Over the weekend I worked hard on video presentations for the release of Blog Mastermind. Obviously the core topic of the videos is how to make money via blogging, however I’m introducing a new form of blogging for profit, something that can lead to income quicker, it’s more stable and in the long haul is a much better model for bloggers to follow.
I’ve got a name for this type of blogging that I will reveal when the video comes out but what I can tell you now, it is based on email marketing. I’m not the only person doing this form of blogging of course, but I’m one of very few compared to the total number of professional bloggers out there.
Back in 2005 I started blogging. A few months later I began studying the work of some prominent Internet marketers and a trend arose – everyone talked about how you had to have an email list.
Strangely enough, I didn’t listen. Well, at least I didn’t take action, which is just as bad. I could see how having an email list was valuable, but my focus at the time was my editing business and I just didn’t see how email marketing was going to help it. My blog at the time was still more hobby site than a money maker.
Fast forward to the end of 2006 and I decided to finally launch an email list. However I still didn’t get it completely right because instead of leveraging my blog for continuous email opt-ins, I created an off-site landing page and wrote a few blog articles pointing towards it. At least it was a start.
When it came time to do a blog redesign I was well and truly convinced that I had to include an opt-in for my list on my blog. I asked my designer to put the opt-in in the right column at the top in the above the fold area. You can see it in action in most of the 2006 archives of my blog at the Way Back Machine.
Instantly my opt-ins grew and I quickly found myself generating an extra 20-50 new leads per day, which continued to increase as my blog traffic increased.
Since then, nearly every success I have enjoyed online has come thanks to making these decisions. I finally understood what Internet marketers were talking about when they said you have to have a list – and yes, that applies in EVERY niche online, not just the make money topics (email marketing is so good in non-business markets because not so many people use it well there).
I don’t think bloggers totally understand how the email list fits in with blogging, since on the surface they seem like very similar mediums, both delivering content with the focus on increasing the number of subscribers you have.
Oh, and to clarify, when I say build a list, I’m not talking about a list that just replicates your RSS feed service. This isn’t a list that sends out your latest blog posts and that’s it. This list provides unique value and has a defined purpose within your business.
People read email immediately as it comes in. People read blogs when they want to and tend to skip a lot of it because they scan due to consuming so much at once.
The mindset a person is in when reading blog content is different to email. When reading blogs you are either looking for entertainment, going from blog to blog in a mass content consumption frenzy, or searching for answers to a particular question.
When reading email you are consuming much more personal content. Outside of spam of course, emails are addressed to your name, some even come from family or friends, and while a message from a list you subscribe to isn’t necessarily that personal (it does have your name if the list owner does it right), it comes to you in a place where by nature you pay a special kind of attention.
Simply put – people pay more attention and a higher quality of attention to their email because of the state of mind they are in while reading messages.
This may change if spam and marketing messages destroy email, but for the time being, with our current system, email is the most responsive medium we have as online marketers (John Reese mentioned this when talking about how responsive Twitter is during his tests, second only to email marketing).
Email, when combined with blogging, is a fantastic tool for escalating relationships you have with your subscribers. I consider a person who opts-in to my list a higher quality prospect than a blog reader who subscribes via RSS. Some bloggers may disagree with that, but I believe they will be few and far between.
A lot of this has to do with the reason why a person subscribes to you blog or your email list. The intention they are expressing when they subscribe stems from a deep purpose and if that purpose is linked to something related to your business, for example selling a product or service that helps them satisfy the cause of their action, then you are in a position to make sales.
Blogs focus on a specific topic – we all know we need to have a clear niche for successful blogging – but even within that niche, bloggers tend to move across quite a varied range of topics. This I believe stems from the reasoning that you need to have daily blog updates to build traffic and eventually make money.
In order to build a popular blog you need a constant stream of fresh ideas. As a result, when you write about a topic you cover it in the fashion of a magazine, entertaining and educating readers with ideas that don’t necessarily link together in a linear fashion. Each edition is new, and every reader no matter when they discover you, starts their subscription with today’s content.
Email marketing, at least in some forms, is linear, has a narrower topic focus and allows you to reuse content over and over again as each new subscriber moves through your sequence in order, starting from the beginning. As a result of this structure and refined purpose, email marketing requires less content than blogging, yet is a better conversion tool for selling.
Can you image if every blog reader you have started from the beginning of your blog – your first blog post – and then moved through each post since then consecutively? This is what email marketing is like, but that’s okay because of the nature of and the purpose behind the list.
If you read carefully over those last few paragraphs you should be able to see how different a blog and an email list are. In fact, the email list looks superior to the blog, at least as a marketing tool right?
Well yes and no.
Internet marketers have always had difficulty with two major concerns when it comes to email lists – how to find subscribers and how to build relationships with them so they don’t just delete the messages.
Email marketers either need to spend money through pay per click and other forms of advertising to drive traffic to landing pages to build their lists, rely on joint venture partners to send them traffic or build some kind of content based web presence to attract an audience.
What’s the best form of content based web presence available today? Yes, blogging! (well I think so anyway).
Bloggers of course also face the challenge of building a readership, but in today’s changing Internet landscape, the blog “fits in” well with the language spoken online.
Blogs are part of the world of Web 2.0 and in most cases, are the central tool for leveraging social media traffic from bookmarking and voting sites like Digg, Delicious and StumbleUpon. Let’s not forget that search engines love them too. Blogs are created by “normal people”, in fact most blogs will never try and sell you anything and even those that do attempt to make money from it will only go so far as to slap a few slightly obtrusive text boxes with little ads in them. Hardly a strong sales pitch.
In short, blogs are perceived as content and value providers first – purveyors of entertainment and education. If you learn to speak the language of content, blogs are the most powerful free traffic generators available to individuals today, and – here’s the key point – are fantastic tools for fostering strong relationships with an audience.
The true power of building a business with both blogging and email lists is to leverage the blog as the traffic creator and relationship starter, and then finish the process with email marketing.
There’s a lot of subtleties to this system, but the tools work. Best of all, blogging is one of the easiest things to start no matter where you are coming from, which is why blogging has taken a place in mainstream popular culture.
Now all we need to do as professional bloggers who want to profit from our work, is learn what Internet marketers, and direct marketers before them, have been doing for years.
Stay tuned, my upcoming video continues this thread and will teach you more about email and blog marketing.
Update: The video is now available – Click here to watch the Conversion Blogging video