Why Every New Blogger Needs An Email List!

I know that as a new blogger you may be thinking, why do I need an email list, especially when you are in the beginning stages of your blog.  If I was starting my blog right now I would make sure that I had an email list before I focused on anything else, including a blog. There is so much power in an email list and if you don’t understand that early in the game, you may be setting yourself up for failure.  Here are some reasons why you need to start building your email list today!

  • You don’t own any social media platform (and if you do hook me up-lol).  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are all great ways to build exposure for your blog, but you do not own them.  What would you do if your account was deleted and you did not have a way to contact all of the people who are subscribed to you on your social media outlets?  Think about it.
  • As bloggers we all should be providing useful content and finding creative ways to build an engaged audience.  An email list is the perfect way to share exclusive content and encourage your supporters to share your content.  When you have a person’s email list, you basically have personal access to them and that is invaluable.
  • Your are missing out on money-making opportunities when you do not have an email list.  Smart bloggers understand how to use affiliate marketing within their emails.  This is a place to share the products that you love, as well as your own products and services.  You are missing out on earning potentials when you don’t have an email list.  There are expert bloggers who spend a lot of time creating blog funnels.  A funnel is “marketing strategy process” that is used to get a desired result from your audience, whether you are looking for some form of support or a sale.

So where do you get started?

  1. Sign up for an account with mailchimp.  This the emailing system that I use, and while I have to pay for my service (due to the number of subscribers that I have).  You can use this service for free as long as you have less than 2,000 subscribers.
  2. After you sign up at mailchimp, watch my tutorial below on how to set your first list and send your first email off!

3 Ways To Use Your Personality To Grow Your Blog

Personality

We all have very unique personalities! Some are louder and flashier than others, but there is an audience out there that will absolutely love your personality, whether it is soft or boisterous.  I am often told that I have a very “direct” personality, and I used to feel that word had a negative connotation, but that is who I am.  I am a nonsense type of person and that is probably not going to change…lol.  When I began to accept the various parts of my personality and included those unique traits into my blogging process, my platform begin to flourish in positive ways.  You cannot hide from who you are, so use it to your benefit.

Your personality is the one unique thing that no one else 
has, so use it. Click To Tweet

Here are some ways to use your radiant personality to advance your blog:

1. Take some time to get to know who you are and what makes your personality shine.  Everyone is doing some version of the same thing with blogging, so what truly makes you unique is your personality and the way that you share information.  You are the star of your own world and can capture your audience with a great personality.  This requires you not to be afraid of rejection, so spend some time getting to know yourself “off the Internet” and entwine your personality into your blog and social media presence. 

Ask yourself:

  • What do I stand for?
  • What do I like?
  • How would others describe me?

2. Blogging niches help to develop your voice as a writer.  You have to be very clear what the “message” and the “vision” for your blog is.  Your personality traits will naturally direct you towards the things that you love and do well.  Don’t fight what you are obviously talented at.  Be very detailed with your writing and take your blog from general to more laser-focused content.  If you need help with developing your voice.  Read this post.

3. Tell Your Story! We all have a story.  Your story is the one thing that makes your blog truly unique.  No one shares the same experiences as you..they may be similar but not the same.  Lately, I have been encouraging the students who are taking my INSTAGRAM FOR NEW BLOGGERS course to make sure that they are visually telling their stories online.  A story is powerful, and you can capture your personality through your words and images.  Your writing style and pictures that relate to your content instantly give your blog a personality and charm.

Weave your story into your blog posts:

  • Share moments of enlightenment.  How have you changed or grown?
  • Show people that you are human. Discuss the ups and downs of life as they relate to your subject matter on your blog.
  • Think of yourself as a character in a novel.  What adventures are your experiences can you share that will inject more personality into your blog posts?

Take your blog to the next level by using your personality to stand apart from the crowd.  Leave me a comment or tweet me with your advice on using your personality.  I would love to hear from you!

What Donald Trump Can Teach You About Blogging

Disclaimer: In no way does this post mean that I endorse Donald Trump as a candidate for the United States Presidency…lol

Donald Trump has taken the world by storm with a big personality and rhetoric that makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable, but behind all of the hype and buffoonery, there are a few blogging lessons that I think you can learn from Trump because his leadership skills cannot be denied (whether you like him or not).  Here are a few lessons that I have picked up from the tycoon in the last couple of months that may help catapult your blog into another level.

1# Learn How To Be Self-Sufficient

Although Trump claims that he is 100% funding his own campaign, we all know that isn’t true (he has received a lot of money from donations).  Even with a little help it is clear that he is running his own show.  He has maintained his power by not allowing sponsors to control his image or message.  Now if he would fix that terrible toupee that he wears on his head maybe he could really be a winner, but let me get back the point! This is the same thing that we must do as bloggers.  You cannot be so wrapped up into what is popular or trying to do sponsored posts so much that you don’t even have time to build your own brand or develop a unique voice.  Trump is showing us how freeing it can be to truly have your own empire.  Stop letting outside entities control your blog.

2# Controversy Is Not Always A Bad Thing

I hear a lot of people referring to Trump as stupid, but I think Trump is hardly unintelligent.  He knows exactly what he is doing.  As a celebrity, he has an edge on the media.  He knows how to use the coverage of his campaign to his benefit.  He makes more controversial statements than people ever believed he could make, and the crazy part of all is that he is just getting started.  You should think of your image in the same way.  There are enough perfect cookie cutter blogs in the world, we don’t need another one.  While I don’t advise being offensive or crass, there is no harm in letting your real personality shine to garner a little attention to your blog’s purpose!

3# You Have To Believe That You’re A Winner

“Think Big” is the title of one of Trump’s books, and I can’t think of a single person on this earth besides Kanye that thinks more affectionately of himself.  Trump doesn’t mind proclaiming that he is a winner (while letting you know that you’re a loser).  As a matter of fact, he goes out of his way to let you know that he is very rich and has a high IQ.  Most of all, he believes that he is a winner and is able to effectively reach his goals.  This may not be the strategy that you want to take with your blog if you don’t want extreme backlash, but there is something special about the content that you are offering your readers.  What is it?  You have to be very clear that you are in this game to win!  Get in tune with your gifts, talents, and skills. Don’t be afraid to validate yourself, instead of waiting for other people to do it.

#4 You need Exposure, Exposure, and More Exposure

Trump has masterfully executed his campaign by understanding the importance of being everywhere.  He doesn’t even have to buy real ads like the other candidates because the news media willingly covers his every move.  He knows the more controversy that he creates, the more coverage he will get.  In addition, he is everywhere that is beneficial to his campaign, on the radio, news, and his rallies draw in thousands of spectators.  All of this shows us the importance of understanding how to get your blog noticed by influential people and industry insiders.  The only way your blog will grow is through exposure, there is no other way.  Take some time to develop your own plan.

#5 Entertaining Beats Boring Any Day

While the other candidates are spewing facts and plans for the future of America, Trump is well—entertaining us.  His one liners and shocking quotes are keeping people on the edge of their seats. His personality and presence are really bigger than life.  It seems like people can’t stop talking about Trump these days, and that is exactly what he wants.  If you want to shine you have to make people feel something, whether that be happiness, sadness, or anger.  If you have the ability to stir up emotion in a positive or reflective way do it! Don’t go overboard, but don’t hide who you truly you are because you may be able to attract a bigger audience by showcasing some sort of personality.

Standing Apart From Other Bloggers

I often hear concerns from bloggers on how to stand apart from other other bloggers within their niche.  It can be very difficult getting traffic to your website, but you have to be very diligent and strategic when it comes to capturing the attention of new supporters.

3 Tips To Help You Stand Apart From The Crowd:

  1. Find out what is missing from some of your favorite blogs by analyzing them. The best part of blogging is that we all have unique talents and skills.  Some people do certain things really well, but they may be missing something within their content that your blog can tap into.  The one thing that you have that no one else does is your voice!  No one can execute a blog the same way that you would.  You have to be able to identify what parts of your personality that you can add to your blogging process that will attract readers.  Ask yourself, “What could I be doing better?”  Do you need to improve your titles, content, photography, or concepts?  What gap could you be filling?
  2. Use other forms of media to reach the needs of all your audience.  Everyone doesn’t like to read blogs or they may be tired of seeing the “same old same old” on every single blog.  You can tap into an uninterested audience by connecting with your audience in different ways.  Try making a video, telling a story, or some new creative method to display your information instead of a regular blog post.
  3. Think “bigger”.  Every blogger is trying to build an audience, but what is your blog’s bigger purpose.  In order to stand apart from the sea of other bloggers within your niche you have to understand your purpose for having a blog.  You should have clear goals and a plan that you stick to.  You cannot just drift along mimicking popular bloggers.  You have to create your own lane!  Your message and brand should be very clear to your audience.

I hope these tips will help you to start the thought process of learning how to differentiate your blog from others.  Please feel free to tweet me with your questions.

Don’t forget this is the last week to register for “The Blogging Basics” using the discounted link! If you want to learn how to monetize online as a new blogger, build a community, and create a brand around your blog join us!  Sign up here.

Watch the periscope version of this post here.

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The Ultimate Guide To Sponsored Posts

I get a lot of questions about how sponsored posts work, so I decided it was time for me to give you a complete breakdown of how it works (well as much as I can in one post).  There are lots of ways to monetize your blog, and sponsored blog posts are one of them.  Many companies are collaborating with bloggers in hopes of getting more exposure for their brand.

For you to be able to monetize with sponsored posts you should first develop your blog and your influence online.  Make sure that your blog pictures are of high-quality, avoid having too many ads on your blog, and try to maintain a positive working history with brands.  All of these factors are important when advertisers are deciding if they should work with you.  Brands are more prone to collaborate with bloggers that fit their targeted audience and have a substantial amount of visitors to their blog, so focusing on increasing your blog visitors is important if you want to be able to do sponsored posts.

What is a sponsored post?

A sponsored blog post is a post in which you are paid to review, write, or display an item on your blog.  I do not consider receiving free products as a form of compensation for posting on my blog, but that is a great way to begin to connect with brands in the early stages of your blog.  In some instances advertisers will offer to write the post for you (which I am not in favor of) or you will be sent the products to create a blog post and/or promote on your social media platforms.   With most sponsored posts contracts are involved, and I would not recommend completing work without being paid a deposit or signing a contract.  Contracts make the process much smoother because all guidelines are laid out clearly for both parties.

You are required to indicate after the post that it is a sponsored post. This is the law according to FTC Endorsement Guidelines.  Check out this post that I did on Blog Disclosures and Ethical Practices that discusses how to inform your readers that you use affiliate links or that a post has been sponsored.

How much should bloggers charge for sponsored posts?

Bloggers can charge anywhere from $50 per post up to $2000 and even more. This will depend on a number of factors. Bloggers that fall under Page Rank (P2) which is a system developed by Google to rank websites will charge less followed by P3, P4 and finally P5 blogs which can earn more money from sponsored posts. A blog that falls under P2 can charge about $50-$75 per blog post, but some blogs that fall under Page Rank 5 (P5) can charge as high as $2,000. The rates will also depend on the number of unique visitors a site receives in a month.  If your website has a high number of new people visiting daily (which is now called Users in Google Analytics), you will be in a better position to earn more from sponsored posts.  Make sure that you have installed Google Analytics on your blog so that you can accurately track the amount of visitors to your site daily.

It is also important to consider your target audience when charging for a sponsored post.  If you have a laser-focused niche that is unique, you may be able to leverage a higher fee for your sponsored posts.

The chart below is a standard chart that is used by many bloggers as a tool to figure out what to charge for sponsored posts.  It is not the end all be all, but you can use it as a guide.  You should base your rates on your experience, time, effort, and influence.

 

 Unique  Monthly  Visits

PR 2

PR 3

PR 4

PR 5

 5,000

 $50 –  $100

 $100 – $200

 $200 – $400

 $400 – $600

 10,000

 $100 – $200

 $200 – $400

 $400 – $600

 $600 – $800

 20,000

 $200 – $300

 $300 – $600

 $600 – $800

 $800 – $1,000

30,000

 $300 – $400

 $400 – $800

 $800 – $1,000

 $1,000 – $1,200

 50,000

 $400 – $500

 $500 – $1,000

 $1,000 – $1,200

 $1,200 – $1,500

 

How do I connect with brands to do a sponsored posts

This is not an easy process.  When your blog reaches a certain level brands will automatically start to contact you, but there are a few things that you can do to speed up the process.

  • Try to find the public relations contact info on their website and send a professional email inquiring about collaborating.
  • Use social media to your advantage and connect with brands by retweeting, reposting, and asking questions.
  • Talk about the products you love from the brands that you would like to collaborate with and tag them or send a direct message.
  • Join a blogger network that posts campaigns and opportunities for bloggers to work with brands.

Tips for negotiating  a sponsored post

When negotiating a sponsored post always ensure the negotiation is aimed at promoting fair business. The advertiser should agree for you to state that it is a sponsored blog post on your site to avoid misleading your visitors.

1. Promotion on social media platforms

If you use social media to promote your site, then you should discuss with the brand and agree on whether the sponsored post will appear on your social media platforms or not.

2. Number of posts you will publish 

In order to avoid confusion, be clear on the number of posts which will be written and published on your blog and social media platforms.

3. Check whether the brands you are promoting will be interesting to your readers

Make sure that any sponsored post that you put on your blog fits the demographic and interests of your audience, or you will appear inauthentic.

4. Time you will spend writing the post

You should take into consideration the amount of time it will take to write and photograph the post in your negotiations.

Best practices for sponsored post

1. Start small

If you have never had a sponsored post before, then start by trying to work with smaller companies and boutiques.

2. Set fair rates

Your rates should be based on your reputation, experience and influence.

3. Take payment in advance or make sure that a contract is in place.

This is necessary for you to avoid scammers.

4. Be professional

Always state clear procedures on how you publish posts to your blog. This will make it easy for potential clients to work with you.

5. Insist on quality

Before you publish any sponsored blog post, you should first review it and ensure it has the quality content that your readers would expect from you.

6. Ask for repeat business

After completing a campaign with a brand let them know you would be happy to work with them again and that if there is any opportunity in the future to contact you.

7 . Follow Google guidelines

Google has guidelines on how paid links should work. You should ensure you have followed the guidelines to avoid penalties which will affect your blogging business.  There are some sites with low quality content that are being set up to sell links to websites so that they can rank higher, you should be careful not to fall in the same category.

8. Consider using a blog network or agency

Blogging networks can connect you with brands that you may not ordinarily have access to and will inform you of sponsored posts opportunities that become available.  There are many to choose from, so do a little research.  Agencies are a little different because they take you on as a client and become your advocate. They negotiate the best deals on your behalf and a take a percentage of your earnings (this may be an option if you have an extremely popular blog that gets a lot of traffic).

I hope that you enjoyed this post!  If so, please share this article with other new bloggers who may be struggling figuring out how to charge for sponsored posts.  You can also tweet me with your questions:-)

 

How Saying “No” Can Be Beneficial To Your Blog

When I first started blogging “no” was not an active word in my vocabulary.  If I was offered an opportunity or invited to an event that I thought could be beneficial to my blog I immediately said yes, but I was overworking myself with no real results.  It is important to not overwhelm yourself with the demands of others or to pressure yourself to stay relevant as a blogger.  My love for my blog and my income increased dramatically when I realized how valuable I am to myself and other people.  I don’t have to attend every event or take every item that is being offered to me because I work really hard and it is important for me to do things on my blog that my audience will enjoy and that benefit my brand.

Here are some things that I have learned along the way:

  • Say no to attending events without a purpose.  If I am invited to an event (that I am not being compensated for) I have to weigh the pros and cons. Sure it’s great to take selfies, get a glance at the latest styles, eat great food, and meet influential people, but I had to start analyzing how doing this was truly helping my blog.  So now the question I ask myself before attending any event is, “What will my blog gain from attending this event and will I lose money (maybe through traveling)?”  If the pros don’t outweigh the cons, then I have to decline.
  • Say no to brands if it does not benefit your blog.  When companies request to send me products to blog about (but don’t want to pay) I don’t always say no after explaining my fees because sometimes there are ways to profit from posting on your blog without doing a sponsored post. I also may truly want to try the item or product that is being offered to me.  Either way, the question that I ask myself before I agree to accept anything is, “How will this benefit my audience and my blog?”  Your time is more valuable than money, so be very careful about what you agree to.
  • Say no to not having a voice on your blog.  In one of the blogging niches that I’m apart of, it appears that most people have the same opinion about everything.  We can’t all love the same trends or have the same thought process about style and pop culture.  If you are not careful your individuality can be stripped away as a blogger because everyone knows that blogging is a numbers and popularity game. Don’t box yourself!  Allow your true personality to shine because that is what will make your blog unique and interesting.
  • Say no to fear! If I have a new idea or concept that I want to try on my blog, I do it! I will never allow anyone to control the direction of my blog. I will never blog about something just because it is popular.  I have to enjoy the things that I share on my blog and social media platforms, so don’t let fear eat away at your creativity.

Learning to put myself first has helped me to become a better blogger and to love this part of my life even more.  I am able to focus on projects and events that are truly beneficial and allow me to explore new creative endeavors.  I hope this post helps you to learn to say “no” to certain things because I believe this valuable lesson will bring a lot of opportunities your way that you can finally say “yes” to!

Developing A Plan For Your Blog’s Future

I have been blogging for five years, and about two years ago I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about blogging, so I made a decision to learn everything I could.  One thing that I’ve learned is that I have no interest in blogging on other people’s terms unless it is aligned with my brand, will help my audience, or provides an outlet for me to explore my creativity.  When I first started blogging I loved it, but as time went on my love for blogging seemed to diminish and it became more of a burden. 

It is not an easy thing to grow an audience and there is a lot of work involved, but when I stopped boxing myself I begin to see the light again.  It is important to create a business plan for your blog that will allow you to profit without solely relying on partnerships and collaborations.  My goal is to make sure that most of my blog’s income is from my own business endeavors.  That is really important to me as a blogger.  

Now that I actively blog on my own terms it is not easy, but I have a few tips to share that you may want to think about if you plan to blog on your own terms and not someone else’s. 

1) A Sponsored Post is not blogging on your own terms…lol!

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 10.50.16 AM

Every time a company reaches out to you for a collaboration be ready for a very detailed rundown on what you have to do on your social media and blog to meet the contractual requirements.  This is why I am very selective about the sponsored posts that I do on my blog.  I prefer to use affiliate programs that allow me to purchase the clothing that I love and share it with my audience.  This can be a great way to profit from your blog if you are able to convert your readers into buyers.  I have to really love a product to do a sponsored review or the opportunity has to be so great that I cannot turn it down.

2) Blogging trends only matter if they actually work to get the desired result from your audience.  There are always new trends in every blogging niche, but I have learned to embrace the trends that I love and to march to the beat of my own drum.  It is not easy because every day you are consumed with ideas, images, and thoughts from other people.  The lines can get very blurred, but I actively take the time to assess what content I think my audience will enjoy the most.

3) Trying to be popular is the gateway to failure. Many bloggers associate success with popularity, but when you focus on attaining popularity or trying to get close to popular people, all of you authenticity walks right out of the door.  I try my best to stay true to my core values and I don’t allow fear to stop me from having a true “voice” on my blog and all of my social media platforms.  If my audience expresses something that they would like to see me do, I always consider it (but I refuse to work on any content that I do not love). That is true blogging freedom!

4) Create Your Own Opportunities.

IMG_7255 (1)

I had a deep desire to create an event that would empower women to have high self-esteem, develop personal style, and give tips on how to develop a blog or social media presence.  This is why I created my “Own It” event!  It is a way for me to connect with women and build relationships.  It is my greatest blogging accomplishment to date, and the one that I take the most pride in.  

A lot of blogging experts heavily focus on how to build blog partnerships with major brands as a way to earn or supplement your income.  I enjoy working with brands that I love, but the Internet is a fickle place.  You never know what may happen with this whole “blogging space” in the future, so I think it is essential to view your blog as a gateway to entrepreneurship.  There is only a handful of bloggers that are actually making 6-figures from their blog, so it is essential to identify a service or product that you can offer via your blog.

I hope this post gives you a few things to ponder over if “blogging on your own terms” is as important to you as it is to me.  Please feel free to continue this discussion over on twitter by tweeting me:-)

Do We Need SEO In 2015?

Search engines have constantly changed the SEO over the last couple of years, which have some experts claiming that SEO is dead.  You all know that I mentioned on Periscope that I do not waste a lot of time with SEO because it is difficult and time-consuming to master this strategy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about it at all.  I like to keep my focus on my target audience and if you are trying to build your blog traffic, I highly recommend that you download this free worksheet for a few ideas on how to do that! Let’s talk SEO right now!

It is true that the rules of SEO have changed and are still constantly changing. The drive behind this is not to make it harder for people to get their websites ranked properly or to make SEO harder but rather to get rid of the bad SEO that could otherwise taint the efforts of those that are looking to rightfully earn their place.  Nevertheless, the basics of SEO have still remained the same and you are about to find why SEO is still a great strategy in 2015.

1. Quality content is good but optimized content is even better.

There is no question that your readers love great content that is helpful to them. However, they have to be able to find that content which is where optimization comes in. The aim is for search engines to try and reward high-quality content by making it more findable, which is why it is vital to ensure that you have some keywords to make it more relevant to the search engines and easily find by your readers.

2. It will take time to kick in.

The changes that search engines have made ensure that the process is more rigorous and that only the approved methods that are allowed. It will take more time for your efforts to pay off but eventually, it does work and the best part is that when it does, you will be enjoying them for longer. Some strategies that are worth investing in currently include:

  • Keywords that appear naturally within your content will help to rank you higher.
  • Hard-earned and quality links for your blog are still the way to go. Not only do they allow you to get more traffic but it also allows you to build trust and confidence with your readers.
  • Technical SEO.  This refers to anything that is designed to give search engines easier access to your site. The more compliant you are, the more lenient they are bound to be.
  • You might also want to consider learning more about link attraction.  Most bloggers do this by collaborating with larger websites that can provide linkbacks to their website.

On the other hand, there are certain SEO strategies that may be outdated. This is perhaps because the ease is gone and it takes longer before tangible results can be seen.  Some of these strategies that are a total waste of time and could even get your website banned include:

  • Keyword stuffing and especially when the keyword appears unnaturally and is not related to the content that is on the websites.
  • Buying mass directory links.
  • Spinning of content (republishing the same content to multiple sites).
  • Optimizing purely for the sake of ranking.

If you are not looking to fail in the SEO game, which is something that no blogger wants, these would be strategies to avoid. While they could have worked to a certain degree in the past, they may not work in the current day and time.

3. SEO is based on the interest of your audience.

One of the factors that make SEO a great strategy currently is that it has moved from just being a strategy that website owners can use to be ranked highly to one that is aimed to reward high-quality content and compliant sites with the best ranking so that users can have the best experience.

4. Keywords still apply.

As long as people will use search engines, Keywords will remain to be an integral part of SEO. Without them, it would impossible for internet search engine to give credible results to the searches that are conducted. However, the ways in which the keywords are processed by the search engines nowadays have changed. This is why methods like keyword stuffing have fallen from grace. Nevertheless, the keywords still hold their importance in SEO.

As much as many might claim that SEO is living on borrowed time, it is worth noting that while the descriptions and algorithms could change, the skeleton and basics of SEO have remained the same. How important is SEO to you?