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The Secret Weapon of Growing Your Blog

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The Secret Weapon of Growing Your BlogSo I get up early this morning, hell bent to write this post based on another idea entirely.  And there waiting on my morning email is the latest Bloggingtips.com masterpiece by Kristen Nicole, and everything changed.  Because she’s so right: don’t be a scaredy cat blogger.  Today I’m here to take that one step further. 

What I’d planned can wait.  This can’t.

Because what Kristen shared is the tip of a critical iceberg when it comes to growing your blog.  The secret to doing so is to brand yourself out here in the blogosphere.  The better the branding, the faster your blog will grow. 

But what does that even mean?

Blogging beyond the obvious

We’ve heard all the blogging tips before, respun, reinvented and rekindled in the name of yet another post you hope will stand out in a weary crowd.  It’s all about content.  It’s about the reader, not you.  Grab ’em with a killer headline.  Hook ’em with an irresistable lead.  Wow ’em with your insight and expertise. 

Dead on.  But it’s Blogging 1o1.  If you want to grow your blog, you not only need to do all that and more on a consistent basis, you need to do it with a distinct voice.  With an edge.  With a specific point of view that is uniquely yours, yet in context to all of the above.

It’s the only way to separate yourself from a very ambitious crowd. 

You can’t miss an effective brand. Even if you want to

Like it or not (and I don’t), Rush Limbaugh has a brand.  Jessie Jackson has a brand.  That guy with the fu manchu on on ESPN has a brand (which I do like).  So does Ritz Carlton, Nordstom and Morton’s Steak House.  You know what they stand for, you know what you’re getting.  And you keep coming back to get it.  Or at least, someone does.

Chances are you’re not blogging as a general commentary, you’re on a soap box looking out over a sea of hopeful neophyte faces that occupy a defined niche.  You and a thousand other self-proclaimed experts.  Nobody looking for cooking insight is reading this blog right now, unless they blog about it themselves. 

Are you a generalist or a lobbyist?  Are you rehashing or reinventing?  Are you fresh or are you recycling conventional wisdom?  Are you vanilla or are you triple chocolate cherries jubilee?

Killing your inner scardy cat

Have you pissed anyone off lately?  Have you bucked the system, rejected the accepted, proposed a fringe strategy that suddenly makes all the sense in the world?  What is your voice?  Your platform?  Your passion?

The key to successful branding is twofold: consistency and credibility.  But with an edge.

You’ll get knocked right off that soap box unless you can back your bluster with war stories and scars.  Have you been there or are you reflecting what others are saying?  Do you know, or do you parrot what others know? 

Be sure you know before you write what you know

As for me, I write in the fiction niche, presuming to tell authors how to write better stories and stay sane in the process of trying to publish them.  I’m new to blogging, and yet my blog has taken off like an Octo-Mom reality show.  Why?  Because I’m bucking the system.  I’m delivering a new and better way to approach writing, something writers haven’t heard before and are thristy for.  Because the established way is crap.  I’m offering something that pisses off roughly half of the people who think they already know.

It’s fun, pissing people off.  Especially when you know what you’re talking about and can back your position in a smackdown.  Which I absolutely can.

When you understand the equity behind your brand, you need to be strategic about how you put it out there.  It’s truly a show-don’t-tell proposition (remember that one, from your freshman creative writing class?).  It’s the veiled, even self-deprecating reference to your own life experience (like I just did in the previous paragraph) that uses the power of your message to take the deprication out of the delivery. 

Readers recognize the real deal when they see it.  So the first rule of branding is to be that blogger, the real deal, and then put a spin and an edge on it with every post.

Bold branding is a strategy

Successful branding strategies are never random or accidental.  They are the product of a carefully conceived and proactively honed marketplace identity, backed with the establishment of content and tone that embodies it.  When delivered consistently, the brand emerges from between the lines of the content itself.

Every columnist who keeps their gig more than a year knows this.  And a blog is nothing if not a column in the truest sense of the word. 

Do you know the nature of your brand?  Do you even have a brand?  Do you understand who you are as a blogger, or more importantly, as a player in your niche?  Once you do, the secret to growing your blog isn’t so much the content of it as it is the essence of it.

The essence of it is your brand.  And if you live it in every post, your blog will begin to grow.

Image credit: Marsdencartoons

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What Is the Most Powerful Key for Turning a Blog into a Business?

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Get comfortable with receiving money.

It IS that simple.

But I cannot lie; getting comfortable with receiving money is uncomfortable for most of us. I, like many bloggers, grew up with many money limiting beliefs in mind. I vibed from scarcity. I did not vibe from abundance. I saw folks in my life work hard at jobs to receive a minimum amount of money. I made many weird correlations between money and service. I figured you just worked hard, made enough money to survive and decided my life would progress along these lines.

Eventually, I woke up, owned these limiting beliefs and freed myself of these mind viruses to build my blog into a business.

Forget Practical Advice

Bloggers may advise you on practical tips for turning a blog into a business like:

  • build an email list
  • begin affiliate marketing
  • open consulting services
  • build passive income through courses and eBooks

None of these practical tips help you turn your blog into a business if you are allergic to money, or if you cling to many limiting beliefs and fears concerning money. Why? You follow advice to lose money if you fear losing money and ignore advice to make money if you fear losing money.

Get comfortable receiving money. This is the best advice for turning your blog into a full time business.

Getting comfortable receiving money moves you into abundant, prospering actions. You become more generous. You become more prolific. You begin opening income streams without attaching to any one stream. You also build your friend network generously, promoting other bloggers and expecting nothing.

All prior steps lead to increased blogging income. All prior steps came about because you became comfortable receiving money.

Fear-Filled Bloggers

I speak to many bloggers who fear monetizing their blogs. Said bloggers fear readers used to free, selling-free content will head for the hills or complain the moment income streams enter the fray. You cannot turn a blog into a business unless you open blogging income streams.

Get comfortable with:

  • receiving money
  • releasing fear-filled bloggers who whine about you receiving money

Only broke, poverty conscious, unhappy, unclear or jealous bloggers have a problem with you turning your blog into a business. Have you ever complained about someone who works a job to receive money? Of course not; no sane person complains about another human who works a job to make money. We all have that right. Why then would a sane person complain about you receiving money for service rendered on your blog? Let go these unhappy, unclear, folks. Get comfortable receiving money. Build a business through your blog.

It Is Just Money

It is only money.

Money is just a neutral means of exchange. Add no emotional charge to a neutral means of exchange; no big deal.

I promote my premium offerings through virtually every piece of content I create. I am comfortable with receiving money. I am comfortable building a business through my blog. If I can help people and receive money – in a world where money is the prime means of exchange – I help people and receive money. I am comfortable with it.

Do not be shy. Be clear.

Avoid doing the affiliate walk of shame, begging and pleading for enough money to buy a stick of gum each time you disclose your affiliate offering.

Be clear. Share how you make money through the sale of something on your blog.

Check out my blog disclosure statement. Does that make your head explode? I basically say I make money through all images and links on my blog. I cover myself and feel comfortable with receiving money.

Get clear.

Build your blog into a business.

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Blogging

eCommerce: 3 Simple Ways to Increase Traffic, Sales and Revenue

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For most people blogging is used as a fun and easy way to share their lifestyle or write about their passion. But for some this hobby had become their profession.

Nowadays there are many options to make money with a blog – for example by getting paid for advertising products. Another way is to add your own eCommerce to the blog and sell the products that you are passionate about in your own web store. Creating an online shop can be the first step into your life as a digital nomad or simply being your own boss.

A few years ago, it was necessary to work with a professional developer to integrate an online store to your website. Especially for small manufacturers, this meant a huge investment before they could even start selling their products. Nowadays setting up a web store has become a lot easier and cheaper: Platforms like Shopify can easily be integrated in existing domains and therefore help makers and crafters to start their own eCommerce without professional help. Once you have set up your own Shopify store it is all about increasing the traffic. A bigger reach will eventually lead to a higher number of sales and more revenue.

So, let’s have a look at three simple steps to do so:

1 – Turn your small business into a smart business…

…by adding automation and product management to your website. When launching your business, it might be fine to keep track of the orders in an Excel spreadsheet at first. But since you expect your business to grow it will become one of the most important things to have a management platform in place that allows you to process orders and handle inventory professionally. Therefore, it can be handy to add a production planning and scheduling software as integration to your existing web store. An easy-to-use solution for Shopify-users is the Shopify inventory integration that adds products to your website, manages inventory or tracks shipments.

2 – Make your products sound and look good…

…by adding high-quality images and longer product descriptions to your page. Not only will this make your eCommerce look more professional, but it is also a great way to increase your traffic by reaching a higher rank in the search results. If you are not able to create these yourself, you can outsource writing or graphic design work to freelancers on sites like Fiverr or Upwork.

3 – Don’t stop blogging…

…or get it started if you haven’t done so yet. While it is exciting to start your own business it also takes a lot of time and energy to set everything up. Anyhow, this should not lead to giving up on your blog. Why? Because a growing eCommerce site and an active blog go hand in hand. And remember: The content of your blog should be interesting to your targeted audience and contain at least one thousand words in order to effectively rank in the search results. Here are some examples of the top eCommerce blogs for inspiration.  

…and that is it!

You are now almost ready to start your own eCommerce! In addition to following these three steps, it is always good to keep an eye on your ecommerce competitors. Do not steal their idea but have a look at what is working for them and aim to go beyond that. As long as you focus on your product, the content of your site and a growing search ranking you will successfully manage to increase your traffic, the sales and the revenue of your business.

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Should You Answer that Blogging Question Again?

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“Ryan, how do I increase blog traffic?”

 

“Ryan, how do I make money blogging?”

 

If I had a dime for every blogger who asked me each question I’d have quite a few dimes. Toss in all the times I observe bloggers asking each question via Quora and various Facebook Groups and you have as many dimes as grains of sand in the Sahara Desert.

 

I know what you are thinking; should you answer the same question for the 2nd time, 10th time or 100th time? Confusing. One part of you wishes to be generous. Another part of you fears missing an opportunity to help someone who can be a potential client or customer. Another part of you feels annoyed at being asked the question again. Another part of you feels annoyed at embracing and releasing the guilt of ignoring the question.

 

Should you answer these common blogging questions again and again?

 

No.

 

Of course not.

 

Answering the same, common question more than 1 or 2 times is:

 

  • foolish
  • an inefficient use of your time
  • ineffective
  • amateur hour stuff

 

Here’s what I do to:

 

  • answer questions quickly and easily
  • open myself up to more potential blogging business through possible clients and customers
  • be calm, cool, collected and at peace despite being asked the same question many times

 

Are you ready?

 

Write a blog post!

 

Or write and self-publish an eBook.

 

DUH!

 

If someone asks me how to drive more traffic to my blog I send them this link:

 

4 Blog Traffic Driving Fundamentals

 

Or I send ’em a link from any one of my myriad blog traffic driving posts on Blogging From Paradise.

 

If someone asks about specific income streams for making money through their blogs I send them a link to my eBook:

 

15 Ways to Make Money Blogging

 

Or if someone asks how to make money through guest posting I send them this link from my guest post on the blog of the awesome Enstine Muki:

 

How to Write a Guest Post that Grows Your Business

 

What an easy, simple, efficient, effective way to:

 

  • answer a common question many times
  • answer a common question in 1-2 seconds
  • drive traffic to my blog
  • increase my blogging profits
  • help people, and be helped by people through their prospering of me
  • avoid anger
  • avoid annoyance
  • avoid judging people who have no idea how to blog

 

Fools complain about new bloggers asking the same, old questions. Why does a new blogger ask a question? They have no idea how to blog! Duh. Why anger at their ignorance? Why get annoyed that you need to answer the question again? Write a blog post answering the question. Send the blog post to anybody who asks the question. Seize opportunities to help people and to drive traffic and profits to your blog.

 

Email Mistake

 

Do you own Gmail? I do not. Since I do not own Gmail it’d be foolish for me to answer questions via Gmail when I can be answering the same question on my self-hosted blog. I own Blogging From Paradise. I own that online real estate. Answer questions on your owned cyber real estate. Brand you. Grow your business. Increase your traffic. Keep the ball in your court. Have posture.

 

Leverage

 

If I spend 10 minutes answering a question for 1 human I am a fool when I could spend 45 minutes answering the question for 100, or 10,000 or 1,000,000 humans, by writing a helpful blog post answering the question and sending the blog post link to all future folks who ask the question. Plus; when the post goes live, I answer common questions passively, said common questions no doubt in the minds of thousands of bloggers out there.

 

Leverage. Write a blog post. Do not help one person. Help 10,000 people. Save your time and energy. Make more money.

Matthew Loomis at Build Your Own Blog is a smart guy. Peep his home page. He lays out clear, concise steps for building your blog via his sidebar. You just know how many people asked him the common, pressing, basic blogging questions that he skillfully answered through those clear steps.

 

He leveraged his knowledge. He answered common questions BEFORE people asked him common blogging questions. Smart! Help a ton of folks quickly and easily. Drive blog traffic. Increase blogging profits. Lower your bounce rate. Improve the amount of time people spend on your blog.

 

Write a blog post. Send the blog post link to anybody who asks the common blogging question.

 

Think abundantly.

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