Tag Archives: Blog Promotion

How to Approach Influencers in Your Niche: Twelve Crucial Tips

The post How to Approach Influencers in Your Niche: Twelve Crucial Tips appeared first on ProBlogger.

How to approach influencers in your niche

Do you want to connect with influencers in your niche?

Most bloggers do. But many of them go about it the wrong way.

Forming relationships with influencers is something you really want to get right. Done well, it’s one of the best ways to grow your audience and brand. And hopefully you’ll end up with some new friends too.

But if you approach influencers the wrong way, you won’t get the results you want. In fact, you may even harm your blog and your brand.

Before I dig into specific tips for connecting with influencers, let’s get clear about what not to do.

The Wrong Way to Approach Influencers

Getting to know influencers is never about using a ‘system’ or ‘formula’ to make connections.

Tools are available that let you set up a sequence of emails to influencers, which are then triggered automatically depending on whether or not the influencer opens your emails. And of course they all promise to save you time or give you great results.

If your own blog is reasonably large, you may well have been on the receiving end of some of these yourself. I get ten or so of these every day, and some influencers I’ve talked to get more than 100 a day.

Don’t use these tools. They often cost a lot, and influencers at all levels will have seen the boilerplate emails from these tools time and time again (often with their name misspelt or omitted).

No prizes for guessing what happens to these emails. They’re usually ignored and deleted. And I’m sure you can understand why.

The sad thing is, most people who use these expensive tools to send their emails have good intentions. They’re good people. But they’re potentially hurting their brand.

So let me share some tips for reaching out to influencer that will give you much better results.

Tip #1: Don’t Get Upset if They Don’t Respond

Even if you do everything right, some influencers still won’t respond. As you can imagine, they get a lot of approaches and have a lot of interactions each day. They may have hundreds of thousands (or even million) of social media connections, which means they can’t respond to everyone.

Don’t let that put you off. Make the approach anyway and try to build a relationship. Just make sure you have realistic expectations, and don’t be upset if someone doesn’t get back to you. (Never attack them or call them out on social media for not replying. That’s a fast way to kill any chance of a relationship.)

Tip #2: Don’t be a Stalker

Everything I’m sharing in this post is about being useful: helping influencers achieve what they want, and looking for a win-win situation. So be enthusiastic and reach out, but don’t overstep boundaries.

This is particularly important when it comes to offline interaction. For instance, sending someone a gift might be a lovely, welcome gesture. But don’t choose something expensive, too personal or potentially offensive.

A movie star I follow mentioned they were starting a blog, so I sent them a copy of my book. They really appreciated that I noticed they were starting a blog when most other people hadn’t.

Tip #3: Be Someone Worth Knowing

When you reach out to someone, chances are they’ll dig into who you are before they respond. They might check out your blog, or glance at your social media accounts.

You want your online presence to show you’re genuine and credible. Showcase your expertise if possible. But even if you don’t have any expertise or many followers or readers yet, there’s still a lot you can do.

For instance, do you complain all the time on Twitter? Or do you talk about topics that influencers in your niche will be interested in? Even if you don’t have many followers yet, tweet as if you do. The same goes for your blog or website. Make sure it looks reasonably professional and complete.

Tip #4: Find Out Where Best to Contact Them

Some influencers will tell you the best way to get in touch with them on their contact page. But with others you may need to do a bit more digging.

For instance, they might have lots of social media accounts, but only one or two they actively use. I have a lot of social media accounts, but there are some I don’t use a lot (such as Instagram). I interact more on Facebook, and so that’s a good place to strike up a connection with me.

But that’s just me. Other influencers might be farmore active on Instagram or Twitter. So it’s well worth looking at their accounts and seeing where they tend to be responsive.

Tip #5: Help Create Engagement with Their Content

Most online influencers want engagement leading to some kind of conversion, such as a reader buying a product from them. Most of them are also actively creating content.

You can help them get the engagement they’re after. For instance, if they write blog posts or publish videos, you could comment on those. Don’t just say “Nice post”. Be constructive and add something to what they’ve done. If they’ve asked a specific question, answer it.

Tip #6: Help Build Their Community

As well as leaving comments for to the blogger, reply to other people’s comments. This applies not only to their blog, but also to the social networks they use.

For instance, in a Facebook group you might welcome new members who’ve posted for the first time to introduce themselves. If it’s a Twitter chat, you might make an effort to ask questions and respond to other people who are chatting. (The people you connect with through comments may also become friends or helpful contacts for you.)

But be careful you don’t go too far. You don’t people thinking you’re trying to take over the community. If you have the time and inclination to help out a lot, contact the influencer and ask if you can help them as a volunteer. You could offer to welcome new members of a Facebook group, or help prepare questions for a Twitter chat.

Tip #7: Help Them Grow Their Audience

Even if your own audience is quite small, you can still help out influencers. You could share their blog posts, retweet their tweets (if they’re relevant to your audience), and even link to their posts from your blog.

You could also ask if they’re interested in being interviewed on your blog. If they don’t have the time, you might consider running a case study on them instead.

Another great way to help is when you guest post on a larger blog, link to the influencer from that post. A few years ago now, a blogger I’d never heard of before wrote an article for a large business publication that sent me a huge amount of traffic. It definitely got them on my radar.

Don’t discount the offline world either. If you’re giving a talk or presentation, you could mention the influencer. People may well tweet them to let them know.

You could even approach the mainstream media. Back when I’d just started Digital Photography School, a reader who liked the blog emailed the New York Times, who then asked to interview me.

Tip #8: Help Them Sell More Products

If the influencer has something for sale (and most will), look for ways to help them sell more of it. That might mean becoming an affiliate, reviewing their product (or service), or recommending it on social media.

A great way to go further is to send them a testimonial. This is really valuable to them, as they can use it on their sales page. (If they have a podcast, send them a audio testimonial. And if they use video, create a video testimonial for them.)

Tip #9: Help Them Create Content

Most influencers are creating some sort of content. And you can help them with that. Perhaps you have an idea for a blog post they could write. You might even come up with a title and some key points they could cover. Or you could send them a list of questions you’d love to see them write about.

If they have a podcast, perhaps they welcome recorded questions or comments. If you’re good at design, you could create a graphic they could share to promote one of their posts. There are lots of options, so think about what they might find useful and how you could help.

Another possibility here is to help with research. Let them know about a new study or some data they might find useful. You can also help with editing. Drop them a polite, private email if you spot an error in their content, a spelling mistake, a broken link or similar. (But never call them out on these in public.)

Tip #10: Look for Specific Times When You Can Help

There are times when influencers will want something concrete and time sensitive, perhaps in the next week or month. For instance, are they launching a new book, product or service? Are they supporting a not-for-profit project? Are they exploring a new social media network where they want to get more traction (e.g launching a YouTube account)?

When influencers are starting new things or promoting something specific, they’re busier than usual. But don’t let that put you off contacting them, because they’re often open to being approached if you can help them achieve the outcome they’re going for.

Tip #11: Engage With Them on a Human Level

Influencers are ordinary people (honest). Just like you, they have good days and bad days. They also have questions and problems of their own. If they’re asking for help with a particular question or problem see if you can help, even if it’s just by sending them a word of encouragement.

If they’re hanging out on Twitter or blowing off steam, sharing some light-hearted banter, a well-timed pun or a funny GIF or meme can go a long way to connect on a personal level.

Tip #12: Build These Relationships Before You Need Them

I get a lot of requests out of the blue from people I’ve never heard of before. While I’m open to responding and even working with them regardless, the reality is I’m much more likely to want to connect with and help someone I feel I already know.

It’s not a good idea to start your relationship by asking for a favour. Be genuine about wanting to help and connect with the influencer, and don’t get too hung up on where you expect things to go. Many times I’ve approached people with one thing in mind, and something else entirely has come out of the interaction.

Make your approach genuine and personal. And if an influencer doesn’t respond, don’t take it personally. You can politely follow up, or just move on to someone else who might have more time to form a connection.

I’d love to hear your own tips for getting to know influencers in your niche. What have you tried that’s worked? What are you planning to do next, or do differently? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Credit: Adam Solomon

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Facebook Group Hacks with Pat Flynn

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Facebook group hacks

Our team has just finished watching this video of Pat Flynn’s from earlier this year. It’s all about using Facebook groups, and he shares 27 different tips and hacks for Facebook marketing within your groups.

We think it will give you a lot of great ideas for your own Facebook group. It even prompted us to reflect on how we use Facebook groups at ProBlogger.

Pat’s Facebook business group tips are for how to:

  • Grow your group
  • Increase engagement
  • Make money from it

Check out all of his 27 tips and hacks here:

For the first six tips (‘Growing your group’), I’ve outlined what it looks like for us at ProBlogger.

Growing your group:

1. Make joining part of a step-by-step process (0:51)

Unlike Pat, we don’t send first-time visitors to the Facebook Group from our Start Here page. Instead we use it to help new users navigate our site, and prompt them to sign up to ProBlogger PLUS.

2. Put a call to action to join in your email signature (1:23)

This is such a simple thing to do. But only a few of our team members use signatures, and none of us have a link to the group in it. Laney is one team member who doesn’t use them, and this has prompted her to set hers up.

3. Create a handy short link for your Facebook group (1:44)

On ProBlogger our short link for the ProBlogger Community Facebook group is problogger.com/group instead of https://www.facebook.com/groups/probloggercom/.

4. Mention that short link organically in your content (2:05)

Having a short link makes it easy for Darren to mention the group in the podcast, and for people to remember it.

5. Link multiple Facebook groups together (2:23)

We hadn’t done this before now, and it took all of 30 seconds to link our new 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Course group to our main group with a note of how to sign up for the course. We may get an influx of people requesting to join, but you need a password to be accepted into the group (which you get when you sign up for the course).

6. Feature community members outside the group (2:51)

We’ve previously featured community members on the podcast (check out our Start a Blog series) and the blog (Caz McCulloch, Amelia Lee, Laura Trotta, and Sharon Gourlay).

And right now we’re in the process of inviting our community to be on the ProBlogger podcast in a series about “blogging breakthroughs”. (You can submit your breakthrough story here.)

I encourage you to go through the rest of Pat’s 27 tips and hacks to improve your own group.

Here are some more tips from the way we use groups, as well as reiteration of points Pat made.

How ProBlogger Uses Facebook Groups

Rules and Engagement

In our ProBlogger Community Closed Facebook Group (which has more than 10,000 members):

  • We ask a few questions of aspiring group members applying to join:
    • What is your blog’s URL? How long have you been blogging?
    • Why do you want to join the Problogger Community group?
    • Do you agree to abide by our group rules outlined in our description?
  • We use hashtags to direct discussion so it’s constructive and positive as possible for members, and to make threads easier to find
  • We post our group guidelines on our About Page, and expect members to read and abide by them so everyone can come away feeling a step closer to building a successful blog
  • ProBlogger Darren Rowse usually does a Facebook Live video tutorial in the group once a week (Tuesday 10:30am AEST, Wednesday 5:30pm PT, Wednesday 6:30pm MT)

Groups for Support and Feedback

We used a Facebook group to launch our Ultimate Guide to Start a Blog course in January this year for more than 1,000 enrolled students to provide us with feedback on the course.

We also have a Facebook group for a Mastermind group for people to connect before and after a live event to share ideas and expertise.

Social Learning Groups

Right now we’re most excited by our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog course Facebook group, which uses new ‘Social Learning Group’ functionality.

Facebook’s Social Learning Group type has only been released in the past couple of months. We decided to try it after one of our ProBlogger Community members Melanie Surplice of Surplice of Spirit originally mentioned it in a group discussion. (How handy are groups?!)

Apparently Facebook first trialed a feature called ‘units” last year without announcing or publicizing it. Units are incorporated into this social learning group, which is just like a regular group except:

  • Admins can organize posts into units, and change the order they appear in
  • Group members can click ‘I’m done’ to let the admin know they’ve interacted with the unit
  • Admins can view group insights and see details on unit and post completion.

We’ve set up units to match each day of our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog course. For each unit we have:

  • an image that relates to the day/topic of the course
  • a call to action for students to share their results or comment on the learning outcome of that day

That way, students can easily find the discussion for the particular day or topic of the course they’re up to and interact with their fellow students and the ProBlogger team.

Although our courseware has forum functionality, we’ve switched it off in favor of using Facebook. Our students prefer the more open, social nature of interaction on Facebook. They also get Facebook notifications, which provide another touchpoint to check back into the course and keep progressing.

Do you have a Facebook group for your blog? Which tips do you think you can use straight away?

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How Often Should You Email Your Newsletter List?

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What's the best newsletter frequency for you and your readers?

In the past we’ve taken a look at why your blog needs an email newsletter and what you should include in your email newsletter.

But people have been asking for more detail on how often you should send emails to your newsletter subscribers. So we’re adding this post to round out our series on Newsletters.

Almost anything is possible here – from emailing once a year to emailing multiple times a day. For most bloggers, though, there’s a happy medium somewhere in between.

How Often Should YOU Email Your Audience?

Before we dig into the details, let’s look at some rough guidelines that will apply to most bloggers.

Chances are, your readers will want to hear from you somewhere between once a month and once a week. Less than once a month, and they may forget who you are or miss out on good offers. More than once a week, and they may see your emails as just more “noise” in their inbox.

A couple of years ago, Marketing Sherpa found that most customers (close to 90%) want to receive emails “at least monthly”, and just over 60% of those want emails “at least weekly”.

So if you decide to email twice a month, you probably won’t go far wrong.

However, you may need to adjust this frequency depending on the type of email newsletter list you have.

Scenario #1: An ‘Updates’ Email List

Let’s say readers have signed up to hear about your new book when it’s released. They might be interested in a monthly or quarterly newsletter about your progress, with links to interesting blog posts you’ve written, or other resources. But they’re unlikely to want emails every week or two.

In some situations (e.g. you’re a fiction author who brings out a book every year or two), an ‘update’ email just once a year might be appropriate. Readers may not be interested in hearing regular details about your life and how the book’s coming along, but they might be very excited to get an email when it’s finished.

Scenario #2: An “Ecourse” Email List

If readers have joined your email list to take a short ecourse by email, it might make sense to email them as often as daily (if each email is short) .Anything less than weekly won’t be enough for them to make steady progress. Even if you’re only sending out the ecourse material in weekly doses, you might want to send a second reminder email.

Readers are unlikely to want emails multiple times per day. But if you’re running an intense ecourse (e.g. a week-long one that requires multiple hours of work per day) then it might make sense to email both morning and evening. This is definitely a case, though, where you’ll want to …

Survey Your Audience to Find Out What They Want

If you’re not too sure what will suit your audience, ask them.

The easiest way to do this (and get a reasonable range of responses) is to run a survey. You’ll probably want to ask questions that go beyond just the frequency of your emails. For example, you may want to ask them what types of content they’d like to receive, or how long they want your emails to be.

You could ask something like this:

How often would you like to receive emails from me?

  • Daily
  • Twice a week
  • Once a week
  • Twice a month
  • Monthly
  • Quarterly (every three months)
  • Other

Some Common Problems Related to Emailing Frequency

Sometimes, you might be having difficulties with your email newsletter without realising those difficulties could be solved by changing the frequency.

On the other hand, you might also be worried about your email frequency because you think something is a problem when it really isn’t.

Here are some common worries and difficulties bloggers have, and my suggestions for solving them.

#1: “I Struggle to Come Up With Enough Content for My Newsletters”

If you find it tough to come up with ideas for your newsletters, you could:

  • Send out blog posts rather than separate newsletters. Some bloggers send their entire blog post by email. Others craft a short summary or ‘teaser’ and then link to the post. You can send out your post using RSS to email.
  • Write shorter newsletters. If you’re including two unique articles and a Q&A in every newsletter, you’re probably overwhelming your readers as well as yourself.
  • Email less frequently. Obviously, if you go from emailing once a week to once a month, you’ll only need to come up with a quarter of the original amount of content.
  • Re-run old newsletters. If you’ve been emailing for more than a year, you’ll have lots of people on your newsletter list who never saw your earliest newsletters. And even those who’ve stuck around from the beginning will probably have forgotten them. Pick a few good ones from your archives, edit them, and send them out again.

#2: “People Unsubscribe Whenever I Send an Email”

This causes a lot of bloggers to worry unnecessarily. You’ve probably noticed that when you send an email your unsubscribe rate goes up. This might put you off emailing at all, but it shouldn’t.

If you think about it, there’s a good reason why this happens. And it’s (normally) nothing to do with you emailing too often or emailing the wrong content. It’s because some people are trying to reduce their incoming emails, and when an email comes in from you it acts as a signal to them to unsubscribe.

However, if you get comments or feedback saying “Too many emails” or similar, you might want to think about reducing the frequency.

And don’t worry if you get a lot of unsubscribes whenever you send a promotional email, either. If someone had no intention of ever buying anything from you, let them go.

#3: “I Get a Lot of Spam Complaints”

This is a situation where you’ll want to take action, as a high volume of spam complaints can affect the deliverability of your emails.

If you’re emailing more than a couple of times a week, it’s possible that the spam complaints are related to the frequency of your emails. According to Campaign Monitor, one of the most popular reasons for marking emails as spam is because “they emailed too often”.

Another possibility here is you’re emailing at the right frequency, but not sending people what they asked for. If your newsletter sign-up form promises “exclusive weekly tips” and you’re sending out two promotional emails every week and a few tips once a month, you need to change things so you’re delivering what people expect and, more importantly, what they consented to.

Changing the Frequency of Your Emails

Normally, it’s best to change your emailing frequency fairly gradually.

Don’t suddenly go from emailing once a quarter to once a week. It’s going to confuse and put off your subscribers. Instead, gradually change the frequency. You might go to monthly emails, then twice monthly, and then weekly.

Similarly, if you normally email twice a week, your readers may start to worry if they don’t hear from you for a whole month  especially if you haven’t mentioned you’re going monthly.

The exception here is if you’re having problems because your emailing frequency is too high. If you’re getting lots of spam complaints because emailing daily is too much for your audience, you can switch to weekly straight away.

Let Your Readers Choose How Often They Want to Hear From You

If you want, you can also let your readers decide how often they want to hear from you.

It can be a little fiddly, but most email providers let you add an option on your sign-up form (and/or where subscribers can update their details) that lets your subscribers choose how often they want to receive emails from you. Here are instructions on how to do it in MailChimp.

Some readers might be delighted to receive every blog post the day you write it. Others may only want a weekly summary. By giving them the choice, you can keep everyone happy.

The appropriate frequency for your list depends very much on what you write about and who you’re writing for. If you’re not sure what to go for, try emailing twice per month and ask readers to let you know if that’s about right for them. You can easily adjust the frequency up to weekly or down to monthly, depending on the feedback. But be careful not to vary too wildly from what they consented to receiving (i.e. going daily after telling them they were subscribing to a monthly newsletter).

I’d love to hear about your experiences with email frequency – whether with your own newsletter list or someone else’s. Have you emailed too often (or not enough) in the past? Or have you ever unsubscribed from someone else’s list because the emails were too frequent, or too far apart? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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251: What You Should Know About Getting Started with Email

Everything You Need to Know About Getting Started with Email

Have people been telling you for years that you need to create an email list for your blog? Is it time to finally bite the bullet?

Let’s talk about email – how to get started, email providers, types of messages, opt-ins, and sequences or auto-responders.

When it comes to choosing an email provider, start simple You don’t need all the bells and whistles.

Get subscribers used to hearing from you. Send a simple email message once a week or so to keep in touch with readers.

The more useful and actionable the message, the better. Readers will look forward to receiving them from you.

Once you have an email provider, you can start collecting email addresses of new subscribers. Grow your email list fast by using an opt-in, exit popup, sign-up form or incentive.

While opt-ins can be good, some subscribers will sign up just to get whatever freebie you’re offering rather than what comes later. To increase engagement, make opt-ins related to what comes next: ongoing emails, increased engagement, long-term opens, and reduced annoyance.

Email sequences and auto-responders to set up: exclusive content, best posts, affiliate promotions, product promotions, surveys and asking questions.

Being able to segment your audience, and then deliver auto-responders based on their needs or situations, is very powerful.

Email serves as a win-win-win for you, your blog, and your subscribers.

Links and Resources for What You Should Know about Getting Started with Email:

Further Listening:

Courses:

Join our Facebook group

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hi there and welcome to episode 251 of The ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job boards, series of ebooks, and courses all designed to help you to grow a profitable blog. You can learn more about what we do at ProBlogger at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, I want to talk about email. In particular, I want to answer three questions that I got from some of our Facebook group on the topic of email. The questions are coming from Marco, Lisa, and Lia. Marco asks some questions about getting started, choosing an email provider, and what to send in those initial emails. Lisa asked about tips for opt-ins to get more people to sign up. Lia asked about the sequence of emails that you might want to set up as an autoresponder afterwards.

The questions do progress a little bit from the easier, beginner ones through to something a little bit more intermediate. You can find today’s show notes and there’s going to be plenty of extra reading for you. I’ve got some resources for you as well. You can find those show notes at problogger.com/podcast/251 and I will recommend that you get a problogger.com/members and that’s where you can get some downloadable resources, one of which is relevant for today’s show.

There are six worksheets and guides that we’ve got there, they’re completely free. You just have to give us your email address and we’ll send them and log in through to you so you can access those and the new ones that we will be adding in there as well.

Again, that’s problogger.com/members and that’s just a member’s area that we’ve got set up for you completely free. You will see our courses there as well, some of which are free and some of which are paid but that’s where you’ll be able to get the download, relevant to today’s show.

Let’s get in to the question from Marco. Thanks for your question Marco. Marco wrote, “After years of hearing I should be using email, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and start an email list but I have some starter questions. Firstly, which service should I use? I know you get what you pay for but how much is too much for someone just starting out? Number two, what emails should I send? Any tips to help me get going?”

A few thoughts for you Marco, it is a big topic so I will be referring you to listen to a few other podcast and to get that download that I mentioned before because a lot of ideas covered in those. I did some podcast—I think it was back in episode 66—I did a series on 10 Things You Can Do Today and then it’s going to payoff for the long term. I did three episodes in that series about emails.

Number 68, episode 68 is about getting subscribers. Number 69 is about keeping subscribers and number 70 is about autoresponders, which will be relevant for Lia’s question later as well. Listen to those podcast. I’ll link to them in the show notes.

Also there’s that download, the download in our member’s area at problogger.com/members is a comparison of email providers. In that we look at the most common email providers and the ones that we recommend and which level they’re best suited to. That’s going to answer some of your questions. I do recommend you to dig into those. The other advice I give you, Marco is to start simple and this really is advice that I want to give to Lisa and Lia as well.

You don’t have to complicate things with email. Email can get very complicated and there are levels of complexity that are worth adding on but when you’re starting out, don’t over complicate it. Start simple. You don’t have to have all the bells and whistles from day one. You will see people writing guides to using pop-ups, opt-ins, segmenting lists, and all these things and they’re all great. They’re all things that you can learn but it’s so important if you’re in the situation that Marco is in—you haven’t yet started—sign up for a simple email provider. In our downloadable guide, we mention a few.

MailChimp is one that many of our readers used to get started. I think they have a free a plan to start out with, for a certain level. ConvertKit is another one, it’s probably a step up from MailChimp. I think, it’s great for beginners and again, I think MailChimp has an account for up to 2000 subscribers. It can be free to start but you are going to end up paying for all of these. ConvertKit does have a little bit more power to it.

The one that we use is Drip and whilst I’m in love with Drip. I highly recommend it for anyone who’s a bit more advance, who’s already got a list, and who wants to start segmenting and doing some of these more complicated things. I think Drip might be a little bit of overkill for someone like Marco who’s just starting out, unless you want to get really serious from day one. They’re the three of the ones that we can pay. We also have used AWeber for years as well and I think from memory, they have a bit of free services as well. Right at our little downloadable guide at problogger.com/members, you will see the features of each of them and the plans as well.

Keep it simple. Sign up for something. They all have forms that you can put into your sidebar, or on your blog, or in a blog post that begin to help you collect emails. That is the first thing you need to do. You need to sign up and then you need to have a form somewhere in your site—the more prominent the better—and to start collecting the emails. That is the key and the third part is start sending some emails. Even if you’ve only got one subscriber, start getting into the habit of sending regular emails.

There were things you can do to add complexity, to add a bit more strategy into what you do but start with the signing up, starting to collect emails, and starting to send an email every now and again to warm up your list. That’s the bare essentials and then you can begin to experiment with using different types of emails, sending different types of emails, and collecting subscribers in new ways and there are some ways to grow your list a little bit faster.

If you want two starting points in terms of next steps, once you are setup, I would encourage you to think about an opt-in and we’re going to talk more about that in answering Lisa’s question next. This is where you offer something in exchange for the email address. The other thing you might want to begin to experiment with is new ways of displaying your signup form.

Most people will put their signup form in their side bar. That’s the first place that most blogger will put it and that’s a good spot. People will sign up there but there are other ways of being a little bit more aggressive with that on putting, positioning the email form in places that people are more likely to respond to.

The most aggressive one is the popup. This is where you come to a site and they ask you immediately or maybe after 20 seconds to sign up. This will get you more, you may not feel comfortable with that though. Perhaps, a better first step would be an exit popup and this is something a lot of bloggers are getting quite good success of light. This where instead of interrupting people as they arrive on your site, you interrupt them when they go to leave your site. That is still maybe a little bit aggressive for some of you but it might be a good first step. I think using that exit popup in conjunction with an opt-in, offering someone who’s leaving your site a gift—an opt-in can be a good strategy.

In terms of sending your emails, Marco ask, “What should I send?” Again, keep it simple. You can add to this. You will change this probably over time but the key is to send something on a regularly basis, that is useful and that is really where it needs to start. It’s going to be something that is going to give the people receiving your email a quick win and that maybe simply, “Here’s a link to the new post on my site this week.” That’s typically what we do with The ProBlogger email that we send out ProBlogger Plus.

I send out a weekly email and it’s really a list of our new content. “Here’s our latest blog post, here’s our latest podcast, here’s my latest video, and here’s something to think about—I might include a quote or I might include some further reading or something else.” That is all I send. I send it on a weekly basis so that my readers get used to hearing from me and I try and make it useful. All of the contents we produce has an outcome, has a win for our audience. That is something you could do.

The other option that I see some people doing is sending out just an extra piece of content in the email itself. You might want to try a few paragraphs, “Here’s something I’ve learned this week.” And that email in and of itself becomes useful. Of course, there are other ways of sending emails as well and we’re going to talk about some of those in the moment with autoresponders but Marco, can I really encourage you, get started.

Just sign up for one of those. You can always change emails service providers later. You can take your email addresses and put them in a new one later. You don’t want to be changing that too much but it’s totally fine to start it with one and then as you grow up, as your list gets bigger, as you learn how to use email better you can always change later on. Again, just head out to problogger.com/members to grab that download.

Lisa’s question. Lisa asked about opt-ins and ways of collecting email addresses which flows on nicely from Marco’s questions. She says, “Hi Darren, you recommend adding sign up forms to a blog sites, do you recommend it offering an incentive to sign up? I know people are inundated with emails how best to entrust them into their email box.”

Asking here about incentivizing the signup and essentially here what you’re asking people to do is to give their email address in exchange for something. Opt-ins, I think can be really good. I was actually very light to doing opt-ins though because I was always a little bit worried with opt-ins that people are going to give you their email address just to get the thing and not for what comes next. I guess, discontinuation of why they signed up and what they’re going to get in the long term. It was something that I was probably a little awkward about.

One of the things I would encourage you to think about when you’re creating your opt-in is to make that transition from the opt-in to the next emails as seamless as possible. What can you create as an opt-in that you can then do some follow up on that makes the benefits of the opt-in flow even longer? This actually will mean that people want to get the next emails as well.

Don’t just think about the opt-in. Think about what you want to do with your lists in the long term and how an opt-in could be the first step in that sequence of emails that you might want to send. This is where Lisa’s question flows in nicely, in the moment and that is about continuing that relationship.

You want to continue that relationship and you might send a weekly email like I’ve just mentioned to Marco but what other sequence of emails can you flow into that as well. Think about the opt-in in terms of the beginning of a journey, part of the process, and also think about ways that you can then update that opt-in as well.

One of the best opt-ins that we’ve had at ProBlogger is one that you can see. If you go at problogger.com/ideas, you will get our landing page there for an opt-in we created with 180 blog post to ideas. The idea of that is that we wanted to give people a quick win, help you to come up with ideas for your blog, and we wanted to deliver them over time.

We originally rolled that opt-in out as six emails over six months. That kept people subscribed and also showed them that we’ve got lots of content for you here and the emails that all flowed from the original opt-in as well. That is one thing that you might want to be factoring in to your decision. Opt-ins do work but they don’t work brilliantly if the opt-in doesn’t reply to what comes next so make it that flow.

The other thing that I see people debate when it comes to opt-ins is how big to make them. Probably, 90% of people that I see teaching about opt-in say, “Deliver a quick win with your opt-in.” You want to give away something that people, if they take action on it will get a quick win within 10 minutes of receiving it.

Our 180 blog post ideas that delivers that quick win, you sign up for our ideas and you get the first email within a minute or two and this 30 ideas for your blog. That’s a quick win. That was relatively easy to create that opt-in and that’s great. That maybe one topic of opt-in that you might want to do but I actually wonder whether that type of opt-in is going to work in the long run as much as it used to because so many people, offering this little free downloadable things.

“Here’s a list of tools that you could use, here’s a list of ideas, here’s a list of…” and it becomes this little ebooks or this little PDFs. It’s so easy to create them and they do work to an extent but what impact do they actually have on your reader. Is there an opportunity to go a little bit deeper and to create something that is more useful to them because, let’s face it, we’ve all got probably, a hard drive full of things that we downloaded on the internet that we never actually really go back to and use.

The thing that we’ve been trying on ProBlogger this year is to create an opt-in that is a lot bigger and a lot more useful, and that’s going to be life changing in some way. The opt-in that we created at the start of this year was our Start A Blog Course. If you have enrolled in our Start A Blog Course, you know it’s a chunky opt-in, it is huge. There’s a lot of content.

It took us months of months, of months, of months to create and it goes against all of the advice that people say—deliver a quick win—but we have seen the people who signed up for that course have stayed with us as readers and as listeners. They are grateful to us, and they’re engaged, and it has shown us the power of creating something for free in exchange for an email address.

All what we’re really getting out of that is an email address and maybe a little bit of affiliating come as well from some of the things we recommend. About in exchange for that email address we’re getting an engaged, thankful reader, subscriber who is taking action on the emails who is sending as well. That’s the other thing that you might want to consider doing as well.

I would probably say, go for the quick opt-in first if you are just starting out at this. Think about that but having the long run, what you could add that is a bit bigger, that’s a little bit more powerful, that’s going to change someone’s life and make them really grateful for receiving the thing that you create for them. The other thing that we’ve been trying on ProBlogger is something I mentioned earlier on this podcast—that’s we’ve created a members area.

Again, problogger.com/members. We’ve actually created six opt-ins that are all housed in that one place and you could also access the Start A Blog Course there as well. What we are doing is creating a login area on ProBlogger where we keep our opt-ins because we have now multiple opt-ins.

We’ve got our 6 Months of Blog Post Ideas, we’ve got How to Create an Avatar for the reader of your blog, How to find readers for your blog? We’ve got a worksheet on that, and a variety of other ones including that comparison of an email service providers. We’ve got now this collection of them and we decided that we’re going to create a space where they all sit together, where people can log in and grab them and any future ones that we’re adding as well.

In a sense, we created this little membership area as an opt-in as well and whilst we haven’t really promoted this in great detail yet, it’s something that will roll up more and more and we’ll begin to promote more. Particularly, using exit pop ups. That’s something that we want to do. We want to—as people leave ProBlogger—actually offer them the free membership and these free downloads.

It is something that we’ll roll up more and more of but it’s something that I think, even in the limit of promotion that we’ve done of it can work quite well, that maybe something else that you might want to try as well.

Let’s finish out with looking at Lia’s question. Lia asked, “We setup a top 10 tips PDF giveaway.” She’s created an opt-in. “And we setup ConvertKit. Can you give us some examples of good email sequences that we can setup?” Lia, I would highly recommend that you go on this into the episode that I mentioned earlier. It was episode 70 and that’s about 8 Ways to Use Autoresponders to Drive Traffic and Increase Your Blogging Income. That does outline eight different types of sequences of emails that you can send out.

There’s a variety of things that mentioned there, let me just mention a few types of things that you might want to include in your sequence but really, I guess the big thing that I would encourage you to do is to think about where do you want to lead your readers to with the email sequence. Do you want to turn them from a subscriber into a customer? Do you want to turn them from subscriber into an attender of one of your event? Do you just want to use that sequence to get more eyeballs on your site because maybe you’re monetizing with advertising? Are you wanting them to buy an affiliate product?

There’s a variety of things that you might wanting to do with your reader and it’s really important to understand what the goal is of having a subscriber. A lot of it will come down to the model that you have on your site. If you’re selling something, if you’re selling a service, if you’re selling an event, if you’re just trying to build your profile, if you’re trying to get people to buy book, whatever it might be. Nail that first. I think that’s the most important thing and then you can just design as sequence of emails that has the potential to take someone from being a first-time subscriber who doesn’t really know who you are—put yourself in their position. What is going to stop them from becoming what you want them to become.

The other thing to consider of course is what benefit they are going to get from being a subscriber as well. It’s not just about how them—being a subscriber—is going to benefit you. Are they going to become a customer of you, give you your money but what are they going to get out of that list as well. Then designing content that has win-win undertakes your reader from a problem they have to a benefit that they receive but also taking them from cold subscriber to actually responding to the call to action that you’ve got as well.

Think carefully about those two things and then I reckon even as you think about those two things you begin to see opportunities as well.

A lot people in their emails, autoresponders will do things like send out extra exclusive contents. A sequence of case studies, or a sequence of tutorials that you can’t get on the blog, A sequence of emails that answer frequently asked questions that tackle pain-points or that tackle the gains that subscribers want. Extra exclusive content is one thing that you can potentially do there.

The other thing that you might want to do is even think about putting together a little mini course. The email is actually form a course and that’s essentially how we used to run 31 Days to Build A Better Blog and that worked quite well. People are signing up for something that’s going to take them on a journey and in a sense that becomes the opt-in as well.

Maybe that is after your top 10 tips PDF giveaway. Maybe you should follow that up with, “Here’s another 10 things tips that are relevant to you but we’re going to deliver them as 10 emails over the next 10 days or over the next 10 weeks.” You transition your readers from getting this free thing—the PDF—into an experience. We’re going to train you now. We’re going to take this further and may even be that you take those 10 tips from the PDF and go deeper into each of them in the next 10 emails. The PDF might become the blueprint and then the emails becomes the unpacking of the blueprint. There’s a variety of ways that you can do.

What I was talking about earlier really is give them something that’s a quick win but also relate to the emails that follow after that. Other people will use their email sequences to highlight the best content in their archives. We do this from time to time on Digital Photography School. We have a little email sequence that once every month for two we send out an email automatically that just highlights his 10 portrait photography tips that you may have missed as a new subscriber to our site or his 10 landscape photography tips. Those emails are just about trying to get people over to our site.

Other people will include calls to action in their email sequences. Calls to action to buy affiliate products, or to buy your products, or that offer gift codes, or something along those lines. Another really good thing to do early on your sequence is to survey your audience or at least ask a question. Ask some questions to your audience to find out who they are.

I’ve mentioned on this podcast before, Caz and Craig make pages from their y Travel blog and their first email sequence asks their new subscriber what is your goal for travel? They’ve got a travel blog. What’s your dream and then what’s holding you back from your dream? And they actually ask their subscribers to hit reply on the email and answer those two questions. That opens up a conversation with their subscribers. It gives them insight into who is subscribing. What are their pain-points? What are their dreams? And then they follow up with an email sequence of answering the problems.

They now having received hundreds, if not, thousands of emails back that most people have the same things holding them back from their dreams. They’ve created an email sequence that removes those pain-points or that gives tips on how to make the dreams come true. That might be another way that you can go about creating your auto responder as well.

There’s a lot of different ways. Keep it simple though. This is the thing I was telling to Marco, Lia, and Lisa is try to keep what you do as simple as possible, particularly when you’re just starting out. You don’t have to have all the bells and whistles when you first start out. The key is to start. Start collecting the emails, optimize that way that you collect those emails once you’re setup, and then start emailing. It’s so important.

People get stuck on each of those three points. Some people get stuck because they don’t sign up for an email provider, then they can’t do anything else. Some people get stuck because they don’t actually call people to subscribe. They’ve got the email provider set up but they’re not actually doing anything to get these subscribers. Some people get stuck because they never send any emails and they’re collecting new addresses every day and they never send an email out. On most people, they’re getting stuck in one of those three points and if you’re at those points I encourage you to take action today. Either sign up, get going with your email collection, optimize your collection of emails, and then start sending your emails. It’s just so important.

I hope some of that has helped answer up Marco, Lisa, and Lia’s questions and others of you I know if someone’s asking those questions, other people will be as well. I hope they’ve helped. I would love to hear any other questions you’ve got on the topic of email or anything else over in our Facebook group. Just search for ProBlogger community on Facebook. You’ll find our group or you can hit reply on any of the emails that I send you each week from ProBlogger Plus and that will come back to me or one of my team and I consider those questions for future podcast as well.

Lastly, hit over to problogger.com/members where you can grab those downloads and if you haven’t started a blog yet as well, check out The Start A Blog Course which will see the link as well once you’re signed in to the member’s area. Thanks for listening. Talk to you next week on The ProBlogger Podcast.

Lastly, don’t forget you can grab today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/251 with our all the downloads mentioned today as well as all the further listening to other episodes about email.

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251: What You Should Know About Getting Started with Email

Everything You Need to Know About Getting Started with Email

Have people been telling you for years that you need to create an email list for your blog? Is it time to finally bite the bullet?

Let’s talk about email – how to get started, email providers, types of messages, opt-ins, and sequences or auto-responders.

When it comes to choosing an email provider, start simple You don’t need all the bells and whistles.

Get subscribers used to hearing from you. Send a simple email message once a week or so to keep in touch with readers.

The more useful and actionable the message, the better. Readers will look forward to receiving them from you.

Once you have an email provider, you can start collecting email addresses of new subscribers. Grow your email list fast by using an opt-in, exit popup, sign-up form or incentive.

While opt-ins can be good, some subscribers will sign up just to get whatever freebie you’re offering rather than what comes later. To increase engagement, make opt-ins related to what comes next: ongoing emails, increased engagement, long-term opens, and reduced annoyance.

Email sequences and auto-responders to set up: exclusive content, best posts, affiliate promotions, product promotions, surveys and asking questions.

Being able to segment your audience, and then deliver auto-responders based on their needs or situations, is very powerful.

Email serves as a win-win-win for you, your blog, and your subscribers.

Links and Resources for What You Should Know about Getting Started with Email:

Further Listening:

Courses:

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Hi there and welcome to episode 251 of The ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job boards, series of ebooks, and courses all designed to help you to grow a profitable blog. You can learn more about what we do at ProBlogger at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, I want to talk about email. In particular, I want to answer three questions that I got from some of our Facebook group on the topic of email. The questions are coming from Marco, Lisa, and Lia. Marco asks some questions about getting started, choosing an email provider, and what to send in those initial emails. Lisa asked about tips for opt-ins to get more people to sign up. Lia asked about the sequence of emails that you might want to set up as an autoresponder afterwards.

The questions do progress a little bit from the easier, beginner ones through to something a little bit more intermediate. You can find today’s show notes and there’s going to be plenty of extra reading for you. I’ve got some resources for you as well. You can find those show notes at problogger.com/podcast/251 and I will recommend that you get a problogger.com/members and that’s where you can get some downloadable resources, one of which is relevant for today’s show.

There are six worksheets and guides that we’ve got there, they’re completely free. You just have to give us your email address and we’ll send them and log in through to you so you can access those and the new ones that we will be adding in there as well.

Again, that’s problogger.com/members and that’s just a member’s area that we’ve got set up for you completely free. You will see our courses there as well, some of which are free and some of which are paid but that’s where you’ll be able to get the download, relevant to today’s show.

Let’s get in to the question from Marco. Thanks for your question Marco. Marco wrote, “After years of hearing I should be using email, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and start an email list but I have some starter questions. Firstly, which service should I use? I know you get what you pay for but how much is too much for someone just starting out? Number two, what emails should I send? Any tips to help me get going?”

A few thoughts for you Marco, it is a big topic so I will be referring you to listen to a few other podcast and to get that download that I mentioned before because a lot of ideas covered in those. I did some podcast—I think it was back in episode 66—I did a series on 10 Things You Can Do Today and then it’s going to payoff for the long term. I did three episodes in that series about emails.

Number 68, episode 68 is about getting subscribers. Number 69 is about keeping subscribers and number 70 is about autoresponders, which will be relevant for Lia’s question later as well. Listen to those podcast. I’ll link to them in the show notes.

Also there’s that download, the download in our member’s area at problogger.com/members is a comparison of email providers. In that we look at the most common email providers and the ones that we recommend and which level they’re best suited to. That’s going to answer some of your questions. I do recommend you to dig into those. The other advice I give you, Marco is to start simple and this really is advice that I want to give to Lisa and Lia as well.

You don’t have to complicate things with email. Email can get very complicated and there are levels of complexity that are worth adding on but when you’re starting out, don’t over complicate it. Start simple. You don’t have to have all the bells and whistles from day one. You will see people writing guides to using pop-ups, opt-ins, segmenting lists, and all these things and they’re all great. They’re all things that you can learn but it’s so important if you’re in the situation that Marco is in—you haven’t yet started—sign up for a simple email provider. In our downloadable guide, we mention a few.

MailChimp is one that many of our readers used to get started. I think they have a free a plan to start out with, for a certain level. ConvertKit is another one, it’s probably a step up from MailChimp. I think, it’s great for beginners and again, I think MailChimp has an account for up to 2000 subscribers. It can be free to start but you are going to end up paying for all of these. ConvertKit does have a little bit more power to it.

The one that we use is Drip and whilst I’m in love with Drip. I highly recommend it for anyone who’s a bit more advance, who’s already got a list, and who wants to start segmenting and doing some of these more complicated things. I think Drip might be a little bit of overkill for someone like Marco who’s just starting out, unless you want to get really serious from day one. They’re the three of the ones that we can pay. We also have used AWeber for years as well and I think from memory, they have a bit of free services as well. Right at our little downloadable guide at problogger.com/members, you will see the features of each of them and the plans as well.

Keep it simple. Sign up for something. They all have forms that you can put into your sidebar, or on your blog, or in a blog post that begin to help you collect emails. That is the first thing you need to do. You need to sign up and then you need to have a form somewhere in your site—the more prominent the better—and to start collecting the emails. That is the key and the third part is start sending some emails. Even if you’ve only got one subscriber, start getting into the habit of sending regular emails.

There were things you can do to add complexity, to add a bit more strategy into what you do but start with the signing up, starting to collect emails, and starting to send an email every now and again to warm up your list. That’s the bare essentials and then you can begin to experiment with using different types of emails, sending different types of emails, and collecting subscribers in new ways and there are some ways to grow your list a little bit faster.

If you want two starting points in terms of next steps, once you are setup, I would encourage you to think about an opt-in and we’re going to talk more about that in answering Lisa’s question next. This is where you offer something in exchange for the email address. The other thing you might want to begin to experiment with is new ways of displaying your signup form.

Most people will put their signup form in their side bar. That’s the first place that most blogger will put it and that’s a good spot. People will sign up there but there are other ways of being a little bit more aggressive with that on putting, positioning the email form in places that people are more likely to respond to.

The most aggressive one is the popup. This is where you come to a site and they ask you immediately or maybe after 20 seconds to sign up. This will get you more, you may not feel comfortable with that though. Perhaps, a better first step would be an exit popup and this is something a lot of bloggers are getting quite good success of light. This where instead of interrupting people as they arrive on your site, you interrupt them when they go to leave your site. That is still maybe a little bit aggressive for some of you but it might be a good first step. I think using that exit popup in conjunction with an opt-in, offering someone who’s leaving your site a gift—an opt-in can be a good strategy.

In terms of sending your emails, Marco ask, “What should I send?” Again, keep it simple. You can add to this. You will change this probably over time but the key is to send something on a regularly basis, that is useful and that is really where it needs to start. It’s going to be something that is going to give the people receiving your email a quick win and that maybe simply, “Here’s a link to the new post on my site this week.” That’s typically what we do with The ProBlogger email that we send out ProBlogger Plus.

I send out a weekly email and it’s really a list of our new content. “Here’s our latest blog post, here’s our latest podcast, here’s my latest video, and here’s something to think about—I might include a quote or I might include some further reading or something else.” That is all I send. I send it on a weekly basis so that my readers get used to hearing from me and I try and make it useful. All of the contents we produce has an outcome, has a win for our audience. That is something you could do.

The other option that I see some people doing is sending out just an extra piece of content in the email itself. You might want to try a few paragraphs, “Here’s something I’ve learned this week.” And that email in and of itself becomes useful. Of course, there are other ways of sending emails as well and we’re going to talk about some of those in the moment with autoresponders but Marco, can I really encourage you, get started.

Just sign up for one of those. You can always change emails service providers later. You can take your email addresses and put them in a new one later. You don’t want to be changing that too much but it’s totally fine to start it with one and then as you grow up, as your list gets bigger, as you learn how to use email better you can always change later on. Again, just head out to problogger.com/members to grab that download.

Lisa’s question. Lisa asked about opt-ins and ways of collecting email addresses which flows on nicely from Marco’s questions. She says, “Hi Darren, you recommend adding sign up forms to a blog sites, do you recommend it offering an incentive to sign up? I know people are inundated with emails how best to entrust them into their email box.”

Asking here about incentivizing the signup and essentially here what you’re asking people to do is to give their email address in exchange for something. Opt-ins, I think can be really good. I was actually very light to doing opt-ins though because I was always a little bit worried with opt-ins that people are going to give you their email address just to get the thing and not for what comes next. I guess, discontinuation of why they signed up and what they’re going to get in the long term. It was something that I was probably a little awkward about.

One of the things I would encourage you to think about when you’re creating your opt-in is to make that transition from the opt-in to the next emails as seamless as possible. What can you create as an opt-in that you can then do some follow up on that makes the benefits of the opt-in flow even longer? This actually will mean that people want to get the next emails as well.

Don’t just think about the opt-in. Think about what you want to do with your lists in the long term and how an opt-in could be the first step in that sequence of emails that you might want to send. This is where Lisa’s question flows in nicely, in the moment and that is about continuing that relationship.

You want to continue that relationship and you might send a weekly email like I’ve just mentioned to Marco but what other sequence of emails can you flow into that as well. Think about the opt-in in terms of the beginning of a journey, part of the process, and also think about ways that you can then update that opt-in as well.

One of the best opt-ins that we’ve had at ProBlogger is one that you can see. If you go at problogger.com/ideas, you will get our landing page there for an opt-in we created with 180 blog post to ideas. The idea of that is that we wanted to give people a quick win, help you to come up with ideas for your blog, and we wanted to deliver them over time.

We originally rolled that opt-in out as six emails over six months. That kept people subscribed and also showed them that we’ve got lots of content for you here and the emails that all flowed from the original opt-in as well. That is one thing that you might want to be factoring in to your decision. Opt-ins do work but they don’t work brilliantly if the opt-in doesn’t reply to what comes next so make it that flow.

The other thing that I see people debate when it comes to opt-ins is how big to make them. Probably, 90% of people that I see teaching about opt-in say, “Deliver a quick win with your opt-in.” You want to give away something that people, if they take action on it will get a quick win within 10 minutes of receiving it.

Our 180 blog post ideas that delivers that quick win, you sign up for our ideas and you get the first email within a minute or two and this 30 ideas for your blog. That’s a quick win. That was relatively easy to create that opt-in and that’s great. That maybe one topic of opt-in that you might want to do but I actually wonder whether that type of opt-in is going to work in the long run as much as it used to because so many people, offering this little free downloadable things.

“Here’s a list of tools that you could use, here’s a list of ideas, here’s a list of…” and it becomes this little ebooks or this little PDFs. It’s so easy to create them and they do work to an extent but what impact do they actually have on your reader. Is there an opportunity to go a little bit deeper and to create something that is more useful to them because, let’s face it, we’ve all got probably, a hard drive full of things that we downloaded on the internet that we never actually really go back to and use.

The thing that we’ve been trying on ProBlogger this year is to create an opt-in that is a lot bigger and a lot more useful, and that’s going to be life changing in some way. The opt-in that we created at the start of this year was our Start A Blog Course. If you have enrolled in our Start A Blog Course, you know it’s a chunky opt-in, it is huge. There’s a lot of content.

It took us months of months, of months, of months to create and it goes against all of the advice that people say—deliver a quick win—but we have seen the people who signed up for that course have stayed with us as readers and as listeners. They are grateful to us, and they’re engaged, and it has shown us the power of creating something for free in exchange for an email address.

All what we’re really getting out of that is an email address and maybe a little bit of affiliating come as well from some of the things we recommend. About in exchange for that email address we’re getting an engaged, thankful reader, subscriber who is taking action on the emails who is sending as well. That’s the other thing that you might want to consider doing as well.

I would probably say, go for the quick opt-in first if you are just starting out at this. Think about that but having the long run, what you could add that is a bit bigger, that’s a little bit more powerful, that’s going to change someone’s life and make them really grateful for receiving the thing that you create for them. The other thing that we’ve been trying on ProBlogger is something I mentioned earlier on this podcast—that’s we’ve created a members area.

Again, problogger.com/members. We’ve actually created six opt-ins that are all housed in that one place and you could also access the Start A Blog Course there as well. What we are doing is creating a login area on ProBlogger where we keep our opt-ins because we have now multiple opt-ins.

We’ve got our 6 Months of Blog Post Ideas, we’ve got How to Create an Avatar for the reader of your blog, How to find readers for your blog? We’ve got a worksheet on that, and a variety of other ones including that comparison of an email service providers. We’ve got now this collection of them and we decided that we’re going to create a space where they all sit together, where people can log in and grab them and any future ones that we’re adding as well.

In a sense, we created this little membership area as an opt-in as well and whilst we haven’t really promoted this in great detail yet, it’s something that will roll up more and more and we’ll begin to promote more. Particularly, using exit pop ups. That’s something that we want to do. We want to—as people leave ProBlogger—actually offer them the free membership and these free downloads.

It is something that we’ll roll up more and more of but it’s something that I think, even in the limit of promotion that we’ve done of it can work quite well, that maybe something else that you might want to try as well.

Let’s finish out with looking at Lia’s question. Lia asked, “We setup a top 10 tips PDF giveaway.” She’s created an opt-in. “And we setup ConvertKit. Can you give us some examples of good email sequences that we can setup?” Lia, I would highly recommend that you go on this into the episode that I mentioned earlier. It was episode 70 and that’s about 8 Ways to Use Autoresponders to Drive Traffic and Increase Your Blogging Income. That does outline eight different types of sequences of emails that you can send out.

There’s a variety of things that mentioned there, let me just mention a few types of things that you might want to include in your sequence but really, I guess the big thing that I would encourage you to do is to think about where do you want to lead your readers to with the email sequence. Do you want to turn them from a subscriber into a customer? Do you want to turn them from subscriber into an attender of one of your event? Do you just want to use that sequence to get more eyeballs on your site because maybe you’re monetizing with advertising? Are you wanting them to buy an affiliate product?

There’s a variety of things that you might wanting to do with your reader and it’s really important to understand what the goal is of having a subscriber. A lot of it will come down to the model that you have on your site. If you’re selling something, if you’re selling a service, if you’re selling an event, if you’re just trying to build your profile, if you’re trying to get people to buy book, whatever it might be. Nail that first. I think that’s the most important thing and then you can just design as sequence of emails that has the potential to take someone from being a first-time subscriber who doesn’t really know who you are—put yourself in their position. What is going to stop them from becoming what you want them to become.

The other thing to consider of course is what benefit they are going to get from being a subscriber as well. It’s not just about how them—being a subscriber—is going to benefit you. Are they going to become a customer of you, give you your money but what are they going to get out of that list as well. Then designing content that has win-win undertakes your reader from a problem they have to a benefit that they receive but also taking them from cold subscriber to actually responding to the call to action that you’ve got as well.

Think carefully about those two things and then I reckon even as you think about those two things you begin to see opportunities as well.

A lot people in their emails, autoresponders will do things like send out extra exclusive contents. A sequence of case studies, or a sequence of tutorials that you can’t get on the blog, A sequence of emails that answer frequently asked questions that tackle pain-points or that tackle the gains that subscribers want. Extra exclusive content is one thing that you can potentially do there.

The other thing that you might want to do is even think about putting together a little mini course. The email is actually form a course and that’s essentially how we used to run 31 Days to Build A Better Blog and that worked quite well. People are signing up for something that’s going to take them on a journey and in a sense that becomes the opt-in as well.

Maybe that is after your top 10 tips PDF giveaway. Maybe you should follow that up with, “Here’s another 10 things tips that are relevant to you but we’re going to deliver them as 10 emails over the next 10 days or over the next 10 weeks.” You transition your readers from getting this free thing—the PDF—into an experience. We’re going to train you now. We’re going to take this further and may even be that you take those 10 tips from the PDF and go deeper into each of them in the next 10 emails. The PDF might become the blueprint and then the emails becomes the unpacking of the blueprint. There’s a variety of ways that you can do.

What I was talking about earlier really is give them something that’s a quick win but also relate to the emails that follow after that. Other people will use their email sequences to highlight the best content in their archives. We do this from time to time on Digital Photography School. We have a little email sequence that once every month for two we send out an email automatically that just highlights his 10 portrait photography tips that you may have missed as a new subscriber to our site or his 10 landscape photography tips. Those emails are just about trying to get people over to our site.

Other people will include calls to action in their email sequences. Calls to action to buy affiliate products, or to buy your products, or that offer gift codes, or something along those lines. Another really good thing to do early on your sequence is to survey your audience or at least ask a question. Ask some questions to your audience to find out who they are.

I’ve mentioned on this podcast before, Caz and Craig make pages from their y Travel blog and their first email sequence asks their new subscriber what is your goal for travel? They’ve got a travel blog. What’s your dream and then what’s holding you back from your dream? And they actually ask their subscribers to hit reply on the email and answer those two questions. That opens up a conversation with their subscribers. It gives them insight into who is subscribing. What are their pain-points? What are their dreams? And then they follow up with an email sequence of answering the problems.

They now having received hundreds, if not, thousands of emails back that most people have the same things holding them back from their dreams. They’ve created an email sequence that removes those pain-points or that gives tips on how to make the dreams come true. That might be another way that you can go about creating your auto responder as well.

There’s a lot of different ways. Keep it simple though. This is the thing I was telling to Marco, Lia, and Lisa is try to keep what you do as simple as possible, particularly when you’re just starting out. You don’t have to have all the bells and whistles when you first start out. The key is to start. Start collecting the emails, optimize that way that you collect those emails once you’re setup, and then start emailing. It’s so important.

People get stuck on each of those three points. Some people get stuck because they don’t sign up for an email provider, then they can’t do anything else. Some people get stuck because they don’t actually call people to subscribe. They’ve got the email provider set up but they’re not actually doing anything to get these subscribers. Some people get stuck because they never send any emails and they’re collecting new addresses every day and they never send an email out. On most people, they’re getting stuck in one of those three points and if you’re at those points I encourage you to take action today. Either sign up, get going with your email collection, optimize your collection of emails, and then start sending your emails. It’s just so important.

I hope some of that has helped answer up Marco, Lisa, and Lia’s questions and others of you I know if someone’s asking those questions, other people will be as well. I hope they’ve helped. I would love to hear any other questions you’ve got on the topic of email or anything else over in our Facebook group. Just search for ProBlogger community on Facebook. You’ll find our group or you can hit reply on any of the emails that I send you each week from ProBlogger Plus and that will come back to me or one of my team and I consider those questions for future podcast as well.

Lastly, hit over to problogger.com/members where you can grab those downloads and if you haven’t started a blog yet as well, check out The Start A Blog Course which will see the link as well once you’re signed in to the member’s area. Thanks for listening. Talk to you next week on The ProBlogger Podcast.

Lastly, don’t forget you can grab today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/251 with our all the downloads mentioned today as well as all the further listening to other episodes about email.

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244: How to Find More Traffic for Your Blog Offline

How to Promote Your Blog Offline

Today I’m tackling questions from listener, Julianna Barnaby about whether it’s important to spend time offline building your blog’s personal brand and reputation.

The answer is simple. “Yes.” Offline promotion is worth it. Get creative, and get out and meet people.

You may need to step out of your comfort zone, but that can be rewarding. You never know when someone you meet will become a reader, collaborator, team member, or even sponsor.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to offline promotion, and engagement is sometimes much stronger. People are more likely to comment on, share, and buy your products and services.

Offline methods to promote and grow your readership:

  • Events (conferences, conventions, and meetups): Go to events (or create your own) to speed up engagement and build relationships.
  • Media: Pitch ideas for stories to newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, etc.
  • Publications: Pitch story ideas to industry group publications, too. They’re always looking for stories and content.
  • Notice Boards: Post flyers about your blog in cafes, libraries, stores, etc.
  • Collaborate: Find organizations and retailers with networks of people you want to have as readers and receive value from your blog.

Links and Resources for How to Find More Traffic for Your Blog Offline:

Examples of How to Find More Traffic for Your Blog Offline

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Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hey there and welcome to Episode 244 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses all designed to help you to start an amazing blog, to create brilliant content for that blog that’s going to change the lives of your readers, and also to work out how to sustain that blog, to make it a profitable venture not only for your readers but for you. You can learn more about ProBlogger and all that we do over at problogger.com.

Now, today’s podcast is brought to you by this year’s Success Incubator event, which I’m running with some good friends this coming September in Orlando, Florida. We ran our first Success Incubator last year and it was one of the highlights of my year. We’re going to evolve the event slightly this year to make it a little bit more of a Mastermind-style event. We’re limiting the numbers to keep it a little bit more intimate, and we’re also including considerable time not only for teaching—there’ll be a series of sessions which will be more workshop style—but also putting aside considerable time for Masterminding.

We’re running the event over an afternoon and then full day on the afternoon of the 24th of September, and then into the 25th of September, all day on the 25th. On the afternoon of the 24th, there’s going to be what we call our Power Sessions which are short, sharp teaching sessions, finished off by an unofficial kind of dinner, an opportunity for you to meet some of the other attendees. And then, all-day Tuesday you’re going to get some great teaching.

We have four sessions which we’re lining up, which we’re calling our Workshop Sessions, so there’s going to be input. And then also around those, having four opportunities for Masterminding. The Masterminds are all about you presenting your challenges, your situation of your online business, and allowing the rest of the group at your table to give you input, including our speakers.

You’re going to get access to some of the speakers, some people who’ve got years and years of experience, but also—this is where the value really came from last year—you’ve got access to an amazing group of other attendees who are on the same journey as you.

If you are thirsting for an opportunity for a day or so to get together with other people on this journey, to really put out there what you’re doing to have a critique, to have their ideas, and also contribute into other people’s businesses which could turn into all kinds of collaborations, then I really do encourage you to check out Success Incubator. Just head to problogger.com/successincubator.

Now, in today’s episode, Episode 244, I want to talk to you about how to find more traffic for your blog through offline measures. We have done many podcast in the past on how to grow traffic to your blog using online methods, but someone actually asked in our Facebook group in the last week or so, in other ways to do this in an offline setting. I actually think there are, and I think that beauty of going offline, is that you get a more engaged, more targeted reader. I’m going to talk a little bit about that.

I’m going to talk particularly about growing your audience through different styles of events, conferences made up, and those types of things. Then I’ve got a few other ones. Some of them are a little bit wacky but some of them I have seen do really well for different types of bloggers. If you are looking for more traffic, today’s episode is for you. You can find today’s show notes with the full transcript of the show at problogger.com/podcast/244.

Today’s episode really came about because Julianna Barnaby from thediscoveriesof.com asked in our Facebook group a question that stimulated it. She said, “I want to ask you whether you think it’s important to spend time building your personal brand and reputation outside of the online sphere., i.e., in face-to-face networking, in particular. How important do you think this is in cementing and growing your online presence, and what other channels that you found to be most rewarding? Is it conferences? Is it meetups? I would love to hear your thoughts. Julianna.”

Thank you, Julianna, for the question. In short, my answer is yes. I do think it’s really important to consider offline, as well as online, when it comes to growing your brand, your profile, seeking exposure, and particularly, finding new readers for your blog. One of the things I’ve noticed over the years in talking to thousands of bloggers, is that many bloggers struggle with the fact that a lot of their online promotion tends to get other bloggers reading your blog more than normal, real-life people. I don’t know whether that’s something that you relate to but one of the things I’ve noticed is that many newer bloggers, they tell me that most of their readers are other bloggers. They don’t actually have too many normal, everyday people. It can be a bit of an insular kind of an echo chamber. And one of the ways to break out of that, to find new readers is to go offline.

Let me just give you an example of what I mean by that. One of the big techniques that often is talked about as a way to grow your audience and to grow your profile, is to comment on other blogs. And this does work. It can get you new readers, it can build a relationship with the blogger that you’re commenting on, but it really makes a bigger impression upon the blogger than it does their readers. As a result, you can end up with this new reader or blogger, but not their readers as such. So one of the things I do encourage you to do is think about how can you find fresh audiences, and audiences are people who aren’t bloggers or podcasters or YouTubers—not that there’s anything wrong with bloggers, I have to say, because I know all of you are—but I think it’s also really important to ask yourself, “Where are the kind of reader that I want to have?” And the answer to that maybe online, but it may also be offline.

This is really important to some niches in particular. I was talking to one blogger recently and they have an audience of retirees. I know older people, retirees, people kind of in that phase of their life are definitely online today, but there’s a segment of them that perhaps aren’t as online as other ages. Maybe they’re hanging out in different places and maybe there’s an opportunity through that to reach them in different ways. That’s a big generalization, I know, but there are segments of the population who are less likely to be reading blogs, they’re less likely to be listening to podcasts, they’re less likely to be on YouTube, and so, how can you reach them? One of the answers to that is to go offline with your promotion and profile-building.

Now, what I want to do in the rest of this episode today is to give you some strategies, particularly around events, but also some other strategies for finding new readers for your blog and to build your profile. One of the things I want to say right upfront is that it’s really worth saying that some of the things I’m going to talk to you about today are not going to bring you deluges of traffic. They’re not going to create viral-like traffic. Some of them, actually, are just going to bring you one or two new readers at a time. But this is really important to hear. That’s where it starts and if you’re a new blogger, one or two new readers is actually a really important thing. Those one or two people will have a network of their own that they can potentially share what you’re doing with, and word-of-mouth always starts with one person sharing what you are doing with another person.

The other thing I’ll say about offline interactions that you might have: If you meet someone face-to-face and convinced them to read your blog, the chances of them becoming an engaged reader is much higher. The chances of that person coming back again the next day, that person sharing what you’re doing with another person is much higher than someone just randomly coming in from social media or randomly coming in from Google. Someone coming in from Google has a very high percentage chance of never coming back to your blog, not even taking notice of your logo or coming back again or sharing what you’re doing. But someone that you meet in person is going to be much more highly engaged and that person is much more likely to become a subscriber, to share what you’re doing with other people, to leave a comment, and to eventually buy something that you are selling as well.

These methods that I’m going to share with you today may not bring you millions of readers. In fact, they’re not likely to do that at all. But they’re going to bring you an amazing type of traffic and it’s well worth doing.

Okay, let’s look at some of the methods that I’ve kind of put together for you today. And I want to say right up front, I feel like I’m scratching the surface here. There are so many things that you can do and the more I thought about this, the more I realize there are all kinds of creative ways of getting your name, your profile, your blog’s URL in front of people. But let’s start with a few that I’ve come up with and, as I said, i’m going to particularly focus on events because Julianna kind of focused on that in her question.

Let’s talk about events. Events can be very powerful because they give you that face-to-face interaction that I was just talking about. They allow you to meet people in person, which gives you that chance to build a relationship which warms them up, speeds up the engagement that you might have with them. They’re powerful for that reason. They’re also powerful because most events are fairly targeted. They tend to target a niche so if you can find an event that is a good match for the type of reader you want to have, you can go to that event feeling reasonably confident that most people there are going to be potential readers or collaborators or partners or just influencers in your space. They also have a lot of people in the one space at the one time. It’s likely over an event or a day that you are likely to be in front of quite a few people, even if you are just there as an attendee.

Obviously, there’s a variety of types of events. There’s conferences. They’re essentially more around the content and teaching, and also have some networking opportunities. Then there’s exhibitions or conventions or shows, and these are more centered usually about people exhibiting their products. They don’t tend to have as much content but they’re more about the exhibition hall. And then there’s meetups. These are more centered around networking.

Now, all three types of these events can be worth attending but each presents a really different opportunity. I think it’s really worth thinking about the event you’re going to and the opportunities that it present, because there’s been times where I’ve been to an event thinking that one thing would happen and another thing ended up happening.

Let’s go through these three types again. Conferences. Conferences present opportunities for you as an attendee to network and also present opportunities perhaps, to speak or to volunteer even, or to participate in other ways. I’m going to give you examples of those in a moment.

Conventions, on the other hand, tend not to have as much, in my experience, networking opportunities. Some of them do have a bit of networking built into them. They’re not so much about finding new readers, in my experience, but they can be really good for finding new collaborators or even sponsors for your blog. For example, I’ve been to some really big camera shows. These are big exhibition spaces where all the big manufacturers are displaying their cameras. I remember going to the first of one of these thinking, “I’m going to meet lots of potential readers for my blog. There’s going to be lots of people there interested in cameras.” As it turns out, I didn’t meet any potential readers in my blog but I met a sponsor, I met other people in the media who became great contacts, I met people who could send me review units for my blog so that I can review these cameras. So it ended up being a very worthwhile time but I went there expecting that I was going to meet new readers. Conventions tend to be better for those type of opportunities, although, you’ll be open to finding new readers as well.

Meetups, on the other hand, are great for networking. They may not get you in front of the whole group but they might be small enough that you can actually get around to each person in the room individually. You can also have opportunities sometimes with meet-ups to become a sponsor, or even to help organize or offer prize for draw. There’s a variety of different smaller ways that you can be involved in meetups.

That’s kind of a summary of three of the main types of events. But what can you actually do at an event? Particularly focusing upon conferences, what can you actually do when you’re there? Now, there’s a whole art in using a conference to build your profile and perhaps that’s a topic for another podcast altogether.

But ultimately, there’s a few things you can do and probably the best one, the one most people think about, is speaking at an event. Now, speaking at an event obviously gets you in front of a lot of people quickly, particularly if you can get a main speaking slot, which is pretty much unachievable for most of us. But it is unachievable to get even the smaller speaking spots for some people. It’s something that takes time. Usually from my experience, getting asked to speak at an event means that you had to already build your profile quite a bit in an industry or you need to know someone and have a relationship with the organizers of the event in some way.

I don’t want to focus so much up on speaking at an event because perhaps that’s a little bit unachievable for those starting out, but there’s plenty of other ways that you can build your profile at an event. Ultimately, a lot of it has to do with getting out there and meeting as many other attendees, speakers, and organizers as you can. It’s largely about networking.

Now, that word, ‘networking,’ I know is sending some of you into the fetal position as you think about getting out of your comfort zone, going up to complete strangers, and introducing yourself. To be honest, I’m kind of cringing even saying the word because that’s me. I am incredibly shy. Now, I’ve learned over the years how to push myself out of my comfort zone and I’ve seen the benefits of doing that. But it doesn’t come naturally to me. And really, I find it so hard. I find it so difficult to walk up to someone, introduce myself to someone cold. Now, I’ve got the advantage these days, often speaking at events which does open up opportunities for people to come up to me, but I still find it very hard to meet new people.

I went to an event just a couple of months ago and I remember sitting in that event in this massive auditorium. I was speaking at an event, but also I just look like an attendee. I remember sitting there and I was very aware I had people on either side of me that I didn’t know. I knew instinctively that I probably should be putting my hand out saying, “Hey, I’m Darren. Nice to meet you,” but I found it so hard to do it.

But you know what? Almost every time I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone to do that, something good has come out of it. I have met people who’ve become readers in my blog. I’ve met people who are already readers of my blog who were too shy to introduce themselves. I’ve met people who’ve become collaborators. Once I met someone who became a team member of my blog. I met someone who became a sponsor of my blog who just happens to be sitting next to me in a session. It is so well worth pushing yourself out of that. Now, I know it’s hard but you need to suck yourself up for this sort of thing.

Of course, there’s plenty of other things that you can do at an event as well. I know bloggers who go to events and before they go they’ll print t-shirts with their logos so they can wear that. That often opens up a conversation. I know people who go to events dressed in fancy dress costume to draw attention to themselves. It’s probably not something I feel too comfortable doing, but it does work for some personalities. I know some people who create business cards with little mini-gifts on them. I know someone who bakes cookies to give out at conferences or put sweets on their business cards. I know people who use stickers. When I go to meetups, they stick stickers on everyone they meet, which can be a little bit try hard but also can end up fun.

There’s a variety of different things you can do at events, too. I guess make your splash a little bigger at the event. Now, you want to be careful about how you’re coming across. Some people that will come across is a little bit try hard, a little bit too self-promotional. You need to think about the event you’re going to and how that is going to be received. Some events are a little bit more conservative, so you showing up in a fancy dress putting stickers on everyone probably isn’t going to fly. But I think just being a good human being, being friendly at these types of events goes a long way.

A few other things you can do at events that I’ve seen really work for people. Number one, become prominent on the event hashtag. This is going online a little bit. I know I’m talking offline here but we’re at an event. If you’re at an event, one opportunity that may present is to become very prominent on that hashtag. Not by going spammy and not by going over the top, but by creating value on the hashtag.

I’ve seen a number of people do this at our events. We almost always have someone come at our event as an attendee who pretty much live tweets the event. Even though we got people there live tweeting in our team, there’s almost always one attendee who shines through the whole hashtag by providing value there. Answering questions, creating social graphics with quotes on them. I know some people who take visual notes and then take photos of those and put them up onto the hashtag. It’s amazing how that stands out. There’ll be plenty of other people at your event following the hashtag, and if they see someone creating value, someone being generous on the hashtag, that stands out a lot. Because sometimes hashtags get a little spammy and self-promotional, you can really stand out in that way. And that can then open up opportunities for you to meet in real life with those people.

Another thing that I’ve seen work very well at events is for you to interview people at the event. I’ve talked about this in the past in a previous episode with Michael Stelzner, who now operates Social Media Marketing World and Social Media Examiner. The first time I met him was at a conference, probably was in 2005, a blogging conference. He contacted me before the event and said, “Hey, I’m bringing a camera crew with me to this event. Would you mind if we do an interview?” I’ve never heard of Mike before but I was kind of open to that opportunity. I was speaking at the event.

It turns out he did this with every speaker at the event, and during the event he pretty much met every speaker at the event because he had this camera crew with him. He put a big backdrop up and he interviewed us. I think he was wearing a t-shirt with his URL on it. This did a number of things. Firstly got him to meet all the key speakers at the event. Number two, he get to ask these speakers lots of questions, so he gained a lot of knowledge. Number three, he built relationships with other people at the event at well because he was being seen to be with the speakers and he pretty much launched his whole blog off this idea of interviewing people at the event.

Now, you may not be able to afford to get a camera crew at your event. But the fact is, you probably have a camera in your pocket already. You could be pulling out your iPhone at the end of sessions and saying to speakers, “Hey, do you mind if I ask you one question?” That is going to get on their radar and it gives you an opportunity after the event to contact that speaker and say, “Hey, here’s the YouTube clip of me asking that question.” Gives you a chance to take that relationship a little bit further. And it may also mean that that influencer, that speaker shares the clip with their network as well.

You can do the same thing not only with speakers but attendees as well, with the organizers of the event. This is just a great way to break the ice with people rather than going up and saying, “Hi, I’m Darren, um—” and then having an awkward moment of small talk. You could say, “Hey, I’m Darren. I am doing a few quick interviews. Would you mind me asking you a question or two?” I would advise you to keep it as short as you can. You don’t want to be dominating someone’s day by doing a 45-minute interview with them. Just a question or two can be really useful. That’s something you could try at an event.

The third thing you might want to try at an event, many events are calling for volunteers to be a part of running the event. This can take you away from the content of the event sometimes but it can also put you in a position to sometimes be up front or involved with speakers. Sometimes it just gives you a way to break the ice with other attendees because you are welcoming them, you’re greeting them, you’re signing them in, these types of things. And this can open up opportunities for you to have chats with people as well.

The fourth thing that you might want to do at an event is to be involved in other ways that the event is calling for. I went to an event recently and they were running what they called Table Talks during the breaks. These were with the head tables set out for people to chat about a particular topic. Each table had a leader, a moderator. Lots of conferences do this type of thing. These are volunteers who become the moderators but they get you in front of a group of people, and again, give you opportunities to talk about what you do. So, just be open to ideas and opportunities that might come.

I know one person, every event she goes to, she contacts the event organizer and says, “Hi, I’m a yoga teacher. Do you mind me doing a yoga session at 6:00 before the event starts?” Not every attendee is going to give you a space in their event to do yoga, but many event organizers are looking to add little quirky things like that in their events. It might get a little bit more interesting. And this person who tell me that they do this, says that most event organizers say yes, many of them give her a space to do it and many of them actually promote the fact that she’s doing it and they promote who she is as well.

Other things that you could add at an event. I know another blogger who always does a photo walk every event he goes to. Just an opportunity get a group of people together, who share an interest, to spend some time with them, and to be seen to be doing something proactive and constructive as well. Gets you on the radar of the event organizer but also attendees and can sometimes lead to other cool things as well.

Last thing aside that you might want to do at an event is consider sponsoring it. This may not be achievable for many of us because the big conferences particularly can charge quite a bit for sponsorship, but there’s a small event in your area where they are looking for s smaller sponsor, or they’re looking for someone to donate a prize, or they’re looking for someone to promote the event and they’re willing to promote you in exchange for that. Many events will talk to you about different ways that you can be involved in that as well. They could use some promotion as well.

The more I’m talking about smaller events they don’t just target the big events. I know some of you are going, “Well, I can’t afford to fly to Orlando to go to an event or to Vegas to go to an event,” but you might find it there are local events in your area that may not be as big. They may not get you in front of as many people but they do still present the type or reader that you want to have and people that you want to network with.

A couple of other things I would say about events. One other thing that I’ll mention is that there’s an opportunity, not only to attend the event of other people but to run your own event as well. This doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be expensive. At ProBlogger, we obviously run some bigger events. I just told you about Success Incubator which we’ll be doing in Orlando this year but we also ran events in Australia and we’ve had up to 700 people at those events.

But do you know what? Our events started much smaller. The first ProBlogger event we ran was for 100 people but before I did that, in 2005 I ran a meet-up and 10 people came in. That doesn’t sound like much, but do you know what? I know four of those people still today read ProBlogger and they’ve been reading ProBlogger since 2005. They’ve shown up at ProBlogger probably hundreds of hundreds of times each of them and they’ve told other people about ProBlogger.

To run that event it was so easy. I just registered it on meetups.com, which is a place that advertises meetups. Just by simply advertising on meetups.com I got a few people coming to the event who’ve never heard of me before. They became new readers but then I also advertise it to my current readers and some of those came as well. There wasn’t many people to that first meet-up. But the second time I ran that meet-up I had 20 or so people. Later on, that became our 100-person event ProBlogger. Even a small meet-up like that can work.

The other option is to collaborate about doing a meetup or an event as well. Maybe you could join with two other bloggers in your local area and run an event together, maybe a couple of podcasts, or maybe look for other types of partners as well. I’m going to talk at the end of this podcast about other types of collaborations but maybe there’s other partners like a media outlet or a brand or a local government agency or your local library. There’s a variety of different potential partners that may be able to work with you on events.

There’s also another kind of event that I’ve seen a number of bloggers used and that is local markets or swap meets. Now, just stick with me here. This sounds a little bit random but let me give you a couple of examples. This is going to depend a little upon your particular niche. The key is to find a market or a swap meet or some other kind of local event that matches with your topic. I can think of a few bloggers who’ve done this.

I can think of one fashion blogger who get sent quite a bit of second-hand kind of clothing. I’m sorry. She doesn’t get sent second-hand clothing, she get sent new clothing by brands. She gets gifted these to review on her blog. Most of it she doesn’t really want to keep so she sells it, which I think is kind of an interesting way to monetize a blog and the brands are fine with it. She goes to second-hand markets that operates every now and again in her area to sell the products. But while she’s there she’s also promote her blogs. She had this sign made that is the name of her blog and she has some business cards on a table in front of the clothes that she’s selling and some flyers. She promotes the fact that she’s going to be at that market on her blog as well and does a prize draw for anyone who signs up for her newsletter at the event. She’s there primarily to make some money to sell some stuff but she also uses that opportunity because she’s in public to promote her blog as well.

I know another parenting blogger who attends craft markets. Again, second-hand kids’ toys and clothes markets. She doesn’t go to these to sell anything. She actually hires a booth to promote her blog. She gets this booth, everyone around her is selling stuff, and she’s there handing out her business card, she’s got a screen set up with her blog on it, she runs a competition to get people to sign up for her newsletter, she’s got little gift packs to hand out to people that promotes her blog. She actually creates a real buzz in the middle of this craft market, and it’s all about her blog. She doesn’t make any money, costs her about $50-$100 depending on the market to do it, but she gets new readers every time she got people signing up for her newsletter.

I’ve seen another car blogger do this as well. He goes to car events and he ask the car event organizers if he can either be a sponsor or he can setup a little booth in return for income. He does a similar kind of stuff.

So, other markets, other second-hand markets, other swap meets, other places where your kind of reader is showing up. Now, most of this is localized. Most of this is happening in your local area, so it’s probably going to better suit you if you are trying to reach a local audience but it doesn’t really matter. Many of these bloggers are actually looking for a wider audience but they end up having quite a few in their local area as well. These are just creative-wise thinking about it.

The last type of event you might want to think about running yourself is a free workshop. Now, I’ve mentioned this strategy in a previous episode as well, so I’m not going to go into great detail. In my early days of blogging, particularly my early photography blog, I used to run camera training workshops at my local library. I noticed that the library just around the corner from my house was doing these Thursday night workshops and they’re doing it on all kinds of topics.

I went to one, someone else was running on traveling to Morocco, for example. It was kind of random. I approached the librarian and said, “Hey, I know a bit about cameras. Would you like me to run an event on how to take better photos?” And they said, “Sure.” Well, I was looking for new topics.

So I ran my first one and I think about 30 people came. I didn’t know any of them, I didn’t promote it on my end at all. It was just 30 library members. I talked for 45 minutes, answered a few questions, and you know what? I know for a fact that many or at least some of those 20 or 30 people that came to that event became readers of my blog for years after that. I ended up running a number of these events and they grew every time I did it because people recommended it to other people.

Now there’s lots of community groups out there who are doing this type of thing, a running free workshop on things. Maybe it’s your local library, maybe it’s your school, maybe it’s your university, maybe it’s a church, maybe it’s a community group, maybe it’s a parenting group. I know there are parenting playgroup type of scenarios in our local area that bring in experts all the time to speak about different topics that relate to parents. Maybe it’s a men’s group, or a women’s group, or a sporting club, or a hobby-related club, or a local council, a chambers of commerce.

You probably won’t get paid anything for any of these but that’s good free exposure. And also to do practice at public speaking. This is gold. If you eventually want to be a keynote speaker at a big conference, you got to start somewhere learning the craft to speaking. These type of little opportunities to get up in front of a few people and to share can be good in the now but also to give you new skills as well.

The last thing to talk about those type of speaking opportunities is that sometimes that open up doors to speak at other larger events as well. I think it’s the second time I did that library workshop, there was someone who came to that who actually ran a larger photography event. He came because he thought, “Huh, this is interesting. I want to see what this guy knows,” and me getting that talk led me to being invited to this larger event that about 300-400 people at a camera club I was putting on. And it gave me an opportunity to speak in front of 300-400 people. You never know who’s in the audience. You never who the one or two people that you’re taking to might be or who they might know that might open up other opportunities.

Okay, I’ve covered events in quite a bit of detail there and hoped that you found some ideas through that. What I want to do now is talk about a few other things that you can do to promote your blog offline. Some of these will relate to some of you better than others but you know…

The second thing I want to talk about is media. Mainstream media are always looking for fresh stories. Now, you might hear mainstream media and go, “Oh, mainstream media is dead.” It’s actually not dead at all. The online world has overtaken a lot of it but mainstream media still is being consumed by lots of people. They’re always looking for ideas, for stories as well. The thing I’ve noticed about many mainstream media I like is that they are putting off journalists left, right, and center and there’s opportunities there to both pitch stories and help the journalists that remain, but also potentially to even write for mainstream media as well.

If you are going to pitch stories for mainstream media, you get through sort of the big media outlets, the national television shows in most type of things. You’ll probably more likely to get a response from the local television stations or local radio or local papers as well. And again, what you’ll find here is that if you can get into a local kind of space, then that can sometimes open up opportunities for you to get picked up or syndicated by larger outlets as well.

I talked to one blogger about a year ago now who told me they pitched their local suburban paper with stories about every six months and they had 80% hit rate on those. Again, she sent a couple of those and then being picked up by larger media outlets. Actually what she does is she take the article that’s written and then she send it on to the larger media. Sometimes they then syndicate that kind of content or pick it up and expand upon that story.

Now, think across the board here. TV can work, newspapers sounds a bit old-fashioned but they’re still being delivered, radio. Vanessa, my partner now wife, had a regular spot recently on a local radio station. She was invited to go on to do a five-minute spot every Saturday morning with a fashion tip. The radio host would interview her about things, pre-recorded and then played at live on the air. It was very easy for her to do that, that it gave her exposure to that audience. Free publicity for her blog. Of course, the radio station got five minutes of content out of it as well. So it’s a win-win type thing. She wasn’t paid, but it brought in new readers.

If you do want to think about media there, there are a couple of different services the could put you in touch with journalists. Probably the largest and best-known of them is Help A Reporter or HARO. You can find it at helpareporter.com. It’s a site that matches sources or experts in different areas with journalists. So if a journalist is writing about a particular topic and needs a quote or they need an insight on that particular topic, they go to helpareporter.com, they type in their topic and register that they’re looking for a quote or looking for a source and then you, if you registered as a source and you told HARO what your areas of expertise are, you get emailed when there’s a match between what journalist are looking for and what you know about.

There’s a number of these types of services out there. There’s an Aussie service called sourcebottle.com. They’re actually global now, they started here in Australia and they do a very similar thing to HARO.

These are ways that you can just register and then get told when there are media opportunities. You never know whether it’s going to be a journalist with a big audience or a small one. I’ve heard stories of people getting approached by tiny media outlets, but then others where HARO has opened up a spot on National Television in America in one of the breakfast shows, so you never quite know. It could be well-worth going as well.

The other type of media that you might want to explore is actually writing for the media as well. I mentioned just a moment ago how many a media outlet now have shrunk the amount of journalists they have and they actually now using freelance writers quite a bit. There maybe opportunity for you to pitch for articles in mainstream media. You may get paid, you may not, you may just get a byline. You obviously need to go into that knowing what the agreement is, but it can be an opportunity to grow your profile.

The other type of thing that’s kind of similar to media is other kinds of offline publications. Maybe there’s opportunity in the industry groups that relate to your topic. I know in the financial services, here in Australia there’s an accounting kind of body, there’s bodies for marketers, there’s bodies in different kind of industries, and many of these bodies have publications. Maybe it’s a newsletter that they email out every week or every month. Or maybe they still do a magazine and there’s opportunities in that case to be featured or to write content for those as well.

I know one blogger who works in the financial services industry. He’s a blogger. He’s got a blog on that particular topic and he approached a national body in his industry—the body has tens of thousands of members—and he offered to write them an article every quarter for them to use in their industry magazine. They jumped at the opportunity because he said he’ll do it for free as long as he get a byline. I think he might even get a small honorarium sort of payment for that, but it’s certainly not freelance rates. But they negotiated for him to promote his blog as part of that agreement.

Every quarter he sees a spike in traffic and subscribers. And he also told me that it has led to all kinds of other opportunities, particular speaking requests. Because he’s in the industry body magazine, every time it goes out, people get to know his name. He’s build his credibility and it opens up opportunities for him as well.

Similarly on digital photography school, we allow our articles to be republished by camera clubs in their newsletters. We have a rule that they’re not allowed to publish it on their websites because we don’t want the same content appearing on lots of websites, but we allow them to send it to their members, either if they print it out or via email, as long as there’s attribution as to where it came from. I know for a fact that by us allowing camera clubs to do that, that we found new readers. It bought us the type of readers we want. Someone who’s in the camera club is enthusiastic about their photography and that’s the type of person we want reading our site.

There might be opportunities for you to allow some of your previously published blog content to appear in different places. An example of this that I can think of here in Australia is a particular airline, Virgin Australia, has podcasts in their in-flight entertainment. I know a number of bloggers who have their content featured in that in-flight entertainment. I don’t think that they get paid a lot for that. I think there is some small fee that they are paid potentially—don’t quote me on that—but they get new listeners as a result of that. Is there a way that your content can be shared in another place by different kind of organization? There may be opportunities there for you to grow credibility and to grow your audience as a result.

Okay, the next one I want to talk about is notice boards and this is kind of a fun one. It’s one of those ones where you may not end up getting thousands and thousands of new readers for that, but it could get you the right kind of reader. I was at a local cafe a couple of years ago and I noticed they have this notice board. I ordered my coffee inside when I just noticed the notice board. It’s a type of notice board you probably seeing everywhere you go. You see these almost everyday. It allowed people to post flyers of events, or leave a business card for their business.

In the middle of this notice board was this flyer that was promoting a blog. I was like, “Wow! I’ve never seen anyone do that before.” It was beautifully designed, in color, stood out from everything else in the notice board, and it basically was about this particular blog. I think the blog was about parenting. It was particularly targeting parents in Melbourne, where I live. I took notice of it. Actually, I took notice of her URL and her Twitter handle.

I reached out to her on Twitter and said, “Hey, I just saw your flyer. I’d love to know how it works for you leaving that flyer there.” I thought she probably just left the flyer in that cafe. We have this DM conversation and she says she actually has this little folder in her car full of these flyers and every time she sees a community notice board, she goes to her car and gets one of the notices and puts it up.

She only does it in places where she’s allowed to do it, of course, but they go up in cafes, shopping malls, libraries, schools, churches, doctors’ surgeries, shop windows, anywhere where she sees other people doing it and there’s an invitation to do that, she puts one up. She usually asks for permission as well just to make sure. She told me that she pretty much puts one of those up everyday and was something that has worked for her. Her audience is a little bit more local. She’s targeting people within the city so it makes sense to do that, but maybe there’s some ways for you to grow your audience in that way.

One more example of a blogger who uses notice boards. I came across this blogger years ago. He had a blog targeting students. Don’t know if the blog is still alive anymore but at that time, he was offering courses that help the students to study. He printed up flyers and he was particularly looking for university students or college students. He put up these notices with a free opt-in on it.

It was one of this little notice flyers that had a little tear-off bits at the bottom with a URL. He used this URL, it said, “Tear off one of these, take it home, go to this website, plug-in your details, and we’ll send you a free study guide or we’ll send you something that’s going to help you with your studies.” He was only doing it in the local university and colleges in his city at the time, but had such an impact and he saw a number of people not only getting the opt-in, but buying his upsell from his opt-in as well. He ended up hiring people to do it in other cities around the U.S. as well. He had people in cities everywhere putting his flyers up. He paid them basically to go once a month and put up new ones because they actually drew him not only readers but drew him customers as well.

So maybe notice boards. I don’t know. It’s probably going to depend upon your topic on whether you can find a notice board kind of location that matches with what you are trying to do.

The last thing I want to talk about is collaborations. I kind of mentioned a number of these sort of collaborations already. But I really would encourage you to think creatively about other kinds of collaborators, other types of organizations that maybe already have networks and profile with the kind of person you want to read your blog. What could you offer them that gives them a win if they help you out by giving you some exposure or introducing you to the right people?

Earlier I gave you the example of where I spoke at my local library and in some ways, that was a collaboration. I gave them a workshop, I gave them some content, I got people into their library who maybe wouldn’t have come into their library on that particular day, and they promoted what I was doing to their members, which got me new readers and exposure.

There’s so many different ways that you could potentially do this and here’s just a few of them. What about your local government? Here in Australia we call them our local council, maybe it’s a local chamber of commerce, I don’t know what you call it in your particular area, but many times a local kind of governments and councils are running events. Now what events are they running that relate to what you do? What programs do they have? What services do they have for the type of person you were trying to reach out to?

If you are a parenting blogger, most local councils in our area are doing kind of early childhood kind of word in some form or another. Maybe there’s an opportunity for you to volunteer, for you to sponsor, for you to participate in the events that they run, for you to speak at their events in some way.

Same with industry associations. Other opportunities to collaborate. We’ve already talked about how you can write for their newsletters, but are they looking for speakers for their events? Are they looking for volunteers to help them run their events? Are they looking for help with their social media? Are they just running meet-up, some sales that you need to be participating in?

On last one, retailers. Retailers have databases of customers and if you can find a retailer that is selling something that you are writing about, then sometimes there can be synergy there. Now, this never actually came off but for a while there I was talking to one camera store retailer. We were talking really seriously about me offering them a free ebook to go with every camera that they sold. Now it didn’t end up working out in the end. They kind of go a little bit of cold feet. We didn’t quite work out the delivery system on it, but that would have been a great opportunity.

This camera store is selling thousands of cameras every month. What if I had the opportunity to have one of my ebooks go alongside each of those cameras that taught people how to use that camera and had maybe some opt-in associated with that, where I could capture their email address and get them across my blog a little bit more.

Maybe there’s some sort of creative ways that you could get out and collaborate with some other kind of organization that’s already got the kind of reader that you want to have. Brainstorm it, where are your readers gathering? Where are they buying products? What events are they heading to? Where do they go locally? Who are they listening to that you could reach out to and have a collaboration with? All these sort of collaborative opportunities, almost all of them that I’ve ever had have come out of relationships. The more you can get out there, you can meet people in your industry, you can hear what they do, you can listen to the outcomes that they want, and then you can communicate what you’re trying to do, and try to find some win-win exchanges that you can have with them. And who knows what will come as a result of that.

Many times, the things that I’ve talked to you about today, these things have relatively low costs. Probably going to an event is the highest cost, one I understand that that can be a little bit out of some people’s budgets. But many things I’ve talked about today, don’t really have much cost to them apart from your time and your effort. So I wish you luck in promoting your blog and your business in the offline space, as well.

Now if you like, I just scratched the surface today. I’ve seen people do so many other things I could talk about, printing and giving away t-shirts with your blog’s name and your URL on them, or giving away other kind of merchandise. I know one blogger who gives out coffee mugs and he tells me people see people drinking from that coffee mug and ask what that is about, maybe you can donate prizes at a local fundraiser, maybe you could offer to judge competitions, maybe you could put on an award ceremony in your local area. All these things can help you to find the reader that you want to have. And I would love to hear what you’ve tried. The sky’s the limit, really and the more we hear from each other on what we do, the better.

So if you tried any offline promotion, whether it’s worked or not, I’d love to hear about it. You can leave a comment on today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/244 or you could head to our ProBlogger community on Facebook. Just search ‘ProBlogger community’ and you’ll find our Facebook group there. You can tell us, give us a tip. Just start with a hashtag tip or advice or something like that and let us know what it is that you have tried. Let’s share the knowledge, let’s learn from each other. It’s so much better when we do that.

Thanks so much for listening today. There’s been a lot of content from today’s show. Thank you for sticking with me through it. I’m almost losing my voice because of this podcast today, there’s so much I’ve talked about. I’d love hearing from many of you in the last week or so. In fact, I saw new reviews on iTunes a couple of weeks ago now. And over the next few days I had another 10 new reviews left on iTunes. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for those. They bring me great joy and encouragement. If you got a moment and you are listening to this on iTunes or on the podcast store in the Apple one, or any other one, please do leave us a review. Leave us a rating. It helps us to grow, gives me energy and inspiration as well.

I really hope you have a great week of blogging. Do check out Success Incubator again. It is happening 24th-25th of September in Orlando, Florida. Here in Australia, you’re waiting for our event details, stay tuned. It all happen later this year and I will let you know here in the podcast when that goes live. Success Incubator, just head over to problogger.com/success. Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week.

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The post 244: How to Find More Traffic for Your Blog Offline appeared first on ProBlogger.

244: How to Find More Traffic for Your Blog Offline

How to Promote Your Blog Offline

Today I’m tackling questions from listener, Julianna Barnaby about whether it’s important to spend time offline building your blog’s personal brand and reputation.

The answer is simple. “Yes.” Offline promotion is worth it. Get creative, and get out and meet people.

You may need to step out of your comfort zone, but that can be rewarding. You never know when someone you meet will become a reader, collaborator, team member, or even sponsor.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to offline promotion, and engagement is sometimes much stronger. People are more likely to comment on, share, and buy your products and services.

Offline methods to promote and grow your readership:

  • Events (conferences, conventions, and meetups): Go to events (or create your own) to speed up engagement and build relationships.
  • Media: Pitch ideas for stories to newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, etc.
  • Publications: Pitch story ideas to industry group publications, too. They’re always looking for stories and content.
  • Notice Boards: Post flyers about your blog in cafes, libraries, stores, etc.
  • Collaborate: Find organizations and retailers with networks of people you want to have as readers and receive value from your blog.

Links and Resources for How to Find More Traffic for Your Blog Offline:

Examples of How to Find More Traffic for Your Blog Offline

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Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hey there and welcome to Episode 244 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses all designed to help you to start an amazing blog, to create brilliant content for that blog that’s going to change the lives of your readers, and also to work out how to sustain that blog, to make it a profitable venture not only for your readers but for you. You can learn more about ProBlogger and all that we do over at problogger.com.

Now, today’s podcast is brought to you by this year’s Success Incubator event, which I’m running with some good friends this coming September in Orlando, Florida. We ran our first Success Incubator last year and it was one of the highlights of my year. We’re going to evolve the event slightly this year to make it a little bit more of a Mastermind-style event. We’re limiting the numbers to keep it a little bit more intimate, and we’re also including considerable time not only for teaching—there’ll be a series of sessions which will be more workshop style—but also putting aside considerable time for Masterminding.

We’re running the event over an afternoon and then full day on the afternoon of the 24th of September, and then into the 25th of September, all day on the 25th. On the afternoon of the 24th, there’s going to be what we call our Power Sessions which are short, sharp teaching sessions, finished off by an unofficial kind of dinner, an opportunity for you to meet some of the other attendees. And then, all-day Tuesday you’re going to get some great teaching.

We have four sessions which we’re lining up, which we’re calling our Workshop Sessions, so there’s going to be input. And then also around those, having four opportunities for Masterminding. The Masterminds are all about you presenting your challenges, your situation of your online business, and allowing the rest of the group at your table to give you input, including our speakers.

You’re going to get access to some of the speakers, some people who’ve got years and years of experience, but also—this is where the value really came from last year—you’ve got access to an amazing group of other attendees who are on the same journey as you.

If you are thirsting for an opportunity for a day or so to get together with other people on this journey, to really put out there what you’re doing to have a critique, to have their ideas, and also contribute into other people’s businesses which could turn into all kinds of collaborations, then I really do encourage you to check out Success Incubator. Just head to problogger.com/successincubator.

Now, in today’s episode, Episode 244, I want to talk to you about how to find more traffic for your blog through offline measures. We have done many podcast in the past on how to grow traffic to your blog using online methods, but someone actually asked in our Facebook group in the last week or so, in other ways to do this in an offline setting. I actually think there are, and I think that beauty of going offline, is that you get a more engaged, more targeted reader. I’m going to talk a little bit about that.

I’m going to talk particularly about growing your audience through different styles of events, conferences made up, and those types of things. Then I’ve got a few other ones. Some of them are a little bit wacky but some of them I have seen do really well for different types of bloggers. If you are looking for more traffic, today’s episode is for you. You can find today’s show notes with the full transcript of the show at problogger.com/podcast/244.

Today’s episode really came about because Julianna Barnaby from thediscoveriesof.com asked in our Facebook group a question that stimulated it. She said, “I want to ask you whether you think it’s important to spend time building your personal brand and reputation outside of the online sphere., i.e., in face-to-face networking, in particular. How important do you think this is in cementing and growing your online presence, and what other channels that you found to be most rewarding? Is it conferences? Is it meetups? I would love to hear your thoughts. Julianna.”

Thank you, Julianna, for the question. In short, my answer is yes. I do think it’s really important to consider offline, as well as online, when it comes to growing your brand, your profile, seeking exposure, and particularly, finding new readers for your blog. One of the things I’ve noticed over the years in talking to thousands of bloggers, is that many bloggers struggle with the fact that a lot of their online promotion tends to get other bloggers reading your blog more than normal, real-life people. I don’t know whether that’s something that you relate to but one of the things I’ve noticed is that many newer bloggers, they tell me that most of their readers are other bloggers. They don’t actually have too many normal, everyday people. It can be a bit of an insular kind of an echo chamber. And one of the ways to break out of that, to find new readers is to go offline.

Let me just give you an example of what I mean by that. One of the big techniques that often is talked about as a way to grow your audience and to grow your profile, is to comment on other blogs. And this does work. It can get you new readers, it can build a relationship with the blogger that you’re commenting on, but it really makes a bigger impression upon the blogger than it does their readers. As a result, you can end up with this new reader or blogger, but not their readers as such. So one of the things I do encourage you to do is think about how can you find fresh audiences, and audiences are people who aren’t bloggers or podcasters or YouTubers—not that there’s anything wrong with bloggers, I have to say, because I know all of you are—but I think it’s also really important to ask yourself, “Where are the kind of reader that I want to have?” And the answer to that maybe online, but it may also be offline.

This is really important to some niches in particular. I was talking to one blogger recently and they have an audience of retirees. I know older people, retirees, people kind of in that phase of their life are definitely online today, but there’s a segment of them that perhaps aren’t as online as other ages. Maybe they’re hanging out in different places and maybe there’s an opportunity through that to reach them in different ways. That’s a big generalization, I know, but there are segments of the population who are less likely to be reading blogs, they’re less likely to be listening to podcasts, they’re less likely to be on YouTube, and so, how can you reach them? One of the answers to that is to go offline with your promotion and profile-building.

Now, what I want to do in the rest of this episode today is to give you some strategies, particularly around events, but also some other strategies for finding new readers for your blog and to build your profile. One of the things I want to say right upfront is that it’s really worth saying that some of the things I’m going to talk to you about today are not going to bring you deluges of traffic. They’re not going to create viral-like traffic. Some of them, actually, are just going to bring you one or two new readers at a time. But this is really important to hear. That’s where it starts and if you’re a new blogger, one or two new readers is actually a really important thing. Those one or two people will have a network of their own that they can potentially share what you’re doing with, and word-of-mouth always starts with one person sharing what you are doing with another person.

The other thing I’ll say about offline interactions that you might have: If you meet someone face-to-face and convinced them to read your blog, the chances of them becoming an engaged reader is much higher. The chances of that person coming back again the next day, that person sharing what you’re doing with another person is much higher than someone just randomly coming in from social media or randomly coming in from Google. Someone coming in from Google has a very high percentage chance of never coming back to your blog, not even taking notice of your logo or coming back again or sharing what you’re doing. But someone that you meet in person is going to be much more highly engaged and that person is much more likely to become a subscriber, to share what you’re doing with other people, to leave a comment, and to eventually buy something that you are selling as well.

These methods that I’m going to share with you today may not bring you millions of readers. In fact, they’re not likely to do that at all. But they’re going to bring you an amazing type of traffic and it’s well worth doing.

Okay, let’s look at some of the methods that I’ve kind of put together for you today. And I want to say right up front, I feel like I’m scratching the surface here. There are so many things that you can do and the more I thought about this, the more I realize there are all kinds of creative ways of getting your name, your profile, your blog’s URL in front of people. But let’s start with a few that I’ve come up with and, as I said, i’m going to particularly focus on events because Julianna kind of focused on that in her question.

Let’s talk about events. Events can be very powerful because they give you that face-to-face interaction that I was just talking about. They allow you to meet people in person, which gives you that chance to build a relationship which warms them up, speeds up the engagement that you might have with them. They’re powerful for that reason. They’re also powerful because most events are fairly targeted. They tend to target a niche so if you can find an event that is a good match for the type of reader you want to have, you can go to that event feeling reasonably confident that most people there are going to be potential readers or collaborators or partners or just influencers in your space. They also have a lot of people in the one space at the one time. It’s likely over an event or a day that you are likely to be in front of quite a few people, even if you are just there as an attendee.

Obviously, there’s a variety of types of events. There’s conferences. They’re essentially more around the content and teaching, and also have some networking opportunities. Then there’s exhibitions or conventions or shows, and these are more centered usually about people exhibiting their products. They don’t tend to have as much content but they’re more about the exhibition hall. And then there’s meetups. These are more centered around networking.

Now, all three types of these events can be worth attending but each presents a really different opportunity. I think it’s really worth thinking about the event you’re going to and the opportunities that it present, because there’s been times where I’ve been to an event thinking that one thing would happen and another thing ended up happening.

Let’s go through these three types again. Conferences. Conferences present opportunities for you as an attendee to network and also present opportunities perhaps, to speak or to volunteer even, or to participate in other ways. I’m going to give you examples of those in a moment.

Conventions, on the other hand, tend not to have as much, in my experience, networking opportunities. Some of them do have a bit of networking built into them. They’re not so much about finding new readers, in my experience, but they can be really good for finding new collaborators or even sponsors for your blog. For example, I’ve been to some really big camera shows. These are big exhibition spaces where all the big manufacturers are displaying their cameras. I remember going to the first of one of these thinking, “I’m going to meet lots of potential readers for my blog. There’s going to be lots of people there interested in cameras.” As it turns out, I didn’t meet any potential readers in my blog but I met a sponsor, I met other people in the media who became great contacts, I met people who could send me review units for my blog so that I can review these cameras. So it ended up being a very worthwhile time but I went there expecting that I was going to meet new readers. Conventions tend to be better for those type of opportunities, although, you’ll be open to finding new readers as well.

Meetups, on the other hand, are great for networking. They may not get you in front of the whole group but they might be small enough that you can actually get around to each person in the room individually. You can also have opportunities sometimes with meet-ups to become a sponsor, or even to help organize or offer prize for draw. There’s a variety of different smaller ways that you can be involved in meetups.

That’s kind of a summary of three of the main types of events. But what can you actually do at an event? Particularly focusing upon conferences, what can you actually do when you’re there? Now, there’s a whole art in using a conference to build your profile and perhaps that’s a topic for another podcast altogether.

But ultimately, there’s a few things you can do and probably the best one, the one most people think about, is speaking at an event. Now, speaking at an event obviously gets you in front of a lot of people quickly, particularly if you can get a main speaking slot, which is pretty much unachievable for most of us. But it is unachievable to get even the smaller speaking spots for some people. It’s something that takes time. Usually from my experience, getting asked to speak at an event means that you had to already build your profile quite a bit in an industry or you need to know someone and have a relationship with the organizers of the event in some way.

I don’t want to focus so much up on speaking at an event because perhaps that’s a little bit unachievable for those starting out, but there’s plenty of other ways that you can build your profile at an event. Ultimately, a lot of it has to do with getting out there and meeting as many other attendees, speakers, and organizers as you can. It’s largely about networking.

Now, that word, ‘networking,’ I know is sending some of you into the fetal position as you think about getting out of your comfort zone, going up to complete strangers, and introducing yourself. To be honest, I’m kind of cringing even saying the word because that’s me. I am incredibly shy. Now, I’ve learned over the years how to push myself out of my comfort zone and I’ve seen the benefits of doing that. But it doesn’t come naturally to me. And really, I find it so hard. I find it so difficult to walk up to someone, introduce myself to someone cold. Now, I’ve got the advantage these days, often speaking at events which does open up opportunities for people to come up to me, but I still find it very hard to meet new people.

I went to an event just a couple of months ago and I remember sitting in that event in this massive auditorium. I was speaking at an event, but also I just look like an attendee. I remember sitting there and I was very aware I had people on either side of me that I didn’t know. I knew instinctively that I probably should be putting my hand out saying, “Hey, I’m Darren. Nice to meet you,” but I found it so hard to do it.

But you know what? Almost every time I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone to do that, something good has come out of it. I have met people who’ve become readers in my blog. I’ve met people who are already readers of my blog who were too shy to introduce themselves. I’ve met people who’ve become collaborators. Once I met someone who became a team member of my blog. I met someone who became a sponsor of my blog who just happens to be sitting next to me in a session. It is so well worth pushing yourself out of that. Now, I know it’s hard but you need to suck yourself up for this sort of thing.

Of course, there’s plenty of other things that you can do at an event as well. I know bloggers who go to events and before they go they’ll print t-shirts with their logos so they can wear that. That often opens up a conversation. I know people who go to events dressed in fancy dress costume to draw attention to themselves. It’s probably not something I feel too comfortable doing, but it does work for some personalities. I know some people who create business cards with little mini-gifts on them. I know someone who bakes cookies to give out at conferences or put sweets on their business cards. I know people who use stickers. When I go to meetups, they stick stickers on everyone they meet, which can be a little bit try hard but also can end up fun.

There’s a variety of different things you can do at events, too. I guess make your splash a little bigger at the event. Now, you want to be careful about how you’re coming across. Some people that will come across is a little bit try hard, a little bit too self-promotional. You need to think about the event you’re going to and how that is going to be received. Some events are a little bit more conservative, so you showing up in a fancy dress putting stickers on everyone probably isn’t going to fly. But I think just being a good human being, being friendly at these types of events goes a long way.

A few other things you can do at events that I’ve seen really work for people. Number one, become prominent on the event hashtag. This is going online a little bit. I know I’m talking offline here but we’re at an event. If you’re at an event, one opportunity that may present is to become very prominent on that hashtag. Not by going spammy and not by going over the top, but by creating value on the hashtag.

I’ve seen a number of people do this at our events. We almost always have someone come at our event as an attendee who pretty much live tweets the event. Even though we got people there live tweeting in our team, there’s almost always one attendee who shines through the whole hashtag by providing value there. Answering questions, creating social graphics with quotes on them. I know some people who take visual notes and then take photos of those and put them up onto the hashtag. It’s amazing how that stands out. There’ll be plenty of other people at your event following the hashtag, and if they see someone creating value, someone being generous on the hashtag, that stands out a lot. Because sometimes hashtags get a little spammy and self-promotional, you can really stand out in that way. And that can then open up opportunities for you to meet in real life with those people.

Another thing that I’ve seen work very well at events is for you to interview people at the event. I’ve talked about this in the past in a previous episode with Michael Stelzner, who now operates Social Media Marketing World and Social Media Examiner. The first time I met him was at a conference, probably was in 2005, a blogging conference. He contacted me before the event and said, “Hey, I’m bringing a camera crew with me to this event. Would you mind if we do an interview?” I’ve never heard of Mike before but I was kind of open to that opportunity. I was speaking at the event.

It turns out he did this with every speaker at the event, and during the event he pretty much met every speaker at the event because he had this camera crew with him. He put a big backdrop up and he interviewed us. I think he was wearing a t-shirt with his URL on it. This did a number of things. Firstly got him to meet all the key speakers at the event. Number two, he get to ask these speakers lots of questions, so he gained a lot of knowledge. Number three, he built relationships with other people at the event at well because he was being seen to be with the speakers and he pretty much launched his whole blog off this idea of interviewing people at the event.

Now, you may not be able to afford to get a camera crew at your event. But the fact is, you probably have a camera in your pocket already. You could be pulling out your iPhone at the end of sessions and saying to speakers, “Hey, do you mind if I ask you one question?” That is going to get on their radar and it gives you an opportunity after the event to contact that speaker and say, “Hey, here’s the YouTube clip of me asking that question.” Gives you a chance to take that relationship a little bit further. And it may also mean that that influencer, that speaker shares the clip with their network as well.

You can do the same thing not only with speakers but attendees as well, with the organizers of the event. This is just a great way to break the ice with people rather than going up and saying, “Hi, I’m Darren, um—” and then having an awkward moment of small talk. You could say, “Hey, I’m Darren. I am doing a few quick interviews. Would you mind me asking you a question or two?” I would advise you to keep it as short as you can. You don’t want to be dominating someone’s day by doing a 45-minute interview with them. Just a question or two can be really useful. That’s something you could try at an event.

The third thing you might want to try at an event, many events are calling for volunteers to be a part of running the event. This can take you away from the content of the event sometimes but it can also put you in a position to sometimes be up front or involved with speakers. Sometimes it just gives you a way to break the ice with other attendees because you are welcoming them, you’re greeting them, you’re signing them in, these types of things. And this can open up opportunities for you to have chats with people as well.

The fourth thing that you might want to do at an event is to be involved in other ways that the event is calling for. I went to an event recently and they were running what they called Table Talks during the breaks. These were with the head tables set out for people to chat about a particular topic. Each table had a leader, a moderator. Lots of conferences do this type of thing. These are volunteers who become the moderators but they get you in front of a group of people, and again, give you opportunities to talk about what you do. So, just be open to ideas and opportunities that might come.

I know one person, every event she goes to, she contacts the event organizer and says, “Hi, I’m a yoga teacher. Do you mind me doing a yoga session at 6:00 before the event starts?” Not every attendee is going to give you a space in their event to do yoga, but many event organizers are looking to add little quirky things like that in their events. It might get a little bit more interesting. And this person who tell me that they do this, says that most event organizers say yes, many of them give her a space to do it and many of them actually promote the fact that she’s doing it and they promote who she is as well.

Other things that you could add at an event. I know another blogger who always does a photo walk every event he goes to. Just an opportunity get a group of people together, who share an interest, to spend some time with them, and to be seen to be doing something proactive and constructive as well. Gets you on the radar of the event organizer but also attendees and can sometimes lead to other cool things as well.

Last thing aside that you might want to do at an event is consider sponsoring it. This may not be achievable for many of us because the big conferences particularly can charge quite a bit for sponsorship, but there’s a small event in your area where they are looking for s smaller sponsor, or they’re looking for someone to donate a prize, or they’re looking for someone to promote the event and they’re willing to promote you in exchange for that. Many events will talk to you about different ways that you can be involved in that as well. They could use some promotion as well.

The more I’m talking about smaller events they don’t just target the big events. I know some of you are going, “Well, I can’t afford to fly to Orlando to go to an event or to Vegas to go to an event,” but you might find it there are local events in your area that may not be as big. They may not get you in front of as many people but they do still present the type or reader that you want to have and people that you want to network with.

A couple of other things I would say about events. One other thing that I’ll mention is that there’s an opportunity, not only to attend the event of other people but to run your own event as well. This doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be expensive. At ProBlogger, we obviously run some bigger events. I just told you about Success Incubator which we’ll be doing in Orlando this year but we also ran events in Australia and we’ve had up to 700 people at those events.

But do you know what? Our events started much smaller. The first ProBlogger event we ran was for 100 people but before I did that, in 2005 I ran a meet-up and 10 people came in. That doesn’t sound like much, but do you know what? I know four of those people still today read ProBlogger and they’ve been reading ProBlogger since 2005. They’ve shown up at ProBlogger probably hundreds of hundreds of times each of them and they’ve told other people about ProBlogger.

To run that event it was so easy. I just registered it on meetups.com, which is a place that advertises meetups. Just by simply advertising on meetups.com I got a few people coming to the event who’ve never heard of me before. They became new readers but then I also advertise it to my current readers and some of those came as well. There wasn’t many people to that first meet-up. But the second time I ran that meet-up I had 20 or so people. Later on, that became our 100-person event ProBlogger. Even a small meet-up like that can work.

The other option is to collaborate about doing a meetup or an event as well. Maybe you could join with two other bloggers in your local area and run an event together, maybe a couple of podcasts, or maybe look for other types of partners as well. I’m going to talk at the end of this podcast about other types of collaborations but maybe there’s other partners like a media outlet or a brand or a local government agency or your local library. There’s a variety of different potential partners that may be able to work with you on events.

There’s also another kind of event that I’ve seen a number of bloggers used and that is local markets or swap meets. Now, just stick with me here. This sounds a little bit random but let me give you a couple of examples. This is going to depend a little upon your particular niche. The key is to find a market or a swap meet or some other kind of local event that matches with your topic. I can think of a few bloggers who’ve done this.

I can think of one fashion blogger who get sent quite a bit of second-hand kind of clothing. I’m sorry. She doesn’t get sent second-hand clothing, she get sent new clothing by brands. She gets gifted these to review on her blog. Most of it she doesn’t really want to keep so she sells it, which I think is kind of an interesting way to monetize a blog and the brands are fine with it. She goes to second-hand markets that operates every now and again in her area to sell the products. But while she’s there she’s also promote her blogs. She had this sign made that is the name of her blog and she has some business cards on a table in front of the clothes that she’s selling and some flyers. She promotes the fact that she’s going to be at that market on her blog as well and does a prize draw for anyone who signs up for her newsletter at the event. She’s there primarily to make some money to sell some stuff but she also uses that opportunity because she’s in public to promote her blog as well.

I know another parenting blogger who attends craft markets. Again, second-hand kids’ toys and clothes markets. She doesn’t go to these to sell anything. She actually hires a booth to promote her blog. She gets this booth, everyone around her is selling stuff, and she’s there handing out her business card, she’s got a screen set up with her blog on it, she runs a competition to get people to sign up for her newsletter, she’s got little gift packs to hand out to people that promotes her blog. She actually creates a real buzz in the middle of this craft market, and it’s all about her blog. She doesn’t make any money, costs her about $50-$100 depending on the market to do it, but she gets new readers every time she got people signing up for her newsletter.

I’ve seen another car blogger do this as well. He goes to car events and he ask the car event organizers if he can either be a sponsor or he can setup a little booth in return for income. He does a similar kind of stuff.

So, other markets, other second-hand markets, other swap meets, other places where your kind of reader is showing up. Now, most of this is localized. Most of this is happening in your local area, so it’s probably going to better suit you if you are trying to reach a local audience but it doesn’t really matter. Many of these bloggers are actually looking for a wider audience but they end up having quite a few in their local area as well. These are just creative-wise thinking about it.

The last type of event you might want to think about running yourself is a free workshop. Now, I’ve mentioned this strategy in a previous episode as well, so I’m not going to go into great detail. In my early days of blogging, particularly my early photography blog, I used to run camera training workshops at my local library. I noticed that the library just around the corner from my house was doing these Thursday night workshops and they’re doing it on all kinds of topics.

I went to one, someone else was running on traveling to Morocco, for example. It was kind of random. I approached the librarian and said, “Hey, I know a bit about cameras. Would you like me to run an event on how to take better photos?” And they said, “Sure.” Well, I was looking for new topics.

So I ran my first one and I think about 30 people came. I didn’t know any of them, I didn’t promote it on my end at all. It was just 30 library members. I talked for 45 minutes, answered a few questions, and you know what? I know for a fact that many or at least some of those 20 or 30 people that came to that event became readers of my blog for years after that. I ended up running a number of these events and they grew every time I did it because people recommended it to other people.

Now there’s lots of community groups out there who are doing this type of thing, a running free workshop on things. Maybe it’s your local library, maybe it’s your school, maybe it’s your university, maybe it’s a church, maybe it’s a community group, maybe it’s a parenting group. I know there are parenting playgroup type of scenarios in our local area that bring in experts all the time to speak about different topics that relate to parents. Maybe it’s a men’s group, or a women’s group, or a sporting club, or a hobby-related club, or a local council, a chambers of commerce.

You probably won’t get paid anything for any of these but that’s good free exposure. And also to do practice at public speaking. This is gold. If you eventually want to be a keynote speaker at a big conference, you got to start somewhere learning the craft to speaking. These type of little opportunities to get up in front of a few people and to share can be good in the now but also to give you new skills as well.

The last thing to talk about those type of speaking opportunities is that sometimes that open up doors to speak at other larger events as well. I think it’s the second time I did that library workshop, there was someone who came to that who actually ran a larger photography event. He came because he thought, “Huh, this is interesting. I want to see what this guy knows,” and me getting that talk led me to being invited to this larger event that about 300-400 people at a camera club I was putting on. And it gave me an opportunity to speak in front of 300-400 people. You never know who’s in the audience. You never who the one or two people that you’re taking to might be or who they might know that might open up other opportunities.

Okay, I’ve covered events in quite a bit of detail there and hoped that you found some ideas through that. What I want to do now is talk about a few other things that you can do to promote your blog offline. Some of these will relate to some of you better than others but you know…

The second thing I want to talk about is media. Mainstream media are always looking for fresh stories. Now, you might hear mainstream media and go, “Oh, mainstream media is dead.” It’s actually not dead at all. The online world has overtaken a lot of it but mainstream media still is being consumed by lots of people. They’re always looking for ideas, for stories as well. The thing I’ve noticed about many mainstream media I like is that they are putting off journalists left, right, and center and there’s opportunities there to both pitch stories and help the journalists that remain, but also potentially to even write for mainstream media as well.

If you are going to pitch stories for mainstream media, you get through sort of the big media outlets, the national television shows in most type of things. You’ll probably more likely to get a response from the local television stations or local radio or local papers as well. And again, what you’ll find here is that if you can get into a local kind of space, then that can sometimes open up opportunities for you to get picked up or syndicated by larger outlets as well.

I talked to one blogger about a year ago now who told me they pitched their local suburban paper with stories about every six months and they had 80% hit rate on those. Again, she sent a couple of those and then being picked up by larger media outlets. Actually what she does is she take the article that’s written and then she send it on to the larger media. Sometimes they then syndicate that kind of content or pick it up and expand upon that story.

Now, think across the board here. TV can work, newspapers sounds a bit old-fashioned but they’re still being delivered, radio. Vanessa, my partner now wife, had a regular spot recently on a local radio station. She was invited to go on to do a five-minute spot every Saturday morning with a fashion tip. The radio host would interview her about things, pre-recorded and then played at live on the air. It was very easy for her to do that, that it gave her exposure to that audience. Free publicity for her blog. Of course, the radio station got five minutes of content out of it as well. So it’s a win-win type thing. She wasn’t paid, but it brought in new readers.

If you do want to think about media there, there are a couple of different services the could put you in touch with journalists. Probably the largest and best-known of them is Help A Reporter or HARO. You can find it at helpareporter.com. It’s a site that matches sources or experts in different areas with journalists. So if a journalist is writing about a particular topic and needs a quote or they need an insight on that particular topic, they go to helpareporter.com, they type in their topic and register that they’re looking for a quote or looking for a source and then you, if you registered as a source and you told HARO what your areas of expertise are, you get emailed when there’s a match between what journalist are looking for and what you know about.

There’s a number of these types of services out there. There’s an Aussie service called sourcebottle.com. They’re actually global now, they started here in Australia and they do a very similar thing to HARO.

These are ways that you can just register and then get told when there are media opportunities. You never know whether it’s going to be a journalist with a big audience or a small one. I’ve heard stories of people getting approached by tiny media outlets, but then others where HARO has opened up a spot on National Television in America in one of the breakfast shows, so you never quite know. It could be well-worth going as well.

The other type of media that you might want to explore is actually writing for the media as well. I mentioned just a moment ago how many a media outlet now have shrunk the amount of journalists they have and they actually now using freelance writers quite a bit. There maybe opportunity for you to pitch for articles in mainstream media. You may get paid, you may not, you may just get a byline. You obviously need to go into that knowing what the agreement is, but it can be an opportunity to grow your profile.

The other type of thing that’s kind of similar to media is other kinds of offline publications. Maybe there’s opportunity in the industry groups that relate to your topic. I know in the financial services, here in Australia there’s an accounting kind of body, there’s bodies for marketers, there’s bodies in different kind of industries, and many of these bodies have publications. Maybe it’s a newsletter that they email out every week or every month. Or maybe they still do a magazine and there’s opportunities in that case to be featured or to write content for those as well.

I know one blogger who works in the financial services industry. He’s a blogger. He’s got a blog on that particular topic and he approached a national body in his industry—the body has tens of thousands of members—and he offered to write them an article every quarter for them to use in their industry magazine. They jumped at the opportunity because he said he’ll do it for free as long as he get a byline. I think he might even get a small honorarium sort of payment for that, but it’s certainly not freelance rates. But they negotiated for him to promote his blog as part of that agreement.

Every quarter he sees a spike in traffic and subscribers. And he also told me that it has led to all kinds of other opportunities, particular speaking requests. Because he’s in the industry body magazine, every time it goes out, people get to know his name. He’s build his credibility and it opens up opportunities for him as well.

Similarly on digital photography school, we allow our articles to be republished by camera clubs in their newsletters. We have a rule that they’re not allowed to publish it on their websites because we don’t want the same content appearing on lots of websites, but we allow them to send it to their members, either if they print it out or via email, as long as there’s attribution as to where it came from. I know for a fact that by us allowing camera clubs to do that, that we found new readers. It bought us the type of readers we want. Someone who’s in the camera club is enthusiastic about their photography and that’s the type of person we want reading our site.

There might be opportunities for you to allow some of your previously published blog content to appear in different places. An example of this that I can think of here in Australia is a particular airline, Virgin Australia, has podcasts in their in-flight entertainment. I know a number of bloggers who have their content featured in that in-flight entertainment. I don’t think that they get paid a lot for that. I think there is some small fee that they are paid potentially—don’t quote me on that—but they get new listeners as a result of that. Is there a way that your content can be shared in another place by different kind of organization? There may be opportunities there for you to grow credibility and to grow your audience as a result.

Okay, the next one I want to talk about is notice boards and this is kind of a fun one. It’s one of those ones where you may not end up getting thousands and thousands of new readers for that, but it could get you the right kind of reader. I was at a local cafe a couple of years ago and I noticed they have this notice board. I ordered my coffee inside when I just noticed the notice board. It’s a type of notice board you probably seeing everywhere you go. You see these almost everyday. It allowed people to post flyers of events, or leave a business card for their business.

In the middle of this notice board was this flyer that was promoting a blog. I was like, “Wow! I’ve never seen anyone do that before.” It was beautifully designed, in color, stood out from everything else in the notice board, and it basically was about this particular blog. I think the blog was about parenting. It was particularly targeting parents in Melbourne, where I live. I took notice of it. Actually, I took notice of her URL and her Twitter handle.

I reached out to her on Twitter and said, “Hey, I just saw your flyer. I’d love to know how it works for you leaving that flyer there.” I thought she probably just left the flyer in that cafe. We have this DM conversation and she says she actually has this little folder in her car full of these flyers and every time she sees a community notice board, she goes to her car and gets one of the notices and puts it up.

She only does it in places where she’s allowed to do it, of course, but they go up in cafes, shopping malls, libraries, schools, churches, doctors’ surgeries, shop windows, anywhere where she sees other people doing it and there’s an invitation to do that, she puts one up. She usually asks for permission as well just to make sure. She told me that she pretty much puts one of those up everyday and was something that has worked for her. Her audience is a little bit more local. She’s targeting people within the city so it makes sense to do that, but maybe there’s some ways for you to grow your audience in that way.

One more example of a blogger who uses notice boards. I came across this blogger years ago. He had a blog targeting students. Don’t know if the blog is still alive anymore but at that time, he was offering courses that help the students to study. He printed up flyers and he was particularly looking for university students or college students. He put up these notices with a free opt-in on it.

It was one of this little notice flyers that had a little tear-off bits at the bottom with a URL. He used this URL, it said, “Tear off one of these, take it home, go to this website, plug-in your details, and we’ll send you a free study guide or we’ll send you something that’s going to help you with your studies.” He was only doing it in the local university and colleges in his city at the time, but had such an impact and he saw a number of people not only getting the opt-in, but buying his upsell from his opt-in as well. He ended up hiring people to do it in other cities around the U.S. as well. He had people in cities everywhere putting his flyers up. He paid them basically to go once a month and put up new ones because they actually drew him not only readers but drew him customers as well.

So maybe notice boards. I don’t know. It’s probably going to depend upon your topic on whether you can find a notice board kind of location that matches with what you are trying to do.

The last thing I want to talk about is collaborations. I kind of mentioned a number of these sort of collaborations already. But I really would encourage you to think creatively about other kinds of collaborators, other types of organizations that maybe already have networks and profile with the kind of person you want to read your blog. What could you offer them that gives them a win if they help you out by giving you some exposure or introducing you to the right people?

Earlier I gave you the example of where I spoke at my local library and in some ways, that was a collaboration. I gave them a workshop, I gave them some content, I got people into their library who maybe wouldn’t have come into their library on that particular day, and they promoted what I was doing to their members, which got me new readers and exposure.

There’s so many different ways that you could potentially do this and here’s just a few of them. What about your local government? Here in Australia we call them our local council, maybe it’s a local chamber of commerce, I don’t know what you call it in your particular area, but many times a local kind of governments and councils are running events. Now what events are they running that relate to what you do? What programs do they have? What services do they have for the type of person you were trying to reach out to?

If you are a parenting blogger, most local councils in our area are doing kind of early childhood kind of word in some form or another. Maybe there’s an opportunity for you to volunteer, for you to sponsor, for you to participate in the events that they run, for you to speak at their events in some way.

Same with industry associations. Other opportunities to collaborate. We’ve already talked about how you can write for their newsletters, but are they looking for speakers for their events? Are they looking for volunteers to help them run their events? Are they looking for help with their social media? Are they just running meet-up, some sales that you need to be participating in?

On last one, retailers. Retailers have databases of customers and if you can find a retailer that is selling something that you are writing about, then sometimes there can be synergy there. Now, this never actually came off but for a while there I was talking to one camera store retailer. We were talking really seriously about me offering them a free ebook to go with every camera that they sold. Now it didn’t end up working out in the end. They kind of go a little bit of cold feet. We didn’t quite work out the delivery system on it, but that would have been a great opportunity.

This camera store is selling thousands of cameras every month. What if I had the opportunity to have one of my ebooks go alongside each of those cameras that taught people how to use that camera and had maybe some opt-in associated with that, where I could capture their email address and get them across my blog a little bit more.

Maybe there’s some sort of creative ways that you could get out and collaborate with some other kind of organization that’s already got the kind of reader that you want to have. Brainstorm it, where are your readers gathering? Where are they buying products? What events are they heading to? Where do they go locally? Who are they listening to that you could reach out to and have a collaboration with? All these sort of collaborative opportunities, almost all of them that I’ve ever had have come out of relationships. The more you can get out there, you can meet people in your industry, you can hear what they do, you can listen to the outcomes that they want, and then you can communicate what you’re trying to do, and try to find some win-win exchanges that you can have with them. And who knows what will come as a result of that.

Many times, the things that I’ve talked to you about today, these things have relatively low costs. Probably going to an event is the highest cost, one I understand that that can be a little bit out of some people’s budgets. But many things I’ve talked about today, don’t really have much cost to them apart from your time and your effort. So I wish you luck in promoting your blog and your business in the offline space, as well.

Now if you like, I just scratched the surface today. I’ve seen people do so many other things I could talk about, printing and giving away t-shirts with your blog’s name and your URL on them, or giving away other kind of merchandise. I know one blogger who gives out coffee mugs and he tells me people see people drinking from that coffee mug and ask what that is about, maybe you can donate prizes at a local fundraiser, maybe you could offer to judge competitions, maybe you could put on an award ceremony in your local area. All these things can help you to find the reader that you want to have. And I would love to hear what you’ve tried. The sky’s the limit, really and the more we hear from each other on what we do, the better.

So if you tried any offline promotion, whether it’s worked or not, I’d love to hear about it. You can leave a comment on today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/244 or you could head to our ProBlogger community on Facebook. Just search ‘ProBlogger community’ and you’ll find our Facebook group there. You can tell us, give us a tip. Just start with a hashtag tip or advice or something like that and let us know what it is that you have tried. Let’s share the knowledge, let’s learn from each other. It’s so much better when we do that.

Thanks so much for listening today. There’s been a lot of content from today’s show. Thank you for sticking with me through it. I’m almost losing my voice because of this podcast today, there’s so much I’ve talked about. I’d love hearing from many of you in the last week or so. In fact, I saw new reviews on iTunes a couple of weeks ago now. And over the next few days I had another 10 new reviews left on iTunes. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for those. They bring me great joy and encouragement. If you got a moment and you are listening to this on iTunes or on the podcast store in the Apple one, or any other one, please do leave us a review. Leave us a rating. It helps us to grow, gives me energy and inspiration as well.

I really hope you have a great week of blogging. Do check out Success Incubator again. It is happening 24th-25th of September in Orlando, Florida. Here in Australia, you’re waiting for our event details, stay tuned. It all happen later this year and I will let you know here in the podcast when that goes live. Success Incubator, just head over to problogger.com/success. Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week.

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220: What You Should Include in Your Email Newsletters

What You Should Include in Your Email Newsletters (and Answers to 4 FAQs About Email)

Do you email your blog readers regularly?

Maybe you put ‘set up email newsletter’ on your ‘someday’ list ages ago, but still haven’t done it.

Or maybe you have a newsletter list, but you haven’t sent one in months.

You might think it’s optional – something you can do once you’ve finished everything else on your to-do list.

You might even think email is dead (or at least old-fashioned), and that you’re better off building connections through social media. (Which is nothing new, by the way. I was talking about bloggers having similar concerns nine years ago.)

The truth is, email is still one of the best ways (if not the best way) to connect with your blog’s readers.

Email is a big part of my strategy on both of my blogs. It drives traffic, and helps us build our community, understand who’s reading our blog, and monetize both directly and indirectly.

If you’re not using it, you really are missing out.

  • But what do you email?
  • What is the content you include in your communications?

Email can be used in many ways, and you can sent a variety of email types. But today I want to talk about creating a regular email newsletter, which for me is the foundation of my email strategy.

A few of the most common questions I get about newsletters and email strategy:

  1. What tool should I use?
  2. What content should I put in my emails?
  3. What format should they be in – plain text, rich text, HTML?
  4. How frequently should I send emails?
  5. What other types of emails should I consider sending?
  6. How do I get more subscribers? (I’m not going to cover this today, but recommend you listen to episodes 68 and 69)

Links and Resources on What to Include in Your Email Newsletters:

Other Podcasts On Similar Topics:

Tools We’re Using: (These are affiliates and we get a small commission on purchases.)

  • Drip – the current email service provider for ProBlogger
  • ConvertKit – a tool we’re just starting to experiment with that looks very promising. Built from the ground up for bloggers.

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Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hey there and welcome to Episode 220 of the Problogger podcast. My name’s Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, a podcast, event, job board, and a series of ebooks, and soon to come some courses, all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your blog and to make some money from it as well. You can learn more about Problogger at problogger.com.

And while I’m mentioning it, sign up for our newsletter, Problogger PLUS. You’ll see calls to action to do that wherever you go on problogger.com. That will keep you in the loop in terms of our new content, but also some of the new things we’ve got coming for 2018.

In today’s episode, I wanna talk about email. It’s a fairly introductory… I guess the frequently asked questions that I get about email, particularly what should you include in the emails that you send. I think most bloggers know that they should be sending some emails and collecting email addresses, but I regularly get asked the question, “What should I put in my emails?”

I wanna talk today about what we do with our newsletters, talk about some of the questions we get around whether you should use plain text or rich text or HTML, how frequently you should send, and other types of emails that you might wanna build into your sequence as well.

We’re talking all things email today. If you haven’t yet got a newsletter or an email list, today is gonna be good for you because we’ll also mention some tools that you might wanna use. And if you have got one but you haven’t been sending, this would be the perfect podcast for you, I hope.

Let’s get into it. Today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/220.

Do you email your blog readers regularly? Maybe you have had this on your ‘to do’ list, your ‘someday’ list, for a long time now. It’s amazing how many blogger I meet have got ‘Set up an email list’ or ‘Start sending emails’ as one of the items on their ‘one day’ list.

I wanna encourage you today, as we approach the end of 2017, move into a new year, to put this on your today list. I really wanna encourage you to make this an essential item, a big part of what you do in 2018, because as I look back over the years in my blogging, this is one of the most important things that I ever took action on, starting to send emails.

You might think email is dead or an old-fashioned medium and that you’d be better off building your connections through social media, which is certainly one way that you can build relationships with your readers and drive traffic to your blogs. The truth is, email is still one of the best, if not the best, way to connect with your blog readers.

Things are changing all the time in the space that we’re operating in. But email is not going away. It hasn’t gone away. It one day may go away but I can’t see it going away in 2018, 2019, 2020. Whilst all of these other options of communicating with your readers do come and go in terms of their effectiveness, email is still a very effective way to reach your readers.

And it’s a big part of the strategy on both of my blogs. It drives a lot of traffic every week. It helps us to build community. We use our email to direct people to some of the social media accounts that we’re building community on, to drive engagement. It helps us understand who is reading our blog because we can get feedback from those who subscribe. And it helps us to monetize the business as well, both in terms of selling our product but also directly monetizing the emails.

We actually sell advertising in some of the emails that we do, particularly on Digital Photography School. So it’s paying for itself, and is a profitable part of our business.

If you’re not doing email, please consider it, and make it a priority for 2018 in terms of starting that email list or making your email list more effective for you.

I do get a lot of questions about email. And I wanna cover some of the more common ones today because it can be used in a variety of ways. There’s no blueprint for how you should do it but I wanna explore some of the different methods that you can use to use in email.

Particularly, there are six questions that I wanna talk about today. In fact there’s five and I wanna give you some further listening for the sixth one.

The first question is, “What tool should I use?” I get it all the time. I wanna suggest to you a few tools that you might wanna consider.

Number two question is, “What content should I put in my emails? What are my options in terms of sending a newsletter?” particularly.

Number three, “What format should they be in?” Should you be sending plain text emails, rich text, HTML, pretty, designed emails.

Question number four, “How frequently should I send emails?”

Number five is what other types of emails should you send in addition to that newsletter that you do.

The sixth question, I’ve got some further listening for you, is how to get more subscribers for your list. I’m not gonna cover that specifically, but I do have some further listening which I’ll mention at the end of today’s show.

That’s where we’re headed today.

The first question, let’s get into it, what tool should you use. There are an amazing array of tools on the market today. When I started doing email, I think it was back in 2004, 2005, there weren’t really that many tools. But today there are so many. Every time I ask in our Facebook group what tools do you use, it’s amazing how many different tools are mentioned there. They come in all shapes and sizes, with different levels of features and different price points.

What I really encourage you to do is to pay for an email service. Don’t use a free one. Don’t send your newsletter from your Gmail account. It’s just gonna get you into trouble in terms of spammy practices, and it’s gonna hurt your deliverability. You do want to invest in an email service provider. It does cost, but if you use email right it should pay for itself through selling products, through selling affiliate products, through potentially even having advertisers in your email.

It’s not that expensive to start out. Most of the tools that are out there have free entry points, or they’ll give you trial for certain amount of subscribers and then they increase the price as you get more subscribers. You shouldn’t have to pay too much to get started.

This isn’t a time or place to compare all the different options out there. But what I will say is over the last 12 months we’ve looked at quite a few of the options at Problogger for our own use. For many years, I’ve been using AWeber as a tool. It is a solid option that I know many Problogger readers use. It’s been around for years, it’s reliable, it’s relatively affordable.

But over the last few years, we’ve increasingly come up against challenges that are starting to hold us back in terms of what we are trying to do with our email list. Some of the features aren’t quite there in comparison to some of the other tools out there. You can do a lot, but you kind of have to hack it together. It’s a little bit clumsy in terms of the way that it’s arranged. But it is a good solid tool if you just wanna send a newsletter every week and you don’t wanna get much more sophisticated than that.

We’ve decided to start looking around at some of the other options. It’s been years that I’ve been using AWeber. We’ve started to also notice a little bit of deliverability issues. That could be partly because of the size of our list, and because our list is quite old as well. We have a lot of people who signed up for that list in 2005, 2006 and so deliverability is kind of… there’s some issues there for us as well.

So when it came to looking at what we should switch our business to in terms of email, we considered a lot of different tools and we came down to two. There are two that I would recommend for you.

The two that I would encourage you to consider, and we’ve got links to these on our show notes, are Drip and ConvertKit. We’ll do an episode in 2018 with more detail on these tools and talk a little bit about the actual features of them, but we came down on Drip. We’ve decided to move to Drip. We’ve actually switched Problogger over to Drip in the last six months and it’s been amazing. We’ve loved using it. It’s very powerful. It enables us to do a lot more segmentation of our list and deliver different types of emails to different people to create different sorts of sequences of emails. It’s very powerful and it’s incredibly intuitive to use.

It is more expensive for us than AWeber but we’re already seeing, as a result of high deliverability and more powerful tools, that we’re going to be able to make our money back on that. And we will be moving Digital Photography School over to Drip next year. That’s a big task for us because we’ve got so many lists and so many subscribers there.

So Drip has been very good for us but ConvertKit, I would highly recommend that as well. It is a newer tool, perhaps it hasn’t matured as a platform quite as much as Drip, and not quite as advanced in some of the tools.

When we looked at the size of our list and some of the things we wanted to do, it wasn’t quite there, ConvertKit for us particularly when we made that decision ConvertKit, you couldn’t do HTML emails. That may be coming or it may have already come. You had to do plain text. I know for a lot of bloggers plain text is totally fine. We’ll actually talk about why plain text might be the best option for you anyway. But we came down on Drip.

If you are perhaps not wanting to do something quite as sophisticated as Drip and you want a tool that has been specifically designed for bloggers, ConvertKit is amazing. I would highly commend that company to you as well. Both of the companies are brilliant in terms of their customer service. Do have a look at both of them. If you wanna signup for them, I’d appreciate it if you’d do it through our links on the show notes because they are affiliate links and we do get a small commission on those things, help us to keep Problogger running. But even if you don’t, check them out. I do highly commend them to you. Both have a really good customer service as well, they’ve been very helpful for us.

They’re the two tools that I would use. I know others of you are using other tools. Most of the tools out there do have the same types of features. Again, if you haven’t set up a list yet, do pay for one. Don’t send your emails from your Gmail account. It’s just gonna get you into a lot of trouble.

Question number one was tools. Number two is “What content should I put in my emails?” And “How should I format them?”, I guess, is the third question as well. That’s where I wanna turn our attention to.

There are no rules for what you should send in a newsletter. There is one thing I would strongly encourage you to consider and that is to be consistent and to be regular. Be consistent. Email subscribers are like blog readers – they like consistency. They quickly form expectations of what they’re gonna get from your list. They will sign up and they’ll see your first email, and they’ll see your second email. If they are similar to each other, they’ll expect your third email is gonna be like that.

If you are storytelling in your emails and then you suddenly switched to an opinion piece and then you suddenly switched to tips and then you suddenly switched to promotional stuff and you’re mixing things up constantly, some of your readers are gonna get frustrated with that. If you’re using different voices in your newsletter, they’ll begin to get a bit frustrated with that. We’ve actually found that our subscribers really like it when we do the same thing every week. I’ll tell you what we do in ours as well.

There’s a variety of things you can do in your newsletter. But try to keep some consistency there in terms of how it looks, how it reads and I guess the benefits of it as well. They’re much more likely to stay subscribed and just stay engaged with your list, keep opening your list, keep looking for your emails if you have some consistency there in terms of what they get and also when they get it. Don’t stray too far from the normal – you can mix things up a little bit. Always try to keep some consistency there, particularly in the way it looks, I think, is really important.

There’s a variety of things you can do with that newsletter. What I wanna do is just give you three different options. You could also probably do a combination of these things or something else as well. Again consistency is the key.

These are the three most common things that I see in newsletters doing. Each has their own strength.

The first thing you could do is to write exclusive content especially for the newsletter list.

I see some bloggers doing this very effectively. They send a weekly or maybe every second week or even a monthly type of email. You open the email and it’s an article in the email. There’s actually a tip, or there are some news, or there’s a story in the email itself. You don’t have to click on it or anything to go and read the content. They actually put the content in the email. It’s something exclusive and valuable just for the subscribers. It’s almost like they’ve written an extra blog post that week just for the email.

There are lots of bloggers who do this. I’ve used the example of Nicole Avery, who is one of our subject matter experts on Problogger. She has written a lot of articles for us. She’s got a blog called Planning with Kids, and she does this in her newsletter. If you subscribed to it you’ll see that she’s essentially writing an extra article or blog post every week just for subscribers you can’t get it anywhere else.

This approach works really well because it helps your subscribers to feel a little bit special. You’re giving them a reason to stay subscribed because they can’t get this valuable content anywhere else. Your emails have the value inside them. They actually begin to look for them and begin to expect them and they open them. They don’t say, “This is all just stuff in the blog.” This is something I can’t get anywhere else. They get into the habit of opening those emails. That’s a really powerful thing.

The downside of this approach is you have to write something extra every week. It is going to go to a smaller audience than potentially your blog. You write a blog article and it’s there for all time and it gets indexed by Google and it gets shared by social media for all time. It can get a lot more eyeballs on it. It feels like you’re doing a lot of work for less effort. But the work that it’s doing with your subscribers can be very powerful because it can build a deep connection with them. It can make them very thankful for it, and it gets them in the habit of looking for your emails because they know they cannot get it anywhere else.

That’s option number one, you create something exclusive for your newsletter list. The type two of what you could send in terms of a newsletter is where you send out your blog post by email. Essentially every time you publish a blog post, you send an email sending people to that blog post or you actually email the blog post itself. There’s a couple of different options within this one. This is something that’s possibly a little bit easier to do because you’re not writing extra content for your newsletter, you’re just promoting that content, or you’re repurposing that content for your newsletter as well.

If you’re short on time, this is a good way to go. An example of this is Jon Morrow, Jon has a blog called Smart Blogger. He argues really strongly for this type of newsletter. If you sign up for his newsletter, you’ll get an email anytime he publishes a new blog post. The email generally has two or three paragraphs that introduce the topic and then links to where you can read it. Sometimes he might have the first paragraph or two of the blog post and then says further reading or read the rest here. Sometimes he will rewrite that introduction and give you a good reason to go and read that article.

He’s sending out these emails every time he does a new blog post. This works for Jon because he’s not publishing every day. Sometimes, I think, he publishes two or three times a month. It’s less regular. He’s not interrupting his subscribers constantly. It’s probably not recommended if you publish every day or several times a day. I think on Digital Photography School, our readers will get highly annoyed if we email them every time we did a blog post because we publish 14 a week.

This approach is good for those of you who are short on time. It’s all about delivering traffic to your blog. The emails themselves don’t deliver a lot of value in the email. It’s not as good in terms of getting people used to the idea of opening the emails because there’s that little voice in the back of their heads saying, “I could read this on the blog, I don’t need to read this email.” You’re giving them perhaps a little less reason to do it. If the content is valuable on your blog and you’re only doing one a month or one a week, it’s possibly something that will work for you.

Another approach that I have seen on this is where the blogger has actually put the whole blog post in the email. They might publish the blog post on their blog but then they’ll also send that whole blog post in an article format in the email itself. This is where you do build some value in the emails themselves. This means your subscriber doesn’t visit your blogs often but for some of us, that doesn’t matter.

If you’re monetizing your blog with advertises, you do wanna get them over to your blog. Teasing them with that first paragraph or two and then saying read the rest here, that’s definitely a good way to go. If you are just about trying to build credibility, authority, you’re trying to make your readers connected to you, then it probably doesn’t matter where they read your content. This is an option if that is your goal, if you wanna monetize your blog less directly by selling a product to them, then you maybe just wanna deliver that content in the email itself. There’s a couple options there.

The last type of email that you might wanna send is what I do, that is where you do a digest type email. You might send a weekly or a monthly digest of what you’ve published in that last period on your blog, you might wanna send links to all of the new content you’ve published or just the highlights of what you published in that period of time. Generally, people are doing this weekly or monthly but you could do it any period as well, you could do it every second week.

If you’re publishing several posts a week like we do, you don’t wanna be emailing your readers every time a new post goes up or as people unsubscribe. This is really where you digest it all. Digital Photography School is a good example of this. Every Thursday, I sit down and I look at the 14 posts that were published over the last week and I arrange them into categories. And then I plug them into a template that we have had designed for us. It’s an HTML template. It’s basically a digest of the week.

Basically if you open that email, I can put a screenshot in today’s show notes, sometimes we’ll put a little introduction of something that happened during the week or highlighting a promotion that we’ve got on. The email is essentially a list of our new posts. They’ll be 14 new posts there, we also have some messaging from advertises there if we’re promoting something of our own or have a promotion going, we will highlight that as well. But it’s generally a digest of all the stuff that’s going on in the blog. Occasionally we’ll also link to our Facebook page or our Facebook group and promote the community that’s going on as well.

Problogger PLUS newsletter is similar although simpler. We only publish three posts a week usually on Problogger – one blog post, one podcast, and one Facebook live or video on Facebook. Our Problogger PLUS newsletter has only got the three links. Occasionally, I’ll also highlight a post in our archives that I think is relevant still today. I usually would include an introduction in the Problogger one because I’m trying to build a connection with readers as well. I wanna give people an insight into what’s going on at Problogger headquarters, or something that has been going on on the blog over the last week.

These digest type emails are good for those of you who do have a lot of content. They’re also really good if you are trying to drive traffic to your site, you wanna get people across to your site, you’re highlighting all the blog posts but you’re not annoying your readers if you’re publishing a lot of content.

Use an introduction. I would encourage you to do that as well because that’s where you can build a more personal connection with your readers as well.

Three different types of newsletters that you can do.

The third question I wanna briefly cover is what format should they be in, I get this question all the time. Should you be sending your emails in plain text, rich text (which I’ll explain in a moment), or HTML. On our blogs, and if you get the Problogger PLUS newsletter, you’ll know it’s branded with Problogger, you’ll see the logo in it. It’s a fairly simple design, but it is HTML. There’s a picture of me in it, there’s color, there’s the Problogger color, there’s the Problogger logo. This hopefully makes it a little bit more visually appealing, but it also reinforces the brand and it personalizes it as well because it’s got my face in it.

We do the same thing with Digital Photography School as well. We have the DPS colors. We’ve arranged it into categories. Particular on DPS, it’s useful to go HTML because we got a lot of content in there. There’s 14 links, there are messages from our advertises as well. We wanna draw the eye to different paths of it as well. HTML is really good if you’ve got a lot going on in your emails as well.

That costs us, we actually had to pay to get those designs done, our developers did it so we pay them to do that. It does take a little bit of time to get our emails together each week, it’s not just a matter of sitting down and writing a few paragraphs. I actually have to sit there and plug it into the template to test all the design to make sure it’s all working. It’s a little bit more involved in terms of putting it together. But I do think it reinforces our brand.

Plain text is another option. I see a lot of bloggers doing it. I think there are some really good reasons for just doing plain text emails as well. Firstly it’s cheaper. You don’t have to get anyone to design it. It’s quicker and easy to put together. Generally it takes me 45 minutes or so to put our newsletters together each week, a little less for ProBlogger. A plain text email would be a lot quicker than that – at least half that time not including whatever you’re writing. Sometimes the writing itself could take more. The plain text email would be a lot quicker.

Also, the deliverability of a plain text email could be better than an HTML one. We’ve certainly seen that when we do our promotional emails. When we promote with an HTML email, our deliverability suffers. We generally do our sales type emails in plain text. You might wanna test that – plain text versus HTML. Every time we’ve done a split test on that in terms of our sales emails, we see plain text winning.

The other option is what’s called rich text. This is where you use some formatting. You might use bold or italics or you make any links, you link a word rather than putting the full link. This makes your emails look a little bit neater. It means you can draw the eye, you’d bold to create headings. It can be more useful if you’ve got slightly longer emails as well to draw the eye down the page. They are your three main options.

I would encourage if you’re just starting out and you’re feeling challenged to buy it all and you’re tethering on the edge of should I get into email or not, start with plain text, it’s so much simpler to do. At least you’ll be sending something every week, you wanna get into the rhythm of sending that. You can always progress to HTML later. Start simple.

Fourth question, a really brief answer to this one is how frequent should I be sending the emails. Again there’s no right answer here except to say regularity is so important. Your readers will get used to the rhythm that you choose so stick to it. Personally, I really like weekly emails because it becomes a part of people’s week. It also leaves enough space between the emails that you can also send them extra emails. I’ll talk about some of those in a moment.

Also, they forget who you are. That’s the danger of going monthly, is that if you go monthly, some will not signup for your newsletter today. They may not hear from you for 29 days if they sign up on the first of the month. Then you send your emails on the last of the month. That distance between emails, there’s a danger there that they don’t feel connected to you, that they’ll forget they even subscribed to you. I like weekly because it is a little bit more regular than that, and it keeps you in front of people at the top of their mind.

Ultimately, the frequency you choose really needs to depend upon one, how much time do you have? If you don’t have much time, less frequent is okay. The format that you’re trying to send emails in, if you’re doing HTML, it could take a little longer so it may be less frequent. If you’re doing plain text, it’s a little bit easy to do so it may be more frequent. What are you putting in your emails? Are they long, are you writing exclusive content for them, then less frequent might be okay because one, it’s gonna take you longer to create those emails but two, it’s gonna take longer to read.

You don’t wanna be sending really long articles every day to your readers because again they can’t consume that much content. So less frequent might be okay if the content is a really deep content. I guess ultimately, what are your readers’ expectations and what’s their ability to consume the content as well. They’re some of the questions I would be asking. Again, I think weekly is probably a good starting point. You can always decrease or increase it slowly over time, but don’t jump and change too much.

Fifth question, it’s really the last question, is what other types of emails should you consider sending as well? We send out our weekly newsletters but in between the weekly newsletters, some weeks, there’s another email. Sometimes there’s even two. There’s different types of emails that we add into the sequence of emails that we send.

Let’s go through the three types. Promotional emails, this is where we launch a new product, or run a sale on an existing product, or doing an affiliate promotion of some kind or a sponsored type of campaign as well. If you’ve got a sponsor, sometimes you might send an email out about that campaign or about that offer as well.

Emails, for us, result in most of our sales. This is a really important type of email for us, but we don’t wanna go overboard with the promotional emails as well. If we promote something new every three days, our readers are gonna push back and they’re gonna get mad. We really try to be as careful as possible. We wanna be promoting enough that we are profitable, but we don’t wanna promote so much that we lose subscribers. You’re gonna play this a little bit by ear.

One key for us is that we map out at the start of the year what promotions we’re gonna run over the next year. We are, at present, mapping out 2018, what ebooks and courses are we going to launch, which ones that we’ve already launched will we do relaunches of or promotions on, what seasonal promotions are we gonna do in 2018, are we gonna do Black Friday, are we gonna do a Christmas sale and what affiliate promotions are we gonna do. The beauty of mapping it out ahead of time is that you can space things out.

We typically run a promotion for a week or even two weeks. We know that during those times, we’re gonna be sending out multiple emails in addition to our newsletter. We wanna space those out, we don’t wanna run a promotion this week and then another promotion next week and then another promotion the week after. We wanna space them out, give our readers a bit of a break in between. That’s another type of email that you could build in.

An autoresponder sequence would be another option. This can be a really great way to bring your new subscribers up to speed with some of the other stuff that you’ve got in your archives. If someone subscribes to Digital Photography School today, they’ve missed out on over 7000 articles in our archives. What we’ve created is a sequence of emails that goes out automatically to anyone who subscribes to our newsletter. Every 30 or so days, they get an extra email. It’s timed to go out on a Sunday. Our newsletters always go out on Thursday. Our promotional emails usually go out on a Tuesday.

We got this rhythm that you always will get a Thursday email newsletter. You’ll sometimes get a Tuesday promotional email, this is maybe one in three weeks and then one in four weeks you’ll get a Sunday email that is highlighting something in our archives. An autoresponder is where you setup that sequence of emails ahead of time. You just let it run to anyone new who subscribes up.

There is a whole episode of this podcast dedicated to autoresponders that I’ve done in Episode 70. I’ll link to that in the show notes, but you might wanna also go back and listen to that. It’s a very powerful strategy to use because it’s a set-and-forget type of thing. You do it once, you set up that email once and then for all eternity or until you stop, I choose to stop sending that particular email, that email automatically go out to all new subscribers at the set intervals, a very powerful strategy.

The third type of email that you might wanna send as well is more of an interaction type of email. This is where you send out a question to your readers and encourage them to reply. This might seem a little bit crazy, you don’t want all your subscribers sending you emails, but it’s a very powerful thing to do. For example you might send out a welcome email and then at the end of that welcome email say, “Please tell us about your experience with…” That is a very powerful thing because it signals to your subscribers that you’re interested in hearing from them.

That adds work to you because you’re gonna start getting more emails but it’s gonna give you incredible insight into your subscribers and it’s gonna make them realize that you are not just wanting to send them emails, you’re wanting to have a conversation with them.

Another option that may be a little less work is where you set up an email and it might be part of that autoresponder sequence that we just talked about where you send out an invitation to complete a survey. This is something that we do on Digital Photography School after you’ve been subscribed to our newsletter.

I think that’s three months We have an email that goes out automatically on the autoresponder sequence. It says, “Could you take five minutes to do this survey?” The survey has questions about their demographics, but also asks them questions about their photography and it gives them an opportunity to ask questions as well about photography that they’ve got, which gives us ideas for content.

These types of emails are not so much about driving traffic to your archives and are not designed to get sales. They’re designed to help you understand who your readers are and also to make them feel a little bit more connected to you.

Another option that you might wanna do is adding the occasional email that promotes your Facebook group, your Facebook page, your Instagram account, these type of places as well. Again, this is about engagement – trying to get a second point of connection with your subscribers. These are the three types of extra emails that you might wanna send. There would be others as well. If you’ve got any others that you send out, that you’ve built into your rhythm of sending emails, I’d love to hear about them over in the Facebook group.

The last question that I get asked all the time from people is, “How do I get more subscribers to my newsletter?” I’m not gonna cover this today in this episode, but I do recommend you go and listen to two episodes – Episode 68 and Episode 69. These are two different strategies for building your subscriber numbers of your newsletter. I think both of those would be well worth listening to once you finish this one in a couple of minutes.

The last thing I wanna say is to make it a priority,. Make email a priority for 2018. I’ve seen something, the two big problems I see amongst so many blogger are bloggers who don’t have email lists, that’s the number one problem, or they’ve signed up for a service and they aren’t collecting email addresses. The second big problem is bloggers who don’t send emails. I see this all the time, people who are collecting emails every day, they’re getting new subscribers, but they’re not sending emails.

If you fall into either of those categories, one, know that you’re not alone but two, know that I’m not satisfied until you get that thing fixed. I want you to make it a priority in 2018. I really have seen the way that email has transformed my business. It has really brought a lot of traffic and a lot of income and a lot of connection with our readers as well over the years. It is a central part of what we do. Put some priorities into that. Even if you’ve got an email list and you’re still listening, make it a priority to take a critical look at what you’re doing with your email.

Do you need to change up your newsletter? Do you need to start an autoresponder sequence? Do you need to think about the design of your email? Do you need to test the format, plain text versus HTML? Do you need to do some testing in terms of the subject lines that you use? Do you need to consider upgrading your email service provider? I highly encourage you to take a critical look on some of that type of stuff.

The last thing I’ll say is if you haven’t started, start simple. Even if you just send a monthly plain text email once a month, a plain text email with three paragraphs that simply links to a recent post that did well for you, that is better than nothing. Don’t let the tools, don’t let the formatting, don’t let the link, don’t let the content itself hold you back. Send something. Make it valuable. It doesn’t need to be long. It doesn’t need to be profound. Just make it deliver a little bit of value to your subscribers and they will keep looking for your emails and it will begin to build some momentum for you.

I can’t wait to see what happens as a result of this. Remember to start simple and then let it evolve from there. You can always get more complicated with your emails, but you really need to make a start on it.

Today’s show notes, where there are links to Drip and ConvertKit, and there’s a bit of a summary through a transcript of all the things that I’ve said and some further reading for you as well, further listening, you can find that all over at problogger.com/podcast/220. It’s the end of the year and I do wanna add my season’s greetings to those of who are celebrating at the moment and those of you who are listening in the New Year. I hope it’s been a good year for you.

We are moving now into a bit of a series of podcasts where you’re going to hear some other voices. I’m gonna introduce them, but as I said in last week’s podcast we wanted to hear some of your stories. And we’ve had some amazing stories submitted. I’m really looking forward to introducing them to you in the coming weeks over at the end of the year and as we move into next year, where we’re gonna start a series of content on starting a blog. I really am looking forward to that.

Those of you who haven’t started a blog yet, this is gonna be a great time for you. Those of you who wanna start a second blog, this is a great time for you to do that as well because we’re gonna give you some great content that’s gonna help you to do that. It’s free.

We’re also going to help to celebrate some of those new blogs that have started. Make January a time of starting a new blog. I look forward to introducing that whole concept to you more next week on the ProBlogger podcast.

If you are looking for something else to listen to, I do recommend you go back and listen to Episode 68, 69, and 70. 68 and 69 are about how to get more subscribers for that email list that we’ve just been talking about and Episode 70 was all about auto responders. You should be able to find them all over in iTunes where I hope you’re all subscribed and have left some nice reviews for us, or over on the show notes areas at problogger.com/podcast and then you just put the number, 68 or 69 or 70. Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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220: What You Should Include in Your Email Newsletters

What You Should Include in Your Email Newsletters (and Answers to 4 FAQs About Email)

Do you email your blog readers regularly?

Maybe you put ‘set up email newsletter’ on your ‘someday’ list ages ago, but still haven’t done it.

Or maybe you have a newsletter list, but you haven’t sent one in months.

You might think it’s optional – something you can do once you’ve finished everything else on your to-do list.

You might even think email is dead (or at least old-fashioned), and that you’re better off building connections through social media. (Which is nothing new, by the way. I was talking about bloggers having similar concerns nine years ago.)

The truth is, email is still one of the best ways (if not the best way) to connect with your blog’s readers.

Email is a big part of my strategy on both of my blogs. It drives traffic, and helps us build our community, understand who’s reading our blog, and monetize both directly and indirectly.

If you’re not using it, you really are missing out.

  • But what do you email?
  • What is the content you include in your communications?

Email can be used in many ways, and you can sent a variety of email types. But today I want to talk about creating a regular email newsletter, which for me is the foundation of my email strategy.

A few of the most common questions I get about newsletters and email strategy:

  1. What tool should I use?
  2. What content should I put in my emails?
  3. What format should they be in – plain text, rich text, HTML?
  4. How frequently should I send emails?
  5. What other types of emails should I consider sending?
  6. How do I get more subscribers? (I’m not going to cover this today, but recommend you listen to episodes 68 and 69)

Links and Resources on What to Include in Your Email Newsletters:

Other Podcasts On Similar Topics:

Tools We’re Using: (These are affiliates and we get a small commission on purchases.)

  • Drip – the current email service provider for ProBlogger
  • ConvertKit – a tool we’re just starting to experiment with that looks very promising. Built from the ground up for bloggers.

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Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hey there and welcome to Episode 220 of the Problogger podcast. My name’s Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, a podcast, event, job board, and a series of ebooks, and soon to come some courses, all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your blog and to make some money from it as well. You can learn more about Problogger at problogger.com.

And while I’m mentioning it, sign up for our newsletter, Problogger PLUS. You’ll see calls to action to do that wherever you go on problogger.com. That will keep you in the loop in terms of our new content, but also some of the new things we’ve got coming for 2018.

In today’s episode, I wanna talk about email. It’s a fairly introductory… I guess the frequently asked questions that I get about email, particularly what should you include in the emails that you send. I think most bloggers know that they should be sending some emails and collecting email addresses, but I regularly get asked the question, “What should I put in my emails?”

I wanna talk today about what we do with our newsletters, talk about some of the questions we get around whether you should use plain text or rich text or HTML, how frequently you should send, and other types of emails that you might wanna build into your sequence as well.

We’re talking all things email today. If you haven’t yet got a newsletter or an email list, today is gonna be good for you because we’ll also mention some tools that you might wanna use. And if you have got one but you haven’t been sending, this would be the perfect podcast for you, I hope.

Let’s get into it. Today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/220.

Do you email your blog readers regularly? Maybe you have had this on your ‘to do’ list, your ‘someday’ list, for a long time now. It’s amazing how many blogger I meet have got ‘Set up an email list’ or ‘Start sending emails’ as one of the items on their ‘one day’ list.

I wanna encourage you today, as we approach the end of 2017, move into a new year, to put this on your today list. I really wanna encourage you to make this an essential item, a big part of what you do in 2018, because as I look back over the years in my blogging, this is one of the most important things that I ever took action on, starting to send emails.

You might think email is dead or an old-fashioned medium and that you’d be better off building your connections through social media, which is certainly one way that you can build relationships with your readers and drive traffic to your blogs. The truth is, email is still one of the best, if not the best, way to connect with your blog readers.

Things are changing all the time in the space that we’re operating in. But email is not going away. It hasn’t gone away. It one day may go away but I can’t see it going away in 2018, 2019, 2020. Whilst all of these other options of communicating with your readers do come and go in terms of their effectiveness, email is still a very effective way to reach your readers.

And it’s a big part of the strategy on both of my blogs. It drives a lot of traffic every week. It helps us to build community. We use our email to direct people to some of the social media accounts that we’re building community on, to drive engagement. It helps us understand who is reading our blog because we can get feedback from those who subscribe. And it helps us to monetize the business as well, both in terms of selling our product but also directly monetizing the emails.

We actually sell advertising in some of the emails that we do, particularly on Digital Photography School. So it’s paying for itself, and is a profitable part of our business.

If you’re not doing email, please consider it, and make it a priority for 2018 in terms of starting that email list or making your email list more effective for you.

I do get a lot of questions about email. And I wanna cover some of the more common ones today because it can be used in a variety of ways. There’s no blueprint for how you should do it but I wanna explore some of the different methods that you can use to use in email.

Particularly, there are six questions that I wanna talk about today. In fact there’s five and I wanna give you some further listening for the sixth one.

The first question is, “What tool should I use?” I get it all the time. I wanna suggest to you a few tools that you might wanna consider.

Number two question is, “What content should I put in my emails? What are my options in terms of sending a newsletter?” particularly.

Number three, “What format should they be in?” Should you be sending plain text emails, rich text, HTML, pretty, designed emails.

Question number four, “How frequently should I send emails?”

Number five is what other types of emails should you send in addition to that newsletter that you do.

The sixth question, I’ve got some further listening for you, is how to get more subscribers for your list. I’m not gonna cover that specifically, but I do have some further listening which I’ll mention at the end of today’s show.

That’s where we’re headed today.

The first question, let’s get into it, what tool should you use. There are an amazing array of tools on the market today. When I started doing email, I think it was back in 2004, 2005, there weren’t really that many tools. But today there are so many. Every time I ask in our Facebook group what tools do you use, it’s amazing how many different tools are mentioned there. They come in all shapes and sizes, with different levels of features and different price points.

What I really encourage you to do is to pay for an email service. Don’t use a free one. Don’t send your newsletter from your Gmail account. It’s just gonna get you into trouble in terms of spammy practices, and it’s gonna hurt your deliverability. You do want to invest in an email service provider. It does cost, but if you use email right it should pay for itself through selling products, through selling affiliate products, through potentially even having advertisers in your email.

It’s not that expensive to start out. Most of the tools that are out there have free entry points, or they’ll give you trial for certain amount of subscribers and then they increase the price as you get more subscribers. You shouldn’t have to pay too much to get started.

This isn’t a time or place to compare all the different options out there. But what I will say is over the last 12 months we’ve looked at quite a few of the options at Problogger for our own use. For many years, I’ve been using AWeber as a tool. It is a solid option that I know many Problogger readers use. It’s been around for years, it’s reliable, it’s relatively affordable.

But over the last few years, we’ve increasingly come up against challenges that are starting to hold us back in terms of what we are trying to do with our email list. Some of the features aren’t quite there in comparison to some of the other tools out there. You can do a lot, but you kind of have to hack it together. It’s a little bit clumsy in terms of the way that it’s arranged. But it is a good solid tool if you just wanna send a newsletter every week and you don’t wanna get much more sophisticated than that.

We’ve decided to start looking around at some of the other options. It’s been years that I’ve been using AWeber. We’ve started to also notice a little bit of deliverability issues. That could be partly because of the size of our list, and because our list is quite old as well. We have a lot of people who signed up for that list in 2005, 2006 and so deliverability is kind of… there’s some issues there for us as well.

So when it came to looking at what we should switch our business to in terms of email, we considered a lot of different tools and we came down to two. There are two that I would recommend for you.

The two that I would encourage you to consider, and we’ve got links to these on our show notes, are Drip and ConvertKit. We’ll do an episode in 2018 with more detail on these tools and talk a little bit about the actual features of them, but we came down on Drip. We’ve decided to move to Drip. We’ve actually switched Problogger over to Drip in the last six months and it’s been amazing. We’ve loved using it. It’s very powerful. It enables us to do a lot more segmentation of our list and deliver different types of emails to different people to create different sorts of sequences of emails. It’s very powerful and it’s incredibly intuitive to use.

It is more expensive for us than AWeber but we’re already seeing, as a result of high deliverability and more powerful tools, that we’re going to be able to make our money back on that. And we will be moving Digital Photography School over to Drip next year. That’s a big task for us because we’ve got so many lists and so many subscribers there.

So Drip has been very good for us but ConvertKit, I would highly recommend that as well. It is a newer tool, perhaps it hasn’t matured as a platform quite as much as Drip, and not quite as advanced in some of the tools.

When we looked at the size of our list and some of the things we wanted to do, it wasn’t quite there, ConvertKit for us particularly when we made that decision ConvertKit, you couldn’t do HTML emails. That may be coming or it may have already come. You had to do plain text. I know for a lot of bloggers plain text is totally fine. We’ll actually talk about why plain text might be the best option for you anyway. But we came down on Drip.

If you are perhaps not wanting to do something quite as sophisticated as Drip and you want a tool that has been specifically designed for bloggers, ConvertKit is amazing. I would highly commend that company to you as well. Both of the companies are brilliant in terms of their customer service. Do have a look at both of them. If you wanna signup for them, I’d appreciate it if you’d do it through our links on the show notes because they are affiliate links and we do get a small commission on those things, help us to keep Problogger running. But even if you don’t, check them out. I do highly commend them to you. Both have a really good customer service as well, they’ve been very helpful for us.

They’re the two tools that I would use. I know others of you are using other tools. Most of the tools out there do have the same types of features. Again, if you haven’t set up a list yet, do pay for one. Don’t send your emails from your Gmail account. It’s just gonna get you into a lot of trouble.

Question number one was tools. Number two is “What content should I put in my emails?” And “How should I format them?”, I guess, is the third question as well. That’s where I wanna turn our attention to.

There are no rules for what you should send in a newsletter. There is one thing I would strongly encourage you to consider and that is to be consistent and to be regular, be consistent. Email subscribers are like blog readers, they like consistency. They quickly form expectations of what they’re gonna get from your list. They will signup and they’ll see your first email and they’ll see your second email. If they are similar to each other, they’ll expect your third email is gonna be like that.

If you are storytelling in your emails and then you suddenly switched to an opinion piece and then you suddenly switched to tips and then you suddenly switched to promotional stuff and you’re mixing things up constantly, some of your readers are gonna get frustrated with that. If you’re using different voices in your newsletter, they’ll begin to get a bit frustrated with that. We’ve actually found that our subscribers really like it when we do the same thing every week. I’ll tell you what we do in ours as well.

There’s a variety of things you can do in your newsletter but try to keep some consistency there in terms of how it looks, how it reads and I guess the benefits of it as well. They’re much more likely to stay subscribed and just stay engaged with your list, keep opening your list, keep looking for your emails if you have some consistency there in terms of what they get and also when they get it. Don’t stray too far from the normal, you can mix things up a little bit. Always try to keep some consistency there particularly in the way it looks, I think, is really important.

There’s a variety of things you can do with that newsletter. What I wanna do is just give you three different options, you could also probably do a combination of these things or something else as well, again consistency is the key. These are the three most common things that I see in newsletters doing. Each has their own strength. The first thing you could do is to write exclusive content especially for the newsletter list.

I see some bloggers doing this very effectively, they send a weekly or maybe every second week or even a monthly type of email. You open the email and it’s an article in the email. There’s actually a tip or there are some news or there’s a story in the email itself. You don’t have to click on it and anything to go and read the content, they actually put the content in the email. It’s something exclusive and valuable just for the subscribers. It’s almost like they’ve written an extra blog post that week just for the email.

There are lots of bloggers who do this. I’ve used the example of Nicole Avery who is one of our subject matter experts on Problogger, she has written a lot of articles for us. She’s got a blog called Planning with Kids and she does this in her newsletter. If you subscribed to it you’ll see that she’s essentially writing an extra article or blog post every week just for subscribers, you can’t get it anywhere else.

This approach works really well because it helps your subscribers to feel a little bit special, you’re giving them a reason to stay subscribed because they can’t get this valuable content anywhere else. Your emails have the value inside them. They actually begin to look for them and begin to expect them and they open them. They don’t say, “This is all just stuff in the blog.” This is something I can’t get anywhere else. They get into the habit of opening those emails. That’s a really powerful thing.

The downside of this approach is you have to write something extra every week. It is going to go to a smaller audience than potentially your blog. You write a blog article and it’s there for all time and it gets indexed by Google and it gets shared by social media for all time. It can get a lot more eyeballs on it. It feels like you’re doing a lot of work for less effort but the work that it’s doing with your subscribers can be very powerful because it can build a deep connection with them, it can make them very thankful for it and it gets them in the habit of looking for your emails because they know they cannot get it anywhere else.

That’s option number one, you create something exclusive for your newsletter list. The type two of what you could send in terms of a newsletter is where you send out your blog post by email. Essentially every time you publish a blog post, you send an email sending people to that blog post or you actually email the blog post itself. There’s a couple of different options within this one. This is something that’s possibly a little bit easier to do because you’re not writing extra content for your newsletter, you’re just promoting that content or you’re repurposing that content for your newsletter as well.

If you’re short on time, this is a good way to go. An example of this is Jon Morrow, Jon has a blog called Smart Blogger. He argues really strongly for this type of newsletter. If you sign up for his newsletter, you’ll get an email anytime he publishes a new blog post. The email generally has two or three paragraphs that introduce the topic and then links to where you can read it. Sometimes he might have the first paragraph or two of the blog post and then says further reading or read the rest here. Sometimes he will rewrite that introduction and give you a good reason to go and read that article.

He’s sending out these emails every time he does a new blog post. This works for Jon because he’s not publishing everyday. Sometimes, I think, he publishes two or three times a month. It’s less regular. He’s not interrupting his subscribers constantly. It’s probably not recommended if you publish everyday or several times a day. I think on Digital Photography School, our readers will get highly annoyed if we email them every time we did a blog post because we publish 14 a week.

This approach is good for those of you who are short on time. It’s all about delivering traffic to your blog. The emails themselves don’t deliver a lot of value in the email. It’s not as good in terms of getting people used to the idea of opening the emails because there’s that little voice in the back of their heads saying, “I could read this on the blog, I don’t need to read this email.” You’re giving them perhaps a little less reason to do it. If the content is valuable on your blog and you’re only doing one a month or one a week, it’s possibly something that will work for you.

Another approach that I have seen on this is where the blogger has actually put the whole blog post in the email. They might publish the blog post on their blog but then they’ll also send that whole blog post in an article format in the email itself. This is where you do build some value in the emails themselves. This means your subscriber doesn’t visit your blogs often but for some of us, that doesn’t matter.

If you’re monetizing your blog with advertises, you do wanna get them over to your blog. Teasing them with that first paragraph or two and then saying read the rest here, that’s definitely a good way to go. If you are just about trying to build credibility, authority, you’re trying to make your readers connected to you, then it probably doesn’t matter where they read your content. This is an option, if that is your goal, if you wanna monetize your blog less directly by selling a product to them, then you maybe just wanna deliver that content in the email itself. There’s a couple options there.

The last type of email that you might wanna send is what I do, that is where you do a digest type email. You might send a weekly or a monthly digest of what you’ve published in that last period on your blog, you might wanna send links to all of the new content you’ve published or just the highlights of what you published in that period of time. Generally, people are doing this weekly or monthly but you could do it any period as well, you could do it every second week.

If you’re publishing several posts a week like we do, you don’t wanna be emailing your readers every time a new post goes up or as people unsubscribe. This is really where you digest it all. Digital Photography School is a good example of this. Every Thursday, I sit down and I look at the 14 posts that were published over the last week and I arrange them into categories and then I plug them into a template that we have had designed for us, it’s an HTML template. It’s basically a digest of the week.

Basically if you open that email, I can put a screenshot in today’s show notes, sometimes we’ll put a little introduction of something that happened during the week or highlighting a promotion that we’ve got on. The email is essentially a list of our new posts. They’ll be 14 new posts there, we also have some messaging from advertises there if we’re promoting something of our own or have a promotion going, we will highlight that as well but it’s generally a digest of all the stuff that’s going on in the blog. Occasionally we’ll also link to our Facebook page or our Facebook group and promote the community that’s going on as well.

Problogger PLUS newsletter is similar although simpler, we only publish three posts a week usually on Problogger, one blog post, one podcast, and one Facebook live or video on Facebook. Our Problogger PLUS newsletter only got the three links. Occasionally, I’ll also highlight a post in our archives that I think is relevant still today. I usually would include an introduction in the Problogger one because I’m trying to build a connection with readers as well, I wanna give people an insight into what’s going on at Problogger headquarters or something that has been going on on the blog over the last week.

These digest type emails are good for those of you who do have a lot of content. They’re also really good if you are trying to drive traffic to your site, you wanna get people across to your site, you’re highlighting all the blog posts but you’re not annoying your readers if you’re publishing a lot of content.

Use an introduction, I would encourage you to do that as well because that’s where you can build a more personal connection with your readers as well.

Three different types of newsletters that you can do. The third question I wanna briefly cover is what format should they be in, I get this question all the time. Should you be sending your emails in plain text, rich text which I’ll explain in a moment, or HTML. On our blogs and if you get the Problogger PLUS newsletter, you’ll know it’s branded with Problogger, you’ll see the logo in it, it’s a fairly simple design but it is HTML. There’s a picture of me in it, there’s color, there’s the Problogger color, there’s the Problogger logo. This, hopefully, makes it a little bit more visually appealing but it also reinforces the brand and it personalizes it as well because it got my face in it.

We do the same thing with Digital Photography School as well, we have the DPS colors, we’ve arranged it into categories. Particular on DPS, it’s useful to go HTML because we got a lot of content in there, there’s 14 links, there are messages from our advertises as well. We wanna draw the eye to different paths of it as well. HTML is really good if you’ve got a lot going on in your emails as well.

That costs us, we actually had to pay to get those designs done, our developers did it so we pay them to do that. It does take a little bit of time to get our emails together each week, it’s not just a matter of sitting down and writing a few paragraphs. I actually have to sit there and plug it into the template to test all the design to make sure it’s all working. It’s a little bit more involved in terms of putting it together but I do think it reinforces our brand.

Plain text is another option. I see a lot of bloggers doing it. I think there are some really good reasons for just doing plain text emails as well. Firstly it’s cheaper, you don’t have to get anyone to design it, it’s quicker and easy to put together. Generally it takes me 45 minutes or so to put out newsletters together each week, a little less for Problogger. A plain text email would be a lot quicker than that, at least half that time not including whatever you’re writing. Sometimes the writing itself could take more. The plain text email would be a lot quicker.

Also, the deliverability of a plain text email could be better than an HTML one. We’ve certainly seen that when we do our promotional emails, when we promote with an HTML email, our deliverability suffers. We generally do our sales type emails in plain text. You might wanna test that, plain text versus HTML. Every time we’ve done a split test on that in terms of our sales emails, we see plain text winning.

The other option is what’s called rich text. This is where you use some formatting. You might use bold or italics or you make any links, you link a word rather than putting the full link. This makes your emails look a little bit neater, it means you can draw the eye, you’d bold to create headings. It can be more useful if you’ve got slightly longer emails as well to draw the eye down the page. They are your three main options.

I would encourage if you’re just starting out and you’re feeling challenged to buy it all and you’re tethering on the edge of should I get into email or not, start with plain text, it’s so much simpler to do. At least you’ll be sending something every week, you wanna get into the rhythm of sending that. You can always progress to HTML later. Start simple.

Fourth question, a really brief answer to this one is how frequent should I be sending the emails. Again there’s no right answer here except to say regularity is so important, your readers will get used to the rhythm that you choose so stick to it. Personally, I really like weekly emails because it becomes a part of people’s week, it also leaves enough space between the emails that you can also send them extra emails. I’ll talk about some of those in a moment. Also, they forget who you are. That’s the danger of going monthly, is that if you go monthly, some will not signup for your newsletter today.

They may not hear from you for 29 days if they sign up on the first of the month then you send your emails on the last of the month. That distance between emails, there’s a danger there that they don’t feel connected to you, that they forget they even subscribed to you. I like weekly because it is a little bit more regular than that and it keeps you in front of people at the top of their mind.

Ultimately, the frequency you choose really needs to depend upon one, how much time do you have. If you don’t have much time, less frequent is okay. The format that you’re trying to send emails in, if you’re doing HTML, it could take a little longer so it may be less frequent. If you’re doing plain text, it’s a little bit easy to do so it may be more frequent. What are you putting in your emails, are they long, are you writing exclusive content for them, then less frequent might be okay because one, it’s gonna take you longer to create those emails but two, it’s gonna take longer to read.

You don’t wanna be sending really long articles everyday to your readers because again they can’t consume that much content so less frequent might be okay if the content is a really deep content. I guess ultimately, what are your readers’ expectations and what’s their ability to consume the content as well. They’re some of the questions I would be asking. Again, I think weekly is probably a good starting point. You can always decrease or increase it slowly over time but don’t jump and change too much.

Fifth question, it’s really the last question, is what other types of emails should you consider sending as well? We send out our weekly newsletters but in between the weekly newsletters, some weeks, there’s another email. Sometimes there’s even two. There’s different types of emails that we add into the sequence of emails that we send.

Let’s go through the three types. Promotional emails, this is where we launch a new product or run a sale on an existing product or doing an affiliate promotion of some kind or a sponsored type of campaign as well. If you’ve got a sponsor, sometimes you might send an email out about that campaign or about that offer as well.

Emails, for us, result in most of our sales. This is a really important type of email for us but we don’t wanna go overboard with the promotional emails as well. If we promote something new every three days, our readers are gonna push back and they’re gonna get mad. We really try to be as careful as possible, we wanna be promoting enough that we are profitable but we don’t wanna promote so much that we lose subscribers. You’re gonna play this a little bit by ear.

One key for us is that we map out at the start of the year what promotions we’re gonna run over the next year. We are, at present, mapping out 2018, what ebooks and courses are we going to launch, which ones that we’ve already launched will we do relaunches of or promotions on, what seasonal promotions are we gonna do in 2018, are we gonna do Black Friday, are we gonna do a Christmas sale and what affiliate promotions are we gonna do. The beauty of mapping it out ahead of time is that you can space things out.

We typically run a promotion for a week or even two weeks. We know that during those times, we’re gonna be sending out multiple emails in addition to our newsletter. We wanna space those out, we don’t wanna run a promotion this week and then another promotion next week and then another promotion the week after. We wanna space them out, give our readers a bit of a break in between. That’s another type of email that you could build in.

An autoresponder sequence would be another option. This can be a really great way to bring your new subscribers up to speed with some of the other stuff that you’ve got in your archives. If someone subscribes to Digital Photography School today, they’ve missed out on over 7000 articles in our archives. What we’ve created is a sequence of emails that goes out automatically to anyone who subscribes to our newsletter. Every 30 or so days, they get an extra email. It’s time to go out on a Sunday, our newsletters always go out on Thursday, our promotional emails usually go out on a Tuesday.

We got this rhythm that you always will get a Thursday email newsletter. You’ll sometimes get a Tuesday promotional email, this is maybe one in three weeks and then one in four weeks you’ll get a Sunday email that is highlighting something in our archives. An autoresponder is where you setup that sequence of emails ahead of time. You just let it run to anyone new who subscribes up.

There is a whole episode of this podcast dedicated to autoresponders that I’ve done in Episode 70, I’ll link to that in the show notes but you might wanna also go back and listen to that. It’s a very powerful strategy to use because it’s a set and forget type of thing. You do it once, you setup that email once and then for all eternity or until you stop, I choose to stop sending that particular email, that email automatically go out to all new subscribers at the set intervals, a very powerful strategy.

The third type of email that you might wanna send as well is more of an interaction type of email. This is where you send out a question to your readers and encourage them to reply. This might seem a little bit crazy, you don’t want all your subscribers sending you emails but it’s a very powerful thing to do. For example you might send out a welcome email and then at the end of that welcome email say, “Please tell us about your experience with…” That is a very powerful thing because it signals to your subscribers that you’re interested in hearing from them.

That adds work to you because you’re gonna start getting more emails but it’s gonna give you incredible insight into your subscribers and it’s gonna make it realize that you are not just wanting to send them emails, you’re wanting to have a conversation with them.

Another option that may be a little less work is where you setup an email and it might be part of that autoresponder sequence that we just talked about where you send out an invitation to complete a survey. This is something that we do on Digital Photography School after you’ve been subscribed to our newsletter.

I think that’s three months, we have an email that goes out automatically on the autoresponder sequence. It says, “Could you take five minutes to do this survey?” The survey has questions about their demographics but also asks them questions about their photography and it gives them an opportunity to ask questions as well about photography that they’ve got which gives us ideas for content. These types of emails are not so much about driving traffic to your archives and are not designed to get sales. They’re designed to help you understand who your readers are and also to make them feel a little bit more connected to you.

Another option that you might wanna do is adding the occasional email that promotes your Facebook group, your Facebook page, your Instagram account, these type of places as well. Again, this is about engagement, trying to get a second point of connection with your subscribers. These are the three types of extra emails that you might wanna send, there would be others as well. If you’ve got any others that you send out, that you’ve built into your rhythm of sending emails, I’d love to hear about them over in the Facebook group.

The last question that I get asked all the time from people is how do I get more subscribers to my newsletter. I’m not gonna cover this today in this episode but I do recommend you go and listen to two episodes, Episode 68 and Episode 69. These are two different strategies for building your subscriber numbers of your newsletter. I think both of those would be well worth listening to once you finish this one in a couple of minutes.

The last thing I wanna say is to make it a priority, make email a priority for 2018. I’ve seen something, the two big problems I see amongst so many blogger are bloggers who don’t have email lists, that’s the number one problem, or they’ve signed up for a service and they aren’t collecting email addresses. The second big problem is bloggers who don’t send emails. I see this all the time, people who are collecting emails everyday, they’re getting new subscribers but they’re not sending emails.

If you fall into either of those categories, one, know that you’re not alone but two, know that I’m not satisfied until you get that thing fixed. I want you to make it a priority in 2018. I really have seen the way that email has transformed my business, it has really brought a lot of traffic and a lot of income and a lot of connection with our readers as well over the years. It is a central part of what we do. Put some priorities into that. Even if you’ve got an email list and you’re still listening, make it a priority to take a critical look at what you’re doing with your email.

Do you need to change up your newsletter? Do you need to start an autoresponder sequence? Do you need to think about the design of your email? Do you need to test the format, plain text versus HTML? Do you need to do some testing in terms of the subject lines that you use? Do you need to consider upgrading your email service provider? I highly encourage you to take a critical look on some of that type of stuff.

The last thing I’ll say is if you haven’t started, start simple even if you just send a monthly plain text email once a month, a plain text email with three paragraphs that simply links to a recent post that did well for you. That is better than nothing. Don’t let the tools, don’t let the formatting, don’t let the link, don’t let the content itself hold you back, send something. Make it valuable, it doesn’t need to be long, it doesn’t need to be profound, just make it deliver a little bit of value to your subscribers and they will keep looking for your emails and it will begin to build some momentum for you.

I can’t wait to see what happens as a result of this. Remember to start simple and then let it evolve from there. You can always get more complicated with your emails but you really need to make a start on it.

Today’s show notes where there are links to Drip and ConvertKit and there’s a bit of a summary through a transcript of all the things that I’ve said and some further reading for you as well, further listening. You can find that all over at problogger.com/podcast/220. It’s the end of the year and I do wanna add my season’s greetings to those of who are celebrating at the moment and those of you who are listening in the New Year. I hope it’s been a good year for you.

We are moving now into a bit of a series of podcasts where you’re going to hear some other voices. I’m gonna introduce them but as I said in last week’s podcast, we wanted to hear some of your stories and we’ve had some amazing stories submitted. I’m really looking forward to introducing them to you in the coming weeks over at the end of the year and as we move into next year where we’re gonna start a series of content on starting a blog. I really am looking forward to that.

Those of you who haven’t started a blog yet, this is gonna be a great time for you. Those of you who wanna start a second blog, this is a great time for you to do that as well because we’re gonna give you some great content that’s gonna help you to do that, it’s free. We’re also going to help to celebrate some of those new blogs that have started. Make January a time of starting a new blog. I look forward to introducing that whole concept to you more next week on the ProBlogger podcast.

If you are looking for something else to listen to, I do recommend you go back and listen to Episode 68, 69, and 70. 68 and 69 are about how to get more subscribers for that email list that we’ve just been talking about and Episode 70 was all about auto responders. You should be able to find them all over in iTunes where I hope you’re all subscribed and have left some nice reviews for us or over on the show notes areas at problogger.com/podcast and then you just put the number, 68 or 69 or 70. Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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The post 220: What You Should Include in Your Email Newsletters appeared first on ProBlogger.

How to Create a Reader Avatar for Your Blog

How to create a blog reader avatar

For several years, I’ve been using Reader Avatars (also called Reader Profiles or Personas) on my blogs – and I’ve found them very effective and helpful.

To create your first reader avatar, you’ll need to spend some time thinking and writing about a type of reader that you’re either attempting to reach or who is already reading your blog. Describe them in as much detail as you can – who they are, what their interests are, why they might be reading your blog and what their needs are.

(We’ve created a template you can use to help you do this, and I’ll be sharing some examples of my own reader avatars throughout this post.)

The idea is that you end up with a picture of who you’re writing for that you can then use to create posts that will resonate more strongly with your actual readers.

Before I talk about the benefits of doing this and make some suggestions on how to create reader avatars for your own blog, let me show you one that I first created several years ago for my photography site

"Grace"
Mom-a-raz-zo

Grace Momarazzo Avatar

Grace describes herself as a Mom-a-raz-zo photographer because 90% of her photos are of her young children. She’s 34 years old and lives in London.

She is in the market for an entry level DSLR and lens to help her capture her kids growing up. She studies photography is high school so has a basic understanding of how to use a camera, but until now has been using an entry level point and shoot camera.

Grace reads dPS for two reasons - firstly to help make a decision about which camera to buy. She’s a little nervous about making the choice and is looking for the advice of others. She’s also looking to connect with other Mom-a-raz-zo photographers and to learn how to improve her portrait photography.

Grace is a photography book addict - she subscribes to a photography magazine and has an expanding collection of portrait related photography books.

Grace dreams about one day making a little money from her photography - perhaps using what she learns in photographing her own children - to photograph other families. Her biggest obstacles in achieving this are a lack of confidence (she worries a lot about what others think of her work) and the equipment (which she is saving for).

Grace is on Facebook, is a heavy user of email and has a Flickr account.

The profile above describes one of the types of readers that we have on DPS – people whose main use of their cameras is to photograph their kids.

The profile describes why “Grace” reads DPS, some of her dreams, the type of photography she’s into, how else she uses the web, a little about her demographics, the level she’s at, and so on.

Here’s another one from a different type of reader at DPS:

"Keith"
Grey Nomad

keith grey nomad avatar

Keith is a first time digital camera owner. He’s recently retired and has bought an entry level DSLR to help him record an upcoming trip across the USA.

Keith reads dPS to work out how to get the mosts from his new camera, which to this point, he is using only in Automatic mode.

His needs and challenges are fairly beginner level and include learning about settings like Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO, knowing how to get his images off his camera and to store them safely, as well as basic composition techniques.

Keith dreams of taking great landscapes, macro photography and a little portrait work.

Keith is on a budget, living off his savings. He is willing to spend a little to improve his photography but researches all purchases carefully.

Keith has been online for years, but his preferred way to connect online is email.

Again – I’ve described another type of reader in a similar way to the first.

In each of these cases the reader profile is based upon a reader group already within the Digital Photography School community. If you’re just getting started with your blog, this same exercise could be done with potential readers – or the type of person you want to read your blog.

Why Should You Create Reader Avatars?

Hopefully you can already see some of the benefits of these kinds of reader avatars – but let me list a few of the things I’ve found most useful:

  • It makes your blogging feel more relevant and personal – I find that having a person (real or pretend) in mind as I write reminds me that there are real people on the other end of my posts. There are people with faces, names and needs – I find it inspiring to visualise them reading what I write, and thinking about them helps me to write in a more personal tone.

  • It informs your writing – having these kinds of avatars in mind as I write reminds me of some of the problems and questions that readers might have. That leads me to write write more practical posts that focus on real readers’ needs. Often as I write, I visualise the questions and reactions that these different readers might have to my posts – and then try to build answers to those into what I’m writing.

  • It identifies opportunities – although it was several years ago now, I still remember writing the first profile above (Grace) and realising that quite a few of my readers have mentioned their dreams of one day making some money from their photography. As a result, I created a section of the DPS forum specifically about making money with photography ... and later, we published an ebook on “Going Pro”.  (Note the forums are currently closed.)

  • It can be helpful for recruiting advertisers – potential advertisers will want to know what type of reader you have. You can simply share your reader avatars with them: no need to think through a new answer each time. This also shows that you’ve thought about your readers and run a professional site.

  • It identifies ways to connect with your readership – you’ll notice I’ve included details in the profiles on what else the reader does online. It’s really useful to know what other sites your reader uses and which social networks they prefer as this can identify opportunities to identify places where potential new readers hang out.

It will identify opportunities to monetize your blog – knowing what your readers currently spend money on, what their needs are, and what kind of income they have at their disposal will give you all kinds of ideas for the types of advertisers you should seek out, the type of affiliate promotions you could do and the type of products you could develop.

How to Create a Reader Profile?

There are no real rules – you can see I’ve developed a certain style in my personas above. I added a picture to each of the type of person in the profile to further personalise it. I’d suggest trying to include information in the following areas:

  • Demographics – basic facts, like age, gender, nationality, and education level. You can use Google Analytics not only to see how many readers are coming from which countries, but also to see how your readers fall into different age categories, and what the balance of genders is. Google’s page on Demographics and Interests explains how this works.  

  • Financial situation – are your readers well off, secure, or just about managing? This will obviously affect the types of products you choose to promote as an affiliate, or create yourself.

  • Needs and/or challenges – what are your readers struggling with, or what are they keen to know about? With photography, for instance, readers like Grace will want to know how to capture their children as they grow up.

  • How they use the web – you might want to think about the other blogs they read, the news sites they visit, the social networks they’re active within, and whether they tend to browse on a computer or on a tablet / mobile (again, Google Analytics can give you insight into this).

  • Motivations for reading the blog – for instance, are your readers hobbyists or taking their first steps into a career related to your topic? Do they read your blog to be inspired, educated, or entertained?

  • Level of experience with the topic – are your readers total beginners, highly experienced, or something in between? You may want to create several reader avatars for people at different levels of experience and familiarity with the topic.

  • Dreams – what do they wish they could accomplish ... and how can you help them get there? You might find that the emails you receive and the comments on your posts help you figure out what your readers’ dreams are.

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list – if you’ve created a reader avatar (or several) before, please feel free to share your suggestions and tips in comments below.

Let me finish this post off with one last persona – again for DPS.

"Gareth"
Going Pro

gareth going pro avatar

Gareth (39 and living in Denver) prides himself on being one of the first people in his friendship group to own a digital camera. He invested heavily in a Sony Mavica that had the ability to take and store 9 images on a floppy disk!

Gareth sold his extensive film camera kit years back and fully converted to a Canon DSLR kit which he regularly updates and adds to whenever a new camera, lens or accessory comes onto the market. He also collects a range of other cameras - Liecas, Holgas and other more obscure models. He has a high disposable income.

Gareth works as a successful freelance designer but had recently put together a portfolio site for his photography and is on the way to going pro as a photographer.

Gareth knows most of what there is to know about photography - he is part of dPS because he loves to show his work and help others improve their photography. He’s also looking to increase his profile and exposure as a photographer.

Gareth photographs everything - he particularly loves live music photography, urban landscapes and anything experimental.

Gareth is an early adopter in many areas of life - he’s prolific in social media circles, has his own blog, Flickr account and is active on Facebook, Twitter and regularly uses Delicious for social bookmarking.


Now it’s over to you. Have a go at writing at least one reader avatar for your blog ... and leave a comment below to let us know how you got on.  

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