Posts Tagged ‘A-List Blogger Club’

How to Aggravate Top Bloggers So They’ll Never Help You

Posted in Blog on March 6th, 2014 by Carol Tice – 57 Comments

businessman with megaphoneIf you’ve got a blog, you’ve probably wondered how you could get a big blogger to notice and share your posts. That would probably get you a ton of sweet new readers, eh?

The only problem is, every blogger in the world has now figured that out. Which means top bloggers are getting umpty-million reach-outs hourly from newbie bloggers asking for help.

I consider myself the tiniest micro-celebrity possible in the world of blogging, and I can report I am getting dozens of these requests every week. Can’t even imagine how many hits the mega-successful bloggers get!

And if you blow that first interaction with a blogger, you’re probably not going to end up getting their help.

There’s a right way (or three) to connect with big bloggers and enlist their aid in promoting your blog…but if my experience is any indication, most bloggers are getting this wrong. And once you’ve been a pest, it’s unlikely that blogger is ever going to help you out in future.

Let me outline some of the common mistakes new bloggers are making in trying to promote their posts to popular bloggers. Then we’ll talk about how to avoid these blunders:

Make your first contact an ‘ask’

It never ceases to impress me how many bloggers introduce themselves by asking me to do something for them. Basically, it’s “Hello, stranger! Please do me a favor.”

I don’t know how you feel about that, but I think it’s just rude. I mean, would you do that at an in-person networking event, walk up to a stranger and ask them to do stuff for you? I don’t think so.

And you should never do anything on email or in social media you wouldn’t do in person.

Here’s an example of this I recently got on Facebook from a brand-new blogger who proudly announced he’d just finally gotten his blog live. He pointed me to a post he’d written on a similar topic to one of my recent posts, and then concluded with:

To clear up any confusion, I am not part of your PR team. I don’t plug anything for anybody (not for free, anyway). I don’t share other peoples’ posts because they ask me to.

I share posts because I think they have great, fresh, useful information we haven’t already seen 100 times before elsewhere, and I think my social-media audience would benefit from reading it. Period.

My sense from talking to my own blogging mentors is that other big bloggers do the same.

Be a total stranger with a blog mess

Vast majority of the time, if I do go check out the post I’ve been asked to flog, I don’t see any new information.

I see a lot of long, rambling screeds about the writer and their life, sloppy blog post that aren’t scannable, recycled ideas, and cluttered sites where the font is tiny and I can’t even make myself read through to the end. To be brutally honest.

If you’re going to take the time to connect with big bloggers, first make sure your blog post is ready for prime time.

Propose to do me a ‘favor’

When you’re gushing about how you’re a big fan and regular follower of a top blogger, it’s usually good if you know something about how they operate.

The blogger above followed up with an offer to ‘help you out’ by writing me a free guest post — thereby revealing he doesn’t know I pay for guest posts that go through a rigorous and time-consuming editorial process.

And only take high-quality, useful-info-packed, success-story type guest posts, not free posts from nakedly link-seeking people.

Also, I think we all know who this ‘favor’ really benefits, and it’s not me.

Expect quid pro quo

I recently got a tweet that said roughly this:

“I tweeted your post today — and now you should tweet that my new blog launched [LINK].”

Thing to know: Most blog-based business owners got out of the rat race because they don’t like having a boss and being told what to do. That goes double for being told what to do by people we don’t even know.

The fact that you’ve shared my post doesn’t entitle you to anything. You should share it if it was useful to you and your social-media followers, and I’m thrilled you did share it. But there is no automatic share-back obligation.

As I said above, I’ll share it if it’s awesome content my social-media peeps would enjoy…and if you don’t order me to do so. Really rankles.

Ask a random question

As I’ve noted before, many writers have decided that rather than begging for a retweet of their own post, their ticket to A-List bloggers sharing their post is to survey them via email and do a roundup post the blogger will be included in.

If you’re going to go the survey-compilation route, at least avoid peppering me with 10-15 questions I’m supposed to type answers to on email, and ask a single question tailor-made to intrigue me — some pet topic I’ve just got to weigh in on.

More often, I get a random question (or 10) that I can’t relate to.

For instance, recently I got this one:

“What is your best tip for content marketers?”

The thing is, I don’t consider myself one.

I don’t relate to the word “content.” I write articles. I think of myself as publishing an online magazine for freelance writers.

Search my blog for the phrase “content marketer” and you wouldn’t find it twice in the 600+ posts on here. I don’t have a category tag for “content marketing.”

I just couldn’t think of what to say about this question, so I passed.

Ask rude personal questions

Do you know anyone who enjoys being asked personal questions by people they don’t really know? Me neither.

Recently, I got an email asking me to disclose how many people had registered for one of my courses. How this information is even useful for another blogger is beyond me.

But hey, thanks for being nosy! I totally want to hang out with you now.

I’ve also gotten requests to share how much money my blog makes, post my tax form, explain my profit margins…you name it.

I feel like I’ve been pretty forthcoming in what I earned as a freelancer and how this blog makes money. If I’m going to share financial stuff, it won’t be privately to one stranger, but publicly for all my blog readers. So why do you ask?

Send me an email to ask for a tweet

This is one I get more and more now, and I just don’t get it.

Bloggers email me to say, “Wanted you to know, I just posted this new blog post [HEADLINE]. I’d appreciate any tweets or other social media shares!”

Now I have to

  1. click that headline in my email
  2. go over to the post (if the link’s not broken)
  3. read it (if I have time)
  4. decide if it’s awesome (usually not)
  5. hunt for social-media buttons (which are often hidden or missing)
  6. if we get to the end of this whole rainbow, maybe share it.

If you want a tweet, target your headline to me on Twitter, like this: “@TiceWrites – Your readers might enjoy [headline]: [LINK].”

If that headline’s amazing, I might just retweet it on that basis alone. I know this targeting process works because I’ve done it myself. When done right, the result looks like this:

Give me a short deadline

Big thing to know about successful bloggers — we are busy at a level the rest of the world probably can’t even imagine.

Like, wish I had more time to do fun things like pee or wash my hair kind of busy.

So when you send me an interview request and tell me we’d need to talk in the next 48 hours — as one blogger asked me earlier this week — it’s an automatic ‘no.’

How to connect

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to annoy top bloggers and fail to get their help promoting your blog.

But despite the increased popularity of targeting top bloggers and asking for assistance, it’s not impossible to get top bloggers to share your stuff. It’s actually simple.

I end up sharing posts by people I’ve gotten to know, at least a little. I have a sense that the quality of what they write is good, and that even if I don’t have time to fully read the post right now, I can trust that my folks will find their post useful.

These are people I follow myself, or they’ve commented on my blog, or been part of my Link Parties. (Many a commenter here who uses my CommentLuv tool has discovered me sharing out their linked post, if it’s awesome.)

I’ve seen them sharing and commenting on my Twitter or Facebook posts, or we’ve talked in a LinkedIn group. I have some context for that person and a sense that they at least know what I do, if not me.

And when I go to their post, it’s something fascinating, fresh, and relevant to my audience. I share that every time.

How have you connected with other bloggers? Share your success tips on the comments.

P.S. - Need to learn how to make your blog a money-earner — fast? Join me as I host A-List Blogger Club’s Mary Jaksch next Wednesday for a free live Webinar: The Fast Track to Turning Your Blog Into a Cash Machine.

 

PPS – check out this post on a Link Party!…

The Ultimate Linky

How One Blogger Stopped Sucking at Affiliate Sales

Posted in Blog on September 2nd, 2011 by Carol Tice – 19 Comments

About two years ago, I spun off this blog from my writer site. I did it in large part because I thought Make a Living Writing had real money-earning potential.

I was planning to write an e-book…but in the meanwhile, I thought I could sell some other people’s products.

I’d never sold anything to anyone in my life prior to this. But I had a plan.

“I know,” I thought. “I could sell some books about writing on one of those Amazon carts!”

That was about all I knew about affiliate selling…getting an Amazon cart.

So I tried that. To date, I think I still haven’t hit $100 and triggered a payment.

Eventually, I took the Amazon cart down.

Clearly, there was more to being a successful affiliate seller that I hadn’t figured out yet.

I eventually figured out how affiliate selling really works, when I joined A-List Blogger Club. I got some tips in there on how to do affiliate selling that not only works, but doesn’t feel sleazy or obnoxious.

These days, I make a nice side income from affiliate sales. I’ve been told I’m a top seller for more than one of my products.

What turned it around for me? Here’s my guide to affiliate-sales success:

Get 1,000 subscribers. It’s unlikely you’ll have enough traffic to sell much below this level of readership. If you’ve got 20 subscribers and ads plastered all over, take them down. They’re probably driving people away.

Find out what your readers need. The first step on the road to affiliate cash is listening to your readers. What are their problems? Take polls or surveys, ask open questions on your blog posts that drive a lot of comments. I’ve even offered freebies in return for readers’ opinions. Without this knowledge, you’re not going to be able to sell anything, and your sales pitches will annoy people and make them unsubscribe. 

Get closer to readers. If possible, hold live events where you can talk live with readers, either in person or online. At one Webinar I put on, for instance, I made a very interesting discovery: While I thought most freelance writers have their own website up, in fact that’s not true. I’ve found about 75 percent of my readers don’t yet have a website or blog. In general, many had very nascent freelance-writing businesses. I also got that many freelance writers have small budgets for investing in their business — so selling some $800 marketing course wasn’t going to work.

Find out what they plan to buy. When you know readers’ needs, then you sell them things they are likely going to need and will probably buy in any case. My new-writer readers, I realized, need quite a few things to get their business going: Web hosting, accounting software, a payment cart, email marketing help, and a lot of information and support.

Watch out for junk products. The potential pitfall here: A lot of products you find online are stupid, crappy ripoffs. So how do you select the right products to try to sell to you readers? I had a major insight: I didn’t want to just go on ClickBank or somewhere, grab whatever I saw that was vaguely related to freelance writing, and slap it on here. I had a gut instinct that would be a mistake, and could put the credibility of my whole site at risk.

Test out products and services. I started thinking about the products I was using to make my freelance writing business successful — products I already knew were great. I started to recommend them, beginning with A-List. I tried it out, thought the resources and support were amazing, and quickly began making far more than my membership dues in affiliate sales.

For me, selling monthly membership products where you get paid every month your referrals stay in is the bomb — Which is why I now offer the same deal to affiliates who sell my Freelance Writers Den community.

I also discovered that the National Association of Independent Writers & Editors (NAIWE) offered a free, hosted WordPress blog site with their $99 memberships. I joined, checked it out, and thought their offering was a great, one-stop, affordable solution for my readers who don’t yet have a blog and are boggled by how to get started — plus, your blog posts get promoted by NAIWE on its site and on Twitter, so it’s a marketing bargain, too. What a cheap, plug-and-play way to stop wondering how to do blogging, and get your writing portfolio out there, today.

Recommend your favorite products. Once you’ve identified the right items to sell, it’s time to share your enthusiasm for them with readers. My best strategy has been to do blog posts about my experiences with a product or service. That’s what I did with A-List, writing about how the community helped me improve my blog’s design, among other things. Show your readers exactly how you benefited from the product, and they get it right away. Live events are great for discussing products you recommend, too.

How to tell you’re selling the right stuff. I found that when I talked about products I personally use and love, I didn’t feel like I needed to take a shower afterwards. It felt perfectly natural. For instance, I learned many readers are on free blog hosting such as Blogger and will probably want to switch to paid hosting at some point. They’ll need a good web host with great support staff, and after some trial and error, I have one I can recommend — KnownHost. It’s more like you’re helping readers out with your recommendation, and less like you’re forcing something on them.

Find better-paying programs. While Amazon gives you a pittance on each book you sell (“it’s failtastic,” as one blogger described it to me), reaching out directly to authors and publishing houses can get you commissions of 30 percent or better. Finally, I began making some actual coin on books writers bought through my site.

Find free-to-pay offers. One of the offer types I like best is selling products or services that start out free. One I sell here is email-marketing service Mailchimp (free to the first 2,000 subscribers). I think of these as no-harm-no-foul — your readers can try them out and if they don’t like them, they leave, having spent nothing. If they like it and it helps make their business grow, you end up profiting. Win-win doesn’t getting any more winning than that.

Create a Products I Love page. I soon realized I didn’t want dozens of ads cluttering up my sidebar. Also, blog posts you write about your affiliate products soon disappear in your blogroll. So I grouped my affiliate recommendations on a Products I Love page. I’m happy to have a chance to thank Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens for showing me this approach. Not only does this keep ads from junking up my home page too much, it allows me to link to that page and leave one affiliate-sales disclosure (required by FCC law) over there, which is more elegant than having to mention it in each blog post where you talk about a product you affiliate sell.

Keep updating. As your blog and business evolves, your readers may have different needs. Review your affiliate products and services regularly to see if it’s time to add or drop products. Personally, I recently got more organized about tracking invoices and payments and got Freshbooks, which is affordable and super-easy to use — and which is free for the first few clients you track. I immediately realized this would be useful to lots of other writers who need to get better organized financially, so it got added to my affiliate services list.

What’s your experience with affiliate sales? Leave a comment and tell us what’s worked — or not — for you.

How One Blogger Learned to Stop Crying and Love Technology

Posted in Blog on April 13th, 2011 by Carol Tice – 30 Comments

I can remember when all I needed to know as a writer was how to write — and maybe find the ‘start’ button on my computer and launch Microsoft Word.

Life as a 21st Century writer is different, hmmm?

Among the programs I’ve learned to use — or tried to figure out — in the past couple years as I started blogging are WordPress, Moveable Type, Blogger, about three other custom-made corporate blog platforms, DreamHost, Audacity, TextWrangler, Camtasia, Scribe, Screenflow, PowerPoint, Freshbooks, Freebinar, GoToWebinar, GVO Conference, Picnik, CyberDuck…not to mention countless plug-ins for WordPress I needed to figure out how to configure, and of course basic HTML coding.

Did I mention technology makes me cry?

I’m not speaking figuratively here. My pathetic wails can be heard throughout the house as I desperately try to, say, get Mailchimp to hook up to e-junkie. Or get an mpeg-4 to embed on a WordPress page.

You name it in technology, and I’m not very good at it. It doesn’t come naturally to me. At all.

But I just keep on slogging my way through technology. Next up: Wishlist Member and iDev, so I can run a functional affiliate program and a membership community.

I know many other writers are frustrated with the technology we have to use. Some day I’m sure some brilliant technologist will make it all effortlessly talk to each other and make it easy to understand for lay people, but until then we just have to keep wrestling with it.

My rules for dealing with technology:

  • Don’t let it stop you. If you need a technology to enable your writing career, make up your mind that nothing is going to keep you from figuring out how it works. Attitude is important here.
  • Don’t spend a lot. Any time you’re thinking about paying for an expensive technology, keeping looking. There’s probably a free or moderately priced one available that’ll do the job.
  • Hire a teen. They’re cheap and know a lot. I got one from my high school’s digital design class who worked out for about 18 months, and I spent a big $120 or so in all.
  • Take a class. If you’ve been holding back on blogging because you feel overwhelmed by WordPress, classes seem pretty plentiful — find one through a networking group or your local community college.
  • Hire a pro if you really need to. I just did a $100 consulting hour with a video specialist to figure out the best solution for recording, storing, and managing my Webinar files. Sometimes, if it’ll save days of agony, it’s worth it to get some expert advice to cut to the chase. I currently use my webmaster David Hogg for the tricky stuff I haven’t mastered yet such as hiding landing pages from WordPress’s navigation, and giving my writer site a complete overhaul.
  • Learn to do as much of it yourself as you can. It really saves a bundle. When you hire someone to do something, make them teach you what they did at the end.
  • Be prepared for setbacks. I personally had one yesterday, and it really sucked. But we’ll get it sorted.
  • Know that for writers today, technology is power. The more types of technology you understand, the more types of online writing gigs you can go after. Also, it’s a real high when you finally get it. Recently, I gained the ability to pop an audio recording or screencast onto a web page and make it show up in a little recording-player thingy, with a “play” button and everything. Win! It’s a terrific feeling when you can press a button or enter a string of text and make something amazing happen on your blog, instantly.
  • Join a community where you can get low-cost, ongoing help. I wouldn’t have been able to figure out half this stuff — or it would have taken years longer — without picking myself up, drying my tears, and heading off to the forums on A-List Blogger Club to ask for advice. There are also video trainings inside the club on some of the technologies that are lifesavers. I was really lost on the best way to work with audio and video files, until I checked out the A-List materials in their “Create Courses That Sell” module. What do you know — step-by-step instructions from Mary Jaksch on how to export out of Audacity, and how to use Camtasia. The technical advice I’ve been able to get inside A-List has been a lifesaver for me, over and over.

What technology do you rely on as a writer, and how easy did you find it to learn? Leave a comment and tell us about your technology challenges.

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Photo: Stock.xchng – mokra

10 Amazing Women Bloggers and How I Found Them

Posted in Blog on January 11th, 2011 by Carol Tice – 57 Comments

For today’s installment of guest-posting week, I want to talk about some of the benefits of posting that are a bit intangible, but very real. For me, these fringe benefit can be a good reason to guest post. Guesters can give your freelance writing career — or your quest to be a big-earning blogger — a major boost.

Many writers resist guest posting because it takes a lot of time and has an uncertain payoff. But I don’t think of guesting purely as something where I’m hoping for immediate monetizing.

Instead, think of it another way — as a great way to create relationships with influential new friends who might help you improve your blog.

The best way to get a guest post in my experience is to get noticed and asked. You get to know people, they get to know and like your work, and then they ask if you want to guest for them.

How can you connect with wonderful bloggers and skyrocket your own blogging career? Some ways that have worked for me include:

  • Social media (for me mostly LinkedIn and Twitter)
  • LinkedIn writer forums such as LinkedIn Editors & Writers and Writer’s Mafia
  • A-List Blogger Club

I haven’t talked much about A-List in a while, so here’s an update on how the social aspect of the club Club is helping me. I’ve already written about technical stuff I learned in A-List that helped make my blog more enticing. But there’s more to A-List than just an archive of courses from the club founders that you can read and listen to and watch.

Hanging out in A-List’s private forums exposed me to a whole world of fantastic bloggers I had never heard of before. Recently, they all seem to be women — maybe just who I’m gravitating to right now. I don’t think I would have known any of them otherwise.

If you want to have a great blog — especially one that makes money — here’s a piece of no-brainer advice: Read a lot of great blogs.

Not just one or two. Get inspired! See the different writing styles and approaches bloggers are using.

Personally, I’m so focused on writing-writing-writing all the time. It’s been transformative for me to read bloggers who’re writing about something else — minimalism, the quest for happiness, sexuality, cooking. It opens up my world and makes me think of new ways to approach my own topics.

One easy way to find other wonderful bloggers, I’ve discovered, is to circulate in a community where everyone is really serious about their blog. One where they’ve paid an admission fee to learn more about blogging. It was a revelation to me when I joined to discover how interesting everybody in A-List is, and how much I could learn one-on-one from the members — they’re all over the world, blogging about many different things, and some of their blogs are just amazing.

The schmooze factor

Reaching out to a popular blogger you’re on a list or in a club with often gets a response. It’s a great way to meet bloggers you might guest for — and guesting for smaller sites is a great way to get in training for scoring high-profile guest posts.

I’ve ended up speaking live and forming friendships with writers I’ve met through A-List. You grow your support network, find possible places to guest post, and start getting useful, free suggestions on how to improve your blog.

So when you consider guest posting, think about the whole package of what guesting can bring you. You’re forging a stronger link with another blogger and helping each other succeed. It feels a lot less lonely, and my experience is you get where you want to go with your blog at lightspeed instead of snail-speed.

Given what I’ve recently learned about how much fear cripples many writers who’re trying to make it as freelancers, I think the power of finding camaraderie with other quality bloggers can’t be underestimated. Feeling that support can make a huge difference in the course of your whole career.

10 Great Women Bloggers I’ve Recently Discovered

To give you an idea of what I mean, here are 10 fantastic women bloggers I’ve discovered recently, mostly through A-List. Most of these blogs are written by A-List members or were recommended to me by A-Listers. A few came from other people in my social networks.

Cat’s Eye Writer — I had a longtime writer friend recommend fellow Seattle writer Judy Dunn’s site to me shortly before we became Top 10 Blogs for Writers winners together. I felt savvy for having already discovered her very practical, grounded advice site for freelance writers.

The Daily Brainstorm — This site is a collaborative, spinoff project from A-List, and A-Listers Barrie Davenport and Katie Tallo are at the helm (A-List co-founder Mary Jaksch is one of the founders here, too). The Brainstorm’s new free report for subscribers, 23 Ways to Rock Your Mind, gives you a taste of the quality inspirational material they crank out on topics from personal growth to food, money, and shopping.

The Happiness Project — You may know that,  as author Dennis Prager put it, happiness is a serious problem. We live longer than ever, have a better quality of life than any generation previous, and yet so often, we’re miserable. Gretchen Rubin’s great site builds on her book of the same name, providing inspiration for accentuating the positive each day.

HoboMama – Lauren Wayne’s natural-parenting blog has a strong sense of voice I find refreshing. My kids are too old for me to carry them around in a sling anymore, and some of them came from foster care too late for that anyway. But there’s something about her style that makes me want to start all over and hand-grind my own baby food and all. I did breastfeed one adopted baby (yes you can!), so I’m hoping I get some points for that. She’s not actually a hobo…I think.

Hyperbole and a Half — I have absolutely no visual skills, so I’m always in awe of people who can tell a compelling story in pictures. I’m also easily impressed by people who can write funny on a regular basis. Blogger Allie (who describes herself as “heroic, alert, caring and flammable”) does both, telling stories of her childhood in a winning, bare-bones cartoon style . I gather she recently got a book deal off her blog, and well-deserved, I say. I challenge you to read this post about eating a whole cake without busting up.

The ParmFarm — Amy Parmenter is one of the first bloggers I noticed on A-List. Her helpfulness on A-List drew me to check out her blog, which is an uplifting place to hang out. As her tagline says, “Stop by. Grow.”

Pioneer Woman — If you want to see how to make your personal blog pay, this is a nice example. Ree is a self-described desperate housewife who did a Green Acres out of city life to live with hubby on a farm, and chronicles her adventures in country living on the blog. She also loves to cook, and sells her photography and cookbooks on the site. Her tagline (“Plowing through the country one calf nut at a time”) gives you an immediate sense of her frank, funny attitude. A fresh look at a way of life that few Americans pursue anymore…served up with a side order of tasty-lookin’ vittles!

Rowdy Kittens – Though the name wouldn’t tell you, A-List member Tammy Strobel’s blog is about simple living — her ebooks are Smalltopia and Simply Car-Free. I came to her blog originally after seeing her case study on A-List about how she earns affiliate commissions through her Products I Love page (a strategy I adored and immediately adopted). But I stayed for the interesting, inspirational posts on how we can make do with less, save more money, work less, and spend more time enjoying the simple beauty of life on Earth.

Toy With Me – Warning: This site is not G-rated. But if you’re looking for a frank, pro-woman look at modern sexuality that will make you laugh until pee dribbles down your leg, take a peek at this blog. Another great blog to look at for monetizing — blogger Crissy The Queen of Everything (as she prefers to be known) sells vibrators. Proudly. I could never pull this kind of tone off in a million years, and my husband would divorce me if I wrote about our sex life this way, but she doesn’t just make it work — she makes it rock. Read How My Hair Caught on Fire During Sex without laughing, I dare you.

Virgin Blogger Notes – This blog was started by Jean Sarauer, who was in the process of departing A-List to write a novel as I was arriving last fall. But good news — her blog was snapped up by A-List co-founder Mary Jaksch. Now it’s serving as an unofficial guest-posting training ground for A-Listers who’re hoping to guest for bigger sites, including Mary’s Write to Done or A-List co-founder Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits. If you’re baffled by blogging, this is a great place to hang out.

Next up on guest-posting week: I evaluate two social-media bigwigs’ opinions on whether guest-posting is the ticket to instant riches or a total waste of time. Subscribe and you won’t miss it.

What little-known yet awesome bloggers do you read for inspiration? Leave a comment and let us know who they are and how you found them.

Photo via stock.xchng user thesaint