Over the last few months I have had over a dozen requests for BloggingTips to sponsor a blog competition. I have not put forward a prize for any of these competitions and since I still get these emails from time to time, I would like to explain why I do not (usually) sponsor any blog competitions 🙂
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First of all, I would like to point out that I enjoy helping out other people on the web, be it a friendly link to a good post a blogger has wrote or helping someone with an HTML or CSS problem, I always try and do my best to help those who ask me for help.
Sponsors are rarely getting a good deal
Competitions are a great way to promote your blog however 9 times out of ten the sponsors of a blog competition are getting an extremely bad deal. In the last year I have seen loads of blogs hosting competitions with thousands of dollars in prizes. In most of these competitions the owner has put up very little money or sometimes nothing at all towards the prize total. Instead, they have relied on the help and generosity of other bloggers and ad networks. Great situation for the owner, great situation for the blog readers but a not so great situation for the blog sponsors. The main reason : an extremely poor return for the money they invested.
There are two main reasons for this :
- Too many sponsors : This is the biggest reason why I have not sponsored the last few competitions. The blog owner has sent me a nice email asking me to help them out so I check out their competition details. This is when I usually see 30+ sponsors listed in the competition post. In their quest to see the total prize money for their competition increase the blogger has added more and more sponsors and with each sponsor added the overall return for each sponsor gets less and less. Most blogs I have seen do not even give their sponsors a banner or image link back, all the sponsor gets is a text link which is quickly lost in a competition post where up to 30% of the post text is a link.
- Blog owner is asking for too much : The bigger your blog is the easier it becomes for the owner to secure sponsors. However, this is a detail which some people forget. Last month, I got a request from a blogger to sponsor a prize worth $50. Not only did the blog have less than 200 subscribers, the competition already had 20 other sponsors (Needless to say, I quickly declined the invitation to sponsor the competition).
I don’t blame blog owners for trying to get more sponsors to increase the prize money in their competition as the higher the prize total, the more publicity their blog will get. However, I do believe that along the way some blog owners are getting a bit greedy and not doing enough to give their sponsors value for money. Sponsoring a competition is good PR for any company or blog but business is business and no company can afford to just throw their money away and not expect any return.
The last competition I sponsored was the massive $54,000 competition that ProBlogger had last year. I gave away a Logitech Keyboard. Unfortunately, with over 100 sponsors of this competition I got less than 10 visits for my $100+ expenditure. Anyway you look at it, thats a poor return. Darren Rowse did his best to encourage his readers to visit the sponsors of the competition but with so many sponsors it’s no surprise that exposure was low. You also have to remember that a high percentage of blog readers will not even visit the sponsors regardless of what the blog owner does as all they are interested in are the prizes.
So how would you run a competition?
BloggingTips has had a few competitions in the past however I have never organised sponsors for the competition. Either I put up some cash or a prize myself or a company contacted me offering a prize to readers (so that they can some exposure to their new product).
If I was to host a competition with sponsors putting up prizes I would try to keep sponsors to a minimum (say, less than 7). Each sponsor would get an image or banner in the competition thread and a brief description of their company, website or product. Why would I do this? Well, my hope would be that by giving sponsors a lot of exposure they would be interested in sponsoring future competitions. This may sound like I’ve watched Jerry Maguire too many times but I am of the opinion that building a solid relationship with your advertisers and sponsors is in your interest and theirs. You obviously don’t want to annoy readers with sponsor details all the time but generally speaking I’d say most readers are ok with this if there are some prizes up for grabs.
I did not write this post to discourage people from sponsoring competitions and I do believe that it can be a good way to promote your blog. However, the recent trend of building a prize pool by getting more and more sponsors in and rewarding these sponsors with no more than a text link has discouraged people like myself from participating.
Of course, as a sponsor you can always donate something which does not require you to reach for your wallet (eg. an advertisement on your blog) though you should still be looking for a good return.
If you are thinking of hosting a competition on your blog my advice to you is this :
- For Yourself : You’ll probably be putting up some prizes yourself and no doubt you will be spending a lot of time arranging everthing so you want to get as much traffic and publicity as you can. Contact bloggers who can post about your competition and do some networking via social media sites.
- For the Sponsors : Try and give your sponsors as much exposure as possible. You don’t have to ram your sponsors down your readers day after day. By keeping sponsors to a minimum and using images and banners to promote your sponsors you should see more readers to check them out. Remember, if the sponsor is happy with traffic and feedback from your blog they are more likely to work with you again.
- For your Readers : Make the competition fun and easy to enter. Competitions where the winner is decided randomly is ok but one which engages the readers and rewards them for doing something is much better.
Have you run a competition or sponsored a prize in one? If so, please leave a comment and tell us your side of the story 🙂
What Is the Harshest Blogging Wake Up Call?
My harshest blogging wake up call occurred nearly a decade ago.
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I would write and publish one post weekly. I spent 1 hour writing and publishing the post.
I spent the rest of the week:
- watching TV
- watching YouTube
- working out
- hanging out with friends
After a good year of following this routine I saw a few visitors to my blog daily. I recall 3 daily visitors for many months, stumbled upon my blog.
I experienced a big time blogging wake up call; you cannot build a successful blog by listening to music and watching TV all day long, minus the 1-2 hours you spend blogging, weekly.
The harshest wake up call: blogging gives you what you give blogging.
Blogging Gives You What You Give Blogging
I know of a few bloggers who complain about having terrible business prospects. When will they get more clients? When will they get more traffic? When will they make more money? I mean, they have been blogging for 5 to 10 years already. Things should be growing SO much more quickly right now, they say.
These individuals will get more clients when they stop watching Netflix all day. Do you want to be a professional Netflix watcher or a professional blogger? Pro Netflix watchers spend hours daily watching Netflix. Not sure how well that job pays. Professional bloggers spend 6-8-10 hours daily:
- creating helpful content through your blog, through guest posts and through videos
- building your friend network by generously promoting other bloggers and by genuinely commenting on their blogs
- freely promoting your premium products and services through each piece of content you create
- generously following the prior 3 steps for months
The person who follows each bullet point for months, then years, sees more and more clients. Traffic increases over time. Blogging profits increase over time. Blogging gives them what they give blogging.
Janice Wald is always after it. She’s a hustler. Follow her for inspiration.
Ditto for Saurabh Tiwari. He is one of the most dedicated bloggers I know. Follow him for inspiration.
Do Not Fight Good Advice
I have personally coached bloggers who fight my smart advice. These people say networking is not for them. These folks resist creating content because they do not want to force it. This crowd ignores good advice, then goes back to watching Netflix or sports for the next 3 hours.
If you fight good blogging advice, you will struggle and fail. It has to be that way; you are doing the opposite of what it takes to succeed. Put your ego to the side. Follow smart advice. Succeed.
Listen to the guy with this home office in Thailand. He knows what he’s talking about.
Your mind wants you to fail because it fears the fears you need to face to become a successful blogger. I feared facing deep fears years ago, so spent most of my time and energy doing everything BUT blogging. You may nod, then, go back to watching Netflix or YouTube for the next 2 hours. 2 weeks down the road, after you spent only 2 hours of your time and energy blogging daily, you feel frustrated and want to quit because you have signed up no new clients, money seems to be running out and no business looks promising, on the horizon.
It is 100% YOUR CHOICE to spend 6 hours watching Netflix today and 2 hours blogging. You are doing this. You are making this choice.
It is 100% YOUR CHOICE to make a massive shift; spend 8 hours creating content and building connections, today.
Blogging just mirrors back to you your choices and energy, you make every waking hour of every day.
Right now, you have the next 8-10 hours to generously help people through creating and networking, or you choose to focus on yourself, watching TV, streaming Netflix, hanging out with friends.
Spend those 8-10 hours daily blogging for 3-6 months, and eventually, you will see more clients.
100% your choice, your decision, your energy, your commitment to blogging success.
5 Blog Monetization Tips to Grow Your Passive Income
As a blogger these days, sharing information is no longer enough.
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Monetizing your knowledge is key to a profitable blogging lifestyle.
Of course, the goal is to always increase your earnings.
Whether it’s tweaking your current strategies or learning new ones, there’s always room for bloggers like you to grow your revenue.
In this post, you will let learn how to monetize a blog even more using the tried-and-true tactics below.
The blog monetization tips you must take to heart
The tips below should help you maximize the earnings from your blog.
None of the advice should yield an “a-ha” moment from you if you’re a seasoned blogger.
However, you must at least draw inspiration from these practical blog monetization tips. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that make a big difference.
1. Fortify your SEO strategy
Whether you’re new to affiliate marketing or not, you should know better than to do SEO on your blog.
It’s the best way to generate tons of traffic that lead to conversions and sales.
However, here’s a frequent mistake that most affiliate marketers do:
They only optimize their blog’s on-page SEO.
As crucial as on-page SEO is, it’s just half the battle.
And as a result, their half-baked SEO campaign leaves their blog rankings a tad below the first page of organic search results.
If you’re like these affiliate marketers and want to increase your rankings, then you must:
- Build backlinks from high-quality sites
- Research your competitors and observe their every move; take action to their plans using the data you’ve gathered
- Monitor your backlinks and see whether you gained or lost them; find a way to get back the lost backlinks
These tasks sound like a pain in the neck. And I’m not going to lie – they are!
That’s why you need to use a tool that can help you manage all these SEO tasks for your blog.
In the crowded SEO market, I suggest that you use Serpstat.
It’s a fairly new tool that’s powerful enough to help you organize your on- and off-page SEO responsibilities.
I wrote my unprejudiced review of the tool and I still feel it’s one of the most budget-friendly SEO tools out there.
2. Track your conversion rates using a heat-mapping tool
If you want to grow your blog’s revenue, you must scale it.
You need to know how much you’re earning and why you’re earning as much as you are now.
And you can’t do that without a heat-mapping tool.
It helps identify which parts of the page people click on the most.
Clearly, you want visitors to click on the right buttons on the page.
So if they’re clicking on all your links except your “Buy Now” button for your online course or your Google Adsense blocks, then something’s wrong!
With a tool like Crazy Egg, you’ll find out why.
You didn’t place the button or link on the section of the page where visitors can clearly see it.
Or the appearance of the button is preventing it from generating clicks.
With Crazy Egg, you never have to guess.
It lets you benchmark your content’s conversion rate and put different factors to the test!
You can change the appearance of your button, move it from one place to another – anything to hike up your page’s click-through rate!
If done correctly, you can enjoy greater conversion rates and greater revenue down the line.
3. Improve your content’s conversion abilities
Sometimes, your content – for a lack of a better word – stinks.
Even if you are a native English speaker, your choice of words can spell doom for your blog’s performance.
Here’s the thing:
You need to know who your audience is.
That makes you need to be aware of the words you’re typing in your content.
If you’re catering to women, you can’t use masculine words in the post. They will turn off your audience and leave your blog. And vice versa.
Unless you have the powers to get inside your reader’s minds, you can settle for Webtexttool instead.
It works similar to Yoast SEO for WordPress. The difference is that Webtexttool analyzes your content’s ability to convert.
It takes different factors into consideration such as:
- Ease of readability
- Text credibility
- Target audience
- Text layout
The tool provides an aggregate score of these factors. The higher the score, the more effective your content is.
It also shows areas of improvement for your content so you can work on them.
4. Share your site’s key metrics
If you’re offering banner space to advertising opportunities for brands, then you need to know this:
Advertisers want visibility.
They’ll be paying you to feature their banner on your blog.
But they won’t part ways with their money that easy.
You need to give them a reason why they should.
The quality of your site should speak volumes regarding this.
If you have a site that generates a least a thousand visitors every day, then you must be fielding offers on a regular.
If not, then maybe your site isn’t on that level yet. After all, advertisers won’t invest on a site that can’t even draw below a hundred visitors every day.
Maybe they just don’t know much about your blog yet.
So show vital metrics of your site’s performance!
Here are things you can feature:
- Traffic from Google Analytics
- SEO metrics such as Moz DA, Ahrefs DR, Majestic Flow Metrics, Alexa ranking, etc.
- Social media followers and email subscribers (goes to show your reach outside your blog)
Showing off these metrics give advertisers a better idea of what your blog is about.
The higher the metrics, the more opportunities will come pouring your way!
5. Publish a blogging income report religiously
I bet you are familiar with Pat Flynn’s now-defunct income report every month:
Pat’s last published income report was in December 2017.
He’s one of the first guys who did it in this space.
The income reports are very useful for marketers who are interested in building a passive income.
The goal is not to make people feel small. Nor is the purpose to brag your earnings.
Here’s the real objective of income reports:
Evangelizing your audience.
Documenting your journey towards profitability helps you connect with like-minded people who share the same path as you.
At the same time, you are transparent to your readers with your business practices.
You open the dialogue between you and your readers above what worked and what didn’t. You then are able to build a brand by sharing things that helped you grow your income and that people can replicate.
So, the question remains:
“How exactly can I earn from income reports?”
Simple – here are a few ways:
- Use the income reports to drum up interest to your online course about (drum roll please)…how to grow your blogging income
- Same as above but, instead of an online course, you’re selling an ebook about passive income
- Get feedback from readers and exchange ideas on how to improve your process and make more money
These are just three quick ideas off the top of my head. You probably have more ideas in you right now. Use them!
How to Deal with Travel Blogger Trolls
Have you picked up my eBook for dealing with blogging criticism?
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This could be a helpful read if you don’t know how to effectively deal with blogging trolls.
I read a post from rocking blogger Jo Karnaghan on a travel blogging group run by Meg Jerrard. Jo encountered her first dyed in the wool, major league, travel blogging troll. For the uninitiated, trolls are critics. But we are initiated, aren’t we, Bruce? (I work Batman lines into posts.)
I recall writing a Huffington Post piece advising folks visit Turkey after the coup attempt. I spent a month there 1 week after the attempt. A few folks sent angry messages telling me I was not responsible, assailing me for making such a suggestion, in nasty fashion.
Dealing with trolls feels uncomfortable. Wouldn’t it be so much easier to crawl into your blogging cave, to avoid these folks? Nope. All exponential growth ends if you pull back after meeting a travel blogging troll or 2.
Follow these tips to effectively deal with blogging critics.
1: You Are a Mirror
Travel bloggers; you are not the object of criticism. You are a mirror, reflecting back to the critic something about themselves. All criticism is a projection, since we are all connected. All trolls speak of themselves. Trolls say nothing about you. Knowing this, you can breathe a bit more easily, because it is not about you.
2: Cultivate Compassion
I am typing these words in a sleepy village in Northern Thailand. Pretty cool experience.
I imagine how angry and in pain I’d have to be, to send an email to Jo, like the email she shared. I imagine how fear-filled and in pain I’d need to be, to message me as trolls-critics have messaged me in the past. These people are not sick; they are afraid and in pain, calling out for attention in bizarre fashion, one way fear-filled, pained people call out for attention.
Have some compassion for critics. Critics suffer. Otherwise, they would not be critics.
3: Turn Complaints into Creations
Commonly, we travel bloggers do a bit of complaining in response to critics, or troll-slaying. But turning the complaint into a helpful:
- blog post
- eBook; like mine above (or below)
is a smart way to help people and to prosper.
Complaining about critics or fighting trolls or trying to prove right-wrong, all waste your energy. Ultimately, you learn from criticism or you regress by fighting critics, or, by fighting your feelings.
4: Be with Feelings
I recall facing my first few angry critics. Embarrassment, rage, anger, fraud-feelings, annoyance and all types of fear-based energies coursed through my being, indicating a part of me agreed with them. I saw truth in their criticism. I sat with the fear, felt it, cleared it, and freed myself of fear-fight-fright. Clearing fear-fight-fright allowed me to see future trolls as pained, afraid people I could release instantly. No wasted energy on these folks.
Do not fight troll-induced fear-pain. You need to clear it to handle criticism with grace, ease and detachment.
5: Do Not Gang Troll Bash
Again; newbie bloggers or newbie troll facers often share updates of their encounter, leading to mass troll bashing. Not good. Not effective use of energy. No human benefits from a large group of hurt, pained, afraid bloggers saying, “Hey that guy’s a freaking jerk!”, because the troll is not a jerk, but afraid. Have you been afraid? I have. No sense kicking a dog when it is down. No sense showing your fear-pain by piling on, because only unclear, unfocused folks spend time or energy judging an obviously hurting, afraid individual.
Trolls actually like what you do. If they did not like what you did, these critics would ignore you.
Betcha you didn’t think of criticism that way, eh?
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