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NewspaperGirl – Online PR, Blogging, Social Media

How to Retain Customers through Building Community

Every Sunday I read the newspaper I learn about the community and something I want to blog about. I rarely actually blog though. Life moves on and I forget with all of the other things I do.

Today I read in the Salt Lake Tribune, about a project that is headed by a Utah woman I know, Crystal Young-Otterstrom. Her job is an audience development specialist (which is kind of like what I do with social media, right?) with the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera and she is amazing at it. I’ve seen her work mostly from a distance for many years.

I don’t usually write about the arts, but I love them. My husband and I volunteer at the Symphony at Deer Valley every summer since we’ve been married, with me taking time off to watch our daughter. It’s a highlight of our summer.

First, Crystal started Vivace, a group for professionals that meets at local restaurants after concerts.  She is continually educating the group about music and developing loyal fans. Today I learned that she also founded Cadenza , a group for older men and women to go to dinner and attend the symphony together. They also get a discount on tickets. Both support local businesses and are building community.

If you’re new in town and don’t have a date or someone to go to the symphony or opera with, you might decide not to go. Same if you’re older and live alone or just don’t have friends who can go to these events with you. Crystal noticed that “every year we lose some subscribers because their partner or spouse died and they have no one to go with.” With these two groups they’re reaching two key audiences: people who have money for the arts, (professionals) and those who are retired. Vivace will be the future Candeza.

If your business mainly reaches an older crowd, think about how you can replace and retain your most devoted customers. You must continue to find ways to engage with your best customers or you risk becoming forgotten or shrinking. Religions must do this. Businesses must too.

Are you Building (2)

Building community is also brilliant marketing.  One of the most rewarding things I’ve done for my career is to build a Facebook group of Utah bloggers. With just over 800 members, we teach and learn from each other. We see each other at events. The loyalty and community have have been hugely beneficial and enabled me to do so much more than I could’ve without them.

Facebook groups of all types have really made my life better, sometimes acting as my newspaper and connecting me with people. I don’t complain about Facebook, because of all that Facebook does for my business and for me personally, without charging. It makes buying ads or working harder for reach worth it.

My friend Mariel at Or So She Says told me she recently started to reward community by randomly sending gift certificates to her readers who leave comments and who respond to her content. It has greatly increased the loyalty of her fans, who comment and otherwise participate enthusiastically even after winning.

Sometimes I miss the comments and community I used to have on this blog when I blogged regularly. After my blog got deleted and I lost so many comments and I lost momentum. At around that time I switched more from writing about business to learning and applying it.

Encouraging or facilitating a community around your product or service can pay off. Sharpie has done it so well. Who would guess that a pen company would be so sharp at community building? They are long-time favorites.

When people find a sense of belonging with you they are less likely to look elsewhere. It makes being a part of something meaningful. As marketers I feel we do our job best when we appeal to people’s emotions, or heart. Community brings that into a business. You should look for ways to bring it into yours.

What other examples have you seen of brands building a loyal community?

How can you add more community into your business or cause? 

Affiliate Summit and How the Affiliate Industry Has Evolved

Affiliate Summit has always been my favorite conference because as I like to say you get all types. Everyone is an entrepreneur, so there’s a lot of self-made people and a lot of hustle. This was at least my 5th time attending and honestly one of my favorites. I didn’t expect what I found!

How Affiliate Summit has changed

How Affiliate Summit Has Evolved

No one goes to classes any more.

At past Affiliate Summit’s people came to learn affiliate marketing. Now they go to meet and make deals. The market has matured to the point that the classes were hardly full but the “Meet Market” and exhibit halls were. In fact all the halls were full. If someone opened the door there was a roar of sound coming from the hall!

In the past people went to classes, tweeted and otherwise shared their experiences on social media. Not this year. I didn’t see as much activity on Twitter during the conference. It felt like most of the people who went to classes were newbies.

What this means: if you attend a class you have a great opportunity to network with the speakers. They are experts and you have access to the smartest people in the room. Over the years some of my best experiences have come from meeting the speakers.

The blogger/media room was practically empty.

Again, I remember this being a big deal. I met other bloggers, there were interviews going on and networking. This time if it weren’t for some Utah bloggers, I think it would’ve been pretty quiet. Besides my blogging friends from Utah, there was John Chow, Zac Johnson, travel bloggers Yeison and Samantha from Our Tan Feet, and Will from Going Awesome Places. Yeison and I talked about setting up private affiliate programs with local businesses. I really loved how he takes care of each customer as if they are his own.

John affectionately nicknamed our group The Real Housewives of Affiliate Summit. Here they are sporting some swag from the exhibitor hall:

Utah-bloggers

He took a video and blogged about the “Real Housewives of Affiliate Summit“. Now they’re even more famous!!

Again, this is probably because people want to meet up and aren’t as interesting in reporting. I saw this as a great way to get know bloggers and made some great connections.

LobbyCon

Meet Stefan, the mobile game entrepreneur. He stood outside Affiliate Summit holding a sign to try to get investors and publicity for his mobile game. What I didn’t know is that he was rude to Missy and staff, didn’t have a ticket, and so was asked to leave. I was interested in his story but found it difficult to like him after hearing this. Check out more on John Chow‘s post and my Facebook update

I’ve put on events and someone taking advantage of my hard work by not paying or not paying their fair share is maddening.

Instead he could’ve done this (ok, I’m not 100% sure this is allowed):

affiliate-summit-lady

Affiliate Summit was profitable for me too. It’s already resulted in a sale of $1,000 and many introductions and knowledge that are worth more than that to me.

What hasn’t changed is that Affiliate Summit is a lot of fun, it’s hosted at a great place and it’s still has it’s share of characters! Just don’t expect to see anyone but the Utah bloggers at breakfast on Saturday. Everyone else is hung over and still sleeping.

Thanks Shawn and Missy for another incredible conference! I’m so glad it’s in Vegas (one of my favorite cities). Can’t wait for next year!

Vegas

Top Twitter Mistakes Bloggers Make

For years I’ve seen bloggers make mistakes on Twitter but today was my breaking point. I just have to write about the top Twitter mistakes bloggers make. Hopefully seeing these mistakes will help you avoid them.

Twitter Mistakes Bloggers Make that Make Me Cringe

Top Mistakes Bloggers Make on Twitter

You have your Twitter sharing buttons set up all wrong.

The most common thing I see is bloggers using a plugin like ShareThis and do not change the plugin settings. You should customize them by adding your Twitter name (like @Newspapergrl). If you don’t add your Twitter profile then any time your readers share your posts on Twitter @ShareThis gets tagged instead of you.

top Twitter mistake

I also see no tags. I like to get credit for my tweets. People can edit the tweet but most people won’t. This tweet has no attribute at all:

Twiiter-missed-opp

The last thing is to default to the name of your blog. It seems like you’d at least make it a URL. This one just says the blog name – The Sugarbuzz Project. Instead I’d put Sugarbuzzproject.com (eliminating the www to avoid a link shortened making the link unrecognizeable).

Twitter-another-missed

Here’s an example of a shared blog post from Ordinary Traveler that is done correctly. It has the title of the post, a short URL, and it tags the blog’s Twitter handle.

Twitter-correct

My favorite plugin to share posts on Twitter is Social Image Hover.

You don’t promote your blog posts on Twitter

I know a lot of purists say that you have to engage on Twitter but I don’t believe it. You can still benefit from tweeting out your blog posts automatically, even if you do not do anything else. Seth Godin only shares his posts and does not respond or engage. He doesn’t follow anyone. For some people it works. Regardless of what you have heard, there is no right or wrong way to tweet (although some may be less effective or get you banned).

Speaking of advice on Twitter. You don’t need a lot of followers to get results. I tweet on an account that gets incredible results with a simple strategy I came up with. In fact, I’ve never used Twitter more effectively as far as ROI. The account doesn’t have a lot of followers. I could care less how many followers we have because that’s not our goal. I don’t care how many followers we lose either.

This tweet has been retweeted again & again. Notice how it has a URL without a www so you can see the website address for PinAlerts  (and it’s clickable). It also has @pinnable on it so you can click through and follow. If I were them (I’m a cofounder but am no longer actively involved) I would simply autoschedule this tweet to go out on at different intervals.

Pinnable

Using Twitter Tools plugin my posts get automatically tweeted when they go live. No extra work needed. If you want to get more mileage from your posts you should use something like CoSchedule to schedule various versions of your blog posts to go live automatically on Twitter every few weeks or months.

You make it too hard for me to share your blog posts.

Please, please, please don’t make me hunt for a link to share your post. I spend a lot of time sharing posts and it becomes incredibly frustrating if I have to look for your sharing button. If you only put a link to share at the bottom of your post only, and the post is super long, I hate that you made me scroll. I read your post, like it and want to share it. But wait, I have to go to the end of the post. Not fun! I like the sidebar share that scrolls with you or bloggers who have links at the top AND bottom of every post.

This post is an example. Notice that it’s not even obvious where the sharing buttons are because they look like follow buttons. They are only at the bottom of the post. I also noticed that the follow buttons at the bottom of the page are broken. I would remove them from the bottom and only have them at the top. Again, I hate having to search for buttons to follow a blogger on social media.

What other mistakes do you see bloggers make on Twitter?

Oh, and if you liked this post, I hope you’ll tweet about it. Thanks!

What MARKETERS want for Christmas this year

What marketers want (1)I asked my marketing friends what they wanted for Christmas this year. I specified that it had to be something you could buy, not something like peace on earth (ahem, Joshua). It’s not too late (almost) to gift them some of these wishes!

When I was assembling this list I felt how much respect and friendship is in this group. There is my good friend Paul who started a lot of what I do, as well as some I don’t know as well and all in between. What great people! They are my friends who when I asked, responded. Isn’t that what social media is all about? When you do ask and there is trust, people respond.

Oh and I want a new blog design and an elliptical for Christmas.

Thank you so much to everyone who responded. Merry Christmas everyone and I hope you get your wishes!

ryan-avila Ryan Avila – marketing/personal training/photography.Websites: http://healthyryan.com & http://facesintheworld.comGoPro http://shop.gopro.com/hero4/hero4-silver/CHDHY-401.html
GoPro
scott Scott Cowley, Marketing Instructor at Arizona State University & Internet Marketer.Website: http://www.giftso.meFor Christmas, I want “Trendologytrendology
 Russ Russ Page, COO at an Interactive Agency (web, apps, digital marketing)
Website: www.fiftystudio.comWants: http://www.patagonia.com/us/product/mens-nano-puff-jacket?p=84211-0-COCRjacket
danrmorris Dan R. Morris, I help bloggers focus on what makes their blog successful.
Website: Blogging ConcentratedI want a more specialized camera:camera
michael Michael Jensen, Sr. Content Marketing Manager at BlendtecI’m not going to lie and this is not a shameless plug: http://www.blendtec.com/blenders/professional-800.I want the Pro 800 or Stealth so I can make smoothies for my kids in the morning without waking up my wife. Or looking at getting the new iPhone.blender
 adam Adam Riemer http://www.adamriemer.me and President of Adam Riemer Marketing, LLC. I help small and large companies scale as well as bloggers and affiliate grow and succeed.An all inclusive trip to Rio for Carnival and then to relax in Mexico on a beach in Puerto Vallarta to recover.
 mitchell Mitchell Levy, Thought Leader Architect & Chief Aha Instigator.I’d like to see the Aha Amplifier get another 750 users, doubling the user base. The gift is awareness: could be advertising, could be being introduced to the “right” partner, open to ideas.
 michelle Michelle McCullough, I’m a speaker and marketing strategist, www.startupprincess.com and www.michelleontheair.comI want a new MacBook and an in-home video studio + a video intern that will edit all of my videos. A girl can dream, right?
 jesse Jesse Stay – Social Media Strategy and Advertising and Futurist. http://jessestay.com, http://staynalive.com I like anything LEGOs, or home automation devices like the Schlage Connect Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt or things they sell on SmartThings.com, or camera lenses for Canon DSLRs. Or, just anything off my Amazon wishlist: http://amzn.com/w/WNBKSU3QBQDU
 lee Lee Gientke I’m the managing partner of Webmix Marketing (www.webmixmarketing.com). We do online marketing for service businesses.Maybe a some credit at Fiverr or a Surface2 if it has to be marketing related.
 cheryl Cheryl Snapp Conner, www.snappconner.com, owner, PR agency.I’m buying the book Flow – and Cision. Wish I’d bought it a long time ago.
 Mat Mat Siltala I grow a pretty decent beard. Avalaunch Media is my company.I want a trip to Fiji, but there really is no link to that?
 Rachel Rachel Brenchley – Founder of http://modifyink.com/ a startup in the maker space. We deliver an online platform for art-customization. Select art, then change the colors and patterns of each element to match yourdécor or event. We are getting ready to launch custom party and card suites in the next few weeks.

What i really want for Christmas is a team bloggers to help me launch my new company. I’m looking for perfect-fit, dynamic and creative DIY, ART, PARTY and HOME DÉCOR bloggers to join my team! I’m more of the “brand” looking for marketing partners! Marketing is a big job!

 Barett Barett Christensen, Director of the Social Media Marketing Degree Program at LDS Business College.

Always looking for great adjunct…though I am good on those for christmas and this next winter semester. I would be excited if Santa left me a Garmin Vector Power Meter. Yeah, I know it has nothing to do with marketing, but it would be awesome to get one.

garmin

http://sites.garmin.com/en-US/vector/

 

 cory Cory Huff. I run theabundantartist.com, where I teach artists how to sell art.

I just signed a book deal, so I’d love a European writing retreat for Christmas. Also, I’d love someone to set up Infusionsoft for me.

 cary Cary Snowden, I develop online marketing platforms for business marketers.
http://steptap.com

All I want for Christmas is a Makerbot Replicator Mini so I can print a few of my ideas to test. http://store.makerbot.com/replicator-mini
I am currently looking through the cushions to see if I can help Santa justify the big ticket.

 Paul Wilson Paul Wilson Profession: Marketer/Owner/University Teacher
Websites: PinAlerts.com, BeautifulPearls.net, RPCO.com

I believe mastering the art of video should be on every marketer’s Christmas list. The raw emotional power that comes from video is not to be underestimated and can be an effective and persuasive marketing tool. I state this because my list is thousands of dollars of pure video equipment.Iwas asked by the university to think of marketing tools that will best benefit the students. IMHO video gadgetry that tells and enhances your business story is worth the investment.

MY SANTA LIST Ü

Panasonic GH4 Camera
- Panasonic dmw
-ms2 shotgun mic
- Field Recorder
- 2 Lavalier mics
- Tripod
- Camera Slider
- Camera rig, shoulder rig, follow focus
- Steadicam
- Wide Native Lens (12mm)
- Narrow Native Telephoto Lens
- GoPro HERO4 SILVER

DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter V2.0 Bundle with 3

-Axis Zenmuse H3-3D Gimbal for GoPro

Go Pro Accessory Kit 

 Joshua Joshua Steimle, CEO, MWI www.mwi.com

I want a 36 hour day, a creative director, another front end dev, a CRO expert, a few more SEOs, a few more content marketers, and world peace so we can get on with more marketing!

  Sterling Sterling R. Morris  Marketing,Intermountain Healthcare.

A page-turner on non-intuitive findings in my field.

 Joan Stewart I’m Joan Stewart, aka The Publicity Hound. I show small business owners how to promote their expertise and businesses using free publicity.

I want a simple video studio in my basement with a few decent backdrops so I can record more video for YouTube. I’ve tried creating this myself and just can’t make it work as well as I’d like. While we’re at it, how about a high school kid to edit all those videos I’d be cranking out?

There you have it. If you are a marketer with Christmas wishes, please add yours in the comments!

How to Make Money Blogging: An eBook Review

Thanks to food bloggers Pinch of Yum’s income reports I’ve become very interested in how to make money blogging. Their reports are one of my favorite things to read and I learn so much from each one. I’ve made money because of my blog but rarely on my blog directly. In September I started working at The Blogger Network and now I have ads on my site, which is a foundation for making money blogging.

I recently found Chelsea’s Messy Apron and her ebook, How I Made $40k My First Year Blogging. It’s become one of my favorites. I realize that both of my examples are from food bloggers, which means their content is skewed towards that niche, but I think any blogger could learn from them. First, I have to say that I respect anyone who can make that kind of cash from blogging in just one year. It’s very impressive!

how to make money blogging ebook

Advertising Income
$14k of her first year’s blog income was from ads. The great thing about ads is that is once you set them up you make money passively (esp. if someone else manages the adsfor you). I see a lot of blogs apply to join The Blogger Network and most are too small to meet our minimum pageviews of 90k. She reached that threshold in just 3 months and I have deep respect for that accomplishment. I don’t usually see a lot of detailed information about ads so I appreciated her straightforward explanations. She uses several different ad providers as well as networks that connect bloggers to sponsored post opportunities.

The Importance of Mindset
One of the foundations of success is mindset and Chelsea talks about how this. She had another blog that didn’t take off. She took what she learned about creating compelling content, headlines and images. It worked. I like how she started off with the intention of success and thinking like a business.

When I first started blogging, I immediately started with the mindset that people would be reading my blog. This mindset is very important. If you only think that your mom is going to read your blog, your content will reflect accordingly. ..I am a strong believer in the power of our thoughts. Right off the bat, it is important to imagine your blog being successful and your skills improving. .. If you think you won’t ever get followers (or make money, improve your photography, etc.) you are right—you won’t! On the other hand if you are positive and confident you will gain followers (or however you measure success), you will!

Investing in your Blog Pays Off
Another lesson that Chelsea learned is that you need to invest in your blog. She spent 40 hours a week on it as well as investing money into it. She regrets going DIY in her site design at first and you can see how she gradually realized that didn’t pay off.

If you are serious about making an income off of your blog, you are going to have to invest.”

One thing I would’ve included is investing in blog conferences but being a review of her first year, she may not have attended any. I know bloggers have brainstorming sessions and other free ways of learning from each other, but it’s not the same as attending a blogging conference. They are on a much larger scale than a group getting together to chat. That means they can bring the best speakers, accommodate a larger crowd (more potential partners), and bring brands on as sponsors. You get to look for people to collaborate with in your niche for future giveaways and projects. There’s nothing like getting a group together in person to plan. Face to face meeting can be so much more efficient. Attending a conference is also how you meet brands that you can work with. You can go direct and pitch your services and skill set. In other words, conferences represent OPPORTUNITY.

I really like how Chelsea divided her book into months so you could see the progress she made. You get to live the experience with her. She shares information about the hashtags she uses that are effective for her, the sites that bring her the most traffic, and the tools she uses in her business. There is a lot of information about photography including props, lighting, cameras and lenses.

Group Boards on Pinterest
In addition to a lot of spot on advice, she has short tutorials on everything from setting up a WordPress site to creating a cover image for Facebook and other social media sites. I particularly liked the walk through of Ahalogy for scheduling pins on Pinterest. She also included a section on group boards on Pinterest but not as much detail about how to find group boards to join. There are sites like PinGroupie that are directories to help you find group boards by topic.

Facebook Groups for Bloggers
While she did talk about a Facebook group she belongs to, Chelsea didn’t link to it or go into much more detail. As part of The Blogger Network you can join our private Facebook group and network with the some of the biggest names in blogging (esp. in the lifestyle niche). I’m the admin of Utah Bloggers on Facebook. There are so many opportunities and friendships that are a result of these kinds of groups! Before I go to a blogging conference I make sure to join their Facebook group if they have one.

After reading this book I realize I need to do more planning and goal setting. I want to check out her taxes spreadsheet. I really like how she shows you exactly how to do a giveaway with up to 15 people with the spreadsheets and sample emails you can use as an example of how it’s done. I’m inspired to look for more trending content to base my posts on. I know some just from Twitter and people I follow on Facebook but keeping up with what’s new but I could do even better at. However, I don’t envision my blog getting a lot bigger. I make more money other ways and it’s tough to keep up with posting. It’s not worth the investment to me any more. This blog has led to years of business, my book, and it helped build my reputation. Everything else is a bonus. I don’t miss the comments and interaction that I used to have because I’m in a different phase now. A lot of that interaction happens on Facebook and some on Twitter.

I really think this ebook is great for beginners and even more advanced bloggers alike. I wish I’d had it when I started blogging. Probably my biggest mistake of all was getting a WordPress hosted blog. You are at their mercy. My blog got deleted twice because of a link that was spammy (I still don’t know what link it was but I had no warning and no recourse). I lost a ton of traffic and never fully recovered when I switched my blog to self-hosted. I hope every new blogger learns to just pay for your domain and hosting from the start.

How I Made $40k My First Year Blogging: How to Start, Run and Monetize a Blog
Pages: 189 with full color pictures
Author: Chelsea Lords of Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Price $19.96

Have you read “How I Made $40k My First Year Blogging,” I’d love to hear what you think about it. What did you learn and was it the right level for you?

 

Bloggers: CyberMonday Special Includes 60+ Products for Just $27

All weekend after the fun, the food and spending time with weekend, I was on a mission. I stayed up all night one night because I just had to finish to be part of this.

Dan R Morris and Rachel Martin from Blogging Concentrated, along with top leaders in social media, podcasting, video and blogging have put together an incredible product stack for Cyber Monday! 

Blogging Concentrated Stack – 4 Days Only but Giveaway is Only Happening Today

Blogging Concentrated CyberMonday deal

My ebook, 13 Social Media Marketing Ideas that Rock! is part of the deal. I wrote over 30 pages with examples and graphics to give marketers simple yet effective ways to market on Facebook and other social media sites. This is the only way you can get this product.

ebook: 13 Christmas Social Media Marketing Ideas That Rock!

There are 60 social media marketing products in all, including:

A guide from Derral Eves who made the Piano Guys famous on YouTube, to teach you Video Marketing. If you’re from Utah like I am, you have seen their incredible videos and heard about these YouTube superstars!

How about the #1 Podcast on the planet?  John Lee Dumas is going to help you become a Podcaster
The guy Entrepreneur Magazine tapped to write their Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn: Ted Prodromou.
Super Affiliate Lynn Terry, an 18 year veteran and Super Affiliate will show you what Social Media Marketing is all about.

 Want to get better at Facebook? How about learning what Holly Homer on how she went from 50,000 fans to 1,000,000 in a year, without spending a cent on ads.
There are also products from Joel Comm, Leslie Samuel, Kelly McCausey, Nicole Dean, Missy Ward, and Tiffany North.

In addition, there are 4 specials TODAY ONLY Cyber Monday, including a giveaway where you could win:

  • 10 Tickets to the Type A Parent Parent Networking Conference
  • 15 Tickets to Affiliate Summit: the largest affiliate conference in the world.
  • Mike Schultz and Anthony Xiques of iMartisan are giving 5 people: 3 hours of tech time with professional IT dudes.
  • Blogging Concentrated is giving away 10 Tickets to use toward any of their international one-day blogging workshops. I highly recommend them! I went in Phoenix and was blown away. Basically it’s advanced training in thinking like a CEO to grow your blog.

But those are only until Cyber Monday ends, then they will randomly draw from the list at the end of the day to award those.

See the FULL LIST of what you’ll get in the Blogging Concentrated Stack.

You really can’t go wrong with this product. I can’t wait to dive into it myself! I’m sure that even one product would be worth the $27. Please let me know if you got it and your opinion – I’d love to hear from you!

 

Business Blogging Tips for a Boring Industry

When I wrote this post about how marketing experiments can hurt you, I got a thoughtful reply from Jim, who had an alternative view. He shared his business blogging tips that helped his unsexy business. His response was so thoughtful that I asked him to share it. 

Jim owns OptiFuse, a company  that manufacturers, markets, and sells fuses – from the little glass ones in all of your electronic equipment to the kinds you find in your car.

I got to meet Jim this weekend when he was in Ogden. It’s really fun to meet other bloggers and learn from each other! Jim showed me the file on his phone full of ideas for his posts. He agreed to write me a guest blog post and I agreed to write one for him. Here’s his: 

Business blogging tips

Most, if not all, marketing experts will tell you that the key to building a great social media presence is to create great content.

Now this might be easy if your company is a trendy retail store, a theme restaurant, or a high-tech company with cutting edge products.  Every day something changes: new style trends, the menu, or the new features on your latest smartphone app release.

Now imagine you’re not in a world that changes every day. You sell industrial fasteners, lumber products, or in our case, automotive and electronic fuses.  How do you make those types of products sexy?

Well in a short word…you don’t.

Marketing today is not about just about selling products or services. It’s about selling trust, awareness, integrity, hope and dreams to a select community of people. 

More and more, potential customers want to know who you are and what you stand for rather than what you sell.

A little more than five years ago, I attended a local workshop class entitled, “How to use social media to promote your business on the Internet”.  The 4-hour workshop gave the students a brief glimpse into the world of social media and the different platforms one could use to reach a potential audience.

Read more…

Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers: How to Get Started

Affiliate marketing for bloggers

I’ve recently teamed up with blogger Melea Johnson to start a series of conferences (more like workshops) to teach affiliate marketing for bloggers at the ABC Conference. We usually have a group of about 50 bloggers, mostly women in the lifestyle/mom blogger niche. At the last conference time we had a blogger who came from a small Utah town and blogs about looking for gold. How appropriate because I think bloggers are affiliate marketing gold.

abc affiliate marketing conference for bloggers

ABC affiliate marketing conference for bloggers.

We usually have just two speakers, including a blogger who makes six figures from affiliate marketing. She has advanced tips and everyone just loves what they learn from her. We focus on learning first and then DOING and my goal is to have everyone insert affiliate links into their blog before they leave. Right now bloggers are getting the most traffic of the year, so it’s a great time to start adding affiliate links.

At the conference, bloggers get to meet with affiliate managers in person with our sponsors. We look for sponsors who are a good fit. These relationships are so important. Having someone to talk to that you’ve met in person is so valuable when you are new and can work with you to do special promotions.

Utah bloggers learn affiliate marketing

Utah bloggers at the first ABC Conference

I do everything I can to make these conferences fun and informative. We do giveaways (Blendtec is a sponsor) and have great swag. Here’s just a sampling of the feedback:

abc-testimonial-april

Bloggers have content and audiences which are often a natural fit for affiliate marketing. They are usually already linking to products they love and have trust built. Many bloggers look for sponsored posts but they have to apply to get paid and compete against other bloggers. They may have to reach minimum standards for traffic or followers. Even ad networks usually require a certain amount of traffic to be accepted. However, any blogger (that is not spammy) can join an affiliate program and instead of getting paid for a post, can earn a percent from every sale they refer.

Utah Bloggers learning affiliate marketing

Utah Bloggers learning affiliate marketing at the 2nd ABC Conference

I recommend starting with your most popular posts and looking to see if there are affiliate links you could add. For example, one of our speakers added Zulily links to a post about what she wish she knew before she had her kids. Zulily is where she got most of her maternity clothes so she linked to it with her affiliate link. That post alone has brought her over $20k!!!

As you can see, bloggers were enthusiastic about what they learned:

ABC conference testimonial

ABC conference testimonial

Getting Started as an Affiliate Marketer (for Bloggers)

To get started, you need to sign up for an affiliate program or network. Once approved, you log onto the network to get special links and banners so they can track sales that come from your blog and you can start earning money. They also have graphics and other tools you can use. You can link directly to specific products or to a store. You can earn a commission off free things (like coupons printed), digital products like ebooks, and even when someone fills out a form (leads). The best part is, you can earn a commission for things you didn’t even link to. You make money from anything that’s sold within a certain time frame (the length of the cookie).

Just remember that in most cases a blogger is referred to as a publisher. Sign up as a publisher. Submit your application and when you’re approved, look for programs to join. You have to apply to each program individually.

Here are my top picks for affiliate networks every blogger should sign up for and work with. Each network works with hundreds to thousands of programs/stores/websites. So no matter your blogging niche, there will be programs you will want to work with in each of these networks. I made some suggestions below.

Once you sign up, go back and add affiliate links to your older posts that are doing well, like this blogger did:

I went back to my old food blog and added affiliate links up the wazoo. It’s an inactive blog bit I still get about 100 views a day I checked into one of my affiliate and I had $50 waiting!

Here are Some of the Top Affiliate Networks we Recommend to Bloggers:

 I link to the signup pages directly because many are tough to find! Each one has thousands of programs.

Note: If you can’t find a brand on one of these networks, try typing the brand name + “affiliate program” into Google.

Impact Radius affiliate programImpact Radius They have Target and Oriental Trading Company. Bloggers are referred to as “media partners”.

ShareASale affiliate signup ShareaSale – Craftsy, Our World Boutique, Zulily, Gymboree, Crazy 8, Modcloth, and ChecksUnlimited (many check programs actually). Their blog is very helpful and they have great new tools for bloggers.
Amazon.com affiliate program Amazon has just about everything and since you’ll make a commission on all sales, this is a favorite with many bloggers. Amazon calls affiliates, associates.
Commission_Junction_logo CJ.com CJ has programs like JoAnn Fabric and Craft which is ideal for craft bloggers, Fabric.com, Old Navy/Gap, Zappos, Home Depot, Sears, and the Disney Store.
ebay enterprise affiliate network eBay Enerprise Affiliate Network (formerly Pepperjam) has ABC Mouse which a lot of moms love! Melissa & Doug is there (love their toys and you’ll earn more than linking to Amazon unless your readers add a lot to their cart on Amazon), Sheet Music.com, JibJab, Forever 21, and eShakati (custom dresses).
Linkshare affiliate network application  Linkshare has Nordstrom,  J.Crew, Forever21, Sephora, Clinique, 1800Flowers, Starbucks, Sam’s Club, Hanna Andersson, Shutterfly, Petsmart, etc.
Avant Link affiliate network signup AvantLink has Blendtec, Baby Steals, Backcountry.com, Cabela’s, Patagonia, REI and Sierra Trading Post. They have many other outdoor niche sites. All the programs I mentioned are top performers. AvantLink has incredible tools to help you such as linking products in an image using your affiliate link. I also like them because they are local (Park City, Utah) and I know the founder and marketing manager. If you are into datafeeds, they are amazing.

Here are Programs I think are a Great Fit for Most Bloggers I Work with:

I may have linked to them above, but for individual programs, here are some good ones:

One King’s Lane – I LOVE their deals and their higher end products are wonderful. I’ve purchased jewelry and am really happy with their shipping. Would make excellent gifts.

Craftsy – they have online tutorials and you can even get paid on some free tutorials.

Our World Boutique – trendy fashion and deals. Also, PS I Adore You (managed by my friend Greg).

Get Away Today – affordable Disney trips. While payouts are low and the progam is managed privately, you can earn a free trip when you sell a certain number. Contact Kimf@getawaytoday.com

If you’re more advanced affiliate marketing techniques, check out what Leslie Samuel teaches about creating a resource center. Even though his is B2B marketing, the concept applies to any blogger and what I love about it is that it’s based on content marketing – which bloggers do naturally well at.

If you have any affiliate programs that you recommend, please leave them in the comments!

Next up: a review of a DIY media kit ebook from a blogger.

Holiday Marketing Ideas: Instagram + Selfie Marketing

Selfie Christmas Marketing Ideas
Offerpop recently featured some holiday marketing ideas that almost any small business could do with a focus on Instagram. I love how Instagram is getting so much engagement and how you can use several hashtags without being spammy like it would be on Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook.

The first idea is to have your fans take photos of themselves (a selfie) with or using your product for a chance to win your product. To enter they post pictures on Instagram using contest hashtags that you specify. You should absolutely requie they use #selfie to capitalize on its popularity.

The great news is you can reuse the entries you get. You can feature the pictures on your other social media platforms, like tweet one a day, have an entry of the week on Facebook page and put the best ones or all of them on a Pinterest board.

This could work any time of the year but throw in some holiday touches and it’s a great way to engage with your community during the holidays.

If I were Nivea I’d include mistletoe and kissing. This zoo marketing campaign I wrote about could have visitors take Christmas photos with animals wearing or adding a Santa hat or with their own elf on a shelf.

The other idea are exclusive deals or offer codes that you promote on your social media accounts come from this list from OfferPop.

  • Aerosoles held a photo contest, inviting fans and customers to share photos of themselves in Aerosoles shoes for the chance to win a $500 shopping spree.
  • Keurig posted exclusive Cyber Monday deals to Facebook, specifying one-day offers.
  • Banana Republic asked fans and customers to take photos of themselves wearing Banana Republic clothing, hashtagging the photos #ThisIsGlam and #Selfie across Facebook and Instagram. Any photos using both hashtags were entered into a contest for a $500 shopping spree.

With these campaigns you are essentially crowdsourcing your advertising. It’s in your customer’s language and could even give you an idea for a future marketing campaign. KFC did this in the 70s in Japan. Thanks to the successful “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas!) marketing campaign in 1974, Japan is now obsessed and people will wait hours to get their KFC dinner.

It started with customers who decided to buy KFC chicken for their Christmas dinner. Bang the idea was born. Whoever saw this opportunity and ran with it is my marketing hero.

When a group of foreigners couldn’t find turkey on Christmas day and opted for fried chicken instead, the company saw this as a prime commercial opportunity and launched its first Christmas meal…

KFC turned this into a full blown marketing campaign that’s still going and expanding today. There are waiting lists for KFC every Christmas. They have Christmas countdowns and promotions. My only frustration is I don’t speak Japanese and can’t follow the campaign every year. Last year they added KFC dinners on certain flights around the holidays.

I really love the idea of a tradition – when you find a Christmas marketing campaign that works, do it again next year. Pretty soon people will start to look forward to it and expect it, which means more participation with less promotion.

What are you doing for the holidays this year? I love case studies and am looking for data or guest posts about Christmas social media marketing campaigns

When Curiosity Kills the Brand

This morning I read a case study from Neil Patel on Quick Sprout: What Spending $57,000 on Instagram Taught Me. In a nutshell Neil bought an Instagram account with over 100,000 followers and then switched the brand to promote his brand. He lost a lot of followers but he kept a lot too.

We bought an existing lifestyle account that had roughly 131,000 followers and changed its name to @whoisneilpatel.

A social media consultant came up with the idea and Neil went for it. The paid sexy women with large followings on Instagram to give away big ticket item prizes in exchange for following Neil on Instagram. Classic marketing to men (GoDaddy is/was king of and Carl’s Jr. is giving it a shot). It didn’t go over well with everyone though.

Right away on the top of the post you can see the apology of sorts:

Instagram-marketing-Neil-Patel

When I checked, all the images except one have been removed and I’m not going to post it. The comments are telling. Men and women who know Neil’s brand and follow him saw the campaign and couldn’t believe it came from him. It didn’t fit what they expect from him and many were very turned off by it.

Example:

lost-business

First, I get it. As a PR person I recommend that people ride a wave rather than create one (especially since my followers are mostly small businesses). In other words, when something is being talked about or successful, see how you can leverage the attention or take part of the conversation if it fits your brand. In this case, Neil noted the success of Dan Bilzerian – a man who built a following of over 5 million Instagram followers by showing off his wealth (he reminds me of the Rich Jerk). The problem is that Dan’s style doesn’t work for Neil’s audience. While Neil might get some followers from this, it cost him more than money. It broke trust.

I used to blog a lot about the porn industry because they are pioneers in online marketing.  I stopped when I realized it attracted people who cared about the porn industry to my blog. It’s not an industry I want to be associated with or like, so I stopped. It doesn’t matter how interesting the tactics, it’s just not what I want to be part of my brand. So I talk about ideas or think about them but don’t reference the industry. Lesson learned.

On Facebook I’m part of a social media masterminds group. I usually want to ask how someone is doing something that is working well. Sometimes what they are doing is spammy or won’t work for my brand, but I’m so curious. I want to know if there’s a way to learn from what they are doing. Sometimes the effect is that instead of people deconstructing with me, as I hope, they call me out on the ethics of what I’m asking. Both sides are frustrated and I wonder if it’s bad for my brand to ask questions like that, even in a private forum.

When I first started in online marketing, I was a single mom with $217 a month child support. Having been a stay-at-home mom I needed to find a way to make money and spend time with my son. I was looking for answers and direction. I met a friend who was making a huge amount of money who offered to teach me what he was doing. First, I quickly realized what he was doing was way above my tech skills. Second, I realized what he was doing was working well but wasn’t sustainable or ethical. This was confirmed when I read an article in Wired Magazine that called him out by name as one of the top sploggers in the nation. Since then he’s gone on to do things that are more sustainable.

My point is: I love to experiment and learn. However, if I experiment with my own brand I have to be really careful not to risk my brand. That post I made on Facebook about an essential oil deal, didn’t work and it diluted my brand. It didn’t serve them. I never talk about health or essential oils so it was not congruent. I listened to a friend who really wanted me to do it. I’ve seen so many friends do so well on doTerra that I felt like I had to try. Mistake.

Nothing I’ve ever tried that was tricky in the slightest has ever paid off long term. It’s sad how many times I have had to learn this lesson. I’ve steered clear of partners who use methods that are unethical or who don’t fit my brand. I even try to avoid clients who don’t. I need to avoid anything that doesn’t fit my brand and the trust I’ve worked so many years to build.

Experimenting is powerful because you learn what works. It was brave of Neil to share what he did and how it went and to include numbers. I love it when bloggers share their income and lessons from their journey. I respect and love when someone is willing to be vulnerable and open up about what they’re doing. I learn so much from it.

The problem is, spammers and sleezy marketers are prevalent in our industry. You’ve got to stay far away from them or you risk being seen as one of them. Trust takes so long to build but can be gone so quickly. In this case Neil risked being hated by his loyal followers. If you’re not careful you can be perceived as one of the spammers. As marketers we know perception is everything. So here’s my advice to myself, Neil, and other marketers. Keep the curiosity — just don’t let it kill your brand.