Example

If you are constantly buying into the concept of “content is king” that gets pushed on bloggers around the world, you are buying a used car with sand dust in the gas tank. This same tired out line has been played out beyond belief in the blogging world.

Content is not king…content is the product.

When you are looking to create your successful blog online, consistent and quality content is the given product that is required in blogging, but…just like with every industry…there is a massive amount of sub-par crap that can greatly outperform your “pilar articles” and “high quality list posts” because the bloggers behind that content have already realized the huge secret to successful blogging that really isn’t a secret.

Successful promotion is king…content comes in a far off second.

It’s true…go ahead and marinate on that one for a bit. Have you ever read a highly successful website and thought there is a lot better content out there? Better yet…have you seen sub-par, worthless products get huge launches and massive sales? You even see it in the retail world! The #1 main reason a blog, company or product makes it in the marketplace is because of calculated and successful promotion…not because it is providing over the top quality.

So Why Promotion Over Quality?

Now…there are cases where enormous quality creates enough press to warrant high dollars and fame, but those cases are extremely rare. The high quality cases for blogs and products that you have seen or read are actually the by-product of having the double whammy…quality content and successful promotion.

Quality “content is king” content is absolutely nothing without new eyes digesting it and then spreading it out to others. Without this promotion, your articles and products do not get past the development stage. They are just words on a page or items on a shelf that no one knows about…or even cares to.

Next time you hear someone say “content is king”, you need to think of it as a used car salesman selling you a big steaming load of crap. Content is not king…the promotion of that content is far superior if you are looking to create a successful blog.

How Do I Get My Content In Front Of A Massive Amount Of Eyes?

Now…there are also bloggers out there that are going to tell you the “top 5 ways to get more traffic” or how you need to find traffic on your blog. First, anyone that tells me there is only 1 (or 5 ways to do things) are typically people that I discount their opinion greatly. One of the things that you need to realize in blogging is that all niches are different. There is never one top way of doing things as your readers are going to interact and spread content online differently dependent upon subject matter so taking advice like that can be dangerous and detrimental to your growth.

Proper testing of different promotion methods are the only way to find out what works in your niche.

That said…there is one theory that will greatly reduce your learning curve when looking for promotion techniques that will work well for your blog. It is one simple task that every blogger should be doing…

Find your target audience (and be specific) and then research how that specific target audience communicates and spreads content online.

Not every niche is going to know what RSS is…or use Stumbleupon…or even know how to use Twitter. It is up to you to find out how they communicate and how they like to digest content and then provide those methods. On top of that…you need to find methods that force call to actions (newsletter sign-ups, content spreading, etc.) like contests, giveaways and other viral content monsters.

There is no “one size fits all solution” for all bloggers and “content is not king”. It is up to you…as the blogger…to promote your products and content in a method that your audience will absorb to truly be successful. Hey…no one who was ever successful online used a cookie cutter tagline. They worked hard for it. That means you have to as well. Ramp it up!

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

I got an email in from a reader this week that is a common occurrence in the blogging world. You hit the ground running and start to see some success. With time, you start to shift your focus elsewhere, leaving behind your primary source of revenue only to find that traffic and profits decrease on the project that is the source of getting you online success. Or…all of your current methods have hit a plateau in traffic and earnings and you have no clue on how to get off it and back to sustainable growth! And what are you left with? A stale blog starring you in the face. You need to win back old readers and find ways to attract new readers to your corner of the web to bring back up profits and encourage growth. The big problem…where to start?

The Story of Tweaks For Geeks

I figured the best way to tackle this common occurrence in the blogging world was hit it head on with a real world example, so here is the email I received this week. I hope Kevin doesn’t mind!

Kevin’s Email To Me:

Hello Robb,

We’ve corresponded a few times in the past, perhaps you remember me. Anyway, my query is as follows:

This particular question may actually make for a good article for you; as I’m sure there are others out there like me that have started up their sites and have seen some success, but have either stalled in their progress or simply want to take their online business to a whole new level.

I’ve owned a site about computers/technology (primarily focusing on how to fix various computer issues) for a little over five years now. While I am one of the few that can say that he has made over $1,000 a month from his sites, I am simultaniously one of the many that has fallen prey to the “do nothing” bug and have let my main earner fall into stagnation (and sadly seen my revenue plummet as a result). It still brings in ad money, but needs a new updated look to it (which I almost have done), and fresh consistently updated content.

So – with that in mind:

  1. What steps would you take in order to give an established but a bit “dusty” site a jumpstart?
  2. In your professional opinion, how long do you think it would take in order to make a site like that a contender again that regains its old readers and acquires new ones?

Currently I am in an excellent position where I can dedicate most of my time to revamping and regrowing my online ventures; and with my technical background I am fortunate enough to be able to do all of the programming work myself in order to add new and innovative features to it.

Really I just want to know what the most effective course of action would be to take this from a publication that gets approximately 55,000 unique monthly viewers that are all one-time visits and turning it into a destination where people visit and then want to not only stay, but return regularly. Of course, I would also love some tips for explosive growth.

Again, I think that this would be an excellent article for your readers; so perhaps you’ll want to do a full writeup on it. If not, then some friendly pointers would be greatly appreciated. If you do decide to make an article of it you can feel free to post parts of this email, or all of it in its entirety as part of your content.

Also, thank you for providing such a concise and informative site about the blogging industry. RobbSutton.com is one of the best resources out there that I’ve come across.

Keep up the good work!

Thank you,

-Kevin Souter
Owner, TweaksForGeeks.com | Rent A Geek Computer Services

Breathing Life Back Into Your Stale Blog

Ok…before we even jump into this…my biggest recommendation to any blogger is “do not ignore your primary income generator“. Yes…blogging is exciting and new projects are always more of a rush than old, but by jumping around starting and stopping new projects, you are just crippling yourself for the future by not giving anything ample time to grow. I am not sure if that is what happened in this case, but that is the most common mistake I see in new bloggers. Try to fight the urge to start “the next great idea” every week and focus on projects that you can tackle without leaving what has brought you success behind.

When you look to breathe life into a stale blog or bring new growth to an existing blog, your efforts are going to fall into 3 basic categories.

  1. Content
  2. Blog Design
  3. Promotion

These are the three core elements to blogging that will bring you new growth and make existing readers happy every time. When you start to jump on each of these aspects of your blogging individually, you need to do so with a plan and ask yourself the right questions.

Content: Shaking Things Up

No…I am not going to sit here and give you the same, old, tired out line of “write pillar articles and content is king”. Hopefully, you have already been doing that or you wouldn’t have seen any success to begin with. When you are looking to attract new readers and bring life back to old readers, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions.

  • Who do I want to attract? – You need to specifically lay out exactly who you want to attract with your content. Who are you not reaching now that you want to? Are you generating content for that specific target audience? You need to start bringing in high quality, targeted content into your blog to pull in new readers that you are specifically targeting. However, this content needs to be relevant to current readers as well, so do not step too far outside the scope of your niche as you can start to alienate your die hards while trying to attract new.
  • Where can I expand? – When I start working with new bloggers, I tell them to find a niche that is manageable. Do not take on TechCrunch right off the bat…you will loose. When you find a sub-niche in your industry, you can really drive it home and start to see success because you are reaching a very targeted audience in a smaller competition market. When you take this theory, you can start to run out of content over time, so now is the time to look into your expansion opportunities in related subject matters.
  • How can I be more useful? – How you write your content and the types of articles you publish are incredibly important. Are there certain articles that seem to perform better than others on your blog and in search engines? In my experience, tutorials and other “helpful” articles tend to perform the best, so look into areas that you can continue to hit a home run and start to product more of those types of articles as you look for new growth.

Your content is the core of your blog. Without it…you are left with an empty design that doesn’t do too much of anything. When you are looking to expand or revive, it is where you need to start as the rest of this isn’t going to mean a thing without your content.

Blog Design: Time To Shift Focus To Action

How your readers interact with your content is completely based on your blog design. Where there eyes go…where they click…the actions they take (rss feed subscribing, newsletter opt-in, social media spreading) are all dependent upon how you present your words through the design. When you are looking to ramp things back up a bit, it is time to look at how your readers are interacting with your content.

Note: I would highly recommend paying close attention to your bounce rate and reader trends in Google Analytics as that gives you an insiders look at what is going on with your blog.

  • What do I want my readers to do when they finish reading? – You have to put yourself in the shoes of a reader in your niche (not a blogger looking at a blog article). In non-tech/blogging niches, your readers will have no clue about blogging and social media other than their own personal experience. It is your job to step inside of their head as they land on your pages. Do you want them to share it on Facebook? Do you want them to check out another article? These are important questions that you need to answer as they directly affect what you put at the end of each article.
  • What is my blog design not accomplishing? – Are you not increasing your opt-in rates? Are your pageviews low? You need to start looking at what your design is not doing for you currently. The outward appearance of your blog is not just a visual mechanism, it is how your readers interact and move through your site. When you are looking to get readers to dive deeper into old content, click on advertising or feel like they are on a quality site, you lean heavily on your design. To get things rolling, start to look at things like logo design, navigation and design elements while keeping in mind where you want your readers to go. As a general rule, bloggers tend to add too many elements to their blogs so only put it up if 70% of your readers are going to use it. Anything else will just be wasted space and clutter. You want to draw your readers eyes to your most important elements that promote growth and conversions.

What you should have created at this point is a site that is accomplishing your goals while also looking professional. One key thing to keep in mind is that you are building your site for your readers and what they will interact with…not what you are going to interact with. Keep your personal touch…but back it up with function.

Promotion: Time To Take It To The New Masses

The order of this process is intentional. With an end goal of attracting new readers, you have to create an atmosphere that they want to land on before you go out and find them. This does not meant that everything has to be perfect before you move forward (it never is…blogging is an evolving process), so don’t get locked down with “it has to be perfect” panic. When you feel like you have accomplished enough of the goals you have set out with content and design, you need to start pulling new readers into your revisions. Hopefully, you already know who you want to attract through the first content step…so let’s go get them.

  • Where do my new/potential readers hang out online? – It is your job as the blogger to pull in new readers. Where does your new “perfect target reader” hang out online? By visiting these places and building up a solid reputation (online forums, other blogs, meetup groups, Facebook fan pages, etc.), you can pull them back to your content and create another subscriber.
  • How do my new and existing readers spread content? – Not all niches spread content the same. While Twitter might be a great viral spreader for one niche, it could be horrible in another. It is your job to figure out which ones work the best in your subject matter and start building up a profile in these areas. The easiest (and hardest) way to get new reader’s eyes on your content is through viral spreading, but you want to make sure your time is not going wasted by doing some research before you jump in head first.
  • How do my new readers like to subscribe to content? – As part of your promotion techniques, you are trying to attract new, long term subscribers to your blog. How do these readers want to subscribe to online content? In the biking world, more than half (probably even less) know what an RSS reader is or even care. It is still a world of email, so I put a lot of emphasis on my RSS email subscription and newsletter subscription. When you promote your new content and pull new readers into your blog, you need to feature a method of subscription that is the most widely used in your niche. Do not force feed what some other blogger says you need to do. It is up to you and what your readers want.
  • Who can I collaborate with? – Guest posting is a fantastic way to pull in new readers to your blog, but it isn’t always an option in some niches. Try to think up of unique ways that you can work with both online and offline resources to bring more content/promotion to their medium while also promoting your corner of the web. In the past, I have worked with forum site owners, industry magazines and special interest groups to help them accomplish their goals while at the same time promoting my website. It brings you credibility and new readers at the same time.
  • What can I give away? – Contests and giveaways can grow a blog faster than just about anything else online. People love free stuff and they will promote you to no end to get it. Before you start sweating about the money you are going to have to spend…keep one thing in mind. Even the giveaways with inexpensive products…when targeted correctly…perform incredibly well. You can also have companies and other blogs donate prizes in exchange for promotion within the contest and you will not have to spend a dime. Just be sure you structure the giveaway or contest in a manner that you get some needed asset (newsletter subscriber, rss reader, etc) and that contest is virally promoted (stumbled, Tweeted, shared on Facebook, etc.).

Rinse, Repeat and Evolve

That is really the nuts and bolts of breathing life back into a stale blog (or starting up a new one for that matter). When you are looking to rejuvenate your blog, take a look at these three core areas of blogging to see what you are doing wrong and how to improve it. By taking a systematic and planned attack, you can not only bring a blog back to its former glory, but you can lift it above and to a success you never thought was possible.

When you create an atmosphere that is based around the premis of helping others, they will in turn want to help you. Ideally, you want to create a “cultish” following online where your readers want to tell other people that they hangout in your online space. When you focus on that idea of helping…you can make huge strides in creating an online community that breads repeat visitors.

So how long does it take if you are on the right path?

Honestly…success is often a byproduct of the effort put forth. While it can differ depending on competition and market saturation, I have found that the hardest working (when it is a planned, thought out attack) get ahead the fastest.

Image by R’eyes

There is a lot of focus online about how to promote your blog to gain more readers through online avenues. There are guest posts, interviews, social media, blog carnivals, contests and a whole host of other ways to draw readers back to your site. While this is a necessary step in growing any blog, there are a lot of bloggers that completely ignore the off site/not plugged into a wall way to promote your blog and gain more readers with off-line promotion. For many niches, these techniques can prove to be an incredible way to get more eyes looking at your content on a regular basis…and make money doing it.

Off Site Promotion Techniques For Bloggers

The following off site promotion techniques can help you grow your blog and some of them will actually help you build up your bottom line at the same time.

Business Cards

If you are looking to make an income online, you have to treat your business seriously. Business cards are still the #1 way to pass your information along to another person while networking off-line. A well designed business card with the necessary contact information and logos will gain you credibility with new, potential readers, business partners and advertisers before they have even set eyes on your blog. Think of it as pre-qualifying by providing professional quality right off the bat.

The best part…business cards are CHEAP! I typically design my own and then head over to VistaPrint to order up enough for my needs.

T-Shirts

T-Shirts are one area that I have been building up for Bike198.com for awhile now. In some niches (like mountain biking), your readers will be t-shirt whores. They want a t-shirt for every event, catch phrase and obsession as they express their hobbies to the world through the outward expression of their clothing. Designing a t-shirt and selling it on your site with catchy phrases and graphics related to your niche will not only make you more money in your blogging, but it will make your readers a walking billboard for your site and content.

Stickers

How many stickers do you see on the back of cars as you drive down the street? What if those stickers were yours?! By giving away and selling stickers on your blog, you can once again turn your readers into viral promotion machines. How many of those stickers that you see on a daily basis are website based? A lot.

Mainstream Media

Mainstream media can be one of the biggest shots in the arm for a blog looking to expand its readership. Much like Mike at Daily Shot of Coffee did with a magazine mention, you can reach an entirely new audience that may have never landed on your page through conventional means. By pitching story ideas to magazines and newspapers or just “being found”, you can create a flood of readers to your content from off-line resources.

Networking

Off-line networking may feel like you are only reaching 5 people at a time through blogger meetups and related events to your niche, but…you need to remember…word of mouth is a powerful tool. The more positive experiences people have with you and your content, the more they spread the word like wildfire. One of the most powerful ways to network is to help out with local groups through speaking, organizing and helping. In some cases, you might even be able to sponsor an event which will result in your logo hitting banners, t-shirts and other related materials.

Off-Line Promotion Equals Increased Business

As a blogger looking to make your income online, you can not ignore off-line promotion techniques just because you can not measure the results instantaneously through stat counters. The long term affects of off-line blog promotion can increase your spread dramatically with just a little bit of effort. Your job as the blogger looking to grow your blog is to find where your potential readers are and attract them to your content and products. For many niches, your potential readers will be hanging out in off-line resources.

Original unplugged image by rogue3w