A friend of mine sent me a link to this video. I gotta tell you this might be the single best video I’ve seen on the human condition. Straight from TEDx these insights go directly to what makes a good leader. I can’t say better than what’s said here:
Anyone ever offer to write a guest post for you? I imagine you were either daunted by what to do or very excited that someone else provided content for you. Either way, I bet your first response wasn’t strategic.
After creating a keyword theme map for a client this week, I was asked by the client what she was supposed to do with guest posts. She wanted to know if she was to put them in their on silo on site or if she was to stop accepting them. The answer is neither. Armed with a keyword theme map you won’t have to wonder about accepting guests posts.
Instead you can start offering and accepting positions for “blog post substitutes”.
In my recent article Don’t Write an E-book, there were some questions about the purpose of building a list. I believe a couple people actually said “my readers don’t want a newsletter, they already get my feed”.
In reading those I both understand the sentiment and where you might find success creating one.
List building is a critical element of an online business. Without the ability to contact your audience “at will” do you really have an audience? Or are you the kid with the lemonade stand on the side of the highway, just interacting with the traffic when it slows and rolls down the window?
I totally agree with the idea that there is no place or time for a “general newsletter” anymore. Especially for an active audience engaging with the feed and Facebook. Sure your grandma will read your newsletter, but most people will open it 45% of the time for the first two months then only open the seasonal ones.
Suppose you were to write a couple gluten free recipes and you get quite a few nice comments from that. That would be telling that you have an audience appreciative of gluten free recipes. Perhaps you could type those up and offer them as a “kitchen printable”. If you had them “opt-in” with their email to get this printable, you’d start to develop a “gluten free specific” list.
This would be a group that has a certain affinity to which you could learn more about. You could learn the phases of being Gluten Free. You could echo what sucks about being Gluten Free and what’s great. You could put together a pretty good email program, specific to that part of your audience, with recipes, books, blog posts, ideas, images, and more to serve them. Your entire audience might not be interested in that, but your Gluten Free fans would.
Let’s do a quick test, which of these do you open?
SUBJECT: January Newsletter
SUBJECT: 40% Off the Khaki Jeans you like
Parsing your list into affinity groups means every message is relevant. Every “newsletter” has meaning. Your open rates go up, your click through rates go up, your income goes up. If you want to learn more about List Building, Phil Hollows of Feedblitz wrote a great book on the topic. You can read more about that here: List Building for Bloggers.
Is it more work? It can be, but there are lots of ways to automate list building, parsing lists and email marketing to make it both easier for you and a better experience for your audience. If you would like to learn about the automation part, let me know in the comments and we’ll tackle that next.
Dan R Morris is the founder of LettersFromDan.com, a website dedicated to improving your revenue stream from online efforts. Dan is an infomercial producer, niche website owner, product developer, author and Mastermind leader. Dan actively encourages marketers to take that extra step so that “Hope” doesn’t become the marketing plan.
I’m always looking for unbelievable viral marketing examples, and recently came upon what ThePianoGuys are doing with their CelloWars video. You’re going to love it.
There is an enormous differences between viral video examples and viral marketing examples. Tons of videos go viral. Most of them that have done so weren’t because they were planned that way. And 99% of them are just a flash in the pan with no way to turn that audience into future fans.
In this viral marketing example you’re going to see how ThePianoGuys are using their videos to create fans, generate revenue, grow their list and become pop icons. You don’t see this kind of thing everyday.
They start with YouTube, but these guys aren’t using a Flip Camera in their car on the way to work. Their videos are stunning, done with impeccable editing and amazing musicians. They are so well done, you want to share them. But again – that’s not viral marketing. Great editing, amazing music and stunning video is a hallmark of great movies like Shindler’s List, K2 and Empire of the Sun but that doesn’t make them a viral marketing example.
Photo courtesy of Jorge Quinteros.
What if Google didn’t exist? What would that do to your blog’s income stream? Let’s examine how at risk your income is. You’ve worked really hard to get where you’re at now. Can you imagine how devastating it would be if that magically went away?
Blog Income Sources
What are the most common income sources and how at risk are you of losing that income? Specifically, if you rely on this income as a good portion of your total revenue, how at risk are you? Let’s first identify the sources of income – then let’s cross reference that with how at risk your blog traffic is. Put a high risk traffic source with a high risk income source together and you’re really operating on “hope”.
This is a high-risk, low reward income source. Not only does it require a good amount of traffic, but also requires that advertisers continue bidding on your keywords. To top it off Google seems to randomly shut down Google Adsense accounts without a clear path to appeal.
This is a high-risk, low reward income source. But this is even a bit riskier because most in-text link companies go into the marketplace to advertise their services and find new advertisers. Google AdSense is so big advertisers go to them. So on top of Google AdSense risk you’re also hoping the in-text link company is doing a good job marketing themselves.
A medium risk, low reward income source. On a deal or coupon site, the audience is prepared and looking for these coupons, but they still have to do more than click. They have to print. To add to that, there is no guarantee that the current payout will remain that way. Will a declining coupon print payout affect your business? Somewhat low risk, but not the lowest.
Relatively low risk, low reward endeavor. The only real issue with this kind of income is the level of your traffic risk. Most impression networks work with their host sites. Rarely have I heard of people randomly shut down from their networks.
Medium to high risk, but typically high reward. Income isn’t dependent on large quantities of traffic, but targeted traffic. Since payouts are negotiated on the front, you can choose affiliate sources that meet your needs.
Medium risk, high reward. The income here isn’t tied to traffic or influence, it’s tied to your ability to procure it. I’ve seen sites with almost no traffic get sponsored post deals regularly. The risk here is you. What if you don’t have time to procure these monies? When you take you out of the picture, the income goes away.
Your Own Products
Low Risk, high reward. Whether it’s an ebook, webinar, .mp3 download, a paid forum, tips, ideas, products or a membership site the money is 100% yours. And with affiliate software you can recruit others and their traffic to drive people to your products and services. Membership site money accrues monthly independent of traffic, search engines, 3rd party sites, or payout reductions.
Your Blog’s Traffic Stream
Let’s start with traffic by dividing it into low, medium and high risk traffic. And then we’ll look at the different kinds of income and assess them as well.
Search Engine Traffic:
Risk Assessment: High This is the kind of traffic you want more than anything. When you offer a product, a service or just plain information you can do no better than to be easy to find by the people looking for that. That’s the easiest way to generate new business, more income, and better quality visitors.
But search engine traffic is pretty high risk. Competitors, press releases, and major events threaten those rankings at all times. Imagine spending years and years building a following and then American Idol comes along and a previously unknown girl who shares your name wins. (Go ahead and search for Carrie Underwood. You know she’s not the only person with that name, but you’d have navigate to page 6 of Google’s results to find another one.)
Not only that but search engines are acquired by other companies, change their goals and change their algorithms all the time. You’re aware of Panda and Penguin of course, but think about other search engines like Instagram and YouTube. Both of those were acquired by bigger companies. And in so doing, their search results changed over time. And a few years ago Google really went local. Search for anything like “front doors” and you’re now going to see local shops, like Frank’s Front Door Painting Service, ahead of niche blog results every time.
The bottom line with search engine traffic is that it is owned by someone else. You are at their mercy. But it is highly targeted and is quality traffic.
This heavenly source of traffic can be divided into two groups: initiative based and impetus based.
Initiative based direct traffic
Risk Assessment: Medium This is when someone opens their web browser and, on their own accord, types your website name in. That’s the best compliment online. While that sounds like a relatively low risk source of traffic, it isn’t. In the best case it is medium level risk. You don’t have the same worries that you would with search engine traffic, but there is one big problem. This kind of traffic relies on hope. If you currently rely on this traffic, you have to “hope” these people come to your site tomorrow. They have to take initiative on their own. Without any outside influence, they have to type your website name into the url bar. No guarantees.
Companies who have spent a ton to become a household name, like Amazon, Expedia and Google, rely heavily on this kind of traffic.
Impetus based direct traffic
Risk Assessment: Medium This is when you are giving your audience reason to type your website name into the browser. Think of GoDaddy commercials, Infomercials and Woman’s Day Magazine. They’re all in formats where you can’t “click” a link. They constantly ask you to go to their website. Telling you to visit GoDaddy.com in the commercial is the impetus that person needs to go put that url in the browser. This is a low risk traffic source, but does require promotion, which usually means money. And when the promotion is over, visitors stop coming. Because you’re not likely on your computer when you’re asked to visit the website, this requires the audience to remember. . . go to a computer and then type the website address.
Billboards, magazines and radio create this kind of traffic.
There are a myriad of sources of referral traffic. We can mainly divide this traffic into involuntary, push and list based.
List Based Traffic:
Risk Assessment: Low List building is the act of collecting contact information sorted by affinity group. I’m not talking about that. List based traffic are the visitors that came as a result of list building. They come to your site because you reach out to them by email, RSS, phone, etc . . . It is by far the lowest risk, highest quality traffic there is. A homeschool blog would attract homeschoolers and thus their list building efforts would result in a homeschool based list. Since lists are your “property”, they reduce the risk of relying on outside sources. The best part about list ownership is that your messages can be delivered at your will and land in an inbox that is largely asynchronous. Unlike impetus based direct traffic, contacting your list via email and RSS requires only a mouse click. .
Risk Assessment: Medium Another kind of referral traffic is the kind you push out. Guest blog posts, tweets, link exchanges, Facebook, and articles on 3rd party sites are all forms of push traffic. This is very similar to impetus based direct traffic, but is more convenient since it requires only clicking a link. While the effort is high here, the risk is relatively low.
Push traffic does rely on sites you don’t own and the traffic that visits those sites (like Twitter for example), but it’s low because you control the push. You know that few people visit MySpace everyday so you aren’t likely there promoting. And now that Pinterest is hot, it’s something you’re likely doing more than you were 4 years ago. The risk here is that the audience you are counting on today will not be there when that third party site goes away. For instance, someday Facebook will be a name of the past – if today’s traffic comes from Facebook where does that put you tomorrow?
Risk Assessment: High When someone writes about you, links to you or otherwise posts links to your web properties on their own accord you should jump up and down with joy. What a compliment and great thing to happen. But it’s not something you can rely on day after day. When was the last time you saw mention of TravelZoo.com, OJ Simpson or Webcrawler. These are all things that used to get written about regularly. Perhaps no one on the planet will write about them today. As I always say “Hope is not a marketing plan”.
Now Assess Your Risk
So where do you fall? What is your level of risk? In this table I’ve put together the traffic source and in the income source. You can see in the top right cell that Google AdSense powered by search engine traffic is a “High Risk – High Risk” plan. What kinds of traffic and income should you pursue to reduce your overall risk and exposure to problems?
If you haven’t put together your marketing calendar for this year yet, how are you going to pursue lower risk options to safeguard all your hard work and effort?