Have you ever wondered if your strange collection of skills and interests could be woven together to build a profitable business?
If you have, you’ll love today’s Hero’s Journey article.
Lauren Pawell is a rare breed: she has a background in development and marketing. That’s a combination you don’t see every day!
Some people might have encouraged Lauren to choose one field or the other. But she persisted and has built a business that artfully combines her many passions.
Lauren’s story is this month’s Hero’s Journey feature. We’re tapping the collective wisdom of our community members to bring you reports from the front lines of the content marketing world. See all the Hero’s Journey posts here.
Read on as Lauren shares what she’s learned over the years and how you can use her hard-earned wisdom in your own business.
Building a one-stop revenue-building shop
Lauren Pawell: What sets Bixa Media apart is my background in both development and marketing. This allows me to sit at the intersection of business, technology and design.
We help entrepreneurs turn their WordPress and Shopify websites into revenue-generating powerhouses. We do that through a mixture of website design and development, content marketing, search engine optimization, paid advertising, and online reputation management.
Not only can we write killer copy, but we can also evaluate your technology options, decide which is best for your needs, and build everything for you, while keeping your business objectives at the forefront of the process.
I find our clients really value having a partner who can help them from A to Z.
Perhaps more importantly, we’re able to tell our clients where not to waste their dollars and effort, and where to focus their resources.
Even if this doesn’t always match what a client had in mind, our honest feedback resonates with business owners.
We offer two types of services:
- 1:1 online marketing services: For medium-sized businesses who are looking to outsource their online marketing, we offer a variety of services designed to amplify their online exposure and generate more customers.
- DIY programs: For small businesses or solopreneurs who don’t yet have the resources to outsource their marketing, we offer educational marketing programs through Websites That Generate.
My business is primarily online, although I do plenty of networking offline — I find they go hand-in-hand. The offline contact tends to tip the scale in our favor, especially when it comes to securing large contracts.
Putting the brakes on spinning wheels
Lauren Pawell: I started my business for two reasons.
First and foremost, after working in marketing overseas for a few years, I saw so many small-to-medium-sized businesses with a wealth of online opportunity at their fingertips. But they just didn’t have the right guidance.
As a result, they were spinning their wheels in so many different directions with little-to-no impact.
I wanted to help them pick that low-hanging digital fruit, so that they could continue to grow their businesses and entrepreneurial dreams.
So, in 2011, I moved back to the United States, booked my first client at a friend’s birthday party (notice that offline touchpoint!), and haven’t looked back since.
The best part of that story? Our first client still works with us today and has gone from a one-man business to a 20+ person company. Now that is why I started Bixa!
I don’t share the second reason with many people, but I feel it will resonate with the Copyblogger audience.
In 2011, I had been through one-too-many bad bosses and was tired of not being in charge of my own destiny, from both a personal and career standpoint. That freedom I craved drove me to start my own company.
My driving motivation is to help other entrepreneurial spirits achieve the same freedom I have.
Conversion experiments that paid off
Lauren Pawell: Converting cold traffic into qualified leads is a finicky beast, especially when it comes to selling online education.
It’s not hard to understand why — cold traffic doesn’t immediately pull out their wallets. It took quite a bit of trial and error to dial in our lead-nurturing process, but we did it.
A few highlights:
We use Facebook ads as our hook
A new email subscriber generated from a Facebook ad was not likely to immediately jump up and buy our program. However, when we started to establish trust and demonstrate our authority through a few different mediums, we were far more successful.
Here’s what we do:
First, we run the new subscriber through a long welcome series over email. We send them 7 emails over 20 days, all of which include a lot of copy. It helps us weed out unqualified leads.
While in many approaches we did not want a lot of unsubscribes, in this case, we welcome them. It allows us to filter out anyone who doesn’t immediately love us.
After this, we direct the subscriber to our private Facebook community
There we share weekly educational content over video and give 1:1 feedback, similar to what they would experience in our course. This also helps establish us as a trusted and authoritative figure.
Then, we deliver free educational webinars on specific topics
This helps the subscriber better understand their problem and the solution they need to transform their situation.
Finally, we open our doors periodically
Last, but not least, we sell our program through email during specific times of the year, and are available on live chat to answer any questions the prospects have. (This, again, is similar to our course experience).
Some may say we give away too much for free, but I find this really helps us find great students. Plus, it allows our Facebook ad spend to generate far more ROI.
When we didn’t follow this solution and jumped straight from Facebook ads to a webinar to a sales email, our conversion rates weren’t great. Now, they are stellar.
So, if you feel like you are wasting dollars on Facebook ad spend, consider the rest of your funnel. Now that we know what works, it’s far easier to justify scaling up our marketing spend.
Venturing into online education (one validated step at a time)
Lauren Pawell: In Q2 of this year, I decided to test the idea of online education programs.
I wanted to be less reliant on 1:1 client work, which can be unpredictable. And I wanted to help all the entrepreneurs we were turning away due to a full calendar on our end, and limited resources on their end.
To validate the idea, we began being incredibly transparent about our marketing tactics.
We educated our audience through a number of mediums, notably: email, online webinars, and a private Facebook community.
I believed that through great educational content, we could:
- Empower solopreneurs, allowing them to achieve quick wins in their businesses
- Determine whether there was a demand for our DIY programs
This effort has been quite successful. We recently presold an educational course (before it was created) that our audience was begging for.
By validating an idea through free content first, we were then able to dedicate the resources to creating paid educational programs. A course takes a lot of front-loaded work, especially content creation. The last thing I wanted to do was create a program no one wanted.
As an added benefit of this education-first approach, when 1:1 prospects come through the door, they are already sold on working with us. Because they already understand the “why” behind our recommendations, the selling is 90 percent done by the time we write a proposal.
The Rainmaker Digital products Lauren uses
Lauren Pawell: We use quite a few Rainmaker Digital products, including:
- Rainmaker Platform to power our online courses and membership programs at Websites That Generate
- Genesis Framework + StudioPress themes to power clients’ websites
- Copyblogger Authority and Digital Commerce Institute to continue learning and engaging with the community
So, needless to say, I’m a Rainmaker Digital diehard!
Refining and scaling up for the future
Lauren Pawell: In the final quarter of 2016, we’ll focus on refining our sales funnels and scaling up our DIY programs.
Our educational courses at Websites That Generate haven’t been marketed on our website, or really even promoted outside of email. That’s because I wanted to run a few groups of people through our programs to ensure we really dialed them in.
Now that we’ve gotten the process down, we’re ready to scale up. The first step in that process requires some adjustments to our sales funnel. Then, we can scale up our lead generation through Facebook ads.
An unsolicited piece of advice
Lauren Pawell: If, like me, you’re considering creating an educational program to complement your 1:1 services, I highly recommend the Rainmaker Platform.
All of the technology was so easy to set up, allowing us to focus most of our effort on the course creation and marketing.
When it comes to selling a course and serving your students, the less you have to worry about the technology, the better.
Find Lauren Pawell online …
Thanks to Lauren for appearing in our Hero’s Journey series.
Do you have questions for her? Ask them in the comments.
We’ll be back next month with another story to teach, inspire, and encourage you along your journey.
The post Here’s How to Find the Right Mix and Fine-Tune Your Offer appeared first on Copyblogger.
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The 5 Top Tips from Full Time Bloggers
Today, I want to give you some advice. It’s not advice from me. It’s advice from about 50 full-time bloggers that I surveyed about two years ago.
I was testing a survey software, and I sent the survey to some bloggers that I knew. I asked all of them one simple question
What is the number one tip you would give a new blogger who is just starting out and dreaming of becoming a full-time blogger?
In Today’s Episode 5 Tips from Full Time Bloggers
- Just be you. Speak in your own voice.
- Be persistent
- Give it a go
- Do something meaningful.
Further Resources 5 Tips from Full Time Bloggers
It’s about two years ago I was testing out a new piece of software for surveys. Whilst I haven’t gone on to use this software anymore, I did do one survey using it and it was a survey that I did send out to full time bloggers that I knew. I asked them a simple question, one question. Quite a few of them answered.
The question was this, “What’s the top piece of advice, what’s the number one tip you would give a new blogger just starting out who had dreamed of becoming a full time blogger?” I thought when I sent this out that I would get all kinds of strategic advice, that I would get really practical, actionable advice. You know what came in? It really surprised me.
I sent it out to 50 bloggers and almost all of them came back to me with five responses, five common answers. That’s what I want to share with you today, these five things that I think are great things for us to all hear as bloggers, whether we’re just starting out or whether we’re well on the road to becoming full time or whether we’re even full time. These are five great reminders that I hope will help to keep you on course towards reaching your dreams for your blog, whatever that might be.
The first theme that I came up with as I looked at this 50 was to be you, just be you. In fact, this is what one person wrote. “Just be you. Speak in your own voice, and don’t try to be anyone else. Swim in your own lane.”
Another person simply said, “Be yourself.”
A third person said, “Keep it real.”
A fourth person said, “Find your authentic voice.”
Someone else said, “My best tip is to write about what you love and have experience in. Honesty comes out in your writing.”
Another person said, “Only write about what you’re passionate about, your own unique experiences.”
An eighth person said, “Don’t copy, find your own voice and use that. Remember, cover bands don’t change the world.”
Two more on this theme, “If you are passionate about something, let that shine through in every aspect of your blog. Don’t be so caught up in watching stats, gaining followers, and forget why you began blogging in the first place. Be authentic and make those connections organically because those are the people who will stick with you over your journey as you go through your ups and downs, and it will be a rollercoaster,” they said.
One more person said, “Write about something that you are genuinely interested in. In a crowded space, the best way to stand out is to be you. There’s no one like you. Your story, your opinion, your voice, your humor, they’re all unique. Tap into that.”
I love that advice, be you. It gets said a lot and sometimes it takes us a little while to work out who we are. I do think, as I look at successful bloggers, that that last person was completely right. The way to stand out is very often to find out who you are and to let that come out in your voice. It takes some time but I think it’s really important to tap into that.
That was the most common theme of the 50 responses that I had. A second one that came up time and time again, this is actually the reason that I am doing this podcast because I noticed this theme first. The theme was consistency. People used the word consistency 12 times out of the 50. Someone wrote, “People like consistency.”
Another person said, “Be consistent and be yourself.” There’s the other theme as well.
Someone else said, “Be regular with your writing. It really helps to keep the momentum going for both you as the writer and for your readers.”
“Blogging is never about one post, it’s your body of work that you’ll be known for,” said someone else.
“Keep going, keep talking, keep taking consistent action no matter how small. You’ll be amazed in a year when you look back at how far you’ve come.”
Someone else said, “Be consistent with the content you deliver. Be genuine in what you write about and how you deliver your message. If you do those things, then the money and business side naturally starts to flow.”
“Consistency, keep going and stay true to your voice and the info you want to provide.”
Consistency came up time and time again. This is one of the messages that I’ve preached many times at ProBlogger. It is the accumulation of what you do, it’s the accumulation of the tweets, the blog posts, the videos, all of the messages that you have. That’s what makes a blog epic. It’s not an one blog post.
Sometimes, you do have a break out post but really those posts are just part of the jigsaw puzzle of what you’re building. Consistency is so important.
The third theme is kind of similar, it’s persistency, not consistency. I think they really do go together. Here’s what a few people said.
Firstly, “It takes time to build a good blog.” That was the number one tip of one person.
“Beware, it’s going to be a lot of work,” says another.
“Slow and steady wins the race,” says the third.
“Keep going, it can take time to grow.”
“Keep going and keep learning,” says another person. This keep going thing comes up again and again.
“Keep going. If you feel like quitting, reconnect with your why and keep going.”
The last person says, “Persist for you, not the numbers.” This is a big theme in what I do teach people who want to make money from blogging. It’s going to take time, it’s going to take persistence, and it’s going to take that consistency, that was the other thing.
Two more themes that came up numerous times, not quite so many times but these did come up enough that I noticed the recurring-ness of them. The fourth one is give it a go. Those were four words that came up many times in the responses.
One person simply wrote, “Jump in and give it a go.”
A second person said, “My biggest tip is to just start. So many people want to start a blog. They worry about how they won’t be good enough or they compare themselves to established bloggers. If you don’t start, you can never build it. Don’t ever worry because it will never be perfect no matter when you start so just start now.”
The third person said, “If you haven’t started, start, stick at it.”
This consistency came up in that last one again but the theme of starting out is really important. Ultimately, this is the thing, the only thing that I can find that all successful bloggers have in common. The only thing that every single one of them have done is start, ultimately.
All of the full time bloggers that I’ve ever met, all of the successful bloggers I’ve ever met have found their own path, they found their own distinct way forward. There’s certainly some similarities but every single one of them has started. They all started with nothing, they all started when they didn’t have a post on their blog. They all started when they didn’t have a reader, the only person who knew about their blog was them. They all started at the same point.
This is one of the things that I talked about at the ProBlogger event, there were many times as I look back over the last 14 years where I started something and I had nothing but I started. The first time I started my email list, I had no one subscribed to it. Then, I subscribed myself, then I subscribed my dad, then I subscribed my wife. I forced subscribers. When I first hit that first email, I only had 17 subscribers. I asked myself is this really worth it? Is it really worth it to send an email, to spend an hour sending an email to 17 people? The reality was that it probably wasn’t worth it in that first 17 because no one clicked any of the links in that first email. The next week when I sent it to 30 people, a couple of people did. The next week, I sent it to 45 people and a few more did.
Years later, now I have 700,000 people subscribed to that email list which sounds mind boggling, it amazes me that that many people are subscribed. Now every week, we’re able to drive lots of traffic. You know what? It all started by me starting this thing and then subscribing my dad and my wife to it. I started it. Starting is just so important, whether it’s starting your blog or starting that email list or starting something else that you know you need to do.
The fifth theme that I want to just briefly touch about, this came up in a few people was to do something meaningful. Here’s what three people said. “Reach the heart of your readers because the more hearts you touch, the more the numbers will start to follow.”
The second person said, “Do something meaningful to you and your readers. If it means something to you, you’ll be able to get through the tough times. If you do something meaningful to others, you’ll do something that people will want to connect with and share.”
One last person said, “Know your why. Know why you’re blogging, write it down, wave it in the air to anyone who tries to tell you that you should be doing something else. You might blog to make money, to draw up business, to help others, to connect with others, to simply be creative. Figuring out your motivation for blogging will help to prevent you from becoming overwhelmed by all the things you could or should be doing with your blog.”
I love that last one, know your why. I think for me knowing your why really will shake the direction you go and it will help you to make wise choices about what to do.
There you go, there’s five pieces of advice from full time bloggers that I’ve forgotten I even had sitting there on my hard drive and in this piece of software. The five pieces of advice, again, were consistency, be consistent, be you, be persistent, give it a go, and do something meaningful.
I’d love to know what you think. Are you a full time blogger? What advice would you give beginner bloggers? Are you a part time blogger? What advice would you give? Are you a new blogger who hasn’t got any readers yet? What advice would you give your readers? I’d love to hear your advice on today’s show notes.
Looking for something else to listen to? I might just have something for you that will give you almost 70 hours of listening, great advice from full time bloggers that gets a little more strategic than what you have just heard. I think the five things that those full time bloggers gave as advice were really good but sometimes we need something a bit more practical and actionable.
ProBlogger Event, Virtual Ticket is now available for you to purchase. We’ve uploaded 70 sessions worth of advice from full time bloggers from this year’s event and last year’s event. You’re going to hear some great advice from people like Jedah Sellner from Simple Green Smoothies who talked about Instagram but also gave some great entrepreneurial advice.
You’ll also hear from Dan Norris from WP Curve who gave a fantastic keynote on how to think like an entrepreneur.
We’ve got a great keynote from Emily Watnick who talked about how to build a blog when you have multiple passions and interests, how can you combine them together? That’s a very common question I get asked a lot, “How do I blog if I haven’t got a niche?”
We’ve also got sessions on YouTube, very strategic sessions. We’ve got sessions on Instagram, we’ve got sessions on Facebook Advertising, Facebook organic, sessions on podcasting, copywriting, all types of sessions.
If you want to head over to problogger.com/virtualticket, you’ll be able to see a full rundown of what is included in that particular ticket and you’ll also get access to a little private Facebook group that we have running for just those who attended the live event and virtual ticket holders. Just a few hundred people in there, we’ll be able to give you a little bit more personal attention, you’ll be able to participate in some of the things that we’ve got going on in that group.
Once again, head over to problogger.com/virtualticket to pick up yours today.
How did you go with today’s episode?
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