Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield

When I say the word “blogging,” what’s the first emotion you feel?

If you’re like many entrepreneurs, it’s probably stress, mixed with a little bit of guilt.

Even if you truly love writing, keeping up a blog for your business can be one of the hardest things to get done…if you even get it done at all. Your business might be running full steam ahead, but your blog is lagging months behind!

Today’s episode is all about getting your blog back in gear, minus the stress. I’m talking to one of my favorite people in the online marketing world, Darren Rowse, the founder of ProBlogger.net and one of the first people to recognize the potential of blogging for entrepreneurs.

He’s going to walk us through the bare necessities of blogging, and show you how to streamline your process so that you gain traffic, convert leads and build community with every post you write.

Despite having written an encyclopedia's worth of information about blogging over the past few years, Darren is no stranger to the stress around blogging:

“It’s pretty easy to get to a stage where your blog is running you instead of you running your blog.”

So why keep blogging at all?

Simple—your blog is the cornerstone of your branding foundation. It's the best way to get your name out there, and to help people get to know you.

Just ask Darren:

“I have discovered over the years that when I go to a conference people come up to me and hug me and say, 'I love you!' I always wonder why because I have no idea who they are. But it’s the regular contact, the personal aspect of blogging, that really helps people to like you. Then over time they come to trust you.”

Darren says the key to writing an effective blog post is to focus on one of these three aspects--knowing, liking, and trusting--in each post that you write.

And he points out a few simple ways to get it done:

Helping people know you

Highly shareable content that gets your name out there where people haven’t heard of you yet. This could be humorous imagery, inspiring quotations or informative infographics.

Helping people like you

Personal stories, motivational content, anything that inspires empathy, emotion and a sense of belonging. This is also a great category to embed photos, audio or videos that helps you connect on a face-to-face level.

Helping people trust you

How-to guides, case studies, even sharing mistakes you made in the past and what you learned from them. This is where you show readers that you know what you’re talking about.

EPISODE FREEBIE

Get the Free Download: "How To Boost Your Blog's Business Potential: ProBlogger's Top Ten Tips To Growing Your Email List and Selling More Online"

FREE DOWNLOAD

Reinvent the SWOT Test

Would you believe that when Darren started ProBlogger, he’d only been an actual pro blogger for less than a year? With so little experience under his belt, he was fearful of being called out for not being a seasoned expert. (I’m sure we can all relate to that!)

But rather than let his inexperience hold him back, Darren used this “weakness” to his advantage. He was transparent in his posts about aspects of blogging that he didn’t understand yet or was just learning about.

As it turned out, the transparency was a big hit with his audience, and earned him even more followers.

“To position myself as someone who was on the journey, maybe a few steps ahead of you but I still haven’t gotten it all together, really resonated well with my audience.”

Once you’ve run a SWOT test (strengths/weaknesses/opportunities/threats) on your blog, go back and reconsider the weaknesses and threats you found. They can actually be the ideal ways to differentiate yourself in your field. So many people out there position themselves as bulletproof experts, that your audience may find your “inexperience” very refreshing.

Become a Title Master

Darren leaves no uncertainty about the importance of titles:

"The title of your post changes the destiny of your post. …can be the difference between somebody reading it and sharing it and it just sitting in the archives and never being read again."

The simple fact is that people make decisions whether to read your blog post (or not) based on its title!

Lucky for us, Darren offered a few tips on creating irresistible titles, with examples pulled straight from some of his own top posts:

  • Communicate a benefit. “How to Take Sharp Images”
  • Ask or answer a question. “What the Numbers on Your Lens Mean”
  • Creating curiosity or intrigue. “Three Lenses Every Photographer Should Own”
  • Spark controversy or debate. “Nikon Versus Canon”
  • Get personal. “Are You Making These Blogging Mistakes?”
  • Use one powerful word. "Six Stunning Secrets to Help You Break Through Bloggers Block"
  • Make a big claim or promise. “21 Techniques All Camera Owners Should Know”

How to Find Readers (Without Google’s Help)

The constant changes in how Google ranking works mean that SEO tags and hyperlinks don’t work as well anymore for getting your blog to show up in a keyword search.

According to Darren, that doesn’t matter as much as knowing who you’re trying to reach with your blog, and showing up where those readers hang out online.

"I am a big believer in adding readers one by one. I don’t think you need to be attracting thousands of readers everyday to your blog. For me it’s really about building a presence in the places that my potential readers are and being useful in those places."

Try watching on Twitter for people who use your keywords and respond to them. Be helpful in forums. Join Facebook groups that are on your particular topic and add value to the conversation. What you’re looking for is the opportunity to bring a new reader on who will love your blog and bring their whole network along with them.

 

EPISODE FREEBIE

Get the Free Download: "How To Boost Your Blog's Business Potential: ProBlogger's Top Ten Tips To Growing Your Email List and Selling More Online"

FREE DOWNLOAD

Direct download: Online_Marketing_Made_Easy_Podcast_Episode_69.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm PST

A lot of you have asked me if it's a good idea for you to start planning live events. You see the entrepreneurs you admire staging weekend retreats where they get up and set their audience on fire with excitement, education and motivation. Maybe you've even been to one and thought "Hey, I could do that!"

The short answer is Yes! I started planning and participating in live events very early in my business, and while my inexperience made it a little terrifying at first, I couldn't deny the powerful boost it gave me--not just in terms of leads, but also in terms of confidence.

That's why I invited Rich Brooks to join me on the show today. Rich is a small business owner who just happens to be an event-planning powerhouse. I asked Rich to let me pick his brain for the fundamentals of planning a successful live event.

The Who and the Why

If you've ever attended Rich's amazing Agents of Change conference in Portland, Maine, it may surprise you to learn that his live event track record began with a simple lunch meeting.

The purpose of a live event isn't to wow everyone with your multimedia presentations and dynamic speeches. Those are great bells and whistles to add as you gain experience, but the real heart of a live event is to do four things:

  • Get your name out there and establish your credibility
  • Differentiate yourself from competitors
  • Generate leads for business
  • Turn a profit

The more you work on your online marketing, the more you start to notice how crowded it is out there. It's getting harder and harder to get noticed in people's social media feed, no matter how valuable your content is. So why not get the edge on your competitors and take your message directly to your audience, face to face?

Yes, it takes more time and effort to plan an event than to post something on Facebook. But, Rich says,

"A live event could be that thing that really separates you and raises you above all of the other people out there in your industry. If you are looking to kind of change up the way you engage with people, a live event may be the perfect thing for you."

EPISODE FREEBIE

Get the "7 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Live Event"

FREE DOWNLOAD

3 Phases of a Live Event: Speakers, Sponsors and Seats

Rich says that all live event planning boils down to these three phases.

  • Speakers - Getting people to offer valuable content for your audience
  • Sponsors - Getting people to contribute to your audience's experience
  • Seats - Getting people to show up in your audience

First Things First - Who Is This For?

Before you start worrying about getting people to show up (we'll talk about that later), spend some time thinking about who you want to show up. The key thing here is quality over quantity. Here's what Rich has to say about it:

"The #1 is that you are putting on an event for people. Who is this audience? What do they look like? Who is your avatar? What kind of information do they want to consume? What are they looking to accomplish? What are they looking to do?"

As in all other forms of marketing, you need to narrow in on your ideal audience member, and design the perfect event for them. I know it's counterintuitive, but being super specific will actually help you attract more people.

Once you know who you're planning this event for, you'll have a firm foundation to build on with the three phases.

Phase 1: Speakers

There are three main ways of attracting speakers to help lead your event:

  • Get them to do it for free as a way to gain visibility.
  • Pay them.
  • Have them pay you.

If that last item made you do a double-take, considering that many potential sponsors are eager to be seen as thought leaders, and would love the chance to get up and present to your audience. (Too many of these type of speakers can kill an event, though, so limit it to one or two sponsors whose product or service would truly benefit your ideal audience.)

Obviously, if there's an ideal speaker that you can afford to pay, then do it!

But it's actually much easier than you might think to attract quality presenters to your event for free. Call on people you have an existing relationship with. Ask colleagues to recommend good candidates...then get them to introduce you! Look around for people who have just published a book, started a podcast, have something they're trying to promote.

Yes, it can be intimidating to reach out to people--even a natural networker like Rich isn't always entirely comfortable with this part of the planning process. But it never hurts to ask...or even nag a little! You'll often be surprised at who says yes.

Hear more of Rich's stories about scoring great speakers for live events. Click here to listen to the full episode.

Phase 2: Sponsors

The idea with sponsors is, of course, bringing in some money from your event. Enough, at least, so that you don't lose money. They can underwrite some of the costs of putting on the event, provide technology services, even supply coffee, snacks and meals for attendees. (This turns out to be one of the most expensive aspects of planning an event, Rich says).

The key to looping sponsors into your event is taking a "barter" approach. Think of it as them trading sponsorship for something your event can offer them.

For example, Rich approached the local news station where he often appears as the "Tech Guy" and told them he was having a panel of people from Maine appear during his conference. This was a perfect tie-in with the station's brand, and they agreed to sponsor the event.

Bottom line: give some thought to how your sponsors will benefit from association with your event, and you'll make it a whole lot easier for them to say "yes."

Click here to download this week's free giveaway.

EPISODE FREEBIE

Get the "7 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Live Event"

FREE DOWNLOAD

Phase 3: Seats

This one is the biggie--"How am I going to sell tickets?"

It's also the number one fear that keeps people from planning a live event--"What if nobody shows up?"

This is where your list comes in handy! Rich says that with every event, his team tries new tactics for reaching people, and every year finds that his opt-in lists have the best yield.

"I discovered over the years that nothing sells tickets like email. It really does make a difference."

Two more things to keep in mind:

  • People really like attending live events. They want something to get excited about with other people--by planning a live event, you're offering something they truly want.
  • There is nothing wrong with an event that has 12 people as long as it is the right 12 people and they are paying enough money to cover the expenses of your event.

Find out more ways to fill the seats at your live event! Listen to the full episode here.

...And Just One Two More Things

What do I charge?

You may struggle with charging money for your event, especially if it's your first one. When the purpose of the event is to generate leads for your business, it can feel a little wrong to ask for money on top of that.

But Rich says charging for your event is an important part of everyone getting value out of it, including the attendees.

"I found that if you have a free event people will be excited about it and then they don’t show. They don’t have any skin in the game. ... You have to charge something so people understand that there is a value to what they are getting."

How much should I promote?

In the excitement around planning your first event, it's easy to just bombard social media with reminders that it's happening and people should come. But it's important to carefully craft a sales message around your event, so that people don't get sick of hearing about it! For example, Rich will post a "10 Fun Things to Do in Portland, Maine" article on his blog, and end it with a simple pitch for his event.

Try to time your more obvious promotions around FOMO-inducing moments in the sales process. Announcing Early Bird discounts, One Day Only specials, "Seats Are Rapidly Selling Out!" messages, etc. are perfect opportunities to jog people's memories that they want to attend.

Direct download: Online_Marketing_Made_Easy_Podcast_Episode-68.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:19am PST

Do you ever find yourself in the middle of a challenge with your business and wondering,

“How did I get here…again?!

Nothing feels worse than the suspicion that you’ve been spinning your wheels for the past month. (Or quarter. Or year.) The last thing we want is to get caught in a downward spiral, where we never get to overcome our struggles and rise past a certain level.

But what if that spiral was actually going up, not down?

I spoke with Nathalie Lussier, world-class digital strategist and email building expert, about this problem that confronts all of us: how to understand the recurring patterns in our business.

Not only does she give some sage advice on how to deal with these patterns, but she shows how embracing them can actually help you build your business by narrowing your niche.

We usually think of business strategy as being a line between Point A and Point B…and measure our success by how straight that line is.

But in real life, Nathalie says, the path is more like a spiral staircase. As we make our way up to the next level, we revisit the same issues, challenges and themes over and over again. 

When you come up against circumstances that make you think “How did I get here again?”, flip the way you’re looking at them. Even if it’s the same issue, you’re in a different place with it than you were six months (or even six weeks) ago.

What’s more, each time you revisit that same situation, you learn something a new and deeper lesson about it, which you can then pass on to your target audience. They’re all climbing spiral staircases of their own, and they need your story to help them keep going.

EPISODE FREEBIE

Click Here to Get Nathalie's "Spiral Staircase Exercise"

FREE DOWNLOAD

Three Things that Define Your Niche

Whether you say “nitch,” or pronounce it “neesh” like Nathalie (who is French),  you already know that digging deep into your niche is a cornerstone of your business’ success.

According to Nathalie, your niche is the sum of three things:

  • Your topic
  • Your story
  • Your audience

Each time you make another look on the spiral staircase, you go deeper into each aspect of your niche. Here’s how:

  • Your topic - Each “spiral” builds new expertise that narrows the focus of your business. It takes you from a broad category (“I help people achieve better health”) into a very specific component of that category (“I offer natural healing methods that cure migraines in ten seconds or less”).

  • Your story - Each “spiral” is a new chapter in your story, which creates new opportunities for connection with your audience.

  • Your audience - Each “spiral” lets you understand more about your own challenges and develops new strengths to overcome those challenges. As a result, you have renewed insight into who needs you the most.

Narrowing Your Niche Helps You Build Your Audience

It’s easy to assume that it’s better to go bigger in the beginning stages of your business, to collect as many people in your audience as possible, and then narrow your niche once you’ve got a solid email list going.

In fact, Nathalie recommends just the opposite: Go narrow in the beginning. Establish yourself as an authority in one very specific area, build a small but mighty email list, then unfold into new products and new ideas when you’ve built the relationship with those clients.

“[When] people already know you as an expert in one thing, it’s easier to add expertise in other topics."

Narrowing Your Niche Helps You Say “No”

Narrowing your niche also helps you save a lot of time (and headache) by giving you opportunities to say “no.”

When all you want is to build, network and grow, it can be terrifying to turn down opportunities. The problem is that every time you say “yes” to one opportunity, you have a little less energy to invest in all the other opportunities you’ve agreed to.

You have to decide ahead of time what the smart "yes-es" are, and then stick to your guns. Nathalie carries around an index card with her five goals for the quarter listed on it. When an opportunity comes up, she compares it against these five goals. If the opportunity actively promotes one of those goals, she gives it a yes. If it doesn’t promote those goals, no matter how great it sounds, she says no for right now.

It may be hard at first, especially if you’re someone who has a hard time turning people down.

But saying “no” in one place is what will give you time and energy to say “Yes!” down the road to unexpected windfalls. As Nathalie puts it,

“Saying no leaves margin for magic.”

Narrowing Your Niche Helps You Ask for What You Want

Think about some of your mini-goals for this quarter. Maybe you want to get published in a prominent magazine or website. Maybe you want to speak at someone’s live event, or host an event of your own. Maybe you want to join forces with another business.

These kinds of opportunities don’t usually come knocking—you have to ask for them. Chances are, you’re one of several people asking.

But when you have a clearly defined, highly specific niche, you’re bringing something to the table that will stand out. 

Your niche gives you leverage to show why what you have to say matters, who is going to listen, and how success in that opportunity can be measured. Those are win-wins for you and the person you’re asking.

EPISODE FREEBIE

Click Here to Get Nathalie's "Spiral Staircase Exercise"

FREE DOWNLOAD

Narrowing Your Niche Reconnects You with the Deeper Meaning of Your Business

Take a minute to really search your soul. What are you really passionate about changing in the world? Whom do you feel the most empathy for? Whose troubles do you burn to solve?

Your compassion is a powerful indicator of where your niche really lies. Identify the people whose struggles motivate you the most, and let them become co-creators of your business by defining your work around their needs.

“A lot of times, we get caught up in the logistics and the analytics, what’s the conversation rate, what’s the opt-in rate… Just remember that there’s a human being on the other side of that screen who has their own heartbeat, hopes, dreams and goals. When I’m sending an email, I’m not sending an email to my list—I’m sending an email to all these incredible human beings.”

Next time you find yourself in an all-too-familiar position in your business, don’t lose heart. Look for the opportunities it offers—opportunities that you’d never have seen last time you were in this place. There’s nothing wrong with a spiral if it’s leading you upward.

Direct download: Online_Marketing_Made_Easy_Podcast_Episode-67.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:01pm PST

1