I’m so happy with how the “Meet the Bloggers” interview series has been going on the blog and I’m extremely excited about today’s interview with Pat Flynn. I first heard of Pat a couple years ago, but didn’t really start reading his blog and his podcasts until the past couple of months. Let me say I really like what Pat has been doing and his blog posts and podcasts provide some great content and motivation to do better in the process!
I look forward to when our schedules sync up and we get a chance to meet with each other at an upcoming conference. In the meantime, everyone will not get a chance to learn a bit more about Patt Flynn and his awesome stories of finding success online.
1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?
My name is Pat Flynn and I actually started blogging when I was in college. It was on the Xanga platform and I blogged about what I was doing on a daily basis – typically where I went and what I ate, but that’s about it. It was nothing more than a personal online journal that I shared with family and friends.
After college, I landed a great job in the architecture industry and used a blog to keep track of notes for an exam that I was taking. This exam, the LEED exam (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), was a crazy test that required lots of memorization, and I knew that a blogging platform, such as WordPress, would be a great way to manage the content and organize it in a way that was easy to understand and convenient to study from. I added notes to the site and studied for over a year from the site, and shared it with a couple of co-workers too. After I passed the exam in March of 2008, I had no more use for the site so I just let it sit there.
Well, in the summer of that same year I learned that I was going to get laid off from my architectural position, which was a huge blow because everything I had been working for since high school sort of just flew out the window at that point. I did try to get another position in the field but nobody in the entire United States was hiring – it was that bad. That’s when I discovered podcasts.
It was a particular podcast where I listened to a success story of someone earning an income and making a living teaching others how to pass the PM (project management) exam, and that’s when I decided to give a go at online business and blogging professionally, using the LEED exam blog that I had created as my initial platform.
Well, to my surprise, after adding an analytical tool on the site, thousands of people were already visiting the site every day. Since there was a year and a half of content on there, Google ranked a lot of my content high in the search engines, I was found by several people who shared my sites on forums and other blogs – and I had no idea this was happening until now.
To make a long story short, I ended up publishing an eBook study guide and selling it on my blog. That particular eBook grossed about $200,000 in a years time, and I’ve since added new products to my product line.
It was at that point that I created The Smart Passive Income (SPI) Blog where I share my story and build new businesses, live on the site to inspire and teach others how to do the same. Currently, the SPI Blog has over 60,000 subscribers, a podcast with over 3 million downloads and a YouTube channel with nearly 2 million views.
2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?
SPI has a focus on entrepreneurship, in particular how to succeed with an online business that you can be proud of by serving your audience and providing massive value to them, and getting paid in return. I’ve purposely done many things differently than other people in this “make money online” space, who traditionally use aggressive marketing tactics and exaggeration to sell things to people. I use myself as a guinea pig and test various business models, sharing the exact process from scratch so that people can learn from both my wins and my failures. My #1 priority is to build a true relationship with my audience and give away as much information as possible, for free, and in turn many people in my audience have become true fans who go out of their way to pay me back, typically by choosing to go through my affiliate links.
I also use the blog as the hub of my brand, which is so much more than a blog nowadays. The podcast is actually the #1 way that people discover my brand, but I always bring people back (whether through my podcast on iTunes or my videos on YouTube) to the blog because the blog is where all the action takes place – clicks, links, recommendations, etc.
3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
For SPI, I currently only monetize through affiliate marketing. Again, I focus on the relationships I have with my audie
nce, as well as making sure the products I promote are products that I’ve used myself and am comfortable being connected with, because if I were to recommend a product and it doesn’t perform – sure they’ll dislike that product, but more importantly that trust with me is broken. I also go above and beyond to share as much information as I can about products that I promote that are owned and operated by other people. Clay Collins, founder of LeadBrite and creator of LeadPlayer, a video tool that I promote, told Andrew Warner in an interview that I create posts and videos that are better at explaining his products than his own tutorials. I strive for that each time I recommend something. I’m also the top affiliate for Glen Allsop’s Optin Skin plugin, which many of you perhaps use. That is thanks to the same strategies.
For GreenExamAcademy.com, my LEED exam blog, I primarily earn money through my own products, however I do have affiliate relationships with a practice exam company and make a decent amount of income from that relationship as well.
On SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com, a niche site that I created live on SPI, from scratch (you can find the posts at http://www.nichesiteduel.com), currently generated between $2500 and $3000 purely on Adsense at the moment, and nearly a hundred dollars through affiliate marketing as well as a Job Board on the site.
4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?
I wish I knew two things:
1 – That VAs (virtual assistants) existed. I remember spending 8 hours trying to figure out how to move an image from the left side of the page, to the right. it was stupid. I could have easily paid someone to do that for me instead of wasting 8 hours of my time, but I didn’t know that VAs existed, let alone where to find them. Also, I was a little too prideful and tried to figure things out on my own. Now, whenever I have an issue with something or am having trouble figuring something out, I ask someone right away.
2 – How important it is to build an email list. When I launched my eBook at GreenExamAcademy.com, for months I didn’t collect email addresses, so when I came out with a new product (an audio guide) I totally missed out on the chance to sell directly to my previous customers. It was a shame.
5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?
To be honest, I’m not reading too many blogs these days. SocialTriggers.com by Derek Halpern and ThinkTraffic.net by Corbett Barr are my top two, but I don’t visit them every day. I typically listen to podcasts because I can educate myself while doing other things, like running or driving somewhere.
6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?
1 – LeadPlayer – it’s my video player of choice right now. I love it because it allows me to include opt-in forms and/or a call to action right inside the video, and unlike many other players that now have that ability, LeadPlayer can serve YouTube videos on your site (i.e. free hosting for your videos) and still keep the same functions.
2 – Opt-In Skin – I don’t share this because I’m an affiliate for it. I’m an affiliate for it because it’s that good. I use it on my site (at the bottom of each of my posts, you can see it in action). It’s simple to implement as far as adding opt-in forms for your email list at any part of your site, and it gets results.
3 – Conduit.com. I use Conduit to create a nice looking mobile site for SPI, and it has the ability to build an apps for you (e.g. iPhone, Android and Windows applications) that people who visit your site on those mobile devices can download.
7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?
Two important pieces of advice:
1 – Build relationships with other people. Real relationships. Build friendships with other bloggers in your niche, because it’s other people who will help lift you up and help your blog grow. Also build real relationships with your readers, especially when you are just starting out. You should know and care for your first hundred readers, if you can. Email them, get to know them, because when you do that you’ll start to create your first true 100 fans who will become evangelists and super fans for life, and you never know the impact that one person can have on your blog.
2 – Keep going. You’re going to be excited at first, and then maybe a few months down the road, when you’re not seeing a lot of traffic and each blog post becomes a chore, you’re going to want to give up. This is natural. What separates those who succeed and those who do not are those who keep going – so keep going. Michael Hyatt from MichaelHyatt.com once said, “Most people quit right before the inflection point.” In other words, you never know what tomorrow will bring, especially as a blogger – so keep going.
8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?
If you want to succeed with your blog, don’t just blog. Put your brand onto multiple platforms (one at a time), such as iTunes for a podcast, or YouTube for videos. When you do that, you will reach people who you would have never reached otherwise, and you will become more authoritative at the same time. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, and yes, it’s going to take some balls, but again – these are the kinds of things that separate those who succeed and those who don’t. Those who are willing to take risks and get a little uncomfortable every once and while.
9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
I’d find a person who was where I wanted to be, and treat them to dinner. That 2 hour conversation will be the best education you will ever get, from a person who is at the other end of the path you know you want to follow.
10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
You can find me at SmartPassiveIncome.com, as well as PatFlynn.me.
Here are my social media URLs too:
Pat also recently published his first book, Let Go, which is hosted on a brand new platform for iOS called Snippet. Books on the Snippet platform include audio, video, stunning visuals as well as social media. If you’d like to read (and listen and watch) more about Pat’s story, you can check out his book Let Go at the following URL: http://patflynn.me/letgo
Thanks again Pat for taking the time to share your advice and story with the Blogging Tips community. If you would like to learn about other bloggers and how they are finding success online, be sure to read through our blogger interview series.
The Importance of Eye-Catching and Trendy Topics for Your Blog Content
Today, there are more blogs on the internet than ever before and over 3 million blog posts gets published on the Internet every day. So, you have to develop a strategy to separate yourself from other blogs and show your audience that you’re worth remembering. Getting your blog noticed requires three essential elements: focusing on a niche and writing for a targeted audience, balancing evergreen topics with trends and ensuring shareability. As we see, it all starts with eye-catching and trendy topics. But why? Let’s explore.
What keeps a blog alive? It’s consistent flow of traffic – new as well as returning. Creating a perfect balance between evergreen topics and trendy topics is one of the best ways to have sustainable traffic. Ideally, your blog should have a perfect mixture of both trending and evergreen content. While evergreen content never expires, trendy content keeps it relevant. Eye-catching and trendy content proves that your blog is living “in the moment” and paying attention to what’s happening around. That’s why it’s always important to cover the space that’s trendy and interesting to your audience. One of the most significant ways to develop a loyal online following is being part of the conversation. Readers value fresh and trendy content. And they prefer frequent sites that feature constant updates about whatever matters most to each individual user. So Be There or Be Square!
Avinash Kaushik, the author of Web Analytics 2.0 and Web Analytics: An Hour a Day, once said “Content is anything that adds value to the reader’s life”. To rise above the noise, you need to provide incredible value to your readers consistently using your blog. Timely and relevant content is the best way for creating value for your audience. That’s why when it comes to capturing and holding attention, trending content always wins over other content. Trending topics get more traction as they’re relatively more valuable to the reader. Being useful and relevant is the only way to get readers to tune-in. They relate with your post, thank you and engage. When users are engaged, they will be your returning visitor, interact with your content and share it.
Better Search Ranking
Creating fresh trendy content is much more fun than creating back-links but it has the same effect. Such content is more likely to get organic links and social shares as well. Always keep in mind that social networks represent a huge mass of people who stand behind the web page and the brand. So, increase “shareability” of your content with trendy and eye-catching topics. That’s how you outrank the competition when there are millions of people posting content daily. At its core, fresh content is content that is up-to-date, newsworthy and relevant to current events. When it comes to Query Deserves Freshness (QDF), Google tries to identify the topics and search requests where the user has a desire for new and current contents. Thus, when the spike in search volume occurs, Google prioritizes websites with high freshness score (fresh results) compared to websites with low freshness score (stale results). Celebrities’ death, affair, break up, new release etc. always create a massive amount of new articles around the topic. For example, Stan Lee died in 12 November, 2018. If we look at the Google trends data for that particular week – 12 November, 2018 to 18 November, 2018, we notice that Google marked the search term “Stan Lee” as “Breakout”. It means this particular search term grew by more than 5000%. Now let’s see how content publishers leveraged this spike in search volume. If you google “Stan Lee”, you should find lots of articles on the Google first page which were actually published on 12 November and the following week! These pages didn’t even exist before 12 November. They just outranked thousands of pages with their fresh contents.
Lowering bounce rate
One of the most common blogging obstacles is finding a way to hook and keep your audience engaged and lower bounce rate. Time sensitive content can be the answer. Trendy and fresh content is catchier than general truths or case studies. Time sensitive trendy content shows that you’re on top of the news and you’re ready and willing to write something that can be used immediately. So, do not hesitate to get going right away when you are working with eye-catching and trendy topics. By introducing an element of urgency, you can get your target audience to take notice. While working with trendy contents, don’t go for random trends. Identify the core target audience of the blog and create trendy content around that audience and your niche. Google loves niche content on websites. When someone clicks a result on the SERP, Google pays attention to how long they stay on that particular website or blog and there are no better signals than engaged users on a specific site.
Love it or hate it, social media is integral to how audiences discover, consume and engage with content. That’s why shareability of your content matters. But what makes a piece of content shareable in the first place? There are certain qualities that shareable pieces have in common. And undoubtedly, eye-catching and trendy topics is one of them. If more people share your content, it will increase your reach and the likelihood of others engaging with your content. Anytime a reader shares your content on social media, search engines count it as a “vote of confidence” in your brand.
Now you know the importance of eye-catching and trendy topics for your blogging. So, the next question is: how to find trendy topics? There are many ways to tap into trends, understand what your audience is searching for, and discover unexpected ways to reach new people. Let’s explore some very effective tools.
When one term in particular spikes in relation to other searches, Google classifies it as a trend. And Google suggests us to use Google Trends to find the trends. While traditional keyword research tools tend to be very one-dimensional, Google Trends shows you a multidimensional view of queries. If you want to check factors like seasonality, geographic location, and media coverage, Google Trends is second to none. It helps us to “Explore what the world is searching.” Google Trends enables us to compare search terms and see their popularity over time. Google has recently revamped the Trending searches option available within Google Trends. This revamped Trending searches section shows what is trending in search right now, both daily and minute-by-minute. If a trend is going up this means to focus energy on creating content for this trend.
Google Keyword Planner
Keyword research is the process of learning the words and phrases people typically use to search for information online. If you want to do keyword research to understand what people are actually searching for, Google offers a free keyword research tool: Google Keyword Planner. It’s a wonderful tool for the bloggers looking for topics to blog about. Google Keyword Planner enables you to stay on top of keyword trends and ensure content remains relevant. With Keyword Planner, you can find trendy topics for your blog that are relevant to your niche. Google’s Keyword Planner tool has very recently undergone a rigorous revamp. With this revamped planner, you can see beautiful chart illustrating the keyword volume trends for a certain period of time. The new mobile, location and trending data paired with these super-useful visualizations should help bloggers to find trendy topics for blogging. But keep in mind that Google Keyword Planner has been designed with Adwords advertisers in mind. So, it is quite natural that there are some features in the tool that might not be useful for the bloggers.
Ahrefs Content Explorer
When it comes to topic finding tools, there are a few that are as effective and efficient as Ahrefs Content Explorer. Content Explorer helps blogger find the most shared and ‘linked-to’ content. You can use publish date filter to figure out latest trends for a particular niche. You can also use any keyword into content explorer and it will generate a list of the most popular articles based on their “performance metrics”. There are different types of metrics including Social shares, Organic search traffic and Referring domains.
One final tip. Each type of blog has its particularities, rules, and trends. So, go with the trends but don’t forget your audience and you niche. Don’t forget why you do blogging or the reason that prompted you to initiate the blog. You might have a million trendy topics bouncing around your head, but stay focused on and loyal to your niche and choose the ones that your audience is waiting for.
8 Brilliant Ideas to Improve Customer Service for Your Business
The business world is booming across the globe and America is leading the way with 30 million registered small businesses in operation across the country.
Why is business so hot right now? Because the economy is on fire.
Consumer confidence is up, unemployment is down, and people are spending money. All of that means tremendous opportunity for business owners who are willing to throw their products and services into the fray.
Just because opportunity is out there though doesn’t mean that cashing in on it is easy. With all of the competition, it can be hard to attract and retain customers.
One of the best ways to cut through your market’s clutter is to have outstanding customer service. Therein lies the aim of this article.
We want to teach you how to improve customer service within your organization so you can boost consumer retention and create brand evangelists!
1. Don’t Aim for the Lowest Common Denominator
You may be surprised to hear this, but when it comes to how to improve customer service, for most organizations it’s not about building policies around offering outstanding consumer experiences. It’s about building policies around competition.
That’s a horrendous way to approach your customer service philosophy.
Having good customer service doesn’t mean offering the average of what everybody else is offering. It means taking the time to dig into the consumer experience and ask yourself what it is your customers want.
Once you have an answer to that question, even if the resulting directives put you ahead of what’s expected per industry standards, implement them.
Be a trailblazer when it comes to your customer service experience. Be consumer-centric. Don’t be a copycat.
2. People Want Their Issues Solved… Period
A lot of people mistake offering good customer service as being over the top. You hear stories all the time of companies sending people pizzas or giving them $1000 worth of products because they experienced a simple shipping snag with a product.
That’s not where your team’s head should be at.
Doing outlandish things for customers isn’t scalable and it isn’t what’s going to put your business on the map as one that’s noted for outstanding customer service.
What’s going to move the needle for you systematically is simply being able to solve people’s problems, fast.
Focus on what consumers need, not on what they don’t.
3. Get Customers In Front of a Person Immediately
There is nothing more frustrating than arguing with robots on the phone. Do not subject your customers to that experience.
Only have them interfacing with robots for the most necessary reasons and get them to an operator, ASAP.
4. Make Customer Service a Priority
Answering the question of how to improve customer service isn’t something that can be done by making it the keynote in a meeting, coming away with some bullet-point directives, and revisiting the issue in a year.
Good customer service takes being made a priority.
Remember, people are willing to pay more for products and services if they know they’re going to get good service.
Because of that, you don’t want to look at customer service attention as something that’s going to drain your resources. You’ll want to look at it as a financial investment!
5. Find Opportunity in Negative Feedback
If you’re annoyed whenever you see a 1-star review come in on Google, Facebook or Yelp, don’t be. There is a lot of opportunity that can come from bad reviews.
For starters, your bad reviews may reveal places where you can make improvements to your business. That insight is extremely valuable.
Second, when you respond to negative (and sometimes irate) reviews with professionalism and tact, you show onlookers that they can trust you.
That will translate into more level-headed customers taking the leap and doing business with you.
You can read more here about the opportunity that exists in angry customers.
6. Survey Customers
Feedback is essential to successfully navigating all of your “how to improve customer service” concerns. Don’t be afraid to ask people for it.
When a customer service call or chat is over, ask people if they’ll take a quick survey. After a call, send a follow-up email to customers asking for their feedback.
Whatever you can do to get people’s honest perspective on how your team is performing is well worth any time and investment it takes to get those features in place.
7. Have Self-Help Resources, but Don’t Make Contact Impossible
Having an FAQ document on your website is a great way to answer consumer’s simple questions without tying up your phone lines. They are not an excuse to not let people contact you though.
So many companies hide their contact information behind pages and pages of tutorials and FAQ’s when all customers want to do is speak to someone.
If your customers don’t want to read, don’t make them. Always give people the option to reach out to someone on your support team.
8. Never Tolerate Unprofessional Behavior From Your Team
We appreciate that irate customers can be difficult to deal with and that some of those customers may not be worth the money they bring to your company. Still, there is no reason for your customer support team to stoop to customer’s bad behavior.
If you’re noticing your staff firing back at rude customers in a way that is unprofessional, reprimand them. If the behavior continues, re-train them. If it persists, let them go.
As a business, you’re held to a higher standard than your customers. If you or your team doesn’t believe that, you have no business competing in today’s market.
Wrapping Up Ideas on How to Improve Customer Service for Your Business
We’ve just shared with you 8 outstanding ideas on how to improve customer service for your business. Our recommendation is to implement as many of our suggestions as possible as quickly as possible.
If you do, you’ll notice the benefits almost immediately.
For more of the best business advice you can find online, check our additional content on Blogging Tips!
The Top 10 E-Commerce Blogs Every Store Owner Needs to Follow
E-commerce is a very wide business that has many different branches, niches and it is always expanding and changing. Therefore, in order to become or keep being successful, we need to constantly update our knowledge and look for ways to improve our business strategies.
A fantastic and very interesting way to do it is by reading the best blogs about e-commerce on the internet. We enjoy success stories like 30 under 30 in e-commerce, so why not read more content like this? In this article you’ll find short reviews about 10 e-commerce blogs that we recommend reading.
A Better Lemonade Stand
A Better Lemonade Stand is one of the most popular e-commerce blogs lately that is mostly read by entrepreneurs of new projects but also remembered by experienced business people.
The blog mostly focuses on practical articles that give useful advice to entrepreneurs. Currently, it has more than 35k subscriptions and can offer video training and some interesting case studies.
Bloggingtips.com is a fresh yet very interesting blog that we started about e-commerce to read and grasp some new ideas for your current or future business.
It is mainly focused on blogging and can truly offer some valuable tips on how to gain more profits by adding a blog to your e-commerce website. It also explains the advantages of committed long term blogging that will help you not lose motivation for continuing to write it. Also, it has many articles on how to do it correctly and efficiently.
Profitindustry.com is another new e-commerce blog that is full of useful information, innovative ideas, and articles about the best ecommerce platforms which is very handy for anyone who is interested in this kind of business.
Here you’ll also discover some interesting interviews and reviews. There aren’t so many of them on the website yet, because it’s a completely new project, but some promising content is coming up very soon.
eCommerceFuel is both an e-commerce blog and a private community that is mostly focused on the experienced 7-figure plus e-shop owners.
Here you can find interesting and inspirational podcast to listen to, a listing of e-commerce jobs, a private discussion forum with thousands of monthly contributions, and exclusive tools to help you grow your business even more.
Get Elastic is an e-commerce blog that has an insanely high amount of subscriptions and was named to be number one e-commerce blog by the PosRak, which is a serious evaluation.
The blog has much valuable insights on e-commerce and is absolutely worth subscribing and reading. It was even chosen as top 15 entrepreneur blogs worth reading by the Wall Street Journal, which is a high rank too.
Shopify is one of the most known e-commerce platforms worldwide, so there’s no surprise they have a pretty insightful blog of their own where you can find valuable advice on e-commerce.
It’s believed to be one of the most favorite blogs to read between people who work with e-commerce because it is more social than any others. This is because the articles receive many comments and there are always lively discussions happening.
Bigcommerce is an e-commerce blog and platform with 99,99% uptime which is highly reliable and valued by their customers. On the blog, you’ll find useful articles and posts on marketing, e-commerce, and also selling.
It’s also a great treat for those of you who enjoy some quality case studies – you’ll discover quite a few of them here.
Volusion has more different content than the usual e-commerce websites and blogs. Volusion also offers webinars to their readers where you can learn more about the topic you care about.
The blog focuses on fresh e-commerce insights so that you would be always updated. Here you’ll discover some wider topics like SEO, marketing, and much more.
Internet Retailer is a place for those of you who like to read about strategies, data analysis, and technical information. It even has different segments of Research & Data, New & Analysis, and Learning Lab on their website so you could focus on the topics you care most about.
And for those who want to keep up with the trends and the newest information possible – there is also a “Trending Topics” segments with the latest news and updates.
Bootstrapping Ecommerce is both an e-commerce and marketing blog, which is very useful because these two topics couldn’t possibly function without each other.
The blog is written by Shabbir Nooruddin and is mainly meant for entrepreneurs, kickstarters, and startupers – the ones who are new to the business and want to learn more.
The World of eCommerce and Online Business
If you enjoyed this list of top ecommerce blogs, be sure to check out my other article on how to get started with your own online business, and finding the right dropshippers and payment processors for your ecommerce site. Once you start to compile a list of trusted and recommended companies and solutions to work with, it will make the launch process a whole lot easier.
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