5 Powerful Steps to Writing a Blog Post that Sells


How to Write a Blog Post that SellsDo you want more customers?

Want to know how to format your blog posts for more subscribers and sales?

Blogging is a powerful way to build your business when you have a strategy in place that goes beyond putting words on a page and getting people to read them.

Today, I’m sharing how to excel at blogging as a way to grow your audience, increase sales, and convert readers into customers.

Step #1: Research blog topics that perform well

The first step to converting more customers through blogging is to write about topics that your audience wants to read.

If you’re struggling with this step, use these tools to discover topics with a high number of social media shares and Google searches.

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a powerful content research tool that will help you gather information on what has performed well on social media in any industry. Both paid and free versions are available, and you can use it to discover viral content with a high number of retweets, likes, repins, and shares.

Enter a keyword into the search bar and you’ll see which content has the highest number of shares on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

how to become a blogger with an incredible online community using BuzzSumo.

Keyword Planner

The Google Keyword Planner is my first stop when I’m out of blog ideas. It’s a free tool that will show you the important terms people are searching for on Google.

To get started with the keyword planner, enter your keyword. Then, enter your targeting and use the keywords filters to refine your search. I recommend filtering your results for low competition.

You’ll see search results for your original keyword plus a list of related keywords.

blog writing tips using the Google Keyword Planner

When you have all the keywords you want, click Review Plan. On the next screen, click the Keyword tab, choose a date range, and enter a high bid to make sure you see all the results.

Now, you can see the actual monthly search volume in the Impressions column, which will give you an accurate view of how many people are searching for your blog topic. I aim for at least 1,500 searches.

Want to know how to create a blog that people want to read? Use Keyword Planner to find out what people are searching for around your blog topic first.

Facebook Groups

I’m in a number of Facebook Groups related to blogging and entrepreneurship and have discovered interesting blog ideas from questions members ask. When I see a question that has been asked many times, it goes on my worksheet as a potential blog topic.

To get started with Facebook Groups, select Groups on the left-hand side of your dashboard. Then select Discover from the top menu to see a list of suggested groups based on the pages, posts, and groups that you’ve already liked, shared, or joined. You can also use the top search bar to find groups relevant to any keyword or niche.

If you manage your own Facebook group, why not ask your group members what they’re struggling with related to your niche? Then use their answers as inspiration for future blog posts.

Psst…I would love for you join my Facebook group! You’ll have multiple opportunities to promote your business and be part of an inclusive network of encouraging, supportive people.

Quora

Quora is the hub of questions and answers and an excellent way to find out what people are asking around your niche.

To get started with Quora, log in with your Gmail.

Enter terms or keywords related to your niche and you’ll see discussions and questions appear in your feed. Note the questions where you can provide value, look at what others have answered and make notes on how you can improve upon their answers.

#2: Pick the Winning Blog Ideas

It’s time to document your research and decide which blog topics will make it on to your editorial calendar.

I use a simple Google doc spreadsheet to track the topics and questions that seem to be popular:

  • Original blog idea
  • Target keyword
  • Number of monthly shares
  • Number of repins and FB shares
  • Some notes about the problem the topic solves for my audience
  • Some notes about a product the topic idea could lead to: Does it lead to a sales funnel opt-in? Will it help me make more sales?

Use the blog ideas worksheet to create a powerful blog writing format.

The goal at this stage is to narrow down your ideas to those that are both popular with your audience and align with your business goals. There’s no shame in sharing something supervaluable that helps your readers and grows your business. In fact, that’s why you’re blogging in the first place!

Once I’ve picked topics that I think are winners, I’ll make additional notes about content pieces that I think are particularly interesting so that I can start to frame an angle for my own content. For each piece I’ll note the following:

  • Title/headline
  • Blog post URL
  • Some notes about the piece itself: why it’s helpful and what I like about it
  • Any gaps in the content: where I can improve upon it

Step #3: Format your post for easy reading

When I first started blogging, I’d jump right in and start writing. Before I knew it, I’d go rambling on and on and forget the original points I wanted to make.

The solution to this problem is to create an outline to help you stay on track and to give your post an easy-to-follow structure. When people read your blog post, you want them to be able to spot sections that interest them right away.

Follow these steps to format your blog posts:

Make your post highly valuable. Look through your notes and pinpoint where you can provide more value for your readers. Can you make your article more visually descriptive? More detailed? Longer? How will you fill in the gaps in other people’s content? Be sure to aim for more than 1,000 words for each blog post.

Divide your post into smaller chunks. Long paragraphs and blocks of text can make your post seem like hard work and scare people away. Instead, divide your blog content into smaller sections to make it easy for people to spot what they want to read. Use headings, bullets, short paragraphs, and even short words (“hard” vs. “difficult”).

Show people how to do something. Instead of telling people what to do, show them how they can do it. Dive deep and give people easy-to-follow and actionable steps. Include screenshots and other images to help your audience understand what you’re saying.

Step #4: Add a content upgrade with a clear call to action

Now that you’ve set the foundation for your post, it’s time to build your audience and get more subscribers.

Remember that having someone simply read your blog post is not your end goal with blogging. You want your blog content to be the first step in his or her journey to becoming a customer.

That’s where content upgrades come in.

What is a content upgrade?

A content upgrade is bonus content that your readers can receive in exchange for their email address.

Content upgrades are similar to lead magnets in that you encourage people to opt in. What makes them so powerful is their contextual relevance both to your article and to the intent of your readers.

Here’s an example:

In my social media strategy blog post, I include a button that readers can click to download a blueprint so that they can put what they learn into action.

A box will then appear that asks them to opt in to receive the blueprint:

How to write a blog and make money

By using unique content upgrades for every blog post, I’ve been able to build my email list to more than 11,000 subscribers and sell my digital products. In fact, content upgrades are the main focus of my list building right now.

Think of it like this:

Visitors land on your blog post because they have a problem, your post educates them about the solution and your content upgrade helps them take the next step.

Can you see how content upgrades can convert at amazingly high rates?

The way I see it is that the more content upgrades we can create the faster we’ll increase conversions and grow our email list.

Here’s how to create your content upgrade.

You can create any type of content upgrade with Canva. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume that you’re offering a free Ebook.

First, create an account with Canva. Next, use the Blog Graphic as a template and resize it to US letter size, which you can do here:

Use Canva to learn how to blog using visual content.

This first page will be your Ebook cover. We’ll create the interior pages later.

To customize your cover design, select a background color from the left-hand menu or choose a free photo through Elements –> Photos.

The free version will give you access to everything you need to create and download your Ebook. If you want access to premium images and vector elements at a discount, the paid subscription starts at $12.95 a month.

To find free images specific to your industry or blog topic, enter a keyword into the search bar. Be prepared to scroll through dozens of premium images that you can purchase for $10 (free accounts) or $1 (paid accounts). Purchasing the image will also remove the Canva watermark.

Blogging for beginners using Canva to increase traffic.

You can also upload stock photos or images from your own library using the Uploads tab.

Once you’ve selected your background image, drag the corner edges, and resize it to fill the canvas. I like to add an overlay to my background to help my title text stand out.

To do this, select Elements –> Shapes and click on the top left square to place the shape onto your canvas. This will automatically position the graphic on top of your background image. You can rearrange the order if you need to by clicking on Arrange in the top menu.

It's easy to arrange your graphic elements and create powerful blog posts examples.

Next, select the text tool, add your title, and choose the styles you want to use. With a paid account, you have the option of saving brand elements, colors, and fonts to streamline your image creation process.

The last thing to add is your logo, which you can do by selecting Uploads –> Logo and uploading a png or jpg version.

Once you’re happy with the cover, it’s time to populate your pages with copy.

Add a new blank page, paste your copy into a text box and customize the design of your interior page.

Create a simple ebook using Canva.

When you’re finished, save your Ebook design and download it twice:

  • as a PDF
  • as a PNG

You’re done!

Now it’s time to add the content upgrade to your post.

We’re back in Canva to create a graphic button that grabs people’s attention and inspires them to click.

Create a new design using any template. Then resize it as a Twitter Post, and upload the PNG of your Ebook cover.

Next, change the background color so that your graphic button stands out in your post. Add lead-in copy and a square shape to use as the background for your call to action copy (“Yes, Please Send!”).

Your new graphic button will look something like this:

how to create a blog

We’re almost there! The last step is to download the button as a PNG and upload it to your WordPress Media Library.

Finally, add the opt-in form.

The opt-in form is what people will see when they click on your button.

Follow these steps to create a leadbox with LeadPages (you can also use Sumo or Thrive Leads for the opt-in form).

Log in to LeadPages, select Leadbox, and give your new leadbox a name. Next, replace the template image with the image of your Ebook cover. Add a heading, and customize the design of your text and button.

Content upgrades are a powerful way to learn how to write a blog and make money.

The standard template includes a phone field, which you can easily remove by selecting the integration button in the left sidebar. While you’re there, make sure you integrate the form with your email marketing service and test that it’s working correctly.

When you’re ready, publish your leadbox, and copy the image link code.

Publish you landing page on your website to increase conversions.

Next, in your blog post, switch to the text editor, and paste the code where you want your graphic button to appear. The last step is to replace the image source in the code (src=”=s0″) with your button image. To do this, copy the URL from the image in your Media Library, and paste it in between the quotation marks.

Call to action example

That’s it! Now when people click on your button, they will see your pop-up and can opt in.

Where should you place your content upgrade?

Ideally, you want to give readers several reminders to download your content upgrade. I recommend placing it directly after your introduction, in the middle of your post, and again at the end of your post.

Remember that the more you scale this process, the more email subscribers you can get. You can even include different content upgrades to give people many different options, assuming that each free offer is relevant to your post.

Once you have ten or more content upgrades, you can combine them into a resource library or welcome pack to give people an even bigger bonus. The benefit to subscribers is that they will have all your free content in one place rather than having to download each free resource individually.

Resource libraries are easier to create than you may think. You can use the WordPress Portfolio Plugin or a similar portfolio plugin. Make sure you password-protect your resource page so that only your most engaged readers have access to it.

Password protect the resources page so that only people who opt in can access.

The free resource library is one of my highest converting opt-ins. I add a CTA button at the top of my homepage and blog pages as well as at the end of every post.

Step #5: Create the Right Type of Offer

While there’s no right or wrong content upgrade, not all content upgrades are equal.

The trick lies in knowing which ones to create. When you offer your readers something that’s a perfect fit for why they visited your website, they’re much more likely to opt in.

The best content upgrades are:

  • Targeted—Speak to one specific audience, addressing their most pressing pain point.
  • Relevant to your post—You’ll see the highest conversion rates when your content upgrades fulfill the intent your readers had when they came to your blog post.
  • Time-saving—Give people the option to save long-form articles for later if they’re too busy to read them right now.
  • Actionable—Provide your readers with easy-to-follow next steps that they can implement to see results right away.
  • Open-ended—Create a path to future products by inspiring curiosity without giving away the farm.
  • High value—It goes without saying that your content upgrade should provide real value. It’s important to reward the people who have opted in to your email list with something that casual readers don’t get. If your content upgrade is something that people would actually consider paying for, you’re on the right track.

What type of content upgrade should you use?

The first step in choosing the right type of offer is to identify a resource that will extend the value of your blog content.

Here’s a list of content upgrades and the types of content they work well with.

Checklists. Checklists are usually one-pagers that are perfect for how-to and long-form articles. You can outline specific steps people need to take to achieve something. For instance, I know that search engine optimization has a lot of moving parts and that my readers, like me, will have a hard time keeping track of them all. So I offer an SEO checklist upgrade that they can keep on hand for every blog post.

Templates. Examples of templates include social media templates, business plan templates…even productivity templates. In many of my posts related to productivity, I offer readers a time-blocking template they can use to schedule their week effectively.

Download my Time Blocking Template to help you increase productivity and get even more stuff done each week!

Cheat sheets and blueprints. Cheat sheets are like a shortcut to the finish line. They work well for detailed articles and give your readers a high-level view of the milestones involved in getting from point A to point Z.

Ebooks. If your blog posts are part of a series or related to a theme that takes readers on a journey, an Ebook is an easy way to create a content upgrade. For instance, I have a three-part Grow Your Audience series where I show readers how to accelerate their online business growth. Because the blog post are related, each one can serve as a separate chapter in an Ebook and lead seamlessly to the next.

Spreadsheets. Spreadsheets provide a level of organization that makes it easy for people to research, brainstorm, plan, or manage systems and processes. I create Google Doc spreadsheets for many of my blog posts related to planning and workflows so that my readers have something to refer back to and share with their team.

Workbooks. Workbooks help your audience go beyond learning a concept and start putting what they learn into action.

The Blog Post as PDF. A straight PDF of your article may be the easiest route to take. With that said, offering long-form blog posts as a PDF (3,000 words and up) can provide greatvalue for readers who are pressed for time and want to read your content later.

That’s a wrap!

If you’re thinking that content upgrades seem like a lot of work, I get it! Creating high-converting content upgrades takes time and effort, but that time is well spent. Content upgrades can have exponential effects on building your email list and should be seen as an investment in acquiring future customers.

From here, it’s all about engaging with your new subscribers, providing value, value, value, and creating sales funnels that lead people to your products and services.

If you’ve taken the steps above and created your free content around topics popular with your audience and the products and services that you offer, leading people to a sale will be a natural, organic process because you’ll know that your audience truly wants your products.

Five 20-Minute Things You Can Do to Increase Blog Traffic


Want to get more traffic to your blog? I've got 5 easy-peasy ways to do it! Click through to see them all.You know what blogging is like?

Running a marathon.

Every blogger starts at the beginning. And even if we can’t see our exact finish line, one thing’s for sure:

We want to get somewhere beyond our first 100 followers, pageviews and shares.

Pouring your heart and soul into your blog and seeing the same pageviews month after month, or even year after year, can wear on your spirit. And seeing fewer pageviews than the month before can make you feel like throwing in the towel altogether. I’ve experienced this firsthand, and it’s a terrible feeling.

Especially when you’re doing everything right and so want to reach your finish line:

  • You’ve got an awesome blog design
  • You’re blogging on the regular
  • Opt-in forms in all the right places
  • You’re researching keywords like crazy
  • Sharing your posts on social media

Today, I want to help clear things up. I’m sharing five quick wins for getting more traffic to your blog so that you can reach your finish line and fulfill your dreams of building a business that you love.

Psst…Need help building your blog audience and traffic? I answer your most pressing questions about traffic, list building, affiliate marketing, social media and more in my Facebook Group. Join over 600 Superheroes.

1) First, change your blog title.

Ain’t no easy way to say this, guys. Blog titles can make or break your traffic.

Your posts are competing with tons of other brands who, like you, want to get more readers to their blog. In order to grab their attention, your blog titles have to scream Yoohoo, over here! I’m the one you want! Read me!

The easiest way to do that is to turn them into mini value propositions that answer these three questions:

  • What is this post about?
  • Who is it for?
  • How will it help them?

If you can frame your titles around the formula below, you’ll be on the right track:

This post will discuss [what] and will help [who] achieve, feel, or think [how you help].

Here’s an example of a title that answers the first prompt: “5 Travel Apps”

This is a great start but we can’t leave it there. Without knowing the who and the how, there’s not enough juice to make people take action.

Here’s a better example: “5 Amazing Apps That Make Traveling Abroad So Much Easier”

Beautiful. Now we know that the post is targeted at people planning an overseas trip. We also know that after reading the post, travel itineraries will be a breeze.

Click to the click.

2) Check social media profiles on your phone.

Ever wonder how much traffic you get from iPhones and Androids?

Head over to Google Analytics >> Audience and you’ll see: Over 50% of traffic these days comes from mobile.

Whoa.

To be fair, I’m a straight-up desktop girl and often forget to check my social media accounts on my iPhone. But with stats like these, we need to cover all bases. If our blog post images don’t pop, people will keep on scrollin’.

Lucky for us, this one’s an easy solve! Pop open your Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook apps and scroll through your posts. Do they stand out or is the text too small and obscure? If the latter, you’ve got work to do!

3) Design an infographic.

I created my first infographic-style pin months ago, and holy purple cow, the shares on that pin were CRAZY. Waaay more than other pins I’d shared.

It’s still a huge source of traffic and email subscribers. And a big eye-opener for me.

Now I create one for just about every post. Nothing elaborate either – sometimes I’ll use plain text to highlight the steps in a “how to” post. If I have more time, I’ll add fancy icons and graphics.

Sound daunting? I thought so too at first, but you can create infographics pretty quickly using premade templates from Canva.

Create infographics with Canva to get more traffic to your blog!

Note: I’ve created both complicated, elaborate graphics and simple, bold graphics. Hands down – simple drives more blog traffic. Make sure people can understand your graphic quickly without having to give it a second read.

The beauty of repurposing content this way is that your infographic can be used over and over again:

  • Submit it to infographic sites
  • Reach out to bloggers and invite them to share it with their audience
  • Embed the code of your infographic in your blog post. When people share on their website, it will link back to your site.

4) Review your keywords.

After you hit publish on a new post, there are still pleeenty of ways you can optimize it for search.

For starters, make sure you review keywords once a month, especially for posts that you really want to perform well.

I don’t know how many times I’ve checked the box on SEO, then later realized that my original keyword was too broad or competitive. Or, I was getting too hung up on an exact target keyword instead of looking at the context of my post.

Think beyond your target keyword.

Nowadays, Google is looking for semantic relevance, which is a fancy pants way of saying “other words in your post to help determine the intent of a search query.”

Whew! Even that’s a mouthful. Let’s bottom-line it:

Semantic relevance is a by-product of writing insanely thorough blog posts. In the process, you will likely include terms that Google will rank you for other than your target keyword.

For instance, I’m targeting the keyword “increase blog traffic” for this post. I imagine that in the future I will rank for long-tail keywords such as “get more readers for my blog” and “increase your blog readers” because I’m including them in a lengthy, well-cited article.

#MORALOFTHESTORY Make your post a comprehensive resource, and there’s a good change you’ll rank for more than one keyword.

Go for quick wins

Some of my posts are on page 8 of Google, sluggishly inching their way up to page 7. And I’m working my buns off to rank them.

Then there are other posts.

Ones I’m NOT paying attention to and not trying to rank. Those posts are on page 2. If I shift my attention to those posts with less competitive keywords, I bet I can get them to page 1 with ease. Here’s an example:

How to get more website traffic with keywords

 

#TAKEAWAY If you review keywords regularly, you can shift gears to posts that are gaining traction and revisit harder-to-rank keywords later on.

5) Link to a high-quality post

You know the saying Who you spend time with the most is who you will become?

In the blogosphere, who you link to is how your posts will rank.

When you include links to high-quality sites in your posts, Google will see your website as being high quality by association and will likely increase your ranking presence.

How do you find high-quality websites?

I’m so glad you asked! Grab a sheet of paper and write down ten popular blogs and websites in your niche. Then head over to Open Site Explorer and enter the URLs for each.

Open Site Explorer is a tool that displays the domain authority of websites, which is a search engine ranking score that predicts how well a website will rank. The scores range from 0-100, with higher numbers indicating higher quality.

Here’s an example:

How to get more website traffic by adding external links to high quality blogs.

 

With a DA score of 87, Social Media Examiner is a craaazy high-quality website. If I link to it in my Social Media Strategy post, there’s a good change my post will get a boost in rankings.

That’s a wrap, friends. I hope this post was helpful for you. I’ll be turning it into part 1 of my Traffic Series, so stay tuned for more traffic-busting tips!

What’s your best strategy for driving blog traffic? Let’s add it to the list!

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

,

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.

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 driving traffic.

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 here, 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 step 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 start a blog and make money. Click through to learn 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. I dive into the specifics of each path in this post:

Part 2: How to Start a Business with No Money, A Laptop, and an Idea

I hope this helps you learn how to start a successful blog. See you for part 2!

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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7-Day Social Media Plan | Want to sell your products and make money with your blog? First, you need to get visible! This post includes a weekly social media marketing plan to drive massive traffic. Click through to see all the steps and download the social media planner!
Want to sell your products and make money with your blog? First, you need to build your audience and get traffic! This post includes weekly blog tasks plus a downloadable social media marketing plan template. Click through to get the social media plan template!
7-Day Social Media Plan | This post includes a 7-day social media planner plus social media marketing template so you know exactly what to do to get massive exposure and traffic.

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 posts - social media planSo 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

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

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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 2018


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?