Example

In the blogging world, there is a ton of focus on social media, content and online promotion techniques. While all of this is fantastic information that can grow your blog and income over time…at some point, you are going to want to extend your blogging that you are running as a business into an area that many bloggers are scared to death of…the outside world.

Yes…creating your own digital products and promoting others is great and highly lucrative as a blogger…watching the cash roll in off of direct advertising and PPC campaigns can create great recursive income…but what happens when you want to step beyond that? What do you do when you want to expand your business into the lives of your readers? When you do want to stop being just a “blog” and start being serious competition for brick and mortar companies and publishing firms? You are sitting on one of the biggest launching platforms on the market…so it is time to take advantage.

Stop The Fear Of The Real World Products

The first thing you have to do as a blogger is get rid of the fear of the “real world”. Yes, creating products outside of digital goods takes a lot of time, research and effort, but the feedback and results can extend past your wildest dreams. The trick…find something that you can tackle and work with easily without taking on too steep of an upfront cost.

The nice thing about digital goods is the only cost of entry is basically your time. While you can get expensive with designers, coders and ghost writers, most successful digital products are made in the home office of the blogger. With real world products, you have to rely on manufacturers or other companies to work with you to make the dream happen. For this to ramp up…you need some cash to get the ball rolling before you can make your first dollar. This…on its own…scares away most bloggers from even trying.

The #1 thing you need to realize about stepping into real world product lines…you can raise the money upfront to get rid of the capital generating fear.

By having pre-sale deals (offering a discount for getting in on the first order), you can raise the money necessary to create your first order for just about any product you want to sell. Not only are you giving your readers a great price (that you still make a percentage profit on) but you do not have to step into your earnings to put in the cash for the first order. By removing this fear of money loss, you can make your first step into real world product markets.

How To Enter The Real World Product Market

When you are looking to expand your corner of the web into the daily lives of individuals in your niche, you need to start looking at what they are buying that you can provide outside of the digital world. In the beginning, you are going to want to locate markets with lower cost of entry points to get your feet wet. As with all things on RobbSutton.com, I find that the best way to show is through my own personal experience, so let’s take a look at what I am doing with Bike198.com to give you an idea on where to start looking.

In the biking community, I started looking for avenues in which I could not only promote my brand, but do so while also creating and fostering community. The natural progression given these parameters was to step into soft goods. Now…soft goods (t-shirts, etc.) is one of the #1 ways bloggers start the transition into real world market places because of the low cost of entry and the ability to promote your brand at the same time.

My first step into soft goods happened at the beginning of the month with the release of the Bike198 cycling jersey’s and shorts. To create buzz and a willingness to participate on the behalf of my readers, I also worked with the Livestrong Foundation and half of the profits of the kit sales are going to get donated for cancer research. I didn’t want it to be just another “website kit” so by incorporating the Livestrong Foundation, we are able to make it something bigger.

Bike198 Kits

Luckily, I have a friend of mine that is a kick ass designer that offered to help with the project (regularjoe), so the end result is incredible. The pre-sale process went great and we were able to meet the minimum order requirements easily to get the process started and get some kits in to take pictures for promotional materials.

The next step, start up the t-shirt line that I have had in my head for a long time.

Fringe Benefits Of Real World Product Sales For The Blogger

Now…the monetary side of releasing your own products is an easy concept to get your head around. You sell the product, pay your costs and keep the profit. But…the real benefit to releasing physical products into the marketplace is much harder to measure.

  • What do you think happens when riders wear a Bike198 jersey or t-shirt and hit the trail? They spread the Bike198 brand to new riders and potential readers.
  • What happens when their picture is taken and posted on a forum? Same result on a bigger scale…
  • What happens when cycle sells more t-shirts and jersey’s? The results multiply like crazy…

By creating products that your readers want to buy, you are strengthening your brand into something much bigger than just a blog. You are also strengthening the overall trust in your brand to deliver the goods because you are now perceived as more than just a blogger releasing your ideas. You are now a trusted source that has grown into a profitable product company. Through this…you get to watch your corner of the web grow exponentially over time at a much faster rate.

Yes…the income generation of the physical product is important and measurable, but the most important aspect of releasing physical products as a blogger is what they do to strengthen your brand presence outside of just your words.

How can you expand past your blog? What are your readers willing to spend their money on outside of your digital products? What do you need to do to make that dream a reality? These are the questions you need to ask yourself as you move forward in your blogging.

Image by Reinante El Pintor de Fuego

Example

To say that I am Apple Computer obsessed is an understatement and you are about to see why.

Since the very beginning of my computing career, I have never actually owned a DOS/Windows based computer. While I have been burdened with some work issued computers over the years, I have always had my trusty Mac at home to ease the pain. Sharing in this obsession, my dad and I have owned at least 12 Macintosh computers over the years and that doesn’t even include the accessories end.

I know…this is a blog about blogging so why the hell are you talking about the fact that you can only whip out the checkbook if there is a logo of an Apple with a bite out of it? Well, there is an explanation after I show off my sickness.

An Apple Obsession That Rivals That Of Steve Jobs

To lay it out for you, here is my history with Apple Computer…

Macintosh Classic

Macintosh Classic

Where it all started. In the early ’90’s, Apple released the Macintosh Classic (Classic II pictured) with it’s 8 mhz 68000 processor and a whopping 1MB of RAM. With fond memories of playing the Parachuter game, my all things Mac obsession started with this little all-in-one machine, a 9″ black and white screen, OS 6.0.7 and a single button mouse.

Macintosh Centris 650

Macintosh Centris 650

With the newly integrated CD drive, the Macintosh Centris was the next logical upgrade. Remember the days when you actually had to put the CD in a case before inserting it into the computer?! With an upgrade to discs, OS 7.1 and a color screen…we were off and rockin’.

Macintosh Performa 6100

Macintosh Performa 6100

Heading into the mid to late ’90’s, we jumped up to the new PowerPC processors to the 601 with the Performa 6100 series. These new lightning fast 601 processors (by those days standards) were the start of the PowerPC platform that would carry Apple computer all the way to the Intel switch. Armed with SCSI drives, OS 7.5 and more robust audio and graphics…we were living the good life.

PowerComputing PowerCenter Pro 210

PowerComputing PowerCenter Pro 210

What a lot of people don’t know is that during the time period between 1995 and 1997, Apple approved licensing for 3rd party manufacturers to carry the Mac OS platform. During that time, we actually owned two models that ran Mac OS but not on Macintosh branded computers. My computer was the PowerCenter Pro 210 from PowerComputing that even eventually saw a G3 upgrade card from OWC amongst other upgrades.

PowerComputing PowerTower Pro 250 MP

PowerComputing PowerTower Pro 250 MP

During the clone years, my dad ended up running a PowerComputing PowerTower Pro 250 MP that saw 2 250 Mhz 604e processors. This machine eventually saw a host of upgrades from OWC as well.

Power Mac G4 (AGP Graphics)

Power Mac G4 AGP

With the year 2000 on the horizon, it was time for an upgrade to the G4 processor and that came with the Power Mac G4 AGP. The first of the G4 line to get an AGP graphics slot, this tower was a significant upgrade from our tapped out clones with a 400 MHz processor and 100 MHz system bus speed.

Power Mac G4 Cube

Power Mac G4 Cube

Our house rarely had less than 3 computers running at once…so of course we had a Cube laying around! Revolutionary Apple design but a PITA to upgrade. The G4 Cube was short lived, but it did bring a lot of press and marketing to Apple Computer as they started their run to the reputation they hold today. The G4 Cube eventually got an upgrade card and was maxed out beyond belief, but it too was retired.

Power Mac G4 (Digital Audio)

Power Mac G4 Digital Audio

After a lightning bolt surge blew up my heavily upgraded PowerCenter Pro 210, I ended up with the Digital Audio version of the popular G4. With a 133 MHz system bus and the 466 MHz G4 processor, this Power Mac was the first to come shipped with the new OS X operating system. The complete overhaul meant that I eventually downgraded to 9.2 until software companies caught up, but OS X was a huge leap forward in OS technology that others (ahem…Microsoft) are still copying today.

This computer actually still runs in my dad’s basement with an OWC 1.4 GHz G4 upgrade card.

Power Mac G4 Mirrored Drive Doors

Power Mac MDD G4

When it came time to upgrade my aging Digital Audio G4, I went to the multi-processor MDD G4 from Apple. This sexy, mirrored drive case would carry my into the mid 2000’s after a host of upgrades that even included hacked graphics cards and SATA drives. At the end of its life, it was actually one of the fastest MDD’s clocked on XBench at the time.

This one still sits in my office closet.

MacBook Pro 2.4 Core 2 Duo

MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo

In 2008 when my blogging career really got off and running, I decided it was time to break my tower streak and head to something more mobile. I stepped up to the laptop place with the 15.4″ MacBook Pro 2.4 Core 2 Duo. With laptop speeds becoming increasingly faster with mobile technology and the introduction of the new Intel processors earlier, it made sense to get similar processing power out of a more mobile platform. With some memory and hard drive upgrades…I was off and running and my tower tweaking days were over.

Previous Apple Accessories

Apple iPod iPhone QuickTake Printers

I wish I could say that the Apple sickness within my brain and my family stopped with Apple computers, but that wasn’t the case. Over the years…we have dipped into the Apple bucket for other needs as well.

  • Apple QuickTake Digital Camera – VGA resolution digital camera
  • 2 – iPhone 3G
  • 2 – iPhone 3GS
  • 3 – iPhone 4
  • 1 – iPod Mini
  • 1 – iPod Click Wheel
  • 1 – iPod Color Display
  • 2 – iPod 5th Gen Black
  • 4 – iPod Shuffle 2nd Gen
  • Miscellaneous Printers
  • Every OS from OS 6.0 to Snow Leopard (and whatever comes next)

So What Are We Running Now?

As the obsession continues to get unhealthier by the day. Here is what my family and I are running right now.

MacBook Pro i7

MacBook Pro i7

I made a huge leap forward and picked up a 15.4″ MacBook Pro i7 this year. It all started with my wife saying, “I want a laptop.” So now she is running my old 2.4 Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro and I am enjoying the speed of the new Intel i7 processor.

Apple iMac 24″ 3.06

Apple iMac 24" Core 2 Duo 3.06

My dad is running a early 2009 3.06 Intel Core 2 Duo 24″ iMac. Surprisingly, both of us have gotten off of the “Pro” tower platforms as the fully integrated options of the MacBook Pro and iMac have gotten fast enough to run the Adobe Creative Suite and Final Cut Pro.

Apple iPhone 4

Apple iPhone 4 FaceTime

There are 3 iPhone 4’s in my family (me, my wife and my dad)…all without any signal issues too for what it’s worth, and my mom is running my old 3GS.

So What Does All Of This Have To Do With Blogging?

There are two things you should take away from this exercise in obsession…

  1. I Do Not Review Products That I Can Not Be Unbiased About – I am the review blogger guy that teaches other bloggers how to get in free stuff to review. One of the things I really hammer home with bloggers is that you have to stay unbiased and truthful in your findings regardless of pressure from manufacturers or your personal views. Your credibility is everything as a blogger and if you lose that…it is very hard to gain back. I have a hard time being unbiased about Apple products…so I do not publicly review them. That is something you should take into consideration as you review products.
  2. A History Of Quality Brings Repeat Business – I have faith that Apple will build a solid product for my needs. For that reason, I do not need someone else’s opinion before I pick up my next computer. My personal history with the brand is more than enough to make me spring for the latest and greatest. You should strive for this same loyalty in your blogging by creating repeat visitors and purchasers of your product. It requires you to go over the top with your quality, but that will multiply over time.

Apple Computer is a great case study in how strong marketing with quality products can make consumers lineup to purchase what you have to offer. When you are finding your audience and selling your products, creating an “Apple like” atmosphere around your content and monetization efforts will create a loyal following that will spread your word like crazy.

Your #1 goal in blogging should be to create an army of customers and subscribers just like me…

Example

One of the most overlooked items on a blog is the tagline. As with any great company, website or personal blog, the blog’s tagline creates an atmosphere and first impression for your readers, but most bloggers do not think about it past the time they are filling in the blank while setting up a new WordPress install.

Your blog’s tagline tells your new and existing readers where they are and what they can expect in a very few amount of words that is readily seen throughout all of your blog. That is very powerful and it should be thought of carefully as it is an essential part of your branding.

That said…I need to tell on myself a little bit.

While I have always thought about taglines in all aspects of my businesses, I always left one out. While working on a new project for Bike198, my print designer (RegularJoe) and I knew we had to come up with something because this new apparel project needed to have it included. I shot him over an email throwing some ideas on the wall, but it was during a long climb in the north Georgia mountains on a humid Saturday morning on our road bikes as the sun was breaking through the low level clouds at the top of the mountain peaks…he came up with it…

“I like what you came up with, but you know what I was thinking? How about ‘Live the Ride’?”

The moment I heard it…I knew it fit perfectly. It spoke to the way of life, obsession with bikes/parts and the desire to get out on a ride every chance we get that encompasses everything that is Bike198. When new readers hit the page, they will get an emotional feeling (read what David Risley says about emotion and blog success) that portrays the site in a perfect manner. “Live the Ride” was born and we are now integrating it into the site and new projects.

What Should A Great Blog Tagline Do?

A great blog tagline should give your readers a quick glimpse into what your blog is about during that split second interaction with your logo. When you are developing your branding and how you want your blog to appear to outside readers, a blog tagline can go a long way in converting new readers because they will know who you are and what you are about as soon as they land on the page.

A great blog tagline should have several characteristics for success.

  • Should be short and to the point to prevent confusion (ideally no more than 5 words if you can swing it).
  • A blog tagline should be factual about your site’s content so new readers now what to expect from your blog as soon as they land on the page.
  • The tagline should have an emotional attachment to create atmosphere and community around your brand (ex. Ramped Up Pro Blogging in RobbSutton.com makes you feel like you are going to increase your success, traffic, income, etc.)
  • Your blog’s tagline should be original.
  • The tagline should not change multiple times (it is as important as not changing your logo).
  • Ideally…it should be placed with or close to your logo.

Some examples to get you off and rolling:

  • PCMech: Helping Normal People Get Their Geek On
  • TutsPlus: Power Up Your Skillset
  • Shoemoney: Skills to pay the bills.
  • YouTube: Broadcast Yourself
  • Steve Pavlina: Personal Development for Smart People
  • Apple: Think Different
  • Visa: It’s Everywhere You Want To Be

A successful blog tagline (much like logo design) is often the easiest/hard thing to come up with for your blog. When read, it looks like it was easy to formulate as it just seems to fit. When developing, it can be one of the harder aspects of your branding to brainstorm and get right.

Have you thought seriously about your blog’s tagline?

In this guest post by Maren Kate from Escaping the 9 to 5, she explores how your personal brand online should mimic that of a rock star for guaranteed success. Personal branding is a large part of success in blogging.

Since when is the word Rock Star only synonymous with musicians? I don’t know who created this trend but I’m here to break it… I believe you can be a Rock Star blogger too! Harness the power of the rock star within you and use it to explode your blog to new success!

6 ways to apply the Rock Star mystique to your personal brand

1. Rock Star’s a made not born. Joan Jett wasn’t singing “Cherry Bomb” coming out of the womb, so if you haven’t built a rock star worthy personal brand up to this point don’t sweat it. Your inner rock star is just hibernating that’s all. So now it’s your turn to dig deep and see if you have what it takes to develop a rock star brand for your business or personal use? If so I can promise it’ll explode your success online and off and the benefits it’ll have to your blog may very well change your life.

2. Personal branding is mandatory in today’s economy. Whether you run a blog on baked goods or help mommies get out of debt, it is time to sum up your inner rock star and start getting personally branded. People love to feel connected to the blog they are reading and the business they are buying from, they want to know you are special… different, not just one of the thousands of drones out there pitching something. How can you do this? Develop a personal brand worthy of any rock star of course!

3. Rock Star’s are known for something. Whether it be Elvis’ pelvic thrust or Ozzy’s dove head decapitation thing, rock stars are usually known for a ‘signature’ thing. This can work for your personal brand as well. Look at celebrities on and off the net, they usually are known for something too. Naomi from Ittybiz is known for her potty mouth and sparkling sense of humor, Problogger is known because he was first and is biggest and iJustine is known for recording every part of her life – even the ones we don’t care about.

4. Know your Rock Star name. My full name is Maren Kate Donovan, online and on all of my social platforms I go by Maren Kate. This is because when you Google Maren Kate you find me every time… and it is unusual enough that I don’t have to worry about another Maren Kate popping up and battling for her turf. Rock Star’s go by nicknames too, sometimes these are derivations of their real names and sometimes they totally made up pseudonyms. Look at Lady Gaga, Prince and Madonna. Think about Johnny B. Truant when it comes to blogging, do you think he REAL name is John Ben Truant? It may be – I don’t know for sure – but I am 99% positive he does that so he can dominate the niche for that catchy name and image.

5. Rock Star’s have a voice. Every rock star sings or communicates in their own unique ‘voice’, for a blogger you need to do this as well. You can write a mid term type blog post or you can write something from your heart in your very own voice. Think about how you want your voice to sound? Do you want to be the funny business blogger? the overly serious clown blogger? the dynamic, eccentric financial blogger? Pick a voice and stick with it through all of the channels in which you communicate online. If you do this people will get to the place where they know your voice when they read it anywhere – just like how we can pick out a song that Elton John did from hearing just a few seconds of it.

6. Be sure to keep consistent. Though rock star’s throughout the ages have had identity crisis’ it’s best once you decide on your personal brand to stick with it, at least for a while. People will grow to trust and love you this way – they will read your blog and feel as if they really ‘know’ you. This loyalty can pay off for years down the road and your consistence will make you a pillar in your online community.

In closing, I know there is a little rock star in all of us – there sure is in me! Whether you choose to show yours through videos, the written word or another form of media be sure to let your true self out. Not only is it liberating but you’ll be amazed at how much your blog & business grows once you’ve ‘come out’ so to speak with your true, rocking self.

This guest post was written by Maren Kate. She is an entrepreneur and blogs about her journey in leading an unconventional life at Escapingthe9to5.com.