Make Money Blogging By ‘Selling’ Your Knowledge

May 13, 2008

by Caroline Middlebrook

Most people who try to make money blogging do it by selling (directly or indirectly) other people’s knowledge and this often leads to a very poor return on the time and effort invested into the blog. I made over $2000 last month and Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

6 Valuable Post Types and When To Use Them

May 13, 2008

by Caroline Middlebrook

Many blogs are filled with fluff just in the name of sticking to a posting schedule. This post outlines several kinds of blog posts that provide value both to your readers and to you as a blogger. I explain the benefits of each one and suggest when in your blogging career they can be put to the most effective use.

1) Standalone Guides

What Are They?

A standalone guide is a tutorial-style post which stands on its own – the kind of tutorial that does not need any proof. There is a problem to be solved, and your post shows how to solve it and nobody will argue with you as to whether or not your guide works. The guide itself is all the proof it needs.

For example, Embedding YouTube Clips Into WordPress. This isn’t a perfect example as WordPress 2.5 makes it somewhat obsolete but that post has drawn traffic and links for months.

Benefits:

These posts tend to stand the test of time, and do well in social media. They provide genuine value to the reader and yet they do not need any kind of credibility on behalf of the writer to do well. In fact, they can be an excellent way to build credibility as you demonstrate your knowledge in an topic and your ability to teach it.

When To Use Them:

Standalone guides are a great way to kickstart your blogging career. If you have just started a blog on a topic these types of posts are a superb way for you to demonstrate your knowledge in that topic, establish yourself as an authority, and get some traffic rolling in via social media. All new blogs need solid pillar content and these posts are a great way to get started.

2) Guides with Social Proof

What Are They?

Some guides teach people a technique that will not show results immediately and these often require that the author somehow prove that the technique works in order to establish credibility. My Twitter Guide falls into this category. I couldn’t teach people about Twitter and its benefits as a marketer if I didn’t have lots of followers and couldn’t show the traffic driven by Twitter.

Benefits:

As long as you can be confident that you can teach the techniques to others, these guides can not only be of great value to your readers but can establish you as an authority in the field and can lead to the creation of paid products further down the line. Furthermore, if readers adopt your techniques and have similar successes, they can become evangelists for your method thus giving you even more credibility.

When To use Them:

If you have the proof at the ready, you can use these right at the start of your blogging career to carve out a niche for yourself and begin the process of developing authority and credibility.

3) Resource Posts

What Are They?

A resource post is something that pulls together many resources on a subject and is something that readers would want to refer to over and over again. A couple of examples that I have used are my list of DoFollow Social Bookmarking sites and my list of Free Internet Marketing ebooks. Resource posts don’t always have to be in the form of lists, but they often are.

Benefits:

The benefits to the reader is that the posts save them time by having everything they need around a subject in just one place. These kinds of posts have a habit of being bookmarked in social media sites such as Delicious so a really good one can bring in a lot of traffic and inbound links over time.

When To Use Them:

Use them sparingly throughout your blogging career. One downside of resource posts is that people can get tired of them – “oh no, another top 10 list”. You have to make the effort to make them extremely comprehensive and high quality to really reap the benefits.

4) Achievement Showcases

What Are They?

These are basically posts where you get to brag about your achievements! However for these posts to be of value to your readers you have to be able to impart some kind of knowledge onto them, perhaps by showing readers how you achieved what you did in the hopes that they can replicate it. An example from my blog is when I discussed how I doubled my subscribers in a week and broke down where the traffic came from and what I did to attract it.

Benefits:

The benefit to the reader is that hopefully they can learn from your experiences and transfer that to their own ventures. The benefit to you is that you can establish some credibility but perhaps more importantly, you can demonstrate your transparency and show yourself as a real person.

When To use Them:

These kinds of posts aren’t suitable for all blogs. They don’t tend to do all that well in social media, so they work better once there is already an audience present. If you use them too early in your blog lifespan you also run the risk of looking like a fake. One technique you can use is to make them a regular feature (like I do with my monthly stat reports) and what this does is make your blog like a soap on TV – people want to check in and see how you’re doing.

5) Opinion Posts

What Are They?

These are the kinds of posts that started it all – where the blogger unleashes his or her personal opinion of some topic onto the world. They may be rants, observations, lessons learned and so on. Some examples of my own opinion posts would be my rant about sales letters and more recently, my opinion about how not to leave blog comments which stirred up a nice bit of controversy!

Benefits:

The benefits for the readers is a wooly area – they may not have educational value like guides but they can offer a different of value such as pure entertainment, encouraging the reader to think for themselves, broadening their horizons and so on. There are some bloggers such as Steve Pavlina who’s entire blogs are built around these kinds of posts.

As a blogger, opinion posts are a superb way of establishing your voice, showing people who you are, what you stand for and what you are about. These posts tend to foster conversations both on your blog itself in the comments and also in form of backlinks where other bloggers feel compelled to discuss your opinion. If your opinions run against the mainstream you will often attract negative publicity as well as positive but this can actually be a good thing too because it weeds out people from your readership that won’t benefit from your writing, and it converts your existing readers into evangelists.

When To Use Them:

It is best to reserve these kinds of posts until you have a readership otherwise they just fall on deaf ears. The more popular you already are, the bigger impact your opinion posts will have so start stocking these up early ready to unleash when you’ve gained a following!

6) Product / Service Reviews

What Are They?

Quite simply – your critique of some product or service usually tied in with an affiliate link that makes you money if your readers buy through that link. I’ve done a handful of such reviews such as Instant Money Reports ebook, and the new Butterfly Reports system.

Benefits:

Let’s get one thing clear – these kind of posts will ONLY benefit your readers if you offer an unbiased review of the product in question! If you do that, the benefits to the reader depend on the outcome of the review. They can help readers make up their minds about something they might have heard about it, and if the product is genuinely useful it can direct a reader to something that can enhance their lives. But lets face facts here – most people don’t need new stuff, new ebooks, new memberships and will do just fine with what they have!

The benefit to you of course is primarily income from affiliate sales. There can also be a more subtle benefit when you have the ability to present the negative aspects as well as the positive. This can establish your honesty which helps develop your online reputation which can have positive repercussions further down the line.

When To Use Them:

Unless your blog is specifically designed as a product review blog, don’t start posting these too early. No matter how good your review, you are likely to antagonise some readers and possibly lose them. This may be acceptable once your blog is more established but don’t do it when you are in the early stages and trying to develop a following. No matter where you are in your blog, always use these sparingly.

Have I Missed Any?

These are my thoughts on the kinds of posts that I find myself writing most of the time. What types of posts do you use on your blog? Have you ever sat and thought about the benefits they bring?


The ‘Secret’ To Successful Blogging?

May 13, 2008

By Caroline middlebrook

A couple of days ago I talked about how difficult it is to make a living online when your business model always relies on knowing the ’secrets’ of the trade.

Blogging is no different – it’s a huge industry and there are many high powered blogs out there with some very wealthy bloggers. So of course many people want to know what the ’secret’ is. Just recently one of my readers asked me how he could write ‘high powered’ posts like me. I have a theory of blogging success, read on to see what it is…

Blogging Success in Terms of RSS Subscribers

Ok first up, for the context of this discussion I am going to refer to the RSS subscriber count as being the measure of success of a blog. There are a ton of other factors but the RSS count is generally accepted as being an important one and its certainly the one that I value most highly.

I use Feedburner to manage my RSS feed and my keeping track of my stats on a monthly basis I can glean all sorts of useful information. Looking at the monthly stats for the months of November, December and January has revealed a startling truth to me but before I tell you what it is, let’s have a look at those stats:

Here is November, notice how it shows growth near the beginning of the month and then after that odd jump in the middle (I still assume this is a feedburner problem not showing proper growth in the middle of the month) it starts to drop off and flatline:

november rss

Now the real giveaway is December – the RSS numbers just tick over not really moving at all:

december rss

But what’s happening in January? It’s still flatlining at first but after a couple of weeks we start to see signs of life and it grows again. Its grown by over 300 in January!

january rss

What Happened to My Subscribers?

In the middle of November I split up with my partner of 10 years (not my choice) and at first I was devastated. I could barely function. I’ve already blogged about this so I wont go over it all again but the effect it had on the blog is that all through the latter part of November and the whole of December I just blogged in maintenance mode.

I didn’t do any real work on any of my projects. I read my emails, responded to comments and managed to find a few affiliate programs to promote but I was basically blogging by the seat of my pants day by day and it showed in the numbers!

In January it started to change. I got back to work, I released my ebook and I started blogging in a way that was more in tune with my usual self and again, this has been reflected in the subscriber numbers!

The growth of my subscribers has been an almost perfect reflection of my personal state of mind. It has nothing to do with post count, or social media or anything else because I kept blogging the whole time!

What Does This Mean?

The conclusion that I draw from it is that the decision to subscribe or not to subscribe comes from something intangible – a feeling, an emotion, a vibe. Somebody comes to your blog, reads the content and if they feel good about it they subscribe and if not they hit the back button.

You can’t fake it – despite blogging all through December, my numbers would not increase. As far as I can tell my writing quality did not suffer in an obvious way, I don’t think somebody could give me a list of things I did wrong with my blog at that time.

I believe that when we write (or speak, or communicate in any way) that we give out the vibes of what we are feeling within ourselves. If we feel good it comes across in the writing. If we feel bad, that comes across too. That is the only explanation that I can think of for why my subscriber numbers came to a complete standstill when the rest of my life was at a standstill and only when I started moving forward on a personal level did my subscriber numbers follow suit!

This is another reason why I keep bashing sleazy marketing tactics. I believe that if I succumb to the sheep methodology and start churning out sales letters or build a list in a way that makes me feel uneasy that the prospective buyers will pick up on my negativity and it will affect the results!

So What’s The Secret Then?

In a nutshell I believe the secret to having a successful blog is to be true to yourself in what you write. Believe in what you are saying, enjoy your writing, appreciate your readers and their comments and it will show through.

If you force yourself to blog, if you write about topics that don’t interest you, if you get irritated having to respond to comments or contact emails you will send out those bad vibes to your audience and your blog will falter!

Be true and succeed 🙂