Tag Archives: Blogging for Dollars

10 Tips to Help You Land a Job as a Freelance Blogger

The post 10 Tips to Help You Land a Job as a Freelance Blogger appeared first on ProBlogger.

10 tips to help you land a job as a freelance blogger

This post is based on Episode 185 of the ProBlogger podcast.

Whether you’re looking to become a full-time blogger, want to supplement your blogging income, or simply want to make a bit of money to support your own blog as it grows, finding a paid blogging job can help you go further, faster.

Back in 2006 I started the ProBlogger job board. Since then we’ve had well over 10,000 jobs listed on that board. Typically there’s at least one new job each day, and often as many as five or six. Most of them are writing-related, but there are also jobs aimed at editors and other types of content creators.

Featured jobs appear at the top of the board (where advertisers have paid a little extra), and the other jobs appear beneath them with the most recent at the top. There are usually three or four pages of active jobs at any given time.

I even use the job board myself. Several times a year I advertise for writers for Digital Photography School. But while we get a lot of applications (often 60 or more), a lot of those applying don’t do themselves any favours.

So today I’ll be sharing ten tips for applying for a job on the ProBlogger job board (or any other job board) in a way that will help you stand out for the crowd.

Tip #1: If You See a Job You’d Like, Act Quickly!

Advertisers sometimes remove a job within 24 hours of posting it because they managed to fill the position. Obviously you don’t want to send a rushed, half-complete application. But you should get it in fairly promptly.

Here are a few ways to find out about the jobs as soon as they’re advertised:

  • Use the jobs board RSS feed of all jobs.
  • Set up an email alert on the jobs board. (Look in the sidebar, or scroll down if you’re using a mobile.) You can enter a keyword to get only jobs that use that keyword, or leave it blank to get a daily email with all the new jobs.
  • Follow the ProBlogger Twitter account, where we tweet each new job once.

By default, jobs stay on the board for 30 days. We encourage advertisers to close their jobs once they’re filled, but not everyone does this. If you see an older job that looks like a great fit for you, it’s fine to email the advertiser and check whether the job is still open before applying.

Tip #2: Follow the Instructions in the Job Listing

Different advertisers will want you to apply in different ways. And they often tell you exactly what they want from you.

When advertising for Digital Photography School writers we’ve asked for specific things, such as examples of their work. We’ve also told applicants not to send in a full resume. But if you looked through the applications we get you’d be amazed how many people clearly didn’t read the instructions.

If you apply for a job and don’t follow the instructions, it’s a signal to the advertiser that you don’t pay attention to detail. So make sure you read the job listing carefully and do everything you’re asked to do.

Tip #3: Be Willing to “Sell Yourself”

So many people applying for DPS jobs sell themselves short. I know it can be hard to write confidently about your skills and abilities. But you need to put your best foot forward and give people a reason to hire you.

Talk about your previous experience, your knowledge, and your passion for the topic. Emphasise skills such as working with others or whatever else you can bring to the job. It’s not about selling yourself as something you’re not. It’s about making the most of everything you have.

Tip #4: Write Your Application Well

I’m always amazed at people who don’t proofread their applications. When you’re applying for a blogging job – which inevitably involves a lot of writing – your written application gives the advertiser an idea of how good you’ll be.

If you send an application that’s well written, well structured, spell-checked, and grammatically correct, you’ll put yourself ahead of your competition. Proofread your application and, if you can, get someone else to proofread it for you too.

Tip #5: Give Examples of Your Previous Work

Most of the jobs on our jobs board ask for examples of posts you’ve written previously.

Sometimes they’ll ask for links to articles you’ve had published somewhere else. (Ideally these will be on someone else’s site, but articles on your own site is often fine too.) Sometimes they’ll ask for a document or PDF file with a sample of your writing. Look at what they’re asking for, and make sure you send your samples in their preferred format.

When you’re deciding which pieces to use, think about:

  • Including a link to your own blog (if you’re already a blogger). This will help demonstrate your experience.
  • Choosing pieces relevant to the job (e.g. a post about travel for a travel writing blog). If you don’t have anything, you may even want to write a post for your own blog you can link to.
  • Choosing pieces that match the style the advertiser is looking for. Take a look at their blog and find out what type of content they produce. Is it conversational or formal? Is it short and concise or more detailed?
  • Offering a range of different types of content to show your versatility (unless they’re only advertising for a particular type of content, such as list posts). For instance, you may want to show them:
    • a list post
    • a “how to” post
    • a more humorous post
    • a story-driven post.

Tip #6: Be Concise and Don’t Overwhelm the Advertiser

When I talk to advertisers who post jobs on the ProBlogger job board, they often tell me they’re getting a lot of applications. If they receive a long application, it can take them quite a while just to read and process it.

So while you should include everything they ask for in your application, you should also be concise. This isn’t the place to tell them your life story. Don’t overwhelm the advertiser with tons of detail. Instead, select the most important information.

Tip #7: Demonstrate a Knowledge of Blogging Itself

As well as showing you know the topic area well (which I’ll get to in a moment), you need to show you understand the technical side of blogging.

For instance, if you regularly share content on a blog, and you’re familiar with WordPress or another blogging tool, make sure you let the advertiser know. Give them a link to your blog, or tell them how long you’ve been using WordPress.

These tell the advertiser that you’re serious about blogging and already have the skills you need. They’ll know they won’t have to invest time teaching you how to create a blog post in WordPress or how to add an image to a post.

If you don’t already got a blog of your own, get one going. We have an entire free course to help you.

Tip #8: Demonstrate Knowledge of the Topic

I’m sure this is obvious, but people won’t employ you to write for their blog if you don’t have a good understanding of the topic.

Ideally you’ll have already written about that topic. But you may be able to show your understanding of the topic in other ways. You may have had some training on it through work, or delivered workshops. Or maybe it’s a hobby you engage in extensively.

Demonstrating you know their topic well and you’re up to date with the latest trends within it will add a lot to your application.

Tip #9: Only Apply to Jobs That Are a Good Fit for You

In the past few years I’ve found that some people apply for every job that appears on the job board. And it inevitably comes across in the applications, where are pretty much copied and pasted from one job to the next.

Don’t give an advertiser the impression you’re desperate for any job. They want to know you’re a great fit for their job. Tailor your application to what they need, and make sure you have the skills they’re looking for.

Tip #10: Demonstrate You’re Willing to Go Beyond Just Writing

While it’s crucial to show advertisers you have the writing experience and abilities they’re looking for, you can also offer them something more.

For instance, if you have experience in design, search engine optimisation, editing, creating video or anything like that, list it at the bottom of your application. It will show the advertiser they’re not just getting a writer. They’re also getting someone who can help with search engine optimisation, or create new types of content for their blog.

You can also include links to your social network profiles, and tell advertisers you’re willing to promote the content you write on your social networks. This can be an added bonus for an advertiser, as it will help bring traffic to their site.

If you follow even half of these tip you’ll immediately put yourself ahead of a lot of other people applying. Follow them all, and you’ll really stand out from the crowd.

Check out the ProBlogger jobs board and see if there are jobs you’d like to apply for.

Good luck with your hunt.

Image credit: Grovemade

The post 10 Tips to Help You Land a Job as a Freelance Blogger appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

Case Study: How to Run a 7-Day Challenge

7-Day Challenge Case Study

Today’s post is a case study with Undercover Architect, Amelia Lee.

Amelia attended the ProBlogger Evolve and Mastermind events in 2017, and adapted speaker Jadah Sellner’s 7-Day Challenge model to boost her own lead generation and course enrollments.

Here’s how she did it.

When I attended ProBlogger Evolve in 2017, I was specifically looking for guidance on how to market and run a new online program I’d been piloting. The format of “How to Get it Right” was a six-week program on a launch model, with six weeks’ membership to a Facebook group and weekly live Q&A sessions.

I already had an evergreen premium coaching program where I supported and guided homeowners through their projects over a 12-month period. This six-week program would be a standalone offering that would also give members a taste of the premium program and let them upgrade if they so chose.

During the Mastermind day on Problogger Evolve, Jadah Sellner (previously of Simple Green Smoothies) did a presentation on her signature “How to Build a Challenge” process. She’d had success using challenges as list builders, as well as great conversion tools for selling products and programs online.

I’d considered using it as a lead generator for “How to Get it Right”. But I wasn’t sure whether I’d be giving too much of the course away, or whether I’d need to come up with new content.

During one of the breaks, I spoke with Jadah about my concerns. She asked about the format of my course content (number of steps, breakdown of modules, etc). She suggested sharing the six steps in the first of my four modules. She also suggested I run a live webinar (or something similar) on the last day, and pitch it as a seven-day challenge. I could tell attendees they’d just had a taste of the full program, which they could now join and use that momentum to keep taking action on their projects.

I’d seen people using a Facebook group or page to keep generating leads during their challenges. So I wanted to incorporate that as well.

This is how we built the Undercover Architect Free 7-Day Challenge.

  1. We hosted the challenge itself inside our online course platformWe already had a WordPress site with the Access Ally plugin to run our online “Your Reno Roadmap” program. We built the 7-Day Challenge as a course inside there to make it easy to:
    • create a great user experience
    • drip-feed content
    • provide extra resources.

    Members also received a personal login to the 7-Day Challenge site, which gave them a taste of the technology the actual course would run on.

  2. The first six steps of my “How to Get it Right in Your Reno or New Home” content became the six days of the free challenge

    These six steps are the first steps anyone needs to do if planning a reno or new home. But they’re often missed by homeowners. Instead of sharing all the content inside the course, I used storytelling and examples to teach the steps. I created a short video for each day of the challenge to present this information. I used my iPad Pro to shoot them in my office (with our rooster crowing in the background), and edited them in iMovie.

  3. We provide extra resources for each day inside the online course

    We included links to blogs or podcasts on Undercover Architect’s website, and other online resources. We also created an interactive PDF worksheet to help homeowners relate the learnings to their own projects. (These were created in Canva, and then made interactive in Adobe Acrobat.)

  4. We ran ads on Facebook and Instagram to launch the challenge

    We advertised a start date for seven-day challenge It was part of the lead up to launching the program, with day seven of the challenge being the ‘cart open’ day to purchase “How to Get it Right”.It was a great lead generator.I’ve run the challenge twice now, and it’s added more than 1,500 people to my email list, with low conversion costs on Facebook.

  5. During the actual challenge, we uploaded each day’s challenge video to the Undercover Architect Facebook page, with a CTA to join if they wanted to access the free resources inside the course website.

    We used ActiveCampaign, and set up an automation that allowed people to opt in before the challenge. They could also opt in after the challenge had started. If they opted in on Day 3, they would get immediate access to Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3, and then be drip-fed the remainder of the challenge.

    (We did this with a lot of “If/Then” settings in ActiveCampaign, and “Wait until specific date”. As an aside, if you’re an Access Ally owner, I recommend joining Nathalie Lussier’s Facebook Group for Access Ally. I got an immediate reply in there when asking a question about how to get this to work in Active Campaign).This meant we could run Facebook ads to each day’s video, and collect email addresses while the challenge was live.

    And each day we sent a reminder to everyone who opted in to visit the course website, watch the video and grab their free resources.

  6. Day seven of the Challenge was a Facebook Live

    I debated whether to do this as a webinar. But in the end I figured there would be less friction if I just offered it as a Free Q&A on the Undercover Architect Facebook page. We uploaded it to the course website for anyone who missed it. During the Facebook live, I wrapped up the 7-Day Challenge, spoke about the launch of “How to Get it Right” (which had been seeded during the challenge) and then answered questions.

  7. We then retargeted the Facebook ads to the video viewers and email list from the challenge. We also ran other campaigns during the ‘cart open’ phase.

We’ve now run this challenge/launch format twice for the “How to Get it Right” program. And each time it’s been great as a conversion tool. In the most recent round, 25% of purchasers had only joined our list during the free 7-Day Challenge we’d just run.

We also found with the most recent launch that a good portion of purchasers had done the free challenge both times.

I found the challenge was a great way to provide high-quality, actionable content to the UA Community, and give them a taste of what the online program is like. I also had people emailing me who weren’t ready to join the course, but still appreciated the experience of learning the best first steps in a reno or new build project.

How has this performed against other launches? Well, the last two launches of “How to Get it Right” have certainly been the biggest revenue launches I’ve done. They’ve also been the most structured, with a lead generation strategy and marketing campaign.

With the most recent launch I used the Content Strategy Pat Flynn shared during his Mastermind session to feed the launch into my podcast content. This worked really well too.

I’m now reviewing how I can set up “How to Get it Right in Your Reno or New Home” as an evergreen offering, and how the free 7-Day Challenge will be involved. The thing about homeowners planning their renovation or new home is that it’s not seasonal, and everyone does it at a different pace. So, while the ‘launch’ strategy builds scarcity, it doesn’t serve my audience in terms of them having access to the information in the way they need.

We’re also reviewing whether the 7-Day Challenge will stay on our online course site, or whether we’ll give it a different home. I’ve noticed Pat Flynn runs his mini-courses on Leadpages, as do many other online businesses that release a video each day in the same way. We had a bit of tech management to do with each challenge as people familiarised themselves with the username/password process of logging into a site, and so Leadpages may alleviate this.

But the 7-Day Challenge is a fantastic information asset for Undercover Architect, and super valuable to those who participate. So it’s definitely something we’ll feature in our business in the not-too-distant future.

We’re currently focusing on building another complimentary online program called “Manage Your Build” that will help homeowners oversee the construction of their new home or renovation with sanity, confidence and ease.

I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity to attend ProBlogger Evolve 2017, and for what I learned there. The calibre of expertise, and the generosity of teaching and sharing, was amazing. And to have the queen of challenges herself, Jadah Sellner, give me personal advice on how to structure mine was invaluable.

So, what challenge will you create for your audience?

 

BIO

Amelia Lee is the architect behind Undercover Architect.

Undercover Architect is an award-winning online resource that helps homeowners get it right when designing, building or renovating their family homes.

Amelia has more than 20 years industry experience in more than 250 projects (including three renovations of her own). She brings that experience and expertise to Undercover Architect to teach you how to save time, money and stress in your project, and ensure you create a home that suits you now, and always.

With a blog, podcast and online programs to support and guide you, Undercover Architect provides the know-how you need to feel confident and in control.

Check out www.undercoverarchitect.com and get started on your future family home now.

The post Case Study: How to Run a 7-Day Challenge appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

Case Study: How To Use Your Blog To Crowdfund Your Next Project

Crowdfunding Your Next Blog ProjectToday’s post is a case study with sustainable living educator, Laura Trotta.

Laura used her blog to crowdfund more than AUD 37,000 for sustainability initiatives, including the construction of her Self Sufficiency in the Suburbs membership site and her trip to Antarctica to participate in a global sustainability program.

Here’s how she did it.

When I launched my eco-living blog lauratrotta.com in late 2015, I never imagined it would become the launchpad for crowdfunding substantial amounts of money to grow my business (and my impact). I simply saw it as my main platform to inspire and educate others to switch to a more sustainable lifestyle.

Yet just months after launching, the combination of my vision and tight funds had me looking at alternate funding sources to design and build a membership platform for my online eco-living programs.

I didn’t have the finances invest in the project and develop it to the quality I wanted (and my followers expected). So I decided to crowdfund the project.

And the rest is history.

Within a few weeks I raised more than AUD 15,000 (more than enough to cover the project costs), and had 54 members in my Self Sufficiency in the Suburbs membership community.

Buoyed by the success of this initial campaign, a year later I ran a second campaign and raised more than AUD 22,000 to secure my ship berth to Antarctica as part of the Homeward Bound program.

I was selected as one of 80 female scientists worldwide to travel to Antarctica for a climate change and women in science initiative. But this once in a lifetime opportunity came with a hefty price tag that could financially sink my family.

With the payment deadline to secure my ship berth fast approaching I asked my online following for support via (you guessed it) a crowdfunding campaign.

And I’m so glad I did. Not only did I raise the funds to accept my selection, I helped 200 supporters become part of something special.

I could go on and on about how crowdfunding through my blog has helped me. But I’d much rather take a closer look at how it can help you.

Whether it’s securing funding upfront, catapulting their visibility, or seeing if a business concept will fly, more and more bloggers and entrepreneurs are turning to crowdfunding over traditional forms of finance.

In fact, 2015 saw an estimated US$34 billion worldwide being raised by crowdfunding.

In this post I’ll explain what crowdfunding is and how it works. I’ll also share five benefits of crowdfunding (only one is financial), and why you should consider it not just to raise capital, but also to grow your blog—and your business.

What is crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is about raising capital for a project or venture upfront by receiving monetary contributions from a large number of people. The supporters ‘pledge’ their support for the campaign in exchange for a reward. Rewards can be a product or service, or just a public acknowledgement.

How does crowdfunding work?

To set up a crowdfunding campaign, you share the story of your project and where you’ll invest the funds into an online crowdfunding platform such as Kickstarter, Pozible, Chuffed or Indiegogo.

You then specify different tangible rewards different amounts of monetary pledges.

There are two types of crowdfunding campaigns:

  • the ‘all or nothing’ campaign, where you receive the funds only if you reach your campaign target
  • the ‘receive everything’ campaign, where you receive all funds whether or not you reach the target.

Naturally, there are advantages and disadvantages for each one.

The platform will prompt you to specify a period for the crowdfunding campaign. And once you hit publish, you’re on your way.

Despite what many people think, running a crowdfunding campaign isn’t a ‘set and forget’ exercise. You need to drive as much traffic as you can to your campaign to make sure you trend high on the platform and receive the financial pledges you need.

Sharing your campaign on social media as well as traditional media, email marketing and other methods will all increase the chances of your campaign reaching (or even exceeding) your target.

What are the benefits of crowdfunding?

You may be put off crowdfunding by the amount time and effort needed, or the fact it’s all so open and public. But before you choose a more traditional form of finance I encourage you to reconsider, as the benefits of crowdfunding go way beyond the financial reward.

Here are some more benefits of crowdfunding.

  • Raised Profile/Media Exposure. Due to the high traffic volume crowdfunding platforms receive, and the likelihood of friends and supporters sharing your campaign in social media, crowdfunding is one of the best ways to increase exposure and boost your visibility.Following my two successful crowdfunding campaigns, my story was picked up by online and traditional media keen for a ‘good news’ story. My social media and email followers also grew considerably during and after the campaign.
  • Market Research. Not sure your idea will fly? Crowdfunding will quickly give you the answer. While many people fear a failed crowdfunding campaign, the astute blogger/business owner knows it’s better than investing thousands of dollars (and just as many hours) on a business or project only to have it fail. A successful campaign gives you the confidence that there’s a market for your product or service before you create it.
  • Loyal Customers. The people who pledge money will become your most loyal customers. They’ve personally invested in your idea, and want you to grow and succeed. There’s no better feeling than giving these customers their rewards to thanks them for their support.
  • No interest or ongoing fees. Unlike traditional business lending, once you hit your target, and the platform and transaction fees have been deducted, that’s it. There are no ongoing fees, and definitely no interest rates.
  • Accountability. There’s no better motivation to keep your project on track than having a large group of customers waiting for a product or service they’ve already paid for. In my experience, a successful crowdfunding campaign is the perfect way to get public accountability and push you to deliver what you’ve promised.

How soon after the campaign do you get your money?

In an ‘all or nothing’ campaign, pledges are processed as soon as the target is reached.

If the supporter has paid by PayPal, you’ll receive individual transactions directly into your PayPal account once you reach this milestone. Credit card payments are usually processed at the end of the campaign, and transferred into your bank account within 7-10 days.

Crowdfunding platforms usually take around 5% of the campaign total in fees, and payment gateways can take another 3% in exchange for the services provided. Keep these fees in mind when setting your target. You don’t want to shortchange yourself. 

Five tips to help your crowdfunding campaign hit its target

Around 70% of crowdfunding campaigns fail to reach their target. And the biggest cause of those failures is lack of preparation. So you need to do your research before you launch the campaign, because once you’ve hit the launch button it’s too late to make improvements or compensate for your lack of preparation.

Here’s some of my best tips to help your campaign succeed:

  • Make it about the cause. A lot of crowdfunding campaigns fail because the creator makes it about them rather than the cause. And people love getting behind a cause.
  • Employ the “No pledger left behind” philosophy. Make every pledger feel valued and appreciated. If you do, they’ll be inspired to share your campaign even more. List and tag (where possible) every pledger in social media, and provide regular updates to keep your pledgers in the loop.
  • Stay in the game. So many campaigns fail because the campaign creator gives up before the campaign is over. In many cases, the bulk of support comes in during the last few hours, and sometimes even the last few minutes.
  • Choose ‘all or nothing’. It’s a big leap of faith to choose the ‘all or nothing’ campaign. But statistics show you’ll be more likely to hit your target. Maybe your supporters don’t want to see you fail. Maybe they really want their rewards, or would hate to see the money raised go to waste. But whatever the reason, it definitely increases your chances of success.This is in contrast to ‘receive everything’ campaigns, where you’re basically telling pledgers you’ll be happy with whatever you can get. There’s no urgency in these campaigns, and so people don’t feel the need to get behind them.
  • Have a Traffic Strategy. While angel investors are out there, the reality is that nine out of ten pledges typically come from traffic you send to your campaign. So It pays to have a traffic strategy in place before you launch.As well as regular blog posts and email marketing before and during the campaign, you should also include guest blogging, traditional PR and paid online advertising in your crowdfunding toolkit.

Final thoughts

Crowdfunding via your blog has more benefits than just raising money.

A successful campaign will make you confident there’s a market for your product or service before you create it. Better still, you’ll have group of passionate supporters who believe in your vision and will cheer you along every step of the way.

 

Bio

Laura Trotta is one of Australia’s leading sustainable living educators. She blogs about sustainable living and online conscious business at lauratrotta.com.

As a veteran online eco-preneur, and creator of multiple award-winning, thriving and profitable blogs, Laura also coaches other conscious business owners to tap into the power and reach of the Internet to grow their brand and take their idea to impact.

To help you plan a successful crowdfunding campaign, Laura has compiled a Crowdfunding Checklist that shows what you need to do at every step.

The post Case Study: How To Use Your Blog To Crowdfund Your Next Project appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

Case Study: What Happens When You Want to Sell Your Blog?

When I started my travel blog back in 2005, I never imagined I’d be selling it.

After all, I just wanted to tell my family and friends what I was up to. I had no idea it would become a business that supported my family.

Even when it became a central part of our lives ten years later, it was like another child to me. I loved it, coddled it, and put so much of myself into it.

I learned a lot from growing and monetising my blog. I also learned a lot from selling it. And in this post I want to walk you through the process of selling my blog, and what I learned.

The interesting part is that getting a blog ready to sell is really about making your blog more valuable. And that’s something every blog owner can benefit from—even if they never plan to sell.

So whether you’re planning on selling your blog one day or not, my tips will help you get your blog earning more without needing your constant attention. It will help reduce the stress of running your blog while making more money. And if you ever decide to sell, you’ll walk away with the maximum amount possible.

Why I decided to sell my blog

So how did my blog go from something I thought of a another child to something I couldn’t wait to get rid of?

There were a few reasons.

I had way too many sites, and needed to let some go so I could focus my energy better. I’d just sold my first niche site, and letting it go felt so good that I decided to sell all my other niche sites and have just my two main blogs.

Then I realised I’d be better off getting rid of the blog (where I spent a lot of my time) rather than the sites that brought in money without any effort.

It also coincided with me restructuring my business. Thanks to some bad advice, I’d just discovered  I’d have to pay capital gains on the value of my business to move it to a company structure. I couldn’t afford to pay tax on something I wasn’t getting and value from, so selling it made a lot of sense.

And of course, the money from the sale would remove a lot of the financial pressure as I worked on building up my second blog.

But the biggest reason I decided to sell it is that I simply didn’t want to do it anymore.

I started writing about travel because I was passionate about it. Travelling was the one time I could really live in the moment.

But blogging about travel ruined that for me. I took it very seriously, and while my blog became very successful, travel became more and more stressful. My brain worked overtime as I analysed every aspect of what I was doing and how I would write about it.

We also did crazy things like visiting six attractions in a day. Try that with three young kids.

Towards the end I was exhausted and burnt out. I hated everything about the blog, and stopped working on it.

Thanks to my business model (using Google for traffic and affiliate marketing for income), money was still coming in. But no income is truly passive, and I knew my earnings would decrease over time if I couldn’t rekindle my passion.

And then I found myself on Facebook, where I described my blog as a gangrenous arm that needed to be cut off.

It was time to sell.

What buyers are looking for in a blog

No-one buys a blog because they’re passionate about the topic. They buy it because they think it’s a good business to own.

Which means they’re looking for a good business model.

They aren’t interested in what many of us bloggers stress over—page views, number of followers, etc. They want to know:

  • How much money the blog makes
  • How much time you spend on the blog
  • The business costs

That’s it.

Yes, a blog with strong metrics in page views, email subscribers and social media can make it more attractive. And they may want to talk about how you do what you do. But what they’ll care about the most is how much money the blog makes.

So don’t be too concerned about page views, number of likes, etc. They really don’t matter that much. What you should be concerned about is whether your blog is doing what you wanted it to do. Anyone looking to pay good money for a blog will want to be sure they’re getting good a return on their  investment.

And page views don’t pay the bills.

A lot of people didn’t think I could sell my blog because my name and image is all over it. But that’s not a problem so long as it doesn’t need you to make money.

How to work out the value of a blog

Figuring out the value of a blog is the same as figuring out the value of any businesses. You need to look as the profit it makes.

Along with my travel blog I’ve sold three other sites, and each time the value was based on a multiple of its monthly or annual profit.

Note that we’re talking about profit, not revenue, which means you need to subtract a wage for the effort you’ve been putting in.

A good broker will ask you to estimate how much time you spend on your blog each month, and put a value on that time. For me, they recommend US$25 an hour.

And just like any other business cost, this gets subtracted from the revenue.

While multiples vary, a good starting point is:

  • monthly profit x 20 for a site less than three years old
  • monthly profit x 30 for a site more than three years old.

Monthly profits are based on the site’s average income over the past year.

If profit has been steadily increasing you may be able to base your calculations on the past six or even three months’ worth of figures. But chances are you’ll get a lower multiple. For example, the profit of one site I sold was going up steadily, and the overall profit of previous six months was higher than the six months before that. I was able to use the average of these months, but the multiple went from 30 to 29.

My travel blog had a good steady income, big audience numbers, and potential for monetisation beyond affiliate marketing. It also appealed to people who wanted a passive income and to be able to claim their travel as a tax deduction. That meant I could list the site for a higher multiple than those earlier examples.

Depending on your site, and exactly what you’re offering, you may have to negotiate the price when you find a buyer.

But again, page views and social media followers didn’t matter, and played no part in the negotiations.

How to sell a blog

You’ve probably heard of Flippa—a well-known platform for selling sites.

I sold two sites on there recently, and it’s a relatively painless process.

However, I only recommend Flippa for low-value sites worth less than $10,000. At this price level, you’ll struggle to get a good broker.

For a blog doing well, you’re better off using a broker.

For the two higher-priced sites I sold last year, I used Empire Flippers and FE International.

I had very positive experiences with them both.

They both have a similar process. Expect to spend a few full-on days getting your financials together. There’s a format they need to go in, and you’ll have to show proof of everything – a receipt for every payment and some type of tracking for every payment.

You’ll also need to write a lot about your blog to explain to potential buyers what it’s all about, why it’s a good purchase, what tasks you work on, etc.

Once you hand over everything, expect them to keep coming back with more questions and wanting more proof of various things.

This was the most (and possibly only) frustrating part of the process for me. I wanted my sites for sale immediately, but we did this back and forth for a couple of weeks and sometimes it didn’t seem necessary.

When this process is finished, they’ll tell you the price they want to list the site for. (You’re allowed to negotiate.)

Once you both agree on a price, the details are put up on the broker’s site and sent out to their email list.

Potential buyers may ask questions that you’ll need to be ready to answer. They may request a phone call to discuss it further, and will probably want access to your Google Analytics and, in my case, Amazon affiliate account.

For each buyer there might be a contract discussion (more about this later) and possibly haggling over the price.

These options took a 15% cut of the purchase price. Empire Flippers and Flippa also have listing fees. It can be a lot of money, but I think it was worth it. My sites all sold not long after they were listed, which would never have happened otherwise.

While Flippa doesn’t really do much for the money, using a broker is fantastic. I didn’t have to deal with enquiries, and they have processes to ensure they only deal with serious buyers and I’m not sharing my financial information with everyone in the world.

Buyers also like buying through a broker because they know they’ve done a lot of due diligence, which minimises the risk of fake information and protects both parties.

Once you have a buyer, they also make the transition process very painless. They’ll do the negotiations, write the contracts, and ensure you won’t be ripped off by someone taking your site without paying you.

I highly recommend FE International or Empire Flippers for selling your blog.

I found Empire Flippers better for sites that are straightforward, such as my niche site that I spent basically no time on and was all about SEO traffic and affiliate income.

They also make potential buyers pay a refundable deposit to see your site data, which helps keep away nosey people (and potential competitors).

For sites that have a higher value and/or get more complicated (e.g. most blogs), I found FE international better. I’m  glad I sold my blog with them. They tell you how they’ll value the blog and what price to expect before you have to start providing all the information.

Empire Flippers will only discuss this after you’ve provided all the information. But they do have a calculator on their site you can use to value your blog.

Making a contract for your blog

The biggest concern I had about selling my blog was the new owner using photos of my kids in ways I didn’t like, or perhaps impersonating me.

Thankfully, you can make a contract for your blog sale with any conditions you want (assuming the buyer agrees).

I made sure my broker understood I needed clauses that helped me feel less concerned about these points.

The buyer may also have concerns that they’ll want to negotiate on. For example, they’ll probably want a clause that says  you can’t build a competing blog for at least two years. There may also be clauses about you training them to run your blog.

Another clause will specify when you get paid. On Empire Flippers, the buyer had a few weeks to verify the income before the money was released from escrow to me.

FE International had a policy of releasing the money as soon as everything was handed over.

If you have any concerns about how the new buyer will handle your blog and its assets, discuss it with your broker and potential buyers in advance so you come up with a solution.

Handing over the blog

This was actually far less painful than I expected.

After the buyer has put the money for the blog in escrow, you will start handing over. Your broker can help with this.

FE International helped me complete a huge handover document with everything the new owner needed to know from how to get the actual blog to social media logins to which affiliate accounts they needed to set up where to how to run the site day to day.

This made it so much easier and meant the buyer had access to everything immediately making the transfer fast and smooth.

To make things easier we tended to give our hosting accounts to the new owners. Hosts like SiteGround will allow changing the owner’s details. Otherwise, the broker or your host can help if you can’t transfer the site yourself.

I also used shared Google drive folders when handing over sites where I put everything related to my sites from logo images to affiliate partner contacts.

It’s a good idea to be readily available at handover as we had Skype calls in all cases to help things move along. After all, the faster things are handed over, the faster you are paid.

Within a few days of the sale going through, I had the money for my blog.

My top 3 tips for selling your blog (or for building a more valuable blog)

  1. Start removing yourself from the blog 12 months in advance

The only mistake I made in selling my blog was not deciding 12 months in advance so I could better remove myself and my family.

There are two reasons you may want to do this.

Firstly, a blog is going to be more attractive to buyers if it doesn’t look like it relies on you. Having your photo all over it isn’t ideal.

A better idea is to start using a pen name in advance and limit the amount of yourself on the blog.

This is also a good idea if you feel nervous about selling your image, and what can feel like part of your identity, to someone else. It is much easier to just have anything you don’t want on their gone when you sell it rather than coming up with conditions for the contract that you have to hope the other person follows.

You may also want to remove some of the more personal posts.

You should do this 12 months in advance because you can’t change anything that could affect the business operation of the blog right before you sell it.

If you remove posts or change the site much in the months leading up to the sale then the buyer will have a legitimate concern that the earnings that you have declared are not correct as obviously how much your blog earns is affected by what is on your blog.

It’s also good if you can remove yourself from the day to day running on the blog. Your blog will look more attractive if you have an already trained VA which the new buyer can hire as well.

This should also help the value of the blog as a VA usually costs less than having an hourly rate for yourself.

I recommend looking at these areas of your blog even if you don’t plan to ever sell. I think it’s good to regularly reflect and adjust how much of yourself and your family you want to share, for example, and making you less essential in the day to day running of the blog is a great way to save yourself a lot of stress and give you more time to work on more important tasks in your business.

  1. Concentrate on passive income sources

The value of your blog is all about the profit you are making so the easiest way to increase your blog value is to make more money while putting in less effort.

Thankfully, this is easily achievable in blogging.

I always concentrated on getting traffic with SEO and converting it with affiliate marketing which helped my blog not only earn good money, but made it worth a lot of money because this is largely passive once you get it working.

I recommend you work on this aspect of blogging before getting to the point of wanting to sell your blog.

The way to do this is to concentrate on learning about buying keywords and reader intent.

Making affiliate profits is easiest when you attract readers to your site that have a buying mindset. This means that they already have the intent to buy something; they just need you to point them in the right direction.

SEO is a very powerful way to do this as you can write articles using keywords that people use when they are in this buying mindset. These are called buying keywords and are statements like “best juicer”, “juicer reviews”, “top juicer on the market”.

If you have a health blog and published an article on the best juicers that helped people looking for one find the perfect one (with an affiliate link of course) and were able to rank on the first page of Google for these keywords, you would make a lot of ongoing cash with very little effort.

If you can have even a few articles like this ranking well in Google and converting well with an affiliate, this can add a few extra thousand a month to your profits.

Times that by 30 and you could add an extra $90,000 to your blog value.

And if you never sell your blog, the extra money will be great in your pocket.

There are other ways to make more passive income as well. Display advertisements using services like Mediavine or Google AdSense are a good option.

Products can also be passive once you have a sales funnel set up if they are items like eBooks that require little ongoing support.

  1. Stop worrying about page views and social media followers

The best way to find time to work on the things I mention above, like growing your passive income, is to cut out all the tasks that don’t really matter.

This will also mean you don’t need to work as much which will also increase your profits.

I highly recommend going through your task list monthly and removing anything that isn’t directly related to your blogging goals whether you plan to sell or not.

This means that unless your prime goal is to get x number of page views, stop working on tasks just to get more traffic. More traffic generally doesn’t lead to more income unless it’s the right sort of traffic. For example, if you want to make good money with affiliates, you need readers with the right reader intent as mentioned above.

It can be hard to let go of something like going on social media, but if it’s not helping you reach your goals and is only sucking away your time then it can be highly valuable to focus that energy elsewhere.

Final thoughts

It’s been a few months now since I sold my blog and I haven’t regretted it for even a second. It does feel strange to not be a travel blogger anymore when I was so focused on it at one point, but it feels great to have let it go and to have moved on to my other blog, DigitalNomadWannabe.com, where I get to do work that I love.

Whether you should sell your blog or not is a very personal decision.

If you are at all considering it, I recommend you start doing the tips I recommend above as soon as possible so it leaves you in a better position when it comes time to sell. By the time I realised I wanted to sell, I was so over it that I couldn’t give myself a 12 month run up to remove myself in the way I would have liked.

If you do this and you never end up selling, having more income and less work to do will be a bonus anyway.

Bio

Sharon Gourlay is an Australian blogger who now only blogs about SEO, internet marketing and making money from blogging at DigitalNomadWannabe.com.

The post Case Study: What Happens When You Want to Sell Your Blog? appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

9 Key Ingredients for Creating the Perfect Sales Page

9 key ingredients for the perfect sales page

If you’ve created one of these 7 types of products to sell on your blog, or you’re going to start offering a service to your readers, then you need a sales page.

The sales page is (not surprisingly) a page on your blog that’s all about your product or service. You can link to it in the navigation menu, from an ad on your sidebar, from your social media accounts, and from guest posts.

As an example, here’s the sales page for Digital Photography School’s Photo Magic ebook.

Photo Magic sales page example

While sales pages don’t need to be complicated, creating your first one can be daunting. You may have seen all sorts of highly designed sales pages on large blogs and thought, “I can’t do anything even remotely like that”.

But all sales pages have similar elements, which you can think of as ‘ingredients’. Those elements are:

  1. A clear, compelling headline
  2. An image of the product or service
  3. An explanation of exactly what’s included
  4. A list of benefits the customer will get from the product
  5. Testimonials from satisfied customers
  6. The price (and the different pricing options, if applicable)
  7. A money-back guarantee (if applicable)
  8. A buy button
  9. No sidebar

Here’s what you need to know about each one.

#1: A Clear, Compelling Headline

Sometimes you can use the name of your product or service as the headline, providing it’s interesting and self-explanatory. But in most cases you should come up with a headline as if you were writing an advertisement.

Here’s an example from Copyblogger’s “Authority” membership.

Their sales page begins with a clear statement: “How to Take the Guesswork Out of Content Marketing”, followed by supporting copy about it being a training and networking community.

Try coming up with several possible headlines, and ask your readers (or fellow bloggers, if you belong to a mastermind group or similar) which one they think works best.

You might also want to look at some of the sales pages of products or services you’ve purchased, to see what they did. Do the headlines grab your attention and draw you in? How do they do it? (And are any of them a bit over the top and potentially off-putting?)

#2: An Image of the Product (or Service)

Even if your product is digital, or your service is something fairly intangible (e.g. email consulting), you need an  image.

Here are some ideas:

  • If you have a physical product, use high-quality photos that show it from different angles, or perhaps in different operating modes.
  • If you have a digital product, take screenshots of it. If it’s an ebook, you might want to create a ‘3D’ version of the cover to use on your sales page. (A cover designer should be able to do this for you. Alternatively, there are plenty of online and downloadable tools you can use.)
  • If you’re providing a service such as consulting, coaching, an in-person workshop, or similar, use a photo of yourself. If you don’t have any professional headshots, ask a friend or family member to take several different shots so you can select the best.
  • If showing your face isn’t an option for any reason, think of other ways you might include a relevant image. For instance, if you’re an editor you might have a photo of your hands on the keyboard.

On the 2017 ProBlogger Evolve Conference sales page, we had photos taken at past events plus headshots of all the speakers:

Use images in your sales page

Normally, you’ll want to save your image as a .jpg file so it loads quickly without losing much quality.

#3: An Explanation of Exactly What’s Included

Sometimes it seems obvious what the customer will get when they buy your product. But always spell things out as clearly as possible so there’s no room for doubt or confusion.

For instance, if you sell software you might want to make it clear they’ll receive a password to download it from your website. Otherwise, they might expect the software to arrive as an email attachment or even a physical CD.

With an ecourse, you’ll probably want to include at least the title of every module or part. And with an ebook, you may want to provide a full chapter list. Here’s what we do for our courses over on Digital Photography School. (This example is from the Lightroom Mastery course.)

#4: A List of Benefits the Customer Will Get

When you’ve created a great product or service, it’s easy to get carried away with the “features” – the nuts and bolts of how it works.

But customers don’t buy features – they buy benefits. (Or, as Harvard Professor Theodore Levitt put it, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”)

Think about what your product (or service) will help your customer achieve. Will they save time, avoid silly mistakes, or overcome fears?

You might want to list a benefit for each feature. For instance, if you offer website setup and design services, some of the features might be:

  • You’ll get your own domain name
  • Your site will run on WordPress
  • Your site will feature responsive design
  • You’ll get unlimited email support

But these features may not mean much to someone who’s new to websites. They might not even know exactly what a domain name is, let alone why having their own matters.

Here are those same features, along with their benefits:

  • You’ll get your very own domain name: you’ll look professional from the moment someone sees your blog’s address.
  • Your site will run on WordPress: this popular website platform lets you easily make changes without touching a word of code.
  • Your site will feature responsive design: it can tell when someone’s visiting from a mobile or tablet, and adjust (just for them) accordingly.
  • You’ll get unlimited email support: while you’ll be able to update every aspect of your site on your own if you want to, I’ll always be available to help.

You can see how adding simple, clear benefits makes the offer sound much more attractive.

#5: Testimonials from Satisfied Customers

One crucial sales tool is what other people say about your product or service. Readers will (rightly) treat your own claims with a little skepticism – of course you think your product is great. But what do other customers think?

Testimonials are quotes from customers recommending your product. You could think of them as reviews, though they’re invariably focused on the positive. And each testimonial may only talk about one or two aspects of the product.

Of course, before you launch your product you won’t have any customers. To get your first few testimonials, you may want to make advance copies of the product available for free (or very cheap), or offer your services for a nominal fee, or even free. You could ask people  on your blog or social media sites whether they’d be interested in using your product and providing a testimonial.

Here’s how Erin Chase from $5 Dinners incorporates testimonials for her meal plan subscription:

Use Testimonials in your sales pages

Ideally, you’ll want to use the full name and a headshot of anyone providing a testimonial to prove they really exist. But ask permission before doing it – some people may prefer to be known by their initials alone.

#6: The Price (and Pricing Options)

It probably goes without saying, but at some point you’ll need to let customers know how much your product (or service) costs.

Be clear about the price, and exactly what it covers. If there are several options, you may want to use a pricing table (showing the options side by side) to help customers choose.

Here’s what Thrive Themes does with its Thrive Leads product (affiliate link), so customers can compare the monthly subscription to all of its products with the price of just Thrive Leads:

We have a Thrive Themes Membership for ProBlogger, and now use it to create all of our sales pages. Check out their sales page so you can see what’s possible with their drag-and-drop builder, Thrive Architect.

#7: A Money-Back Guarantee (if Applicable)

Providing it’s reasonable to do so, offering a money-back guarantee can help those customers ‘on the fence’ decide to buy. This is particularly true for digital products such as ebooks or ecourses. If they buy it and realise it’s not what they wanted, they can get a refund.

With services you might offer a trial period, or a short free consulting session, to help customers make up their mind.

Most bloggers find that very few customers ever ask for a refund, but giving people the option results in more sales. A standard money-back guarantee period is 30 days, but you might offer a longer period if your product is quite involved (e.g. a 60-day refund period on a six-month ecourse).

Here’s an example from a recent Digital Photography School deal. And you can check out the full sales page we built with with Thrive Architect (affiliate link)

Use a guarantee in your sales page

#8: A “Buy” Button

This seems so obvious that you’re probably wondering why I’m including it. But if you’re creating your first sales page, you may not have given it much thought.

To sell your product or service, you’ll need a “buy” button. It might read:

  • Buy now
  • Add to cart
  • Sign up
  • Join now

or whatever makes sense for your product.

You can easily create a button using PayPal. If you want to style the button yourself, you can create any image and use the PayPal button link. (PayPal currently calls it the “Email payment code”. It’s just a URL you can send by email, use in a sales page, etc.)

If you want to automatically deliver a digital product when someone makes a purchase, you’ll need to use a third-party website or tool such as Easy Digital Downloads (affiliate link), which is what we use at ProBlogger and Digital Photography School.

Experienced bloggers sometimes split-test different button text, and even different button colours. But the most important thing is to make sure:

  • it’s clearly visible and easy to find (you may want to include several buttons on the page
  • it works.

#9: No Sidebar

This final ingredient is one you’ll remove from your sales page, rather than add. If you look at  the examples I’ve linked to in this post, you’ll see that while they all look very different in terms of design and layout, they all have one thing in common.

They don’t have a blog sidebar. And there are no interesting links and widgets to distract the customer from making a purchase.

Many bloggers use special software to create sales pages without sidebars (and even without the navigation bar or other standard elements on their blog). But you may be able to do it with your current WordPress theme.

When you’re editing a page, go to “Page Attributes” and look for an option called “blank page”, “no sidebars”, “full width” or similar:

Simply select the appropriate option and update your page: the sidebar should disappear.

I hope I’ve made the process of building a sales page a little less daunting. By gathering these ingredients one by one you can put your page together a bit at a time, rather than trying to write the whole thing at once.

Best of luck with your sales page, and your first product or service. I hope it’s the first of many for you.

The post 9 Key Ingredients for Creating the Perfect Sales Page appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

Seven Types of Product You Could Sell From Your Blog

7 types of product you could sell from your blog

It took me nearly seven years of blogging to create my first products: two ebooks, one for ProBlogger and one of Digital Photography School. They made me a total of over $160,000 in 2009 alone and changed my business.

Back in 2014, I wrote about the experience … and how it nearly never happened:

My big issue was a severe lack of time. Between juggling two growing blogs and a growing family (we had just had our first child), I wasn’t sure how I’d ever write an eBook. I also had a long long list of other excuses to put it off.

I’d never written, designed, marketed a product of my own before… I didn’t have a shopping cart system… I didn’t know if my readers would buy…

In short – the dream of creating and selling an eBook of my own stayed in my head for two years until 2009. Ironically by that point I’d become even busier (we’d just had our second son and my blogs had continued to grow) but I knew if I didn’t bite the bullet and do it that I never would.

Does any of that sound familiar to you? Perhaps you’re blogging alongside a busy day job, or you’ve got young children at home, and the whole idea of creating a product seems very daunting.

You’re definitely not alone. But creating your own product – even a small, simple one – can bring in money much faster than affiliate sales or advertising: after all, your audience trust you and if they like your writing, they’ll want more from you.

In this post, I’ll take you through seven different types of product you could create. Some of these require more time and initial investment: others, you could plausibly create in a weekend.

But First … What is a “Product”?

What exactly do I mean by a “product”? It could be something virtual (like software or an ebook) or something physical (like a t-shirt or a paperback book).

A product might involve an element of ongoing commitment from you, but it isn’t only about the hours you put in – so I won’t be covering freelancing, virtual assistant roles, or other services here.

Seven Types of Product You Could Sell from Your Blog … Which One is Right For You?

The seven types of product I’m going to run through in this post are:

  1. Ebooks: these might be positioned as “guides” or even self-study courses. Essentially, they’re written downloadables, probably in .pdf, .mobi and/or .epub format.
  2. Printables: these are designed to be printed out! They might be planners, cheat sheets, party invites, worksheets … anything that someone might buy to print and (probably) fill in.
  3. Digital subscriptions: these are normally delivered by email, and are often relatively cheap compared with some other products (making them attractive to first-time buyers).
  4. Online courses: these could be text, audio and/or video, although video is increasingly becoming the “default” expectation.
  5. Membership of a private website or group: this might be a membership site that you host yourself, or something as simple as a closed Facebook group.
  6. Software or a phone app: unless you’re a developer, this probably isn’t the product you’ll go for first … but it could be a very lucrative one to try later on.
  7. Physical products: these could be almost anything from books to t-shirts to one-off pieces of art. Unless you’ve already got a business selling them, though, they aren’t the best products to begin with.

Let’s take a look at each of those in more detail. I’ll be giving examples for each one, so you can see how different bloggers are using these different types of product.

#1: Ebooks: Are They Right for You?

The first two products I created, back in 2009, were both ebooks: 31 Days to Build a Better Blog (since updated) and The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography (now superseded by a range of portrait photography books)

That was almost a decade ago, which is a long time in the ebook world. Amazon had only recently launched the Kindle, and the first iPad didn’t appear for another year.

These days, there are a lot more ebooks out there, but don’t let that put you off. A well-positioned ebook can still be a great starter product. If you’re really pushed for time, you might want to compile some of your best blog posts into an ebook (that’s what I did with 31 Days to Build a Better Blog), then edit them and add some extra material.

Example: Deacon Hayes’ You Can Retire Early!

You Can Retire Early Deacon Hayes

Although many bloggers still sell ebooks via their own platforms, charging premium prices for specialised information, it may be a better fit for your audience if you sell your ebook through Amazon and/or other large e-retailers.

If your ebook has a (potentially) large audience, if they’re unlikely to pay more than $9.99 for it, and/or if they’re a bit wary about buying online, selling through a well-established ebook retailer could be the way to go.

This is what Deacon does with his ebook You Can Retire Early! – it’s sold through Amazon, but to make it a great deal and to capture his readers’ email addresses, he offers a free course for readers who email him their receipt.

If you’d like to see more examples of ebooks, we now have 23 ebooks on Digital Photography School.

#2: Printables

Printables are becoming increasingly popular. They differ from ebooks because they’re designed to be printed and used/displayed – and they’re unlikely to contain a lot of text.

Printables could be almost anything:

  • Planner pages
  • Party invites
  • Pieces of art
  • Greetings cards
  • Kids’ activities
  • Calendars
  • Gift tags
  • Adult colouring sheets

… whatever you can think of, and whatever suits your blog and audience.

Unless you’re skilled at design, you may need to hire a professional designer to create high-quality printables for you … though it depends what you’re creating.

Example: Chelsea Lee Smith’ “Printable Pack”

Chelsea Lee Smith printables

Many of Chelsea’s printables are available for free on her blog, but this pack adds five exclusive ones … and brings everything together in one place. Most of her printables are simple and straightforward (which could be a bonus to readers not wanting to spend a fortune on ink!) She’s priced the whole pack at $4.99, making it an appealing purchase for busy parents.

#3: Digital Subscriptions

A digital subscription is information or a resource that you send out to subscribers on a regular basis. Depending on what exactly it is, they might be paying anything from a couple of dollars to a couple of hundred dollars each month.

Delivering the subscription could be as simple as adding paying members to an email list (which you can do through linking PayPal with your email provider). You won’t need to create all the content up front – though you’ll want to get ahead so that you always provide your customers with their resources on time.

Depending on the type of subscription, you could either provide all subscribers with all the same content in order (e.g. they start with week 1, then week 2, and so on) – or you could send out a weekly or monthly email to everyone at the same time, so they get the same content whether they’ve been with you for a day or a year.

Example: $5 Meal Plan, by Erin Chase  

Erin Chase 5 dollar meal plan

Erin’s product solve a problem that many parents have: how do you get a tasty meal on the table each night, quickly and cheaply … without spending hours every week writing a complicated meal plan?

This weekly subscription costs $5/month, with a 14 day free trial. Like Chelsea’s printables, above, it’s priced at a point where it’s an attractive offer for busy families. We recently had Erin on the ProBlogger podcast where you can hear more about how she started blogging and went from zero to a six-figure income in two years.

#4: Online Courses

An online course can take quite a bit of time to put together, and some bloggers feel daunted by the technology involved.

At its simplest, an online course might be essentially the same sort of content as an ebook, only split into “lessons” or “chapters” rather than modules. Many courses will include additional features, though, like:

  • Video content: courses that are based around videos normally have transcripts or at least summaries to help your students who prefer not to watch video or who want a recap to refer to.
  • Audio interviews: if you don’t have the tools to create high-quality video, audio can be a good alternative (and some students prefer it to, as they can listen while commuting or exercising).
  • Quizzes: depending on what you’re teaching, it may be helpful for students to test their knowledge at the end of each lesson or module.
  • Interaction: you might choose to offer feedback to students, or you might have a closed Facebook group for students to join, where they can talk with one another and with you.
  • Certification: this is more appropriate for some topics than others … but offering students some sort of certification at the end of the course can be helpful.

Example: ProBlogger’s New Courses

ProBlogger Courses Example

At ProBlogger we’ve just gone through this process to launch our first ever course. We decided on the self-hosted route and use Learndash as our Learning Management System. You don’t necessarily have to host your course on your own site, though – there are plenty of online platforms like Teachable and Udemy that you can provide your course through instead.

Learndash (partnered with the Buddyboss-friendly Social Learner theme) allows us to offer all of the above features with our courses. Whilst our first course is free, we will be using the same platform to sell our first paid course, an update of my popular eBook, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog in March.

For our free Ultimate Guide to Starting a Blog course, we are running a beta version in conjunction with our first ProBlogger International Start a Blog day on the 7th of February, so as part of the beta we’re also trialling a Facebook group. It is common for bloggers running courses to run a group for communication in conjunction with a course, but beware the amount of time and attention this requires.

We’re closing registrations to the course on the 31st of January, and after we implement suggestions from the beta group, we’ll open it up again as an evergreen course (ie people can start it at any time as a self-guided group) as well as again in the new year for the next International Start a Blog Day.

#5: Membership of a Private Website or Group

For quite a few years now, “membership sites” have been popular. These are essentially closed websites where people have to pay and sign up (almost always for a monthly fee) in order to view the content.

The content might be text-based, or (more often) it could involve audio or video. Sites might offer monthly “seminars” or “workshops”, or regular courses that members can take part in.

On a smaller scale, some bloggers offer Facebook sites with paid membership: this can be a quick and easy way to set up your product, though it’s worth remembering that if you were banned from Facebook, you’d no longer have access to your group!

Example: Copyblogger’s “Authority”

Copyblogger’s membership site Authority focuses on the community elements as well as the teaching materials provided. It’s a fairly high-end community site aimed at professional copywriters, small business owners, and so on, and also gives members the opportunity for expert coaching, in addition to peer support.

Like most membership sites, it has a monthly subscription ($55/month) – but there’s also the option to purchase a year’s membership for $550.

#6: Software or a Phone App

This is unlikely to be an option for your first product, unless you’re a developer … but creating a piece of software or a phone app could potentially be very lucrative.

There are a lot of options here, and your software/app might be anything from a business tool to something that relates to your readers’ hobby. You might have a one-time price, especially if it’s a relatively simple tool … or you might be pricing on a monthly basis (the “Software as a Service” or SaaS model, where you host the software for customers to login to).

Example: Fat Mum Slim’s Little Moments App

little moments app fat mum slim

Long-time blogger Chantelle Ellem created her fun photo editing app on the back of her viral Instagram hashtag challenge #photoaday. When she released Little Moments in 2014 it went to number one in Australia, and number seven in the USA. It was picked as the App Store’s best app for 2014 and has been Editor’s Choice {selected by the App Store worldwide}.

Whilst it’s a free app, it has in-app purchases where you can purchase packs of designs to use in the editor – either per pack or an offer to unlock everything and get all the packs.

Little Moments in-app purchases

Chantelle shares some insights here about creating the app, including being prepared for the feedback from customers and creating a community around your app.

#7: Physical Products

Finally, even though blogging life revolves around the online world … there’s nothing stopping you creating an offline, physical product. This could be almost anything you can imagine: bloggers have created board games, comic books, merchandise, artworks, and far more.

Physical products need to be created, stored and shipped, all of which will take time (and money) – so this probably won’t be the first product you’ll want to experiment with. You can sell directly from your own blog, or you can use an appropriate online marketplace: Etsy for handmade goods, for instance, or Amazon or eBay for almost any product.

Example: Kirsten and Co’s Skin Boss

Kirsten Smith Skin Boss

Personal and lifestyle blogger Kirsten Smith recently developed and launched Skin Boss, a range of facial oils in response to an issue she was experiencing with her skin. You can read the backstory here on why and how it was developed. When you create something in response to a real need and have a strong connection with your readers and other bloggers, it’s an excellent platform for the success of a new product. Kirsten has able to reach out to her network of blogging friends to get media coverage for her new product.

 

I know there’s a lot to take in here! All bloggers, however fancy and complex their products are now, started somewhere – often with an ebook, printables, or a simple online course.

Even if you’re pressed for time, could you set aside 15 minutes a day or maybe block out a weekend in order to create your first product?

It might just change your life.

The post Seven Types of Product You Could Sell From Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

One Screenshot You Must Include When Pitching a Sponsored Post

william-iven-22449.1.jpgIf you’re familiar with sponsored content as an income stream, chances are you’ve been asked for a media kit or a proposal to do a sponsored post. Unfortunately, the world of sponsored post rates and assessing the value of your site is a bit like the wild, wild west.

It can be daunting putting together a media kit, especially when you don’t have the ‘big numbers’ everyone seems to flaunt and expect. So most bloggers look at what everyone else is doing, and then create something similar. Brands can then compare one blogger to the next simply by looking at the stats they’ve included.

While that’s great for them, it’s bad for you. You don’t want to be judged on numbers alone. Two bloggers with the same audience size can generate very different results for a sponsored campaign. And a smaller blogger can often outperform a larger one.

One of the biggest issues with media kits is they often only highlight the totals, such as reach (Users) and pageviews (Impressions) for the past 30 days. They’re rarely broken down by location or demographic, and almost never by topic. Bigger numbers may look more impressive, but they can set the wrong expectations.

Another issue is showing averages, such as average time on site or average bounce rate. They’re averages, which makes them look… well, average.

If you want to really impress a brand, create a media media kit that focuses on the topic of the sponsored post.

Let’s say you have a baking blog, and the brand wants to promote a chocolate product. Wouldn’t it make sense to show how crazy your audience is about your recipes that include chocolate?

Pretty logical right? But how many of you actually do it? Maybe you’re not even sure how to do it.

Well, today I’m going to show you how with Google Analytics.

What screenshot do I need?

If you navigate to Behaviour, and then All Pages, you’ll see results for all your content (usually sorted by pageviews).

Google Analytics Behavior All Pages.png

But what you really want is a screenshot that highlights content related to whatever topic the sponsor is interested in.

Using Darren’s Digital Photography School blog as an example, let’s say I wanted to pitch a sponsored post to a Wildlife Photography Tours company. Naturally I’d want to demonstrate how many people are interested in wildlife photography content on the DPS site. Assuming the term ‘wildlife’ is in the URL of these posts (after all, it’s good SEO, right?), I can use the search function in Google Analytics to bring the relevant content to the surface.

You may not have noticed the search function before. But it’s there, pretty much in the middle of the screen. And you type in a keyword (on our case, ‘wildlife’), it will return a list of blog posts with that keyword in the slug.

Google Analytics Topic Search.png

And this is where it gets interesting.

Instead of generic totals, you’ve now shown interest in the sponsor’s topic. In our case, the screenshot shows interest (pageviews) in the topic over a year. After all, sponsored posts hang around a lot longer than a month. And why pitch for one sponsored post when you can show them what a long-term partnership could look like?

You can also point out things like the time on post being longer than the site average. (Agencies love ‘dwell time’ as a measure of engagement.)

Of course, you don’t have to put this in your media kit, although you certainly can. I usually either send or embed it in my intro email and draw attention to it.

You can still included totals in your media kit, and most potential sponsor would expect that. But now you can also send them something they probably wouldn’t expect, which will help your pitch stand out from the rest.

What are some interesting things you’ve done to help your sponsored post proposals stand out from the rest? Share them in the comments below.

The post One Screenshot You Must Include When Pitching a Sponsored Post appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

3 Ways to Make More Affiliate Income as Bloggers

3-ways-more-affiliate-income

This is a post by ProBlogger expert Jerry Low.

Promoting affiliate products is still one of the most effective ways to make money from your blog.

Jayson DeMers points to affiliate marketing as an excellent entry-level place to begin monetizing your blog in this Forbes article, because it is easy to implement and free to start up (just taking a bit of your time).

One of the great things about affiliate income is that it works well with a blog with either high or low traffic. The key is promoting your blog and the products to the right audience – people who need the products you are promoting. With the right marketing tactics, you can make money from affiliate products.

Even better, choose a trusted affiliate program that you already know and love.

If you promote it properly, you’ll find that you can create a long-term source of residual income.

This article will focus on how to make more money blogging via affiliate marketing.

1. Pick the right niche and products to promote

There are two key elements to making good money from affiliate marketing.

First, you have to find a profitable niche. Second, you have to promote the right product.

To accomplish this requires time and research before you jump into the affiliate game. Don’t worry, if you are already promoting affiliate products, I will help you refine what you’re already doing.

How to find a profitable niche?

Finding a profitable niche requires a bit of research.

Here are some tools that will come in handy:

1- SpyFu

Use SpyFu to check advertisers’ spending on a niche that you wish to tackle. If advertisers or merchants are spending big money on that industry, it means there is money to be made.

more%20affiliate%20income/spyfu.jpg

For example, advertisers are paying $5.60/click and almost $70,000 per month on the search term “payroll software”.

2- Google Search

Do a Google universe search (search at .com, add &pws=0 and &gl=us at the end of your search strings) on the niche you are interested in. View the search results carefully. Are there any advertisers in the mix?

more%20affiliate%20income/googleads.jpg

3- CJ.com

Login to CJ.com and search for relevant merchants. Use “Network Earnings” (the green bar) as a potential earning indicator. The higher the green bar, the more merchants are paying affiliates.

4- Impact Radius

Login to Impact Radius. Check the “30 days EPC” (affiliate earnings per hundred clicks) for relevant merchants in your niche.

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Example of merchant listing at Impact Radius.

5- Use Common Sense

What do people buy online? What kind of information do people search for online? Are there any information gaps you can fill and monetize?

Once you’ve chosen a niche area, it is time to move on to the actual products you’ll promote.

How to find the right products?

Once you’ve decided on your niche, it’s time to find the right products to promote within that niche. There are some specific steps you can take that will help you narrow down your choices.

Method #1- Study others

The first step is to look at what other bloggers are promoting.

There are two messages behind this: one, the product is good; and two, there is money to be made with that product.

The next thing to do is to study and try that product out and find a unique angle to “soft-sell” (more about this later) it.

Method #2 – Soft products

Generally speaking, digital products and services are usually easier to sell.

Think digital downloads (i.e. eBooks, mobile applications, movies), online training courses, professional services (i.e. designers, marketing services, accounting or legal advice), e-commerce platforms, and web tools (site builders, lead generation services, email service providers, etc.).

Method #3 – Products/services that are already in demand

Find a product that already has an existing demand.

Use SEM Rush to see if people are searching for more info about the products. Tip: We often use ‘review’ or ‘compare’ in our searches when we want to buy something. Check search volume for those search phrases when you wish to find out if there’s sufficient demand.

more%20affiliate%20income/semrush-1.jpg

SEM Rush example 1 – Low search volume for the search term “Bit Defender Review.”

more%20affiliate%20income/semrush-2.jpg

SEM Rush example 2 – Higher demand (search volume) for MacPaw Clean My Mac software”

Method #4 – Promote products you already know and love

This is probably the most common way bloggers get started with affiliate marketing. You become an affiliate for something that you’ve used yourself, had a good experience with, thoroughly tested and feel good recommending. You should be fairly confident that others will get the same results you did (or better), as long as they do the work.

2. Be unique and irreplaceable

With affiliate marketing, it is vital that you “soft sell”.

This allows you to influence and drive users to buy what you are promoting. Basically, the soft sell proves to the consumer that the product is what she needs to solve a problem.

The Blogosphere is a crowded space these days. There are over 1 million blog posts written every day on the Internet. That is a lot of noise to sift through. It is easy to get lost in the massive information dump that occurs every minute of every day.

Soft-selling: #1 overlooked online marketing skill

With soft-selling, the key is to be subtle about the fact that you’re selling, yet to think through ways to persuade the site visitor.

So, your main focus is going to be on developing a relationship with your readers and building trust. Once they trust you, you can sell them a product or service you believe in.

The key, however, is to make sure you truly do believe in, or better, love the product. The last thing you want to do is recommend something that isn’t high quality. That will cause you to harm the relationship you have with your readers and they will no longer trust you if you’re just trying to turn a fast buck.

Even though affiliate marketing is lucrative, it is also quite competitive with the numerous blogs on almost any topic you can imagine. The best digital marketers are in the game because the money is good. To stand out from those mega name players, who are pretty hard to compete with, you have to differentiate yourself.

How?

Method #1. Become an expert

Develop yourself and become an expert in your industry.

Stand out as a leader and help others prosper.

more%20affiliate%20income/probloggerevent.jpg

One example of a blogger who has become a known name in the blogging industry is none other than the owner of this blog – Darren Rowse. He developed his name as a blogging expert by helping hundreds of thousands of bloggers via his blogging guide and training events. In 2002, Darren read an article about “blogging.” By the next day, he’d started a blog of his own. His blogs grew from a hobby he enjoyed to part-time income to full-time income.

Write definitive and knowledgeable content on the related topic. Include basic info as well as unique info no one else is talking about. Or look at it in a unique, new way.

Grow your presence on social media networks. Interact with influencers in your industry. Post regularly. Interact with others. Remember that social media is a give and take environment.

Guest post on sites where your readers can be found. It won’t do you much good to post on a crochet and knitting site if your niche is personal finance. Seek out related blogs where your target audience is likely to hang out.

Attend conferences and speak at them as a specialist in your area. Network with other influencers at these events. It’s amazing what you can learn over a cup of coffee. Most successful bloggers are happy to share tips to help you succeed as well.

Method #2. Provide unique information that users can’t get elsewhere

Let’s revisit the idea of providing unique information that no one else has covered before.

For example, I went undercover and tried out dozens of hosting companies’ live chat support systems. The results were quite enlightening and I’ve not seen anyone else cover this particular topic or go this in depth on an undercover review.

My readers now know which hosting companies are most likely to provide instant live chat support when they need it.

What can you cover that no one else in the industry has covered?

Tactic #1 Look at what topics your competitors have covered

What is missing? What isn’t covered deeply enough? Is there another way to look at the topic? For example, if you search the phrase “how to improve your golf swing,” some of the top results that pop up include an article titled “5 Beautifully Basic Golf Swing Tips Every Player Should Know,” but directly under that result is “Top 10 Golf Swing Tips.”

As a reader, which would you rather have – 5 tips or 10? You certainly don’t have to cover the same topic, but this is just an example of how you can expand on what others are doing.

Tactic #2 Use tools such as brainstorming to come up with unique ideas

The simplest way to brainstorm is to write a single word in the center of a paper in a bubble and then begin drawing lines and words as they come to mind.

Don’t stop to think, but let the thoughts and the words flow freely. Do this for about 10 minutes and then study the paper. What words are unique? How do they tie into your niche? Which ones can be turned into an article that hasn’t been covered before?

Tip: Also try these 180 blog post ideas by Darren Rowse.

Tactic #3 Tie your personality into your blog posts.

Do you absolutely love to watch Star Wars movies? What about an article on how being disciplined in your golf game is like learning to be a Jedi? Just make sure that it is something most of your readers can relate to and that you tie it back into your niche.

3. Focus on winners

Would you like to instantly make more affiliate income from an existing blog? The trick is to spot your winners, in various aspects, and double down on them. This strategy works in various aspects in businesses and has helped us improve our blog tremendously well.

Spotting the winners in various aspects

To spot your winners, you first need to track your blog and affiliate stats closely.

In the past, advertisers threw out a bunch of radio, television, magazine and newspaper ads and hoped something would resonate with potential customers.

We all knew the expansion of the Internet has changed all that.

As an affiliate marketer, all of your advertising will naturally occur online. The difference is that you have many tools at your disposal today to figure out which advertising is successful and what just isn’t working.

Pay careful attention to:

  • Traffic source: You can find this information from Google Analytics or the control panel of your website.
  • Performing search keywords: Google Analytics can help you with this type of information and tell you which pages are performing best.
  • Advertising statistics. If you take out an ad on Facebook, you’ll gain the ability to check statistics on the back end. You can not only target your ad to a very specific audience, but you can also look and learn more about the people that shared your post, liked your post, or somehow engaged.

Affiliate winners

Which of your affiliate products are selling the most?

Which ones are the “winners” in the affiliate marketing game for your particular site?

Focus on who’s paying you the most money.

Find out why that product is selling so much better than others.

Now, build content around that product. For example, build a video tutorial on how to use the product, write a detailed FAQ on the product, and explain the problem users deal with and how the product can solve that problem, etc.

Content winners

In addition to looking at the affiliate products that are winning, you’ll want to focus on the blog content that is winning.

Use Google Analytics to figure out which of your blog posts is getting the most traction.

Which one is getting traffic, but also has a decent bounce rate? Which pages are people actually staying on for a while?

Find the blog posts that are already performing well for you and ask yourself these questions:

  • Why are your readers spending more time on that post?
  • Is there a problem you solve in that post?

Now, can you spot a gap and recommend a product that suits your readers’ needs from that post?

Winners in traffic

Figuring out where your traffic is coming from can help you increase efforts that make sense.

Traffic source

Do you know where your blog traffic is coming from? Is there a traffic referrer that is sending lots of traffic to your blog?

Once you know where the traffic is coming from, you can increase that traffic in a number of ways.

Say blogger X is sending you the most traffic last month – Invite him/her to guest post on your site. Trade links to his blog so his/her users can find your blog easily. You can even take out a banner ad on his blog to encourage even more click throughs.

Traffic that converts

Did you set goals in Google Analytics?

You can track more than just successful transaction or newsletter signup with goals. For example, if you have written a product review page that converts well – your goal can be driving your readers to read that particular review.

Once you have set the right goal – it’s time to look for traffic source that converts the best. To see this, login to Google Analytics Dashboard > Acquisition > All Traffic > Source / Medium. Find out which traffic source is converting the best – find ways to get more traffic from that source. For example, if Facebook is performing best – spend money and advertise on Facebook. If you are getting hits from Google, take out a few ads on Google, etc.

more%20affiliate%20income/winningtraffic.jpg

To investigate your blog traffic, login to Google Analytics Dashboard > Acquisition > All Traffic > Source / Medium. In this example, traffic organic search and Facebook mobile are converting exceptionally well – logic sense tells us that we should work harder and invest more in these sources.”

In Summary…

Affiliate income as a blogger is just one piece of a larger puzzle, but it is the quickest way to start building an income and helping your blog pay for itself.

Once you gain the skills needed to attract a larger audience and also a targeted audience, you will be able to grow your income exponentially.

The post 3 Ways to Make More Affiliate Income as Bloggers appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

Community Discussion: Should Bloggers Ask For Donations?

Bloggers calling for donations or reader contributions like “buy me a beer” or “buy me a coffee” have been around for over ten years, as has the debate over whether they should.

Now however, with more mainstream media putting up paywalls, the growth of subscription based content providers and the rise of crowdfunding, is it a better time for bloggers to put their hand out too?

As an example, it appears Guardian News and Media (Guardian and Observer) is trying to monetize its content every which way. It produces a variety of content from outside parties, categorising it as either:

  • ‘Supported by’ – editorially independent content, produced by journalists, funded by foundations and the like;
  • ‘Paid content/Paid for by’ – produced by the paper’s commercial department not journalists; or
  • ‘Advertiser content/from our advertisers’ – produced by the advertisers themselves.

Whilst they are earning money from advertisers and sponsors, the Guardian also asks its readers to ‘Become a Supporter’ (subscriber) or ‘Make a Contribution’ (donate).

Paypal has long had a ‘donate’ button you can put on your blog and even set up a recurring subscription-like donation. How would this go down with your audience?

Similarly, I’ve seen many bloggers disclose affiliate referrals to their readers as a way to ‘donate’ to help them keep the lights on or pay their internet bills.

Patreon claims to have sent over $150 million to creators using its membership model whereby your fans pay you a subscription amount of their choice. This model seems to be growing in popularity for creators of all kinds, but particularly podcasters and YouTubers.

Inklpay is a new player offering $0.10 micropayments either in the form of voluntary ‘tips’ or an enforced paywall per piece of content. Would this work for you?

At ProBlogger, we occasionally run blogging events and often receive feedback from attendees that we should charge more given the value of these events. We noticed that the event ticketing system Eventbrite now also offers a ‘donate’ option alongside its free or paid ticketing. This concept seems like those restaurants where they don’t have prices on the menus and instead ask you to pay what you think the meal is worth or what you can afford.

So, what about you? Have you ever asked for or received donations on your blog? What system do you use? Do you donate to others? Would a voluntary subscription fee, once-off contribution or a micropayment per piece of content work for you? More importantly, would your audience see value in that?

Please contribute to the production of this content by leaving your ‘tip’ in the comments below (see what I did there?!). 

(Photo by Thomas Malama on Unsplash)

The post Community Discussion: Should Bloggers Ask For Donations? appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

How to get Your First Podcast Sponsorship

How to Get Your First Podcast Sponsorship

This is a post from ProBlogger podcasting expert, Colin Gray.

Advertising is a sensitive subject for a lot of people. It’s a step into the ‘money stuff’, into earning cash from your loyal audience, and it can feel like sullying your beautifully crafted content. Who enjoys the sight of a banner ad sticking out like a sore thumb, after all?

On a blog, it’s hard to run ads or sponsorship in a subtle way. No matter what you do, it’s usually as obvious as that ‘sore thumb’, and twice as painful for the loving content creator. But, there is one way to deliver ads to your audience in a more natural, less… grating… way. And that’s through a podcast.

Sponsorship in podcasting is long established, and bloomin’ effective! Why? Rather than seeing that money grabbing advertiser’s message in cold, stark letters, instead it’s delivered by your warm voice, dripping with personality.

Some podcasters make an art of the advert. For example, Mark Maron creating hilarious skits out of his sponsor slots, Gimlet Media crafting highly produced, entertaining content out of sponsor interviews, or every good podcaster everywhere who simply tells a story about the time they recently used the product and how it helped them.

In Podcasting, you can put the sponsor in context and make it more honest. That’s why it works.

What’s it Worth?

The first question: is it worth it?

Running sponsor slots takes time, including finding sponsors, maintaining them and delivering the spots.

If you can find a long-term, loyal sponsor, that’s great. It becomes an efficient machine where you slot them in, every episode, telling a new story about them every now and again. But, at the start, when you’re running 2-week or month-long campaigns, it’s a treadmill of chasing, contracting, maintaining and recording. So the obvious question is, can you earn enough to justify it?

The rates vary, as you’d imagine, but we’ve got a decent ‘average’ these days when it comes to sponsorship costs. Normally, they’re based on a CPM rate, which means ‘Cost per thousand’ and refers to listeners in this case. Here’s how it breaks down - all times are approximate and costs in USD:

Podcast Sponsorship Rates

  • Pre-Roll: $20 CPM

This is a 15 second sponsor mention during the podcast introduction

  • Mid-Roll: $25 CPM

This is the main sponsor slot, around the middle of the show, 60 seconds long.

  • Post-Roll: $20 CPM

Again, a 15 second mention, but at the end of the show.

So, if you run a show that’s grown to 3000 listeners (a great milestone, and achievable for most), and you run a pretty standard pre-roll and mid-roll package, you’re looking at $20 + $25 x 3 (for 3000 listeners) = $135 per episode. That’s $540 per month for a weekly show. Not a bad wee extra income!

There’s also the fact that most shows can stand to take two sponsors without diluting their content too much. This depends on the length of your show and how good you are at making entertaining sponsor slots. But, if you manage that, then you’re doubling the income right away. Then add post-rolls for some, and it ramps up a little more. Remember, though, with every ‘extra’ you’re also increasing the work. But, it does get more efficient, the more you do, so it can be well worth it.

Of course, a 1000 listener show (closer to the average listenership out there) is looking at $180 per month for 1 sponsor, or $360 for two. The work is the same as with 3000 listeners… So it comes down to the time it takes to manage, which will be really individual to your show.

Is My Niche Worth More?

The qualifier here is that some niches and some shows can be worth a lot more.

For example, let’s say you run a show on Mountain Biking. I can’t imagine who’d want to talk about Mountain Biking, but hey, it takes all sorts, huh?

Assume you’ve got an audience on the smaller end of the scale: around 500 subscribers. But, do you know what, people who like mountain biking, really really like mountain biking. It’s a niche with fanatical fans. It’s also a niche with people who like to spend money. You don’t get into a sport like that without developing a serious shiny gear fetish, as my own wallet can testify...

You’ve also spent the months, the years even, developing a relationship with these people. So, they know you, they trust you. That’s one thing Podcasting is really great at: trust.

Those three elements - fanatical users, a spending audience, and trust in you - combine to create a dream audience for anyone who sells mountain biking kit.

If they pay to reach your 500 listeners, they know three things.

  1. Their product is ideally suited to every single person in that group
  2. The audience are ready and willing to buy good products
  3. The audience trusts your recommendation.

The conversion rate on an audience like that can be mental. Perhaps 50 to 100 sales from just a couple of mentions, and more after long term sponsorship. That’s worth a LOT more than the mere $22.50 per episode that the standard CPM would suggest in this case.

So it’s up to you to find an advertiser that’s relevant, and convince them how great your audience is.

So, how do we go about finding and managing sponsorships?

Three Approaches to Podcast Sponsorship

1. Media Hosting

The first option is to let your media hosting take care of it. BluBrry have been brokering sponsorships for years, notifying their show catalog whenever a deal comes up. Libsyn, too, run both a self-service and a fully managed programme with dynamic ad insertion.

Some hosts even offer free hosting if you’ll move your show to their service, and allow them to manage your sponsorship. Acast is one such host, and they’ll take on the whole process, finding sponsors, inserting them into your content and sending you the proceeds.

The downsides? First, they’ll take a pretty significant chunk of that payment for the work involved. Second, you tend to get offered a lot of ads that might not be the most relevant to your audience.

Acast and other dynamic ad servers tend to require bigger audience numbers before it’s worth their time. Expect to be turned down if you have less than a few thousand. Blubrry and Libsyn offer their sponsorship services for smaller audiences, though.

If this is the option for you, then you’ll find our podcast hosting roundup here which has a lot more detail.

2. Sponsorship Agencies

If you’d prefer to keep your hosting and your sponsorship separate, then a dedicated sponsorship agency might work for you. They often offer a very tailored service, including more options and flexibility around how you run your campaigns.

One of the biggest names in this area is Midroll, who hold some of the biggest shows on the web in their books.

Again, an agency of this type will take a significant chunk of your revenue as payment, and they tend to require a minimum of 3k to 5k downloads per episode to get involved, although it can vary by niche. The work they do is significant, though, and can be well worth the fee. It’s hard work running your own sponsorship campaigns, and their contacts list can be a huge advantage in finding good sponsors.

3. Do it Yourself!

Yep, it’s possible: you can manage the whole process yourself, and many shows do.

The upside here is that you have ultimate control. You can determine pricing, location, length, and be really flexible in how you work with every sponsor you encounter. You can search out really relevant ads, only including products that you know your audience will love.

You can build relationships with sponsors, offering more and more value, getting more in return. And you can easily include much more than just the sponsorship, such as social media, newsletter mentions, sponsored blogs, video clips or consultancy.

To be fair, some of this you can do with your hosting, or with an agency. They can never force you to take an irrelevant ad, for example. But going DIY means there’s no minimum audience numbers to get started, and, importantly, you get 100% of the ad revenue.

But, like I said, it’s a lot of work. Finding sponsors, negotiating a deal, signing contracts, inserting the ads, following up, re-negotiating, ending the relationship, searching for a new sponsor, and on, and on… If you treat it as a job, though, and you have the networking, sales and negotiating skills to pull it off, then it’s entirely manageable. Done well, the time can be well worth the extra income not lost in agency commission.

How Can I Find My own Sponsor?

If you want to use your podcast hosting company or an agency, the way is clear. Sign up, and let them take care of it. But, if you want to go for glory and take the DIY route, how do you start? Here are some tips on finding and closing a good sponsor.

1. What Products do YOU Use?

The first, and most obvious, is to look around your house. What products do YOU use? Often, you’re a member of your own target audience, so you love the products they love.

For example, take my mountain biking show, hinted at above. If I were to start sponsorship for that, I’d go no further than my own garage. I’d look around at the kit I use, the shorts, the shoes, the bags, the helmets, the bike itself. Every single one has as manufacturer or a retailer which you can approach.

It’s the same with Podcraft, my show about creating great podcasts. I just need to look in my bag, or around the studio to find dozens of products and manufacturers to approach, from microphones to software.

The big benefit here is that if YOU use a product, then you can honestly talk about how great it is. You can tell stories, give examples and generally enthuse about how much you love it. That honesty and passion translates to the audience, making your ad spots more entertaining, more useful, and far less grating on the listener. As a bonus, it also makes it more effective. They’re more likely to buy something that you obviously love.

Whatever subject you talk about, think about your favourite things related to it. It could be gadgets, books, courses, services or something else entirely. Whoever makes that thing, they’re your sponsor.

2. Who’s Spending in Your Niche?

Another place to find likely sponsors is in the ad spots you see every day.

Search your subject keywords in Google and see what pops up. The sponsored results will show companies that are already spending on advertising and targeting your chosen topic.

Similar with Facebook: next time you’re wasting your life gazing at your ex's holiday pics, keep at least half an eye on the ads that pop up. Facebook is ridiculously good at knowing what you like, and will show ads to match. As I said, if you’re part of your target audience, then those ads will match your listeners. That means they’ll serve up even more relevant companies that are already investing in advertising.

Finally, get onto the big websites in your niche and check out the ads. Most big magazine sites include banner ads at some point and, again, these might showcase some inspiring products.

3. Old School: Print!

Do you still buy magazines? If not, you should! They might be on the decline (or are they…?), but most industries still have a few good mags. There’s something about the printed word and tangible products that keep people buying.

Magazines survive on advertising, too. Inside those glossy pages you’ll find hundreds of ads, from full page to tiny little boxes. Start contacting those companies and selling them on the benefits of new media sponsorship!

4. Offer a Test

Once you’ve started negotiating, a great way to close the deal is to offer a test. This is even more useful if you’re new to the game, since you’ll not have much of a track record to show potential sponsors.

You might offer a half price rate for the first two episodes, for example, reducing their risk in ‘trying it out’. If you’re confident that you have a relevant audience and they’re likely to take action, then the results should speak for themselves. Win the sponsor a few sales and you’ll have no problem charging the full rate from them on.

Better yet, if you’re really confident, then offer a money back guarantee. Tell them, “If I don’t deliver X sales or X amount of referrals, then you can have half (or all!) of your money back.” Of course, you need a great way of tracking this, like an affiliate system or offer codes, and even then it’s never 100% accurate. But if you account for that in the numbers and stay realistic, then it can work well.

Give it a Shot

The aim in sponsorship is to build long lasting relationships. If you can find two or three sponsors who are super-relevant and who get consistent results with your listeners, then it can lead to a hugely beneficial relationship for both parties. Less chasing, less negotiating, and more creating great content, attracting an even bigger audience.

If you’re looking to dip your toe in the waters, but sponsoring your blog is a step too far, then try your podcast. Build a relationship there and who knows, it might lead to your blog, your video channel, your social media.

If that gives you the time and the space to spend time on the content you love, offering more and more value to your readers, then it’s worth an ad spot or two. Give it a shot!

Image credit: Teresa Kluge

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