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How to blog on a (very small) budget (Part 3 – Marketing your blog)

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advertisingIn the first two parts of this mini-series, we have looked at various methods of saving money while building an effective and professional blog. First we looked at money saving tactics for general hosting and domain names, then in Part 2, we presented some ideas for hosting images and scripts on cheap (often free) and reliable servers to reduce bandwidth and hosting costs for our own sites.

For this final part of the budget blogging series, let’s take a look at methods of marketing and advertising your blog which incur very little (if any) cost.

Overview

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Content is King”, but no matter how good your writing skills or how Digg-worthy your content may be, your efforts will be wasted unless you have an audience to read your blog.

In order to develop an audience for your blog, you need to market it. Persuade people to read your blog, link to your posts, recommend articles to their friends, and so on.

For many, the first marketing technique which springs to mind is advertising. Of course, if you can afford to advertise on some of the world’s most popular blogs and websites in your niche, you will develop a readership very quickly for your blog, but this can be a very expensive task. And if you are blogging on a very small budget, you may only have a few dollars left over for such marketing ventures.

Instead, let me offer an overview of some highly effective blog marketing techniques which will save you a packet in advertising costs and may prove even more useful to your ventures in the long run.

Build relationships with other bloggers (and their readers)

It’s a common misconception that other bloggers and writers in the same niche as yourself are simply competitors who should be avoided. The truth is far from it! By building relationships with other bloggers and the readers of their blogs, you offer valuable contributions to these communities and assist in establishing your own reputation as a blogger.

There are many advantages to building relationships with other bloggers. For example, you can

  • Ask for advice
  • Offer your own advice
  • Reach a wider audience
  • Establish yourself as a complementary source of information

All of these benefits ultimately provide steps to achieving your goal: encouraging more readers to visit your own blog!

handshake

Make valuable comments on their blog posts

Commenting on others’ blogs allows you to offer your own perspective and opinions their articles. But rather than simply express how good (or bad) you found the information in these posts, explain why your opinion is formed.

Valuable comments offer far more to the blog author and their readers than a simple “Great post” type of comment ever could. Instead, offer your own advice or explain the particulars of how the article in question has been useful for you. And make sure you comment regularly on the blogs you read the most rather than simply surf the web adding your comments at random. Building relationships takes time to accomplish; a simgle, random remark will get you nowhere!

Use social media to approach other bloggers

These days, most bloggers use social media outlets to help promote their content and and as a secondary method of interacting with their readers. It can be helpful (and less intimidating to both parties) if you attempt to approach other bloggers through social media channels before sending a long-winded email.

Twitter, Facebook and MyBlogLog are excellent sites of community building for bloggers. Find out which social media channels are used most often by your favorite bloggers and send a message/make friends using this channel.

Even if the bloggers you approach do not respond with inmediate declarations of friendship, it’s more likely that you will be acknowledged and remembered later on.

Send a friendly email

When building relationshops with other bloggers, there is no use asking for favors right away. Instead, a “softly softly” approach is preferred, expecially one which promises mutual benefit for all parties involved.

Make sure your first contact with another blogger is not simply asking a favor! An email requesting a link to another’s blog where no previous relationship has been formed will likely end up in the receiptant’s trash folder. Instead, I have found that it’s far mroe helpful to simply introduce yourself and explain a little about your blog. If you have had contact through social media outlets, don’t forget to mention this so the other blogger remembers who you are. And while most bloggers will not freely admit to this, a little “ego massage” does not go astray so long as it is subtle enough to be believed 🙂

If you don’t receive a response to your email, don’t feel as though your message was unwanted. Popular bloggers tend to receive a lot of emails and are simply unable to respond to them all. You are not being deliberately ignored! Just think to yourself that the blogger may be busy or overloaded with emails and try again at a later date.

Further reading on building relationships with other bloggers

Guest Posting for other blogs in your niche

Writing articles to be published on other blogs is a highly effective method of marketing yourself and your blog. I have discovered many of my favorite blogs after they have guest-posted on other blogs I read regularly, and suspect that many of you reading this post have done the same.

Some blogs actively ask for guest posters. Take a look at the top-right of the header section here on Blogging Tips, for example: Kevin welcomes high quality articles from guest authors, and a by-line with a link to your own blog offers readers the opportunity to read more of your work.

If you would like to write a guest post for another blog in your niche, try sending a succinct email to the author/editor of the blog which explains the following:

  • Who you are
  • Where you blog/write/some other examples of your work
  • A brief outline (including the title) of the post you would like to write
  • Your contact details

Some experts recommend sending the entire post for perusal, though if this is a lengthy post (and consequently a lengthy email) you may not receive a timely response.

Be understanding and do not expect anything in return. If the blog owner/editor likes the concept of your post and considers this worthy of publication, they will likely email you back and ask that you send the entire post for them to read.

Further reading on Guest Posting:

Utilize social media outlets to market your blog and posts

Social media outlets have the potential to drive thousands of new visitors to read your blog and posts. Utilizing social media can he a highly effective (and free) method of marketing your blog. Getting on the front page of Digg or Stumbleupon can have a massive effect on the number of visits you receive who in turn may become subscribers or regular visitors to your site.

social-media

We touched upon social media when discussing methods of building relationships with other bloggers. However, when using social media to market your blog and posts (as opposed to marketing yourself) a different approach is required.

In order to market effectively through social media, you will need to receive a lot of votes for your content. Basically, this means you will need to have a lot of influence to encourage others to vote for your content, or persuade someone who does to help you market instead.

Simply bookmarking your own posts while taking little interest in other aspects of the community will get you nowhere. Utilizing social media for blog marketing means you will need to spend time actually using the service:

  • Find and vote for useful content
  • Network with other members of the site
  • Learn about which types and formats of content receive the most votes, and try to apply this formula to your own pillar articles.

While you will need to spend time and effort in building your blog presense through social media sites, the end-result can be a remarkable readership and many backlinks to your posts.

Further reading on utilizing social media networks to market your posts:

Marketing with eBooks and white-papers

In my personal experience, this has by far been the most effective method of free marketing I have tried!

By compiling a free eBook, report or white paper which is relevant for your niche and distributing this for free, you are creating the potential for viral distribution. Provided your eBook/report features clearly visible accreditation to your site, your paper will provide effective indirect marketing and encourage readers of this content to seek out your site in search of more useful and interesting content.

ebook

Gathering content for your eBook

There are different methods you could use to generate content for your eBook/white paper. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Create a collection of your best blog posts
  • Research some aspect of your niche and write a report about it
  • Elaborate on one of your most popular posts to create a fully featured essay on the subject
  • Write a useful directory of services, sites or features relevant to your niche subject, providing your own commentary and imagery to ensure it is interesting and worthwhile

Writing your eBook/Report

When writing eBooks and reports, you must ensure the format of your publication is one which most readers can actually open. PDF format seems to be the preferred choice, though there are few free PDF editing programs which are worth the effort to download.

My favorite method of creating eBooks is to use OpenOffice.org Writer. This free, open source program allows you to create content in similar fashion to Microsoft Word, and save your finished publication in PDF format. You can download OpenOffice.org Writer for free from the Open Office site.

When actually writing your eBook/report, be sure to use many headings, sub-headings, lists and (possibly) images to break up long sections of content. Such formatting is apparant in the most popular publications of printed press, and is a tactic you should use to ensure your content is easy to read.

Copyright issues

If you are writing a publication for free distribution, you should make it clear from the beginning how you intend for your content to be used.

For this, you will need to apply a copyright policy to your document in order to explain the terms under which your publication is offered.

Many writers choose to distribute content under a Creative Commons license. This ensures your content can be distributed for free while you retain certain rights (and prevent others from claiming your work as their own!).

Using a Creative Commons license means you can specify

  • If you allow derivitive works to be made
  • If you permit others to profit from your work
  • How authorship should be attributed

To find out which version of the Creative Commons license is the best solution for you, visit the Creative Commons website and choose your specifications.

Distributing your publication

In order to distribute your eBook or report, you will need to host this online to allow others to download it. Scribd is an excellent and reliable host for your eBooks and publications which I have recently discovered (I wish I had known about this earlier as it would have saved me a fortune in hosting costs!). Alternatively you could make use of other free hosting solutions as discussed in the previous installment of this series.

Once you have uploaded your publication to a reliable host, you should make others aware of it’s existance by linking to it from your site. A “landing page” written specifically for yoru eBook is the ideal solution: here you can write an enhanced description of your book, perhaps with a preview or elaborative image to encourage readers to download.

Don’t forget to use other marketing strategies to ensure others become aware of this free publication: send a brief email to others writers in your niche who may be interested; inform your blogging buddies and social media friends, and link to your eBook/landing page from all pages of your blog (in a highly visible place, such as the sidebar).

Further reading for eBook marketing strategies

Low Budget Advertising Techniques

After following the advice presented in the other sections if this article, you may find traditional advertising techniques are no longer nescessary. However, for those who still wish tp pursue these avenues, here is a round-up of free and low cost advertising outlets which you would find useful for promotng your blog:

Entrecard – Banner exchange system

By using Entrecard, you display a widget on your site to earn credits from advertising banners displayed on your site. In return, you use these credits to advertise your own blog on other sites.  Entrecard is also a community based system where you can find recommendations for other sites and participate in community activities.

Project Wonderful – Low cost, auction style banner advertising

Project Wonderful allows you to bid on advertising from your chosen publishers. While your bid for advertising is the highest for your chosen ad-slot (and there is enough funding in your account), your banner will remain on the publisher’s site. Learn more about the Infinite Auction system.

Stumbleupon Ads – Buy targeted “stumbles” to encourage more reviews of your site

I discovered Stumbleupon Ads after reading how Freelance Switch was promoted. Provided your content is “stumbleworthy”, this could well prove an effective and very-low cost method of advertising your blog.

Conclusions

While your blog may have a beautiful design and some killer articles, this proves worthless without an audience to enjoy it. In this article, we’ve looked at marketing strategies for promoting your blog and content which are either free or very cheap to use.

I hope this article has offered useful concepts and informative suggestions for marketing your blog on a very small budget. Please feel free to leave your own comments and suggestions below.

Image credits: Boxed (top right) by recursion_se_recursion, Handshake by Gaetan Lee, Social Media Stickrs by Robert Scoble, eBook by Tscherno. All via Flickr Creative Commons.
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Amanda is a freelance blogger and web/blog designer. She writes about Blogger at www.BloggerBuster.com and maintains several other blogs on various subjects.

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Blogging

Do You Establish Work at Home Boundaries?

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Some people love attention.

I know a few who do their best to grab my attention. Phone calls, emails, cryptic Facebook Messages.

I ignore everything and every one outside of what I do in the moment since I set up work at home boundaries. I close the door and go into my office. No way I stop working for anything or anyone who starves for my attention. The house could burn down and I would scoot out at the last minute because work time is work time and I do nothing else save work during work time.

If you do not respect your time, people will not respect your time. If you give people your time whenever they want your time, for:

  • favors
  • gossip
  • small talk
  • chats
  • general BS

people will gladly ask for favors, engage in gossip, engage in small talk, chat you up and BS for hours, because you chose not to establish work at home boundaries.

100% of the time, if people appear to be using you or eating up your precious time, it is your fault. People treat you how you choose to treat yourself.

How a Happy and Successful Blogger Sets Up Work at Home Boundaries

Easy; I close the door, walk into the office and get to work. I do not leave the office until I complete my work. My phone? I turn it off. I check email rarely. I only check Messenger 2-3 times daily for 5 minutes at a clip.

I set up definite, clear, work at home boundaries to respect my time. People reflect my time-respecting back to me. Easy peasy.

If someone tries to grab my attention through Messenger, or the land line, or through email, or at the door, I completely ignore attempts made to grab my attention and time. Boundaries folks; you need to be clear and firm on your work at home boundaries to ensure everybody else respects your boundaries.

You Are Walking into a Word Office

Would a friend, family member or casual neighbor barge into your 9-5 job office asking for a favor? Would said folks barge into your 9-5 job office to spread the latest gossip? Nope. Then why allow said folks to barge into your work at home office to do similar things? Nope. Put up boundaries. Door closes. Enter office. You are busy. You are working. Even my 3 year old niece understands when Uncle Ryan goes to work in the home office. Everybody else can easily grasp this concept.

What About Impatient or Desperate Online Folks?

I completely ignore impatient, fear-filled, desperate folks who demand I answer Messenger or email requests in 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or in 24 hours. I respect my time and completely ignore people who do not respect my time.

I built my blogging business almost completely on a passive income model so nothing I do online is time sensitive. I have answered most questions 1,000 to 10,000 times through my courses, eBooks, blog posts and videos. It is up to these awesome but unclear folks to find and use the answers I created, to improve their lives.

I am generous daily, publishing a blog post and/or video. Plus I published about 800 posts on Blogging Tips, and over 2,000 posts on Blogging From Paradise. It is on the impatient folks screaming for my attention to follow my blog posts, guest posts, videos, eBooks and courses because I answered their questions many times.

People treat you exactly how you teach them to treat you. I have posture so I set up work at home boundaries for offline and online folks.

Respect your time and work schedule and other folks will do the same.

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Who Do You Surround Yourself with in Your Blogger Network?

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Some bloggers cannot see the forest for the trees, like the beautiful, lush, thriving national park I visited in New Jersey recently.

The masses tend to be caught up in fear, pain and struggle because they cannot see the big picture.

Birds of a feather flock together.

You have heard that one, right?

I circle the globe and change time zones like most folks breathe. Would I be wise to surround myself with people who tremble at leaving their home town or home neighborhood? Nope. Such people would teach me the world makes for a scary, dangerous place. I would get advice like play it safe, be comfortable, get a job, buy a home and take it easy, from such folks. Such folks also live a bland life because if you rarely or never leave your comfort zone, you cannot:

  • grow
  • thrive
  • face your fears
  • serve humanity
  • be a bright light for people to follow
  • live your deepest, wildest dreams

Obviously, I chose to surround myself with bloggers who happily circled the globe as successful bloggers. I also surrounded myself with happy, successful, home body bloggers too; to learn the basics of building a rocking blog effectively. I learned how to succeed from my blogger friend network, sponging up their knowledge, inspiration and insight.

Meanwhile, if you surround yourself with new, struggling or failing bloggers you will get advice on how to struggle, fail, or flounder through your blogging day.

Do bloggers around you complain about losing $50 on blogging? Lose these zero’s immediately and surround yourself with bloggers who invest thousands of dollars on their blogs. High rollers teach you to succeed. Broke jokes teach you how to fail.

Do bloggers around you see making $25 as being a huge amount of money? You better lose the low-aiming crowd to surround yourself with bloggers who see $1000 and $10,000 and more as making coin.

Do bloggers around you circle the globe as swash buckling travelers? Check out this photo from my trip to Vietnam. Kong: Skull Island was filmed here.

Time to ditch the comfort zone crowd to hang with adventurous types.

Don’t get me wrong; I celebrate every cent I make online. But if you think I’m placing a sponsored post for less than $1000, you are insane. Like a famous super model who said she didn’t get out of bed for anything less than $10,000 a day, you need to develop a prosperity consciousness that demands big money and ignores appearance of poverty, lack, limitation and fear.

Who Do You Hang With?

Who do you count as blogging buddies? Happy, highly successful, prospering bloggers? You better, to increase your success.

For example, observe my blogging paperback on profiting. The aftermarket price is $45 USD. If most or all bloggers in your network would feel uncomfortable receiving $45 in royalties for a paperback, you better lose that network and surround yourself with bloggers who believe in abundance. I know John Chow feels comfortable receiving $45 for anything he offers online. Who cares? It is just money. It is only money.

Surround yourself only with bloggers who:

  • have posture
  • have authority
  • charge top dollar
  • profit freely
  • prosper freely
  • exude confidence
  • have a highly developed prosperity consciousness

You learn from the best, gain inspiration from the best and become the best by surrounding yourself with the best bloggers on earth.

But you need to be honest in who you choose to hang with in your blogging circles. Be clear. Be truthful with yourself. Maybe you feel comfortable trading comments with struggling bloggers you befriended 10 years ago but nothing spectacular happens for you if you surround yourself with struggling bloggers, being firmly fixed in your comfort zone.

Release all bloggers who are not happy and prospering.

Fill your blogger friend network with empowered, inspired, happy, successful, prospering bloggers.

Nothing personal.

Just your blogging success at stake.

 

 

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Blogging

Are You Chasing the Flavor of the Month?

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My first fundamental of successful blogging focuses you on being present.

All of our power resides in the moment.

None of our power resides in the future or past because neither exists.

Time is illusion.

Only Now is real.

Look at that brilliant featured image. I snapped it from the front porch during our trip to Fiji. Sweet things happen when you are in the moment, focusing all power on the present.

This marks my 796th blog post on Blogging Tips. I feel grateful to Zac for the opportunity to serve you. Plus I feel grateful for all success that flowed to me through these guest posts.

How in the heck did I write and publish nearly 800 guest posts on one blog?

I am in the moment, mostly. I am present. Plus I never, never, ever chase the flavor of the month.

Bruce Lee and Blogging

Alonzo Pichardo and I often chatted about being patient, persistent and present during the Online Success Chats Podcast.

Being patient, persistent and present helps you tap into immense powers, including the power of being creative *and* prolific. See my 800 blog posts on Blogging Tips as evidence of such power. Toss in my 2,008 articles (between posts and pages) on Blogging From Paradise and you understand: focusing on one core task, or core purpose, in the present, leads to amazing things.

Bruce Lee spoke of fearing not the man who practiced 10,000 kicks once, but he did fear the man who practiced one kick 10,000 times. He embodied this mindset in his genius, Renaissance Man type ways.

Lee’s wisdom and physical prowess are both timeless because he understood and lived this great truth: do 1 thing so frequently, with a focused energy, being in the moment, that you do it incredibly well. He understood the truth of how I live my life: where your attention and energy goes, grows.

The Flavor of the Month

Most bloggers struggle because they practice 10,000 kicks once, chasing hot niches, running after trends, and choosing to blog today, and podcast tomorrow, because everybody runs a podcast these days. Wait a second; live video reigns supreme? Time to become a live video expert. Meanwhile, as you jump from niche to niche, and from blogging to podcasting to live videos, I just wrote and published 800 posts on Blogging Tips alone. Plus I wrote and published 1,000 more guest posts on other blogs.

While most bloggers chase hot trends, profitable niches and the latest game changing opportunity, guys like Alonzo and I thrive by doing one thing alone so we do it incredibly well.

Success is yours, but success is not an overnight or week-long endeavor.

Stop chasing hot niches. Visualize your dreams in detail. Focus on your blogging wins. Invest in coaching and courses from top bloggers. Surround yourself with positive vibes and positive people.

Write, publish and connect with top bloggers by helping top bloggers.

Success Finds Specialists

I took a nap this afternoon. A calm, peaceful breeze kisses my face right now as I write and enjoy the day.

Imagine if you could work from home every day? Visualize that fun and freedom.

Sweet, right?

Specialists are the only folks who work from home full time. People who do 1 thing persistently, practicing this skill, so they become super skilled in a single, specialized niche.

I gave all of my professional energy to being a blogger for the past 10 years. I became really skilled at blogging because I never chased the flavor of the month.

Avoid program hopping, niche hopping and all forms of flavor-chasing.

Do one thing. Do it well.

Succeed.

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