This is a guest post by Christian Russell from Next Level Blogger.
The beginning phase of a new blog is the most fun, isn’t it? You’ve come up with a great idea. You’ve done your research, and you are confident that your new blog idea is going to rock. There’s a market, there are people spending money in that market, and you’ve found your niche. The possibilities are endless; the sky is the limit!
There is infinite appeal to the research phase of creating a new blog. Because as long as you’re laying the groundwork, as long as you’re researching and “finding your niche”, everything exists in a vacuum. But as soon as you launch this sucker, it’s going to get messy!
It’s like the old Chinese saying: “as long as you’re planning a journey, you own the journey. The minute you embark on that journey, the journey owns you.” Plan well, my friends! But don’t forget that in order to succeed, you have to get out there and work it! And that’s what this post is about.
The Importance of Doing it All
Some of us are great idea people. Some of us are great at executing. Some of us are great at design. Some of us are great writers, and some of us are more business-minded. If your ambition is to make your blog a success from a business perspective, it’s important to know that you’re going to have to wear all these hats at one time or another.
I say this because while I’m giving you a list of the 10 Smartest Things You Can Do to Promote Your New Blog, I know that most of you bloggers out there will do some of them…or most of them. But most of you will not do all of them. Reason being, you will find some of them fun and others plain drudgery. Still, I encourage you to do them all. Success comes out of hiding when you’re willing to do the things that others are NOT willing to do. The extra work is always what makes the difference!
Where Your Success has Been Hiding
We can complain about how success has eluded us, but of course complaining accomplishes nothing. It is simply a matter of digging it up, but to do so we simply have to be willing to roll our sleeves up and get our hands dirty. Basically what I’m saying is that if you want to make a lot of money from your blog, you’re going to have to work hard at it!
After 3 years of internet marketing full time and 9 years of sales experience and training over a thousand people to go out and increase their income, I can tell you one thing for sure. If you do the work, the results will come. I promise you! They may not come as quickly as you want, and there will be bumps in the road, and these are the reasons most of us fail. Not because we do not have what it takes. We just quit too soon, and it really is a shame.
Getting Started on the Right Foot
Here’s the deal: start off with an idea of what you want to achieve. Don’t go into your blogging endeavor blind, hoping to be “successful”. Because what the heck does that mean? Perhaps you want to simply share your ideas with the world. Perhaps you want 100k unique visitors every month to feel you’ve accomplished that. Perhaps you prefer to concentrate on income, and your main concern is making $100k next year. OK. This is doable. The point is to be specific.
I want to tell you with as much conviction as I can muster, that you CAN and WILL achieve your blogging goals if you’re willing to do the work to make them happen! Success in this or any field is not a mystical process. It is a predictable and manageable thing that happens as a result of doing what needs to be done over a period of time.
I cannot tell you you’ll make a million dollars within 18 months or give you any specific time frames. It doesn’t work like that. What I can tell you unequivocally, without a doubt, is that if you do the work that needs to be done on a daily basis over time, you will be amazed and delighted with your success, and you will see how un-magical it is. Perhaps money doesn’t grow on trees, but it IS out there for the picking.
I’m so excited about the opportunities that blogging presents us as business owners, and I hope that you follow this list and let me know how it goes!
- Write a daily action plan: Every promotion plan requires daily action. Now, the size of your goals and how quickly you want to achieve them will weigh heavily on what daily activities you want to write into your plan. But it’s very important to have this written up and have it be something you commit to doing daily. Daily action is key. And your daily action plan has to contain tasks that produce results that will grow your business. Checking your Adsense revenues and reviewing your analytics, for example, while important, do not count. These are administrative tasks that do not directly produce growth. The point of your daily action plan is to write up a specific plan to perform specific actions every day…actions that will bring visitors to your site and grow your business. For example, I make 100 personal contacts daily and write 3 pages of content. I do this every day. Simple. Sometimes very difficult, and I sometimes fail. But it is the gauge I use to measure success on a day-to-day basis. It gives you something to shoot for that you can achieve every day. It should be difficult but doable, and it should contain actions that cause your business to grow.
- Go 60 days without tweaking your site: After you get your first design complete, and your site is up, you will be constantly tempted to tweak it. And tweak it. And tweak it. Resist the urge. Make a commitment to launch your blog, and then do nothing but promote the crap out of it for 60 days. Don’t get me wrong. Design is important. But constantly tweaking your site is a distraction. At the beginning you have no community. You’re maybe getting 10, 20, 30 visitors a day. Get out there, network and talk to people. Brand yourself. These things are infinitely more important than making sure your logo looks just right. The ultimate design will come. It will happen, trust me! But if you’ve failed to build your readership, no one is going to care. Likewise, I can point out a lot of very popular blogs with designs that have much to be desired. Do you want to look hot, or do you want to BE hot? I think you see where I’m going with this!
- Refuse to place ads: Here’s the thing. Advertising revenue is cool. But when you’re first launching your blog, you have a lot of work to do. Tweaking out different ad modules and trying to optimize your ads for a blog that is going to be making you $10 a month at best is a waste of your time. We’re talking about creating a winning business blog, no? So just skip the advertising business for now. Yes, you can make a few bucks, but the most valuable asset you have right now is your time. Don’t waste it on something that is only going to make you a few bucks. Instead, focus on building a real business and attracting a lot of people. Then, put up ads later if you want; when you’ll actually be able to make enough to make it worth your while!
- Pillar content: The concept of pillar content is something I learned from David Risley. When you launch your blog, have an inventory of 20-30 killer article ideas ready to go. Fill your blog up with great content that truly drives home the focus of your blog, attracts targeted visitors and shows your true expertise. You’re laying down the foundation of your business here. Take some real time creating your pillar content. It will attract readers for a long time to come, and it will show your new readers what you’re all about. Put your best foot forward!
- Schmooze: In other words, networking is a key business activity. Always has been, always will be. Internet business is a people business, believe it or not. Find the top 20-30 blogs in your space, and get acquainted with them. Read them. Get to know the authors of those blogs. Build relationships with them. Yeah, it takes time. Yeah, it takes persistence. It’s also very much worth it. One word of caution: I’m not talking about just blasting these people with spam, asking them to help you out. I’m saying get to know them a bit. You can learn a lot by hanging with people who are already successful in your field.
- Link building: Aaron Wall and Andy Hagans over at SEOBook wrote a fantastic article about how to build links. I recommend reading their article several times and implementing these link building tactics into your daily routine. The art and science of link building of course is beyond the scope of this post, but link building HAS to be mentioned, because it’s a fundamental activity for anyone who hopes to build a successful business blog.
- Blog and forum commenting: Anyone familiar with blogs is familiar with the activity of leaving comments on blogs. This is an essential activity for anyone building a presence online. Blogs and forums offer you a tremendous opportunity to become part of the conversation. Don’t wreck it by being over-promotional, leaving keywords instead of your actual name or any other spam-type activities. Just use your real name, leave insightful and helpful comments and genuinely participate.
- Respond to your readers: I’m consistently surprised by how many internet business owners do not respond to messages or personally respond to comments. If it’s not your priority, OK. I just don’t know why it wouldn’t be. There’s a lot to be said about following the basics. In other words, check your email! And be responsive and appreciative to your audience. Every minute you spend interacting on a personal level with your readers is well-spent.
- Immediately begin building an email list: From day one, make sure you have an opt-in box and encourage your visitors to sign up for an email list. There is an argument for waiting until you have more traffic, but I say that an email list of 10 people is way more exciting than you might realize. Think about how cool this is…people are finding value in what you do! Seriously, open the door to communication by email right out of the gate. Don’t wait. The sooner you begin conversing with people this way, the sooner you’ll see that it’s a great way to maintain a dialog with your readers. You will get comments, criticism and helpful insights that you wouldn’t otherwise get. Email is old school I suppose, but it’s here to stay, and it’s still the way most users prefer to subscribe.
- Use the Power of 100 Rule: Coming originally from direct sales, I learned a rule from other top performers that has always served me well. I’ve gotten away from it over the last couple years, but I’ve recently gotten back into the habit of practicing this rule, and it works like a charm. It’s very simple. Make 100 personal contacts a day. Sending a personal email (not bulk email), responding to a message, a phone call, leaving a thoughtful blog comment, etc. Personal contacts…100 of them…every day. It often forces you to not watch TV, because you still have 35 more contacts to make before you go to bed. It’s a mechanism that gets your priorities straightened out without you even having to think about it. Practiced over time, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much business comes your way as a result of practicing the Power of 100. Bottom line: be social. The internet business really is a people business.
Bonus: Invest in your business. If you want big results, you need to take big action. One of the biggest things I’ve done that has expanded my network and enabled me to truly get my business off the ground is something that many internet marketers and bloggers do not consider. Travel. Conferences. Meeting people in person. Getting to know people and shaking hands with other successful business owners is a very valuable activity.
One trip I took to New York led to several relationships I still have today as well as an exciting affiliate program I’m still running today, three years later. Yes, the trip cost some money, and I came back with an immense hangover, but it has paid for itself many times over and continues to do so.
I do not recall a single networking trip I’ve taken that has not ultimately paid for itself many times over by bringing more business my way. It is this type of investment and commitment to your business that will make it “real” for you. I included it as a bonus, because I honestly feel it may be the most powerful of all. Internet business is real business! It’s not this nebulous process, involving “traffic” and “clicks”. These are people you’re working with and people you’re selling to. In many fundamental respects, business has not changed all that much.
These business basics will serve you well. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that business is simple, and the simple stuff works!