyes of Google. Whenever you have a guest on for an interview, you have a good chance they’ll link back to it from their site.

Lastly, publishing podcasts on your blog can also increase the average amount of time people stay on your site. Google likes to see this as well.

Here’s what SEO expert Phil Singleton of Kansas City Web Design said on the subject:

To the extent that you can, adding rich media in, like a podcast audio or a video, is super important because one of the hottest topics in terms of on page SEO is increasing the amount of dwell time on the site. [. . .] If you can get people to land on the page and click the audio file on your website, they stay a lot longer. Your dwell time goes through the roof, even if it is only a few people because a 15-20 minute podcast has a lot more people listening through longer.

 

#7. You’ll Be Prepared When Oprah Calls


Podcasting will you get you ready for future speaking opportunities that can expand your reach.

Imagine your blog getting so popular that you get called for a talk show interview, a TEDx talk, or to be a featured speaker at a conference. You want to be ready, right?

Having experience speaking in both scripted and off-the-cuff formats will prepare you for when those calls come.

When you step up to the mic on a consistent basis, you will discover your most relevant messages, refine your voice, and overcome any fears of public speaking that might otherwise hold you back.

Through podcasting, you’ll build your speaking confidence until it feels natural.

A few months ago, I was a featured expert on a program with an NPR radio affiliate. The show’s producer read an article I published, and he invited me to speak more in-depth on the topic and to answer questions from listeners who called in.

My experiences in podcasting, both as a guest and a host, prepared me to be comfortable speaking without a script.  As a result, I am ready to seize bigger opportunities that come my way.

It’s Time for You to Step Up to the Mic

Give your expertise an even bigger stage. A stage that enables you to transform the lives of even more people who crave your solutions.

Sure, it’ll take some practice.

But don’t most things that are worth it?

You don’t have to produce the next Serial, This American Life, or Smart Passive Income to reap the benefits of podcasting.

You’ve simply got to create a show that speaks to your ideal audience in a meaningful way.

You’ve already got the knowledge. And you’ve already got the ideas.

Now all you need is the mic.

About the Author: Sonia Thompson is a marketing strategist, consultant, and author focused on helping you create remarkable customer experiences that help you win more customers and keep them coming back for more. Grab your Podcast Launch Resource Sheet, so you know exactly what you need (and what you don’t) to start your podcast.

Source: https://smartblogger.com/why-podcast/

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323 The End of Learning with Leslie

You read that right. This episode marks the end of “Learning with Leslie” – the podcast.

Rather than write out an explanation of why and what this mean, I would rather you listen to the episode.

Listen to This Episode

Fortunately, the end of Learning with Leslie is the beginning of something else.

I can’t wait to take you on the journey with me.

The post 323 The End of Learning with Leslie appeared first on Become A Blogger by Leslie Samuel.

Source: https://www.becomeablogger.com/25918/the-end-learning-with-leslie/

322 How to Increase the Value of Your Product with Minimal Effort

Are you looking for ways to increase the revenue you make from your blog?

Wish you had a few things you could try to day?

In this episode, I will share 7 things you can do to increase the value of your digital products.

Listen to This Episode

Lets Start with an Example

I started a biology blog a few years ago. Most of my content was videos.

At some point, I decided it was time to start making money with that blog. One of the things I decided to do was create and sell an ebook.

This was my first ebook and I wanted to make it special. I wanted people to see it and immediately think it was valuable.

So I decided to add more value by linking the content in the ebook with my videos.

Ebook Content are linked to my YouTube Videos

Whenever the buyer came to a section of the ebook that needed explanation, there was a solution.

Click the video icon and it will take you to a blog post with a video explanation.

It was such a hit that I sold thousands of dollars worth with minimal promotion.

Why Increase the Value

Increasing the value of your products can result in more money from your blog in your pockets. Would you complain about that? I’m guessing not.

Here are three ways this can happen:

  • value pricing

    The higher the value of your product, the more you can increase its pricing.

    It empowers you to increase your pricing. If the value of your product is higher, it’s quite logical that you can increase your price of that product.

  • Convince those who are on the ledge. Whenever you promote your product, there will be those who need some extra convincing. Adding more value to that product might be the thing to push them over to the bright side.
  • Increase Retention. If you’re running a membership site, one of the big challenges is retaining members. Well, the more value they get from your site, the less likely they will be to cancel.

Seven Ways to Increase the Value of Your Products

Alright, you’re sold. But now you need some practical ways that you can increase your product’s value. Let’s dive into seven ways…

Add more formats of content

Add more formats of the content

There are three main formats for your digital content – written, audio and video.

With my ebook, I added video content to my written content and that increased the perceived value. As a result, it was easier to sell.

What if you have a video course? Why not add some written handouts or downloadable MP3s? With more formats, you cater to more learning styles.

Add high-value bonuses

Add high-value bonuses

Who doesn’t like bonuses? It feels like you”re wining a prize, doesn’t it?

If you don’t have any bonuses to go along with your product, then create some.

I give bonuses like a 4-week jumpstart, Q&A repository and ultimate checklists.

Other examples are complementary courses or special high-value interviews.

Do live coaching calls/Q&A sessions

Do live coaching calls

Having a course is great, but there will be people with questions. Why not get them on a live coaching call or q&a session?

That’ll give them the security in knowing that if they have questions, they can get answers.

Now, the assumption here is that you know your stuff well. As long as you do, this can be an easy way of providing value.

Do webinars

Webinars are a great way to provide extra educational content to your customers.

When I first launched a course teaching people how to blog, I had an up-sell for six live webinars.

These webinars covered more advanced topics. So I was able to charge much more for those who wanted access to the webinars.

Catalogue all questions

questions

Catalogue all questions

Organizing your questions and answers strategically is VERY valuable.

I started doing this when I first launched my coaching club in 2014. Since then, I’ve done 2 coaching calls every single month.

As a result, we now have hundreds of questions catalogued in the member’s area.

I do this by recording each question and answer individually. I then catalogue them by question, topics and asker.

I use Swiftype so that if you start typing a topic, it will pop up every question on that topic.

A free option to this is Algolia.

Add a Community

Add a community

Add a community

Going through a course can be a very isolated activity. Adding a community adds a layer of support and interaction that increases value.

I do this by way of a private Facebook group for my members. The beauty of this is that they are able to ask questions at any time. They are also able to interact and engage with other members.

One thing that has been VERY effective for me is recording video responses to every question.

Build affiliate marketing into your content

affiliate links

Build affiliate marketing into your content

If appropriate, build your affiliate links into your program. By doing this you can increase the amount you earn per customer.

I use the Pretty Links plugin to create easy and memorable links to affiliate products.

I also make sure to have a consistent naming system for all my affiliate links. For example, my affiliate link for Thrive Themes is becomeablogger.com/thrivethemes. For GetResponse, it’s becomeablogger.com/getresponse.

Of course, you should ONLY promote something as an affiliate if it’s helpful to your customer.

Let’s wrap this up

So there you have it – seven ways to increase the value of your products.

I want to leave you with these two questions:

1. Do you have a product to sell?

2. If so, which one of these tips will you add to your products to increase it’s value?

Let me know in the comments below.

Resources Mentioned

Infographic

increase product price

7 Ways to Increase the Value of Your Product with Minimal Effort

The post 322 How to Increase the Value of Your Product with Minimal Effort appeared first on Become A Blogger by Leslie Samuel.

Source: https://www.becomeablogger.com/25888/increase-value-of-your-product/

Why All Bloggers Should Offer Coaching (Yes, Even You)

You started your blog because you want people to read it.

You want your blog to connect with people. You want your content to reach a wide audience. You want to build a base of fans that gobble up your every word.

And yes, at some point, you also want to make money from your blog.  

Because let’s face it … as much as you love to write, you didn’t start your blog as a journaling project. (If you did, this article isn’t for you.)

But here’s the thing … if you want your writing to connect with people, you need to connect with them first.

And the best way to connect with anyone is to talk to them — as in, one-on-one.

That’s why every blogger should offer coaching.

Yes, even you. Even if you don’t think you can.

“But… My Niche Really Isn’t Coaching-Compatible…”

You sure about that?

Okay, I won’t lie — some niches do lend themselves to coaching more than others. Everyone’s heard of business coaches, dating coaches, and fitness coaches. And if you blog on those topics, coaching people will feel like a natural step.

On the other hand, nobody’s ever heard of a web design coach, an anxiety coach, or a travel coach. Those niches aren’t quite as compatible with coaching as the previous ones.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t offer a coaching-like service.

You don’t have to label it “coaching” if it doesn’t feel natural, but you can offer something that gets you one-on-one time with your audience.

For example:

  • If you blog about web design, you could offer website reviews and feedback sessions.
  • If you blog about anxiety, you could offer guided meditations or in-person teaching of techniques to calm down.
  • If you blog about travel, you could offer sessions where they tell you their dream trip, and you help them create the ultimate money-saving itinerary.

So let’s be clear: You don’t have to be a coach in the traditional sense of the word. The important thing is that you get to talk to (and help!) your audience in a one-on-one setting.

You do not have to be a coach in the traditional sense of the word.

“But… But… I’m Not Ready to Be a Coach!”

Let’s be real. Your first coaching sessions will always feel scary, and you’re not going to feel ready the first few times you do it.

But you shouldn’t wait to start coaching until you feel ready, because you won’t feel ready until you start coaching.

Jeff Goins started coaching early in his blogging career, and even he admits he was mostly winging it at first:

Early on in my blogging career, people started asking me to coach them. I had no idea what this meant or how to do this. So, of course, I said yes. I began meeting with people in person and on the phone and seeing how I could help them. When we met, I realized what Derek Sivers says — ”what’s obvious to you is amazing to others” — is true.

 
Yes, you read that right. One of the world’s most popular writing coaches had little clue what he was doing when he started coaching. He was just confident he could help people get results, so he said yes.

And that’s the point: Coaching clients don’t expect you to be perfect. They just want you to help them get results.

If you have enough knowledge to run a blog on a certain topic, you have enough knowledge to get people results on that same topic. Right? Right. (Otherwise, I doubt you’d have started your blog in the first place.)

If you’re uncomfortable charging people at first, that’s totally understandable. (And even honorable that you don’t want to take money without first proving your value.)

To get past this, go ahead and offer your first 5–10 coaching calls for free. You’ll not only gain experience running a coaching call, you’ll also gain the confidence to charge people for a session when the time comes.

3 Critical Reasons You Should Offer Coaching to Your Audience

Are you feeling convinced that you can offer coaching on your blog?

Good, then we can talk about why you should.

The truth is, coaching can be a godsend for your blogging business.

I’ve been blogging for almost four years now, and it’s only been in the last year or so that I got the readership, engagement, and profitability I’ve wanted all along. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I also started coaching about a year and a half ago.

Here are three ways coaching will benefit you as a blogger:

#1. You Gain New Insights and Create More Engaging Content


One of the coolest things about coaching is that clients will tell you their own specific struggles without you having to guess. I know that sounds uber-simplistic, but how many hours do you spend scouring the web for information on your audience instead of just asking them directly?

Coaching clients are incredibly forthcoming with what they need your help with, which means you’ll gather a ton of valuable insights for your content strategy.

Take Jacob McMillen, who noticed some tangible data differences after running his first coaching/mentorship program. He’d reached the six-figure mark as a writer, and wanted to know how he could help other people do the same.

I decided to mentor 10 writers for 3 months and see what would happen. I priced it at $200 per month to make it accessible and all 10 spots were filled within a few days. My hope was that, even if I wasn’t successful, I would get a more intimate understanding of what was really holding people back.

 
From mentoring only ten people, he already got a wealth of information and results. It was a lot of work, but worth it in the long run.

After the group mentoring experiment, he realigned his content marketing based on the information he collected, and saw the following results:

  • Average article views increased from 1,218 to 3,802
  • Average time on page increased from 3:38 to 6:21
  • Average shares increased from 72 to 99

After his coaching experiment, the insights he gathered helped him develop more compelling content for his particular audience, and as you can see, his engagement shot way up.

#2. You Can Start Earning Cash Right Away


One of the best parts of coaching is that you can make money right away.

As we saw above, Jacob mentored ten students at $200 a pop, which means he brought in $2,000 he wouldn’t have otherwise.

In my own business, I let people book one-off sessions ranging in price from $125 to $200, and sometimes I even book month-long programs for corporate teams for thousands of dollars.

It’s relatively quick and easy money, and you don’t even have to spend time creating a product. Coaching is something you can start to offer as soon as you get readers. (Or even sooner, if you explore other ways to score your first coaching clients.)

Even if you don’t start out charging $100+ per session, and even if you’re only getting the occasional client at first, it’s still cash in your bank.

Yes, even if you only book one session per week and only charge $30 to $50 for it, that’s still money coming in. (And it means you’re officially “in business” as a professional blogger.)

#3. You Can Validate and Refine Your Product Ideas


As Pat Flynn put it: “If you truly want to know whether or not a product will sell or not, you’ve got to get people to pull out their wallets and actually pay you for it.”

He’s right. You’ll never know if you’ve got something worth paying for until someone pays for it.

One of the most popular ways to make money as a blogger is through product development — but with the amount of time that takes, it can be a risky venture if you don’t validate your product idea beforehand.

And you can validate your product idea by selling coaching sessions aimed at helping people reach the same goal. You’ll already know people are willing to pay for it, so you’ll reduce most of the risk up front.

Not only that, but the insights you get from coaching will help you refine your product and maximize its effectiveness.

James Johnson based his entire first course on the results he got from coaching:

I was looking to find my first product to run through Freelance Writers School. I needed to find out what people needed, and what I could deliver to them in a small space of time.

So I asked around some freelance friends on Facebook, explained to them what I was doing, and offered to coach them for free on some of the problems they were having in their business.

 
James got one friend on board and asked him what his problems were. James then offered his solutions, and when they worked, he’d add them to his course as modules. When they didn’t work, he’d cut them and try something new.

When James was done, he’d helped his friend grow his freelancing business, and he’d assembled 90% of a course.

He then continued to test his solutions on paid coaching clients, noting where they hit roadblocks or had further questions. This helped him refine his course further, making it even more helpful and easier to navigate.

Start Coaching Right Now and Reap the Many Benefits

Your first coaching offer doesn’t have to be perfect, especially if you’re at the first stages of using it as a method of market research and a simple stream of revenue.

You’ll refine your offer(s) over time, and only experience with coaching can teach you how to become a better coach for your audience.

You’ll learn so much about your audience, build a better blog, earn some money, and gather the information you need to make your blog more profitable in the long term. (Plus, you’ll be helping people with your knowledge, which is rewarding in and of itself.)

It’s a win-win-win situation, and the world is waiting for your expertise.

So give it to them.

About the Author: Chelsea Baldwin is the founder of Copy Power, where she teaches copywriting and helps entrepreneurs make the kind of bang-bang impression that gets remembered. (Even days after people leave your site.) Use her free 3-part email course to learn how to write astonishingly memorable copy for yourself, even if you’re not a writer.

 

Source: https://smartblogger.com/why-offer-coaching/

321 How to Build a Service-based Business Around Your Blog – Prerna Malik

Are you looking for a way to start making money from your blog?

Having you considered providing a specific service?

Prerna Malik share how she built her service-based business using her blog.

Listen to This Episode

Who is Prerna Malik?

Prerna Malik is a conversion copywriter and founder of Content Bistro.

Content Bistro - build a service-based business

Content Bistro

She crafts profit-boosting sales and email copy for high-impact launches.

As a result, she has worked with industry leaders.

People like Amy Porterfield, Bushra Azhar, Carrie Wilkerson, Katrina Springer, April Perry Wilson and many others.

Prerna’s Backstory

When Prerna had her daughter, she decided to leave her corporate job to be able to stay at home.

Nine months in, she needed a creative outlet and started a blog called “The Mom Writes” as an online journal.

She wrote about topics related to parenting and green living.

Prerna and family

Prerna and husband Mayank with their daughter. Source: contentbistro.com

After hearing about Twitter from her audience, she decided to start using it. It was a great way to connect with her audience, and it was working.

After writing on her blog for a while, she started getting noticed.

Companies started approaching her to write for them and manage their social media.

In January 2010, her husband got very ill. Later that year, it got so bad that he had to quit.

They were both at home and their medical bills were piling up. Not to mention having a young daughter at home.

It was a trying year. But it was also the year that they decided that they HAD TO make the business work for them.

How to Build a Service-based Business

When she first started their business, her budget was minimal. She estimates that she spent about $100 that year – the price of hosting.

How did she do it? Here are some of her tips…

Cold-emailing potential clients

Prerna searched on Google and in business directories to find potential clients.

She also used Similar Web to find sites that were like the sites she found.

Make sure cold emails are effective by doing proper research

Her goal was to find as many sites in the parenting and green living space as possible.

But she wanted to make sure her cold emails were effective. She recommends the following tips for crafting good emails:

  • Do your research. It’s important to know who you are emailing and use their first name. Look at their site and make sure you understand where you can provide value.
  • Keep it short. People are busy. Don’t waste their time.
  • Be professional. Make sure your email doesn’t have typos and grammatical errors.
  • Be yourself and have personality. 
  • Use a template, but customize it. Don’t say the exact same thing to everyone. Use your research to connect with them – even at a personal level.

Price yourself well

Price yourself well

Price yourself well

Prerna says that it’s important to price yourself according to the value you provide. She always priced herself based on her experience and expertise.

In the beginning, that was on the lower end. Over time, and based on research, she started increasing her price.

Follow-up

If you don’t hear from your contact in 3-5 business days, follow up with another polite email.

follow up emails

Send follow up emails if you don’t hear from them

Some of the questions Prerna would include in those follow-up emails were: Do you have a question? Can we help you? Would you like to hop on a call?

If you still haven’t heard from them in a week, follow up again. A great question as this point is – “Have you had a chance to go over the email?

Finding Clients

By going through this process often in the beginning, it got easier.

Not only that, she found that she would have to do this less over time.

Because she provided a great service, she started getting more referral. Now, most of her clients come via referral and her blog.

Systems and Processes

Over the years, Prerna has managed to 10x her business. Part of the reason for this is the systems and processes she uses in her business.

systems and processes

Create systems and processes to manage your business successfully

Here are some of the things she suggests:

  • Have a marketing/editorial calendar. She uses one to make sure they are being effective with their content. It helps you get work done and allows you to keep promos and goals in mind.
  • Keep a close watch on your finances. Prerna says it’s important to know where you are each month. You should also have an idea of what things will look like in upcoming months. This helps you to meet your income goals and informs your marketing calendar.
  • Own your calendar. Whether paper or digital, it’s important to plan out your time. Each week, Prerna plans one day for content, three for client work, one team day and 1 for marketing/learning.

She also has a detailed process for onboarding her clients. Here’s how it works in her business

  • Once clients sign up, she has them fill out an extensive questionnaire. This helps her understand their audience, offer, values, mission, vision, goals, etc.
  • extensive questionnaires

    Giving out extensive questionnaires may help you understand your clients well

    They then have a kickoff call, where they go through the questionnaire together and fill in any gaps.

  • She then does a content audit, where she analyses their content to get a better feel for their business.
  • Then she does her research. In this step, she will interview clients/customers and analyze the competition. She will also mine reviews on Amazon if applicable.
  • She then starts writing.
  • Her editor then edits the copy.
  • The process ends with a client meeting where she presents the copy to them.

In Summary

Prerna was able to build a successful serviced-based business around her blog.

Her skill was writing. Yours may be something else.

Her skill has value, but so does yours. My hope is that you’re inspired by her story.

And if you’ve been thinking about using your skills to provide a service to your audience, take action.

She shared how she was able to do it. Now you go, do, and then come back to share!

Infographic

build a service-based business

How to Build a Service-based Business Around Your Blog – Prerna Malik

The post 321 How to Build a Service-based Business Around Your Blog – Prerna Malik appeared first on Become A Blogger by Leslie Samuel.

Source: https://www.becomeablogger.com/25863/build-a-service-based-business-around-blog/

WP Super Cache Made Easy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Speeding Up Your Site

You want your website’s visitors to have the best experience possible, right?

Well, then you better not keep them waiting. Slow-loading pages are one of the biggest frustrations people experience online.

In fact, having slow page loads can affect everything from how many people view your site and where you rank in Google to how likely people are to buy from you.

In other words, having a fast website is crazy-important.

But what can you do? You’re not a developer, so you don’t have the first clue how to speed up your site.

That’s where WP Super Cache comes in.

It’s a free plugin that can slash your page load times in half without the need for any special knowledge.

Here’s how it works…

How WP Super Cache Makes Your Website Faster

Before I explain how WP Super Cache works, you need to understand how WordPress serves your content to your visitors.

This will get a bit technical, but don’t worry, I’ll try to keep this as painless and human-friendly as possible. I know most of you aren’t developers. (And neither am I!)

Here’s what goes on under the hood of your site:

Whenever you get a visitor, WordPress builds the page through a number of processes which involve:

  • Executing PHP (like the functionalities added by your theme or your WordPress plugins)
  • Querying your site’s database to retrieve content (like the text in your blog posts)

Normally, WordPress executes these processes dynamically.

That means WordPress has to execute all separate processes to load your website’s content for each individual visit.

Now computers are fast these days, but this still takes time.

And your visitors can’t see your website until these processes are complete, which means they have to wait to start using your site (a.k.a. slow page load times ).

That’s exactly the problem WP Super Cache fixes.

WP Super Cache Turns Dynamic into Static to Speed Up Your Site


Using something called page caching, WP Super Cache stores a static HTML copy of your content for visitors to browse. Basically, it stores a copy of the end result of the dynamic process outlined above.

That way, your web server no longer needs to execute the PHP or query your database for each individual visitor.

Instead, it serves up the already-finished product.

And because your server has to do significantly less work, it loads the finished page much faster.

Here, I’ll prove it…

Putting WP Super Cache to the Test with Real Data

For this tutorial, I’ll set up a test site and upload a full landing page so it seems “real.”

Then I’ll use Pingdom’s Speed Test tool to show how quickly my site loads before WP Super Cache is installed, and how quickly it loads after various steps in the configuration process. (I recommend you do the same when you install the plugin.)

That way, you’ll see exactly how much of an effect WP Super Cache has.

Ready?

Here’s the page load time before installing WP Super Cache:

Page load time before WP Super Cache

2.02 seconds isn’t horrible, but we can do a lot better!

Let’s install WP Super Cache and see how fast we can get.

Step #1: Install the WP Super Cache Plugin

WP Super Cache is listed in the official WordPress.org plugin directory, which means that you can install it straight from your WordPress dashboard.

To do that, go to Plugins → Add New. Then search for “WP Super Cache” and click the Install Now button:

Search and Install WordPress WP Super Cache plugin

After a few seconds, the Install Now button should change to read Activate. Click that Activate button to make WP Super Cache active:

Activate WordPress Wp Super Cache plugin

Now the plugin is active on your site. But it’s still not working quite just yet.

Here’s what to do next…

Step #2: Turn On Basic Caching for an Instant 50% Reduction in Page Load Times

One of the beautiful things about WP Super Cache is how easy it is to start using the plugin. All you need to do is click a button.

Yes, really.

You can configure some of the advanced settings to optimize your load times further (which we’ll cover in a minute), but clicking that one button gives you the biggest speed boost.

Here’s what you do:

Go to Settings → WP Super Cache in your WordPress dashboard.

Then select the radio box for Caching On and click Update Status:

Turn on basic caching

And just like that, you’ve activated basic page caching on your site. By itself, that should lead to a major speed improvement.

How major? Let’s find out!

Here’s my page load time after clicking the button:

Page load time improved with WordPress WP Super Cache

Now, my test site loads in just 883 milliseconds. (Remember, it was 2.02 seconds before.)

Let me press a few buttons on my calculator, and…

Yup, I cut more than half off my page load time with less than five minutes of work.

Amazing, right?

But we’re not stopping there.

Because WP Super Cache includes some advanced settings that can:

  1. Further speed up your site
  2. Prevent caching-related issues

So let’s soldier on and configure some of these settings.

Step #3: Configure Advanced Settings for an Even Bigger Speed Boost

To get started, head to the Advanced tab in the WP Super Cache Settings area:

Configure advanced settings - WordPress WP Super Cache

To configure most of the advanced settings, you pretty much just need to check a box.

Below, I’ll explain each box that I recommend you check, starting in the Miscellaneous section.

1.) Exclude Admin Accounts and Other Users from Caching


This way, WordPress will still dynamically generate pages for people who are logged in.

One issue that arises from caching is that it takes around 30 minutes for changes you make to your site to go live. That means you’d have to wait 30 minutes before you can see the result of your changes. Obviously, this would be a pain.  

That’s why you should check the box for Don’t cache pages for known users and keep that from happening:

Don't cache pages for known users

This way, WordPress will keep generating pages dynamically for logged-in users (i.e., you, the administrator).

You’ll always get the latest dynamically-generated version of your site, while anonymous users get the performance-optimized static version.

2.) Enable GZIP Compression for Another Small Speed Boost


Next, you should check the box to Compress pages so they’re served more quickly to visitors.

Here’s what that does:

WP Super Cache will shrink (compress) the size of the static file that it generates without affecting the file’s functionality. Because the file size is smaller, your page will load a little bit faster:

How much quicker? After enabling this setting, my page load time shrunk a little more, down to 837 milliseconds:

It’s definitely not as big a reduction as before. But when it comes to page load times, every bit counts!

Note: While I’ve never experienced any issues, this setting can cause problems with some hosts. For that reason, you should double-check your site’s functionality after enabling this setting.

If you encounter any issues, you can just uncheck the box. While you’re missing out on a small speed boost, the difference is relatively negligible.

3.) Enable Browser Caching to Eliminate Redundant Downloads


So far, you’ve enabled WP Super Cache for page caching, but you should enable the plugin for browser caching as well. This can boost load times even further for recurring visitors.

Here’s how it works:

Browsers temporarily store files on each visitor’s computer. By enabling browser caching, you tell your visitor’s browser not to reload parts of your page that haven’t changed from their last visit. Instead, their browser will load the file from their computer, which is much faster than downloading it from your host server.

To enable this setting, check the box for 304 Not Modified browser caching:

Not modified browser caching

Unfortunately, because Pingdom doesn’t store files the same way regular people’s computers do, I can’t show you how much this boosts performance.

4.) Exclude Pages from Caching (If They Experience Issues)


Caching is unlikely to cause issues with 99% of your site. But it can happen, especially on any pages where you ask visitors to enter information in a form.

For example, I’ve personally had an issue where the contact form on my portfolio site wasn’t working due to my caching plugin. Yikes!

This can directly lead to lost business, which is why you should test important pages on your site as an anonymous user after installation. (Remember, you just enabled the setting to exclude your WordPress account from seeing cached pages.)

How?

Depending on your browser, open up a new window in Incognito mode (Shift + Ctrl + N in Chrome or Opera) or Private Browsing mode (Shift + Ctrl + P in Firefox or Internet Explorer) and test the page that way:

If you notice anything funky, you can manually exclude that page from being cached to avoid any issues.

Just scroll down the Advanced Settings page until you reach Accepted Filenames & Rejected URIs.

In the section that starts with “Add here strings (not a filename)”, enter the URL slug for the page that’s having issues.

In the example above, you can see that I’ve manually excluded my Contact Me page.

Not sure where to find the URL slug? Just go to the page with issues and copy the part that comes after the slash:

5.) Consider Using a CDN to Speed Things Up Even More


You might not know this, but physical distance still has an effect on how quickly a website loads. (Curse you, laws of physics!)

So the farther away your visitor is from your host server, the slower your site will load — unless you use a CDN (a.k.a. Content Delivery Network).

When you use a CDN, you distribute copies of your site’s static files (like your images) to different servers around the world.

That way, your visitors can download these files from a location that’s close to them, instead of downloading them from your host server.

And WP Super Cache offers an option to install a CDN on the CDN tab:

Install a CDN with WP Super Cache

But here’s the thing…

I recommend not using WP Super Cache for this, and using Cloudflare instead.

Cloudflare is a CDN that:

  • Is easy to get started with
  • Offers a free plan
  • Includes security features to keep your site safe

But you can’t use WP Super Cache to install Cloudflare. You install it by changing your nameservers. (Here’s a tutorial to get you started.)

So how much does a CDN like Cloudflare speed up your site, anyway? Once again, let’s see the data:

WP Super Cache + CDN can speed up your site

You can see that my site now loads in 824 milliseconds, which is another small improvement from the previous speed of 837 milliseconds.

Now, that may not seem like much, but remember that the CDN’s purpose is to make your website fast for people around the globe.

So even though you only see a small speed improvement here, the improvement will likely be far greater for people visiting from Europe, Asia, or Australia.

How to Manually Clear Your Cache (And Why This Is Important)

Almost finished!

There’s just one more thing I want to cover.

As I talked about earlier, caching can delay changes made to your site. But sometimes you’ll make a change to your site that you want to go live right away for all users.

You do this by manually clearing your cache.

This forces WP Super Cache to generate a new cache that incorporates your most recent changes.

Here’s how to do it:

Go to Settings → WP Super Cache. Then click on the Contents tab and choose Delete Cache.

Manually clear your cache

And that’s all there is to it!

Delight Your Readers with a Quick-Loading Website

Going forward, you’ll never need to worry whether your visitors are yelling at their computer screens, waiting for your website to load.

Now you have the knowledge you need to ensure your website loads as quickly as it can, for everyone.

All that’s left to do is to put your knowledge into action.

Install the WP Super Cache plugin, click that button, and configure the advanced settings.

You’ll have a faster-loading website before you can finish a cup of coffee.

About the author: Colin Newcomer is a freelance writer for hire with a background in SEO and affiliate marketing. He helps clients grow their web visibility by writing primarily about digital marketing and WordPress. In his spare time, he travels and curates graphic t-shirts.

 

Source: https://smartblogger.com/wp-super-cache/

Facebook Doesn’t Care about You so Get over It

Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us?

Facebook seems to be making changes, but are they in our best interest?

In this episode, I share the brutal reality – Facebook doesn’t care about you.

Listen to This Episode

Hard Questions about Social Media Use

Spending too much time on social media?

On December 15th, 2017, Facebook posted an article on their Newsroom blog.

The title of the article was “Hard Questions: Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us?”

In the article, they claimed to be focusing on this difficult question.

They share a whole bunch of research and drew some interesting conclusions.

The Bad:

If you use social media passively (lurking), this could negatively impact your well-being.

The “Good”:

If you use social media to actively interact with people you care about, this could have a positive impact on your well-being.

The Solution:

Facebook needs to focus on getting you to use the platform in a way where you actively engage with people you care about.

This makes perfect sense.

EXCEPT for the fact that they pick and choose the data that coincidentally aligns with their business interests.

In this podcast episode, I walk through the article sharing why I think it’s flawed and challenge you to take control of how you use social platforms.

Also, in terms of business, If any of their business objectives move out of alignment with YOUR business objectives – YOU LOSE (if you focus on their platforms).

Here’s what I recommend for building YOUR business:

Create GREAT content

Create Great Content

Create Great Content

This is how you build a brand/business people care about.

Grow YOUR community by SERVING your audience

It’s all about service. If you put a priority on SERVING your audience, they will grow to know, like and trust you.

Show up CONSISTENTLY

The more you show up, the more opportunities will come your way. You don’t need Facebook to make that happen.

Drive people back to YOUR platform

Drive people back to your platform

This is the only platform you own and control. If you’re building a business, build one where you get to determine the direction of your business.

Get them on YOUR email list

I’ve said it over and over – your email list is one of your most valuable assets. GROW that email list.

Make your audience the star

It’s all about them, and not about you. Make that clear and they will care about you.

Resources Mentioned

Infographic

Facebook Doesn't Care

How to build a business that doesn’t depend on Facebook

The post Facebook Doesn’t Care about You so Get over It appeared first on Become A Blogger by Leslie Samuel.

Source: https://www.becomeablogger.com/25850/facebook-doesnt-care/

Ten Ways to Increase Your Blog Revenue

Do you want to make more money with your blog? Of course you do. And in this post, I will give you ten ways to increase your blog revenue.

Listen to Episode:

Increase Blog Revenue

Infographic: Increase Blog Revenue

The post Ten Ways to Increase Your Blog Revenue appeared first on Become A Blogger by Leslie Samuel.

Source: https://www.becomeablogger.com/25830/ten-ways-increase-blog-revenue/

How to Start a Blog in 2018: New Method That’s 20X Faster

What if I told you there’s a new way to start a blog that’s 20X faster, requires no software or technical expertise, and costs absolutely nothing up front?

You’d think there must be some hidden catch, right?

But there’s not. It’s totally real.

In this post, I’m going to walk you through the newest method for how to start a blog, step-by-step, with screenshots and links to all the resources you need. Let’s jump in…

 

Should You Even Start a Blog in 2018?


With the dominance of video content on platforms like YouTube and Facebook, you might think the whole idea of blogging is a little… out of date. Research tells a different story, though:

And it’s not just companies who are getting great results from blogging. It also works well for…

  • Nonfiction authors: Before giving you a book deal, publishers want to know you have a “platform” — an audience who will be happy to buy and promote your book. Blogging is one of the best ways to build that platform, and so it’s no coincidence many popular bloggers also become bestselling authors.
     
    A blog is also helpful when you’re self-publishing. By leveraging your existing audience, you can drive your book up the Amazon bestseller list, giving you the chance to grab the attention of readers who would’ve never heard of you otherwise.
     
  • Lifestyle entrepreneurs: If you enjoy writing, and you’re willing to be patient, you can use blogging to produce a passive income that gives you the lifestyle many people only dream of having. Top bloggers often travel the world, buy dream homes in the mountains or next to the ocean, and have nearly unlimited free time to spend with their family or doing whatever they choose.
     
    Where does the money come from? In the past, bloggers were limited to selling advertisements and sponsorships, but today you can make even more money from affiliate marketing, creating your own course, or charging ultra-high rates for coaching/consulting. For example, I once charged $1000 per hour for advice over the phone, only worked five hours a week, and had a six-month waiting list.
     
    That being said, it’s hard to do. You need the skill, persistence, and talent to attract hundreds of thousands or even millions of readers. If you can pull it off though, you may never have to worry about money again.
     
  • Mature businesses with millions of potential customers: This might be surprising, but not all businesses should start a blog. If you’re running a tech startup, small retail store, or manufacturing plant, for example, it’s probably not the best use of your time. On the other hand, it’s a great fit for mature businesses in markets with millions of potential customers.
     
    By “mature,” I’m referring to companies with a refined and effective product or service, existing revenue (at least six figures), and a deep understanding of their marketing metrics. In other words, you’re not really guessing about whether your company will succeed. You’re just looking for a way to grow.
     
    And ideally, you’re in a market with millions of potential customers. This one can be tricky because it’s not the size of the market that matters. Space rocket manufacturing is a multibillion-dollar industry, but I would guess there are a few hundred customers out there buying rockets. On the other hand, there are millions of small businesses, clothes shoppers, productivity geeks, and so on. For a blog to be effective, that’s the kind of market you want.

So, let’s say you fall into one of these categories. Should you just install WordPress and get cracking?

Actually… no.

The Old Way to Create a Blog (And Why It Doesn’t Work)


A few years ago, I would’ve said WordPress was the only game in town. It’s faster, more powerful, and more customizable than anything out there. That’s why they power 27% of the sites in the world.

The problem?

WordPress is also extremely complicated. Here’s a typical list of tasks for setting up a new site:

  1. Purchase web hosting
  2. Set up a new site through cPanel
  3. Create a new WordPress installation through Fantastico or one of their competitors
  4. Pick out and install your WordPress theme
  5. Customize your theme until it looks the way you want
  6. Install and configure caching plugins
  7. Install and configure backup plugins
  8. Add any extra functionality you need, such as social sharing, e-commerce, etc., by installing additional plug-ins

If you’re a techie, and you’ve done it all before, it’s not a big deal. You can do it all in a few hours.

But if you’re a beginner using WordPress for the first time?

It’s overwhelming, and once you see how much there is to learn, you’ll probably feel like quitting. If you do push forward, you can spend months or even years stuck in a technical quagmire, just learning how to do everything the right way.

Of course, you can always outsource it, but you don’t really know what you are doing, your chances of picking the wrong service provider is pretty high. You might get scammed, hacked, or overcharged.

And here’s the really disturbing question:

Even if you get your WordPress site set up the right way, what if you discover you chose the wrong market or nobody likes the content you are publishing?

It happens all the time. When I was a beginner, I went through three failed blogs before I created one that succeeded. Each time, I spent dozens of hours setting up WordPress, only to discover the blog was never going to work, and I had to start over. If you push forward and set up WordPress without testing your idea first, I pretty much guarantee the same thing will happen to you too.

The bottom line:

Putting it all together, I think setting up a WordPress site is the worst possible approach for a beginner. You’re just setting yourself up for failure.

Fortunately, after working with thousands of students, I’ve discovered a new method that is much, much easier, not to mention faster, and I’m going to outline the entire process for you here.

How to Start a Blog the Right Way (the New Method)


The driving principle behind this new method is simple:

Waste as little effort as possible.

If you’re familiar with the thinking behind The Lean Startup by Eric Reis, everything outlined here will intuitively make sense to you. If not, here’s the idea:

Innovation is messy. Anytime you create something new — regardless of whether it’s an app or book or blog — there’s a huge chance of getting it wrong and having to start over.

The problem with blogging?

Most people don’t know there’s a huge chance of failure, so they spend months or even years creating a blog that has zero chance of succeeding. Eventually, they realize where they went wrong, and they start over, but again, they invest months or even years into creating a second (or third or fourth) blog that doesn’t work.

And here’s the part that’s tough to swallow:

This kind of failure is inevitable. Whenever you’re doing anything new, you will make mistakes and have to start over. It doesn’t matter if you are smart, rich, or successful at many other things. The first time you launch a blog, you will fail. It’s pretty much guaranteed to happen.

The good news is, you can dramatically speed up the process. Instead of wasting months or years chasing a bad idea, you can find out if it’s going to work in weeks or even days. In fact, the process I’m outlining here often destroys a bad idea within minutes.

The result?

You waste WAY less time. Instead of banging your head against the wall for months or even years before you finally figure everything out, you can adapt quickly and get to the right idea within a matter of weeks or months. It’s at least 20X faster. Probably more like 100X.

So, let’s dive in:

#1. Make Sure Your Blog Is Actually Viable (Not All Are)

Important: The ideas in this section are subtle and hard to grasp. Reread it several times, and think about it carefully. We have tested it on thousands of students starting their blogs, and there’s no question it’s correct, but it’s easy to misinterpret these rules. When in doubt, consult an expert (like us).

 
It’s not fun to think about, but if there’s no chance in hell of your blog succeeding, wouldn’t you rather find out right now?

Well, sometimes you can.

One of the most damaging myths about blogging is the belief that you can start a successful blog targeting anyone, almost as if it’s a one-size-fits-all technology for getting “free traffic.” But it’s not true. The fact is, blogs are good at getting traffic when targeting specific kinds of audiences, and they are absolutely terrible when targeting others.

It’s also shockingly common to target the wrong audience. Of the thousands of students who come into our courses, more than 95% begin by targeting a poor or nonexistent audience that will never be able to support a successful blog, no matter how much time they put into it, and we have to use this checklist to push them in the right direction.

Surprising, right? You probably had no idea there was such a thing as a “bad audience,” but it’s true.

Here are some examples:

  • Men suffering from erectile dysfunction
  • Business executives
  • Parents
  • People struggling with depression
  • Women who are planning their wedding
  • Guys struggling to understand masculinity
  • Freelancers
  • Breeders of Dobermans

 
To be clear, I’m not saying you can’t target these audiences. I’m saying blogging is an inefficient way of attracting them. You’re better off using advertising, public relations, attending conferences, etc.

Of course, the obvious question is, “Why?” Why is it that some audiences are well-suited to blogs and others aren’t?

Let’s step through the criteria, and I believe it will become more clear. A good audience…

  • Self-identifies (“That’s me!”). Recent scientific research suggests that some boys who are raised by single mothers struggle to understand their own masculinity. The problem is, they don’t think of themselves that way. If you were to ask a group of men, “How many of you have trouble understanding your masculinity?” no one would raise their hands.
     
    The solution: target the symptom. Ask, “How many of you get friend-zoned by girls, and you can’t figure out why?” A bunch of hands would go up on that one. In other words, you must describe your audience using the words they use to describe themselves. In almost all cases, you’ll describe the symptoms, not the actual cause.
     
  • Is happy to be grouped together. You would think freelancers would be a viable audience, right? After all, there are so many successful sites that seem to target them! Again though, it’s misleading, because there are many types of freelancers: photographers, copywriters, designers, and so on. They all share similar perspectives (getting and managing clients, etc.), but if you put them in a room together, they would naturally sort themselves by field. For this reason, blogs about a particular type of freelancing are always more successful than blogs targeting freelancers in general.
     
  • Includes a wide continuum of experience. In every market, the most successful blogs are the ones with a lot of beginners and relatively few experts. For example, there are millions of people thinking about starting a software company, but there are relatively few billionaire founders. However, if you target an audience like “business executives,” you are narrowing the continuum of experience to new executives and experienced ones, or perhaps middle managers and CEOs. In either case, it’s fatal to the blog, because the most rabid audience for blog content is always the beginner (in this case, someone who wants to become an executive someday).
     
  • Shares the same perspective. For example, both mothers and fathers fall under the category of “parents,” but they generally have different perspectives on what being a parent means. For that matter, a parent of a toddler and the parent of a teenager will also have different perspectives. Therefore, the audience of “parents” should be subdivided before it can become viable. For instance, “middle-class mothers of toddlers” might be a good audience to target, because their perspectives are relatively similar.
     
  • Talks with each other on social media. Erectile dysfunction is a multibillion-dollar market with millions of men who are desperate for help, and yet you’ll never see a popular blog about it. Why? Because men don’t talk with other men on social media about erectile dysfunction. If you started a blog on the topic, you wouldn’t get any traffic from Facebook, for example, and that would make it very difficult for it to survive.
     
  • Wants to learn. With millions of people suffering from depression, you would think a blog about it would be wildly popular, but there’s not one, and here’s why: for the most part, people with depression have no desire to read about depression on a regular basis, probably because it makes them depressed! On the other hand, a blog for families of people suffering from depression would probably be quite popular, because they have a deep and ongoing desire to help their family member.
     
  • Has an ongoing interest. At any given time, there are millions of women who recently got engaged and are planning their wedding, and yet there are no big blogs for them. Why? Because they are only interested in planning their wedding until they actually have the wedding! As a result, this particular market has a lot of “churn” — people going out and new people coming in — and the limited window of opportunity makes it unsuitable for blogging.
     
  • Consists of millions of people. Occasionally, you’ll find an audience that passes all the other tests, but it’s so small in number it can’t support a blog. A good example is breeders of Dobermans. You could easily start a blog for them, and you would probably have a small following of loyal readers, but it’s unlikely the audience would ever grow large enough to make running the blog worthwhile. For a truly effective blog, you need a potential audience consisting of millions of people. Otherwise, it’s not worth the effort.

Interesting, right? And perhaps a bit unsettling?

The good news is, a rule disqualifying a bad audience usually suggests the adjustment you need to make. For example, the audience of “parents” was disqualified by the rule that a good audience must “share the same perspective,” but by subdividing the audience down to “middle-class mothers of toddlers,” we were able to find a viable audience.

Sometimes though, you can’t make a topic workable, no matter what you do. In those cases, look at the bright side: you just saved a lot of effort by finding out now rather than after years of trying.

But what if your idea for a blog is indeed viable? Well then, it’s time to do a little good old-fashioned espionage!

#2. Spy on Popular Blogs to See What’s Working

Thankfully, this next step is a lot less painful than the first one. It’s also much easier to explain.

Once you’ve verified your blog has potential, you need to study the blogs your audience already reads.

For instance, let’s say you want to start a blog for new homeowners. You’ll teach them how to make simple repairs themselves, maximize the value of their home, save money on their mortgage, and so on.

After going through the checklist above, you discover it meets all the criteria, and — alakazam, alakazoo — you have a workable blog topic. What’s next?

Well, the average new homeowner is in their 30s. Many are also parents. Chances are, a lot of them also have at least a passing interest in personal finance. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to afford a home.

So, here’s what you do: study the top personal finance and parenting blogs. In particular, you need to uncover their most popular content and learn from the patterns you see.

Here’s how:

  1. Use Alltop to identify the most popular blogs in your space. I recommend sorting through several of the subcategories, collecting a list of 20-50 popular blogs you think your audience might be reading. Here’s what I mean…
     

    Use Alltop to identify popular blogs in your space
  2. Plug the domain names for those blogs into Buzzsumo to find their most shared content. In particular, pay attention to Facebook shares, because it’s driving the most traffic in almost every space right now.
     

    Buzzsumo - What's Most Popular
  3. Look for patterns that might give you a clue into what kind of content your audience might like. Focus on the headlines, but also click through on any posts that grab your attention and read the whole post. You might even want to read the comments because they can give you insights as well.
     

    Buzzsumo - FB Engagement
  4. Use a tool like Evernote or Google Drive to keep a list of headline ideas. Write down any headlines that occur to you while doing your research.

When you finish, you’ll have a list of ideas for blog posts backed by evidence of popularity. While nothing is guaranteed in life, the success of these posts will be far better than anything you might dream up in the shower and decide to write about. As a result, you should have a much easier time outpacing your competitors.

But it’s still worth testing a few of them, just to make sure…

Test Your Ideas on Medium (Not WordPress!)

At this point, you might be tempted to grab a hosting account, install WordPress, and start blogging your heart out, but don’t.

Yes, you’ve done some cool research. Yes, your ideas for blog posts are far more likely to succeed. Yes, you’re way ahead of most beginning bloggers.

But I hate to break it to ya…

There’s an excellent chance you analyzed all those popular posts from other blogs your audience reads and came to all the wrong conclusions. Before going through all the effort of creating a new blog, I recommend testing your ideas on perhaps the coolest blogging platform out there right now:

Medium.

If you’ve never heard of it, Medium is the brainchild of Ev Williams, the geeky and brilliant co-founder of Twitter. He created it to become the largest, easiest to use blogging platform in the world, and he’s managed to attract over 30 million monthly readers, as well as celebrity writers like Matthew McConnaughhay and James Altucher.

And here’s the really cool part: you can write on Medium and get the chance to have your writing exposed to its 30 million readers, free of charge. Here’s how:

  1. Register for a free account. When you visit the site, you might notice banners inviting you to become a premium member. There’s no doubt it gives you access to some excellent content as a reader, but as a writer, it’s by no means necessary to test your ideas. The free account gives you access to all the writing tools, so register for that.
     

    Join Medium

  2. Write a post based on one of the headlines gleaned from your research. Using Medium’s excellent editor, you can have a stylish post put together within a few hours.
     

    Medium Post Editor

  3. Make sure you choose the appropriate interests. Anyone who subscribes to that interest will have a much higher chance of noticing the post.
     

    Medium - Select Interests

  4. Conduct a miniature outreach campaign to the blogs you studied in the previous step. By emailing them and asking them to share your post, not only do you have a chance to start building your audience, but it’s an excellent way to validate your approach. If influencers are willing to share your content, there’s a good chance you’re on the right track. I’d recommend emailing 10-20 of them.
     
    Click here to read our extensive post on outreach.

Now, here’s the big question:

How do you know you’re ready to switch over to WordPress?

Should you target a certain number of claps? Shares? Comments?

Actually, none of the above. In my opinion, none of those really mean much.

You’re much better off paying attention to your outreach success rate. You see, influencers are an excellent judge of content. If you can convince 20% of the blogs you email to share your post, and you can hit at least 20% on three different posts, I believe you’re ready to start your own blog.

If your outreach success rate hits 20%, there’s also an excellent chance at least one of your posts will end up featured on Medium, either on one of the interests or maybe even the front page, driving thousands upon thousands of new readers to your post. Again, not only will that help you build your audience, but it’s an excellent indication you’re on the right track, and it’s time to branch off on your own.

Note: If you’re familiar with the Lean Startup, the approach we’re following here is similar to the idea of an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Instead of creating a product though, you are creating the minimum amount of content necessary to test your post ideas.

Get a Clear (Not Clever!) Domain Name

So, lots of influencers are sharing your post on Medium, and you’re itching to crank up your own site and snag some of that traffic?

Cool. Let’s just take it one step at a time, and the first step is getting a clear domain name.

Put yourselves in the shoes of the visitor. You’re browsing the web, and you see a headline for a blog post that catches your attention. Maybe a friend on Facebook shared it with you, maybe it came up on a Google search, or maybe it’s just a link in another article you’re reading. Regardless, you click the link, and consciously or not, you’re asking yourself a single question as you browse through it…

“Is this for me?“

Within a few seconds, you have to decide whether to keep reading the post or move on to something else, and the only way you’ll stay is if it’s relevant to you. Not just the post, either. When you’re deciding, you’ll take in the design of the page, other post headlines, and, yes, the domain name.

For example, consider Entrepreneur.com. Is there any doubt who the site is for? Entrepreneurs, of course!

How about MakeaLivingWriting.com? Obviously, it’s for people who want to make a living as a writer.

Neither names are clever, but they help you decide to stay or go by clearly articulating who they are helping. That’s what a good domain name does.

Of course, all the great domain names are taken, right?

Not necessarily. Here are three different methods for finding the perfect domain name for your site:

  • Name the audience. The simplest way to get a clear domain name is to call out the audience in the domain itself. Examples: SmartBlogger.com, CouchPotato.com, AFineParent.com
  • Name the topic. If your blog focuses on a specific topic, try finding a domain name that describes it in clear, concise language. Examples: The ArtofManliness.com, BudgetsAreSexy.com, PaleoHacks.com
  • Name the benefit. Why should people stick around? If you have a good answer, sometimes you can turn it into a domain name that really stands out. Examples: MakeALivingWriting.com, BiggerPockets.com, BeABetterBlogger.com

My suggestion:

Use these three strategies to make a list of 10-20 domain names you’d be happy having. You can write them out in a word processor, or if you want to get fancy, you can use a tool like NameStation to generate a lot of ideas at once.

Namestation

Once you’re finished brainstorming, head over to a site like NameCheap to see if they are available. Click “Bulk Search” in the search box and paste in your domain names to check them all at once.

Namecheap Bulk Check

Sometimes you get lucky, and one of your favorites is available. If not, you either have to head back to the drawing board for another brainstorming session, or you can go to a premium domain name marketplace like Sedo.

Either way, one word of advice:

Don’t get hung up on your domain name. While it’s certainly helpful to have a good one, there are thousands of hugely popular sites with terrible domain names no one understands.

In other words, it’s not really a “make or break” factor for your site. Give yourself a few days or maybe a week to brainstorm ideas, and then make a decision, because once you have your domain name, you are ready to…

Switch Over to WordPress

You knew we had to run into some technical stuff sooner or later, right?

Well, here it is. There’s no code, complicated software to install or anything like that, but there are a lot of little steps you need to follow in exactly the right order.

It’s not too bad, though, I promise. You can do everything here in about an hour, and I have step-by-step guides to walk you through every little detail.

Let’s get started…

  1. Choose a web host. If you’re not familiar with the term, a “web host” is kind of like a warehouse for websites on the Internet. You pay one a small fee to keep your website on the Internet, handle all your visitors, back up your website, and so on. There are a gazillion different hosts out there, but the one we recommend and use ourselves is SiteGround. Click here to get a 60% off discount (affiliate link).
     

    Siteground WordPress Hosting
  2. Install WordPress. Once you have your account set up, you can use their built-in tools to install WordPress for you. It’s super easy. Here’s a video that walks you through all the steps:
     

  3. Migrate your posts from Medium to WordPress. Thankfully, Medium makes it relatively easy to export your posts, but you do have to jump through a few hoops importing them into WordPress. Click here to learn how.
     
    When you finish, all the content will have switched over, and you’ll see all the posts on your own site, but that doesn’t mean you’ve finished. While WordPress works exceptionally well out-of-the-box, it still needs a little tweaking. Let’s talk about how to do that next.

Set Up WordPress the Right Way

The great thing about having a self-hosted WordPress site is you’re in total control. You can change how it looks, what functionality it has, improve its performance, and almost anything else you can imagine.

The problem?

Complete control also comes at a cost: complexity. There are thousands upon thousands of themes and hundreds of thousands of plug-ins to choose from, and you can easily lose weeks or even months of your life wading through them all and trying to figure out what’s best for you.

So, I’m going to take a minimalist approach here. Rather than giving you a huge list of things to do, I’m reducing it down to the absolute minimum, and I’ll even recommend some specific themes and plug-ins. Before we begin though, let me be clear about one thing:

Your content matters more than anything else.

You can have a site that’s ugly, clunky, and slow, but if you have great content, you’ll still get a lot of traffic. Not the opposite, though. You can have the most beautiful, user-friendly website online, but if the content sucks, nobody will give a damn about you.

So, don’t allow yourself to get lost in these details. Focus on making your website functional, and then you can always come back and make it unique or beautiful later.

That said, here are some different options to consider:

The Simplest Option: Elegant Themes

Cost: $89 per Year

You might wince a little at the annual price, but the advantage of Elegant Themes is they give you everything you need in one package:

  • Divi, the most popular WordPress theme on the market
  • A built-in page builder that can design anything you can imagine
  • Monarch, a social sharing plug-in that’s customizable and looks great
  • Bloom, a simple but functional app for building your email list
  • Regular updates and support, making it easy to stay current

 
Now, is every piece of it the best?

No. In fact, I don’t think they are the best in any single category.

But the combination of everything put together makes it far easier to get started. The design is also top-notch. That’s why they’ve become the most popular theme company on the market with over 400,000 paying customers.

The bottom line:

If you’re looking for a simple, stable solution that will last you for years and doesn’t require a “tech guy” to get up and running, Elegant Themes is the way to go.

The Free Option: A Hodgepodge of Stuff

Cost: Zero

So… what if you can’t really afford to spend any money on your blog? What should you do then?

The answer:

Cobble together a hodgepodge of free stuff into a workable site.

Here’s what I would do:

  • For your WordPress theme, install the free version of Astra
  • For your page builder, check out the free version of Elementor
  • For social sharing, go with the free version of Sumo
  • For building your email list, also go with the free version of Sumo

 
The downside?

Sumo will only last until you hit 500 subscribers, and then you have to either switch to something else or start paying a rather high monthly fee to stay with them. You also have to update everything separately, and you’ll have far less support if anything breaks.

To me, those are some pretty big downsides, and I really wouldn’t recommend it, but sometimes you don’t have any other choice. If that’s the case, give it a try.

A Quick Word about Caching

Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll want to install a caching plug-in before you start getting too much traffic (100+ visitors per day). The two most popular options are plug-ins called WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache.

If you’re looking for simplicity, I recommend WP Super Cache. You can install it, and you’re done. Here’s a video where a guy gets everything set up in three minutes:

Later, when you’re getting 10,000+ visitors per month, you might think about getting a tech guy who really knows the ins and outs of either plug-in to configure it for you. It really helps, but it’s not worth the trouble or expense for a new blog.

Important: If you end up going with Siteground (affiliate link), as I recommended above, they have their own caching plug-in, and it only takes about a minute to set up. Here’s a tutorial that walks you through it.

Grow to $1,000 per Month (And Beyond)

In the immortal words of Harry Connick Junior…

Up to this point, you’ve published posts on Medium until it’s clear people love what you write, you switched over to your self-hosted WordPress site, and now you are up and ready for the world. So, here’s the big question:

When does the money start rolling in? After all, that’s the point of all this, right?

Well… good news and bad news.

The good news is you’ve done the hard part. By far, the hardest part of building a popular blog is writing posts other people enjoy reading. Nothing else even comes close.

The bad news?

That’s just the beginning.

Now that your blog is up and running, you have to learn the ins and outs of getting traffic, building your email list, and monetizing your site. Even if you have top-notch writing skills, it’ll still take you at least 3-6 months to figure all that out.

But think about it this way…

Nothing worth doing is quick or easy.

Personally, I was a slow learner, and it took me three years to reach $1,000 a month. That’s a long time, right? Well, two years after that, we crossed $100,000 per month, and we’ve never looked back.

The point:

Getting started is the hardest part. It might take you a few months or even a few years to build up momentum. And you might feel a little dumb for investing so much time to it, but then that momentum builds and builds and builds, and you wake up one morning to the stupefying yet delicious realization that you’ll never have to worry about money again.

That’s what happened to me. Might happen to you too.

At the end of the day though, there’s only one way to find out:

Get started and see what happens.

About the Author: Jon Morrow is the CEO of Smart Blogger. Check out his new blog Unstoppable and read the launch post that went viral: 7 Life Lessons from a Guy Who Can’t Move Anything but His Face.

 

Source: https://smartblogger.com/how-to-start-a-blog/

How to Use Mastermind Groups to Transform Your Business

Have you spent significant time growing your blog and online business?

Do you know that you have the ability to grow your business more, but feel like there’s something missing?

In this episode, I will share how you can use Mastermind groups to transform your business.

Listen to This Episode

Ten Years in Business

On January 8th, 2008, my life changed. It was the day I made my first dollar on the internet.

In fact, I made $70 that day.

For the first time – I was able to say that you could actually make money online.

It has been a decade, and there have been many challenges along the way.

But it has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my lifetime.

One of the key reasons for my success in my business have been mastermind groups.

What is a Mastermind Group?

The mastermind principle is a concept promoted by Napoleon Hill. It is “the coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony”.

The Role of Mastermind Groups

There’s one thing I’m sure about – I would not have lasted in business if not for my mastermind groups.

When I started my business, I knew that I had to network and connect with other entrepreneurs.

But the most influential mastermind group for me has been my Greenroom Mastermind.

I’ve been meeting with these guys almost every week for over seven years.

These guys, Cliff Ravenscraft, Mark Mason, Pat Flynn, Ray Edwards and Michael Stelzner, have helped me grow my business in huge ways.

Greenroom Mastermind

Greenroom Mastermind: Mark Mason, Michael Stelzner, Pat Flynn, Ray Edwards, Cliff Ravenscraft, Leslie Samuel

Here are a few results that I attribute to being a part of this mastermind group:

  • I took the leap of faith and left my job
  • I started working with Social Media Examiner
  • I’ve grown my business to the 6 figure level
  • I grew my speaking career

Why YOU should be in a Mastermind Group

Mastermind group

Two (or more) minds are better than one and can help you tackle huge challenges.

While there are MANY benefits to being a part of a mastermind group, I’ll share a few here.

  1. Raise your profile. “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” – Jim Rohn. By surrounding yourself with awesome people, you’re elevating yourself.
  1. Get insights from people with experience. If you choose the members of your mastermind group well, this is a huge deal. Two (or more) minds are better than one and can help you tackle huge challenges.
  1. Accountability. Knowing that you have to report back to your mastermind group has a way of pushing you to do better.
  1. To accomplish more than you can accomplish on your own. Every member of an effective mastermind groups brings unique talents and resources. Leveraging each others talents and resources can be powerful.

Who should be in your mastermind group

mastermind members

You have to choose who are going to be part of the group.

Everyone’s not a good fit for your mastermind group. You want to have people who are…

  • on a similar, but different, journey. Are you an entrepreneur or blogger? Look for a group of other entrepreneurs/bloggers. They don’t have to be in the same industry, but it’s good for them to be on a similar path.
  • close to your level. The last thing you want in a mastermind group is to be the coach that everyone benefits from. It must be a mutually beneficial situation.
  • committed to the mastermind group. If the members don’t take the commitment seriously, your group won’t last.
  • committed to one another’s success. Mastermind groups aren’t about any one person. It’s about the group as a whole. It’s a team effort.

How to Run Mastermind Meetings

Zoom mastermind meetings

Running mastermind meetings through Zoom

There are different formats for how to run a mastermind group. Our chosen format is very simple:

  • We do our meetings via Zoom so that we can be on video if necessary.
  • First 10 minutes: We go around the group and have each member share a win of the week – something they are grateful for.
  • Remaining 50 minutes: One member gets in the “Hot Seat”. During that time, they are free to share whatever they want related to their business. If they are struggling with a specific issue that they need input on, they share that. During that time, the other members of the group get to pour value into that person’s situation.

Why I’m starting a Paid Mastermind Group

When I left my job in 2014, I started offering one-on-one coaching. Many of my clients have gone on to be very successful.

In some cases, they’ve doubled, tripled and even quadrupled their businesses.

There is something significant to being able to invest into the life of someone else on a one-to-one basis.

But I’ve also seen how much value comes from masterminding.

Being a part of a high-functioning mastermind has taught me what it takes to do them well.

I want to be able to invest at a much deeper level into 4 – 6 individuals.

Announcing The Blogger Dream Team

The Blogger Dream Team

The Blogger Dream Team

I’m my coaching and mastermind group experiences into this new project.

The Blogger Dream Team is a paid mastermind group with a coaching component.

During our mastermind calls, I provide guidance as I do in my one-on-one coaching calls.

But you also get to tap into the experience, training, education, specialized knowledge and influence of the other members.

And there are some other things I have planned that will unfold as we go along.

And no – it’s NOT for everyone.

Here’s who I’m looking for:

  • 4 – 6 bloggers (max) who have built their blogs to a decent level of success.
  • Bloggers who are committed to taking their success to the next level.
  • Bloggers who are looking to be leaders in their industries
  • Bloggers who are looking to expand their network

It is NOT for you if:

  • You are trying to figure out how to start a blog/business (if that’s you, check out my Coaching Club).
  • You are unsure of the direction you are going with your blog.
  • You aren’t willing to commit to your own success and the success of others.

What’s the cost?

I decided to keep the cost of membership in the Blogger Dream Team the same as the cost for my one-on-one coaching.

For $1,000/month, you get my guidance plus the masterminding aspect of being a part of the dream team.

If you’re interested in being a part, go ahead and click here to apply now.

Infographic

Mastermind Groups for Your Business

Infographic: How to Use Mastermind Groups to Transform Your Business

The post How to Use Mastermind Groups to Transform Your Business appeared first on Become A Blogger by Leslie Samuel.

Source: https://www.becomeablogger.com/25803/use-mastermind-groups-transform-business/