A Marketing Opportunity Many Ignore: Partnering

Many bloggers and business people online forget about partnerships when it comes to business.  When people think about “partners” in a business sense, they think of half the business.  Online business shouldn’t see having a partner as bad or permanent.  Creating something with a partner is an opportunity to get introduced to their audience and clients and add yourself to the list of people they follow.  Partnering with someone on a project is a great way to combine your knowledge and their knowledge to reach each other’s audience and a new audience looking for the combined knowledge.  You could partner for a webinar or an online class.  People often partner to create books or a limited time product like a special consulting period or guest blogging opportunities.

When deciding if you want to partner with someone, remember that your audience trusts you.  They read your blog, get your newsletter, or allow you to email them because they believe you offer a quality product, usually useful information.  Lowering your quality in order to get access to a broader network of someone else’s followers could cost you a number of your own followers.  Make sure the person you plan to introduce to your audience has a knowledge set that will benefit your audience instead of annoying them and that you both are talking about topics relevant to what the audiences want.

Why Build An Email List?

Email lists are very important things for a blogger.  I’ve heard that for months now but couldn’t figure out how I could make a list work for my blogs without overloading myself.  Adding a newsletter, even a monthly one, on top of my weekly blog posts (yes, I know a good blogger does at least a post a day to keep credibility but trying to keep up with eight good blog posts a day plus a 50 hour+ work week is beyond my abilities) has always seemed like too much.  However, the more often a reader hears from me, the more they will trust me and buy something I create or recommend.  It sounds merchanary but blogging is a business and the easiest way to make money is to have an email list of people who like you enough to add to their already stuffed email box and to find a way to recommend things you would gladly use, or already use.  Finding the right type of newsletter for your blog and your audience can be a problem but it is definitely worth it in the end.  At the very least the articles you put in your newsleters can be reused on article sites to make money or direct traffic to your website.

Have You Set Your Goals?

Making goals is an awesome way to focus yourself if you haven’t done so already.  I mentioned earlier that I have no real idea where I want to be in ten years.  I’ve lived my life rarely thinking ahead to anything besides class deadlines or holidays.  However, I’m no longer a child and I need to make plans.  There isn’t really anyone I can fall back on that can support me while I get back on my feet if I fall.  In today’s economy most people are stretched thin with bills and credit cards and that means I need solid goals and solid plans on how to get there.  A college student picks their college based on what they wanted to do when they graduated and what college would get them the best prepared.  They choose what courses to take each year and what internships would get them the best connections for their dream job.  A business owner needs to do that as well.  They need to know what specific goals they have, such as a profit margin or amount of clients, and know their market well enough to know the exact steps they will take to get to their goal.  It has to be in everything from the content you type to the marketing you do to the design of your website or the focus of your socail media profiles.  Setting well defined goals and having a list of steps and measurable milestones that you can look at daily to focus yourself can go a long way towards getting those goals accomplished.  Just remember not to make too many goals that you get overwhelmed by yoursteps and never get too far on them.  Five or less goals for your online business should be workable as long as they are specific, measurable, and realistic.  Setting deadlines is also a good idea to be sure you stick to your goals.

Header Complete

Success!  It took me all night, but I finally got the header I wanted set up on my travel blog.  I want to get the blog moved/launched this weekend and the huge part of the launch was my header.  I didn’t want the simple name with a generic background so I went to my Logo Designer software and created my own header.  Unfortunately I had trouble loading the file on my blog.  I finally realized that I needed to hit the Export and change the file from a .PNG to a .JPEG and now I have successfully exported my header and can check that item off my list.

So why am I so excited about successfully creating my header?  Not only is the header another part of the full web design and a huge part of showing my story to the world, but it is also a huge part of anyone’s branding.  If you don’t know what branding is or how important it is to any online business, I suggest you Google the word and read a few articles.  I’m no expert on branding, I’m still trying to figure it out myself, but I have heard that anything “above the fold” or visible before the reader has to scroll down the page, is huge for branding.  It is part of the first impression a viewer has so getting the header just right is enough of a victory for me to do a minor celebration.

Focus On Time Management

Time management, oh that horrible concept I am so bad at.  I recently realized how much time I spend researching little details, such as the meaning of words, a person’s background, or a little known fact, that I want to put in a blog post or article.  I spend so much time on resaerch that I often decide isn’t even important to the article that I may get one article done a night.  Some things, such as my Civil War blog are very fact oriented and using the correct phrases or words properly can go a long ways towards keeping an audience.  However, some topics, such as my experiences with crafts or cooking, do not need the details to be perfect.  After all, I’m explaining my experiences, not the history of the technique.  I also spend hours reading blogs by experts, such as the ones on the right, just clicking through to different posts, that I can get nothing done all night except more ideas that I don’t have time to implement.  Setting priorities and  creating a plan for each night should help with actually getting things done instead of just getting more ideas but no progress.  Setting up a list of things, or even just one thing a day, that need to get done before games or reading favorite blogs can do wonders for your bottom line.  Now, if only I can stick to my lists…

Time Is Money

One thing I know is that it is possible to make money online by spending next to nothing.  All you really need is an internet connection, a web hosting account, and a website.  In reality you can find ways to get all of those free as well but you will have much less control over the advertising on a free hosted site.  All together you could create a business online for less than $500 a year, or less than $50 dollars a month.  You can do marketing for free through FaceBook, Twitter, blog posts and commenting, guest blog posts, and other ways.  You can even get free web templates or create your own website by learning CSS and HTML or any other programing language.  However, time is money.  The more time you spend learning HTML and reading dozens of blog posts a day in order to leave comments that add to the conversations, the less time you spend creating content or engaging with your fans rather than overwhelming them. Doing paid advertising such as on FaceBook or Google Adwords can save you time and get you targeted viewers that are looking for just what you offer, if you  are careful with the keywords you set up.  Also, paying for a website creation or for a tutorial on how to create the type of website you want can save you hours of planning and editing.  What can take hours upon hours for a new programmer to create while they learn can take an experienced programer merely an hour or two.  It is also smart to go with a paid template because website designers often know how to create websites designed to push the viewer to whatever action you want them to take such as signing up for a newsletter or buying a product.

Commission Junction Terms

I signed up for Commission Junction (CJ) yesterday and was reading through their terms today.  I realize not many people actually read through the terms of what they signed up for, all those legal terms and huge paragraphs people assume mean that you should responsibly use this program, don’t spam, don’t put this on adult or illegal sites…  Yeah, I assumed it was the same but CJ is probably the biggest and most diverse affiliate marketing network around.  It is definitely something I don’t want to get kicked off of so I decided to read the terms.  Am I glad I did.  Not only does any site that CJ advertisers are put on need to have a privacy statement but “CJ may temporarily deactivate or terminate Your Account if:” “(ii) Your Account has not been logged into and/or there have been no Transactions credited to Your Account for any 30 day period”.  For most people that won’t be a problem.  However, CJ is blocked on my work network and I will need to carefully plan time online in an unfamiliar network in order to get on some months.  I’m also worried since I don’t really have the traffic for clicks and hoping for an affiliate buy a month could be a problem.  However, I plan to do more advertising and marketing once my main sites are how I want them so I’ll be getting more traffic soon.

That’s not the main reason I’m glad I read the Terms though (even though it’s taken me an hour and a half to get through the first two of three sets of terms).  I found out that being signed into CJ only means that we can post affiliate links directly on our website.  Since I want to put links in articles and possibly in my newsletters, I need to be labeled as “Special” and each advertiser I sign up with will need to take the time to approve my ideas before I sign up with them, instead of the usual way (I assume) where it is automatically set to accept anyone who applies.  This could be a problem with my plans, but I need to check my article site’s Terms now before adjusting my CJ account.

I am definitely going back to read the terms for all the programs I’ve signed up for.  I’m glad I’m still so small no one would notice if I did a few things wrong already.  I just need to hurry to change things before I start marketing my sites hard.

Think About Selling

A dollar sign in the spotlight    Are you selling things online but having trouble deciding the best way?  Try thinking about what you buy and why. When you make a decision to buy something, stop and figure out why you bought that item.  If it’s a book, why did you choose that one over the one right next to it?  Did you see advertising you liked?  Did you prefer the cover image or the title to the one on the shelf next to it?  Maybe you compared the back covers and decided which book to buy that way.  Maybe you are buying a shirt online.  Why did you pick that one?  Was it a better image?  Did it look better on the model than your other choice?  Was the description or details better than the other options?  You probably don’t want to analyze why you bought a return purchase such as a book by an author you like or an outfit from a store you just bought from online.  However, stopping to analyze why you want to buy something, what made this item click for you compared to other items, can help you understand why others should want to buy your product or your affiliate’s product.

Amazing Blogs

There are a lot of blogs out there of people who have quit their day job and make a very comfortable living online.  A lot of the blogs out there are by people who make their target market people who are trying to run a business (usually a blog for their income) but these guys (and gals) have done it and are living their dream and probably the same dream most of us have as well.  I thought I’d create a list of my favorite blogs for new information or guidance on the blogoshere and turn it into a widget on my side bar.  Here are reviews of my current most useful blogs to follow.

Problogger is an awesome resource for any person trying to be just that: a professional blogger.  He talks about everything from affiliate programs to marketing to things a blogger needs to know to focus his or her blog and turn it into a revenue-maker worthy of being a full time job.

 

The Suitcase Entrepreneur, which I reviewed earlier, is a lady who focuses on marketing, especially social media and branding yourself while traveling the world with a suitcase.  That is her dream and she would love to help you achieve your dream as well.

 

Inside The Mind is a blog based around a series of webvideos on internet marketing told in a down to earth yet humorous way by someone who has been in the business for a while.

Social Media the Suitcase Entrepreneur Way

I recently found a website by Natalie Sisson called The Suitcase Entrepreneur. She’s an expert at branding and social media as well as running a business online and I thought it would be a good idea to read through some of her blog posts.  I started with the category Social Media and started reading.

Her main advice seems to be to know what you want to do through social media and to be yourself. Do you want to create more sales or a larger following? Are you looking for more connections or trying to create more brand awareness? What your goal is for social media is how you will focus your efforts.

The point of social media these days is to create or maintain a conversation or connection with your fans. You should be able to do that for little or no money (as far as designing and maintaining) although your business will grow faster if you have a budget for advertising as well. One important thing to remember when creating you profile is to include the other parts of your internet presence such as your website address and your other socail media accounts, if you choose to be involved in a number of communities. It is recommended that you have profiles you check daily on a few sites (the most common and biggest are FaceBook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) but you should do your research and see where your clients or peers tend to go since there are many social sites online aimed at different communities.

I was interested to find out that she recommends carefully thinking about what your profile image is. Depending on your goal with that site you can choose a picture (usually of yourself or directly related to your brand/business), or you could put your logo or your tag line as your profile picture. Just be sure that everything about your profiles link to your website and easily move your potential consumer or connection into your site.

Another thing I found interesting was Natalie’s recommendation that a new fan be sent to a landing page rather than straight to the wall. There are a number of free sites to walk you through the process like Pagemodo. However, her post seems slightly out of date since the new Facebook Timeline. Here is a newer post on how to use the same concept of a landing page to get likes. She also has a post that reminds us all of how important it is to be careful what we post as it can never be deleted. Your kids and grandkids will be able to see what you post today.

I’m looking forward to putting all my current ideas together into a social media plan that will work for me.  Just remember as you go about using social media and the web that ” Networking is about giving first,” as Natalie says, and that listening and answering questions can be as beneficial to your goals as competitions and giveaways.

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