How to Start a Business With No Money, a Laptop, and an Idea (Part 2)

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Ready to go independent? Here's my take on starting a business with no money, your laptop, and an idea. start a business from home, start a business ideas, start a business checklist #StartABusiness #blog #startabusinessonlineThis post is the second half of our Start a Business series, where I’m covering how to start a business with no money and only your laptop, an idea, and a workspace.

In the first part of the series, we covered the steps involved in launching. You defined your people, brainstormed future products, and created a working online brand.

Here’s the post again, in case you missed it:

Part 1: How to Start a Successful Blog with No Money (Part 1).

Today, we’re bringing things full circle and closing the loop. I’m drilling down on the two paths that will get us past launch and into the Growth, Hustle and Profit Phases of the DIY-Your-Business Blueprint.

#SIDENOTE This series is a deep dive into the four phases of the DIY-Your-Business Blueprint. I’m peeling back the curtain on each phase and sharing the specific steps to accelerate your growth and get to the next level as quickly as possible. Woo!

If you remember, in path #1, your focus is on building a platform BEFORE you launch your product. Here’s the sequence:

  1. Content
  2. Traffic
  3. Subscribers
  4. Product

Path #2 includes the same steps, only we’re switching the order of things and creating a product first and content last. Because the sequence is reversed, we’ll also look at different techniques for driving traffic and building your platform.

Let’s dig into path #1.

Path #1: building your platform first

Step 1: First, Create Content

When you’re starting your own business with no money and building your brand from the ground up, you need to be a content machine. Here’s what you’ll be creating in step #1:

  • Blog posts
  • Free resources
  • Share images
  • Videos

It’s a no-brainer that the foundation of your content will be blog posts, but before you dive in and start writing, let’s look at how we can bridge the gap between free content and your future products or services, right from the beginning.

First: Blog Posts

You know where I’m headed here, right? Even at the earliest stages, you need a strategy for blogging that goes beyond getting people to read your post.

While you can blog about anything you want, it’s a whole lot smarter to have an end goal for each post. You want to form content funnels that will ultimately lead people to your sales funnels.

If I’m losing you with all this tech speak, don’t worry about sales funnels just yet. We’ll get to those after you create your product (if you’re curious, this post explains them in detail).

My take on content funnels vs sales funnels:

Content funnels: Content on your website (blog posts, images, freebies)
Sales funnels: Content outside your website (webinars, email marketing, etc)

Content funnels initiate the relationship with your crew, and sales funnels seal the deal. This is where those earlier brainstorming sessions will pay off. When it’s time to sell your products, you’ll be one step ahead of the game, you ninja-planner, you. 🤔

Speaking of planning, how do you map out content funnels?

Great question! First of all, make sure you write blog posts around the products you will (or do) offer.

For instance, my readers are interested in learning more about:

  • Blogging
  • Social media
  • Business

These topics (or themes) become content buckets, and I use a simple Google Docs spreadsheet to come up with post ideas and future products for each subtopic.

Here’s what the worksheet looks like:

best business to start with no money

Now, if you’re thinking How can I even think about all of this when I haven’t even created my first post or product? It’s too much!

I get it! Seeing your ideas on paper, before you create them, can be overwhelming. This is one of those times where you don’t have to have everything set up on day #1.

Remember, all we’re doing at this step is making sure that the content you’re about to create aligns with your future goals.

You already have ideas about what products and services you want to offer, which means you have an end goal. Understanding how to start a business with no money means you need to keep that end goal in mind at all times.

A blog post is the first step readers will take on their journey to your end goal. Planning your content like this is crucial to make sure you lead them down the right path.

Still feeling overwhelmed? Here’s what I suggest:

Pick one product idea from your spreadsheet as your focus (meaning that this will be your first product). Change the other product ideas to a light gray font color, so that they’re barely visible and don’t distract you. These are product ideas for later on – down the road. Keeping them on your spreadsheet is just a reminder that any blog posts you write around have a confirmed purpose.

Free Resources

Here’s what our content funnel looks like with free resources (or content upgrades) added into the mix:

how to start an online business with no money

Can you see how free resources bridge the gap between your free content and products or services? Lovin’ it!

Over on our spreadsheet, we need to add another column so that you can figure out what free resources you want to offer for each post and product.

For example, here’s what my spreadsheet looks like now:

starting your own business with no money

Aim to make each free resource:

  • Targeted – Speaks to one specific person and address their most pressing pain point.
  • Easy to Digest – Short and simple enough to implement in one day. Checklists, cheat sheets, and swipe files work well.
  • Simple – Provides the simplest steps to get from A to Z. Covers one topic rather than multiple topics.
  • Actionable – Gives people simple steps they can move forward with and see results.
  • Build trust – Establishes your authority and primes people to buy from you in the future.
  • Spark Curiosity – Offers enough to ignite curiosity without giving away the farm, meaning that they open a door to future products.
  • High value – Provides real value that people would actually consider purchasing.

Let’s say you’re a fitness expert. Maybe you create a blog post about the five superfoods for weight loss. In the post, you include a Five Foods to Never Eat guide that people can download. The free guide will ultimately lead people to your paid 30-day weight loss program. Make sense?

What program should you use to create an Ebook or cheat sheet?

I’m glad you asked! I’ve always been a fan of InDesign. Having said that, the other day I tried Canva and was amazed at how easy it was to create this beautiful Ebook template:

what kind of business should I start?

First, I uploaded a background image to use on the cover. Then I added elements and fonts from Canva’s library. Once I was happy with the cover, I designed a second page to use as a template for all my interior pages:

businesses you can run from home

As you’re working in Canva, your drafts and templates will be saved to the dashboard, so you can always refer back to them and edit. When you’re happy with your Ebook, cheat sheet, or checklist, save it as a JPG or PDF, or share directly to social media.

Related: How to Build Your Blog Audience and Traffic

Share Images

I’ve used Canva, PicMonkey, and RelayThat to create blog post share images. Of these, I’d say Canva and RelayThat are the easiest (RelayThat is lightening fast – this in-depth tutorial will get you started).

Each of the tools has pre-made social media templates, so you don’t have to worry about sizing.

RelayThat

It doesn’t get easier than this! Choose a square (Insta), tall (Pinterest), or wide format (FB and Twitter). If you’re looking for Twitter headers, Facebook covers, and Pinterest board covers, RelayThat’s got templates for those too.

To change the size of your post, click on a new template and RelayThat will automatically update your design. All you have to do is keep on clickin’ until you find a design that makes your heart dance. 🙂

You can also use the “remix” feature to reposition your text on-demand. No more manually shifting elements around, trying to figure out the alignment. Woohoo!

simple business ideas

 

To remove the RelayThat watermark, you’ll need to upgrade from free to pro, which is $25 a month.

#ONMYWISHLIST I’d love to be able to change the dimensions of a given template, which is where Canva comes in…

Canva

Like RelayThat, Canva has pre-made templates for Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. What makes Canva so powerful is that you can create custom templates for any size you need.

For example, you may want to extend the length of your pin. Easy peasy. What about that Ebook we created? That was a cinch too.

Speaking of which, we still need to add the Ebook to your blog post. With Canva, you can create a button image to make your Ebook stand out so that people know what to expect when they download it.

Here’s an 800 x 350px button image I made with Canva:

how to make money with no money

 

HEAD’S UP. Facebook and Twitter sizes can vary for the tools listed above. For instance, In RelayThat, a wide post is 1200 x 630px and in Canva, the size is 1024 x 512px. That’s perfectly okay. Just make sure that your Facebook/Twitter images are at least 1000px wide and use a 2:1 ratio.

Here are my recommended share image sizes:

  • Facebook, Twitter: 1000 x 500px (2:1 ratio)
  • Pinterest: 800 x 1200px (or longer)
  • Instagram: 1080 x 1080px

I’ve got the full scoop on social media images sizes here.

#PHOTOSHOPRULES Yessiree! With Photoshop, you can customize your stock images – which is a big deal when it comes to Pinterest.

The reason is that Pinterest can SEE your images (or thinks it can!) and will interpret your pins based on what it sees. When the algorithm comes across two pins using the exact same image, things get a little wonky and Pinterest doesn’t know which one to display. Not cool, friend!

So what’s the workaround?

Use Photoshop to make stock photos undeniably Yours by retouching, splitting, airbrushing, changing colors, and so on.

Ready to get started with Photoshop? Check out this tutorial.

STEP #2: Next Up, Get Traffic

Ahhh, traffic. Me like. 😉 My four top traffic sources are Google, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook Groups.

Google

For the past six months, I’ve been focusing HARD on search engine optimization, yo. I know many bloggers rely on social media alone for traffic, but top bloggers like Jeff Bullas and Pauline Cabrera get the bulk of their traffic from Google.

I figure there must be something to it, so SEO it is…

#GOSEO It takes a little while to kick in, but well worth the effort, in my book.

Since I started focusing on search engine optimization, I’m seeing more and more traffic from Google and attribute it to these three things:

  1. On-page SEO
  2. A high number of social media shares
  3. Links back to my posts

#2 and #3 are related. While having a high number of social shares isn’t a direct ranking signal, it does impact SEO indirectly.

Here’s how:

more people sharing = broader audience = more potential backlinks

The other SEO thing I’ve started doing is guest posting and commenting on high-quality blogs. With each guest post, I include a link back to one of my posts, and when possible, I include a free offer in my bio to encourage sign-ups.

Curious about what makes a blog “high quality”? There’s a handy tool called the Moz Domain Authority Checker that will give you the domain authority (DA) for any website.

easy business to start

A high DA is a fancy pants way of saying This website is predicted to rank well on Google. DA’s range from 0 to 100, with higher numbers meaning better quality. When I’m looking for guest post opportunities, I aim for websites with a DA of at least 30.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to SEO for Bloggers

Pinterest

Creative niches (bloggers, fashion, beauty, weddings, design, DIY, etc.) can get a lot of traffic from Pinterest.

With the right combination of . . .

  • Eye-guzzling graphics
  • Sexy headlines
  • Keywords and hashtags

. . . you can get thousands of repins.

One thing worth mentioning is that my Pinterest page views took a MAJOR nose dive a while back. Out of the blue, just like that, my traffic started tanking.

2.4 million, to 2.3 million, to 2.2 million, all the way down to 1.6 million page views in 6 weeks.

I went crazy trying to figure out what was going on. Want to know what I learned?

Here are some mistakes I was making:

Mistake #1: See the Pinterest share button on the image below?

business ideas

 

Share buttons make it easy for people to repin your post, and believe it or not, they have a lot to do with your traffic.

The mistake I made was to replace my Shareaholic plugin with Social Warfare and forget to activate the share button.

So instead of making my posts easy to share, I was making it harder. Please don’t make this same mistake, friend! Make sure you add share buttons to your posts and images.

Mistake #2: I had a handful of pins that accounted for most of my traffic, until one day they peaked and hit the end of their shelf life, meaning that they weren’t so viral anymore. 🙁

This is really more of a lesson than a mistake . . .

There’s this thing called “post fatigue” – much like ad fatigue – where people get tired of seeing the same images over and over. If you think about it, once people have clicked on your pin, they’re not as likely to click twice.

So what can you do?

Check Google Analytics (Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages) to find the top 15 posts that drive the most traffic to your website.

Once you find them, here’s what you want to do:

  1. Create more pins for those posts. Some bloggers create up to eight pins for each post.
  2. Write more blog posts around the same topics. Posts that get traffic are topics that people want to know more about.

Mistake #3: I was sharing ALL of my pins through BoardBooster and Tailwind, even ones with very few shares and repins.

Out of pure frustration, I tried an experiment where I stopped sharing my “lonely” pins and started sharing ONLY pins that were the life of the party. I also started using Tailwind Tribes, and stopped sharing other people’s content as much.

Voila! My traffic and page views have started coming back, slowly but surely.

Twitter

Twitter is similar to Pinterest, meaning it’s what I call a “high-tolerance posting platform.” You can Tweet. A. Ton.

The reason that Twitter is my #2 source of traffic is because I have a large following and tweet between 30-40 times a day.

Sound like a lot?

Top bloggers post every 15 minutes, just sayin’. In fact, I think that’s the key to success on Twitter:

Make sure you share fresh, new content to balance out your evergreen content.

By evergreen content, I mean posts that are re-shared with a tool like SmarterQueue.

Now, you may be thinking How can I possibly tweet 40x a day? I only have a handful of posts!

I hear ya! As a new blogger, it can be hard to get traction from Twitter. Keep in mind that as your audience grows and you create more content, you’ll see the rewards of your hard work as you increase your posting frequency.

I also pin a tweet to the top of my page, like this one:

what business to start

Because more people see pinned tweets, they tend to get more traffic, retweets, and likes than other tweets. My pinned tweets always direct people to a blog post with a free resource or a landing page with an opt-in.

#ALWAYSBETESTING: One thing I’m going to try is using multiple tweet images for each post. I figure if I vary tweets the same way I vary my pins, people won’t get tired of seeing them over and over. I’ll keep you posted on how it works!

Related: 6 Insider Secrets for Driving Tons of Free Traffic from Twitter

Facebook Groups

I’m a member of ~30 groups and always share my posts on promo days for a nice bump in traffic each month.

Facebook groups are easy to find by viewing Groups in the left sidebar. From there, you can either Discover Groups or enter a keyword and filter the results by groups. Once you’ve found a few, make sure you play nice and make a note of the group rules, so you don’t get banned!

I use a spreadsheet to track promotion days for blog posts, products, freebies, and social media.

Here’s what my spreadsheet looks like:

best businesses to start with no money

 

Psst…I just started a Facebook group and would love, love, love for you to join.

Even though an online business is an easy business to start, building your platform and audience take time and serious effort.

When it comes to social media, you have to be prepared to put in the time every day, especially when you have a small (or no) following. If you’re ready to up your social media game, this post is a good read. I also recommend repurposing blog posts into other types of content so that you can share them on multiple platforms.

Related: How to Promote Your Blog Posts Effectively on Social Media

Step #3: Get Subscribers

Whew! You’re doing great! Totally crushing how to start a business with no money . . .

The next steps is to level up your mailing list.

You’re already “gifting” your legendary freebies to readers (step #1 above). Now, it’s time is to set up your email system and create landing pages.

Some good options for email marketing providers are:

  • ConvertKit
  • MailerLite
  • MailChimp

And for landing pages, you can use:

  • The default templates provided by your email service (some offer them, some don’t).
  • LeadPages to build beautiful, high-converting landing pages (that’s an affiliate link).

Email marketing providers

I’ve experimented with a lot of email providers, including Aweber, MailChimp, Infusionsoft, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, and ConvertKit.

Hands down, ConvertKit is my favorite. I’ve even got a full tutorial on how to use ConvertKit to grow your business if you’re ready to get started.

Should you use ConvertKit too?

Great question! I say: Pick the tool that’s easiest for you to use. Ease-of-use was my top reason for choosing ConvertKit (yep, another affiliate link, but hey, I only recommend products that I use in my own business).

As I mentioned, if your email provider has landing page templates, it’s a win-win. We need those landing pages. 🙂

Other than that, make sure you choose one with high deliverability (aka: emails will make it to the inbox). I know both MailChimp and ConvertKit do, not sure about MailerLite. Please share in the comments if you use MailerLite. I’d love to know!

Landing pages

You may be thinking Why do I need landing pages? Can’t I just use a sign-up form in my blog post?

I’m so with you! That’s exactly what I thought. The whole landing page thing had me stumped for a while. I thought landing pages were optional, meaning that I could choose to use them or not.

I had it all wrong. Here’s why we need landing pages:

  • We can drive traffic to our blog posts AND landing pages, which means we have the potential to 2x traffic + sign-ups.
  • By embedding a Facebook pixel on each landing page, we can retarget people who visited the page later on.
  • There’s a chance people might read through the entire post and still not see the freebie. With a landing page, they won’t miss it.

Here’s a landing page I created for my free resource library:

easy startup business

See how there’s ONLY info about my free gift? No buttons, graphics, or text to take your attention away from the call to action. That’s the beauty of landing pages.

There are other ways to grow your list, including:

  • Webinars
  • Giveaways
  • Guest posting
  • YouTube videos
  • Facebook Live

Engage with your subscribers

Before we move on, I want to point out one thing that’s super important:

Try, try, try to email your subscribers once a week (especially important when you have yet to create a product). I know it’s hard, but if you can commit to once a week, you’ll be rewarded with increased sales later on.

The last thing I want is for all your hard work to go down the drain because people don’t hear from you – and then forget who you are.

Here’s the thing:

Some people will sign up for your free resource and peace out. We’ve all done it. It’s going to happen. And it’s perfectly okay.

It’s actually what you want!

When I first started building my list, I’d email my subscribers once a month (I’d tell myself it was only ten days, haha).

Part of the reason is that I’m a numbers junkie. I like to count, and I LOVE to count up.

Every time I’d email my list, I’d get dozens of unsubscribes which would freak me out, in a you’re-messing-with-my-numbers kind of way.

Now I understand that unsubscribes are a healthy way to keep your list clean. After all, if people aren’t interested in you or your business, they won’t open your emails, which means your email open rate will go down. We want that baby UP, UP, UP. With me?

The other reason for my infrequent emails was because I didn’t know what to say…

Sound familiar?

Here’s what you can do:

  • Send an email each week with a link to your latest post, podcast, video, etc. Try to infuse your email with a story to make it interesting.
  • Every other week or so, send an exclusive tip or freebie, just for your subscribers.
  • Use a few emails to interact with people – find out what interests them and what topics they’d like you to cover, and so on. Psst…This is a great way to come up with new product ideas.

Which brings me to…

Step #4: Create a Product

Whew! We’re just about there. You’re doing great.

Once you have 1,000 subscribers, it’s time to create a rough draft version of your product.

This is where we fill up the money bucket. Woo!

Note: When I say “rough draft,” know that this can mean anything from a landing page with information on your service or product plus a place for people to request more information and get a free resource while they wait . . . to a sales page that describes your product and pre-sells it . . . all the way to a full-blown, complete course ready for students.

By now, you should have a good idea of what products people would be interested in based on what they’ve downloaded.

Do they match your earlier brainstorming? If so, high five!

If they don’t match, or if you feel a bit flustered about which product to create, I recommend getting feedback from your subscribers about the challenges they’re facing and the types of products/content they’d like you to cover.

Bryan Harris even recommends emailing a segment of your subscribers your product idea and asking for feedback.

Let’s say you’re a graphic designer and want to create an InDesign course.

Your content funnel from step #1 above might look something like this:

easiest business to start with no money

The people who downloaded 10 Ways to Work Smarter in InDesign have raised their hand and expressed interest in InDesign.

Your next step is to email them some details about your product idea to get their feedback.

You can even ask for pre-orders from subscribers who responded. If you do this, it’s good to know how many pre-orders you’d need to validate your product idea.

What tools to use to create your products?

For courses, I use ScreenFlow to record screencasts (with both a Plantronics headset mic and a SmartLav lavalier mic) and PowerPoint to create my slides.

Then I upload everything to Teachable, which is a hosting platform for courses.

starting a business from home

What I love about Teachable is that all I have to do is focus on creating content. Teachable takes care of payments, enrollments, and other details.

If you decide to create an Ebook or other digital product, I recommend using InDesign for the design and SamCart for e-commerce.

Now, we need to connect your free resource to the product:

Back to the sales funnels I mentioned earlier, yo. Sales funnels are a biggie, and I cover them in more detail in this post.

Wrapping it up!

At this stage, it’s time to revisit both your product hypothesis (based on feedback and other insights you’ve picked up) and your brand identity. Refine all of it . . . colors, fonts, social media templates, bio, descriptions, messaging . . . everything.

In the growth stage of your business, your brand is VERY important.

Think of it this way:

Would you rather pull up in a tired old Ford Escort or a brand new Porsche 911? No brainer, right? It’s important to provide people with an amazing ride, and much of that is conveyed through your blog design, tone, and messaging.

The same way that wearing the right clothes helps people define you, your online brand speaks volumes about who you are, what you stand for, and ultimately, why people should take notice.

Psst . . . If you’re ready to brand like a pro, the Build My Brand Toolkit will help you do it. To learn more about Build My Brand, click here.

In my next post, I’m going to walk you through Path #2. See you there!

How to Start a Successful Blog with No Money (Part 1)


Here's how you can start a successful blog for FREE! Click through to get started! blogging for beginners, become a blogger, blogging tips

Want to start a successful blog? This post is for you! I break down the steps for bloggers and entrepreneurs to turn your dreams into a reality. Click through to learn how! blogging tips, how to make a blog on wordpress, blogging for beginners, become a blogger
How to Start a Blog for Free | Ready to turn your ideas into a profitable blog? In this definitive tutorial, I break down all the steps. Click through to get started! how to make a blog on wordpress, blogging tips, blogging for beginners, become a blogger, start a successful blog

I love being a blog’trepreneur. I believe it’s one of the most enriching experiences you can have.

There’s such a thrill that comes from being your own boss: You can blog when you want to blog, exercise when you want to exercise, run errands when you want to run errands and create products when you want to create products.

Only you can dictate what you should be working on and when you need to get it done, right?

And when it hits you that you’ve finally (finally!) learned how to start a successful blog, you pinch yourself until it fully sinks in: You can earn an income from anywhere in the world, even from your suitcase, if that’s what you choose.

What an amazing gift…

Still, there are times when you feel lost, like you can’t see your footsteps in front of you.

Being an independent is much different than working in a corporate environment, where you have status meetings, stakeholders, bosses, and deadlines to structure your day.

When you’re a team of one, deadlines can get tossed out the window quick like…

And your freedom feeling can turn into a drowning feeling even quicker.

Let’s get that freedom feeling back!

Today, I’m showing you how to start a successful blog. My goal is to break down the steps and clear up any fuzziness you may have so that you can steer the course of your blog biz with ease.

Let’s assume that you…

…have nothing but a laptop, a few ideas, and skills/passion/knowledge about a number of topics. I’m also going to assume that you have a place from which to work (whether it’s your bedroom, a local café, your kitchen table, or an office) and are looking for:

  • clarity about which idea to run with
  • a clear direction to take you from idea to profit
  • specific milestones to reach
  • guidance on how to build your platform and your brand
  • monetization examples and models

What’s unique about an online business?

Back in the day, starting a business required money. You had to be able to pay for things like employees, a physical location, materials, labor, marketing (trade shows, brochures, print ads), and more.

Today, you only need what you have right now, lucky girl.

The internet has opened up a whole new world where we can leverage our minds and knowledge to build hugely successful online businesses – at little to no cost. We’re in an era of limitless possibilities and endless opportunities thanks to social media, Google, and global markets.

The question is: how do you go about creating products and services around the things you love to do so that you can earn an income from your blog?

I’m going to share my blogging tips with you right now.

Let’s dig in…

Step 1: First, choose your niche.

This is a biggie.

First of all, let me say Yes, choosing a niche starts with your passions.

But you can’t leave it there. Starting a business on passion alone might not get you to the finish line. I say this because I’ve started many businesses based only on my passions and have fallen flat on my face. Ouch. 🙁

Here’s the thing:

Passions are beautiful and wonderful things, but how we relate to them can make us feel stuck.

In my case, I’d get so obsessed with my “passion of the moment” that I’d close myself off to other ideas that would have likely been easier to execute and more profitable.

So let’s do this…

Grab a sticky note and jot down a passion statement. Then grab another, and another. By passion statement, I mean statements about your interests, skills, and areas of expertise. Write one broad, open-ended statement on each sticky without getting too specific.

For instance, you might say that you are passionate about helping people improve their overall health. What you wouldn’t want to say just yet is that you are passionate about helping older people prevent diabetes. Before we drill down on deets like these, we need intel on what your people secretly want and need (coming up next!).

Keep writing until your passions are out of your head and on the table in front of you.

Now, look at them objectively and decide which one has the most potential to do two things:

  • Earn a full-time income
  • Attract a wide audience

Boom, there’s your niche. High-five!

Related: How to Choose Your Blog’s Niche and Focus

Step 2: Next up, find your one person

The most successful businesses I’ve launched have filled a specific need in the market.

A need that one person had.

A need that many people had.

We’re talking about target audiences. I prefer not to use this term because I don’t believe we’re shooting at our people with bullets and arrows (which is what I picture when I think “target audience”). Instead, we’re making authentic connections with real humans who have names, faces, interests, struggles, goals, and feelings.

Can you see them standing in front of you right now?

In this step, we’re going to bring them into focus. Here’s how:

First, make some initial assumptions.

Based on your experience and what you know right now, what groups of people might be interested in your topic or need the type of help or training your provide?

If you’re a web designer, you might assume that entrepreneurs just starting their business would be in need of web design and could use your information or talent.

Or, if you’re a fitness instructor, you may have worked offline with women at a local gym to help them get fit and be more active. You may not know specific details about them yet, and that’s perfectly okay. When I launched Conversion Minded, I was unsure about what types of entrepreneurs needed my help and how I could help them.

So I did a little research, which leads me to…

Research, research, research!

It’s time to take your initial assumptions and put them under a microscope.

I started by writing a few blog posts that I knew were off the mark, mainly because I had a vague picture of my people at the time. What helped me, and what may help you, was to research content with a high number of shares on Facebook and Pinterest.

Join Facebook groups relevant to your niche. You may have to hunt around a bit to find groups where members are actively sharing and engaging (vs promotional only). If you join in on the conversations, you’ll learn about your people, the topics that interest them, and how you can help.

Over on Pinterest, there are two ways to research your audience:

First, follow popular bloggers and make a note of any content they share that may be relevant to your people. I recommend documenting your research in a Google Docs sheet so you can always refer back to it.

If you want to step up your Pinterest game, make a note of repin counts. A high number of repins is a good indication that people want to know more about these topics.

Pinterest has recently stopped displaying repins, but you can easily work around it by using Tailwind. Psst…Tailwind is a must-have tool for growing your following, researching content, and driving traffic from Pinterest. If you haven’t already, you can sign up using my affiliate link below.

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite

On Tailwind, there are two ways to view repins:

  1. Use the Content Discovery tool
  2. Join tribes

The Content Discovery tool is in beta, but the folks at Tailwind will add it to your account for an additional $4 a month, which is worth it in my book. You’ll see a light bulb in your left dashboard once they do.

starting a business with no money

Aaah, those numbers are a sight for sore eyes!

Tailwind Tribes are much like share-for-share threads in Facebook groups, only you’ll need an invite link to join them. Tribes with open invite links are easy to find (I found a number of them through Google) and look like this one from Stephanie’s Blogging & Entrepreneurship tribe:

get started with Tailwind Tribes

You can also find Tailwind Tribes for your niche by joining these Facebook groups:

Related: 14 Ways to Get Massive Traffic from Pinterest

Step 3: Next, brainstorm products

If you want to learn how to start a successful blog, you have to think about your end goal early on. You’re likely starting to get a picture of how you can help your people at this point. Now, it’s time to brainstorm products and services to bridge the gap between steps #1 and steps #2.

Get ready to fill up the money bucket. Woo!

Think about the general types of products you’d like to offer.

Does it make sense to offer one-on-one coaching? Do you want to package your knowledge up as videos or audio? Maybe you’re more comfortable with creating low-cost Ebooks and guides that require little on-going maintenance and support. Or, you may want to create templates and products and sell them on Etsy or Ebay.

As you work through this step, try not to limit your ideas to one product or monetization method.

There are many ways to make money with your blog, including affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, courses, digital products, coaching, and more.

If you’re a creative (graphic designer, copywriter, interior designer, photographer), you may want to offer freelance services. You can also combine services + products.

For instance, maybe you offer group coaching programs where you walk people through doing something step-by-step and individual coaching to help them implement what they learn. Then, you offer your services to fill in the gaps to help people accelerate their progress.

What products are you comfortable creating?

The product types you choose will largely be based on what you’re comfortable creating and offering. Ebooks and workbooks are relatively easy to create using InDesign or Canva. If you’re comfortable with technology, you can jump right in and create a full-blown course using Teachable and Screenflow (Mac) or Camtasia (PC).

There’s no one-size-fits-all here, friend. If you’re not comfortable offering a certain type of product, don’t do it! When I started Conversion Minded, the one thing I knew was that I didn’t want to work with clients anymore. I’d been freelancing for some years and wanted to scale my business beyond a one-on-one model, so digital products and courses made sense to me.

The same will happen to you: You’ll naturally gravitate to product types that suite your personality and skills. Do you love YouTube? Create a video course! If you’re more comfortable with images and text, creating an Ebook is a great option (this is where I started).

How quickly do you need money?

This is a biggie, and something we can’t overlook…

Products can take a while to create. I just finished creating my first full-blown course after working on it for four months. Woop woop!

Sooo…

If you need to earn an income from your blog, like – yesterday, you may need to offer consulting or coaching services, even if you feel burned out like I did (I freelanced much longer than I wanted because I had to).

If this sounds familiar, don’t sweat it. Work one on one with clients to start, then gradually shift to a one-to-many business model.

How should you price your products?

This one’s a biggie, so I’ll save it for a future post. For now, here are some quick thoughts on pricing:

  • Low-cost Ebooks and digital products: Range from $7–$47. Keep in mind that the higher price points ($35–$47) will allow you to grow your email list and generate a profit using Facebook ads.
  • Group coaching programs: Anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 and up
  • Full-blown courses: Range from $99 to $999 depending on your value proposition and promise. As a general rule of thumb, if your course can deliver specific and measurable results, you can charge higher prices.

Ideally, you’ll offer a variety of products at different price points.

For instance, you may want to create a $47 Ebook and a $167 course around the same topic, another course for $497, and a group coaching program for $2,000.

Some of your peeps will have smaller budgets (raise your hand!) and others will have more to spend. By accommodating both groups of people, you’ll give them more options to choose from and create multiple streams of income.

Related: Create a Killer Facebook Ad Strategy for Your Email List and Products

You can leave your product ideas here or go ahead and launch a working product. If that’s your plan, read through and follow path #2.

Step 4: Create a working online brand

If you don’t already have a website, time to create one!

Nothing fancy, all you need is your bare-minimum brand identity. A simple landing page for a website will do.

You want to create your hub without spending a ton of time perfecting it. The reason is that you’ll likely make a lot of changes in your business over the coming months. We’re not setting anything in stone just yet, k?

For instance, when I launched Conversion Minded I knew my start was going to look much different than my finish. So, I gave myself a deadline of two weeks to create my online brand. Then, once I was crystal clear on my people and the direction I wanted to go in, I rebranded.

#MORALOFTHESTORY If you get sucked into design early on, you’ll have less time to start! Build your brand as quickly as possible. You’re going to have plenty of time to refine it later on. Promise.

What should you include in your brand identity?

Here’s what you need in your brand kit:

  • Logo
  • Social media templates
  • Colors, fonts
  • Website or landing page
  • Watermark
  • Favicon
  • Bio
  • Social media profiles
  • SM descriptions

Now, you’re probably thinking Sandra, you just said to move quickly, and there’s a lot here! How am I supposed to create all of this?

I hear ya! Sometimes things sound so easy ’til you dig in, right? Brand elements are one of those things you need to have in your back pocket. You want then when you’re ready to post on Instagram, you’re not struggling with image sizes, colors, or where to place your logo.

Psst…You can save time and use the done-for-you templates, logos, and graphics in my Build Your Brand Tool Kit. Click here to learn more the Build My Brand Tool Kit. 

The Build My Brand Tool Kit gives you everything you need to brand yourself like a pro! Click here to learn more.

Don’t forget your value proposition! Part of your brand identity process is to create your elevator pitch. Why should people read your blog? What’s your unique angle? Why should they buy your products or services? A value prop will help you get crystal clear on the unique value that only you provide, so that you can communicate it front and center on your website and in your content. I cover how to create value props in this post.

Wrapping it up!

You now have some initial product ideas, a direction for your blog, you know your people, and you have a brand identity and presence. Time to start building your platform, creating products, and building sales funnels.

If you’ve followed the Blog Profit Plan series, you’re familiar with these four buckets:

  • Content
  • Traffic
  • Subscribers
  • Products

These are the buckets you need to fill to accelerate your growth and amplify your profits quickly.

In my next post, we’re going to look at the strategy to filling each bucket in a way that “pours” seamlessly into the next.

Spoiler: There are two paths for bucket-filling:

Path #1: Build a platform first

In path #1, you’re building your brand and platform from the ground up. The sequence looks like this:

  1. Content
  2. Traffic
  3. Subscribers
  4. Product

See how we’re selling products as the last step in this model? That’s because we’re focusing on laying a foundation first.

Path #2: Create a product first

We’re switching things up and creating products first, then building a platform and driving traffic. Here’s the sequence for path #2:

  1. Product
  2. Traffic
  3. Subscribers
  4. Content

Which path is best for you? It depends on:

  • How quickly you need to monetize – if your answer is right away, start with path #2.
  • How well you know your people and what they need – if you need more time to research, go with path #1.

A big mistake I see a lot of people make is to try to take shortcuts.

Nope, shortcuts won’t work.

Here’s why:

Both paths require visibility in the market. First, people need to know that you exist. Then, they need to trust you before they can commit to a purchase.

This means that no matter which path you choose, the core of your growth strategy lies in steps #2 and #3: traffic and subscribers.

Of course, there’s a whole lot more to it than that.  We’ll dive into the specifics of each path next. Stay tuned!

See you then!

Website Optimization: 9 Must-Have Elements to Convert More Customers

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9 Website Optimization Tips to Convert Customers | Ever feel like your website should be working harder for you? This post is for you! It includes 9 elements every blogger and entrepreneur must have on their website to generate leads and sales 24/7, even while you sleep. Click through to see all the high-converting elements!

9 Steps to Optimize Your Website For More Traffic + Customers | Ever feel like your website should be working harder for you? This post is for you! It includes 9 elements every blogger and entrepreneur must have on their website to generate leads and sales 24/7, even while you sleep. Click through to see all the steps!

Ever wonder how to optimize your website so that it does more of the heavy lifting in your business? Say, get out there and bring you some fresh leads + customers already? Or, maybe give the universe a shout-out to your superheroness?

I’m so with you on this one! Our websites should work harder. In fact, we want our websites to be the swiss army knives of the machine we’ve been working so hard to build.

The machine that’s going to drive traffic, build our audience, and make us profitable.

Today, I’m sharing 9 website optimization tips to help keep that machine running at peak performance. These tips will be especially helpful if your blog biz isn’t quite where you want it to be, or if you feel like you’re doing everything right but something is still a bit off.

You probably have questions about your website, or maybe you’re thinking…

  • I don’t have time
  • I’m done working on my site
  • How can this bring me customers?
  • Is spending time on my site even worth it?

I get it. Another thing to add to the list, right? And YES, optimizing your website for more leads and customers will take time.

Here’s the thing though:

Most people who visit your website are doing a quick fly-by, looking for something specific. Once they find it, they’ll likely peace out unless you give them such a bangin’ experience that they want to stay longer.

The beauty here is that once you optimize your website, you can pretty much set it and forget it. This is because all the heavy lifting will start happening on autopilot. You’ll have a system that builds relationships with complete strangers and a website that delivers leads + customers while you sleep.

Sound good? Here are my website optimization tips:

PART 1 – THE ART OF THINGS + LAYING THE FOUNDATION

1) A Value Proposition

WHERE TO PUT: ON YOUR HOME PAGE

A value whaaa? This is a fancy way of saying let people know that you solve one problem for one specific person. A value prop should be the first statement people see on your homepage and it looks something like this:

I help (who) do (what) so that they can (benefit).

Confused by this? I’ve got tons of value prop variations, plus a template for you in this post. Your goal here is to let your audience know exactly what those 2 “ones” are above and to clearly communicate the value you provide. What do you do? How do you help? Who do you help? 

If you need help with your one person, you can download the customer avatar template I created to help you attract the right customers to your business. Click the image below to download it.

Download the Customer Avatar Worksheet to learn how to optimize a home page with a targeted message that attracts your ideal customer.

I recommend placing your value prop front and center on your homepage, ideally above the fold (which is another jargony way of saying don’t make people scroll for it).

Now, I know coming up with this kind of statement can be tricky, especially if you have a million topics you blog about, and that’s perfectly ok. Just know that if you have a hard time building an audience for your brand, your value prop is likely at fault.

Here’s why:

You need a wrapper for all your interests…some kind of angle that your topics point to so that people know which box to place you in. Plus, having a strong value prop is the best way to check the box on homepage optimization.

Note: When it comes to website optimization tips, people often skip the value prop step and head straight for SEO (step #9 below). This is a huge mistake, in my book. The reason is that after all your hard work driving traffic to your website, if you don’t grab people right away you’ll likely lose them forever. Please, friend, don’t skip this step!

Related: How to Find Your Blog’s Niche and Focus

2) Your Story

WHERE TO PUT: YOUR ABOUT PAGE

Your About Page is where you hook people on YOU, your world view, and why you do what you do.

Don’t hold back! Your personal history has framed who you are and that’s the story your audience needs to hear. I call it The Story of You Plus Them because you’re connecting the dots between where your readers are in their journey and where you can take them.

Your About Page should communicate that you get how your audience feels. What have you experienced that may be similar to what they’re going through right now? How have you overcome your challenges? How do you personally know how they feel? What will change for them AFTER you?

Once you weave your story in a way that answers these questions, you’ll tap into how your audience secretly feels. Building an audience will become effortless because people will perceive you as having a solution and will naturally seek you out and want to work with you.

Related: What Should I include on My About Page?

3) Great Design

WHERE TO PUT: EVERYWHERE!

Wondering how to optimize a home page? It starts with knowing how you want people to feel when they visit your website. Energized and excited? Deep and mysterious? Powerful and independent?

This is true for more than just your home page. Details like colors, fonts, and graphics have a lot to do with the mood of your entire website, and more importantly, how long people hang around. Your goal is to help readers get lost in your copy, with me? You want them to experience your website with no distracting elements to take their attention away from what you want them to do.

When you think about it, the function of design is to interpret copy. Ask yourself questions like How can I turn that huge block of boring text into an eye-guzzling graphic? What design elements can I add that will make it easy for people to digest my copy?

What you’re aiming for is to create a hierarchy of importance so that people know what to read first, second, and so on. We’re talking about deets like:

  • Easy navigation
  • Clear calls to action (step #6 below)
  • Harmonious colors, fonts, and graphics
  • Use of white space
  • Strategic positioning and scale of elements

When you’re first starting out, please don’t spend too much time on this step. The reason is that it’s easy to fall into a rabbit-hole with design. In the early stage of your business, your goal should be to get out there as quickly as possible so that you can learn more about your audience.

I recommend using a theme like Divi as a jumping off point. Add your content and change the colors, fonts, and graphics. Then you’re good to go. Easy peasy.

#BOTTOMLINE Yes, design is important, but don’t spend so much time here that you put off other important things like LAUNCHING.

Related: How to Choose Colors That Will Make Your Brand Stand Out

PART II: REVVIN’ UP THE MACHINE

4) Opt-in forms + freebies

WHERE TO PUT: YOUR HEADER, FOOTER, SIDEBAR, BLOG POSTS

When we talk about how to optimize your website, this one’s a biggie. Opt-in forms and freebies are where you start turbocharging the machine and building an email list while you sleep. What’s not to love about that, right?

I include them on my home page and in as many posts as I can, without interrupting readers of course. If a freebie naturally fits and would help extend a post with even more value, I’ll include it.

I actually recommend including a freebie for as many posts as you can, which sounds like a lot more work than it is. You can start with a few that are related to your blog themes and use the same freebie on numerous posts. The double-whammy here is that the more freebies you create, the more you’ll understand what your audience secretly wants. You can use that intel to frame future products around.

Remember, freebies are a huge part of our content funnel, which I cover in this post. A high-converting freebie is:

  • Targeted – speaks to one specific person and addresses their most pressing pain point.
  • Actionable – is easy for people to digest and implement. Checklists, cheat sheets, templates and short workbooks (less than 10 pages) work well.
  • Simple – covers one simple topic rather than multiple topics. Your goal is to offer the easiest steps for people to get from A to Z.
  • Delivers results – gives people steps they can actually move forward with and see results.
  • Builds trust – establishes your authority and primes people to buy from you in the future.
  • Sparks curiosity – offers enough value to get people excited about future products, without giving away the farm.
  • Provides real value – is something that people would actually consider paying for.

For opt-in forms, I’m in love with Thrive Leads! They have so many options. You can tweak these forms all you want and then save them as templates.

Any type of form you want, Thrive can make it happen. Take a look:

  • Welcome mats – Full page opt-ins similar to Jeff Bullas’ home page. These are supposedly the highest converting. I can’t wait to test.
  • Standard pop-ups – I use these as “exit pop-ups”, where visitors are prompted to opt-in right before they leave.
  • In-content – Clicking on an image or a link triggers a pop-up. I use these for all of my content upgrades.
  • Ribbon forms – Appear as a bar across the top of your website, like the one on Twelveskip’s site.
  • Sidebars – Display on the right side of pages and posts.
  • Footers – Sit at the bottom of your site and prompt people after they read your content.

Can you see how powerful freebies are? I highly recommend purchasing the Thrive Leads’ plugin ($67 one-time fee) and experimenting with each opt-in form.

5) Landing Pages

WHERE TO PUT: THESE ARE CUSTOM PAGES

If we’re really going to make our opt-in forms stand out, we need to give them a dedicated landing page. Here’s why:

All the forms mentioned in step #7 are designed to appear on an existing page or post on your website. They’ll pop up, slide in, slide down, or hang out at the top/bottom of a page. If we really want to shake things up, we’ll put our opt-in form on an entirely separate page, so people can’t help but notice it.

How is a landing page is different from other pages on your website?

Great question! I scratched my head on this one too at first. What makes landing pages different is that they include only 3 things:

  1. Details about your freebie
  2. A call to action (step #6 below)
  3. Your opt-in form

That’s it! The best converting landing pages are all about freebies and nothing else. We’re talking no blog posts, pages, sidebars, or even top navigation. Basically, no ANYTHING that might distract people from signing up for your freebie.

So there you have it! That’s my skinny on landing page best practices. Yours can be short and sweet (an image plus a few bullet points) or long and detailed (more copy, more images, more wow).

Wondering how to make a landing page? I’ve got 2 options for you:

  • LeadPages has a huge library of high-converting templates that you can easily tweak to suit both your freebie and brand. While I like their templates, I find that customizing them takes more work than I want. Plus, the $25 monthly fee is too steep, in my book.
  • Thrive Content Builder is a relatively new plugin that’s been giving LeadPages a run lately. These guys boast a huge template library too (162 and counting) and charge only $67, with a full year of support. That’s a one-time fee and a no-brainer, right?

6) Call-to-Actions

WHERE TO PUT: EVERYWHERE

As people read your content, you want to encourage them to take another step. The way to do that is to use a combination of buttons, links, and copy that calls them to action (hence the term “call-to-actions” or “CTAs”).

CTAs have the smallest amount of copy you’re likely to write, but don’t let that fool you! This is one of those cases where big things definitely come in small packages. Here are a few CTA examples:

  • I’m In!
  • Heck Yes!
  • Hook Me Up!
  • Get Started Here

You’re probably thinking Why are CTAs such a big deal? Can’t I just say “Download” or Buy Now” and that’s it?

It depends. Sometimes that will work and other times not so much. I recommend brainstorming your CTA a bit more. If you hang in there, you’re likely to come up with text for your CTA button and heading that will get people fired up to sign up.

Take a look at Melyssa Griffin‘s website. See how she prompts people to Take Action: Click An Option Below…? It doesn’t get any clearer than that! Follow this example with your call-to-actions and you’ll be buildin’ your machine, quick like.

You want these babies ev’rywhere:

  • On your home page
  • About page
  • Contact page
  • Blog posts
  • Opt-in forms
  • Landing pages
  • Thank you pages
  • Sales pages

Remember, CTAs are a huge part of creating an effective content funnel. People need to be drawn to both the copy and design of your call-to-action. This is the way you’ll be able to capture their attention long enough to guide them through your sign-up process.

Related: How to Build Your Blog Audience (Like You Mean Business)

7) Thank You Page

WHERE TO PUT: THIS IS A CUSTOM PAGE

When people opt-in, you need a way to assure them that their freebie is on its way. That’s where a thank you page comes in. You literally say something like Thanks for signing up! Your freebie is on its way! And leave it at that.

Nope, sorry. In reality, we can’t leave it at that. 🙁

We need to dig into the real potential of thank you pages and help people take the next step. After all, they’ve already raised their hands and said yes, so they’re likely ready to build a relationship, or maybe even purchase a low-cost product. Now we’re talkin’.

This page has some serious lifting to do! First, think about what you want people to do. Then make sure your thank you page includes:

  • A confirmation message
  • Specific instructions on what to do next
  • A clear call-to-action (step #6 above)

Speaking of CTAs again, here are some great call to actions for this page:

  • Ask people to whitelist your email address
  • Share on social media
  • Register for a webinar or event
  • Purchase a low-dollar offer
  • Purchase a related or affiliate product

Whatever you do, please make this page a priority! This is a huge website optimization step. Don’t back-burner it or treat it as an afterthought. Your thank you page doesn’t need to be long and it doesn’t need to be pretty. It just needs to prompt people to take a very specific action.

8) A sales process

What I mean by this is that you need a system to deliver your freebie, prime people for future products, and nurture the relationship you’ve started to build with your subscribers. That’s where automated email marketing comes in.

What you want to do is to create a 2-email sequence (one to deliver the freebie and one to introduce an offer). Now I get that delivering a freebie doesn’t sound like a sales process, but let’s take a closer look, k?

First off, you send an email that delivers your freebie. No brainer, right? You’ll want to tag subscribers with this particular freebie and then you can:

  • Send them weekly updates and blog posts
  • Tell them about a product you’re creating that is related to the freebie and offers tons more value
  • Tell them about a service you provide, again related to the freebie
  • Share an affiliate product that will help them implement an action step in your freebie

Can you see how this is shaping up into a bangin’ sales process?

Now that you know your audience and what they’re trying to achieve, your job is to build a relationship with them and get them excited about buying.

Of course, I’m not suggesting you bombard subscribers with salesy emails, but you get my gist. Setting up an email sequence to deliver your freebie is the first step in building your sales process, and it’s all going to happen on the same platform.

Looking for an email service provider? I recently switched from Infusionsoft to ConvertKit and am loving it. MailChimp is a good option here too.

9) Plugins

WHERE TO PUT: SEE BELOW

Let’s take a look at some plugins that will help turn your website into a sales machine. I’ve already shared Thrive Leads and Thrive Content Builder, which you can purchase at Thrive Themes. Here’s how to use other plugins that will turbocharge your website:

Shareaholic

Put at the bottom of your posts

See the social media buttons at the bottom of this post? Those are share buttons from Shareaholic, which is a free plugin. Woop Woop! Share buttons encourage people to share your posts and send a strong social signal that your content is popular.

You can also place share buttons at the top of your posts or on the left side. I’m excited to try Social Warfare, but right now I’m shying away from their $25 monthly fees.

Contextual Related Posts

Put below your share buttons

A lot of what we’re doing with plugins is encouraging people to click through to other sections of our website. That’s exactly what Contextual Related Posts does best. Once you install this plugin, you can display 3-4 related posts based on the content of your current post. It’s easy to tweak the design too.

Google Analytics

Add to the <head> tag of your website

If you hired a sales person, you wouldn’t cross your fingers and hope for the best. You would track and measure their performance. The same is true with your website. You have to know which pages are most popular so you can optimize them for even more conversions.

Many themes have a clear section for adding Google Analytics, so you may not need this. But in case things get wonky and it’s not as easy as it seems, install this plugin, add your code, and you’re all set.

I recommend logging in to Google Analytics to check your site’s performance at least once a month.

Yoast SEO

Nothing to “put” here. Simply follow the SEO prompts at the bottom of the WordPress edit window.

Popping up in search engines doesn’t happen overnight, but anything worth having is worth waiting for, right? That’s how SEO works. You lay the groundwork, plant your seeds, and then wait for spring.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on SEO lately, and let me just say that it’s a big deal.

Get more traffic? Check.
Get clear on your ideal customers? Check.
Create better content? Check.

If you’re wondering how to make a blog post SEO-friendly and haven’t already installed this plugin yet, I say get on it. What Yoast SEO will do is prompt you with a checklist of things that will help you optimize your blog posts. Once you see a green light (right up there near the Publish button), you’re all set.

While this handy tool doesn’t replace SEO keywords or even Google’s ranking algorithms, it will help you optimize your posts with SEO-friendly content, title, headings, tags, descriptions, images, and more.

Need more SEO tips? I cover the basics of it here. If you want, you can also download the SEO checklist I created so you know how to get your posts ranked on Google. Click the image below to download.

SEO Checklist For Creating An SEO-Friendly Website

Related: 12 Blogger Plugins to Skyrocket Your Blog

Related: 7 Things Every Blogger Should Do After You Hit Publish

There you go! Those are my 9 website optimization tips to help you put your blog on autopilot and generate leads and sales while you sleep. Nite nite.

7-Day Social Media Plan for Your Blog (Plus a Free Planner)

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Want to sell your products and make money with your blog? First, you need to help people find your content so you can build your audience! This post includes weekly blog tasks PLUS a social media marketing plan to drive massive traffic. Click through to see all the steps and download the planner!
Want to sell your products and make money with your blog? First, you need to build your audience and get traffic to your content! This post includes the exact weekly blog tasks plus a downloadable social media marketing plan template. Click through to find out exactly what you should be doing to promote your posts like a pro!
Ready to be visible, so people can find your content and you can sell more products? This post includes a daily and weekly social media plan to help you build a following and drive traffic to your posts.

Ready to master social media marketing? This post includes a 7-day social media plan to help you build a following and get more social media traffic to your blog posts.

This is part #2 of the Build Your Audience + Traffic series, where we’re drilling down on how to drive traffic to your content and convert visitors into subscribers.

In part #1, we talked about fundamental ways to increase traffic and build your audience. We uncovered how important it is to really, really know your target audience, and to set monthly goals so that you know what to aim for.

We also touched on the tasks involved with putting your content out there like you mean business…like you want people to find it.

Today, let’s dive into the HOW.

Specifically:

How can you promote your content effectively on social media?
What things should you be doing each week, and in what order, to maximize your reach?

Time for a 7-day social media plan, yo. What I really want is for you to have a blogging workflow that yields amazing results for all your hard work.

Here are the weekly tasks I’m covering in this post:

  • Sunday: Research blog topics
  • Monday: Write your post
  • Tuesday: SEO your post
  • Wednesday: Create images
  • Thursday: Promote on social media
  • Friday: Repurpose for other platforms
  • Saturday: Add to schedulers
  • Rinse + repeat 🙂

Ready for it? Let’s dig in.

Bonus: I created this 7-day social media plan template to help put what you learn into action.

social media strategy template

ON THE FIRST SUNDAY OF EVERY MONTH

1) Research blog topics

To get the most benefit from this social media plan, you need to stick to a regular blogging schedule. One of the best ways to do that is to have your topics ready to go, so that all you have to do is to start writing.

Remember the blog themes we talked about? On the first Sunday of every month, jot down blog ideas that support your themes. This extra effort upfront will save you loads of time plus give you valuable insight about your audience.

Here’s why:

  • Knowing what you’re going to cover ahead of time means less time struggling with what to write during the week.
  • Your content is going to speak to what your audience really needs vs what you think they need, which is priceless.
  • Researching content is about more than just blog ideas – you’ll see how people spin their blog titles too, which is a biggie for driving traffic.

Now that you know what you want to write, it’s time to create your blogging workflow.

Related: 3 Places to Find Your Next 30 Blog Ideas

MONDAY

2) Write the post

Try to write when you feel most productive and when you can block out time with no interruptions or distractions. What this looks like is no email, no calls, no texts. Time to shut out the world and focus here. Writing is a creative process and you need the mental space to be all in…

You can even use my Time Blocking Template to help protect your sacred writing time!

In terms of how much time to set aside, it depends on the length of your posts. I tend to write longer posts that take me about 5-6 hours. You may need more or less time and that’s perfectly ok.

What you can do, if you like, is to alternate between longer and shorter posts. The first week, maybe you write a longer post. Then the next week, you write a shorter one. Whatever you do, please don’t write less than 1000 words! We want to provide real value for our readers, PLUS give our work a fighting chance to rank on Google.

Good so far?

Oops…almost forgot one thing:

Make sure you format your posts with subheadings and bullet points so they’re easy to read. Use short sentences and even shorter words, e.g. hard vs difficult. You want that when people scan your posts, they get what you’re saying without having to work for it.

You’re doing great! Next, let’s get a jump on Tuesday’s tasks.

TUESDAY

3) Optimize for search engines

Tuesday is the perfect day to choose your target keyword and add it to your content, tags, and blog title. This way you have a final title for blog and social media images, which we’re going to create on Tuesday too, right after we sprinkle some SEO magic on it.

The reason I recommend optimizing your post AFTER you write it, and not before, is because it’s so important to focus on Step #1 first. The only thing you should be thinking about when you’re writing is how to get your readers from point A to point Z.

Then, after that, we can get jiggy with SEO.

If you’re curious about how best to optimize your posts, this post includes an SEO blog checklist you can download to help you remember all the steps.

Before we move on to images, let’s look at how to select the perfect target keyword. We’ll need Google’s Keyword Planner for this.

I usually select “Search for new keywords related to a phrase, website or category”. Your results will look something like the image below. What you’re looking for are keywords related to your search term that have a decent search volume and low to medium competition.

 

How to use google keyword planner

Once you select your target keyword, follow the steps listed in the SEO blog checklist to add it to your post.

And just in case you have a hard time finding the keyword planner once you log in, it’s hiding out in the “Tools” menu.

4) Create blog and social media images

#2FORTUESDAY We’re doublin’ up on Tuesday, so right after you’re done with step #3, it’s time to create share images.

Canva is a great tool for this. You can create and save branded templates with your logo, colors, fonts, and other brand elements all in there, ready to go.

I like to take my images one step further and use Photoshop. If you’re curious about Photoshop, this tutorial and social media template will help you get started.

Ok, so now you’re probably thinking What social media sites do I need images for, and what size should they be?

I’ve got all of that covered for you right here!

WEDNESDAY

5) Create a content upgrade

High five! We’re jammin’ and it’s only Wednesday. Let’s keep at it.

Content upgrades are extra freebies…things like checklists, cheat sheets, eBooks, worksheets, and templates…that extend on your post with even more value. They’re optional, meaning that you don’t have to create one in order to publish your post and promote it.

Hmm…or do you?

Nope. Changed my mind. You need ’em.

The reason is that this is the Blog Audience + Traffic series. What that means is that we’re building a community…our crew, our tribe. To do that, we need a way to stay in touch with the people who visit our site. The last thing we want is to throw a slammin’ blog party and then have people peace out before the fun starts.

Also, if you remember from part #1 of this series, freebies are a huge piece of our content funnel.

To give you an example of this, I’ve built my list to 4K in the last 3-1/2 months with nothing more than freebies. We’re talking no guest posts, ads, webinars, landing pages…none of that noise! Just straight up opt-in forms and freebies.

Can you see how powerful they are?

Now, I get that freebies take a lot of time to make, so believe me, I’m not recommending that you include one with every post.

Instead, you can alternate each week, the same way we’re alternating between longer and shorter posts (Monday, above). So one week you add a freebie, the next week you skip it, and so on.

If you’re wondering how to create your freebie, Pages, Word, Google Docs, and Canva or all good choices. I’ve been using InDesign forever so that’s what I prefer. Oh, and if you’re interested in learning how to create eBooks with InDesign, please let me know in the comments!

THURSDAY

6) Add the upgrade to your post

This part sounds simple, right? It actually takes a few more steps than you might think. What you’re doing is creating a 2-step opt-in form, where an image or a link triggers a pop-up. So let’s break that down, k?

First, there’s the link or image

I’ve found that a graphic button with a call to action like “Click here to download” works better than a text link. Images grab people’s attention more than links, especially if you’re following the blog SEO checklist and interlinking posts for search engines. All of those links can get lost after a while.

But a big, bold, graphic button? No one’s glazing over that, friend! The other thing to include in your button is an image of your worksheet or checklist. You want to let people see how helpful your freebie is, type thing.

Ok, so what tools should you use?

Great question! See those tools you used on Tuesday to create blog + social media images? You can use the same ones for your call to action button.

Next up, the opt in form

This is the form that pops-up when someone clicks on the button.

I use Thrive Leads because I just loove it so much, but you can use OptinMonster, Leadpages, or SumoMe too. Just remember to connect the form to MailChimp, ConvertKit or any email platform you currently use.

Finally! Write a delivery email

We need a way to send the freebie to new subscribers.

What that looks like is when someone signs up for your freebie, they get a “tag” that triggers an email sequence  (which is just a fancy way of saying “send more than one email”). Here’s an example of a delivery sequence:

  • Your first email will say something like “Thanks so much! Here’s your download.”
  • Then you follow-up a few days later with a reminder “How’s it going with the freebie? If you haven’t downloaded it yet, here’s the link again.”
  • The idea is to schedule these emails ahead of time, so it’s all on autopilot.

Ok, I know you’re probably thinking This is so much stuff, and it all sounds pretty techie!

I hear ya! There are a lot of steps here, which is why I like to think of Thursdays as #TECHTHURSDAY. Setting all of this up definitely takes a different part of your brain than writing or even creating images.

Remember too that once you set up your first sequence, you can duplicate it for the next one. And you only have to connect your service once to the form. Then you’re good to go.

Like anything else, the more freebies you create and add to your posts, the faster it will go. This is another one of those things where, if you hang in there with it, your investment will pay off later on as your audience and community grow and grow.

Now, I know you’re probably thinking If this is a social media plan, why are we spending so much time on blogging tips? What about tips for social media?

I hear ya! Everything we’ve covered so far is about blogging and creating content.

The reason is because content is the glue that makes social media so sticky. You need to focus on blogging from Monday through Thursday so that you have original content to share. That’s where the traffic part comes in! If you hang in there, over the next few days we’ll turn our attention to sharing and promotion. Everything will come together into a bangin’ social media plan soon. Pinky swear.

Real quick before we move on, there’s one more thing to do:

Check your Google Analytics at least once a month. What you’re looking for are the top 5-10 posts that are most popular. These are the ones with serious muscle, the ones driving the most traffic to your site. Make sure you go back and add a freebie to each of these if you haven’t already.

Next up: Time to pounce on social media!

FRIDAY

7) Publish and promote

#TGIF Almost there…just a few days left. You can do this…

First, publish your post

Whatever you do, please proofread your post before you publish it! I’m terrible at this… I’m always finding grammatical errors and typos in my posts months after they go live. Ugh. Sooo frustrating…and the longer the post, the more typos.

Do me one better here, friend. Give your post a once-over before you publish it.

Next, promote your post

This is the most important thing to do next, and I’m going to show you how to do it so that you get maximum visibility and traffic. Let’s look at the blog promotion tasks in 3 stages, done over the next 3 days:

  1. Share on social media, bookmarking sites, and content communities
  2. Turn your post into other types of content to reach even more people
  3. Create and schedule additional updates, tweets, and pins

Some experts, like Derek Halpern, recommend applying the 80/20 rule to blog promotion. This means that you spend 80% of your time promoting, and 20% writing. Honestly, I think my split is more like 100/100 🙂

Can you see why Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are such important days?

Now you’re probably thinking How the heck am I going to do all of this without pulling my hair out?

I get it, I really do! It took me months to figure out a workflow that didn’t leave me feeling flustered. This is another one of those things where you need to hang in there! It’s going to get so much easier as you move through it. First of all, the weekly blogging plan we’re covering today will help you keep a consistent schedule, where you’re doing the same tasks, on the same days, each week.

And once you run through the steps yourself and nail down your best workflow, it’ll be easy to pass the promotion tasks off to a virtual assistant. You will get your weekend back later on. Pinky swear.

 

Here’s the template I use to share my blog posts:

content marketing strategy

You can download the blog promotion worksheet to share your blog posts too.
social media planning calendar

Ok, with that being said, Friday is all about sharing on social media and bookmarking sites.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • And so many others…

Too much to list in this post… For the full list of sites, I recommend downloading the blog promo worksheet above.

SATURDAY

Repurpose your post

Repurposing your post is a techie way of saying turn it into something else, like a video, quick tip, Slideshare, or podcast. For our purposes today, let’s just focus on turning the post into:

  • A 1-2 minute video
  • Second Pinterest pin
  • Quick tip graphic
  • More tweets and updates

This is a much shorter list, and a lot easier to get your head around, right? Another way to think of it is that at the end of the week you’re going to have these assets for your post:

  • The post itself
  • A video
  • A quick tip graphic

I know that this sounds like a lot!

But really, it goes much quicker than you think. What you can do is use the same quick tip for your graphic and your video. And if you think about it, all you’re really doing is taking what you’ve already “scripted”, selecting a few highlights from it, and turning them into something new. Plus, in my experience, recording video takes sooo much less time than writing a post.

For the video

You can use whatever you have available right now. Let’s not get hung up on techie recording gear, k? Your iPhone or webcam is the perfect starting place. The point here is to simply get into the habit of turning your posts into videos.

Once you’re recording video on the regular, I recommend the Blue Yeti mic to help amplify your audio.

To record the video itself, I started out with QuickTime and now use ScreenFlow, mainly because of the editing features. And my brother has been bangin’ out amazing videos using Camtasia on his PC. All of these are good choices, in my book.

For the quick tip graphic

You got it. Same tools from Tuesday, step #4.

Additional tweets and updates

For each post, I write 15 additional tweets, and 3-4 updates for Facebook and LinkedIn, all linking to the post.

Here’s what those look like:

social media marketing plan template - TwitterI should point out that these tweets and updates are all slightly different. What you don’t want to do is to repeat the same tweet over and over again!

In the next step, we’ll schedule these tweets (plus our new content + graphics) to be shared over the next week. This will give us an initial spike in blog traffic.

Related: How to Promote Your Blog Posts Effectively on Social Media

SUNDAY

Schedule updates, tweets, and pins

Woo! You’re really hangin’ in there!

This (almost) last step is actually pretty easy. All we need to do is to queue up our content for sharing.

Can you see how all of your hard work is paying off here? You have more content to share on more platforms, which means more people seeing your post.

More types of content = more platforms = a broader audience.

This is why I love social media scheduling tools so much! Even though you’re building your following on just 1-2 social media sites (as I mention in this post), these tools allow you to “set it and forget it” on the others, so to speak. That’s a win-win, no?

If you’re curious, in this post I share my favorite scheduling tools.

THROUGHOUT THE WEEK

Share to Facebook group promo threads

Almost there! One last thing…

If we’re really going to nail this blog and social media plan, we can’t forget Facebook groups, which can leave your head spinning if you don’t have a system in place.

Hmm…why is that?

I’ve been thinking about this, and the answer is that it really comes down to each group having its own rules, daily prompts, and promo days. The schedules are different enough that it makes them hard to track. You can feel like a scrambled egg trying to keep up with which group has a promo thread each day.

That said, FB is my #2 source of traffic, and I’m sure it must be because of groups. It’s got to be. I only have 400 or so fans. 🙂

So how do you promote your posts through Facebook Groups?

Great question! First of all, if you’re not in groups already, I would spend a few days looking for groups in your niche, reading through their descriptions, checking their rules, and so on.

What you’re looking for are groups with high engagement that have “Promo Wednesdays” type thing, where you can share this week’s post. Even if the group doesn’t allow promotions, you can usually include your link in a thread comment. Of course, you should check the group rules first.

Once you’re in a few groups, I recommend using a spreadsheet to keep track of each group’s promo days. From there, all you need to do is schedule Facebook posts in those threads (aka remember to share on those days).

If you’re curious, here’s what my Facebook promo schedule looks like:

schedule Facebook postsSo there you have it! If you follow these steps every week, you will start doubling and tripling your blog traffic and building a huge audience. Here’s the 7-day social media planning template again so you can get started:

social media strategy template” />[/thrive_2step]

How to Build Your Blog Audience (Like You Mean Business)

,
How to Grow Your Blog Audience + Traffic | Ready to get your blog or business found by more people? This post is for you! It includes 4 things every blogger and online entrepreneur should do to get maximum visibility, build your list and create a platform for making money. Plus, it includes a FREE weekly blog planner to help you stay on track. Click through to view it!

How to Build Your Blog Audience Like You Mean Business | Here are 4 things every blogger and entrepreneur should do to get more traffic, build your list, and create a platform for making money with your blog. PLUS, it includes a free weekly blog planner so you know what to do each day to get maximum benefit. Click through to view it!Seems like forever since my last post and I’m having a heck of a time getting back into it, even though it’s been just 2 weeks.

Have you ever experienced that?

Where you fall off your blogging schedule for a bit, and when you try to get back on, you have to force yourself. Somehow it winds up being so much harder than it should be, right?

This struggle is what’s been on my mind lately and today, I’m sharing a blogging workflow to help you (and me!) stick to our blogging schedules like we mean business. This will be part 1 of my Build Your Blog Audience + Traffic series, where I will be digging into ways to improve your visibility and traffic, and ultimately, set the stage for making money with your online business.

Here’s what I’m covering in this post:

  • Knowing who you want to reach
  • Why you should be thinking about content funnels, even if you’re starting out
  • Setting monthly blogging + social media goals
  • Specific things to do each week to build your audience and reach your goals

Ready for it? Let’s dive in.

Step #1) Know who you’re trying to reach

Building your blog audience starts right here. This is such a biggie and worth mentioning again and again, even though you’ve probably heard it a hundred times!

The reason is because knowing your audience is the foundation of your entire business and online presence. And if you have a weak foundation, it’s hard to build up from there, with me?

To really build your blog audience, you have to solve one specific problem for one specific person.

If you want, you can download my Find Your Niche Workbook to help you zero in on your sweet spot – the intersection where your audience hearts what you heart, and your skills and passions allow you to charge premium prices. Just click the image below to grab it.

Click here to download my Find your Blog Niche Workbook!

Let’s say you’re all about nutrition and eating a healthy diet, and you want to pass on tips that you’ve learned to others so they can be fit and healthy too. Your goal is to sell nutrition eBooks and products that help people get from zero to fit with ease.

This is a great start, but we’re not quite there yet. “People who want to eat healthy” is too broad a market, especially in a crowded niche like health and fitness. Let’s dig a little deeper.

First of all, are you trying to reach primarily men or women?

In the fitness and health blogosphere, women typically account for about 75% of purchasing decisions, so my vote is to focus on women.

Ok, we’re really getting somewhere here, but we’re still skimming the surface with “Women who want to eat healthy”. Let’s dig deeper and narrow it down even more. To do that, it will help to look at why it’s hard for women to eat healthy.

I’m taking a quick stab here at a few pain points:

  • Truly healthy foods are not easy to find
  • Fast foods, in large portions, are everywhere
  • No time to research healthy foods, so you just eat what’s available
  • Don’t know how much to eat, what to eat and when to eat it
  • You feel like you “deserve” a treat during (and after) a hectic day
  • Bagel Monday’s and Pizza Friday’s at the office are hard to resist

I’m sure there are even more problems we can uncover, but this gets us on the right track. Do you see how by doing this, we can really start connecting your blog biz GOALS to what your target audience NEEDS.

This is where the magic happens, and why knowing your audience is such an important step. After all, how can you build your blog audience if you don’t even know who your audience is, make sense?

If we look at just a few of the pain points listed above, our target audience might start looking like this:

Professional women aged 30-55 who want to eat healthy but struggle with a busy schedule, not knowing the right foods to eat and not enough time to make complicated meals at home.

When you really get this right, you’re going to build your audience and traffic with ease. Promise.

Step #2) Think of blogging as a content funnel

To make this step extra easy, I created the Blog Business Plan Workbook where I show you exactly how to create content that converts into sales. This is just one of the many “foundation” and “advanced” strategies I cover in the workbook to help you build a profitable blog. It may be just what you’re looking for! Learn more about the Blog Business Plan Workbook.

Content funnels are one of those things where even thinking about them can make you feel flustered. You may be thinking What the heck is a content funnel, anyway?

Some people call them sales funnels. I prefer to think of them as content funnels mostly because I cringe at the thought of being salesy. If you’re curious, funnels are how you move people through a process of:

  • Getting to know you
  • Starting to like you
  • Trusting you as an authority
  • And finally, purchasing from you

The way you move people through a funnel is with content, which is why I think content funnels are what we’re really talking about here, more so than sales funnels. And when I say content funnels, I mean all content…blog posts, webinars, videos, podcasts, emails, sales pages…all of it.

See how thinking about it this way marries each blog post to a sales system?

Your content becomes a system of building blocks that are interconnected. When you write a blog post, what you’re really doing is setting the early stages for people to buy. Here’s what that content funnel might look like:

Thinking of blog posts as part of a content funnel will help you create a blog and social media plan that builds your audience and traffic quickly.In other words, a blog post leads to a freebie, which leads to a free course or training, which leads to a paid course or eBook. Can you see how this is all coming together here?

Now in terms of the funnel itself, consistent blogging will help people get to know/like/trust you. So my question for you is:

What would you like your audience to buy from you?

That’s a big question, I know. You’re probably thinking I have no idea what product to create. I really need more traffic right now before I can figure that out!

I get it. This is one of those things where starting with your end game is actually going to help you get traffic and build your blog audience faster. The reason is because you’re going to be laser focused with each post and frame it around your future products, even if right now you’re not sure exactly what those products are!

This means that you want to create content around what your audience most needs, and that content is going to be the “top of your funnel”. Over time, you’ll see which posts resonate the most with your audience and which products to create around them.

Can you see how step #1 helps us create bangin’ content funnels too? Let’s look at some of the pain points from our earlier example:

  • Truly healthy foods are not easy to find
  • Don’t know how much to eat, what to eat and when to eat it
  • Bagel Monday and Pizza Fridays at the office are hard to resist

Here are some blog themes that would be perfect launching pads for future products:

  • Theme #1: Quick, easy recipes
  • Theme #2: The mindset of eating healthy
  • Theme #3: Meal plans and diet guidance

There’s more to sales funnels than this, but for now, just start thinking about each post as having 2 jobs:

  1. To help your audience solve a specific problem
  2. To create a platform for future products and making money

3) Set monthly blog + social media goals

This is another area where starting with the end game will help you focus your priorities each week. From our Blog Profit Plan series, we already know the 4 things we need to focus on each month: content, traffic, subscribers, and profit.

So let’s say this month we want to:

  • Write 6 blog posts (content)
  • Get 35K unique visitors (traffic)
  • Build our list to 4,500 (subscribers)
  • Offer a free course that leads to a paid course (profit)

Your goals may look much different than this, and that’s perfectly ok. Maybe what you really want to do is to get your first 100 subscribers, or even to write your first few blog posts. Or, maybe you have an eBook you’d like to sell.

The point is to be very specific with your goals and know that you can achieve them, based on your schedule and where you’re at in your blog biz journey right now.

If you want, you can download my sample monthly blog plan that shows you the exact steps to getting more traffic to your blog posts and your business. Click the image below to download it.

Download my Blog + Social Media Plan to help you build your blog traffic and audience quickly and with ease!

Next, let’s look at how we’re going to achieve our monthly goals…

Step #4) Create a blogging workflow

If only writing a blog post was as easy as writing the post, know what I mean?

In reality, there are a whole slew of things to do if we’re going to build our blog audience and traffic like we mean business. A single post can easily take the whole week to create when you blog with intention, which of course is what you do!

You have to do things like:

  • Research post ideas
  • Create images
  • Promote the post
  • Create a freebie
  • Write an email delivering the freebie

And if we break that down even more, our list looks more like this:

Weekly Blog + Social Media Plan to get more traffic to your website

And our monthly blog calendar looks like this:Sample Monthly Blog + Social Media PlanWhew! It’s a lot. And all of it works like a machine to help you build the platform for your sales/content funnels we talked about. This is what’s really going to help us build our blog audience and traffic.

Here are the planner and checklist so you can start creating your own traffic machine. This is the same monthly plan that has helped me get 40K visitors and 4K subscribers in 3 months. Click the image below to download.

Download my Blog + Social Media Plan to help you build your blog traffic and audience quickly and with ease!

I came up with this blog plan after months of experimenting and trying to figure out a workflow that was easy to follow each week.

With this planner, you spread out individual blog tasks (and even batch them if you can). Remember, you’ve got more to do than just write a post if you really want to build your blog audience and traffic!

Here’s what “writing a blog post” looks like:

  • Research blog topics
  • Write the post
  • Make it SEO-findable
  • Create blog images
  • Create social media images
  • Create a freebie
  • Add the freebie to your post
  • Integrate the freebie with MailChimp, ConvertKit or other email platform
  • Proofread and publish
  • Share with your subscribers
  • Share on social media and other channels
  • Repurpose as a quick tip graphic
  • Create a second pin for Pinterest
  • Repurpose as a short video
  • Write more tweets and updates
  • Schedule updates, tweets, the video, and quick tip
  • Share to Facebook group promo threads throughout the week

I recommend spreading these tasks out over the week for a few reasons:

First of all, building your blog audience takes time and there are a lot of pieces involved. Trying to cram every piece into just a day or two will leave you feeling frazzled, kinda like you’re falling behind with all of it. Spreading it out will make you feel calm, centered and in control of your blog biz.

The other reason is that when you think about it, all of the tasks listed above are wildly different. It takes a different head to write a post than to create graphics or even a freebie. And it’s a completely different “techie” head for opt-in forms, email integration, sequences, and so on.

We already know how task-shifting can act like a lead weight on your brain. Too much task-shifting inside of any given day will slow you down and make you feel foggy. What we want is to speed things up, right?

So there you have it. That’s a wrap for part #1 of The Build Your Blog Audience + Traffic series.

Next up: part #2, where I’ll drill down on each of the weekly blog tasks and strategies/tools to get it all done.

What’s your blogging workflow? Any tips to add to the list? Let’s hear it!

Download my Blog + Social Media Plan to help you build your blog traffic and audience quickly and with ease!

How to Be Successful Blogging When You Feel Like You’re Failing


How to Be Successful Blogging When Feel Like You’re Failing | Are you spending a lot of time on your blog, but not as far along as you want? Or, maybe you’ve tried blogging before without much success and are afraid to jump back in. If so, I hear ya! This post includes 6 tip to help you turn all that around and build the blog biz of your dreams!

How to Be Successful Blogging When You Feel Like You’re Failing | Are you spending a lot of time on your blog, but not as far along as you want? Or, maybe you’ve tried blogging before without much success and are afraid to jump back in. If so, I hear ya! This post includes 6 tip to help you turn all that around and build the blog biz of your dreams!Hey there! Let me preface this post by saying that this is going to be a little different.

I usually try to give you guys actionable tips…things you can apply in a reasonable time frame that will accelerate your growth and help you be successful blogging and in your business.

Buut, this whole being-an-entrepreneur thing has been on my mind lately, and today I’m sharing a bit of my story, mostly so you’ll understand why it’s been on my mind. My hope is that it will inspire you to never quit, to always keep going, to believe in yourself, and to hold on to that special thing you’ve been put on this earth to do.

Ok, first, a little bit about me…

As a young girl, I saw my dad work his tail off to grow the family business. It was an Air Wick franchise that he ran from our home, which meant our whole family worked hard too. My sister and I learned to do payroll, balance checkbooks, and some other light accounting stuff.

By the time we moved the office to a physical location, I was doing just about everything for the biz…filing, answering phones, handling shipments, inventory, cleaning, delivering, attending trade shows, installing stick-ups, even cleaning up sewage spills (ick!).

It wasn’t easy or glamorous work, but it was a crazy thrill to be a part of it…the brainstorming, the hustling, the troubleshooting, the scrambling, the shifting gears…anything to make it all work.

I’m sure that it’s this experience, at such a young age, that made me fall in love with being an entrepreneur. And it most definitely shaped my worldview, which is:

I believe that we were put on this earth to create, to share, and to realize our true potential. And to never let anyone else tell us how much we should make, what title we should have, or what ceiling is too high.

Now, I did hold a job for a short time after college, but that was really it. When my boss offered me a raise and a promotion, I politely declined because I had seen what my dad had built, and I wanted that too. I wanted a business and lifestyle that I loved, and I was willing to work hard to get it. I’ve been self-employed ever since then.

Throughout my business journey, I have learned a whole lot about what it takes to create a sustainable, scalable business. I’ve learned how to fail at to too (failures are successes in disguise, though, so I say that with a grain of salt).

I’ve had 9 businesses in these industries:

  • Manufacturing
  • Designing
  • Marketing + branding
  • Music
  • Fashion
  • Accessories
  • Fitness
  • Nutrition
  • Now blogging 🙂

Ok, so what’s been on my mind with all of this?

I’m so glad you asked! Something struck me the other day that may strike a chord with you too:

It’s one thing to be successful blogging when you’re fresh at it, with no frame of reference or expectations. It’s quite another to be successful blogging when you haven’t seen the growth you want, even after you’ve been at it for years.

Something similar happened to me, not with blogging but with my first business. I started a temporary tattoo business right after I left that one job I had. It turned out to be a total cash machine, almost like printing money. And after that win, I thought everything I touched was golden.

You know what? It took me 7 years to achieve anything even close to that kind of success again. Those were 7 hard years, I tell ya! I was working my butt off, trying to make something click, but nothing really did.

What made it harder was that I had been on top, and then suddenly here I was at the bottom. I felt shame and disappointment in myself. My confidence chipped away with every failure, and I wondered if I even had any good ideas left at all. I started questioning my self-worth as a human being.

When that kind of self-doubt happens, it’s hard to picture yourself succeeding. Failing, or even feeling like you’re failing, makes success look foggy and far away like.

But if you can get push aside the voices in your head (you know, the ones that tell you you can’t do it!), you’ll be able to see things clearly.

You’ll see that what we call failure is actually a straight ticket to success.

Or, as Brian Tracy says:

Failure is an absolute prerequisite for success. You learn to succeed by failing. All successful people know that it doesn’t come easy and they are bound to fail more than they will succeed at anything. While many people give up after failing at something, a successful person will persevere.

So, we’re going to keep on going, k?

You should aim to get as many failures under your belt as you can because the next one could very well be your success. And waaay too many entrepreneurs and bloggers stop right before they achieve success.

Now, maybe you’ve already had a blog or biz that didn’t knock it out of the park the way you thought. Or, maybe you haven’t even started your blog yet because you’re afraid you might fail.

I get that, I really do. Fear can be such a powerful force. But ya know what’s on the other side of fear?

Love. Beauty. Creativity. Abundance.

You just have to forge ahead, friend.

I’ll leave you with a few things I’ve learned along the way. I hope they help you overcome your fears, look failure straight in the eye, and punch the daylights out of it!

1) Create your success mantra

Live it, breathe it, say it, chant it. Every day. You are what you say and think, and mantras are amazingly powerful at resetting your mind. My mantra is “Don’t Quit”, and my favorite time to chant it is when I go for a run. It gets me all fired up and pumped to take on the world!

2) Envision your future self

A former business coach had me record a day in the life of my future self. He told me to play the recording when I first woke up in the morning, and again right before I went to sleep.

The idea is that when you go to sleep dreaming about your future self and reinforce it again as soon as you wake up, you’ll start moving throughout the day “as if” and step into your future self quickly.

This really does work, especially when you combine it with the mantra from Step #1. Little by little, your doubting voices quiet down and your conquer-the-world voice overpowers it.

The trick here is to force yourself to actually listen to it! If you can stick to it for at least a month, you’ll start to feel like you can achieve anything, which of course, you can!

3) Be kind to yourself

This is another one of those things that can be tricky to do, but hugely powerful. It’s so much easier to beat ourselves up than it is to nurture ourselves, no? Let’s ease up already! We did the best we could then, and today’s a new day!

Plus, I’m betting that you know more today than you did yesterday, so you won’t make the same mistake twice, right?

Which leads me to…

4) Evaluate your mistakes

Maybe you picked the wrong blog focus to begin with, or maybe you were never really sure what your blog was about in the first place.

Sometimes you can even quit too soon, right before you’re about to blow up.

Take a look at why you chose your niche and focus, what went wonky, and what you will change next time.

5) Analyze your resources

My biggest flops were a result of jumping in too soon, before I put everything down on paper and really evaluated if I had the resources and expertise to execute on it.

This is why having a business plan is so important!

To make it extra easy for you, I’ve created a Blog Business Plan Workbook you can customize for your biz! Just click the button below to grab it.

Get the Blog Business Plan Workbook and start turning your dream into a profitable online business!For instance, for my clothing line, I was the pattern maker, seamstress, designer, and sales person. And I didn’t even know how to make a dress pattern! I had zero expertise in this area, PLUS those are all entirely different (and huge) jobs.

It’s a formula for failure, but I couldn’t see it at the time. I’m such a hopeless DIY’er that I just kept muddling through!

You have to think long-term and make sure that you have the resources (aka marketing budget, overhead, stamina, etc) to sustain your blog biz until it takes off.

6) Pick the right focus!

Tada! We have a winner. This is the jackpot (and another reason why you need a business plan, in my book!).

If you’ve got a shaky blog topic, you’re going to have a hard time getting it off the ground. You want to build an audience for your blog and to do that, you have to be very clear about who you’re writing for.

Your goal should be to solve one specific problem for one specific person. When you combine that with your knowledge and skills, you have a perfect intersection that’s ripe for success.

Related: How to Attract Your Ideal Customer, Even if You’re Just Starting Out

Buut, when you’re fuzzy about who you’re speaking to or even what your blog is about, it’s hard to know how to steer it in the direction you want, hard to come up with the right products and services, and hard for people to define your brand (aka, they won’t know what box to put you in).

If you want, you can download this workbook to help you get clear on your blog’s niche and focus:

Click here to download my Find your Blog Niche Workbook!

 

There you go! I say keep goin’, change what you need to change, and let’s knock it out of the park!

How to Use Photoshop to Create Branded Images For Your Blog and Social Media


Graphics Tutorial: How to Create Branded Social Media Images | Ready to create image templates that make your brand stand out and get noticed? In this Photoshop tutorial I show bloggers and entrepreneurs how to create image templates that will save you time and help you brand your biz. Click through to see all the steps!

Graphics Tutorial: How to Create Branded Social Media Images | Ready to create image templates that make your brand stand out and get noticed? In this tutorial I show bloggers and entrepreneurs how to create image templates that will save you time and brand your biz. Click through to see all the steps!I spend so much time creating images for social media and my blog. It’s a big deal to me that my images reflect my brand and are uniquely ME, and at the same time appealing in a way that makes people want to click.

I admit, sometimes I’m better at this than others! When it’s crunch time and I really need to hit that publish button, there are times when my images fall flat. I know it, and boy does it hurt…

I also know that half of your image has ev’rything to do with the blog title (more on titles here). We can create the most beautiful images the sun has ever seen, and if our titles miss the mark our post is going dark on us. That’s the way it goes, right? Sometimes we hit and sometimes we miss…

But I digress, because today it’s graphics tutorial time! I thought it might be fun to get a behind-the-scenes look at how I use Photoshop to create my blog and social media image templates. Woop woop!

Having social media image templates is one of those things that makes your day-to-day so much more productive. No more worrying about what to share on Instagram at the last minute, k?

Here’s what I’m covering in this graphics tutorial:

  • Template sizes and editing tools
  • Design tips to help your images stand out
  • The Photoshop workspace, tools, and palettes
  • Using Photoshop to create an image template

Now, you’re probably wondering about images sizes and editing tools, so let’s kick it off right there.

1) IMAGE SIZES AND EDITING TOOLS

What size templates do you need?

Great question! This one really got me too at first. Here’s what I’ve come up with that works well for me, and it may work for you too:

  • Twitter + Facebook: 1000 x 500 (I use this image as the Featured Image on my blog post)
  • Instagram: 1080 square
  • Pinterest: 800 x 1200 (this is the first image on my blog) and a second, longer pin

Here’s an example of the image size templates I use:

Graphics tutorial: sizes for blog and social media image templatesI know you’re probably thinking Do I really need 3 or 4 different image templates? I don’t even have time to create one!

Really, you don’t need all of these, but there are a few reasons these work for me. First off, these are the social media platforms I’ve decided to build a following on.  Second, I like changing up my Twitter and Facebook images 🙂 And last, I’ve made it a habit to create 2 pins for every post, so that’s why that extra pin is in there. If you’re curious about that, this post explains why.

So that’s what works for me. What you create is really a matter of preference. You may decide to create templates only for Instagram and Pinterest, then use the same square image for Facebook and Twitter (keep in mind that part of your image will be cut off in the feeds if you do this).

Or, maybe you’ll want to be laser-focused on Pinterest at first. That’s perfectly okay. Actually, better than okay… Pinterest is the bomb for traffic so starting here makes sense, you savvy blogger, you!

Related: Social Media Image Sizes [Profile Pics, Cover Photos & Shared Images]

Do you have to use Photoshop?

Absolutely not! Photoshop is just my preference. I’ve read that you can do amazing things with Canva, especially the paid version. I think Canva will even resize the templates for you. Done, done and done!

The reason I prefer Photoshop is that I’m a graphic designer and have used it for 20 years.  Let’s just say Photoshop and me are BFFs 🙂

If you’re unsure whether to use Canva or Photoshop, I recommend looking into Canva first. Even their free version is jam-packed with design features and starter templates that will make you look like a design pro even if you don’t feel like one yet!

If you’re still curious about Photoshop, here are a few reasons why I love it:

  • Working in layers makes it very easy to tweak any element of your image
  • Endless creativity with images, textures, overlays, and fonts
  • Advanced controls over font spacing and image alignment
  • There are times (like most!) when my image is almost perfect but not quite. I can easily retouch the photo to make it work better
  • Designing is fun, easy, and rewarding!
  • I could go on and on…

Ok, speaking of design, this is just one of those things that we can’t overlook, because it will have a huge impact on your traffic and subscribers. The more successful your content is visually = the more your business will grow. Make sense?

I’ve picked up quite a few design tips through years of trial and error, and I’m going to save you all of that time right now!

2) A FEW QUICK DESIGN TIPS

Color

Bright colors like oranges and reds get more shares, saves and repins. Think light, bright, poppy and you’ll be good. What this means is that any background images you use are open and airy. Whatever you do, don’t go dark! That’s where I started and darker images just don’t grab people’s attention the way that the brighter colors do.

Here’s an example of a dark image:

Graphics tutorial: example of a cluttered and dark pin image

Now I was right on track with the orange color in there, but the dark background pushes it back and makes it hard to notice in feeds. We want the exact opposite effect, so stick with lighter/brighter backgrounds and orange/red accents if you can.

A big bonus here is that people click on red the most, so your images will get more saves, repins and click-throughs.

Related: How to Choose Colors That Will Make Your Brand Stand Out

Balance + Hierarchy

The other thing to pay attention to is the overall balance between elements. This is especially true with background images. Make sure things aren’t bumping into each other and distracting people.

Your overall goal is to make people focus on something and that, friends, is your blog title – not some fancy pants image in the background. Think of it like your text is the star of the show and graphics/images are just supporting actors and actresses.

Now, I get that design can be a delicate balancing act. It seems so much easier than it is, right? For instance, in the pin example above, my text gobbles up the entire pin! Talk about stars and their egos!

What happens when you make your fonts too big like that is that the image gets crowded and noisy. People won’t know what to focus on. Instead, leave some “white space”. What you’re really looking for is that fine line where your text stands out enough to grab people’s attention, but not so much that it ruins the show and clutters up your pin. Make sense?

Aahhh, this is so much better:

Graphics tutorial: Understanding balance and design

You see how this is more open and airy? Now we’re talkin’!

Fonts

It’s just too tempting to see beautiful fonts like these and want to use every single one of them in your image. Let’s resist, friend! This is definitely one of those things where less is more. Of course, you’re going to want to play with fonts, and you should. At some point, though, make sure you narrow down your choices to just 2 or 3.

Everything we’ve just covered here is part of creating a kickin’ brand. You want that when people see your images on different platforms, they instantly recognize them (and you!) because your brand is harmonious and cohesive everywhere.

Related: How to Create a Branding System for Your Blog and Business

Still with me? Great, let’s do this!

3) Photoshop Tools and Palettes

Before you create an image template, you need to understand the Photoshop workspace a bit, specifically the tools palette and layers palette.

First up, the tools palette

These are some of the tools you’ll use most frequently:

Graphics Tutorial: The Photoshop Tools paletteNow, you’re probably wondering what each of these tools does, so let’s get that out of the way right now:

The Move Tool – Pretty obvious, right? This is the tool you can use to move things around on your canvas. So if you’re on a layer and you want to move it but can’t, that’s why!

Marquee – When you want to tweak something on one of your layers, use this tool…

…or, use this one:

Lasso – Works the same as the marquee tool, but you can actually draw your selection area with the lasso. This is great when you want to get very specific and just change a piece of an image, for instance.

Eyedropper – Such an awesome tool! See a color in an image or graphic you want to use? You’re gonna love this. Just drop the eyedropper tool on it and that color will become active.

Eraser – To erase things!

Text – Add text to your canvas. Tip: before you start typing, drag the text tool to create a text box first. This will make resizing text so much easier. Pinky swear.

Shape – Create rectangles, rounded corners, circles and more with this tool. To see the other shapes, just hover over that little triangle in the bottom right corner.

Now that we have our tools covered, let’s start creating!

Over to the layers palette…

The layers palette looks a bit like the image below. I’m using a verrrry old version of Photoshop, so your workspace probably looks different than mine, but everything’s still in the same place, so we’re all good.

Graphics tutorial: Accessing the Photoshop layers paletteTo build your template, you’re going to have 3 different groups of layers. Say whaaa? Stay with me here, I’ll going to clear it all up for you right now. Time to build a template!

4) Finally! Let’s create an image template

For this tutorial, we’re creating a Pinterest template that is 800 x 1200px. The reason I’m focusing on Pinterest is that this is where the bulk of your traffic will come from, so it makes sense to nail that platform first.

Before we dive in, be sure to download this template so you can tweak it with your own amazing design: Photoshop Pin Template.

First, create a new document

Our first step is to create a new document. Make sure you’re working in pixels, at 72 pixel/inch, and the color mode is RGB color. I like to append my file names with the word “template”, like this:

Graphics tutorial: creating a new document in Photoshop for a pin image template.

Now I know that a blank canvas can look intimidating, so let’s fill this bad boy up with some creative genius, k? You’re probably thinking where do I even start? How do I start filling up this *$#@! screen with pieces I can use over and over?

This is where the layers palette comes in. That’s where all the components of your image will live, and each one is “layered” on top of the others. So any element layer #1, for instance, will appear behind layer #2, layer #3, and so on. Think of it like building blocks!

Graphics Tutorial: The Photoshop Layers PaletteFor our template, we need 3 groups of layers. We’re going to have a background (layer group #1), some text (layer group #2), and our logo/branding elements (layer group #3).

Uh, why am I calling them layer groups? Great question! Each element is going to have its own layer, and then those layers will be grouped according to function. You will probably be working with more than one text box, more than one image, and more than one graphic. Groups are a simple way to organize our layers into something that makes sense:

  • Logo/branding
  • Text
  • Background

Before we even create a layer group, though, we need to create our first layer. Let’s start by creating a background.

Next, create a background layer + group

To fill your entire background with a color, select the shape tool, fill it with a color and drag across the canvas. This will automatically create a new layer (if you want to change the color, just double click on the layer, like this:

Graphics tutorial: Adding a background and changing color in PhotoshopNext, select the shape layer from the layers palette. From the top right corner of the layer’s palette, you’ll see a tiny triangle shape. Select that, and then select “New Group from Layers”, like this:

Graphics tutorial: Working with layers and layer groups in PhotoshopWoop woop! See how we’re starting to create our layer groups? I recommend naming the new layer group “bg” or “background”. Now anything we want to add to the background, say an image for example, would go on its own layer inside the background group. This layer group will always be at the bottom of the layers palette. Text, branding and other graphic elements will go on top.

Next up, add text

You can use any text you like, but for the purpose of this post and because we’re talking about blogging here, let’s assume that the text will be your blog title image, cool?

Select the text tool, and drag it across the center of the canvas to create a text box, then start typing. Whatever you do, don’t leave the text tool without adding text to it! You will have a crazy hard time finding that text box if you do 🙂

Graphics tutorial: The Photoshop workspace and text toolNow the fun starts! It’s so much fun to play with different fonts and get creative. You may want to break your text apart into separate text boxes so that you can have more control over spacing, sizing, fonts, etc. That’s totally fine! I do it all the time.

Just remember to create a separate group layer for all text layers, like we did with the background group layer.

I’m going to say this again because it’s a biggie. You really want to find a style where you use 2-3 fonts (I use Gotham, Thirsty Script, and Angelface) and no more than 2 graphic elements. Then you want to use those same fonts and elements on every image you create! I know it’s so tempting to change fonts on every image, but the problem here is that your brand is going to start to look a bit all over the place, and you want to look consistent and cohesive. If you need some font inspiration, this post is a good read.

Related: How to Create a Style Guide for Your Blog

I think I want to add another shape behind the text so that it really pops. Something like this…

Graphics tutorial: Putting a background behind text in Photoshop.See how our blank canvas is starting to turn into a masterpiece! So exciting!! But it’s still missing that wow factor, no? Let’s see how we can perk it up.

I’m going to add a background image and make the peach box behind the text slightly transparent, which will completely transform the image.

Graphics Tutorial: adding an image and changing opacity of a box in Photoshop.Phew! We’re almost there. Once you have your template styled the way you want, the only thing left to do is to add your logo and branding.

Add your logo and branding

This is so that people start to recognize your images and brand.

If your logo was created in Illustrator, this part is super easy! Keep both Photoshop and Illustrator open, select your logo and drag it over to Photoshop. It will automatically import as a vector smart object, which means that when you click on the logo layer in Photoshop, your logo will open up in Illustrator to edit it there.

I highly recommend adding your URL next to the logo, like this:

Graphics Tutorial: Adding your branding to the image template in PhotoshopThat’s all there is to it. I hope this graphics tutorial has made you fall in love with Photoshop! There is so much you can do once you become familiar with it. You know when you see something in your mind and just wish you could create it? You can with Photoshop! Anything you can imagine, you can find a way to do it. Now you might think the learning curve is too much, and I hear ya! It does take a little more time to master than Canva, but there’s also sooo much more you can do with it!

Have I convinced you yet? Grab the Photoshop template we created here and start tweaking it with your amazing design (free download, no email required!): Photoshop Pin Template

Let’s recap!

  • Create image templates for Pinterest and Instagram first. If you like you can add a third size for Facebook and Twitter, or use the square Instagram image.
  • Canva and PicMonkey are 2 other photo editors you can use as alternatives to Photoshop. I know Canva comes with preset templates to get you started, but as you’ve seen in this tutorial, turning a blank canvas into a template isn’t as daunting as it seems at first!
  • As you create the image templates, remember that you’re building your brand at the same time. Be intentional with your use of color, fonts, and other design elements. And of course, the star of the show is your blog title or text…
  • The tools and layers palettes are where the magic happens in Photoshop. Layers can be a bit confusing at first. If you hang in there with it, you’ll be on your way to creating masterpieces in no time. Promise. Just think of layers like a stack of bricks, where one is on top of the other. The bricks that are on the top will cover up the other bricks, so you can’t see them as well as the one on top. The same is true with layers. The top-most layer is going to cover that portion of the image beneath it.
  • Work in layer groups with your background as the bottom layer group, text in the middle, and branding on the top. This way your background will always be at the bottom and not covering up another part of the image (if it does, you know that your layers got rearranged somehow!)
  • Always add your logo and any branding elements or submarks to your images so that people will recognize your brand.

As you create your image templates, you may find these posts helpful:

I’m so excited for you guys! I love Photoshop and know you will too. Here’s the link to the template again so you can get started: Photoshop Pin Template.

Are you having fun with it? Let me know if/where you get stumped and I’ll try my best to help!

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: How to Start Making Money in 2017


How to Make Money from Affiliate Marketing | Have you been wanting to try affiliate marketing for your blog, but wonder if it's just too hard or maybe even a waste of time? This post is for you! I’m sharing everything I've learned from the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course to help entrepreneurs and bloggers get started with ease! Click through to see all the course highlights!

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners | Have you been wanting to try affiliate marketing for your blog, but wonder if it's just too hard or maybe even a waste of time? This post is for you! I’m sharing everything I've learned from the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course to help entrepreneurs and bloggers get started with affiliate marketing with ease! Click through to see all the course highlights!Guess what, friends! I cracked the code!

If you remember in our Blog Profit Plan series, I promised to be back with the scoop on affiliate marketing for beginners.

Bump. Here it is!

I just finished this amazing course by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, and today I’m sharing what I’ve learned, why I (finally!) decided to buy it, and why I highly recommend it.

Here’s what I’m going to cover in this post:

  • A quick bit about Michelle
  • How affiliate marketing fits into our Blog Profit Plan
  • Why we even need a course for this
  • What I’ve learned from Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing

If you don’t already know the basics of affiliate marketing, no worries, let me explain. Affiliate marketing is when you earn money by placing an affiliate link on your website or social media account, and have people purchase through your link. Basically, as an affiliate, you promote a product offered by another business.

Before we dive in, this post includes affiliate links! That’s my disclosure and one of the first things Michelle explains in the course. FTC regulations require you to let people know if you stand to benefit from recommending a product. No biggie here, right? We’re just being transparent and honest!

Ready to do this? Let’s dig in.

First, who is Michelle?

affiliate marketing training course with Michelle Schroeder-GardnerHands-down, Michelle is the go-to authority on affiliate marketing for newbies. She’s been blogging for about 6 years now, and from her income reports, it looks like she’s making about $100K a month from her blog. I call that an expert!

Before I share what I’ve learned from Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, if you’re ready to dive right in, I highly recommend Michelle’s course. It really helped me understand how to approach affiliate marketing the right way, with a full-blown success strategy. Click here to find out more about it!

How does affiliate marketing fit into our Blog Profit Plan?

Seems pretty obvious, right? Money = Profit!

If you missed the Blog Profit Plan series, here’s what we covered:

Hmmm… Should we call this part #4 of the series?

Seriously, you may be thinking about skipping affiliate marketing altogether. Maybe it sounds like it’s too hard or that it will be a waste of time, or that your followers just won’t be interested.

If you ask me, that’s leaving money on the table! And if we’re going to build hugely profitable blogs, we just can’t do that. We have to at least give affiliate marketing a try, right?

As long as we’re truly providing value for our audience, this shouldn’t be an issue. I say focus on creating epic content first, which is what Michelle recommends too, and then find affiliate products and programs that fit your content. Think of it like this: Your content dictates ev’rything.

Here are just a few reasons why I think affiliate marketing fits perfectly into our Blog Profit Plan in 2017 and beyond:

  • Affiliate marketing is an inexpensive way to start earning money from your blog. You don’t even have to create a product yourself.  Woop woop!
  • You can create just one blog post or social media post, and potentially earn money from it years down the line, as long as you maintain it and keep generating traffic to it.
  • You can earn a passive income doing what you already do, while promoting products that you already use and benefit from.
  • Affiliate links are much cleaner than ugly banners and ads. Ugh.
  • You actually don’t even need a website to get started. You can use social media to build your business by promoting affiliate products!
  • Most importantly, you help your readers find quality products that they will love and find useful.

The trick here is to approach how to start affiliate marketing for beginners the correct way, and that is exactly why Michelle’s course is so helpful.

Onward…

Next up, why do we even need a course?

Now I know what you’re thinking. Why do we even need a course, Sandra? Isn’t this stuff we can figure out on our own?

I hear ya! I’m a huge DIYer, so anything I can figure out on my own is where I’m headed first!

Here’s the thing, though. I started poking around for guides and articles on affiliate marketing and just couldn’t find what I needed. It was mostly all fluff and no stuff.

What I really wanted was a complete guide to getting started with affiliate marketing, which is exactly what Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing is.

These are the specific questions I wanted answers to:

  • How much traffic do I need?
  • What’s the best way to get started?
  • Which affiliate programs should I use for my niche?
  • How are referral sales tracked?
  • How will I get paid?
  • Which affiliate programs require more/less traffic than others?
  • How can I make more than $500 a month as an affiliate?
  • Which affiliate programs are best for new bloggers?
  • How can I write the perfect affiliate post?
  • How can I get even more traffic to an affiliate post?

Phew! That’s a lot. Michelle covers all of this and more in the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course!

What really made me decide to take Michelle’s course?

Ultimately, I decided to dig into my pockets because I take my blog (and my time) seriously. And I wanted a book-ended strategy, not just a nugget here or there.

Ok, in truth, I probably would have been able to make sense of affiliate marketing without Michelle’s course. It would have taken weeks to find what I needed and make sense of it all, but I think I could have done it.

HOLD UP: Weeks?

Uh, no. Nope. Why would I waste my time when Michelle has made sense of it already with her Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course? It’s all there in the title, friends!

This is another one of those things that, when you do it right, you will make back your investment…and more!

Remember, most bloggers make little to no money from affiliate marketing. Michelle, on the other hand, is killin’ it. We’re talkin’ tens of thousands a month!

That’s who we want to learn from, no?

If you’re as fired up about this as I am, click here to find out more about Michelle’s Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course, and let’s both start putting affiliate marketing to work for our Blog Profit Plan, sound good?

What I learned from Michelle’s course as a beginner in affiliate marketing

Wow! There’s a lot. Let me try to break this down:

1) Anyone can start affiliate marketing

You don’t have to wait until you have thousands of followers or page visits. Even if you have a handful of followers or if you are a brand-new blogger, you can still be successful at affiliate marketing. Michelle even shows you which affiliate programs’ website to apply for if you’re new to blogging.

2) There’s a strategy for success

There are certain things you need to do in order to be successful with it, and there’s also a way not to do it, which is what I think most people do. For instance, it’s much better to go narrow and deep with affiliate marketing. This is a case where less is more! Start with a few affiliate programs and immerse yourself in the products; test promotion strategies and channels, get comfortable with them, and then tweak, update, and modify before you move on.

You also want to let your content and your audience dictate your affiliate programs. Don’t just go spamming your posts with 50 different products! Why not create a series from your blog posts first, focusing on content that your readers really love and value, and THEN research products and solutions to offer them?

3) The right way to leverage your blog and social media

There’s a wrong way, a ‘meh’ way, and a golden way to promote your affiliate links. It’s important to know which is which. We’re talking strategic placement, A/B testing landing pages, blog posts, interviews, tutorials, adding direct referral links in social media, and more.

4) How to crush affiliate marketing with Pinterest

Because Pinterest is such a huge component to all of this, Michelle gives you an entire module on how to use Pinterest, in combination with email marketing, to get the highest affiliate sales and conversions.  We already know what a bump Pinterest is for traffic. The strategies included in Michelle’s course take it to a whole other level. Picture this: You create a stunning pin and include a direct link to your affiliate’s product page and that pin goes viral. Or, you direct people to a freebie and follow up with an email sequence that includes your affiliate link. It’s all in there. Promise.

5) Choosing the best affiliate marketing programs for beginners

Think affiliate marketing won’t work for your niche and focus? Think again! Just about every niche is included…new bloggers, parenting, finance/money, travel, crafts, DIY, food and recipes, healthy living, fashion, beauty, wedding, blogging, business…all of them.  No more excuses friend!

Michelle breaks down dozens of affiliates by niche, so you will definitely find programs that are ideal for your blog.

6) How to choose affiliate products

To be successful with affiliate marketing, you have to choose products that will truly appeal to your audience. This seems like a small thing, but is actually a biggie. Sometimes you can think you’re spot on with what your audience wants, when in reality, you could be completely off-the-mark. Michelle walks you through how to research your audience to make sure that the program aligns with your brand message. She also explains why you should only promote products that you actually use and love. The more focused and authentic you are, the better your conversions will be!

7) Tracking, worksheets, and spreadsheets

One of the things I’ve learned with online marketing is that you need planners and spreadsheets in order to reach your goals. You have to be specific with what you want to achieve, who you’ve reached out to, systems to track your affiliate programs, affiliate links, commissions, and more. This is one of the things I love most about Michelle’s course!

8) Why you need disclosures

I mentioned this above and it’s worth a nod here too. Some bloggers include their disclosure in a Privacy Policy page, others add it to the top of every blog post. You can even add it to the end of your posts to make it easy for people to spot.

Oops, one last thing!

I almost forgot to mention my favorite part of the course. Michelle breaks down exactly how she earned six figures from one single blog post! She shows you the strategies she used, including interlinking, cross posting, email sequences, interviews, social media, and more. That alone was worth it! Michelle’s course is a perfect step-by-step affiliate marketing course for beginners.

I’m soooo excited about this, friends, I really am. This is definitely going in our Blog Profit Plan series!

I can’t wait to share our successes. If you’re ready to make money with affiliate marketing but haven’t known where to start (or how to win at it!), I highly recommend Michelle’s course. You will love it!

Here are the details again:

To find out more about Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, the course curriculum, and what you can expect to learn, click here. It’s very easy to follow. If you’re like me, you’ll want to comb through it at least 2x to grab all the juicy nuggets!

Let’s celebrate our successes! How have you made affiliate marketing work for you?

 

7 Things Every Blogger Should Do After You Hit Publish


checklist for a blogHi friends! I don’t know about you, but for the past few weeks all I can think about is how to get more traffic to my blog. I mean, I want it so bad I can’t even see straight!

Does that happen to you too?

You wake up dreaming about traffic, go to sleep thinking about it, and are literally consumed by it during the day? Maybe it’s my OCD, but there’s something about the thought of traffic pouring into my site that makes me feel all warm and snuggly inside.

Today, I want to talk about more ways to get the traffic we’ve been dreaming about. In this post, I’m sharing a short blog checklist of things you should do as soon as your posts go live so that your amazing content is found by as many people as possible.

Before we dive in, I’ve already covered some things to do before you publish (14 to be exact!), so be sure to read that post too.

Now let’s get into some things you should do after you publish.

You may notice that one of the steps (#4 below) is included in both the Before and After Checklist. If you’re curious, it’s because this step is something you want to do both before and after you publish. And if that sounds confusing, don’t worry, it’ll all be crystal clear in a few minutes!

I’m forcing myself to keep this list short, partly because my brain’s a bit woozy today, but mostly because I really want you to have a checklist for a blog that includes simple, actionable steps to take right after your post goes live. I figure if you can count the steps on your fingers, they’ll be easy to remember. Plus, I’m committed to writing a blog post a week (how about you?), so looks like we have to jump in and do this. 🙂

And if you really want a deep dive on this topic, be sure to read this post where I show you over 32 ways to get free traffic to your blog.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

Blog Checklist: 7 Things to Do Right After You Publish Your Post

Step 1: Create a second pin

You might be thinking Do I really need to do this?  It took me forever to publish my post with just one pin… Isn’t that enough? There’s no way I have time to create another one!

I’m with you. This is one of those things that is a biggie though, which is why it’s step #1 on our blog to-do list. Trust me, having two pins will make a huge difference in your traffic. I know this for sure because I tested two different pins and one of them was a complete dud, while the other one is my top performing pin of all time! If you’re curious, you can read my case study for that test here.

#MORALOFTHESTORY  Don’t get left with a dud pin! Make sure you have a second pin so you can compare. Once you get into the habit of creating two pins for every post, it’ll go much faster and you won’t even think about it. Promise.

How different should your pins be? Great question! I recommend creating one short one and one longer one that highlights points from your post. My longer-form pins almost always get more traffic (and sign-ups) than the shorter ones. But you still need the shorter one for your blog post, so that readers don’t have to scroll too far to read your epic post.

Easier if I just show you, right? Here are two pins I created for my last post:

social media strategy for a blog

Wanna know how I hide that second longer pin so it doesn’t appear on my post? I picked up a ninja coding tip from Sarah at xosarah.com. Here’s how to hide images on your posts:

  • In WordPress, use the text editor and locate your pin image
  • Once you find it, put this code around it: <div style=”display:none;”><img src=”your image here” /></div>
  • Make sure the first <div> is before <img and the last </div> is right after the />

Now both pins will show up when you save your pin to Pinterest, but the longer one will be hidden on your actual post. Cool stuff, no?

Step 2: Socialize it!

After you create your second pin, it’s time to get social with it. Don’t be shy here! Make sure you share your work everywhere so people can find it.

As soon as the post goes live, I share it a few times the first week like this:

  • The first day
  • A few hours later (for Twitter)
  • The next day
  • A week later
  • Then into SmarterQueue, where it cycles through every month or so.

I’ve already covered how often to share your posts here, so if you’re still feeling your way around a social media strategy, you definitely want give it a read.

I created this Blog Promotion Plan + Checklist to help you plan what types of content to share on social media and when. If you want, click the image below to download it.

blog promotion plan checkllist

One thing that I haven’t covered clearly, I think, is how to create a time-saving blog promo system, so that every time you publish a post you know exactly what to do with it (almost like a daily blog checklist for social media).

Let me take a quick stab at it now and break it down into 2 parts:

  • Part 1: Scheduling Tools
  • Part 2: Manual Sharing

First up, Part 1 (Scheduling Tools)

Your bangin’ system starts with going into your scheduling tools and setting up your posting schedule. Whether you use Buffer, Hootsuite, Edgar, Tailwind, or other is really up to you. You just want to make sure you do that first. This way whenever you add a new post to your queue, you know when and where it’s being shared.

Next, Part 2 (Manual Sharing)

You need a way to track where and when you manually shared each post. All that really means is When did you add it to Hootsuite? When did you share it to Pinterest? What about Tailwind? You get the gist here. You want a system where you can say done, done and done, so you know your post is out there in the socialsphere. This part actually took me a while to figure out! I would lose track of where I shared my posts, and then a week would go by and I’d think Wait a minute, did I schedule to Buffer?

After some trial and error, I came up with this simple tracking spreadsheet:

social media post planningSee those notes there? That’s where I add my post text, so all I have to do is paste it into my tweet/comment/description, etc. Now for Twitter, I create 15-20 tweets to go out the first week. They all have to be slightly different, so I write them out ahead of time in a simple doc, like this:
Tweets to schedule in Buffer and SmarterQueue

Now you may be thinking I know I need scheduling tools, but I’m on a tight budget and really don’t want to pay monthly. I’ve got you covered! You will love this free way to automate and loop your posts using IFTTT and Google Calendar. I’ve tested it and still use it in my other business for Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to watch the video tutorial where I walk you through how to set it up.

Step 3: Share with groups and communities

Almost halfway through our blog checklist. In step #2, we shared to our social media profiles, pages, and scheduling tools. Now it’s time to share your post to groups and communities!

Here’s the thing: you need to take a more personal approach when it comes to sharing posts in groups. Don’t just spam your groups and disappear (especially with Facebook). Get in there and talk to people! Make sure you participate in the weekly promo threads too. It only takes about 15 minutes a day to go through your groups, share your post, like and share posts from other members, and you’re done.

How do you track of all your groups? I’m glad you asked! Here’s a separate spreadsheet I use for Facebook groups:

 schedule for Facebook groupsEach group name on here is a direct link to the group’s page, so it’s super fast and easy!

Step 4: Make it SEO-mazing!

Remember the step that gets repeated in both the before and after checklists? Here it is!

We’ve already used Yoast SEO to target a keyword and write an SEO-friendly blog post before we published, so we should be all good.

Hmmm, or are we?

I highly recommend giving your post another look-see. The reason is that I’ve searched Google for my keyword months after publishing a post, and believe me when I say it was out there in the blogosphere. I’m talking waaa-yy out, like nowhere to be found. My keyword has zero competition and I’m on page 14? Nope, that’s not going to work.

What’s happening here? Why was my post so far down in rankings?

Well, first off, I thought I was using a long-tail keyword but it turns out it was too broad and so, highly competitive. I needed to go back into Yoast and narrow down my keyword so I could give my post a chance to get up there on page #1.

See where I’m going with this? This same thing may happen to you. You might think you’re all set with your keyword, but in reality it needs tweaking (maybe there’s even an easier keyword to target). 

This is perfectly ok. Nobody becomes an SEO wizard overnight. It will take some time to get it right and you’ll be learning as you go, k? That’s why I want you to check your keyword twice, once before and once after you publish. Heck, maybe even twice after.

How to #SEO your blog posts: Make sure your keyword is in the title, post, images, and headings.Click To Tweet

You might be thinking, no way…I can’t even get my head around SEO. Now you want me to do it 2 times?

I get it! This is one of those things that once you get it right, it will pay you back double in your investment. Google is going to be an employee for your blog, working hard to bring you leads and customers. I call that worth it!

So right after you hit publish, go back and give your post another once over. Take a look at your keyword, go back to Keyword Planner if you need, check your title, double- and triple-check keywords in your post, your image tags, headings, and so on.

If you want, you can grab the Blog Post SEO Checklist I created to help you boost your posts up to page #1. Click the image below to download.

blog post seo checklist

Related: The Ultimate Guide to SEO for Bloggers and Entrepreneurs

Step 5: Repurpose it!

Repurposing your post is a fancy pants way of saying that you turn it into another type of content, like a podcast or video. I like to think of it as repacking one piece of content and making it unique for a new platform and audience.

The reason repurposing is on the blog checklist is that it gives you a chance to reach a broader audience. Anytime you can expose your content to more people, that’s the way to go! It also takes some pressure off when you feel like you just can’t come up with another blog post idea.

This looks like: You write a post and pin to Pinterest, then you record a quick tip video and post it on Facebook and YouTube the next day. 10 people repin your post, 4 people share your video on Facebook, and 7 people share it on YouTube.

See how your reach is snowballing? Are you getting a sense of the greater impact you can have on your audience this way? From one post, you now have 2 different types of content to share on at least 3 different platforms. You can actually share that same video to Instagram and Pinterest too. Woo! That’s what I call smart content…

But wait, there’s more. Your new content will also help you rank higher on Google because you’ll have different content linking back to it.

Have I convinced you yet? Let’s look at some types of content you can create:

  • A video
  • A podcast
  • Infographic – if you followed step #1 you already have this
  • Slideshow
  • Quick tip graphic
  • Webinar or hangout
  • Create a challenge
  • A twitter chat – build off of your post idea
  • Turn it into an email series (this is great for popular posts)
  • Create a free offer (help build your email list)
  • Publish it on Medium or LinkedIn (more like reblogging, but still good)

Bonus: Grab the Social Media Cheat Sheet and Content Calendar so you know what to share and when, plus the best tools to use for each platform.

 social media cheat sheet for bloggers

Don’t overdo it

Okay, so now you know this is something you should be doing, but hold up a sec. Not every post is a good candidate for repurposing. You can overdo it here, especially if you’re reaching the same audience with the same thing over and over again. We don’t want to burn people out. Let’s throw some randomness into the mix so our content doesn’t become formulaic and blah.

So for every content piece, ask yourself How can I present this in a different way so that people don’t see the same thing in the same way? What can I do to extend on this idea?

And remember, it’s okay to be choosy with what you repurpose. You want to be sure that whatever you create, you create it well. You don’t want to hurt your brand.

You probably have some more questions about repurposing, so let me give you some guidance here:

Which posts should be repurposed?

Great question! Popular posts are a good place to start. You know that people love them so it makes sense to reach a broader audience. Another thing to do is go back and look at older posts that you can turn into something else today, kind of bring it back to life in a new way.

When should I share my new content?

You don’t have to share your new content all at once. In fact, why not spread it out? Let people breathe and explore other ideas until they’re ready to come back to it. Maybe you share a slide deck next week, then a video at the end of the month, then an infographic the next month. The more different types of content you have for each post, the more creative you can get with what and where you share. Make sense?

Oh, and I highly recommend investing in some tools to create amazing visual content. This makes such a huge difference, and when you think about it, we’re all becoming publishers these days, so the better your images are, the more traffic you’re gonna get. Pinky swear. It makes a huge difference.

Should I include a link back to my post?

Absolutely! Now you’re thinkin’. You can actually link between all your repurposed content, and this works like SEO fairy dust. The more links you have back to your post, the better your post will rank on Google. How’s that for making our traffic dreams come true! Gotta love it!

What linking looks like: In YouTube you link back to our post, in your podcast you link back to it, and even in your slideshow you link back to it.

By now you can see how creating multiple pieces of content for your ideas starts to give you a library of things to share, which is something I cover (and tons more!) in this social media strategy post.

Related: How to Promote Your Blog Posts Effectively on Social Media

Step 6: Reply to comments

It’s important to engage with people who read your blog posts. Watch how people respond to a post and make sure you reply to their comments. Let them know that you’re paying attention to them and that you value them.

When people feel like you really want to know their opinion (which of course you do!) it makes them feel like they are important, and of course, they are. Comments mean that people liked your post enough to invest their time in leaving a comment. That takes effort, friends! Try to deepen and expand on what they’re saying, maybe ask them for a question or for an example. Who knows? Maybe they’ll leave you a second comment.

The other thing you can do is to provide more info in your replies. Or, you can add a poll to your post, which will give you a perfect excuse to re-share it on social media. I’m thinking something like I’ve added a poll and would love your opinion!  You can even highlight conversations and share them. So if you love Mary’s comment, for example, share it! This way you highlight the community and show that you value these types of conversations.

Step 7: Extend it with future posts

Great blogs take their readers on a journey, which is a fun way to build momentum with your blog post
. Once your post goes live, ask yourself if there’s anything you can do with what you’ve just written to extend or follow up with on the idea.

Even if you’re going off-topic a bit, as long as you have a relevant blog post, you can write about it. Your reader comments may contain questions (step #6 above). Can you turn those into a post? Psst… This is a quick and easy way to come up with new blog ideas when you get writer’s block!

Sometimes, one post naturally triggers another post. Maybe your post triggers a question that you don’t know the answer to. You can write a new post to answer it. Or, you can follow up with a new juicy nugget you’ve learned since writing the blog post.

Here again, check your analytics to see which of your posts are most popular. Similar to repurposing in step #5, brainstorm how you can extend on a popular post. There’s something in it that resonated with people, so you have a golden opportunity to extend on it, deepen it, and even mimic the style of that post.

Step 8: Fooled ya, one last step!

Now I know you may be thinking How do I remember to do all this? It’s all I can do to stay on schedule with writing and publishing my posts!

Once you put a system in place it will be a natural part of your blogging process. You’re not even going to have to think about it. Promise.

All you need to do is set up a blog post checklist (in Google Docs, Excel, or Word) with prompts to help you do these 7 things. And don’t worry. You may not get to all of these steps the minute your post goes live. That’s perfectly okay and nothing to stress about. The best way to approach this is to master one step at a time.

So at first, you might get into the habit of creating a second pin and socializing your posts. That’s a lot right there, no? Soon you’ll see how just focusing on steps #1 and #2 will help you get monster traffic and exposure for your blog. Anything that brings you more traffic is time well spent, in my book! So right there, you’re already increasing your reach and your traffic with those two steps.

Once you’re comfortable, move on to step #3, and so on.

The other thing to do is to keep your blog checklist handy, so that every time you publish a new post, you can just reach for it. I find that when I have those questions right in front of me, even if I don’t get to it right away it’s making me think about it while I’m doing other things. Keeping your list front and center will naturally trigger some of these steps, so you’ll be doing them without even realizing it!

If you missed the first part of this series, the things to do BEFORE you publish your post, you can download that checklist below so you have it on hand for your next post.

blog checklist pdf

How to Make Money With A Blog: The 12-Month Profit Plan


This is part 2 of the Blog Profit Plan Series for bloggers and entrepreneurs who are ready to learn how to make money online. Time to create an action plan so you can reach your goals! Click through to see all the steps!

How to Make Money With A Blog | This is part 2 of the Blog Profit Plan Series for bloggers and entrepreneurs who are ready to make money with your blog. Time to create an action plan so you can reach your goals! Click through to see all the steps!This is part 2 of the Blog Profit Plan Series, where I’m breaking down the steps to turn your blog into a full-time income as quickly as possible. My hope is that this series will help you launch your blog, plan it to be profitable, and clear up any questions you have about how to make money from a blog.

Part 1 was all about business plans (why you need them, how to create them, plus a Blog Business Plan Workbook to help you get started).

Today, we’re all about getting things done. I want to help you create an action plan on steroids so you can execute on your business plan and make money with your blog f’real.

First, I’m going to share the right way to approach making money from your blog. Then we’ll dive into the actual steps to kick your b-plan into action.

Ready for it? Good! First, let’s walk through the blog profit plan mindset so that you can get the most benefit from your action plan.

THE BLOG PROFIT PLAN MINDSET

1) Blog Income Formula

I came across this simple formula just a few weeks ago and am in looove. Seriously, I think I’m going to plaster my apartment with formula post-its. 🙂

Income = Number of Email Subscribers x (.02 x Price of Product)

Pretty powerful stuff, no?

This formula literally gives you the ability to predict your income, estimate how much money you can make blogging, and create a road map for making it happen.

Knowing that an average of 2% of your subscribers will purchase your product (the common range is 1-3%), if you want to make $3K this month and you have a product that is $100, you know you’ll need 1,500 subscribers to make it happen. This assumes that your product is relevant to your readers, which of course it will be.

So the blog income formula tells us what areas to focus on for growth:

  1. Awesome blog and content
  2. Traffic
  3. Subscribers
  4. A product

That means that every goal, task and item in your blog action plan should be around these 4 areas in order to make money with your blog. Ideally, you will address each bucket every month, meaning that you set specific goals that you plan to achieve for each focus area, each month (blog, traffic, subscribers, product). This way you’ll be covering all bases and moving them all forward.

Note: Income from affiliate programs and ads is more complex because there are so many variations in payouts, cookie lifetime, and other details. My Affiliate Marketing for Beginners post will help you get started.

2) Start With 12-Month Goals

Now that we’re clear on our focus areas, let’s create 12-month blog goals. Nothing fancy here, all you need is a simple spreadsheet. Take the 4 buckets and map them out across every month. This will give you a high-level view of your goals and help you plan a time frame to earn money from blogging.

For instance, you might say that by month 4 you want to make $3k, and by month 12 your money goal is $10K. Or, you might say that in month 1 you want to launch your blog, and by month 3 you want to be blogging twice a week. The point is that every focus area has a goal attached to it.

What should you do first? Great question! If you’re feeling stuck on which comes first – the chicken or the egg – the answer is really both.  It may seem like a lot to juggle, but as I explain (Step #3 below), even though you’ll be dipping into all of your buckets each month, some will have a priority focus over others. For instance, if you’re starting out with blogging, in months #1-3 you may have a priority focus on:

  • Building your blog (content)
  • Creating epic content (content)
  • Building a following (traffic)

Now, at the same time you will do things like:

  • Building your list (subscribers)
  • Brainstorming content funnels (subscribers)
  • Researching products (money)

See where I’m going with this?

The difference here is that you’ll be full-steam ahead with your priority focus items, and not so much on the others. Think of it like you’re building a runway for the others to take off, while you’re at peak altitude with the others. Make sense?

If you want, you can grab the Blog Business Plan Workbook I created to help with this step:

Get the Blog Business Plan Workbook and start turning your dream into a profitable online business!

3) Break Those Down into Bite-Sized Steps

Next up: time to break the goals down into smaller chunks. We’re talkin’ 3 months, then 1 month, and then weeks.

What does that really mean? To start, just take a mental snapshot of your priority focus areas for the next 3 months. This works fantabulously well because it’s a small enough time frame where you can feel positive and excited about your action items, rather than stressed and defeated because you start getting ahead of yourself. Been there, done that. At the same time it gives you a bird’s eye view of where you should be putting your focus.

Once you have that, you want to start working on one month at a time. Take one month from your blog goals and break it down into bite-sized steps. What that looks like is you pick a priority focus for each week, and that one priority drives all of your actions.

I generally have a larger priority goal for the month as well. For instance, if I’m rebranding or creating a new product, I want to keep it front and center in my mind, so I’ll make sure it stands out on my calendar.

Each month/week your priority goals should get done first, meaning that when other things come up you turn them down (or shift them around) so you can focus on the things you really need to achieve.

Now that you have the success mindset, let’s look at action steps to creating a profitable blog.

BLOG ACTION PLAN STEPS

1) Choose your niche

I’ve written about the importance of defining your niche and target audience pretty extensively in other posts, so I won’t go into it too much here. Hmmm…or will I?

The thing is this. Finding your blog’s focus is a biggie.

This is a step that every successful business faces, and if you really want to turn your blog into a business, it’s a step you simply can’t skip. I say this with complete confidence and after years working with brands who put so much effort into marketing, and then later realize that they’re missing the mark. I don’t want this to happen to you, so here’s the deal…

You absolutely have to be BFFs with your audience.

What we’re really going for here is to drill down on specifics. First of all, I would start with the basics like age, job title, income level, gender, and so on, then move beyond that to how your audience is feeling, what they’re struggling with, and how you help.

You should be able to answer these questions:

  • How is your audience feeling right now?
  • What are they trying to do but can’t?
  • What’s stopping them?
  • How can you help them?
  • What will change for them after YOU?
  • How will they feel when they’ve overcome this problem?

The more focused you are with your niche, the easier it will be to jumpstart your profits.

Psst…Don’t go crazy over that last bit like I did at first. You definitely want to start with your skills, talent, and passions first. Then look at groups of people who heart what you heart. And finally, give some thought to the types of products you will offer.

Related: How to Choose Your Blog’s Niche and Focus

2) Choose your name

When you’re starting out your name feels like all you have, so you hold on to it and drive yourself a little nutso (at least if you’re me you do!) But, really, your name is a name and that’s it. Other people don’t care what you name your blog. That’s just how it is, friend.

Your brand is so much more than a name, meaning that it’s really everything attached to your name. It’s the way you speak to your audience, your logo, the colors you choose, what you stand for, your mission, your values…all of that exciting brand stuff. 🙂

Now, whether you use your own name or a product name for your biz really depends on which you prefer. I recommend choosing a name that makes you feel 100% authentically YOU, and at the same time encompasses your longer term vision. For instance, if you plan to grow your team beyond just you, a product name might be the way to go. Try to include keywords related to your blog’s focus so that people have an idea what your biz is all about.

Related: How to Choose the Perfect Name for Your Blog

3) Build your blog

Now we’re going to roll up our sleeves and build your blog! I recommend using a self-hosted WordPress site because you’ll have access to functionality that you need to grow your business. We’re talkin’ plugins that will put your biz on autopilot ’round the clock.

Having said that, I know many people love SquareSpace, and there’s definitely a lot to be said for getting your website up quickly, which you can do easily with SquareSpace. WordPress is a bit more techie and will take longer, so if you’re up for the challenge, I say go for it!

Not sure which one to go with? byRegina has a free course that shows you both platforms to help you decide. And if you’re sold on a self-hosted WordPress site, I’m your girl (wink, wink). This post will help you get up and running.

4a) Build a following

Now we’re revvin’ up the traffic engine of the blog income formula (first part, step #1). First things first, let me say when it comes to driving web traffic, social media and content are interrelated. Where one goes, the other must follow, which is why step #4 is broken down into two parts. In case you’re wondering which part to tackle first, I say both, friend. You really can’t have one without the other.

With that said, let’s dive into building your following so that your content gets found by more people, ev’rywhere. From your niche research, you should have a good idea where your audience hangs out. So now we’re going to create profiles on those sites and start building an audience.

Heads up, you’re going to have to spend some time on each social media platform. It might seem like your entire day is devoured by social media at first, but it won’t be forever, I promise! You’ll get your days back soon! Really, you just need to spend enough time to learn the ins and outs, share some content, see which types of content perform best, and most importantly, which sites give you the most bang for your buck.

Now let’s look at the content part…

4b) Create and share content

How frequently should you write new blog posts? I think the real question here is How frequently CAN you  write new posts on the regular? If you can commit to writing a new post once every 2 weeks for now, perfect. That’s your magic number. Over time I recommend ramping up to once or twice a week as you get comfortable with your blog schedule. Whatever you do, please don’t write 6 posts in 2 weeks and then disappear for 3 months! Creating a schedule and then sticking to it is sooo key when it comes to building trust.

One thing that saves me oodles of time is working with themes. I find that my brain works 24/7 behind the scenes when I work this way, so by the time I sit down to write my next post, the words flow freely.

Curious what a theme is? I’m glad you asked! You’re reading a post from my theme right now – The Blog Profit Plan Series. Seriously though, themes are just subtopics where you take readers on a journey and one post feeds naturally into the next. So if you’re a fashion blogger, you might plan a theme around stripes one month and then colors the next.

Oh, and I promised you’d get your days back, right? Once you’re comfortable on your social media platforms, scheduling tools will actually automate your content sharing for you, so you don’t have to do it manually. Who’s a game-changer now? My favorite tools are SmarterQueue and Buffer for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn; BoardBooster for Pinterest; and Planoly for Instagram.

If you’re ready to step up your traffic game even more, these two posts will help:

5) Build your subscribers

High five! Your traffic engine is hummin’ and you’re on your way to wrapping up the blog income formula. Time to crank up the subscriber engine! Let me just say there’s no magic pill for building your list. But there are a ton of ways to do it, just like there are a ton of ways to market your business. So nothing to be overwhelmed about here!

Start by adding a freebie (content upgrade) to your posts. This can be anything, really: cheat sheets, Ebooks, printables, planners, checklists…anything that will provide meaningful value for your readers.

To do this, you’ll need a few tools:

You’ll also need an email marketing platform like MailChimp, ConvertKit, or Infusionsoft to create automated emails and campaigns so you can build a relationship with your subscribers while you create products to offer them.

That about brings us to…

6) Create a product

Woot woot! You made it. Almost at the finish line. Let’s tackle this last step, k?

How do you know what products to create? First of all, you can send a survey to your subscribers asking them what their biggest challenge is, and then brainstorm products you can create to help.

You can also look into pre-selling your course. What this looks like is you create an outline of the course idea, then a sales page and a webinar, and if people buy, you know you’ve got a winner! Just be sure that you can actually deliver your course in the time frame you promise, so you won’t lose credibility with people who register for it. If this seems too scary, why not create the first few modules? This way you know you’ll have something to deliver while you’re doing your preselling.

Why not research other popular blogs in your niche? Look at what types of blogs make the most money, how they make money, the types of products they offer. This will give you tons of ideas for your own product.

What if you don’t have a list yet? No worries, just start tracking which posts get the most shares on social media and have the highest page views in analytics. This is a super easy way to get some insight into the content that people are responding to.

What tools should you use to create your course? I break it all down for you in this post.

Should you create an ebook or an ecourse? It’s really up to you. Ebooks take a bit longer than ecourses, but you can always turn your ebook into a course later on.

I’m so excited for you! I can’t wait to hear about all your success. As you move through these steps, remember to work in bite-sized chunks and keep the blog income formula plastered to the top of your brain. This will help you earn money from blogging as quickly as possible, because you’ll know exactly what you need to do and in what order.

Always, always, execute on the priority focus areas you set for each month. Don’t go skippin’ steps and getting ahead of yourself. 🙂

Let’s hear it! How do you make money with your blog? What’s working for you right now?