236: 5 Areas to Focus on to Grow Your Blogging Income

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Growing Your Blog’s Income

In today’s episode, I want to talk about growing your blogging income, particularly when you’ve already started building some traffic and income streams on your blog.

This one will be most relevant if you’re at an intermediate to more advanced level. If you’re just starting out you’ll learn things that may not be relevant for you today, but will be good to know going forward.

Series on Growing Traffic to Your Blog: 2 Questions to Ask to Help You Find Readers for Your Blog 2 Types of Content that Help You to Find Readers for Your Blog Turn Surfers into Blog Readers by Building a Sticky Blog Find Readers for Your Blog Through Commenting and Relationships Grow Traffic to Your Blog Through Guest Posting and Creating Content for Other Blogs, Forums, Media and Events Podcast on Autoresponders: How to Drive Traffic and Profit in your Blogging with Autoresponders Check out our two courses – ProBlogger’s ultimate guide to start a blog and the soon to be released 31 Days to Build a better blog: Ultimate Guide to Starting a Blog ProBlogger Pro – 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Join our Facebook Group Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Hi there and welcome to episode 236 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, events, job board, series of ebooks, and courses, all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your blog and to build profit around your blog which is exactly what we’re talking today in today’s episode. You can learn more about ProBlogger at problogger.com. Also, check out our two new courses, How to Start a Blog course for those of you who are wanting to start a blog. You can get it at problogger.com/startablog or 31 Days to Build a Better Blog which will be launching in March which is more relevant for those of you who’ve already got a blog whether it’s a relatively new one or you’re at that intermediate stage. You can find that at problogger.com/31days.

In today’s episode, I wanna talk to you about growing your blog’s income, particularly those of you who’ve already got a bit of a start with building some traffic and income streams to your blog. This episode will be much relevant for those of you are perhaps at more of an intermediate level, maybe more of an advanced level. You’ve got a start but you’re not satisfied with the level of your income. Those of you who are just starting out, you’re probably gonna hear some things that may not be relevant to you today but you might also find them useful to have in the back of your mind as you go forward.

Today’s show notes and full transcript of the show are at problogger.com/podcast/236.

Today’s show is inspired by a conversation I had this week with a blogger who had been blogging for a couple of years now. She built some traffic up to her blog. She’d already started to experiment with selling sponsored content on her blog. She was in sort of a style, fashion, beauty type niche and had been selling sponsored posts on the site but was not satisfied with the level that she was at. She’s been blogging for two or three years and when she started out had hoped she’d be full time by this point. Whilst she had some success so far with building the income on her blog, she came to me asking, “How do I double what I’m doing?” She really needed to double what she was doing to get to a full time level.

On one hand, it was great, getting to a half time level with your blog is something that many bloggers dream of but she also had this thirst for more because she wanted to be able to give up other par- time work, children were going to school now and she had a little bit more time on her hands and so she wanted to really sink herself into her blogging, and to justify being able to do that full time rather than having to have a bitsy kind of life doing lots of different things. She came to me asking, “How do I double my income?” Now, it’s a tricky question and to answer it, I actually took her back to my own kind of tipping point of my own blog.

Back in, I think it must have been 2004, I’ve been blogging for a couple of years by this point, and for the first year I didn’t even know you could make money from your blog. I hadn’t made any money and then the second year, I started to dabble with some Google AdSense ads on my blog, some Amazon affiliate income. Many of you have heard me tell the story before, I did not start spectacularly, I had a few dollars a day really in those first months or so. But it did gradually grow and I got to a similar point to the blogger that I had this conversation with this week where I was starting to see it as a part-time job. I began to have this dream that it could be a full time job.

To cut the long story short, I realized I needed to really escalate the growth of my income. Because it was a very slow, steady growth, and it eventually was going to get to be a full time thing if it kept growing the way that it was, but it was gonna take me 10 years to get to that point. Vanessa and myself decided that really, if I wanted to be a full time blogger, I needed to escalate the growth of the income. We set ourselves a six month time limit to do it which perhaps is not the most realistic deadline saying, “I’m gonna be full time in six months,” isn’t something I would recommend every blogger do. But we kind of sensed that I really needed to have this deadline because I was treating it as a one-day thing. We set ourselves this deadline.

The problem was to get to that deadline, I needed to not double my income, I needed to quadruple my income. I was a quarter time kind of blogger, if you like, at the time. I wanted to get to a full time level.

Having that deadline really did help me to spur myself on. One of the things I actually said to tis blogger this week was, “Maybe you need some sort of a deadline.” In my case, we actually said that if I didn’t get to full time level in six months that I would go and get a real job, and that would kind of put a real halt on my blogging. Potentially, could have even had to give it up, that six month mark. I wouldn’t suggest you do that but at least having some sort of date in mind, some sort of a deadline in mind, can actually be helpful. It certainly helped me. It motivated me incredibly.

Some of you heard me tell the story before, but the day I set that deadline was the day I started doing things I always knew I should do, but I had no real reason to do. Like ringing up an advertiser for the first time and saying, “Hey, will you advertise on my blog?” Thinking seriously about growing traffic and all the things I knew I could be doing and I should be doing, I actually had a reason to start doing them. That deadline really did help in that regard. Over the next six months, I worked really hard on the things that I knew should be doing. I got to the point after a few months, I think it was three or four months, where I did reached that full time level, things just took off as a result of me doing things I knew I should do.

The first thing I encouraged this blogger to think about was, “What are the things you already know you should be doing that you’ve been putting off?” Most bloggers I talk to have this someday list, one day I’m going to do this, or one day I’m going to do that. I really wanna encourage you to look at your someday list and ask yourself, “What have I been putting off doing?” It’s such a powerful exercise to do, and to write out your someday list, and then to identify the things on that list, the things you already know you should be doing, identify those and start with those because you already probably know what you need to do to get to a full time level.

I’m gonna suggest to you, five areas that will help you to grow your blogging income. I wanna encourage to just pause this podcast for a moment and to ask yourself this question, “What do I think I need to do?” Because I suspect, that as I go through this list, if you have paused and you’ve asked that question, you’re probably gonna already have the answer. Once you do it, go listen to the rest of the podcast. I also wanna encourage to listen to you because I suspect you already intuitively know what it is that you need to do.

Some of you will remember I did a series of podcasts. I think it started back in episode 66 and then went for 10 more episodes over the next few weeks. It was called 10 Things That You Can Do Today That Will Payoff In Your Blog Forever. The whole idea of that series was to identify the things on our someday list and to do those things today, to bring those things forward. I suggested ten things in that series that will help to escalate the growth of your blog. Things that you can do today that are gonna payoff forever. I wanted to say right up front, for me, this is the key. This is the key to escalating the growth of your income in your blog, to take off of your someday list and start doing them today.

I think it was episode 66 right up to I guess episode 77. You might wanna check out that. But as I think about the growth of my own blogging income back at that point, in 2004, but also eversince. Since 2004, I’ve been full time pretty much the whole time. My blogging income did dip for one short period after that where Google decided to deindex me from their search result but apart from six-week glitch where I felt out of Google’s result, I’ve been a full time blogger ever since 2004. My blogging income has gone up and down over that time. But there’s been these spikes or there’s been these periods where the blogging income has escalated really quickly. I think it was back in 2004 things really took off and I got to the full time. But 2008, it plateaued, it was steady, and then it took off again.

What I’ve put together today for this podcast episode are five things that I can see over the last 15 or so years that have led to spiking my income and growth in my income. As I think about it, there’s five main things that have led to that type of growth. I wanna share them with you today. These are not tactical things, these are more general things, and then I’m gonna sort of dig into some tactical things as well.

The first thing that almost always has led to growth in the income is spikes in traffic. I can see very clearly as I look at my earnings over the last 14, 15 years that there’s a correlation between an increase in traffic and an increase in income. It’s not always exactly correlated. Different types of traffic can lead to different increases in income. A spike in traffic from Google for me pays off really well when it comes to Google AdSense earnings. But it doesn’t necessarily lead to a massive increase in affiliate earnings, but other types of traffic do convert with affiliates. It’s not an exact science but in the general principle I will say if you can increase your traffic, you’re going to increase your income, at least potentially.

This is a no-brainer in some ways. I know most of you kind of understand this. But one way that I grew my income back in 2004 when I went from part-time blogger to a full time blogger was to put a lot of effort into growing my traffic. I learned SEO in that period. I started to write content based upon the words that I felt people would be searching google for. I put a lot of effort into creating guest content for other blogs and participating in forums. Back then, there was no real social media, but today I will put more time into social media. These types of activities can drive more traffic to your site which can lead to an increase in your earnings.

Another one that you might wanna try is advertising your blog, investing some money into driving some traffic. Maybe you wanna spend some more time on a new social network, maybe it’s time for you to really invest your learning into Pinterest. There’s a variety of different ways that you can grow traffic to your blog.

I don’t wanna get into the nitty-gritty of growing traffic to your blog in this particular episode because I’ve covered it so many times in the past. I would encourage you, if traffic is the thing you know you need to grow and particularly if you’re a new blogger, this is probably the one that’s going to lead to the biggest growth for you in terms of income. You really need some traffic.

Go back and listen to episode 33, 34, 35, 36, and 37. There’s five episodes there that I did as a series on growing traffic for your blog. I talk about the different types of content that can grow traffic. I talk about creating guest content in different places. I think I talk about using challenges to grow traffic. There’s five episodes there that will help you to think about how to grow traffic to your blog. Again, I don’t wanna promise if you double your traffic, you’re gonna double your income because it does depend upon where the traffic is coming from, and the type of traffic you could get.

I remember there were times, way back in the day, where I got a lot of traffic in from a site like Digg which is similar to Reddit today. That really did not grow my income at all because it was the wrong type of traffic. It was teenage boys who were there to make fun of my content, some even went viral because it was funny but it didn’t really lead to an on-going growth to my income.

Part of the process is to try and work out what type of traffic and what type of reader you’re going to get as well. But in general, if you’re gonna grow your traffic, you’re gonna grow your income.

Again, that’s a bit of a no-brainer in some ways but it just has to be said. If you can grow your traffic, you’re gonna hopefully grow your income as well. So that’s number one, traffic.

Number two, and this has happened time and time again for me, to grow your income, one of the ways that you can do that is to add a new income stream. One of the first times I learnt this was when I had been playing around with AdSense for a while. I think I was probably earning $30 or $40 a day from AdSense which I was pretty happy with. AdSense, for those of you who don’t know, is Google’s ad network. I was kind of managing along okay and then I began to realize other bloggers were using other ad networks as well as AdSense.

Back in the day, there were some rules around what kind of ads you can have on your blog alongside the AdSense. You couldn’t have exactly the same types of ads. But there were these other ad networks beginning to emerge. One of them that caught my eye was Chitika which is still around today. You might wanna check that out. I’ll link to it in today’s show notes. It doesn’t work on every blog but back in the day, it was a different type of ad. They were image-based ads but they weren’t sort of like the banner ads that we see today. They actually featured little products. It didn’t break AdSense’s Terms of Service to run these Chitika ads alongside the AdSense ads, and so I decided I’m gonna experiment with Chitika. I didn’t replace AdSense, I actually added these new ad units onto my page.

I remember doing it thinking maybe I’ll land a few extra dollars a day. I went to to bed the night after I did it, the reports took a little while to come in so I didn’t really know what impact it was going to have. I was a bit worried that maybe it would decrease my AdSense revenue. I woke up the next day and checked my reports and I couldn’t believe it because my AdSense had not gone down at all but my Chitika income was the same as my AdSense income. What I realized is that I doubled my income overnight. Now it took me a few days to work out this was actually true, because I thought I’ll give it a few days to work it out, but I doubled my income simply by adding a new couple of ad units onto my site. Adding this extra income stream obviously led to an increase in my overall income. This has happened time and time again for me.

I wanna say right upfront you wanna be a bit careful about adding too much onto your site in terms of ads particularly because it can have a downward effect on your Google search rankings. Google doesn’t like it when you put too many ads on your site particularly if they’re really up or above the fold, and they can’t see any content vault. You wanna be a bit careful there, you don’t want to plaster yourself with ads.

But there’s such a variety of ways that you can monetize your site. I saw this when I added Chitika. I saw this when I began to added a job board onto ProBlogger. I saw this when I started to create ebooks for my sites, when I started to create other products like courses. I started to promote affiliate products, other people’s courses and ebooks. There was a period on ProBlogger when I offered coaching services. There was a period where I did some freelance writing for other sites, that was another income stream.

There’s all these different ways that you can explore adding a new income stream onto your site. This is probably one of the things I would encourage those of you who have one or two income streams on their site to begin to think about. Have a look at what other bloggers in your niche are doing. What are they doing to make money from their blogs? You might discover by looking around that they’re all using this one type of ad network, or you might discover that they’re all promoting this type of affiliate product, or you might discover that there’s an opportunity for you to set-up a membership area on your site where you charge a little bit of money per month for some premium content to your community area. Or maybe you could offer some coaching, or maybe you could set-up a mastermind group, or maybe you could set-up a Patreon account. This is where people donate money and you maybe give them some extra bonuses, maybe you could run a little event, maybe a meet-up in your area, or an online event. These are all different income streams that bloggers use at different times.

Again, in today’s show notes, I’ll link to a money map that I created with 30 or 40 different ways that you can make money from blogging. For me, this was one of the ways that I went from part-time to full time, adding these new income streams into my blog. It wasn’t just a matter of doing this or increase my traffic, I actually focused on both of these things, and that had this compound effect as well.

Maybe now is the time to begin to think about adding a new income stream to your blog. But for me, the most powerful one that I ever did is I doubled my income by adding Chitika but that went from $30 to $60 a day. It was significant at the time but it wasn’t huge.

For me, the big one was when I began to do ebooks and I began to sell my own products. That’s a fairly serious investment of time to create a product of my own but it paid off. I’ve talked about that first experience on this podcast before – overnight earning $10,000 or $15,000 when I first launched my first ebook. Over that first week, making $70,000 from that ebook. That blew my mind but I have to say that was based upon the first thing I talked about, building the traffic. You’re not gonna have those massive results unless you also do number one.

Again, the first one is traffic, second one was adding a new income stream, the third one is better execution of an existing income stream or better conversion, I guess you might wanna talk about. This really does apply to almost any income stream. What you are doing presently to earn income, you could possibly do it better. There’s probably some way that you can improve what you are doing. Again, this was another thing that I really focused on back in 2004.

I had these AdSense ads on my site but gradually, over time, I began to learn that I could earn more from AdSense on my site, even with the same amount of traffic. I could get better at doing AdSense. For me, Adsense, it’s a about a number of things. How many ads do you have on the site? Where are they positioned on the site? What size ad units do you have? Back then, it was also the design of the ads because you can change the colors of the texts ads. There was a variety of things that I began to learn about AdSense that improved the conversion that I was getting from that. That increased my, to get a bit technical, the CPM, what I could earn per page view.

If you’re running ads on your site, invest some time and energy, and maybe even some money to do a course on a how do you convert better with those ads. But the same principle applies no matter what the income stream you have. I saw this work for AdSense, I saw it work with Chitika.

I also saw it work when I began to think about how do I increase my earnings with Amazon’s affiliate program. I learned that sticking widgets, Amazon affiliate widgets on my sidebar didn’t really convert very well but when I mentioned the product inside my blog posts and had little calls to action that specifically said, “Get the price on this product on Amazon,” that lead to an increase in conversions. I learned that creating bestseller lists of products worked really well. Again, I can link to that in today’s show notes, a previous episodes where I’ve talked about creating bestseller links. These things led to increased conversions for me with Amazon.

The same is true for all of the different income streams. If you are selling an ebook, maybe you could convert better if you split test your sales page, run two different versions of the sales page, and there’s plenty of tools around that will enable you to do that. We talked in a few episodes ago that Thrive Architect as a tool that we’re using to create landing pages, that will allow you to split test different versions of a sales page. Test different headlines, test different pictures, test different calls to action, maybe you can increase the conversions that you’re getting on that particular page.

If you’re monetizing with sponsors, the blogger I was talking to, she’d been selling sponsored posts on her site. One of the things I encourage her to think about is what else could she be offering those sponsors in addition to the sponsored posts. Maybe she could create a little bundle of things that they could do on her site. Maybe if they pay double the price, they could get some banner ads on the site or maybe they could get a mention in her newsletter, or maybe they could run a competition with her, maybe they could do a giveaway with her audience, these extra things on top of the sponsored content.

This is one of the things that we’ve done over the years is begin to offer our sponsors extra stuff if they’re willing to upgrade what they’re spending with us. It maybe some mentions on social media, it maybe a competition we’ve done, all of these different types of things. We find particularly newsletter advertising works well with our advertisers as well. They’re getting better results because they’re not only buying a banner ad on our site but they’re being mentioned in these other places which reinforces their messaging. This allows us to charge more for the ads.

What could you do to improve your conversions you’re already getting? Look at your current income streams and ask yourself, “How can I grow those income streams?” It’s not just about adding new ones but improving and optimizing the way that you’re currently earning an income.

Another quick one that you could try if you are selling a product is to add an upsell. We did a test on this just last week. We had a launch on Digital Photography School. We had a course, 31 Days To Become A Better Photographer, makes sense to me and to some of you because we use that same sort of format on ProBlogger, 31 days. We had this course and we decided to add an upsell in the check out. The course was, I think, $49 for the course, and if you paid the extra $9, we give you an ebook. It’s just like a little upsell. It was converting okay. I think the first few days we made $700 from that upsell, and that was a nice little extra $700 that we would never have had.

As I began to think about it, I was like, “$9 upsell on a $49 product, I wonder what would happen if we did an upsell of a bundle of our ebooks for a little bit more.” So we tried overnight one night, we tried an upsell of three ebooks for $19. We immediately saw that that converted at a higher rate plus it was earning more because it was a higher price. We immediately saw that that led to an upswing in people taking the upsell. I think by the end of the campaign, we’ve made close to $7000 from that particular upsell. It was converting at a high rate.

These are all the little things that you can do and it’s just about tweaking, and testing, and trying new things. Similarly, you can do an upsell after a sale. You could, in the thank you email say, “Here’s another offer that you might wanna take. It’s a great companion to what you’ve already bought.” There’s a variety of different ways to do that.

Tip number one was to grow your traffic. Put effort into that. That is going to set almost like a baseline, a foundation for the growth of your income. Adding a new income stream is number two which in conjunction with the traffic is great. Number three is better execution of what you’re already doing, better conversions, focusing upon those tweaks that will lead to growth.

The fourth thing that you might wanna try, I’ve seen this work time and time again, is what I would call extra promotional activity. You could almost argue that this fits into number three as well, it’s better execution. But it’s where you do an extra burst of promotion of something. This particularly works if you are promoting one of your own products or if you’re an affiliate as well.

For us, the best example I can give you is, I think, it was seven or eight years ago now on Digital Photography School. We started to do 12 Days of Christmas campaigns. Typically, we’re launching three or four products a year and we would see big spikes in income everytime we launch a new ebook, or a new course, or when we would promote an affiliate product of someone else. I kind of came out with this idea with one of my team members to do this intense burst of promotion of all our products at the end of the year and the lead up to Christmas.

Most of you, by this time, seen 12 Days of Christmas campaigns, you possibly even run them yourself. For us, it was a matter of sending 12 emails in 12 days about each of our products, and some affiliate partners as well which is pretty intensive. It was a lot of work. It felt a bit risky because we’re doing a lot of promotion over a short period of time with our audience. I was worried about our list but it led to a massive spike in income as well.

Our audience seemed to like it. They like this event that we put together. So we’ve run 12 Days of Christmas in different forms over the years, different times. This led to an increase in sales. I wasn’t really adding a new income stream, although I guess you could call that whole campaign a new income stream, but it was really just growing the sale of our products, and the sale of affiliate partners which we were already doing anyway. It wasn’t really tweaking or better execution of what were already doing, it was a new thing. It was this extra burst of promotion.

There’s a variety of ways that you can do that. You can do a seasonal promotion. We just had Valentine’s Day. I saw some bloggers running specials on the products that they have or some affiliate stuff around that. Christmases are our ideal time for that Black Friday, Cyber Monday. We see all these different times of the year where it’s possible to do promotion. Maybe it’s a seasonal promotion. Maybe it’s just a flash sale. This is something we did a little bit more last year on Digital Photography School.

We decided to just do these 24 hour sales on some of our products. They didn’t led to massive spikes but they did lead to increases in sales of our products. It’s just a matter of looking at your calendar for the year. You’ve probably got some big promotions that you’re doing but what goes in between them? What could you do? Something small, something targeted, something focused, that might lead to increase in sale. So a flash sale might be one way to do this.

Maybe it’s about creating an autoresponder. Autoresponders are something that we’ve talked about numerous times over the years. I think back in episode 177, I talked about autoresponders. Autoresponders are basically a sequence of emails that you send your list. Maybe that’s something that’s been on your someday list. I know a lot of bloggers, that’s something that they wanna do. An autoresponder could be a sequence of emails that promote your old archives which drives more traffic to your site which can lead to higher income in terms of your AdSense or it might include some promotional emails as well. Maybe setting up a new autoresponder that takes your readers through some of your archives but also promote an affiliate product or one of your own products could be useful as well.

There’s some bloggers who, in their autoresponder sequences, have partnership emails. This is where they do a deal with a sponsor to have an email in their autoresponder that promotes that sponsor. That’s another income stream that you might add, or if you’ve already got an autoresponder, and I know a lot of you do, when was the last time you added an email to that sequence? Maybe, one way that you can grow some income is simply to add one more email into your autoresponder sequence. Maybe it’s an email that promotes something you’ve got that does almost like a little sale to anyone getting that particular email.

That’s something that’s worked really well for me over time as well because everyone getting that one email, anyone who’s at the end of your sequence who gets this extra email, they could potentially buy what you’re selling. But it’s also an ongoing income stream as well. There’s all the different things that you can do to promote what you do a little bit more, to drive more targeted traffic towards the thing that’s converting for you.

I guess another one that you could do is potentially set-up and begin to learn about advertising your products as well. If you’ve got a product or an affiliate product, maybe another way that you can promote that more is to do some Facebook advertising or some Google advertising or something along those lines.

Lastly, another way to promote what you’re doing more is to think about the user interface of your site and the design of your site. Maybe you’ve got this product in your shop or maybe you’ve got an affiliate product that you’re promoting but no one ever knows that you’re promoting that thing because you really haven’t updated your menu to include the fact that you’re promoting this thing. That might be another way that you might wanna try. We are redigging out our menus at the moment to be a little bit more focused on driving people to those type of activities as well.

The last one that you might wanna think about there to get more people to those activities is to create a resources page. If you go to ProBlogger and you look in our menu, you’ll see resources there. On that page, we list our affiliate partners. The people we recommend for servers, and some of the tools that we use as well. That page drives affiliate income for us. Actually having a landing page that doesn’t just sell one thing but sells a variety of things can be useful as well.

If you go to Smart Passive Income and look at Pat Flynn’s site, you’ll see that he has resource pages as well. He actually, on the front page of his site, promotes quite heavily some of his main partners as well. It really comes down to the design of your site, maybe you can actually promote what you’re doing better as well.

The last thing that I wanna talk about, the fifth thing is one that, again it’s a bit of a no-brainer, but it is something that’s incredibly powerful and it can lead to increased income as well. That is to increase your prices or at least to change your prices because sometimes decreasing your prices can actually lead to more income as well which is a bit of strange one. But in most cases, I think considering increasing your prices can work as well. We’ve seen this a number of times over the years.

Digital Photography School, we were selling our courses for a long time for about $29. We realized, one, a lot of our competitors were selling courses for $300 that were very similar to our courses. I guess having seen the value in our own courses, we put a lot of time and energy into creating them but we were underpricing them. We weren’t actually putting them forward at the value that they really had. As a result, some of our customers weren’t actually thinking that they were any good. I remember talking to some of our customers who were buying these $300 or $400 products from our competitors. I remember having conversation with one of them, I was like, “Why do you buy that product when ours is $30?” They were like, “I just thought their product was better.” And I was like, “Why?” And they were like, “Well, it’s $300.” There’s this perception there, there’s a lot of psychology behind that.

I’m not saying that you all need to 10X your prices just because it’ll make people think they’re more valuable. You gotta price your product at a price that is actually reasonable and that does give value to your customers. But sometimes, I think, we underprice ourselves. If you’re like me maybe that’s you. At our events every year, people come up to us and say, “Your event’s too cheap. It’s amazing what you deliver at your events for $300 or $400. There are other people charging a lot more.” I have this internal battle going on. I wanna keep our event as affordable as possible so that people can come to it so it serves them, as many people as possible.

But at the same time, I know that the value that we deliver is above and beyond the price that we charge for it. It’s a wrestle sometimes. If you’re like me, it’s probably something that you feel, but I wanna encourage you to think about increasing the prices if you’re selling something. Or, connected to this, add a premium level to your product. This is something we discovered last year at our event that when we added a mastermind day to our event, that there was a certain segment of audience who were willing to pay considerably more to get a more intimate experience, a more personal experience with myself, and my team, and the speakers.

James Schramko, I think I heard him say once that there’s 10% of your audience who’s willing to pay 10x more than what you are charging for something that is at a higher level. I don’t know if it’s 10%, I don’t know if it’s 10x the value, but I found that to be true. There is always a segment of your audience is willing to pay more for something extra. One, they’ve got the budget, but two, they’ve got the demand. They want something extra, above what you’re doing. What could you add to what you currently sell that is at a premium price? Maybe it’s that more personal attention, maybe it’s extra content, maybe it’s more advanced, maybe it’s a mastermind group of some kind. Increasing your prices can significantly help.

When we actually did increase the prices of our courses, eventually we did, we actually realized, and it’s a bit of a no brainer really, but you don’t need to sell as many courses to make the same amount of profit. If you can sell the same amount then you significantly your profit and your income level as well.

The other thing worth mentioning is sometimes decreasing your price can actually lead to more sales as well. That’s a whole other podcast to talk about as well. But experimenting with that, you can split test your product pricing can actually be a really worthwhile thing to do to better optimize your conversions as well.

There’s five things that you can do to grow the income of your blog; more traffic, a new income stream, better execution of an existing income stream to increase your conversions, extra promotional activity to really get more eyeballs on the thing that you’re doing which I guess is 3.5 really, I say those two things is quite connected, and then the last thing is to play around with your pricing, particularly considering adding a premium level pricing to what you do as well.

As I’ve said all through this podcast, you don’t have to do any of these things in isolation. It’s actually probably the combination of two or three of these things that’s going to lead to the growth in your business. This is the reason that I went from a very part-time blogger to a full time blogger within a few months because I worked so hard on increasing my traffic.

Over that six months, I increased my traffic significantly but I also added new income streams, and got better at what I was already doing. As a result of those three things that I focused on over those months, my income more than quadrupled over the six months. I went from being someone who dreamed of one day being a full time blogger to being a full time blogger, and actually growing the income beyond what I ever thought I would do from anything that I would ever do.

I really wanna encourage you to do that. Again, pay attention to what you already know. You probably already know the answer. It may not be doing something completely new that you never thought of, it might actually just be learning SEO, or setting up that autoresponder, or sending some emails to your list, or creating a product. These are the things that you’ve probably already been dreaming of doing. I encourage you to put those things on your today list instead of keeping on dreaming of doing them one day.

I hope this has been helpful to those of you who are listening. This is literally life-changing stuff. I went from, in 2004, from being part time to full time, my dreams came true because of the intense amount of action that I took over those six or so months. Your life can really change in many ways as a result of this burst of today action, just remember that, and keep at it.

If we can serve you and encourage you in any way through that process, head over to our Facebook group and let us know the questions that you have. Let us know what you’ve decided to do so we can keep you a bit of accountable to that as well. Just search for ProBlogger Community on Facebook and you’ll find our little group as well.

Also, check out our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog course which is coming out in March. I think it’s perfect alongside this particular podcast because a lot of the activities that we’ll be teaching in that 31 Days to Build a Better Blog are about increasing the traffic to your site as well. That certainly is gonna help you with that. problogger.com/31days and you can sign-up to be notified when that particular course goes live.

Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week in episode 237, I think it is. Thanks for listening. Chat next week.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post 236: 5 Areas to Focus on to Grow Your Blogging Income appeared first on ProBlogger.

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Reading Between the Lines: A 3-Step Guide to Reviewing Web Page Content

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/FkTdDMGu5U0/guide-to-reviewing-web-page-content

Posted by Jackie.Francis

In SEO, reviewing content is an unavoidable yet extremely important task. As the driving factor that brings people to a page, best practice dictates that we do what we can to ensure that the work we’ve invested hours and resources into creating remains impactful and relevant over time. This requires occasionally going back and re-evaluating our content to identify areas that can be improved.

That being said, if you’ve ever done a content review, you know how surprisingly challenging this is. A large variety of formats and topics alongside the challenge of defining “good” content makes it hard to pick out the core elements that matter. Without these universal focus areas, you may end up neglecting an element (e.g. tone of voice) in one instance but paying special attention to that same element in another.

Luckily there are certain characteristics — like good spelling, appealing layouts, and relevant keywords — that are universally associated with what we would consider “good” content. In this three-step guide, I’ll show you how to use these characteristics (or elements, as I like to call them) to define your target audience, measure the performance of your content using a scorecard, and assess your changes for quality assurance as part of a review process that can be applied to nearly all types of content across any industry.

Step 1: Know your audience

Arguably the most important step mentioned in this post, knowing your target reader will identify the details that should make up the foundation of your content. This includes insight into the reader’s intent, the ideal look and feel of the page, and the goals your content’s message should be trying to achieve.

To get to this point, however, you first need to answer these two questions:

What does my target audience look like? Why are they reading my content? What does my target audience look like?

The first question relies on general demographic information such as age, gender, education, and job title. This gives a face to the ideal audience member(s) and the kind of information that would best suit them. For example, if targeting stay-at-home mothers between the ages of 35 and 40 with two or more kids under the age of 5, we can guess that she has a busy daily schedule, travels frequently for errands, and constantly needs to stay vigilant over her younger children. So, a piece that is personable, quick, easy to read on-the-go, and includes inline imagery to reduce eye fatigue would be better received than something that is lengthy and requires a high level of focus.

Why are they reading my content?

Once you have a face to your reader, the second question must be answered to understand what that reader wants from your content and if your current product is effectively meeting those needs. For example, senior-level executives of mid- to large-sized companies may be reading to become better informed before making an important decision, to become more knowledgeable in their field, or to use the information they learn to teach others. Other questions you may want to consider asking:

Are they reading for leisure or work? Would they want to share this with their friends on social media? Where will they most likely be reading this? On the train? At home? Waiting in line at the store? Are they comfortable with long blocks of text, or would inline images be best? Do they prefer bite-sized information or are they comfortable with lengthy reports?

You can find the answers to these questions and collect valuable demographic and psychographic information by using a combination of internal resources, like sales scripts and surveys, and third-party audience insight tools such as Google Analytics and Facebook Audience Insights. With these results you should now have a comprehensive picture of your audience and can start identifying the parts of your content that can be improved.

Step 2: Tear apart your existing content

Now that you understand who your audience is, it’s time to get to the real work: assessing your existing content. This stage requires breaking everything apart to identify the components you should keep, change, or discard. However, this task can be extremely challenging because the performance of most components — such as tone of voice, design, and continuity — can’t simply be bucketed into binary categories like “good” or “bad.” Rather, they fall into a spectrum where the most reasonable level of improvement falls somewhere in the middle. You’ll see what I mean by this statement later on, but one of the most effective ways to evaluate and measure the degree of optimization needed for these components is to use a scorecard. Created by my colleague, Ben Estes, this straightforward, reusable, and easy to apply tool can help you objectively review the performance of your content.

Make a copy of the Content Review Grading Rubric

Note: The card sampled here, and the one I personally use for similar projects, is a slightly altered version of the original.

As you can see, the card is divided into two categories: Writing and Design. Listed under each category are elements that are universally needed to create a good content and should be examined. Each point is assigned a grading scale ranging from 1–5, with 1 being the worst score and 5 being best.

To use, start by choosing a part of your page to look at first. Order doesn’t matter, so whether you choose to first check “spelling and grammar” or “continuity” is up to you. Next, assign it a score on a separate Excel sheet (or mark it directly on the rubric) based on its current performance. For example, if the copy has no spelling errors but some minor grammar issues, you would rank “spelling and grammar” as a four (4).

Finally, repeat this process until all elements are graded. Remember to stay impartial to give an honest assessment.

Once you’re done, look at each grade and see where it falls on the scale. Ideally each element should have a score of 4 or greater, although a grade of 5 should only be given out sparingly. Tying back to my spectrum comment from earlier, a 5 is exclusively reserved for top-level work and should be something to strive for but will typically take more effort to achieve than it is worth. A grade of 4 is often the highest and most reasonable goal to attempt for, in most instances.

A grade of 3 or below indicates an opportunity for improvement and that significant changes need to be made.

If working with multiple pieces of content at once, the grading system can also be used to help prioritize your workload. Just collect the average writing or design score and sort them in ascending/descending order. Pages with a lower average indicate poorer performance and should be prioritized over pages whose averages are higher.

Whether you choose to use this scorecard or make your own, what you review, the span of the grading scale, and the criteria for each grade should be adjusted to fit your specific needs and result in a tool that will help you honestly assess your content across multiple applications.

Don’t forget the keywords

With most areas of your content covered by the scorecard, the last element to check before moving to the editing stage is your keywords.

Before I get slack for this, I’m aware that the general rule of creating content is to do your keyword research first. But I’ve found that when it comes to reviews, evaluating keywords last feels more natural and makes the process a lot smoother. When first running through a page, you’re much more likely to notice spelling and design flaws before you pick up whether a keyword is used correctly — why not make note of those details first?

Depending on the outcomes stemming from the re-evaluation of your target audience and content performance review, you will notice one of two things about your currently targeted keywords:

They have not been impacted by the outcomes of the prior analyses and do not need to be altered They no longer align with the goals of the page or needs of the audience and should be changed

In the first example, the keywords you originally target are still best suited for your content’s message and no additional research is needed. So, your only remaining task is to determine whether or not your keywords are effectively used throughout the page. This means assessing things like title tag, image alt attributes, URL, and copy.

In an attempt to stay on track, I won’t go into further detail on how to optimize keywords but if you want a little more insight, this post by Ken Lyons is a great resource.

If, however, your target keywords are no longer relevant to the goals of your content, before moving to the editing stage you’ll need to re-do your keyword research to identify the terms you should rank for. For insight into keyword research this chapter in Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO is another invaluable resource.

Step 3: Evaluate your evaluation

At this point your initial review is complete and you should be ready to edit.

That’s right. Your initial review.

The interesting thing about assessing content is that it never really ends. As you make edits you’ll tend to deviate more and more from your initial strategy. And while not always a bad thing, you must continuously monitor these changes to ensure that you are on the right track to create a highly valued piece of content.

The best approach would be to reassess all your material when:

50% of the edits are complete 85% of the edits are complete You have finished editing

At the 50% and 85% marks, keep the assessment quick and simple. Look through your revisions and ask the following questions:

Am I still addressing the needs of my target audience? Are my target keywords properly integrated? Am I using the right language and tone of voice? Does it look like the information is structured correctly (hierarchically)?

If your answer is “Yes” to all four questions, then you’ve effectively made your changes and should proceed. For any question you answer “No,” go back and make the necessary corrections. The areas targeted here become more difficult to fix the closer you are to completion and ensuring they’re correct throughout this stage will save a lot of time and stress in the long run.

When you’ve finished and think you’re ready to publish, run one last comprehensive review to check the performance status of all related components. This means confirming you’ve properly addressed the needs of your audience, optimized your keywords, and improved the elements highlighted in the scorecard.

Moving forward

No two pieces of content are the same, but that does not mean there aren’t some important commonalities either. Being able to identify these similarities and understand the role they play across all formats and topics will lead the way to creating your own review process for evaluating subjective material.

So, when you find yourself gearing up for your next project, give these steps a try and always keep the following in mind:

Your audience is what makes or breaks you, so keep them happy Consistent quality is key! Ensure all components of your content are performing at their best Keep your keywords optimized and be prepared to do additional research if necessary Unplanned changes will happen. Just remember to remain observant as to keep yourself on track

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


What Happens When You Want to Sell Your Blog? A Case Study

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ProbloggerHelpingBloggersEarnMoney/~3/h9axuAH4trc/

When I started my travel blog back in 2005, I never imagined I’d be selling it.

After all, I just wanted to tell my family and friends what I was up to. I had no idea it would become a business that supported my family.

Even when it became a central part of our lives ten years later, it was like another child to me. I loved it, coddled it, and put so much of myself into it.

I learned a lot from growing and monetising my blog. I also learned a lot from selling it. And in this post I want to walk you through the process of selling my blog, and what I learned.

The interesting part is that getting a blog ready to sell is really about making your blog more valuable. And that’s something every blog owner can benefit from—even if they never plan to sell.

So whether you’re planning on selling your blog one day or not, my tips will help you get your blog earning more without needing your constant attention. It will help reduce the stress of running your blog while making more money. And if you ever decide to sell, you’ll walk away with the maximum amount possible.

Why I decided to sell my blog

So how did my blog go from something I thought of a another child to something I couldn’t wait to get rid of?

There were a few reasons.

I had way too many sites, and needed to let some go so I could focus my energy better. I’d just sold my first niche site, and letting it go felt so good that I decided to sell all my other niche sites and have just my two main blogs.

Then I realised I’d be better off getting rid of the blog (where I spent a lot of my time) rather than the sites that brought in money without any effort.

It also coincided with me restructuring my business. Thanks to some bad advice, I’d just discovered  I’d have to pay capital gains on the value of my business to move it to a company structure. I couldn’t afford to pay tax on something I wasn’t getting and value from, so selling it made a lot of sense.

And of course, the money from the sale would remove a lot of the financial pressure as I worked on building up my second blog.

But the biggest reason I decided to sell it is that I simply didn’t want to do it anymore.

I started writing about travel because I was passionate about it. Travelling was the one time I could really live in the moment.

But blogging about travel ruined that for me. I took it very seriously, and while my blog became very successful, travel became more and more stressful. My brain worked overtime as I analysed every aspect of what I was doing and how I would write about it.

We also did crazy things like visiting six attractions in a day. Try that with three young kids.

Towards the end I was exhausted and burnt out. I hated everything about the blog, and stopped working on it.

Thanks to my business model (using Google for traffic and affiliate marketing for income), money was still coming in. But no income is truly passive, and I knew my earnings would decrease over time if I couldn’t rekindle my passion.

And then I found myself on Facebook, where I described my blog as a gangrenous arm that needed to be cut off.

It was time to sell.

What buyers are looking for in a blog

No-one buys a blog because they’re passionate about the topic. They buy it because they think it’s a good business to own.

Which means they’re looking for a good business model.

They aren’t interested in what many of us bloggers stress over—page views, number of followers, etc. They want to know:

How much money the blog makes How much time you spend on the blog The business costs

That’s it.

Yes, a blog with strong metrics in page views, email subscribers and social media can make it more attractive. And they may want to talk about how you do what you do. But what they’ll care about the most is how much money the blog makes.

So don’t be too concerned about page views, number of likes, etc. They really don’t matter that much. What you should be concerned about is whether your blog is doing what you wanted it to do. Anyone looking to pay good money for a blog will want to be sure they’re getting good a return on their  investment.

And page views don’t pay the bills.

A lot of people didn’t think I could sell my blog because my name and image is all over it. But that’s not a problem so long as it doesn’t need you to make money.

How to work out the value of a blog

Figuring out the value of a blog is the same as figuring out the value of any businesses. You need to look as the profit it makes.

Along with my travel blog I’ve sold three other sites, and each time the value was based on a multiple of its monthly or annual profit.

Note that we’re talking about profit, not revenue, which means you need to subtract a wage for the effort you’ve been putting in.

A good broker will ask you to estimate how much time you spend on your blog each month, and put a value on that time. For me, they recommend US$25 an hour.

And just like any other business cost, this gets subtracted from the revenue.

While multiples vary, a good starting point is:

monthly profit x 20 for a site less than three years old monthly profit x 30 for a site more than three years old.

Monthly profits are based on the site’s average income over the past year.

If profit has been steadily increasing you may be able to base your calculations on the past six or even three months’ worth of figures. But chances are you’ll get a lower multiple. For example, the profit of one site I sold was going up steadily, and the overall profit of previous six months was higher than the six months before that. I was able to use the average of these months, but the multiple went from 30 to 29.

My travel blog had a good steady income, big audience numbers, and potential for monetisation beyond affiliate marketing. It also appealed to people who wanted a passive income and to be able to claim their travel as a tax deduction. That meant I could list the site for a higher multiple than those earlier examples.

Depending on your site, and exactly what you’re offering, you may have to negotiate the price when you find a buyer.

But again, page views and social media followers didn’t matter, and played no part in the negotiations.

How to sell a blog

You’ve probably heard of Flippa—a well-known platform for selling sites.

I sold two sites on there recently, and it’s a relatively painless process.

However, I only recommend Flippa for low-value sites worth less than $10,000. At this price level, you’ll struggle to get a good broker.

For a blog doing well, you’re better off using a broker.

For the two higher-priced sites I sold last year, I used Empire Flippers and FE International.

I had very positive experiences with them both.

They both have a similar process. Expect to spend a few full-on days getting your financials together. There’s a format they need to go in, and you’ll have to show proof of everything – a receipt for every payment and some type of tracking for every payment.

You’ll also need to write a lot about your blog to explain to potential buyers what it’s all about, why it’s a good purchase, what tasks you work on, etc.

Once you hand over everything, expect them to keep coming back with more questions and wanting more proof of various things.

This was the most (and possibly only) frustrating part of the process for me. I wanted my sites for sale immediately, but we did this back and forth for a couple of weeks and sometimes it didn’t seem necessary.

When this process is finished, they’ll tell you the price they want to list the site for. (You’re allowed to negotiate.)

Once you both agree on a price, the details are put up on the broker’s site and sent out to their email list.

Potential buyers may ask questions that you’ll need to be ready to answer. They may request a phone call to discuss it further, and will probably want access to your Google Analytics and, in my case, Amazon affiliate account.

For each buyer there might be a contract discussion (more about this later) and possibly haggling over the price.

These options took a 15% cut of the purchase price. Empire Flippers and Flippa also have listing fees. It can be a lot of money, but I think it was worth it. My sites all sold not long after they were listed, which would never have happened otherwise.

While Flippa doesn’t really do much for the money, using a broker is fantastic. I didn’t have to deal with enquiries, and they have processes to ensure they only deal with serious buyers and I’m not sharing my financial information with everyone in the world.

Buyers also like buying through a broker because they know they’ve done a lot of due diligence, which minimises the risk of fake information and protects both parties.

Once you have a buyer, they also make the transition process very painless. They’ll do the negotiations, write the contracts, and ensure you won’t be ripped off by someone taking your site without paying you.

I highly recommend FE International or Empire Flippers for selling your blog.

I found Empire Flippers better for sites that are straightforward, such as my niche site that I spent basically no time on and was all about SEO traffic and affiliate income.

They also make potential buyers pay a refundable deposit to see your site data, which helps keep away nosey people (and potential competitors).

For sites that have a higher value and/or get more complicated (e.g. most blogs), I found FE international better. I’m  glad I sold my blog with them. They tell you how they’ll value the blog and what price to expect before you have to start providing all the information.

Empire Flippers will only discuss this after you’ve provided all the information. But they do have a calculator on their site you can use to value your blog.

Making a contract for your blog

The biggest concern I had about selling my blog was that the new owner would use photos of my kids in ways that I didn’t like or that they would impersonate me.

Thankfully, you can make a contract for your blog sale that has any conditions you want (assuming the buyer agrees of course).

I made sure my broker understood that I needed to negotiate clauses that helped me feel less concerned about these points.

The buyer is likely to have things that concern them too that they will want to negotiate.

You can expect one condition to be that you can’t build a competing blog for the next 2 years at a minimum. There may also be conditions around you training the new buyer to run your blog.

There will also be conditions on when you get paid. On Empire Flippers, the buyer had a few weeks to verify the income by default before the money would be released from escrow to me.

FE International had a policy of releasing the money to the seller as soon as it was verified that everything had been handed over.

If you have any concerns about how the new buyer will handle your blog and the assets that make it up, discuss this with your broker and potential buyers in advance and you can probably find a solution.

Handing over the blog

This was actually far less painful than I expected.

After the buyer has put the money for the blog in escrow, you will start handing over. Your broker can help with this.

FE International helped me complete a huge handover document with everything the new owner needed to know from how to get the actual blog to social media logins to which affiliate accounts they needed to set up where to how to run the site day to day.

This made it so much easier and meant the buyer had access to everything immediately making the transfer fast and smooth.

To make things easier we tended to give our hosting accounts to the new owners. Hosts like SiteGround will allow changing the owner’s details. Otherwise, the broker or your host can help if you can’t transfer the site yourself.

I also used shared Google drive folders when handing over sites where I put everything related to my sites from logo images to affiliate partner contacts.

It’s a good idea to be readily available at handover as we had Skype calls in all cases to help things move along. After all, the faster things are handed over, the faster you are paid.

Within a few days of the sale going through, I had the money for my blog.

My top 3 tips for selling your blog (or for building a more valuable blog) Start removing yourself from the blog 12 months in advance

The only mistake I made in selling my blog was not deciding 12 months in advance so I could better remove myself and my family.

There are two reasons you may want to do this.

Firstly, a blog is going to be more attractive to buyers if it doesn’t look like it relies on you. Having your photo all over it isn’t ideal.

A better idea is to start using a pen name in advance and limit the amount of yourself on the blog.

This is also a good idea if you feel nervous about selling your image, and what can feel like part of your identity, to someone else. It is much easier to just have anything you don’t want on their gone when you sell it rather than coming up with conditions for the contract that you have to hope the other person follows.

You may also want to remove some of the more personal posts.

You should do this 12 months in advance because you can’t change anything that could affect the business operation of the blog right before you sell it.

If you remove posts or change the site much in the months leading up to the sale then the buyer will have a legitimate concern that the earnings that you have declared are not correct as obviously how much your blog earns is affected by what is on your blog.

It’s also good if you can remove yourself from the day to day running on the blog. Your blog will look more attractive if you have an already trained VA which the new buyer can hire as well.

This should also help the value of the blog as a VA usually costs less than having an hourly rate for yourself.

I recommend looking at these areas of your blog even if you don’t plan to ever sell. I think it’s good to regularly reflect and adjust how much of yourself and your family you want to share, for example, and making you less essential in the day to day running of the blog is a great way to save yourself a lot of stress and give you more time to work on more important tasks in your business.

Concentrate on passive income sources

The value of your blog is all about the profit you are making so the easiest way to increase your blog value is to make more money while putting in less effort.

Thankfully, this is easily achievable in blogging.

I always concentrated on getting traffic with SEO and converting it with affiliate marketing which helped my blog not only earn good money, but made it worth a lot of money because this is largely passive once you get it working.

I recommend you work on this aspect of blogging before getting to the point of wanting to sell your blog.

The way to do this is to concentrate on learning about buying keywords and reader intent.

Making affiliate profits is easiest when you attract readers to your site that have a buying mindset. This means that they already have the intent to buy something; they just need you to point them in the right direction.

SEO is a very powerful way to do this as you can write articles using keywords that people use when they are in this buying mindset. These are called buying keywords and are statements like “best juicer”, “juicer reviews”, “top juicer on the market”.

If you have a health blog and published an article on the best juicers that helped people looking for one find the perfect one (with an affiliate link of course) and were able to rank on the first page of Google for these keywords, you would make a lot of ongoing cash with very little effort.

If you can have even a few articles like this ranking well in Google and converting well with an affiliate, this can add a few extra thousand a month to your profits.

Times that by 30 and you could add an extra $90,000 to your blog value.

And if you never sell your blog, the extra money will be great in your pocket.

There are other ways to make more passive income as well. Display advertisements using services like Mediavine or Google AdSense are a good option.

Products can also be passive once you have a sales funnel set up if they are items like eBooks that require little ongoing support.

Stop worrying about page views and social media followers

The best way to find time to work on the things I mention above, like growing your passive income, is to cut out all the tasks that don’t really matter.

This will also mean you don’t need to work as much which will also increase your profits.

I highly recommend going through your task list monthly and removing anything that isn’t directly related to your blogging goals whether you plan to sell or not.

This means that unless your prime goal is to get x number of page views, stop working on tasks just to get more traffic. More traffic generally doesn’t lead to more income unless it’s the right sort of traffic. For example, if you want to make good money with affiliates, you need readers with the right reader intent as mentioned above.

It can be hard to let go of something like going on social media, but if it’s not helping you reach your goals and is only sucking away your time then it can be highly valuable to focus that energy elsewhere.

Final thoughts

It’s been a few months now since I sold my blog and I haven’t regretted it for even a second. It does feel strange to not be a travel blogger anymore when I was so focused on it at one point, but it feels great to have let it go and to have moved on to my other blog, DigitalNomadWannabe.com, where I get to do work that I love.

Whether you should sell your blog or not is a very personal decision.

If you are at all considering it, I recommend you start doing the tips I recommend above as soon as possible so it leaves you in a better position when it comes time to sell. By the time I realised I wanted to sell, I was so over it that I couldn’t give myself a 12 month run up to remove myself in the way I would have liked.

If you do this and you never end up selling, having more income and less work to do will be a bonus anyway.

Bio

Sharon Gourlay is an Australian blogger who now only blogs about SEO, internet marketing and making money from blogging at DigitalNomadWannabe.com.

The post What Happens When You Want to Sell Your Blog? A Case Study appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


New Research: 35% of Competitive Local Keywords Have Local Pack Ads

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/IrpjCB60jpE/35-percent-of-local-keywords-have-local-pack-ads

Posted by Dr-Pete

Over the past year, you may have spotted a new kind of Google ad on a local search. It looks something like this one (on a search for “oil change” from my Pixel phone in the Chicago suburbs):

These ads seem to appear primarily on mobile results, with some limited testing on desktop results. We’ve heard rumors about local pack ads as far back as 2016, but very few details. How prevalent are these ads, and how seriously should you be taking them?

11,000 SERPs: Quick summary

For this study, we decided to look at 110 keywords (in 11 categories) across 100 major US cities. We purposely focused on competitive keywords in large cities, assuming, based on our observations as searchers, that the prevalence rate for these ads was still pretty low. The 11 categories were as follows:

Apparel Automotive Consumer Goods Finance Fitness Hospitality Insurance Legal Medical Services (Home) Services (Other)

We purposely selected terms that were likely to have local pack results and looked for the presence of local packs and local pack ads. We collected these searches as a mobile user with a Samsung Galaxy 7 (a middle-ground choice between iOS and a “pure” Google phone).

Why 11 categories? Confession time – it was originally 10, and then I had the good sense to ask Darren Shaw about the list and realized I had completely left out insurance keywords. Thanks, Darren.

Finding #1: I was very wrong

I’ll be honest – I expected, from casual observations and the lack of chatter in the search community, that we’d see fewer than 5% of local packs with ads, and maybe even numbers in the 1% range.

Across our data set, roughly 35% of SERPs with local packs had ads.

Across industry categories, the prevalence of pack ads ranged wildly, from 10% to 64%:

For the 110 individual keyword phrases in our study, the presence of local ads ranged from 0% to 96%. Here are the keywords with >=90% local pack ad prevalence:

“car insurance” (90%)”auto glass shop” (91%)”bankruptcy lawyer” (91%)”storage” (92%)”oil change” (95%)”mattress sale” (95%)”personal injury attorney” (96%)

There was no discernible correlation between the presence of pack ads and city size. Since our study was limited to the top 100 US cities by population, though, this may simply be due to a restricted data range.

Finding #2: One is the magic number

Every local pack with ads in our study had one and only one ad. This ad appeared in addition to regular pack listings. In our data set, 99.7% of local packs had three regular/organic listings, and the rest had two listings (which can happen with or without ads).

Finding #3: Pack ads land on Google

Despite their appearance, local packs ads are more like regular local pack results than AdWords ads, in that they’re linked directly to a local panel (a rich Google result). On my Pixel phone, the Jiffy Lube ad at the beginning of this post links to this result:

This is not an anomaly: 100% of the 3,768 local pack ads in our study linked back to Google. This follows a long trend of local pack results linking back to Google entities, including the gradual disappearance of the “Website” link in the local pack.

Conclusion: It’s time to get serious

If you’re in a competitive local vertical, it’s time to take local pack ads seriously. Your visitors are probably seeing them more often than you realize. Currently, local pack ads are an extension of AdWords, and require you to set up location extensions.

It’s also more important than ever to get your Google My Business listing in order and make sure that all of your information is up to date. It may be frustrating to lose the direct click to your website, but a strong local business panel can drive phone calls, foot traffic, and provide valuable information to potential customers.

Like every Google change, we ultimately have to put aside whether we like or dislike it and make the tough choices. With more than one-third of local packs across the competitive keywords in our data set showing ads, it’s time to get your head out of the sand and get serious.


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How to Face 3 Fundamental Challenges Standing Between SEOs and Clients/Bosses

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/4XmecQQ4Upo/challenges-seos-clients

Posted by sergeystefoglo

Every other year, the good people at Moz conduct a survey with one goal in mind: understand what we (SEOs) want to read more of. If you haven’t seen the results from 2017, you can view them here.

The results contain many great questions, challenges, and roadblocks that SEOs face today. As I was reading the 2017 Moz Blog readership survey, a common thread stood out to me: there are disconnects on fundamental topics between SEOs and clients and/or bosses. Since I work at an agency, I’ll use “client” through the rest of this article; if you work in-house, replace that with “boss.”

Check out this list:

I can definitely relate to these challenges. I’ve been at Distilled for a few years now, and worked in other firms before — these challenges are real, and they’re tough. Through sharing my experience dealing with these challenges, I hope to help other consultants and SEOs to overcome them.

In particular, I want to discuss three points of disconnect that happen between SEOs and clients.

My client doesn’t understand the value of SEO and it’s difficult to prove ROI.My client doesn’t understand how SEO works and I always have to justify my actions.My client and I disagree about whether link building is the right answer.

Keep in mind, these are purely my own experiences. This doesn’t mean these answers are the end-all-be-all. In fact, I would enjoy starting a conversation around these challenges with any of you so please grab me at SearchLove (plug: our San Diego conference is selling out quickly and is my favorite) or MozCon to bounce off more ideas!

1. My client doesn’t understand the value of SEO and it’s difficult to prove ROI

The value of SEO is its influence on organic search, which is extremely valuable. In fact, SEO is more prominent in 2018 than it has ever been. To illustrate this, I borrowed some figures from Rand’s write up on the state of organic search at the end of 2017.

Year over year, the period of January–October 2017 has 13% more search volume than the same months in 2016.That 13% represents 54 billion more queries, which is just about the total number of searches Google did, worldwide, in 2003.

Organic search brings in the most qualified visitors (at a more consistent rate) than any other digital marketing channel. In other words, more people are searching for things than ever before, which results in more potential to grow organic traffic. How do we grow organic traffic? By making sure our sites are discoverable by Google and clearly answer user queries with good content.

Source: Search Engine Land

When I first started out in SEO, I used to think I was making all my clients all the moneys. “Yes, Bill, if you hire me and we do this SEO thing I will increase rankings and sessions, and you will make an extra x dollars!” I used to send estimates on ROI with every single project I pitched (even if it wasn’t asked of me).

After a few years in the industry I began questioning the value of providing estimates on ROI. Specifically, I was having trouble determining ift I was doing the right thing by providing a number that was at best an educated guess. It would stress me out and I would feel like I was tied to that number. It also turns out, not worrying about things that are out of our control helps control stress levels.

I’m at a point now where I’ve realized the purpose of providing an estimated ROI. Our job as consultants is to effect change. We need to get people to take action. If what it takes to get sign-off is to predict an uplift, that’s totally fine. In fact, it’s expected. Here’s how that conversation might look.

In terms of a formula for forecasting uplifts in SEO, Mike King said it best:

“Forecast modeling is questionable at best. It doesn’t get much better than this:”

Traffic = Search Volume x CTRNumber of Conversions = Conversion Rate x TrafficDollar Value = Traffic x # Conversions x Avg Conversion ValueTL;DR:Don’t overthink this too much — if you do, you’ll get stuck in the weeds.When requested, provide the prediction to get sign-off and quickly move on to action.For more in-depth thoughts on this, read Will Critchlow’s recent post on forecast modeling.Remember to think about seasonality, overall trends, and the fact that few brands exist in a vacuum. What are your competitors doing and how will that affect you?2. My client doesn’t understand how SEO works and I always have to justify my actions

Does your client actually not understand how SEO works? Or, could it be that you don’t understand what they need from you? Perhaps you haven’t considered what they are struggling with at the moment?

I’ve been there — constantly needing to justify why you’re working on a project or why SEO should be a focus. It isn’t easy to be in this position. But, more often than not I’ve realized what helps the most is to take a step back and ask some fundamental questions.

A great place to start would be asking:

What are the things my client is concerned about?What is my client being graded on by their boss?Is my client under pressure for some reason?

The answers to these questions should shine some clarity on the situation (the why or the motivation behind the constant questioning). Some of the reasons why could be:

You might know more about SEO than your client, but they know more about their company. This means they may see the bigger picture between investments, returns, activities, and the interplay between them all.SEO might be 20% of what your client needs to think about — imagine a VP of marketing who needs to account for 5–10 different channels.If you didn’t get sign off/budget for a project, it doesn’t mean your request was without merit. This just means someone else made a better pitch more aligned to their larger goals.

When you have some answers, ask yourself, “How can I make what I’m doing align to what they’re focused on?” This will ensure you are hitting the nail on the head and providing useful insight instead of more confusion.

That conversation might look like this:

TL;DRThis is a good problem to have — it means you have a chance to effect change.Also, it means that your client is interested in your work!It’s important to clarify the why before getting to in the weeds. Rarely will the why be “to learn SEO.”3. My client and I disagree about whether link building is the right answer

The topic of whether links (and by extension, link building) are important is perhaps the most talked about topic in SEO. To put it simply, there are many different opinions and not one “go-to” answer. In 2017 alone there have been many conflicting posts/talks on the state of links.

My colleague Tom Capper presented this deck at SearchLove San Diego last year which goes into detail about whether or not Google needs links anymore (accompanying blog post here).Malcolm Slade from Epiphany presented this deck at BrightonSEO last year which dives into brand influence on search, and what that means for the topic of links.Branded3 released an overview of ranking factors for 2018. The biggest factor? Links./r/BigSEO searches from the past month show that people have many questions still.

The quick answer to the challenge we face as SEOs when it comes to links is, unless authority is holding you back do something else.

That answer is a bit brief and if your client is constantly bringing up links, it doesn’t help. In this case, I think there are a few points to consider.

If you’re a small business, getting links is a legitimate challenge and can significantly impact your rankings. The problem is that it’s difficult to get links for a small business. Luckily, we have some experts in our field giving out ideas for this. Check out this, this, and this.If you’re an established brand (with authority), links should not be a priority. Often, links will get prioritized because they are easier to attain, measurable (kind of), and comfortable. Don’t fall into this trap! Go with the recommendation above: do other impactful work that you have control over first.Reasoning: Links tie success to a metric we have no control over — this gives us an excuse to not be accountable for success, which is bad.Reasoning: Links reduce an extremely complicated situation into a single variable — this gives us an excuse not to try and understand everything (which is also bad).It’s good to think about the topic of links and how it’s related to brand. Big brands get talked about (and linked to) more than small brands. Perhaps the focus should be “build your brand” instead of “gain some links”. If your client persists on the topic of links, it might be easier to paint a realistic picture for them. This conversation might look like this:

TL;DRThere are many opinions on the state of links in 2018: don’t get distracted by all the noise.If you’re a small business, there are some great tactics for building links that don’t take a ton of time and are probably worth it.If you’re an established brand with more authority, do other impactful work that’s in your control first.If you are constantly getting asked about links from your client, paint a realistic picture.Conclusion

If you’ve made it this far, I’m really interested in hearing how you deal with these issues within your company. Are there specific challenges you face within the topics of ROI, educating on SEO, getting sign-off, or link building? How can we start tackling these problems more as an industry?


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The Great PPC Diet: How to Correct Over-Optimization in Paid Search

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/SuYGIx6Ske8/over-optimized-ppc

Are your pay-per-click campaigns bigger than they should be? Have they become unbalanced or lost their direction?

It’s a new year, and it’s a better time than ever to cut the fat and shape them up to be the fittest PPC campaigns they can be!

ppc diet

How Can You Over-Optimise a PPC Campaign?

There are two main ways you can over-optimise a PPC campaign, which can end up doing more harm than good:

Spreading your assets too thinly: Having too many keywords, ads or product groups within an ad group can cloud judgements. Unbalancing campaign settings: Adjusting or removing bid adjustments in an unhealthy way can produce erratic results.

Let’s take a look at some of these bad habits it’s time to break.

Bloated Keyword Groups or Campaigns

It’s easy to overindulge on the number of keywords you have within a search campaign’s ad group. Sure, you will want to have your ads show for all the keywords relevant to your landing page, but you can go too far in this respect.

more keywords than clicks

Having more keywords than clicks is a bad sign

With a huge number of keywords, you are bound to have many automatically fall under the “low search volume” category. Google AdWords states that low search volume keywords “will be inactive until its search traffic increases” which means that super-niche keywords are a waste of time, essentially deadweight stuffed within an ad group.

Some niche keywords will occasionally get clicks, but if there aren’t enough clicks overall, then the results around that keyword aren’t statistically significant and it’s a shot in the dark as to what bid to set. These niche keywords also deflect clicks from phrase and broad match keywords, which means that they have less historic data to base bids on.

too many ppc keywords

Don’t waste your time with keyword lists like this!

Ideally you should set exact match keywords for high volume search terms accompanied with similar broad match keywords to handle longer, unknown or unique search queries around that topic.

Any search queries that have enough data behind them can be separated out into their own exact and broad match keyword, or even better: these stand-out keywords can form a new ad group to improve Quality Scores with a closely matching ad and/or landing page.

Too Skinny Product Groups

For Google and Bing Shopping campaigns, you can subdivide all products by brand, type, item ID, etc. and place an individual bid on each product group.

It’s a great idea to break product groups into niche groups, as different groups of products can have different prices, margins and conversion rates and you’ll want to adjust bids accordingly.

too many ppc product groups

How should you break down shopping campaign product groups?

Issues arise when product groups are broken down into tiny groups and become too skinny in terms of historic user data. If a product group has only had a handful of clicks, then it’s impossible to tell what the ideal maximum cost-per-click bid for that group should be, especially if it’s had less than two conversions and less than 100 or so clicks.

Ideally you should only create a product group split when all branches of the split have enough clicks and conversions for you to be confident in creating a calculated bid based on historical data. This may mean using just one product group overall for all products and then branching it out when enough data becomes available in the upcoming hours/days/weeks.

ppc bidding based on historical data

Are you setting your bids based on emotions or on reliable historical data?

For product feeds containing grouped products with different variants (such as size or colour variations), it’s not recommended to break product groups down to the item ID level, as these items are just one combination of a product’s size, colour, etc. and will likely have the same results as the product in its other sizes and colour combinations.

Custom labels can really help bring up more options to split product groups by. For example, you could create up to five new custom labels for useful groupings such as:

Product price band (e.g. up to £20, £20 – £40, etc.) Product margin band (e.g. up to £5, £5 – £10, etc.) Configurable product SKU Stock levels (e.g. excellent, OK, bad, etc.) Sale/non-sale items Heavy Numbers of Search Ads

How many is too many when it comes to search ads with an ad group?

You need to have at least two text ads to split test ad variations in order to try and increase the click-through-rate and/or conversion rate.

too many ads per ad group

How can you tell which type of ad performs the best?

Having too many ads will weigh you down though watered-down statistics. Imagine an extreme example with an ad group containing over 100 ads: you cannot make any discernible difference between these ads because each one has too few clicks to ever tell what’s going on.

A greedy amount of ads also means that your ads won’t be auto-optimised towards your goals by online advertising platforms until there’s enough clicks to go on statistically. This could take several months or even years to achieve depending on traffic levels and ad placements.

ppc ad testing flowchart

A handy method whilst creating and optimising ads within an ad group

I recommend creating three or four different themed text ads for every ad group, to have the best of both worlds in terms of split testing speed and ad optimisation. Once each ad has had 500 or so clicks, you can see which theme performed the worst across all ad groups, pause that ad; and at the same time create a new unique ad which may push performance even higher.

Unbalanced Campaign Settings

Are your campaign settings balanced and working together in harmony?

There are more than seven different ways to adjust search bids, which can mean that a final bid can look very different from the original maximum CPC bid once all the increases and decreases are taken into account:

ppc campaign settings

How many bid adjustments change your final bids?

All these bid adjustments can significantly optimise a PPC campaign, effectively saving ad spend on users who don’t convert as well, and pouring that saved cost into those users who convert better than average. The overall effect of this is greater volumes of conversions without the need for extra ad spend or a loss of return on ad spend.

When bid adjustments are applied to a campaign incorrectly, they can throw automatic bidding systems and increase or decrease maximum CPCs in a unbalanced and possibly unhealthy way. Take a real-life bad example below for a campaign’s device bid adjustments:

Desktop devices: 40% increase Tablet devices: 15% increase Smartphone devices: 5% increase

No matter what the original max CPC bid has been set at, the final bid will be higher by at least 5%, so the relationship between the max CPC and the final bid is skewed positively in this case.

All bid adjustments need to be based off averages to keep them balanced and working together in harmony.

comparing conversion rates in google analytics

You can use the “comparison” tool within Google Analytics to quickly measure percentage differences

This is especially important when two or more bid adjustments are used, because they can have a knock on effect of multiplying the error down the line. A bid adjustment of +10%, then +15% and then +20% will result overall in a bid adjustment of +52%, for example.

Working Towards a Fitter PPC Account

Now is a better time than any to get your PPC campaigns into shape. Go on the great PPC diet by cutting the fat, reducing bloating and avoid going too skinny or unbalanced.

Sometimes a fresh start is what’s needed to achieve your goals, so don’t be afraid to delete old habits, start from scratch and get started on the right foot towards a healthy and active PPC account.

About the author

Jonathan Ellins is the Head of Insights at Hallam Internet Ltd., a UK-based marketing agency. Working in a consulting capacity at Hallam, Jonathan specialises in paid advertising with a keen interest in creating AdWords optimisation and automated bid management scripts. Find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Seven Types of Product You Could Sell From Your Blog

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ProbloggerHelpingBloggersEarnMoney/~3/9CfEawCY7j0/

7 types of product you could sell from your blog

It took me nearly seven years of blogging to create my first products: two ebooks, one for ProBlogger and one of Digital Photography School. They made me a total of over $160,000 in 2009 alone and changed my business.

Back in 2014, I wrote about the experience … and how it nearly never happened:

My big issue was a severe lack of time. Between juggling two growing blogs and a growing family (we had just had our first child), I wasn’t sure how I’d ever write an eBook. I also had a long long list of other excuses to put it off.

I’d never written, designed, marketed a product of my own before… I didn’t have a shopping cart system… I didn’t know if my readers would buy…

In short – the dream of creating and selling an eBook of my own stayed in my head for two years until 2009. Ironically by that point I’d become even busier (we’d just had our second son and my blogs had continued to grow) but I knew if I didn’t bite the bullet and do it that I never would.

Does any of that sound familiar to you? Perhaps you’re blogging alongside a busy day job, or you’ve got young children at home, and the whole idea of creating a product seems very daunting.

You’re definitely not alone. But creating your own product – even a small, simple one – can bring in money much faster than affiliate sales or advertising: after all, your audience trust you and if they like your writing, they’ll want more from you.

In this post, I’ll take you through seven different types of product you could create. Some of these require more time and initial investment: others, you could plausibly create in a weekend.

But First … What is a “Product”?

What exactly do I mean by a “product”? It could be something virtual (like software or an ebook) or something physical (like a t-shirt or a paperback book).

A product might involve an element of ongoing commitment from you, but it isn’t only about the hours you put in – so I won’t be covering freelancing, virtual assistant roles, or other services here.

Seven Types of Product You Could Sell from Your Blog … Which One is Right For You?

The seven types of product I’m going to run through in this post are:

Ebooks: these might be positioned as “guides” or even self-study courses. Essentially, they’re written downloadables, probably in .pdf, .mobi and/or .epub format. Printables: these are designed to be printed out! They might be planners, cheat sheets, party invites, worksheets … anything that someone might buy to print and (probably) fill in. Digital subscriptions: these are normally delivered by email, and are often relatively cheap compared with some other products (making them attractive to first-time buyers). Online courses: these could be text, audio and/or video, although video is increasingly becoming the “default” expectation. Membership of a private website or group: this might be a membership site that you host yourself, or something as simple as a closed Facebook group. Software or a phone app: unless you’re a developer, this probably isn’t the product you’ll go for first … but it could be a very lucrative one to try later on. Physical products: these could be almost anything from books to t-shirts to one-off pieces of art. Unless you’ve already got a business selling them, though, they aren’t the best products to begin with.

Let’s take a look at each of those in more detail. I’ll be giving examples for each one, so you can see how different bloggers are using these different types of product.

#1: Ebooks: Are They Right for You?

The first two products I created, back in 2009, were both ebooks: 31 Days to Build a Better Blog (since updated) and The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography (now superseded by a range of portrait photography books)

That was almost a decade ago, which is a long time in the ebook world. Amazon had only recently launched the Kindle, and the first iPad didn’t appear for another year.

These days, there are a lot more ebooks out there, but don’t let that put you off. A well-positioned ebook can still be a great starter product. If you’re really pushed for time, you might want to compile some of your best blog posts into an ebook (that’s what I did with 31 Days to Build a Better Blog), then edit them and add some extra material.

Example: Deacon Hayes’ You Can Retire Early!

You Can Retire Early Deacon Hayes

Although many bloggers still sell ebooks via their own platforms, charging premium prices for specialised information, it may be a better fit for your audience if you sell your ebook through Amazon and/or other large e-retailers.

If your ebook has a (potentially) large audience, if they’re unlikely to pay more than $9.99 for it, and/or if they’re a bit wary about buying online, selling through a well-established ebook retailer could be the way to go.

This is what Deacon does with his ebook You Can Retire Early! – it’s sold through Amazon, but to make it a great deal and to capture his readers’ email addresses, he offers a free course for readers who email him their receipt.

If you’d like to see more examples of ebooks, we now have 23 ebooks on Digital Photography School.

#2: Printables

Printables are becoming increasingly popular. They differ from ebooks because they’re designed to be printed and used/displayed – and they’re unlikely to contain a lot of text.

Printables could be almost anything:

Planner pages Party invites Pieces of art Greetings cards Kids’ activities Calendars Gift tags Adult colouring sheets

… whatever you can think of, and whatever suits your blog and audience.

Unless you’re skilled at design, you may need to hire a professional designer to create high-quality printables for you … though it depends what you’re creating.

Example: Chelsea Lee Smith’ “Printable Pack”

Chelsea Lee Smith printables

Many of Chelsea’s printables are available for free on her blog, but this pack adds five exclusive ones … and brings everything together in one place. Most of her printables are simple and straightforward (which could be a bonus to readers not wanting to spend a fortune on ink!) She’s priced the whole pack at $4.99, making it an appealing purchase for busy parents.

#3: Digital Subscriptions

A digital subscription is information or a resource that you send out to subscribers on a regular basis. Depending on what exactly it is, they might be paying anything from a couple of dollars to a couple of hundred dollars each month.

Delivering the subscription could be as simple as adding paying members to an email list (which you can do through linking PayPal with your email provider). You won’t need to create all the content up front – though you’ll want to get ahead so that you always provide your customers with their resources on time.

Depending on the type of subscription, you could either provide all subscribers with all the same content in order (e.g. they start with week 1, then week 2, and so on) – or you could send out a weekly or monthly email to everyone at the same time, so they get the same content whether they’ve been with you for a day or a year.

Example: $5 Meal Plan, by Erin Chase  

Erin Chase 5 dollar meal plan

Erin’s product solve a problem that many parents have: how do you get a tasty meal on the table each night, quickly and cheaply … without spending hours every week writing a complicated meal plan?

This weekly subscription costs $5/month, with a 14 day free trial. Like Chelsea’s printables, above, it’s priced at a point where it’s an attractive offer for busy families. We recently had Erin on the ProBlogger podcast where you can hear more about how she started blogging and went from zero to a six-figure income in two years.

#4: Online Courses

An online course can take quite a bit of time to put together, and some bloggers feel daunted by the technology involved.

At its simplest, an online course might be essentially the same sort of content as an ebook, only split into “lessons” or “chapters” rather than modules. Many courses will include additional features, though, like:

Video content: courses that are based around videos normally have transcripts or at least summaries to help your students who prefer not to watch video or who want a recap to refer to. Audio interviews: if you don’t have the tools to create high-quality video, audio can be a good alternative (and some students prefer it to, as they can listen while commuting or exercising). Quizzes: depending on what you’re teaching, it may be helpful for students to test their knowledge at the end of each lesson or module. Interaction: you might choose to offer feedback to students, or you might have a closed Facebook group for students to join, where they can talk with one another and with you. Certification: this is more appropriate for some topics than others … but offering students some sort of certification at the end of the course can be helpful. Example: ProBlogger’s New Courses

ProBlogger Courses Example

At ProBlogger we’ve just gone through this process to launch our first ever course. We decided on the self-hosted route and use Learndash as our Learning Management System. You don’t necessarily have to host your course on your own site, though – there are plenty of online platforms like Teachable and Udemy that you can provide your course through instead.

Learndash (partnered with the Buddyboss-friendly Social Learner theme) allows us to offer all of the above features with our courses. Whilst our first course is free, we will be using the same platform to sell our first paid course, an update of my popular eBook, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog in March.

For our free Ultimate Guide to Starting a Blog course, we are running a beta version in conjunction with our first ProBlogger International Start a Blog day on the 7th of February, so as part of the beta we’re also trialling a Facebook group. It is common for bloggers running courses to run a group for communication in conjunction with a course, but beware the amount of time and attention this requires.

We’re closing registrations to the course on the 31st of January, and after we implement suggestions from the beta group, we’ll open it up again as an evergreen course (ie people can start it at any time as a self-guided group) as well as again in the new year for the next International Start a Blog Day.

#5: Membership of a Private Website or Group

For quite a few years now, “membership sites” have been popular. These are essentially closed websites where people have to pay and sign up (almost always for a monthly fee) in order to view the content.

The content might be text-based, or (more often) it could involve audio or video. Sites might offer monthly “seminars” or “workshops”, or regular courses that members can take part in.

On a smaller scale, some bloggers offer Facebook sites with paid membership: this can be a quick and easy way to set up your product, though it’s worth remembering that if you were banned from Facebook, you’d no longer have access to your group!

Example: Copyblogger’s “Authority”

Copyblogger’s membership site Authority focuses on the community elements as well as the teaching materials provided. It’s a fairly high-end community site aimed at professional copywriters, small business owners, and so on, and also gives members the opportunity for expert coaching, in addition to peer support.

Like most membership sites, it has a monthly subscription ($55/month) – but there’s also the option to purchase a year’s membership for $550.

#6: Software or a Phone App

This is unlikely to be an option for your first product, unless you’re a developer … but creating a piece of software or a phone app could potentially be very lucrative.

There are a lot of options here, and your software/app might be anything from a business tool to something that relates to your readers’ hobby. You might have a one-time price, especially if it’s a relatively simple tool … or you might be pricing on a monthly basis (the “Software as a Service” or SaaS model, where you host the software for customers to login to).

Example: Fat Mum Slim’s Little Moments App

little moments app fat mum slim

Long-time blogger Chantelle Ellem created her fun photo editing app on the back of her viral Instagram hashtag challenge #photoaday. When she released Little Moments in 2014 it went to number one in Australia, and number seven in the USA. It was picked as the App Store’s best app for 2014 and has been Editor’s Choice {selected by the App Store worldwide}.

Whilst it’s a free app, it has in-app purchases where you can purchase packs of designs to use in the editor – either per pack or an offer to unlock everything and get all the packs.

Little Moments in-app purchases

Chantelle shares some insights here about creating the app, including being prepared for the feedback from customers and creating a community around your app.

#7: Physical Products

Finally, even though blogging life revolves around the online world … there’s nothing stopping you creating an offline, physical product. This could be almost anything you can imagine: bloggers have created board games, comic books, merchandise, artworks, and far more.

Physical products need to be created, stored and shipped, all of which will take time (and money) – so this probably won’t be the first product you’ll want to experiment with. You can sell directly from your own blog, or you can use an appropriate online marketplace: Etsy for handmade goods, for instance, or Amazon or eBay for almost any product.

Example: Kirsten and Co’s Skin Boss

Kirsten Smith Skin Boss

Personal and lifestyle blogger Kirsten Smith recently developed and launched Skin Boss, a range of facial oils in response to an issue she was experiencing with her skin. You can read the backstory here on why and how it was developed. When you create something in response to a real need and have a strong connection with your readers and other bloggers, it’s an excellent platform for the success of a new product. Kirsten has able to reach out to her network of blogging friends to get media coverage for her new product.

 

I know there’s a lot to take in here! All bloggers, however fancy and complex their products are now, started somewhere – often with an ebook, printables, or a simple online course.

Even if you’re pressed for time, could you set aside 15 minutes a day or maybe block out a weekend in order to create your first product?

It might just change your life.

The post Seven Types of Product You Could Sell From Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

      


What’s in Store for WordStream in 2018

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/K0AxPKceAjI/wordstream-vision

When I joined WordStream as President in June of 2017, I jumped in head first to what turned out to be the highest-energy environment I’ve ever worked in by far. I’m thrilled and grateful to be part of a team that’s so passionate, and I’ve been so impressed by our hundreds of smart, dedicated employees who come to the office every day with a mission to help our customers succeed. Our customers run an amazing variety of businesses, employing tens of thousands of people and delivering products and services all over the world.

This week, I’m excited to begin a new chapter with WordStream. I’m stepping into the role of CEO, where I’ll continue to oversee our day-to-day operations as well as building and leading the team that is driving continued rapid growth through 2018 and beyond. My friend and colleague Ralph Folz will move into the role of Executive Chairman, where his focus will increase on external relationships, partnerships, and growth by acquisition. I’ll also be joining the Board of Directors.

howard kogan ceo wordstream

Introducing new hires at one of my first company meetings

2017 was a big year for WordStream. We landed on the Inc. 5000 for the fifth year in a row, the Boston Business Journal’s Top Places to Work list for the third year in a row, and were named one of the Boston Globe’s Top Places to Work for 2017. We were named the #1 highest rated search advertising software by G2 Crowd. We now have over 250 employees and power more than 10,000 advertisers and agencies globally.

Our track record of growth has been impressive, but we’re not slowing down now, and today I’d like to share with you some thoughts on our current challenges, opportunities, and my vision for the company this year and in the future.

My First Six Months

I have a customer-first philosophy, so when I joined WordStream in June, my first order of business was to spend lots of time with our customers. From jumping on sales and consulting calls, to hosting events in our office, to visiting our customers’ offices, to talking to customers who are unhappy or leaving WordStream, I’ve done it all.

wordstream customer event

A workshop from our customer insight roundtable in November

I have heard countless stories of how WordStream has helped to both grow and simplify our customers’ businesses. The proactive suggestions that the software provides, the simplicity of the user experience, and the talent and compassion of our customer success reps are consistent themes across these conversations.

But our job is not done. To build on this success we are actively working on innovating within our existing ability to advertise across multiple online advertising platforms including Google, Facebook, and Bing (for example, releasing Smart Ads to automate display ad creation), as well as developing brand new product lines and service offerings to meet an expanded set of growth opportunities for our customers (such as the newly released Facebook Ads Grader).

wordstream smart ads software

Smart Ads makes it easy to build great-looking display ads fast

There’s much more to come as we move through the year, so watch this space for more new features and product developments that you’ve asked for.

Our Most Critical Asset: Our People

One of my favorite parts of my job has been my mobile “office.” I’ve sat in several different desks already, spending time with teams across the company, and I like moving around as a way to get to know our people and the specifics of how each different team functions. You can’t build a great company without great people, and our people and culture are two of our most powerful assets.

We are growing rapidly, and this trajectory presents both challenges and opportunity. We need to scale the way every aspect of our business works to support our growth in the coming years. Two excellent opportunities arise for our employees – the ability to take on new projects and technologies, and the ability to take on new roles and responsibilities. This is one of the core purposes of the organization, to provide professional development for our talent so that they are continually learning and preparing for what’s next.

wordstream best places to work

Accepting our award from the Boston Globe with WordStreamers from across all teams

If this sounds like something you want to be a part of, check out our careers page – we’re always looking for creative, driven people to join our engineering, product, sales, customer success, and marketing teams.

My Vision for the Future 

The digital advertising market is incredibly dynamic, with market leaders such as Facebook and Google driving constant innovation as well as hundreds of tech companies striving to disrupt the industry. To stand out in a crowded, fast-paced space, we must constantly challenge ourselves to listen more closely to our customers so we can truly partner with them, leveraging emerging technology to ensure we deliver the simplest and most valuable solutions available to businesses and agencies of all sizes.

We’ll add dozens and dozens of new employees this year, who will bring new diversity of ideas, experiences and richness to WordStream – furthering our vision and accelerating our progress. One way we’re powering that effort is through our new partnership with Hack.Diversity in 2018. We’ll develop new ways of going to market, new products and services, and new geographies. Through it all we will focus on making sure we stay close our customers, use them as inspiration for all we do, and deliver ever increasing value to them.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of our journey so far – we couldn’t do it without you. Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2018!


How to Create Engaging Social Media Campaigns That Get Attention

Originally published on: https://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2018/33406/how-to-create-engaging-social-media-campaigns-that-get-attention

Getting people’s attention on social media is more difficult than ever. But giving up isn’t an option. So… what should marketers do? Create well-conceived, well-written campaigns that cut through the static, of course. Here’s how. Read the full article at MarketingProfs


SEO Ranking Factors & Correlation: What Does It Mean When a Metric Is Correlated with Google Rankings? – Whiteboard Friday

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/udlBpn9lnAg/seo-ranking-factors-and-correlation

Posted by randfish

In an industry where knowing exactly how to get ranked on Google is murky at best, SEO ranking factors studies can be incredibly alluring. But there’s danger in believing every correlation you read, and wisdom in looking at it with a critical eye. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers the myths and realities of correlations, then shares a few smart ways to use and understand the data at hand.

SEO Ranking Factors and Correlation

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we are chatting about SEO ranking factors and the challenge around understanding correlation, what correlation means when it comes to SEO factors.

So you have likely seen, over the course of your career in the SEO world, lots of studies like this. They’re usually called something like ranking factors or ranking elements study or the 2017 ranking factors, and a number of companies put them out. Years ago, Moz started to do this work with correlation stuff, and now many, many companies put these out. So people from Searchmetrics and I think Ahrefs puts something out, and SEMrush puts one out, and of course Moz has one.

These usually follow a pretty similar format, which is they take a large number of search results from Google, from a specific country or sometimes from multiple countries, and they’ll say, “We analyzed 100,000 or 50,000 Google search results, and in our set of results, we looked at the following ranking factors to see how well correlated they were with higher rankings.” That is to say how much they predicted that, on average, a page with this factor would outrank a page without the factor, or a page with more of this factor would outrank a page with less of this factor.

Correlation in SEO studies like these usually mean:

So, basically, in an SEO study, they usually mean something like this. They do like a scatter plot. They don’t have to specifically do a scatter plot, but visualization of the results. Then they’ll say, “Okay, linking root domains had better correlation or correlation with higher organic rankings than the 10 blue link-style results to the degree of 0.39.” They’ll usually use either Spearman or Pearson correlation. We won’t get into that here. It doesn’t matter too much.

Across this many searches, the metric predicted higher or lower rankings with this level of consistency. 1.0, by the way, would be perfect correlation. So, for example, if you were looking at days that end in Y and days that follow each other, well, there’s a perfect correlation because every day’s name ends in Y, at least in English.

So search visits, let’s walk down this path just a little bit. So search visits, saying that that 0.47 correlated with higher rankings, if that sounds misleading to you, it sounds misleading to me too. The problem here is that’s not necessarily a ranking factor. At least I don’t think it is. I don’t think that the more visits you get from search from Google, the higher Google ranks you. I think it’s probably that the correlation runs the other way around — the higher you rank in search results, the more visits on average you get from Google search.

So these ranking factors, I’ll run through a bunch of these myths, but these ranking factors may not be factors at all. They’re just metrics or elements where the study has looked at the correlation and is trying to show you the relationship on average. But you have to understand and intuit this information properly, otherwise you can be very misled.

Myths and realities of correlation in SEO

So let’s walk through a few of these.

1. Correlation doesn’t tell us which way the connection runs.

So it does not say whether factor X influences the rankings or whether higher rankings influences factor X. Let’s take another example — number of Facebook shares. Could it be the case that search results that rank higher in Google oftentimes get people sharing them more on Facebook because they’ve been seen by more people who searched for them? I think that’s totally possible. I don’t know whether it’s the case. We can’t prove it right here and now, but we can certainly say, “You know what? This number does not necessarily mean that Facebook shares influence Google results.” It could be the case that Google results influence Facebook searches. It could be the case that there’s a third factor that’s causing both of them. Or it could be the case that there’s, in fact, no relationship and this is merely a coincidental result, probably unlikely given that there is some relationship there, but possible.

2. Correlation does not imply causation.

This is a famous quote, but let’s continue with the famous quote. But it sure is a hint. It sure is a hint. That’s exactly what we like to use correlation for is as a hint of things we might investigate further. We’ll talk about that in a second.

3. In an algorithm like Google’s, with thousands of potential ranking inputs, if you see any single metric at 0.1 or higher, I tend to think that, in general, that is an interesting result.

Not prove something, not means that there’s a direct correlation, just it is interesting. It’s worthy of further exploration. It’s worthy of understanding. It’s worthy of forming hypotheses and then trying to prove those wrong. It is interesting.

4. Correlation does tell us what more successful pages and sites do that less successful sites and pages don’t do.

Sometimes, in my opinion, that is just as interesting as what is actually causing rankings in Google. So you might say, “Oh, this doesn’t prove anything.” What it proves to me is pages that are getting more Facebook shares tend to do a good bit better than pages that are not getting as many Facebook shares.

I don’t really care, to be honest, whether that is a direct Google ranking factor or whether that’s just something that’s happening. If it’s happening in my space, if it’s happening in the world of SERPs that I care about, that is useful information for me to know and information that I should be applying, because it suggests that my competitors are doing this and that if I don’t do it, I probably won’t be as successful, or I may not be as successful as the ones who are. Certainly, I want to understand how they’re doing it and why they’re doing it.

5. None of these studies that I have ever seen so far have looked specifically at SERP features.

So one of the things that you have to remember, when you’re looking at these, is think organic, 10 blue link-style results. We’re not talking about AdWords, the paid results. We’re not talking about Knowledge Graph or featured snippets or image results or video results or any of these other, the news boxes, the Twitter results, anything else that goes in there. So this is kind of old-school, classic organic SEO.

6. Correlation is not a best practice.

So it does not mean that because this list descends and goes down in this order that those are the things you should do in that particular order. Don’t use this as a roadmap.

7. Low correlation does not mean that a metric or a tactic doesn’t work

Example, a high percent of sites using a page or a tactic will result in a very low correlation. So, for example, when we first did this study in I think it was 2005 that Moz ran its first one of these, maybe it was ’07, we saw that keyword use in the title element was strongly correlated. I think it was probably around 0.2, 0.15, something like that. Then over time, it’s gone way, way down. Now, it’s something like 0.03, extremely small, infinitesimally small.

What does that mean? Well, it could mean one of two things. It could mean Google is using it less as a ranking factor. It could mean that it was never connected, and it’s just total speculation, total coincidence. Or three, it could mean that a lot more people who rank in the top 20 or 30 results, which is what these studies usually look at, top 10 to top 50 sometimes, a lot more of them are putting the keyword in the title, and therefore, there’s just no difference between result number 31 and result number 1, because they both have them in the title. So you’re seeing a much lower correlation between pages that don’t have them and do have them and higher rankings. So be careful about how you intuit that.

Oh, one final note. I did put -0.02 here. A negative correlation means that as you see less of this thing, you tend to see higher rankings. Again, unless there is a strong negative correlation, I tend to watch out for these, or I tend to not pay too much attention. For example, the keyword in the meta description, it could just be that, well, it turns out pretty much everyone has the keyword in the meta description now, so this is just not a big differentiating factor.

What is correlation good for?

All right. What’s correlation actually good for? We talked about a bunch of myths, ways not to use it.

A. IDing the elements that more successful pages tend to have

So if I look across a correlation and I see that lots of pages are twice as likely to have X and rank highly as the ones that don’t rank highly, well, that is a good piece of data for me.

B. Watching elements over time to see if they rise or lower in correlation.

For example, we watch links very closely over time to see if they rise or lower so that we can say: “Gosh, does it look like links are getting more or less influential in Google’s rankings? Are they more or less correlated than they were last year or two years ago?” And if we see that drop dramatically, we might intuit, “Hey, we should test the power of links again. Time for another experiment to see if links still move the needle, or if they’re becoming less powerful, or if it’s merely that the correlation is dropping.”

C. Comparing sets of search results against one another we can identify unique attributes that might be true

So, for example, in a vertical like news, we might see that domain authority is much more important than it is in fitness, where smaller sites potentially have much more opportunity or dominate. Or we might see that something like https is not a great way to stand out in news, because everybody has it, but in fitness, it is a way to stand out and, in fact, the folks who do have it tend to do much better. Maybe they’ve invested more in their sites.

D. Judging metrics as a predictive ranking ability

Essentially, when I’m looking at a metric like domain authority, how good is that at telling me on average how much better one domain will rank in Google versus another? I can see that this number is a good indication of that. If that number goes down, domain authority is less predictive, less sort of useful for me. If it goes up, it’s more useful. I did this a couple years ago with Alexa Rank and SimilarWeb, looking at traffic metrics and which ones are best correlated with actual traffic, and found Alexa Rank is awful and SimilarWeb is quite excellent. So there you go.

E. Finding elements to test

So if I see that large images embedded on a page that’s already ranking on page 1 of search results has a 0.61 correlation with the image from that page ranking in the image results in the first few, wow, that’s really interesting. You know what? I’m going to go test that and take big images and embed them on my pages that are ranking and see if I can get the image results that I care about. That’s great information for testing.

This is all stuff that correlation is useful for. Correlation in SEO, especially when it comes to ranking factors or ranking elements, can be very misleading. I hope that this will help you to better understand how to use and not use that data.

Thanks. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

The image used to promote this post was adapted with gratitude from the hilarious webcomic, xkcd.


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