Niche Pursuits http://www.nichepursuits.com Find Business Ideas, Niche Websites, and much more! Mon, 16 Feb 2015 18:54:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1Things and Things and Things! Niche Pursuits no Niche Pursuits sample@email.com sample@email.com (Niche Pursuits) Sample Podcast about Sample Things Niche Pursuits http://www.nichepursuits.com/wp-content/images/niche-pursuits-podcast-cover.jpghttp://www.nichepursuits.com Richland, WA Authority Site and Kindle Books Income Report for January 2015http://www.nichepursuits.com/authority-site-kindle-books-income-report-january-2015/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/authority-site-kindle-books-income-report-january-2015/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 18:54:26 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5168 Another month has flown by, and it’s time for another income report.  I like to share these income reports because  it keep me accountable in my own business, but I also know that it can provide inspiration and openness to … Continued

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Another month has flown by, and it’s time for another income report.  I like to share these income reports because  it keep me accountable in my own business, but I also know that it can provide inspiration and openness to anyone looking to get involved in a similar business.

Perrin and I started our Authority site project several months ago; however, it’s only been since November that we even started monetizing the site.  You can see the first official income report from last month right here.

I also want to clarify that this income report is only for one website.  This income report does not include any of my other niche websites, my software business, or any other income sources I have.

I plan on being as open as possible with the income from this one project, whether or not things goes as planned or not.  However, the actual website and Kindle books associated with this site are going to be kept private.

So, with that little intro, let’s jump into some of the numbers!

Traffic and Earnings Report

In December we exceeded our expectations as far as number of books sold and earnings.  Despite launching a second book towards the end of January, our earnings were still lower for the month.

I’m not happy with the decline in earnings; however, that’s mostly due to the fact that we actually made so much more in December than expected.

Here’s a look at the total units sold and borrowed in January:

jankindle

As you can see, the number of units sold was trending down during the middle of the month.  However, we released a new book on January 19th, and that appears to have reversed the trend through the end of January.

Total Site Earnings for January: $1,462.46

The site earned a total of $1,462 in January.  That is still a decent number, but a big drop from December earnings.

Total Kindle Earnings: $1,315.53

Our first book finally started to drop in sales, and this is the cause of the large drop in revenue.  Our book was sitting at #1 best seller in a few different categories for about a month.  That is no longer the case.

The sales from our first book continued to decline through most of January.  When we launched our second book, we started to pull in more sales overall.  However, our second book has not performed nearly as well as the first book we launch.

I’ll dive into some of the reasons why our second book didn’t sell as well, and plans going forward below.

Adsense Earnings: $146.93

On the bright side of things, the traffic and earnings directly on our authority site did increase.  The adsense earnings for January were about double what it was in December…nice!

Here’s a quick look at the traffic from January (which was also a nice increase over December):

jansessions

During January, the site was averaging just over 240 sessions per day.  We are still “playing” around with Google news and SEO to find a strategy that is going to take us to the next level.  Getting 240 sessions a day is a good start, but we have a long way to go before I’m satisfied with the results.

I’ve decided to start keeping a nice spreadsheet with the stats from this site.  Below you will find the relevant statistics for December and January.

incomereport

This chart breaks down all the sales essentially since the inception of our Kindle books.  Technically we launched our first book in Nov. 2014; however, it was towards the end of the month so I just included it as a “new” book for December.  The revenue from that first book was very small for November because the book was free or 99 cents for a couple of days that month.

Check out the chart for all your stat viewing enjoyment!

Why Didn’t the Second Book Perform as Well?

When we launched our second book on January 19th, we felt like we could knock it out of the park.  And to be honest, during the free days, we got even MORE free downloads than our first book.

Our promotion strategies worked REALLY well, and we got tons of downloads.

Here’s a quick chart to see how it went:

book2promo

Our top day had 2,680 free downloads!  This pushed our book into the top 100 downloaded free books on the entire Kindle store.

So, when we switched the book to 99 cents on January 25th, we were really hoping that the sales trend would continue.  Unfortunately, those sales didn’t materialize like they did for our first book.

Here’s a look at the first few days of book #2:

book2-99

Don’t be deceived by the upward trend right at the end of the month.  This trend did not continue into February.

So, the book DID sell a few copies and got some borrows, so it’s not a complete flop.  But our first book was consistently doing 20 to 30 purchases at $2.99 for the first month.  This second book was barely selling at $0.99.

Why?

Well, Perrin and I have 2 theories as to why our second book did not go as well.

First, we got some negative reviews.

During our free period, we got lots of positive, 5 star reviews.  However, we also got a couple of negative reviews that I think really hurt us.  (See the big drop in downloads during our 2 last free days during our free period).

The negative reviews weren’t because the book was poor quality, but more because the topic we picked has very passionate people.  We were concerned going in that if we didn’t tread on some of the subjects just right, we could get some negative reviews.

Well, sure enough, we got some negative reviews.  I think our book still sits at an average rating of 4.1; however, the few negative reviews may have really hurt us out of the gate.

Secondly, we chose a more competitive category.

I think our category choice may have been too ambitious.  Our first book was very niche, and we dominated.

Our second book had a bigger potential audience, but the category is dominated by well-known authors and books.  We DID “niche” our book down a bit, but the general topic is fairly popular and looks like too competitive.

So, the competitive nature of the category and the fact that we got some negative reviews early on, looks like the reasons our second book didn’t perform as well as the first.

But never fear!  We just launched our 3rd book…and have another one in process of being written.  We are taking the catalog approach and hope to have 10 to 12 books in just a few short months.

I see this business as a long term play, and hopefully in 6 to 12 months from now we can look at all the hard work that we’ve put in and be reaping the benefits.

Some Final Thoughts

Overall, I’m still VERY happy with making close to $1,500 with a site that we really just started monetizing a couple of months ago.  We hit a big homerun with our first book and that may have put on the rose colored glasses for our second book.

I was expecting it to perform just as well, but alas, I have a few more lessons to learn here.

As far as the book writing process goes, Perrin and I have gotten a method down that works pretty well to brainstorm, outline, and produce great quality books.  So, I feel like the writing and promoting of Kindle books is just going to get easier with practice.

Unfortunately, writing and promoting books does not also equal revenue.  As we refine our process for actually picking categories, topics, or even keywords to target on Amazon, I think we can more consistently produce books that make sufficient sales.

In addition, we still haven’t quite hit on the perfect strategy for the content of our site.  I feel like we are getting closer, but this is likely to take a few months as well.

Part of the complexity of our site is that it’s a very big project.  We are targeting long tail keywords, and we understand this process very well.  However, we are new to the Google News game, and so this is the steep learning curve that may take some time to figure out.

We have some good days, lots of bad days, and a few just okay days.  We’ve been chatting with some colleagues about Google news, and we have a better plan now going forward.

I will certainly share the results as we see them.

Overall, our Authority site project is slowly moving forward.  As always, I would love to hear any thoughts or questions that you might have.  Feel free to drop a comment or two below.

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The Impact of My Blog Redesign on Engagement and Opt-Inshttp://www.nichepursuits.com/impact-blog-redesign-engagement-opt-ins/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/impact-blog-redesign-engagement-opt-ins/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 17:28:18 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5151 If you have been following NichePursuits.com for a while, you will know that just recently I went through a major redesign. In fact, when I started my blog back at the end of 2010 I simply found a theme for … Continued

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If you have been following NichePursuits.com for a while, you will know that just recently I went through a major redesign.

In fact, when I started my blog back at the end of 2010 I simply found a theme for about $37 that I liked, got a cheap logo and I was off and blogging.  I used that same blog design and logo for 4 years!

During those 4 years, my blog great tremendously and do I dare say I’ve had a small impact on my ever growing community?  So, the first lesson is that you do NOT need an expensive design to get started blogging.  People care more about the quality of your content then the quality of your logo…really.

However, I finally decided that it was time for a fresh look.  So, I hired Taylor Hendrickson of HendricksenDesign.com to tackle the task.  Taylor did an amazing job, and I definitely recommend him if you are looking to have your site designed.

Today, I want to review some of the stats related to my new blog design.  I’ll be diving into things like pages viewed, time on site, opt in rates, and more.

Hopefully some of this information will help you as you think about getting a fancy new design for your own site!

Before and After…

As mentioned, I used a very cheap WordPress theme and logo for 4 years on my site.  I actually think they looked pretty well…for something under $100.

I want to to share some before and after screenshots as well as the statistics.

NichePursuits.com Before Nov. 2014

2015-02-09_1307

and…

2015-02-09_1315

NichePursuits.com After Nov. 2014

2015-02-09_1320

and

2015-02-09_1310

For the overall look and feel of the site, I think it’s a huge jump forward in terms of design and feel!

The process of getting the logo figured out was actually probably the most difficult.  Once Taylor and I got that in place, everything else seemed to go without a hitch.

I have to admit that I attribute how smooth everything went to Taylor and his great eye for design AND understanding my goals.  He understands my market very well and was able to come up with design, opt-in copy, and more with very little input from me.

However, there is much more to a site than looking great; I want results.  So, let’s take a look at some of the stats to see how my website is performing now vs. the old design.

Avg. Session Duration: Increase of 23 seconds

Old site design: 2:51

New site design: 3:14

An increase of of 23 seconds per session is pretty significant.  This means that people are staying on the site longer and as we will see below, visiting more pages.

I have to suspect this is due to a more professional design that helps people feel like Niche Pursuits is a quality site.  My related posts and project pages have also been strategically designed to encourage people to stick around and read more content as well.

Pages / Session: Increase of 0.13 Pages

Old site design: 2.03 pages/session

New site design: 2.16 pages/session

Having people stick around longer and visit more pages is always a good thing to build trust and engagement. This metric is mostly driven by the quality of content.  The most interesting your blog posts, the more readers will want to stick around and see what else you have written.

However, as you can see a site redesign can also have a positive impact on this metric as well.  I’m definitely happy with the increase here.

Bounce Rate: Improvement of 1.01%

Old site design: 64.06%

New site design: 63.05 %

As you can see, there was only a slight improvement here…but it is an improvement nonetheless.  Since the content of my site has not changed, I have to attribute this improvement to the new site design.

Average Daily Opt-ins: Increase of 30.03 Email Opt-Ins

Old site design: 20.59 average daily opt-ins

New site design: 50.62 average daily opt-ins

Building an email list is SO important, so this is a metric that I care much more about than some of the previous ones mentioned.

This increase is HUGE!  In fact, I now get 2.5 times as many new email subscribers per day than I did before the site redesign.  That’s pretty amazing.

A big part of this was more than just a fancy new design.  I also finally got around to implementing some of the strategies that I knew I should have been using all along.  Call me lazy, but I finally got around to adding things like pop-ups, content upgrades, and more.

Perhaps you have seen my new splash page on my homepage.  This has helped:

2015-02-09_1314

In addition, I now have content upgrades within most of my blog posts (including all my old ones) that has significantly improved opt-in rates.

And then I’ve added timed pop-ups to improve the opt-in rate even further.  I’m sure I could be doing even more, but I’m quite happy with the significant increase in email subscribers that I’m now getting.

I should also mention that all of these splash pages, content upgrades, and pop-ups are all custom designed.  I’m not using any out of the box plugins or designs.  These we also customer programmed and design specially for my site by Taylor Hendricksen.

Email Opt-in Conversion Rate: Increase of 1.49%

Old site design: 0.77%

New site design: 2.26%

I know an increase of 1.49% doesn’t sound like much, but it really is in raw numbers.  That’s an increase of almost 300%!

I know that only 2.26% of people opting into my email list doesn’t sound that great, but I’m very happy with it.  You also have to realize that I get A LOT of returning visitors that are already on my email list anyway, so I’ll take it.

A Few Final Thoughts…

Overall, the statistics are speaking loud and clear to me, the new site design has been a HUGE success!  People are staying on my site longer, visiting more pages, and are more likely to opt-in to my email list.

Privately, people have also shared with me that they absolutely love the new design as well.  I was nervous going in to all the changes, but I’m quite pleased with the design and the results.

I do want to give another shout out to Taylor Hendricksen for the awesome design work he has done.  He had so many ideas and was able to implement the few ideas that I had without any issue.

In fact, I was so happy with the work that Taylor did, that I’ve had him redesign the look and feel of Long Tail Pro as well!  That’s right a new design of Long Tail Pro is coming out very soon.

The impact of my new blog design has been huge.  While I still think that people just starting out do NOT need to spend thousands of dollars with a fancy design, when you have the money to upgrade your site, it’s definitely worth it.

Bootstrap your way to an audience with a cheap WordPress theme, then give your site a facelift only once you know your business has some legs.

As always, I would love to hear any comments or questions that you have about designing a site or anything else related to this post.

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Podcast 58: Kindle and Authority Site Success; Earnings and Lessons Learned So Farhttp://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-58-kindle-authority-site-success-earnings-lessons-learned-far/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-58-kindle-authority-site-success-earnings-lessons-learned-far/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 17:15:46 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5142 The Niche Pursuits podcast is back with another original episode!  In today’s show Perrin and I sat down together to discuss the progress made so far on our Kindle books and authority site. Specifically we discuss how our new site … Continued

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The Niche Pursuits podcast is back with another original episode!  In today’s show Perrin and I sat down together to discuss the progress made so far on our Kindle books and authority site.

Specifically we discuss how our new site and our Kindle books work together to build our brand and audience.  In addition, we review the income numbers shared in my last earnings update here.

During the podcast we dive a bit deeper into how we launched both our first and now second Kindle book.  The first 5 days of our second Kindle book were free days.  We seemed to have found a formula that works really well for these free days, because we got just as many downloads during these free days as our first book.

We did all of this without leveraging anyone else list.

You can see a few sites to promote on right here in my previous blog post.

Overall, we cover much more detail in the podcast itself, so I’ll hope you’ll give it a listen.

Thanks!

 

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http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-58-kindle-authority-site-success-earnings-lessons-learned-far/feed/ 19 The Niche Pursuits podcast is back with another original episode!  In today's show Perrin and I sat down together to discuss the progress made so far on our Kindle books and authority site. - Specifically we discuss how our new site and our Kindle boo... The Niche Pursuits podcast is back with another original episode!  In today's show Perrin and I sat down together to discuss the progress made so far on our Kindle books and authority site.Specifically we discuss how our new site and our Kindle books work together to build our brand and audience.  In addition, we review the income numbers shared in my last earnings update here.During the podcast we dive a bit deeper into how we launched both our first and now second Kindle book.  The first 5 days of our second Kindle book were free days.  We seemed to have found a formula that works really well for these free days, because we got just as many downloads during these free days as our first book.We did all of this without leveraging anyone else list.You can see a few sites to promote on right here in my previous blog post.Overall, we cover much more detail in the podcast itself, so I'll hope you'll give it a listen.Thanks!  Niche Pursuits no 46:40
9 Ways to Increase Amazon Affiliate Earningshttp://www.nichepursuits.com/9-ways-increase-amazon-affiliate-earnings/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/9-ways-increase-amazon-affiliate-earnings/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 17:55:05 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5126 During my online “career” I have built several sites monetized with Amazon Associates.  In fact, 2 of the largest case studies I’ve done on my site here (Niche Site Project 1 and Niche Site Project 2) both involved building an … Continued

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During my online “career” I have built several sites monetized with Amazon Associates.  In fact, 2 of the largest case studies I’ve done on my site here (Niche Site Project 1 and Niche Site Project 2) both involved building an Amazon affiliate site from scratch.

During my years of building these sites, I’ve picked up a few tactics and techniques to help me earn more in affiliate commissions from Amazon.  Some of these strategies are simple on-page “hacks”, while other are bigger pictures ways of thinking about your business.

Today I am going to share 9 specific ways that you can increase your amazon affiliate earnings.  I am also going to share some ways that you can implement these relatively quickly in your business.

1. Target Buying Phrases

When people shop online, they go through a process of general queries to more specific queries.  You want to target phrases that people are searching for when they are closer to that buying stage.

For example, let’s say you have a site about sleeping bags.  Instead of targeting phrases that are more general like, “sleeping bags” or “what is a sleeping bag”, you should target phrases where you know people are likely shopping…such as “best sleeping bags” or “sleeping bags under $100″.

These searchers are clearly looking for more information in order to make a purchase decision.  You will get a much higher conversion rate (commissions!) when you get this kind of traffic on your site.

2. Target Long Tail Keywords…Even with Low Search Volume

Yes, this is similar to the first point; however, it’s important to take this one step further.  Don’t just stop at “best sleeping bags” or “sleeping bag reviews”!  You should target phrases that are even longer tailed, which could mean going after keywords with very low search volume.

That’s okay!  Even though you may get less traffic per article/keyword, these are HIGH conversion type keywords.

For example, we could be targeting “best sleeping bags under $100″ or “cheap sleeping bags for toddlers”.  These are some excellent long tail phrases that people would be using that are close to a buying decisions.

Also, if you listened to my podcast with Claire Smith recently, you will know that she does VERY well (over $10k per month) by targeting these very long tail, very low volume type of keywords.  These keywords takes less links to rank for because there is just so much less competition.

As an FYI, I used Long Tail Pro to find these long tail phrases in this sleeping bag example.

3. Affiliate Link to Images

A simple but often overlooked tactic to improve you Amazon affiliate sales is to link to Amazon using all the images in your post.

When people are reading your product review articles, they will very often click on the image.  If the image link simply pulls up the image file on your site, that’s potentially one less visitor you could have sent to Amazon.

However, if your image is actually an Amazon affiliate link, you increase the chances that more people will end up on Amazon looking for products to buy.  The more clicks you send to Amazon, the more buyers you will end up with.

If you have ever tried to upload images, position them, label them, and then add an Amazon affiliate link, you know how time consuming this can be.  It’s worth it.  However, luckily there is a tool that makes adding Amazon affiliate image links much easier.

I have been using EasyAzon for a few years now, and it honestly just makes building an Amazon affiliate site much easier.

So, if you want to add images that already have your affiliate link in-place, I highly recommend that you check out EasyAzon 4 right here.

4. Use In-Content Links

Similar to using affiliate links for your images, you can send more people to Amazon by using in-content links.  In fact, these in-content links are the most likely links to get clicked!

Unfortunately, many people think that just inserting an amazon banner or an image link will be enough to make decent sales; however, this is not the case.  If you are writing useful content, then people will actually read it and will click on your links within your content.

All I mean is this: If I was talking about sleeping bags, I might simply say…”And to see the my top recommendation of a sleeping bag for a toddler under $50 click here.  The link in that previous sentence is an “in-content” link.

I also use EasyAzon 4 to make inserting these types of in-content links much faster. (The above link was inserted with EasyAzon).

Rather than going over to Amazon, finding the product I want to link to, going through the process of finding the affiliate links on Amazon, and then pasting into my website; I can just stay in my WordPress backend and pull up the product and add the link using EasyAzon.

I really like the fact that I don’t have to leave my blog post to find and insert product links.

EasyAzon 4 is on sale for the next few days here.

5. Test Using “Add to Cart” Option….Longer Cookie

Did you know that you can get a 90 day cookie when you send someone to Amazon through your affiliate link?  When you use a regular affiliate link, the cookie is just 24 hours.

However, if you create a special link that automatically adds the product to someone’s Amazon cart when they go through your affiliate link, Amazon will lengthen your cookie to 90 days!  (If they buy in 90 days, you still get the commission).

Now, I would like to clarify that I think you should test this option.  It may or may not work better in your niche.  Each market and website is different, so this option may or may not be the best for you.

To be honest, I don’t know how to create an affiliate link that auto-adds a product to someone’s cart without using a tool.  This is just a simple option in EasyAzon that you can turn on or off.

Here’s a screenshot of several of the options in EasyAzon; including the Add to Cart Option:

addtocart

6. Add on Amazon Store to Your Site

At one point I was researching sites to buy on Flippa.  One of the sites was doing extremely well on Amazon and was using a tactic that I hadn’t implemented yet.  That simple tactic was adding an Amazon store to their site.

As a result, I’ve since tested it on some of my own sites and Perrin currently has an Amazon store on his aPennyShaved.com site right here.  Having a store in place just gives your readers one more place to browse products and potentially make your way to Amazon for a purchase.

Again, more commissions for you!

Creating an Amazon store is REALLY easy too.  Simply log in to your Amazon Associates account, and then click on the “aStore” and follow the directions:

astore

7. Produce Quality Content

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that if you produce great content, not only will you rank better in Google, but more people will actually buy from you.

This is an entire process in and of itself.  Luckily, Perrin has written a few ideas on creating content that engages and converts right here.

A big part of creating “great” content is just understanding what your audience is really looking for and meeting those needs.  Some of this can be done through highly targeted content and research; but part of it also just comes with seeing what your competitors are doing and deciding what you can do better.

A couple of simple areas that you can often do better than your competitors is creating comparison charts and best seller lists.

8. Use Comparison Charts

When I first started my survival knife site (from Niche Site Project 1), I wanted to make my site better than the others that were ranking at the top of Google.  One of the ways that I decided to make my site stand out was by creating a comparison chart of the top survival knives on the market.

This produced great results for me not only in terms of quality content, but I found that more people starting buying as they compared using the chart I had created.  Since then, I don’t know if I started a bit of a trend, but nearly every Amazon affiliate site I see now uses many of the same comparison chart tactics.

I’ve written an in-depth guide on how to create your own Amazon product comparison charts right here.

Another option that has just been released is to use the TableZon extension for EasyAzon 4.  I just recently got to check out TableZon from Chris Guthrie and it’s a pretty cool way to create comparison charts quickly and easily right within WordPress.

TableZon is only available to those that buy EasyAzon 4.  It’s an upsell immediately following purchase.

You can see the discounted pricing on EasyAzon and TableZon right here.

9. Create Best Seller Lists

Another way to increase your amazon affiliate earnings is to create best seller lists within your blog posts.  This is a bit different than a comparison chart.  A comparison chart might only focus on survival knives under a certain price point for example.

A best seller list will focus on the products that sell the most in your given category.

For example, let’s say I wanted to create a list of the top 5 selling point and shoot digital cameras on Amazon.  One option is to go to Amazon.com/BestSellers and select the correct category to start creating your best seller list.  This is the current list of best selling point and shoot digital cameras:

pointandshoot

You would then have to take the information from each of those products and insert some kind of list on your site.  This could get time consuming.

Or you can use the BestSeller Azon extension for EasyAzon 4 (it’s sold as an upgrade after initial purchase).  Again, this is a brand new extension that Chris Guthrie has just released.  I don’t know of any other simple ways to create these best seller lists.

Using the plugin extension, I just created the below best seller list with my Amazon links inserted and everything in about 1 minute:

Best Selling Point and Shoot Digital Cameras

I could create a much more comprehensive best sellers list or change up how the links act.  But overall, I was able to quickly create a list of the best selling products on Amazon for my chosen category, and they are immediately inserted into the post with my affiliate link.

A Few Closing Thoughts…

Overall, hopefully some of these tips that I’ve shared can help you increase your affiliate commissions on Amazon.  These little tactics can ensure that you send the greatest number of people to Amazon.

Amazon has such huge brand awareness and trust that once you get people to the Amazon page, you just let Amazon do the rest.

In addition to the tactics and strategies I’ve mentioned, I do think a tool like EasyAzon can be quite valuable in speeding up the process of implementing lots of these strategies.  Just so you know, I have been using EasyAzon for over 3 years now, and I’ve never had an issues.

Version 4 of EasyAzon is just being released for the first time this week.  Chris Guthrie (the creator) has given me an advanced copy of v4 and I’ve been very happy with the updates I’ve seen.

In addition, the 2 extensions I mentioned (TableZon and Best Seller Azon) are only available to buyers of EasyAzon 4.  These 2 extensions are some great upgrades that can just further streamline the process of managing your affiliate links.

I recommend checking out EasyAzon 4 Right Here

As always, I’d love to hear any comments or questions that you might have in regards to increasing affiliate commissions on Amazon.  Do you have any other tactics that you use that I haven’t mentioned here?  Let us all know!

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Authority Site Project Income Report for December 2014http://www.nichepursuits.com/authority-site-project-income-report-december-2014/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/authority-site-project-income-report-december-2014/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 17:55:09 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5107 I’m excited to bring you the first official income report for the authority site project that Perrin and I started a few months ago! For the past few months we’ve discussed in a few posts some of the strategies we’ve … Continued

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I’m excited to bring you the first official income report for the authority site project that Perrin and I started a few months ago!

For the past few months we’ve discussed in a few posts some of the strategies we’ve been using to get traffic and earnings to the site including publishing Kindle books and Reddit marketing.

I fully expect that we will be writing a lot more in-depth blog posts about the specific tactics that we’ve used to get links, grow our site, and make money.  However, today I want to focus on some of the big picture progress that we’ve made, and then of course share a detailed income report below.

You can expect these income reports on a monthly basis now for the foreseeable future.

Progress Made So Far

As we’ve shared in previous posts about the authority site project, we’ve made quite a bit of progress on our “authority site” so far.  Some of the highlights from the project so far:

  • Site started around August 2014
  • Focused purely on content and outreach from August until November (and have continued since).
  • Received lots of natural “white hat” links including several from universities and other well known online properties.
  • Site now has an Ahrefs domain rank of 50+ and linking root domains of 100+
  • Did not try to monetize the site at all until we launched our Kindle ebook in November (see initial kindle ebook results here).
  • Added Google Adsense to the site in November
  • Site was accepted (second try) to Google News in December

Here’s a quick look at the recent traffic:

recenttraffic

The bigger traffic spikes are caused by Google News.  Some days you have news items that gain traction and other days you don’t.

However, the trend that I like is that our natural search engine traffic is steadily increasing.  So, even when we don’t have a big Google News days, we can still get some decent search engine traffic from Google.  Overall we still usually get an average of 200 to 300 sessions per day.

Here’s a look at natural search engine traffic from Google only (does not include Google news traffic or other sources):

gtraffic

This chart shows the traffic on a monthly basis.  I’m excited to see that our Google traffic continues to grow each month, but I’m even more excited about the possibilities of sales and email opt-ins from Kindle books.

Let’s take a look at the overall earnings of the site and discuss where we go from here.

Earnings

As mentioned briefly above, we did not add any monetization to the site itself until December.  We did publish our first Kindle ebook in November, but even that didn’t really start making money until the first of December.

If you have been reading along, you will know that our kindle book launch exceeding our expectations!  Perrin and I launched the book expecting to make maybe a couple hundred dollars.  We mostly launched the book because we wanted to start building an email list from the book.

However, the success of our first book on Kindle has made us completely rethink where we should be putting our time an energy.  We are definitely going to be focusing more on Kindle books now.

So, how do our kindle books and our authority site interact with one another?

In a nutshell, both the Kindle books and the website are building us an email list that we can use to launch future Kindle books or other products.

However, we are also monetizing the best we can along the way.  On our website we monetize with Google Adsense and the Kindle books are sold on Amazon.

So, with that quick explanation, let’s jump into the actual numbers for December!

Authority Site Adsense Earnings: $74.51

The earnings from the web property itself is pretty small at this point.  However, it’s the first month we even tried to monetize and you have to start somewhere!  I expect the Adsense earnings to be over double for January.

Kindle Book Earnings

This number is kinda tricky to calculate.  Even though Amazon gives reports, they are broken down by actual units sold and KU/KOLL Units (borrows and lending library).  Then they are further broken down by country.  The book can be sold and borrowed in up to 13 different countries (Amazon stores).  In addition, the currencies are different in each Amazon store, so they have to be converted to the currency you want to see.

However, I really wanted to see how much our Kindle book generated in US dollars (and I know you guys want to see it as well); so I went through the extra work to convert everything to one dollar figure.

Total Earnings for Authority Site Kindle Book: $2,638.05

kindledec

Above is the screenshot for units purchased or borrowed during December.  Please note that Dec. 1st was the last day of our $0.99 sale; which is why the units sold was so high.  All units sold after December 1st were at a price of $2.99.

I could not be any more pleased with the results of our very first Kindle ebook!  We blew away all our expectations.

If you are interested in the step by step details of how we launched our book, I’ve written a massive post right here all about it.

The sales are trending down, so I expect that January will be a smaller month than December; however, that could change as we are in the process of launching our second book!

That’s right, our second book has been written and will be live on Amazon this week.  While I don’t know exactly what to expect, I do think it will add at least a few hundred dollars a month to our revenue.

In addition, we have a 3rd book in the works already as well.  Our 3rd book will be done in 2 to 3 weeks.  And of course, we are brainstorming book titles for several other books as well in our niche.

Overall Earnings for Authority Site in December (Adsense + Kindle): $2,712.56

In addition to just the awesome income, we also started building our email list.  To be honest, I was hoping we could have built a larger list than we did, but every little bit helps.

End of December Email List Size: 240

I know…I know.  240 emails is not a huge accomplishment.  However, we really just started trying to collect emails at the end of November, and it’s a little bit of momentum towards building a larger business.  I’m happy with the progress made so far.

Next Steps

We’ve made quite a bit of progress on the site, and we have lots of plans moving forward.

One of the most exciting developments that I need to draw attention to is the fact that we got approved to Google News in December.  This is a pretty big deal.

Google has strict guidelines here for how to get listed in Google News.  We followed those steps and failed…the first time.  After making the necessary corrections (and waiting 60 days), we were able to submit our site again…and got approved!

It’s kind-of a cool feeling to know that a Google employee has visited our site and deemed it worthy of being including in their elite news section.  We are definitely building a quality site; even Google thinks so.

We are now actively writing a couple of news stories per day on our site and seeing a nice uptick in traffic on some days.  We are also getting more natural links since we joined Google News.  We are hoping that as our site continues to age and our link profile continues to grow, that the natural SEO traffic to our site will also grow.

In addition to “news” posts, we continue to add more keyword focused content.  We are in a VERY competitive market and so it’s slow going to rank for keywords.  As the chart shows at the beginning of this post, we ARE seeing a slow and steady increase in our Google traffic…it’s just going to take some time.

So, our immediate plans are to continue to post regular content to the site as a long term strategy.  However, the more short term (and hopefully long term) revenue is going to come from the Kindle books that we produce.

We will have books 2 and 3 out in the next month or so.  If those go even half as well as our first book, we will be thrilled!  In addition, if the Kindle model continues to produce, we will start scaling it even larger.  I’ll hold off on sharing my exact “scaling” plans for now until I see a bit more success from the model.

A Few Final Thoughts…

First of all, I want to say “thank you” for continuing to read my blog.  Even though I’ve shared a few posts here and there about this authority site project, I still feel like there is SO much more that I could be sharing.  I wish I could do a blog post every day to keep all of you up to date.

However, the reality of the situation is that I have a lot going on in my business outside of NichePursuits.com.  I’m involved in several different business ventures (some that I’ve mentioned and some that I haven’t)…as a result, I always feel like I run out of time at the end of the day before I have a chance to blog about things.

If NichePursuits.com was my only business, I would certainly be putting more time in my blog posts here…or even my marketing efforts to grow my readership.  However, I also feel like my blog posts are MORE valuable for the exact same reason.  I actively run businesses outside of this blog, and so hopefully the advice and “real world” case studies I share can have a greater impact in your business.

I simply want to say thank you and I’m doing my best to keep everyone updated with what’s going on in my business.

If you have any questions or comments on this blog post, please leave your thoughts below.  Thanks!

The post Authority Site Project Income Report for December 2014 appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

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Podcast 57: How Claire Smith Makes Over 5 Figures a Month with Niche Sites and NO Link Buildinghttp://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-57-claire-smith-makes-5-figures-month-niche-sites-no-link-building/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-57-claire-smith-makes-5-figures-month-niche-sites-no-link-building/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 19:16:32 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5109 Perhaps the most popular topic that I’ve ever covered is Niche Sites.  In the past, I’ve discussed how I built not just a few small niche sites, but LOTS of niche sites. However, since Panda, Penguin, and PBN updates I’ve … Continued

The post Podcast 57: How Claire Smith Makes Over 5 Figures a Month with Niche Sites and NO Link Building appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

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Perhaps the most popular topic that I’ve ever covered is Niche Sites.  In the past, I’ve discussed how I built not just a few small niche sites, but LOTS of niche sites.

However, since Panda, Penguin, and PBN updates I’ve shifted my strategy to focus on less sites that are typically larger.

But that doesn’t mean that everyone has stopped building niche sites.  In fact, in my podcast episode today I interviewed Claire Smith that is doing VERY well with her niche sites.  She is making over $10,000 a month with her niche sites.

However, what makes Claire’s story interesting is that she has NEVER built a link to any of her sites.  In her words, “I just never got around to it.”

Because she has never even tried to build a link to any of her sites, she doesn’t have to worry when Google changes how the value links because well she doesn’t have any!

Some of her sites do have links (that came naturally without Claire’s involvement), but many don’t.  Claire is focused more on great keyword research, and targeting super long tail keywords that other sites are not targeting very well.

That’s it.  She produces regular contact based on her keyword research and does not do any outreach or link building.

Claire doesn’t blog very often, but when she does you can read her updates at SkefflingsMakeMoneyOnline.com.

Podcast Interview Notes

Below you will find most of the questions and answers given during the interview.  However, please realize that these are very abbriviated notes.  We covered much more in the podcast than what you will find below.  Please listen to the entire podcast to hear the entire interview.

What were you doing professionally before you ever started building niche websites?

I was a dentist for 12 years.  The first 5 years was in one office, and I kept asking myself “is this it?”.  I got pretty bored with in, but managed to stay on for another 7 years just filling in at other dentist offices.

During the last few years as a dentist I had some spare time and starting working online on the side.

What got you started working online?

It was actually an acquaintance during dental school. She was an antique dealer and was selling on eBay.  I then started shopping on eBay, and eventually started buying stuff at local auctions to sell on eBay.  This was back in about 2000.

We started with breakables, then moved onto books and other non-breakable items.  I also bought and sold linens and related items.

Finally in about 2011, I started reading about other avenues of making money online.

What was your next step in the evolution of your business?

I was just reading around 6 months.  The Panda update came out before I really even got started.  I just started writing about my own hobbies on other people’s websites like Squidoo and Infobarrel.

I started doing monthly income reports in August 2011.

I eventually realized that I didn’t want all my content on other people’s website, so I started building my own.  I also realized that writing about hobbies isn’t the most profitable.  I started targeting more commercial products.

What kind of financial success are you having right now with Niche Sites?

Right now we are doing low 5-figures per month.  Most of that is coming from Amazon affiliates.  We have sold over $4.3 million worth of Amazon products on our own sites.  If you include our Squidoo stuff, we’ve sold over $7 million in Amazon products.

And of course the earnings vary from month to month.

How many sites do you and your husband have?

We have about 40 sites total.  I have about 30 sites and my husband has about 10.

How much work does it take to manage that many sites?

I have a really good spreadsheet that tracks everything for each site.  I include things like the keywords targeted, the bounce rates, and more.  It really becomes an economy of scale, more sites do no mean a ton more work.

Some of our sites have a couple hundred articles on them already.

Why aren’t you doing any link building for your sites?

I have no idea, I’ve never tried it!  It comes down to laziness.  I just found when I was first starting out, I knew I wouldn’t make money if I didn’t have content published.  So, it was a matter of resources at that point, pay money to get links built or spend money creating more content.

The other point is that if everyone is building links then surely the effect would get diluted.

Financially, it just didn’t seem to make sense to me.

Why are your sites ranking without links?

The biggest thing is choosing the absolute lowest competition phrases possible.  If Google is starved of content at that level, then I know its fair game.  The odds are much higher of your content showing up when no one else is writing about.

The other part is just making sure that your content is really useful.  Our articles are usually 600 to 1000 words in length.

I also don’t try to analyze my rankings very much.

How do you determine competitiveness of keywords?

I’ve done search volume of 10 or less.  The competition level is much more important than search volume.

For competition, all I’m looking at is the “All in title” query in Google.  If its below 20 title competition on the entire internet, then I know that my odds are pretty good for ranking.

What’s the highest All in Title that you would go after?

Usually I try to stay below 1,000; however, lower is much better. I use a tool called I love page 1.  I think they do pagerank, but they also do All in Title for that phrase.

The google query is: “allintitle: your keyword”

How are brainstorming and coming up with keywords to target?

I often go to the Amazon best sellers list and see what kind of products are there.  After picking a niche, I go to the Google keyword planner with keyword volumes.  Then I get the all in title on those keywords; then I start to do ratios of them and sort by the ratios.

Ratios is Title competition above search volume.  A ratio of under 1 is pretty good.  The lower the number, the better.

Do you have a specific search volume?

Typically, I only do keywords with a search volume UNDER 500 searches per month.  Typically keywords with higher search volume just have too much title competition.

I will sometimes modify the keywords: instead of “best blenders” I’ll add “What is the best blender” to come up with a less competitive keyword.

How does your content process work?

My articles are pretty much self-contained.  I usually review between 3 to 5 products on each article.  We find that 5 products will get a better click through than 3.  And I find that individual product reviews don’t do very well.

As far as keyword density, I just have them write naturally.  I don’t ask them to use the keyword a certain number of times.  We have a couple of VAs add links and images after the articles are written.

When you structure and article, are the product reviews right up front?

I think an intro about what they are going to buy is important; however, you don’t want to make it too long.  I found that people bounce more when there are no images up front or a really long text only intro.

I do find that having an intro at the top is useful.

What bounce rate is good, and what tips do you have to improve bounce rates?

Many of my bounce rates are 70 to 80% and that starts to make me uncomfortable.  On Squidoo, my bounce rates were closer to 40%.

Some niches just have a higher bounce rate naturally.  Also, certain themes can have a big impact as well.

I tend to look at my highest traffic pages and see what I can do to improve those pages.  This could be adding menus or more images.

I’ve found that category pages tend to have a lower bounce rate.  I don’t worry about tags, but categories work well because the bounce rates are low.

If images are too small at the top; bigger images make your bounce rate goes down.  Make sure your images are clickable.  I bold any anchor text.

Having related article plugins can also help.

Are your sites actually getting any links?

A few of them do, but not very many.  We don’t even put social sharing plugins on our site.

I don’t think we get very many back links, but we do get some. I don’t really check for them.

What other tips do you have for building niche sites?

You need to interpret the keywords that you are targeting.  Meaning, try to figure out what they are really looking for.  If someone types in “best high end microwave”, you should really include the high end microwaves.  Don’t think about what you can afford, just try to interpret what the intent is behind the keywords.

This is like magic that we get to do this.

I often find that working on my next site gets me to stop worrying about my previous site.

I still use EMDs and PMDs.  I just try not to narrow it down too much.

What’s happened to your sites when Google updates have come out?

For the most part, my sites tend to go up (particularly with the Penguin updates) when there are updates.  There have been a couple of times where there may have been duplicate content updates with categories and tags.

Do you have any projects in the works that you would like to mention?

We actually started selling our first product on Amazon recently.  We are part of the Chris Guthrie mastermind group.

I’ve been doing some domaining as well.  Its a good game, but I’m just not prepared to email people to sell my domains.  I’ll also probably sell a few sites this year.

Do you have any final business advice?

The main thing is to be aware of the Pareto principle; the 80/20 rule.  You need to be smart about how you are spending your efforts.

With every decision that you make there are going to be a good side and a bad side.

Where can people follow along with what you are doing?

My blog is: SkefflingsMakeMoneyOnline.com

People can contact me there or leave a comment and I will respond.

Your Thoughts

As always, I would love to hear any comments or questions that you have below.  Claire will try and stop by and respond to any specific questions that you have for her.

If you enjoyed the podcast, please consider leaving a rating on iTunes right here.  Thanks!

The post Podcast 57: How Claire Smith Makes Over 5 Figures a Month with Niche Sites and NO Link Building appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

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http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-57-claire-smith-makes-5-figures-month-niche-sites-no-link-building/feed/ 173 Perhaps the most popular topic that I've ever covered is Niche Sites.  In the past, I've discussed how I built not just a few small niche sites, but LOTS of niche sites. - However, since Panda, Penguin, and PBN updates I've shifted my strategy to focu... Perhaps the most popular topic that I've ever covered is Niche Sites.  In the past, I've discussed how I built not just a few small niche sites, but LOTS of niche sites.However, since Panda, Penguin, and PBN updates I've shifted my strategy to focus on less sites that are typically larger.But that doesn't mean that everyone has stopped building niche sites.  In fact, in my podcast episode today I interviewed Claire Smith that is doing VERY well with her niche sites.  She is making over $10,000 a month with her niche sites.However, what makes Claire's story interesting is that she has NEVER built a link to any of her sites.  In her words, "I just never got around to it."Because she has never even tried to build a link to any of her sites, she doesn't have to worry when Google changes how the value links because well she doesn't have any!Some of her sites do have links (that came naturally without Claire's involvement), but many don't.  Claire is focused more on great keyword research, and targeting super long tail keywords that other sites are not targeting very well.That's it.  She produces regular contact based on her keyword research and does not do any outreach or link building.Claire doesn't blog very often, but when she does you can read her updates at SkefflingsMakeMoneyOnline.com. Podcast Interview Notes Below you will find most of the questions and answers given during the interview.  However, please realize that these are very abbriviated notes.  We covered much more in the podcast than what you will find below.  Please listen to the entire podcast to hear the entire interview.What were you doing professionally before you ever started building niche websites?I was a dentist for 12 years.  The first 5 years was in one office, and I kept asking myself "is this it?".  I got pretty bored with in, but managed to stay on for another 7 years just filling in at other dentist offices.During the last few years as a dentist I had some spare time and starting working online on the side.What got you started working online?It was actually an acquaintance during dental school. She was an antique dealer and was selling on eBay.  I then started shopping on eBay, and eventually started buying stuff at local auctions to sell on eBay.  This was back in about 2000.We started with breakables, then moved onto books and other non-breakable items.  I also bought and sold linens and related items.Finally in about 2011, I started reading about other avenues of making money online.What was your next step in the evolution of your business?I was just reading around 6 months.  The Panda update came out before I really even got started.  I just started writing about my own hobbies on other people's websites like Squidoo and Infobarrel.I started doing monthly income reports in August 2011.I eventually realized that I didn't want all my content on other people's website, so I started building my own.  I also realized that writing about hobbies isn't the most profitable.  I started targeting more commercial products.What kind of financial success are you having right now with Niche Sites?Right now we are doing low 5-figures per month.  Most of that is coming from Amazon affiliates.  We have sold over $4.3 million worth of Amazon products on our own sites.  If you include our Squidoo stuff, we've sold over $7 million in Amazon products.And of course the earnings vary from month to month.How many sites do you and your husband have?We have about 40 sites total.  I have about 30 sites and my husband has about 10.How much work does it take to manage that many sites?I have a really good spreadsheet that tracks everything for each site.  I include things like the keywords targeted, the bounce rates, and more.  It really becomes an economy of scale, more sites do no mean a ton more work.Some of our sites have a couple hundred articles on them already. Niche Pursuits no 1:17:33
Reddit Marketing: How We Got 10,000 Pageviews and a PA 48 Link from Reddit in 2 Weekshttp://www.nichepursuits.com/reddit-marketing/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/reddit-marketing/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 17:03:50 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5064 What if I told you getting 10,000 pageviews to your site was relatively easy and took about 45 minutes? Would you even believe me? Probably not. You’d probably think old Perrin had finally gone off the deep end. Well listen … Continued

The post Reddit Marketing: How We Got 10,000 Pageviews and a PA 48 Link from Reddit in 2 Weeks appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

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What if I told you getting 10,000 pageviews to your site was relatively easy and took about 45 minutes? Would you even believe me? Probably not. You’d probably think old Perrin had finally gone off the deep end.

Well listen up. Because I have something to tell you, and I want you to take me seriously…

Getting 10,000 pageviews to your site is relatively easy and takes about 45 minutes! For real.

Of course, this isn’t some trick that’s going to make you rich. And it’s not all rainbows and butterflies; there are plenty of catches here. And it’s really not even particularly easy (it’s not easy when you start, anyway; it’s really easy after you learn it).

However, the methods I’m about to show you have a few other things going for them: (1) they make traffic-driving efforts incredibly efficient, (2) they can get you big numbers, and (3) they can get you absolutely amazing links.

Interested? Good! Because I’ve been pumped to show you these hacks for a while, and I’m excited to finally unveil them!

Quick disclaimer:

This post has a pretty long introduction. The tactics are in the second half, so please feel free to skip down there. However, I think understanding the Reddit site, community, audience and technical structure is vital to optimally promoting your content there, which is why I’m spending so much time on that stuff.

First, what is Reddit, and why should you use it?

Most social media marketing is a grind. With Facebook, you almost always have to spend money to get likes, and likes have been absolutely plummeting in value, since Facebook is throttling the organic reach of business pages. Then there’s Twitter, which heavily polices the rate at which you can follow people, which, for the little guy, drastically affects the rate at which you can get followers.

You get the idea.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying social media marketing is bad. I think it’s great. And there are hyper-successful people building businesses on every platform.

I’m just saying that as time goes on, it becomes more and more of a grind. It’s very tough to log onto Facebook or Twitter and generate 10,000 visitors in a month’s time from scratch—unless you fork over gigantic fistfuls of cash.

Reddit is different.

At its simplest, Reddit is a platform for people to share interesting things they find on the internet. When something is submitted, it gets “upvoted” or “downvoted” by Reddit users. As a submission gets upvotes, it can get bumped to the “Hot” page.

This can happen in smaller sub-communities (called “subreddits), but it can also happen across the whole site. So, a very, very popular submission might end up on the front page for a short period of time.

In other words, the more upvotes something has, the more visibility it gets.

The difference between Reddit and other platforms, though, is in the sheer number of submissions, the insane traffic volume, the immediate access to all users, and the speed at which the site changes/updates.

Let’s look at it another way.

Suppose you have a great post that you want to market on Facebook, and you’re really hoping it’ll go viral. When you post that thing on Facebook, the only users you have access to at first are the people connected to your page—and of those people, only a fraction will see it because that’s just how Facebook’s algorithm works.

You could buy ads, of course, but you’re still limited to the number of eyeballs you’re willing to pay for.

No one else is going to see it until someone likes it, shares it, or comments on it. Maybe someone will, and maybe it will set off a viral chain reaction, but the chances are relatively low, since only a few hundred people will even be exposed to it in the first place—and that’s only if you’ve already built a business page that has many thousands of likes.

The same goes for Twitter. When you tweet something, you only have access to your followers, and only a small percentage of those folks will even see it.

Reddit is different. Anyone can submit anything anywhere, since it’s essentially (and mostly) a free-for-all forum. There are rules, of course, but as long as you’re not posting something stupid, you can basically post anything.

Every post has to be submitted to a subreddits (sub-community), and the front page of Reddit aggregates the best posts from the most popular subreddits. So, when you post something to Reddit, you have immediate access to all the people in that subreddit (as low as zero people, but up to millions), although your post still needs upvotes for visibility, and you have potential access to the entire user base of the website.

This is why, in my opinion, Reddit is the single best viral engine in existence.

It’s so good, in fact, that Reddit users have coined a phrase for a fairly frequent phenomenon: the “Reddit Hug of Death”, which happens when a site hits the front page of Reddit and immediate gets destroyed by the traffic. It happens more often than you’d think.

I’m not just pulling this out of my patootie, either. People have launched whole businesses on Reddit. If you remember, we interviewed one of those folks on our podcast: Dhanish Semar, whose blog, Cloth5.com generates 1 million pageviews a month in Reddit traffic alone.

But here’s the great thing…

Even posts that only get a few dozen upvotes on Reddit are often worth hundreds of visitors. So you don’t even have to knock it out of the park to enjoy the traffic.

Here’s a brief cross-section of our own results.

We post on Reddit when it makes sense, but we wanted to perform a controlled test with a new site. So, we spent two weeks testing Reddit promotion for our authority site, which didn’t have many visitors yet.

The result was that the traffic was easy, easy, easy. Our site isn’t yet set up to convert that type of traffic, though, so we’re focusing on other things (kindle publishing, outreach, Google News) for now. However, we’ll be diving back into Reddit posting at some point. The traffic is too good to ignore.

Anyway, here’s the traffic we got from about a dozen total posts sporadically posted for two weeks in October 2014.

Our Results

All told, our little experiment netted us around 7,000 visitors and about 10,000 pageviews. It probably took 45 minutes TOTAL to get that traffic (it only takes a few minutes to post something to Reddit).

We’ve since repeated this kind of success with our site, and I’ve talked to many people who’ve done the same thing, and they’ve done it much more systematically that we did here.

Remember, we were just kind of posting when we felt like it. And we were only posting once a day. You can really ramp this up if you have a good content creation machine and post several times a day (you’ll have to be careful here, though, since it’s easy to get banned if you do that).

Reddit can also give you really powerful, contextual, dofollow links. Here’s a link we got for our authority site project:

PA DA of reddit link

That link is amazing. It’s one of our best. And it has all these amazing perks:

  • It’s contextual/editorial
  • It’s dofollow
  • I 100% control the anchor text
  • I 100% control the URL
  • The authority is bonkers

Whether you want traffic or links, Reddit can be totally amazing. I’ve spent the better part of a year “hacking” Reddit (mostly because I’m on the site in my spare time anyway). Today, I’m going to share what I’ve learned with you, so you can leverage it for you own blogs.

This isn’t the same old advice…

When I read about out how to promote things on Reddit on other blogs, I found the same exact advice over and over again. That advice had a whopping two steps:

  • Find a relevant subreddit
  • Post your content

And that’s it.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that that doesn’t work consistently. I’m not saying that it won’t or can’t work. It can. And it can actually work well. And really, I think it’s an important part of the overall strategy.

But it’s basically just telling you to post your stuff and hope for the best. When has that ever worked in any internet marketing arena?

In other words, it can work, but it’s very, very far from optimal. First, it doesn’t take the audience into account, and the Reddit audience has a really specific internet personality type. Second, it’s not systematized. Third, it doesn’t recognize the power of seemingly irrelevant subreddits (I get a LOT of traffic from “irrelevant” subreddits). And lastly, it doesn’t take into account that each Reddit post needs its own promotion (just a tiny bit).

The strategies in this post are the opposite of that. They’ll help you promote things in exactly the way Reddit prefers. They’ll also help you systematize your posting and give each post a tiny boost while staying totally within Reddit’s guidelines.

Let’s go over some ground rules…

Before we launch into these hacks, there are a few things you need to understand about Reddit. A few of them are technical things. A few of them are about the nature of the site. And a few of them have to do with the users.

But they’re all very important for both the success of your posts and your long-term visibility on Reddit. So listen up.

Social Ground Rules

1. Reddit loves to ban people.

It’s ridiculous. They have an absolute zero tolerance policy about banning. If there’s even a whiff of a hint of someone spamming the site at all, they’ll ban the account—no questions asked. But it can get even worse. If that account was associated with any website, they’ll sometimes ban the entire domain from ever appearing on Reddit again. And it doesn’t take much at all to get banned. All that has to happen is for another user to report you. That’s it.

Aside from getting banned from the whole site, you can also get banned from individual subreddits by the moderators of that community; this can happen even if you’re within Reddit guidelines, since those communities are policed by their own moderators. And there’s nothing worse than being banned by r/Fitness if you’re a fitness blog. Trust me.

Stuff that will get you banned (taken from their guidelines):

  • Submitting only links to your blog
  • Submitting the same comment a bunch of times to multiple subreddits
  • Asking for upvotes or any other kind of vote manipulation (sharing Reddit links with your friends is okay)
  • Posting anyone’s personal information
  • Creating bots that request information from the site more than every two seconds
  • A few gross illegal things

2. Reddit generally hates self-promotion.

With only a few exceptions, Reddit users don’t like to feel like you’re selling them anything. They hate feeling like you are just using the site to generate traffic. They do not like marketing teams. They don’t like being duped.

The same amazing click-bait title that generated thousands of shares on Facebook will get absolutely destroyed on Reddit, and the first comment will be “Take this click-bait @$*#! somewhere else.”

The general rule for Reddit is that you should only be posting to your own content one out of every 10 posts. And people will check. Literally. The actual users of the site will go check your posting history and downvote you into oblivion if you’re only posting content from your own site.

This is slowly changing. A few key members of the community started really good discussions about the merits and benefits of self-promotion. But for now, in general, it’s still very much frowned upon.

3. Reddit is, generally, much smarter than any other social network.

Reddit is one of the few internet communities where intellectualism is highly valued. Smart content gets blasted to the top. Dumb content gets buried. Smart comments garner thousands of upvotes. Dumb comments don’t make it past the first couple of readers.

I’m not exaggerating here. Reddit users pride themselves on being smart.

And they are. Spend a few minutes in r/AskScience, a subreddit in which the comments are almost entirely composed by actual scientists. Or, take a peek at r/dataisbeautiful, a subreddit dedicated to amazing data visualizations.

I’m not saying there aren’t idiots on there. Of course there are. There are going to be dummies and weirdos in any population of millions of people. But on the whole, Reddit users are wicked smart and reward stuff like wit, data, empiricism, facts, and honest dialogue.

4. There is a subreddit for everything.

There is literally a subreddit for everything. If you’re a League of Legends player, r/LeagueofLegends has millions of readers. If you’re a reader, r/Books will give you access to hundreds of thousands of like-minded word nerds (can you tell these are my favorite subreddits?).

There are subreddits for design, engineering, funny gifs, fitness, random thoughts, jokes, news, politics, any religion and marketing. There are subreddits for virtually every city, profession and hobby. There are dirty ones and clean ones, stupid ones and serious ones.

Whatever your market is, there are probably several dozen subreddits for you to troll. It’s part of what makes the site so fun.

5. Long titles with tons of information written in full sentences perform best.

I’m not sure why this is, but it’s true for almost every one of my posts. It’s also been well established by other Reddit marketers. Reddit titles have a character limit of 300 characters. That’s a lot of room, and you should use it. I’ve written several full sentences in titles before.

So go nuts. Write long, informational titles. Include numbers if possible.

And try to sound like a natural, honest person. Avoid sounding like a marketer. Avoid buzz words. Avoid capitalizing every word. And absolutely steer clear of titles that sound like they could have come from BuzzFeed.

Here are some great examples of the kinds of titles I’m talking about (I just snagged these of Reddit today).

  • TIL (“Today I Learned”) that Einstein was stopped so much in public, he would reply, “Pardon me, sorry! Always I am mistaken for Professor Einstein.”
  • So Samuel L. Jackson is acting in an upcoming Finnish movie called Big Game. Here’s the trailer.
  • A fireworks facility in Colombia exploded Sunday in the town of Granada. The blast was caught on camera by a reporter and his camera person.
  • LPT (“Life Pro Tip”): To keep milk from spoiling early, treat the inside of the spout and cap as sterile. Never touch it with your fingers or lips.

The average Redditor likes to feel as if they are talking to and sharing stuff with other people, not businesses and not marketers. So your best bet is to present yourself that way.

6. Most importantly, you need a decent, natural profile.

If don’t want to get ripped to shreds on Reddit, you need a strong, natural profile. This won’t make your links stronger, and the Reddit doesn’t penalize the submissions of new accounts. So why do you need it?

Because the actual individual users will check your profile to make sure you’re not spamming. This is especially true in subreddits with strong communities or if they think you might be spamming. They WILL check your profile, and if they find something sketchy, they’ll post it in the comments and report you.

The good news: it doesn’t take much to build a decent profile. You only need:

  • A couple dozen submissions to a variety of sites (not yours) linking to great content
  • A few hundred “karma” (your account’s cumulative upvotes)
  • A couple dozen good comments on other posts
  • A few weeks of age

You can take care of most of that in an afternoon. However, you’ll probably notice the best performance if you actually take part in the site. Just find a few subreddits you like and join then community casually.

Technical Ground Rules

1. Upvotes determine if a link is dofollow or nofollow.

This took me a surprisingly long time to figure out. I still don’t totally understand it because it seems to change all the time, and I think it changes from subreddit to subreddit. But what mechanism exactly makes a link dofollow or nofollow is still a mystery.

This is what I know: when you first post a link to Reddit, it will be nofollow. After a certain number of upvotes, it will change to a dofollow link.

Here’s an example of a new post I created. Using Mozbar, you can see it’s a nofollow link.

Reddit nofollow link

And here is a post I made that got just a few upvotes:

Reddit dofollow link

In most subreddits, a post needs around 5 upvotes to change from a nofollow link to a dofollow link, although it seems higher in some subreddits.

This is also true for links in comments:  the comment must pass a certain upvote threshold before the link in the comment becomes a dofollow link.

If you see exceptions to this rule, it’s probably because Reddit automatically follows links to authoritative sites. So, a brand new post linking to Google.com will automatically be a dofollow link, for example.

2. Only upvotes from real, aged accounts seem to stick.

Back in the days of my youth, I tried to manipulate Reddit. I got banned almost immediately (ha), but I learned a few things in the process. Most importantly, I learned that you can’t just create new accounts and use them to upvote your content. They will seem to work from the point of view of the account that is doing the upvoting, but to the rest of the world, they’ll either not appear at all, or they’ll appear and then disappear a few hours later.

So, don’t create a bunch of fake accounts. It’s pointless. And don’t ask your mom to create an account just to upvote your stuff. That’s pointless, too. You’ll need actual Redditors with real accounts to upvote your stuff naturally (more on this below).

3. There are two types of posts: links and text posts

You can create two types of posts on Reddit. The first is just a link to an external site, which is pretty self-explanatory, and the images above are examples of that.

The second, however, is a text post (the technical term is actually “self-post,” but I didn’t want to confuse it with self-promotion; they’re NOT the same thing). It’s just text post hosted on Reddit instead of a link to a different site. In a self-post, the creator can write as much text as he or she wants, and other Redditors can comment below.

(A few quick things to note about that text post that we’ll talk more about later: it’s super interesting, it’s long, it’s a good resource, and it includes dofollow links to a bunch of stuff. Keep that in mind when we talk about successful posting).

It’s important to understand each type of post because the results of each are drastically different. In general though, here’s what you need to remember:

  • Link posts are the best option if you want traffic
  • Text posts are the best option if you want links

4. An upvote is usually worth 2-5 unique visitors.

This varies. Usually, the subreddit is the biggest factor in how many visitors will click a link and go to your blog. In some subreddits, people tend to only read titles. In others, people tend to spend more time in the comment section of the post.

For the most part, though, every upvote your post gets is usually worth 2-5 unique visitors. Here’s how that looks compared to our traffic during our Reddit promotion experiment (just a few examples from the posts I haven’t deleted).How much traffic per upvote

5. Karma doesn’t matter.

“Karma,” (your accounts “points,” essentially) doesn’t matter at all. It’s best to have at least some karma, but it doesn’t really contribute to the success or failure of your posts. So don’t worry about it, and don’t spend time building it unless you enjoy Redditing (like I do).

Ok… that was officially the longest introduction ever. Now let’s talk about how to put it into motion.

How to promote stuff on Reddit for traffic

Promoting your stuff on Reddit for traffic largely depends on finding a good subreddit to post to (hint: I don’t just mean subreddits in your niche). And there are a couple of different ways to define what a really good subreddit for your site is. Usually, you’ll end up with a handful that work well for your site.

So what makes a good subreddit?

First, you can look for highly relevant subreddits. That’s the advice you’ll get from everyone, and it should be more or less obvious. If you have a blog about knitting, there are 31,000 people over at r/Knitting who would probably love to read what you’re publishing.

The advantage of posting to highly relevant subreddits is that those readers are much more likely to convert. The disadvantage, though, is that highly relevant subreddits usually don’t have that many subscribers.

The alternative, then, is to find a way to appropriately post your content to BIG, general subreddits. In the big subreddits, your post may not be super relevant to the interests of each reader, but you’ll typically get much, much more traffic, since those communities have a lot more readers.

So, the advantage of posting to a BIG subreddit is mostly that each upvote is worth more traffic. The disadvantage is that these folks are tougher to convert.

You’ve got to mix it up.

The very most important thing to remember, though, is this: you have to totally follow the rules and conventions of whatever subreddit you’re posting to.

Here’s what I mean. If you post to r/News, your title should look like a headline. If you’re posting to r/Jokes, your title should be a set up for a joke, and the text should be the punchline. If you’re posting in r/LifeProTips, your title should be structured like every other post on that subreddit.

If you do that, you can get your best content to fit on lots of different subreddits. Here’s an example. This particularly strategy has worked REALLY well for me.

One of my favorite subreddits is r/Todayilearned. It’s basically a subreddit for interesting facts. Every post is structured like this “TIL [interesting fact].” “TIL” stands for “Today I learned.” The titles are usually long sentences that give almost all of the information.

Here are some examples:

Good reddit titles

This is a gigantic subreddit (7 million subscribers), and it’s very easy to promote in. I’ll just take a good post of mine and pull out an interesting fact. The best ones have numbers in them. Then, I’ll create a new post in that subreddit, and I’ll frame it as a TIL. So, for example, if I had a knitting website, I might write “TIL Harvard researchers discovered knitting reduces symptoms of anxiety by up to 40%, making it more effective than 15 of the 20 most popular anti-depressants on the market.” That’s not true, by the way. Just showing you an example.

See what I’m getting at? I took content from my blog and structured it to fit into a gigantic, popular subreddit.

Then, you just have to do some promotion.

This is very important and pretty easy. For a post on a popular subreddit to get rolling, you only need about 5 upvotes. It’s against Reddit’s guidelines to ask for upvotes, of course. But it’s perfectly fine to share it with your friends.

So after you make your post, just send it to a dozen friends. Post it on Facebook, tweet it. Whatever. You only need a few upvotes. If it’s a good post, Reddit will take it from there. This works best if you show it to friends who are fellow Redditors, since they’ll understand they should upvote it if they like it without you having to ask.

Here’s the process I just described in a nutshell:

  • Find a few BIG, general subreddits you can fit into
  • Find a few small, relevant subreddits you can fit into
  • Post in those subreddits (not all at once!) exactly how everyone else posts there, following all the rules and conventions of the subreddit
  • Do some very light promotion to your friends and social network to get just a few initial upvotes
  • If the post is good, those few upvotes will start a traffic snowball

BUT HERE’S THE SECRET. This is my secret sauce for getting traffic on Reddit…

Remember when I said you need a natural looking profile? You can’t just post your own content over and over again. You’ll get banned—quick.

When you’re posting for traffic, delete your previous promotional post before you create your next one. That way, your profile will always only have one link to your blog in it, since it only displays posts that have not been deleted.

Usually, you want to leave a post up for about eight ours. But you can afford to take it down whenever you see traffic starting to die off. Alternatively, you could manage a few accounts that all post one thing per day.

I’m not advocating anything fishy here. I think you should actually take part in other areas of Reddit that interest you. And don’t do it just to make a strong profile. Enjoy the site! But if you don’t want to spend countless hours maintaining a diverse profile, just delete your promotional posts (and ONLY your promotional posts) before you create new ones.

How to promote stuff on Reddit for links

For this, you’ll want to use text posts instead of link posts.

In some ways, getting a link from Reddit is much easier than getting traffic, but in some ways, it can be tough.

This is the basic principle: create an extremely useful post in a highly relevant subreddit (relevant to your post–not necessarily to your site) that attracts links on its own (even if it’s only one). Go back and add your link a few days later.

Essentially, you want to give the people of a certain subreddit something they would really get a lot of value from. Most of the time, if you do this, it will attract at least one link, which will in turn give the page PA/PR. For our authority site, it only took one try.

It’s almost like writing an epic guest post. In fact, that’s exactly what you’re doing. You want it to be so obviously and absurdly useful that people would be crazy not to upvote it and that people would want to share it on their blogs.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be long. It can’t be 100 words, usually, but it doesn’t have to be 5,000 words either. Here’s an actual post that got me a PA47 link (sorry it’s blurry; I’m not giving you vultures my Reddit name!).

Reddit Image Blurred

 

This didn’t take me long.

I came up with the idea, wrote it, posted it, and promoted it in a single afternoon. Not only did everyone on that subreddit LOVE it, but the moderators personally thanked me and sent me a gift! How cool is that?

Of course, you’ll have to come up with ideas for these kinds of posts on your own, but here are some ideas that usually work really well:

  • Lists of amazing resources (this is what I did)
  • Definitive guides
  • Interviews with experts
  • Detailed instructions for something specific
  • Contests (not on your blog, but within the subreddit itself)

There are lots of ideas. And remember, you can also go through the top posts of that subreddit to see what tends to do well.

HERE’S THE SECRET. The secret to really generating great links is to go back and add your link a few days AFTER you post.

Unless your post is archived by Reddit, you can edit it for a long, long time. And you can certainly edit it a few days later. Plus, even the most popular posts on Reddit only stay on top for about a day before they fall off everyone’s radar.

You do this because you don’t want to seem like a self-promotional wanker (remember, Redditors hate that kind of thing). In fact, in my opinion, you’re doing people a favor by not promoting yourself at all while people are actually reading it.

In other words, this is the process:

  • Create something super useful for people
  • Do some light promotion (like we talked about before)
  • Let it attract upvotes and links
  • After it’s fallen off everyone’s radar, go back and add your link.

This is what makes links so powerful on Reddit. You have complete control.

Final Word…

I’m not the only one promoting stuff on Reddit, and I’m certainly not the most successful. There are many, many other strategies out there.

I’ve tried to present you with some robust, efficient strategies that adhere to Reddit’s Guidelines and provide real value for everyone.

Want me to do the work for you?

Want me to help you find some good subreddits to promote your blog in? Leave a comment below with your specific niche, and I’ll give you some ideas!

The post Reddit Marketing: How We Got 10,000 Pageviews and a PA 48 Link from Reddit in 2 Weeks appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

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Podcast 56: How to Generate Up to 190,000 Email Optins Running Contests with Travis Ketchumhttp://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-56-generate-190000-email-optins-running-contests-travis-ketchum/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-56-generate-190000-email-optins-running-contests-travis-ketchum/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 17:30:35 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5061 After a long winter’s break…I’m finally back with another podcast! I was recently in Mesa, AZ visiting my family for Christmas and New Years.  I had every intention of getting lots of work done over the holidays, but playing card … Continued

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After a long winter’s break…I’m finally back with another podcast!

I was recently in Mesa, AZ visiting my family for Christmas and New Years.  I had every intention of getting lots of work done over the holidays, but playing card games, basketball, and other activities with my family just seemed like more fun, so I did that instead.

I also got my yearly portion of chocolate, so I think I’m all set now!

Anyway, I’m excited to be back and have lots of great things planned for the new year; but I’ll save all that for another post.

Today, I would like to introduce you to Travis Ketchum of ContestDomination.com.  I’ve known Travis for a couple of years now, and Perrin and I were able to sit down and record today’s podcast.

In this episode, Travis shares a bit about his own story and why he created Contest Domination (software that helps you run and manage successful contests online).  In addition, Travis shares some really amazing success stories of clients that have used Contest Domination to grow their business.

One of those companies was able to generate over 190,000 email opt ins from just one contest!

If you have ever been curious how to run a contest to grow your business, this episode has exactly what you are looking for.  I had several “ah ha” moments while interviewing Travis; and I really do plan on applying some of these techniques in my own business very shortly.

If you are interested in get a 7 day free trial for Contest Domination, you can get it here.

Podcast Interview Notes

Below you will find the questions and answers given during the podcast interview.  Please be aware that this is an abbreviated summary and not a full transcript.  For all the questions and answers please listen to the entire podcast.

Give us a summary of your entrepreneurial background?

Like many entrepreneurs, I was always hustling when I was younger.  My first official business was when I was 18 years old, I started a computer company.  I did a bunch of dropshipping on eBay, but the profit margins quickly eroded.  This business fortunately earned enough to mostly pay for my college education through Washington State University.

After graduating and getting a good job, I learned that I didn’t like the corporate world after 9 months.  So, I quit my job and started helping speakers and others do media buys and lead generation.

Finally, I decided I needed to build my own list and build a real business.

I learned that contests were one of the fastest ways to build an email lists.  However, I found that most of the tools were not very useful for doing contest.  So, I decided to hire a developer to build the first version of contest domination and that’s how the business started.

How long has contest domination been around and what kind of financial success are you having?

It will be 3 years in April.  We have about 20,000 customers at varying price points.  We’ve grossed about a million dollars in gross sales since inception.

Do you have any success stories from your users that you can share?

Sure, I have 2 examples I’d like to share.

When doing a competition, you need to make sure that what you offer in the contest is actually something related to your business (something that you do and sell).  This is so critical because you want leads that are qualified for your products.

An example that worked really well was that one user gave away a ribbon printer.  This is a very niche product.  And by giving this away she got very qualified leads.  If she would have given away an iPad, she would have got TONS of emails, but most of them would have been useless (not really interested in her business).

The first time she ran this contest, she got 310 leads; which doesn’t sound like a lot…but ALL of them were highly qualified leads. After giving away the ribbon printer, she followed up with all the “losers” and give a special offer for 72 hours for a discounted ribbon printer.

This follow up offer generated $6,000 in revenue to her business.

The other example is for a company called Snapshot.  This is a photographer marketplace where brides to be can find wedding photographers.

They wanted to build up a massive base of photographers.  They decided to give away a high end DSLR camera.  But they were clever in the fact that they allowed the winner to choose which camera they wanted and asked entrants what camera they would like to win.

In addition, they asked some additional information about each entrant.  This actually started a good buzz as photographers discussed which camera was best.

To improve the reach of the contest they worked with some sponsors which allowed them to link to any special offers that the sponsors had.  In return, the sponsors were excited to email about and mention the contest.

As a result, this company was able to generate almost 190,000 emails opt ins and with over 55% of that coming from referrals.

They’ve repeated this process several times and built a list of 600,000 leads; all in 3 to 4 months.

Can you give us an idea of how that success compares to the more typical contest?

If you go back to the first example where they generated about 300 leads; that’s still a quantifiable ROI for their business.  So, you don’t have to generate a huge amount of leads to still be successful…as long as they are the right leads.

Even a few hundred to a thousand leads you can still generate a good number of sales.

Do most people use Facebook ads as part of their contest?

Lots of people do.  But depending on your business, your ideal prospect may not be on Facebook.

Our average conversion rate across the board is that about half the people that see a contest will input their information.

If I decide to run a contest for Long Tail Pro; how would I go about actually launching the contest?

Contest domination hosts the contest; so the page with the contest details is on the hosted page.  Optionally, you can install the same page in a Facebook tab.

You tell the system how many winners there should be and any sponsors; we handle all the rules.  Once you have the page live that can accept entries; then a great way to kick it off is to email your own list.

Your own list is usually your best brand ambassadors anyway, so they are the most likely to spread the word about your contest.

An example of this is Mixergy, which gave away a lifetime access to Mixergy Premium.  People starting coming out saying things like, I’ve been following Andrew on Mixergy for 5 years and if you don’t enter this competition you’re crazy.

If you have purchased something you really love, you will be excited to tell people about the contest.

How do people earn points in a contest typically?

The default rules if someone inputs their own name and email they get an entry.  When they share on social networks, they don’t get additional entries until their friends click the link and input their name and email.  That’s a core feature we built into the app.

Twitter and Facebook can have different results; and the app really focuses on the results.

So points are really focused on when other people enter the contest; rather than just socially sharing.

What’s a standard contest length?

Part of it comes down to, how long can you keep sending new leads through the contest.  The response will go down over time.  For most small businesses; 2 to 4 weeks is going to be the sweet spot.

Once the contest ends, when do you recommend launching the special offer?

I advise people to couple the special offer with the announcement of the winner.  You can drive people to a page that announces the winner and then extend a special discount for people that entered the contest.

How do you think market affects contests?

Yes, I think it has to do with more the type of person and transaction that is required to make money.  For example, a B2B marketplace can be a more difficult nut to crack.  If you are looking for only chief marketing officers, that could be difficult.

A consumer facing product is going to be easier to do a contest.

Are there any additional benefits or features of Contest Domination that you would like to add?

One common question is whether contest domination interfaces with your auto-responder…yes, it does.

In addition, we have a fraud scoring system in place to make it very difficult for people to game the system.

The software is very simple to use and makes selecting a winner very easy.  We are also very open to listening to our customers and adding new features as needed.

Any final words of wisdom?  And where can people follow along with you?

People can sign up for a 7-day free trial of contest domination at: ContestDomination.com

In addition, people can download a free guide: 10 Steps to Success for Contest Marketing

For parting words, regardless of your strategy the most important thing is to just get started.  It’s easy to get excited about projects and it’s so important to just take action.

Your Thoughts

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts or questions in the comment section below.

 

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http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-56-generate-190000-email-optins-running-contests-travis-ketchum/feed/ 20 After a long winter's break...I'm finally back with another podcast! - I was recently in Mesa, AZ visiting my family for Christmas and New Years.  I had every intention of getting lots of work done over the holidays, but playing card games, basketball, After a long winter's break...I'm finally back with another podcast!I was recently in Mesa, AZ visiting my family for Christmas and New Years.  I had every intention of getting lots of work done over the holidays, but playing card games, basketball, and other activities with my family just seemed like more fun, so I did that instead.I also got my yearly portion of chocolate, so I think I'm all set now!Anyway, I'm excited to be back and have lots of great things planned for the new year; but I'll save all that for another post.Today, I would like to introduce you to Travis Ketchum of ContestDomination.com.  I've known Travis for a couple of years now, and Perrin and I were able to sit down and record today's podcast.In this episode, Travis shares a bit about his own story and why he created Contest Domination (software that helps you run and manage successful contests online).  In addition, Travis shares some really amazing success stories of clients that have used Contest Domination to grow their business.One of those companies was able to generate over 190,000 email opt ins from just one contest!If you have ever been curious how to run a contest to grow your business, this episode has exactly what you are looking for.  I had several "ah ha" moments while interviewing Travis; and I really do plan on applying some of these techniques in my own business very shortly.If you are interested in get a 7 day free trial for Contest Domination, you can get it here. Podcast Interview Notes Below you will find the questions and answers given during the podcast interview.  Please be aware that this is an abbreviated summary and not a full transcript.  For all the questions and answers please listen to the entire podcast.Give us a summary of your entrepreneurial background?Like many entrepreneurs, I was always hustling when I was younger.  My first official business was when I was 18 years old, I started a computer company.  I did a bunch of dropshipping on eBay, but the profit margins quickly eroded.  This business fortunately earned enough to mostly pay for my college education through Washington State University.After graduating and getting a good job, I learned that I didn't like the corporate world after 9 months.  So, I quit my job and started helping speakers and others do media buys and lead generation.Finally, I decided I needed to build my own list and build a real business.I learned that contests were one of the fastest ways to build an email lists.  However, I found that most of the tools were not very useful for doing contest.  So, I decided to hire a developer to build the first version of contest domination and that's how the business started.How long has contest domination been around and what kind of financial success are you having?It will be 3 years in April.  We have about 20,000 customers at varying price points.  We've grossed about a million dollars in gross sales since inception.Do you have any success stories from your users that you can share?Sure, I have 2 examples I'd like to share.When doing a competition, you need to make sure that what you offer in the contest is actually something related to your business (something that you do and sell).  This is so critical because you want leads that are qualified for your products.An example that worked really well was that one user gave away a ribbon printer.  This is a very niche product.  And by giving this away she got very qualified leads.  If she would have given away an iPad, she would have got TONS of emails, but most of them would have been useless (not really interested in her business).The first time she ran this contest, she got 310 leads; which doesn't sound like a lot...but ALL of them were highly qualified leads. After giving away the ribbon printer, she followed up with all the "losers" and give a special offer for 72 hours for a discounted ribbon printer. Niche Pursuits no 47:13
Podcast 55: How Brian Dean Grew a Thriving Blog with Less Content and More Promotionhttp://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-55-brian-dean-grew-thriving-blog-less-content-promotion/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-55-brian-dean-grew-thriving-blog-less-content-promotion/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:48:07 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5052 A few weeks ago I had strep throat.  Not fun at all. However, I also had a podcast interview scheduled with Brian Dean from Backlinko.com at the same time I started feeling sick.  I had scheduled the podcast over a … Continued

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A few weeks ago I had strep throat.  Not fun at all.

However, I also had a podcast interview scheduled with Brian Dean from Backlinko.com at the same time I started feeling sick.  I had scheduled the podcast over a month earlier (because Brian is so popular).

I considered cancelling the podcast interview, but I’m sure glad I went through with it!  Brian provided a ton of very actionable tips for anyone starting a new blog or looking to attract more traffic and links to their existing sites.

Some of the most interesting takeaways that I had are related to how Brian was able to grow his blog so much in the past year.  He did this by blogging LESS.  By focusing more on quality posts rather than quantity, and then working actively to promote those posts, he’s been able to become a widely recognized expert.

We discuss the exact tactics Brian has used to grow Backlinko.com and how you can do the same.

Brian Dean Podcast Notes

Please note that this is not a full transcript of the interview.  Below is the shortened version of the questions and answers given.  Please listen to the entire podcast to hear the full discussion.

What were you doing before you started Backlinko.com?

I was basically a struggling affiliate marketer.  I was creating small 1 page niche websites with exact match domains.  I created 175 of these 1 page websites while I was freelance writing on the side.

I spent alot of time on the Warrior Forum.  At the time it was fairly easy to rank, and then Panda came out and wiped out my sites.  Then I moved onto 5 page sites and Penguin came out and wiped out those sites.

After that, I could see the writing on the wall and decided to change my ways.  I created a niche authority site that was valuable and promoted it using white hat strategies and it started to do very well.

After 3 months that more white hat site was doing $10,000 a month.

I then started to try and find blogs that were talking about these more quality link building strategies and I just wasn’t finding any…so I created BackLinko.com.

Would you say that you are grateful that Google came out with all their updates?

Absolutely! I would still be struggling if the Penguin update didn’t come out.

Why has the traffic to Backlinko.com grown so quickly?

There are 3 things that I followed and that others can follow to grow their traffic.

  1. I focused on publishing case studies. I realized there was an under-served community that wanted this type of content.
  2. I stopped publishing as often.  The first year I focused on publishing lots of content; however, in my second year I’ve focused on less content but higher quality posts.  This year I’ve only published 11 posts for example.
  3. I hustled really hard to promote everything that I published.

Are you still working on anything else other than Backlinko?

I’m focusing 100% of my effort now on Backlinko.com.  I do have a few other sites out there, but I’m not putting effort into them.

Backlinko is a lot more fun and rewarding.

How are you actually bringing in money with Backlinko?

I sell a premium training course called, “SEO that Works“.  That’s how I bring in all the money with Backlinko.

The course is currently closed, How often do you plan on opening it up?

Next year I plan on opening it a total of 3 times.

Are you willing to share any type of revenue or other details?

I would rather not give specific numbers.  However, I will say that each launch has brought in over six figures; and I’ve had a few launches this year.

The course is priced higher, and so I don’t need a ton of customers to bring in a significant amount revenue.

Is the course a go at your own pace?  Or webinars, etc?

A lot of the course is recorded and go at your own pace.  In addition there are live webinars that are Q&A where people can clarify anything from the course.

Then I also have email support and a Facebook group where members can interact with me and other members.

Do you have a secret formula for creating a interesting blog post titles?

For every post I have a keyword that I like to target.  I front load the keyword in the title, and then the rest I write about some specific value that can gain from the post.

For example, one of my blog post titles is: “Viral Marketing Case Study: How a Brand New Blog Generated 17,584 Visitors in One Day

A couple of resources to look at interested data:

How can people “up their game” to create more in-depth content?

Many people only skim the surface of a topic.  My rule is to think, “an inch wide and a mile deep”.  Instead of just a post about “how to get more subscribers”, you could write about how to create the best form for collecting the most email subscribers possible, that could be much more in-depth.

How can you write content about a topic even if you are not an expert?

You definitely don’t have to be an expert in everything that you write about.  Whenever possible you should use personal experience.  You don’t have to be an expert but you can just document your journey.

If you use the inch wide and a mile deep mentality, then you should never run out of topics that you don’t have some knowledge on.

How much time are you spending on your blog posts?

I would say that depending on the post, its usually about 20 hours that I put into each post.

Where are you coming up with blog post ideas?

I use a keyword approach.  So, I still look at how many times a month people are searching for different terms.  I look at keyword research first.  If I have a great idea, but I don’t see the keyword search volume around it, then I will pass on the idea.

I also look at the trends, if a keyword is new or trending up in search volume that could be a great target even if it currently doesn’t get a ton of search volume.

Do you have a search volume that your are looking for?

For me, I’ll go pretty low.  It really depends on the trends and cost per click.

In older markets the keyword volume is pretty accurate.  But for some keywords that are on the newer side, the search volume could be misleading.  For example one keyword I’m targeting is “Increase conversions” this shows only about 200 search per month.  But I suspect that’s not 100% accurate because its  newer search trending up.

For me, keyword research includes lots of different variables, and keyword volume is only one of those variables.

How much time do you spend promoting your content after it’s published?

I spend another 10 hours.

What are your steps to promote that?

I’m a big email guy.  This has given me the best ROI.  I like to do a “content roadshow” for my content.

I usually just Google keywords related to my content and find other bloggers.  Then I reach out to those people that come up in those results.

I will send an email and just ask if they want to check it out.  If they are interested, I’ll send the content and ask them what they think.  It’s very simple.

People will thank you and share it with their audience.

Do you ever specifically ask them to share it on Facebook, Twitter, or ask for Links?

No, never.  I just don’t think its good form and can backfire.

It may depend a little bit on the niche, but in the marketing niche, people know why you are sending the emails.

How many people do you usually contact for a content roadshow?

Usually about 100 to 120 emails go out.  It’s a lot of time and I have my assistant help me.

Do you use that strategy mostly for social shares or do you see residual links?

Sometimes you will get links straight up. So, you can get links from this strategy.

The other thing is you are creating mind share; you can be top of mind when other bloggers write their own content.  I don’t go in expecting links, but you can get some.

How do you generate links for each piece of content?

I have a method called the “moving man method”.   It’s a twist on broken link building.

Many times a page might be broken but is not returning a 404 response.  This is different than broken link building.  You can reach out to people linking to these broken pages and can leverage this strategy.

For this method, you can’t use a tool specifically.  It’s more about keeping your ear to the ground that will help you see these ideas.

A lot of these opportunities will almost just be serendipitous.  You just need to be paying attention and researching in your niche.

I’m also a huge fan of infographics, I’ve had huge success with these.

What additional marketing tactics do you recommend for someone without an audience?

Positioning is a big marketing strategy.  You want to figure out how your site will fit into what is already out there.

For example, I used to read NichePursuits all the time.  The positioning of Niche Pursuits is that its been very case study focused on very actionable content.

Another example is Steve Kamb of NerdFitness.com  Instead of talking about more body builder type things, he takes an analytic approach to fitness.

Do you have any additional words of wisdom that you would like to share?

One thing I hear alot is that people are concerned with how frequently they update their blog.  I would just advise that its not as important to publish as frequently as you might suspect.

If you are just publishing for the sake of publishing, you should perhaps think twice about that.

Where can people follow along with you?

Go to BackLinko.com and sign up for the newsletter.  I share alot of great tips on that newsletter that is not on the blog.

If you enjoyed the podcast, please leave an honest rating and review on iTunes right here. As always, I would love to hear any thoughts or questions that you have in the comments below. 

The post Podcast 55: How Brian Dean Grew a Thriving Blog with Less Content and More Promotion appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

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http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-55-brian-dean-grew-thriving-blog-less-content-promotion/feed/ 39 A few weeks ago I had strep throat.  Not fun at all. - However, I also had a podcast interview scheduled with Brian Dean from Backlinko.com at the same time I started feeling sick.  I had scheduled the podcast over a month earlier (because Brian is so... A few weeks ago I had strep throat.  Not fun at all.However, I also had a podcast interview scheduled with Brian Dean from Backlinko.com at the same time I started feeling sick.  I had scheduled the podcast over a month earlier (because Brian is so... Niche Pursuits no 57:57
How to Self Publish a Book on Amazon: 23 Steps to Launching a Kindle eBook That Makes Over $100 a Dayhttp://www.nichepursuits.com/self-publish-a-book-on-amazon/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/self-publish-a-book-on-amazon/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 22:18:53 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=4965 What if I told you that even if you don’t have an audience or email list that you could self-publish a best selling book on Amazon? Just a few weeks ago Perrin and I launched our very first Kindle ebook.  … Continued

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What if I told you that even if you don’t have an audience or email list that you could self-publish a best selling book on Amazon?

Just a few weeks ago Perrin and I launched our very first Kindle ebook.  Now it’s a best selling book in 3 different categories.

I’m about to show you how.

The book was released under a brand new pen name (as part of my authority site project).  We did all of this with essentially no audience, no email list, and no prior experience selling books as a self-published author on Amazon.

No joke.

What you are about to read are the step by step details of how we self-published a book on the Amazon Kindle store and how it has gone on to get 5,895 free downloads in the first 5 days and is now selling extremely well at $2.99.

To clarify, I DO have a large following on NichePursuits.com.  However, I’ve kept this side project of selling my first book on Amazon a secret until now.  I have not leveraged my audience or my name on Amazon.

I launched my book from scratch, the same point that any of you out there would start from.  If you DO have an existing audience, I’ll share how you can take advantage of that.

The best part about this business is that you can literally have something up and selling on the Amazon Kindle store in a relatively short period of time.

I’ll show you how with the 23 details steps below.

Let’s get serious about this.

First, Here’s Some Results

Before I jump into the detailed steps below, I want to share some results with you that display the success the book is having.

Also, please note that I will NOT be revealing the actual book on Amazon in order to prevent copy cats or other negative consequences I’ve seen from previous projects I’ve shared publicly.

I would make more sales if I shared the book publicly on my blog here, but I think that this case study is more valuable if kept a secret for now.

Overall, here’s some quick highlights of the results of our best selling Kindle eBook:

  • 5,895 free downloads in first 5 days
  • # 1 Best Selling book in 3 Different Kindle eBook categories
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank of 2,511
  • Made about $40/day during $0.99 period (7 days)
  • Currently making $100+/day – priced at $2.99

Here’s the graph showing the 5 free days of the kindle book (more details on this strategy below):

kindlefree

Getting 5,895 free downloads is great and I believe was critical to the success of our ebook; however, you only make money once you list it for sale.

Here’s what happened when we listed the book for $0.99 (more on pricing strategy below):

kindle99cents

This is the kind of chart you want to see!  When you are getting 60 to 70 units sold per day, even at $0.99 that is very good.  The KU/KOLL units are from the Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Lending Library programs.  I’m told that these are worth about $1.31 a piece.

Overall, even with just a 35% royalty rate on a $0.99 Kindle book; we were making $40+ a day for the last few days in the chart above.

Not too bad at all.

I will just say that things have gotten even BETTER in terms of earnings once I raised the price of my book to $2.99.

kindlesales

The “Paid Units” (red line) are sales at $2.99, of which I get a 70% royalty share (about $2.07).  The KU/KOLL Units (blue line) are worth about $1.31 each.  You can do the math on your own, but our best selling book is now consistently making $80-$100+ a day.  Sweet!

And here’s the official screenshot showing the books Amazon rank and Best seller status in 3 different categories:

amazonbestseller

(Yes, I blocked out the categories the book is in…I’m just being extra cautious against copy cats).

Thanks to These People…

Before I go into the step by step process below, I have to share that I didn’t figure out this process on my own!  I’ve interviewed both 2 different people on my podcast that are kindle publishing experts: Jonny Andrews and Steve Scott.

I was able to ask both Jonny and Steve direct questions about how to build successful self publishing business on Amazon before I even considered writing my first book.

In addition, Steve has continued to write several excellent blog posts on his blog and has been willing to answer a few private questions via email.  One of the blog posts on Steve’s blog is actually a guest post by Nick Loper from SideHustleNation.com on how he launched a Kindle eBook and got 20,000 downloads in the first week.

Perrin and I followed the steps of Nick Loper’s launch process from that guest post pretty closely.  In addition, Nick also created a more in-depth Kindle Launch Course on Udemy that we purchased as well and followed.  (Nick is offering the course at a 75% discount right here if interested).

So, while many of the steps below do have our own unique twist, I would be remiss to say that Jonny, Steve, and Nick have not provided valuable wisdom in shaping our launch process.

Okay, let’s jump into actually how to make all of this happen!

1. Pick a Broad Niche

In order to pick a niche, I have just a couple of simple rules.  First you want to make sure that people are actually buying books in this niche.

In other words, try not to pick a niche that is so obscure that there isn’t already books on the subject.  You can see some of the best selling books by browsing all the categories of Amazon.

Second you want to pick a broad enough market that at least a few titles could be written in the niche.  A perfect example of a broader market is the market that Steve Scott has chosen “Habits.”  Steve picked the niche of habit development and has now written various titles in that niche ranging from Habit Stacking to Developing a walking habit.

Finally, I would pick a niche that you actually have some interest in.  Whether that’s parenting, camping, or business management; pick a niche that appeals to you and has a fairly large established audience.

2. Plan for Future Success

If you are looking to build a long term self publishing business, you don’t want to be a one hit wonder.  According to experts like Steve Scott and Jonny Andrews, you want to eventually build up your library of book titles.

Once you have a few titles all in the same niche, buyers of one book will browse other titles that you have and will many times buy if they liked your first book.

This is really just a classic example of finding your target market and selling additional stuff to them.  If all your books are on fishing for example, a person interested in catching Bass might also be interested in catching Rainbow Trout; so if you’ve written both these books you can get 2 sales instead of just one.

However, if you’ve written one book on Bass Fishing and another book on Sewing, the chances that the bass fisherman is interested in a book on sewing is very very slim.

So, you must absolutely plan for your future success by sticking in your niche!  So, before you settle on a niche think about whether or not you can see lots of additional book titles in the same market that will appeal to a similar audience.

3. Determine If Books Are Selling Well in Your Niche

If you want to make more than a couple of dollars a month with your new book, you need to make sure that the category you are targeting has enough buyers.  One way to see how well books are selling in your chosen category is to look at the “Amazon Best Seller Rank” of some of the top books in your niche.

This step is so important, and will either solidify your decisions made in steps 1 and 2, or may tell you to completely scrap the niche you’ve picked and try something else.

In a nutshell, I want to see the best sellers in my chosen category with an amazon best seller rank of at least 10,000; and finding titles under 5,000 is much better.  A lower rank means that the book is selling more copies.

If a book is ranked 5,000 on the Kindle store, that means it’s probably selling anywhere from 20 to 40 copies a day (this is not an exact science but just a best guess based on my own book).  A book with an Amazon best seller rank of 10,000 or higher is most likely selling less than 10 copies a day (and perhaps much less just depending on where it ranks).

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to write a book that only sells 1 copy a day.  I want something that can potentially make 4 figures a month!  By looking at the Amazon best seller ranks, you can know if your chosen niche/category has any chance at all of selling that many copies.

Let’s look at a couple of examples.

First, go to the Kindle Store on Amazon Here.

kindlemenu

Now you need to scroll to your category by clicking on either “Kindle eBooks” or “Kindle Short Reads”.  I suggest clicking on “Kindle eBooks” to get the best idea of the general market size.

By going to the Kindle Short Reads you will only see the books selling well that are under a certain length.  This can be an interesting category to compare what other short kindle books are doing on Amazon; however, for research purposes, looking at the overall eBooks section is sufficient.

For example, let’s click on Kindle eBooks, and then “Science & Math”:

ebookscience

Now under Science and Math, there are lots of subcategories.  I want to find the subcategory that most closely matches the book that I plan to write.  So, let’s dig a bit deeper:

riversbestseller

If you wanted to write a book about Rivers…this is the category you would want to check out.  The #1 bestseller in this sub-category is “Blue Mind”.

Once you click on the book, you can then see the actual Amazon Best Sellers Rank by scrolling just below the “Product Details” section.

river1

This book is the #1 Best Seller in the Rivers category, but only has an Amazon Best Sellers Rank of 27,888 overall in the Kindle store.  This is way above the 10,000 threshold that I mentioned earlier.  I also checked several other titles in this category and all of them are well above 10,000.

As a result, I would NOT consider writing a book on Rivers or one that fits into this subcategory.  There just isn’t enough interest from buyers on this subject.

A Better Example

Now let’s find a category that would be worth pursuing.

If we go to the “Crafts, Hobbies, and Home” category and then “Animal Care and Pets” this is what we see:

dog1

I clicked on the Dogs subcategory and can see the “How Dogs Love Us” is the #1 best seller.  How is it’s Amazon best seller rank?

absdogs

This book is ranked #849 overall!  It’s selling REALLY well.

As I look at this book and others in the “dogs” category, many of them are well under the #10,000 sellers rank.  This category would give you lots of potential to sell a lot of books in.

By using this research method, you will know if a category is a good market to go into or not.

4. Brainstorm Book Topics

Now that you have chosen a niche that has a lot of potential for future success and found a category that sells well, it’s time to start brainstorming for the topic of your first book!

My process for brainstorming book topics is to write down about 10 different potential topics in my niche (from previous steps).  So, if I were to going into the Dogs category, I could see that any book related to how Dogs and humans think and communicate is something that people buy.

I’m sure I could come up with a few random titles for this category…

  •  How to communicate with your dog
  • How to Organize Your House with a dog at home
  • Children and Dog relationships
  • etc.

I’m just making this all up at this point, but you get the idea.  Just do some free flowing brainstorming on your specific topic and you are sure to start coming across some topics that could perform well.

By using your own intuition and seeing what books on similar topics are selling well, you can quickly narrow down what the actual subject matter of your book should be.  Unfortunately there is no software where you can punch in your potential book title and see how many copies it will sell.

However, you can use the real world data on Amazon to help you get as close to an accurate estimate as possible.

5. Create a Great Book Title

The title of a book is so critical.  I know that the old saying says, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

However, the reality is that people DO make snap judgements about not just the cover, but also the title and overall feeling they get when they read it and the book description.

The title is your chance to capture the attention of a potential buyer and intrigue them enough to buy the book.

The principles for writing a great book title are very similar to writing a great blog post title or email subject line.  If you study what great copy writers have advised, you are sure to increase your chances of creating a winning book title.

This is not an exact science, but here are a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way.  And to clarify, these are tips primarily for non-fiction books.  Although I’m sure most of these principles can be applied to fiction books as well.

a. State Promise in Main Title

Try to make it clear right away what the reader is going to get from the book.  For example, Dave Ramsey’s best selling book is called, “Total Money Makeover“.  The promise is clear.  Read this book and get a total money makeover.

Another example is Steve Scott’s book, “Wake Up Successful“.  It’s clear the that book is going to teach you how to be more successful in the morning.

However, the sub-title’s of these books really close the sale…as we’ll see in a second.

b. Make the Primary Title Catchy or Memorable

Not every book is going to have a clear promise in the first few words of its title.  That’s okay IF you can make the title unique, catchy, or memorable.

If you can make both a promise AND “catchy”, that’s ideal.  Dave Ramsey’s book “Total Money Makeover” nails both the promise and catchiness.

For example, another Steve Scott book is “Habit Stacking”.  This doesn’t give a clear promise, but it DOES hit a home run on the catchy and memorable scale.

And as we’ll see below, Steve utilizes the subtitle to great effect.  I believe his title and subtitle are a huge reason why its been a best selling book for quite some time now.

c. Subtitle for supporting benefits

People want to know what they are going to get after reading your book.  The sub-title can help you state more clearly what they will get, how long it will take, or other benefits that you want to highlight.

If you want to sell your book, you need to use some marketing tactics…and the subtitle is a great chance to do that.

For example, Steve’s Scott book is “Habit Stacking” has a full title and sub-title of, Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take 5 Minutes of Less

That’s a winner!

See what Steve did there?  In the subtitle he made it sound attainable, “small life changes” in “5 minutes or less”.  The reader is now intrigued with what the small habits are but also knows that they are easily attainable.

Another example?  Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover has an excellent sub-title as well.  “Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness”

The supporting benefits are clear!  This is not just a random plan…this is a “proven” plan to whip you into financial shape.  (The plan on the “makeover” and “fitness” is also brilliant).

No wonder his Amazon Best Seller Rank is 451!

Okay, there’s more to it than a title…but the title IS part of it.

d. Numbers Can Work Well

Numbers in your title or subtitles can work very well.  Hubspot released a blog post with 74 compelling title formulas.

Out of those 74 options, over 50 of them had numbers in the title.

People are drawn in by facts and figures.  If you can include a number in your subtitle, it can be a great way to go.

(Notice that I did the same thing with the title of this very blog post).

e. See What’s Working for Competitors

If you want to know what book titles sell well, why not just go over to Amazon and start browsing the best sellers in various categories?

I’m not advising that you copy anyone; rather you can see the types of titles that work well.  This type of research can really help solidify your ideas as you search for the best possible title for your book.

f. Follow the experts

So much as been written by copy writing experts on writing great book titles, blog post titles, and more.  Here’s a few great resources where you can further your education on writing great book titles.

6. Outline Your Book

Phew!  Now that you’ve done your research and finally settled on a good title, it’s time to actually start writing your book!

That’s right, I think you should create the title before you write the book.  At least for me, this helps guide me in the writing if I know what the end benefit I’ve already promised to the readers.

Writing an outline will help further flesh out the content of your book.  You should write an outline so that you know the content that will be contained in each chapter.

The outline is not meant to be in depth, but rather just the general ideas and main points to be included in each chapter.

Once this outline is complete, the actual writing of the book will be much easier.

7. Write the Book

Once you have created a great title with a promise and outlined the main points of the book, the rest is just filling in all the details.

That’s doesn’t mean it’s easy to write a book, it just means it’s much better than staring at a blank page.  I want to stress that it’s VERY important that you create a valuable book!  We are not in the business of churning out books that no one wants to read.

If you create an extremely valuable book that people want to read AND follow the marketing tactics listed here, then you’ll be much more likely to have a winning combination.  In addition, Amazon knows how long people spend reading your book and how many pages that actually look at.  I strongly suspect (as do others) that Amazon uses this time spent reading a book and pages viewed as a ranking factor in Amazon.

For our first book on Amazon (that is currently a best seller), we followed a fairly simple format for writing the book.

At the beginning of each chapter we mentioned the main point or the most actionable tips right up front.  Then we used the rest of the chapter to provide supporting evidence for why that tip works well.

In addition, if you can provide personal stories from your own life or others to support those main points, your book will be much more interesting.

People love stories.  So, don’t just tell them that they should brush their teeth for 2 minutes to avoid plaque buildup.  Tell them how after you brushed your teeth for 2 minutes each day you met the love of your life after she noticed how white (and plaque free) your teeth were.

You get the idea…don’t just give dry facts; make it real to people.

As far as length, you are in complete control.  However, if you are targeting the kindle market (like I am) you will likely want to write a book that is 10k to 25k words in length.

However, the length of book really depends on your overall goals and strategy.

8. Hire a Proofreader or Editor

After completing your book, you should hire someone to proofread it.

For our book, we just went over to Elance.com and found someone for about $50 to read through our book and make minor edits.

You could also work with a family member or friend that you feel has the skills you need.

9. Insert an Offer to Collect Emails From Your Book

Did you know that your Kindle eBook can also act as a lead generation tool?  Unfortunately Amazon doesn’t allow you to have the email addresses of everyone that buys your book; however, you can put a free offer in the front of your book.

If someone is interested in your free offer, they will click the link, go to your opt-in page, and give you their email address.

Here’s an example of a free offer in the front of Nick Loper’s “Work Smarter” Kindle eBook:

worksmarteroffer

Clicking the link will take you to an opt in page where Nick is collecting email addresses.  This is smart indeed!  Here’s what it looks like:

worksmarteroptin

If you would like another example, I’ve got that for you too!

Here’s the offer in the front of Steve Scott’s Habit Stacking Book:

IMG_2353 (2)

When a reader decides to click on the link, they are taken to a LeadPages capture form.  It’s pretty simple, but effective.  Here’s what it looks like:

leadpagehabit

Being able to build leads AND make sells is one of the beautiful things about this business.  If you don’t have an audience for your first book, you can have an audience by the time your second and third book comes around.

So, if you are capturing these leads and following the other marketing steps I’ll cover, your additional books should be easier than your first.

If you don’t have a free opt-in to give away, you can consider going to master-resale-rights.com where you can buy private label rights ebooks for very cheap.  Not all of these are able to be given away for free, but many of them are.

The best option is to write something up yourself or create some other kind of free gift (video, course, or anything enticing to your audience).

10. Get a Professional eBook Cover

People DO choose books based on their covers sometimes, so you need to make sure yours looks professional.  Luckily, there is no need to learn Photoshop and do everything yourself.

With so many talented freelance graphic designers, it’s very easy to find someone that will create a fantastic ebook cover for you for relatively cheap.

For our book, we just went over to Elance.com and hired someone for $150 to whip up a great looking cover.  Done!

I don’t have any specific advice other than to say, look at what other best selling books are doing and decide what covers you like.  If you can provide some examples of styles you like to your designer, I’m sure you will get something you are satisfied with.

11. Format Your Kindle eBook

Unfortunately, you can’t just upload a word document or a PDF to Amazon.  Your book needs to be in the special Kindle format.

You could go out and learn how to format the book yourself; however, there are a lot of quirks and it’s very simple to just hire someone off Elance to do it for you.

We hired someone for $50 on Elance to get our book in the proper format to upload to Kindle.  It’s that easy.

However, if you really want to learn the steps for formatting your book to the Kindle format, you can go to the official Amazon Kindle Simplified Formatting Guide Here.

12. Write and Format Your Book Description

Now it’s time to actually head over to Amazon and start getting your book ready for sale!  You will list your book at kdp.Amazon.com.

I think its important to put some time and thought into your title and book description before you actually start uploading anything.  The “Book Description” is your best chance after your title and subtitle to close the sale.

In fact, you have up to 4000 characters to give both a more in-depth description of your book and entice the potential reader with the benefits they will receive after reading your book.

bookdescription

Unfortunately, when I look at some books on Amazon, many of them only have a sentence or two under their book description.  And they are often not very good!  You need to focus this message on the reader, how will this book benefit them?

This is your chance to put your copy writing skills to use!

For additional tips on sales copy writing, read these articles:

Formatting

You will also want to format your book description so that it looks good.  Amazon has a good resource on what HTML is supported right here.

And here’s another great blog post that shows what the different formatting options look like and how to apply them.

I personally recommend using the H2 tags for your headers, rather than the larger H1 header.

13. Choose Categories and Contributors

Now you have the chance to add “Contributors”.  This is the author or authors of the book.  This could be your real name or a pen name.  I used a pen name on my first book.

categories

Next, you will need to select the categories that your book most accurately fits into.  This can take a little bit of hunting around to find the perfect fit, but you should find a category that works well for your book.

You are allowed to select 2 categories total.

The only strategy here is to pick the the category that targets your books subject matter as much as possible.

14. Research Amazon Keywords

Amazon allows you to input up to 7 keywords or keyword phrases that your book will show up for.  Your book will also naturally show up for other keyword searches just depending on how well your book is performing and other factors.

Keywords in your book title and book description will already show up in Amazon, so you don’t necessarily need to repeat these keywords.  Although for keywords that your really want to show up for, you probably should have them in your description and as a selected keyword.

But what keywords do you target?  Luckily, you are able to change your keywords at any time, so you are not “stuck” with your initial selections.

It can take some time to learn all the ins and outs, but a great way to start is to use the auto complete function on Amazon as suggested by this great article on GoodReads.com.

So, let’s say you are writing a book on saving money.  You can think of a few phrases people might type in to find a book about saving money.  One of those is likely to be, “How to save money”.

Here’s an image of the suggested searches on Amazon:

savemoney

As a result of these suggestions, you might want to select “how to save money on groceries” or “how to save money at home” as a couple of your keywords.

In order to get additional keyword ideas you can use the Google Keyword Planner or Long Tail Pro (I created Long Tail Pro).  Obviously, I prefer Long Tail Pro because it’s much easier to use and organize the data.

By using Long Tail Pro, you are able to generate up to 800 related keywords to your seed keyword (“how to save money”).  Here’s a few of the suggested terms:

ltpamazon

Long Tail Pro shows the search volume under “local searches” for how many times each month people are searching for these terms on Google.  Obviously the search volume is different on Amazon, but it can give you an idea of what terms are searched for more than others.

My quick test on Long Tail Pro came up with a few good terms that I would consider putting as keywords if I was writing a book on budgeting; like “tips on saving money” and “best ways to save money”.

As you get more advanced, you can go a step further and actually figure out how competitive these keywords are on Amazon.  After all, just because you show up for a keyphrase doesn’t mean people will find you.  If all the keywords you select are extremely competitive you might end up on page 50 or 60 because the first page results are dominated by best selling books with hundreds of reviews.

So, it might be worth your time to research what books are showing up for your potential keywords to see if any “weak” books are showing up.  If books with a lower Amazon Best Sellers Rank are showing up, that’s probably a good sign that your chosen keywords are less competitive.

This can be a lot to take in, I know.

But just take a deep breath and remember: you can change your keywords at any time.  So if your book isn’t performing as well as hoped at first, you can always change your keywords and try again.

15. Choose a Pricing Strategy and Upload Book

Now it’s time to choose a pricing strategy and list your book for sale!

If you don’t have an audience, I highly recommend that you list your book for free the first 5 days. If you enroll your book in the Amazon Kindle select program (which you probably should), you are allowed up to 5 free days every 90 days.

This is the strategy the Steve Scott and Nick Loper recommend.  In fact, we followed Nick Loper’s launch strategy VERY closely throughout the entire process. So if you want even more details, I highly recommend checking out Nick’s course right here that is currently 75% off.

Here’s the pricing strategy that we followed when launching our book, and it has worked extremely well:

  • Free – first 5 days
  • $0.99 – 3 to 7 days after your free days
  • $2.99 – after your $0.99 period

Listing your book for free should help you climb to the top of a few categories within Amazon.  People love free stuff, so your book will get downloaded.  And if you do the additional marketing that I suggest below, you should get LOTS of downloads.

After the first 5 days, your book should be performing well if all goes according to plan (again, see below).  Then when you list your book for $0.99 it’s really the first time you can get some market validation for your book!

Are people actually willing to pull out their credit cards and hit the “buy” button?  Pricing at $0.99 will only earn you a 35% royalty rate from Amazon which is pretty terrible, so you won’t want to leave it here permanently.

However, this discount period can get your book listed not only in special sections of Amazon, but also on other 3rd party deal sites that regularly list kindle books priced at $0.99 (like BuckBooks.net). Then by the time you finally switch your book over to the $2.99 price the sales will continue to roll in from the momentum you’ve built up.

The reason for the $2.99 price is that is the 70% royalty threshold.  Amazon finally gives you a bigger piece of the pie when you list your book at $2.99 or above.

Here’s a quick look at the the downloads and purchases during my books free, $0.99, and $2.99 periods:

kindlefree

As you can see, our free period did very well.  And thankfully that carried on to our $0.99 and $2.99 periods:

amazonpricing

The $0.99 period solidified the fact that people were willing to buy the book.  And even though we got between 60 and 70 units ordered for a few days, we didn’t make tons of money those days.  Each unit at $0.99 in only worth about 35 cents.

The blue line is Kindle Unlimited and Kindle borrows.  These are worth about $1.31 each.  So, I’ll let you do the math if you want to know how much we were making each day!

Once we switched the price to $2.99, the units ordered dropped dramatically.  This was my first kindle book, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I knew it would drop, but didn’t know if it would be that much.  However, I’m told that this is very normal.

So, even though our units orders is much less, our overall earnings is MUCH more than the $0.99 cent period thanks to the 70% royalty.  Again, I’ll let you do the math, but some of the days on the above chart are over the $100 per day mark.

16. Launch to Your List First

The next few steps of the process are all about how to launch your book during that free period to make sure you pick up the momentum you need to perform well when your price goes up.  I want to again re-iterate that much of what I’m about to share in the next few steps is taken directly from Nick Loper’s suggestion from this blog post and his course.

The first step is very simple.  If you have an audience on an email list, tell them about your book!  This is going to be the best way to get initial downloads and reviews.

If you don’t have a “business” list, you can let your friends and family know about your book to get a few downloads.

17. Get Reviews During Free Period

Reviews are so important for your book to do well.  A big part of Amazon’s algorithm is determined by the number and rating of your book reviews.  Get more book reviews and your book should perform better.  Get more high ratings and your book should perform better.

Conversely, if your book starts getting lots of negative reviews, your book will not perform as well.

In addition, a Verified Purchase review is more valuable than a review from a non-verified purchaser.  This is why getting reviews during the free period can be so advantageous.

Someone that goes through and downloads your book during the free period is still considered a verified purchaser!

Here’s the deal, you should really try to get at least 10 to 15 reviews during the free period.  This is going to be the easiest time to ask people for reviews because well it’s free.  Getting as many as 20 reviews during the free period would be excellent!  The more the better.

You should have at least 10 to 15 friends or family members that you can ask to download and review your book. When Perrin and I launched ourbook here’s what we did (and you can do the same):

  • Emailed about 30 people
  • Asked them to download the book
  • Asked them to read it
  • Asked them to give it an honest review

About 50% of the family and friends we emailed actually gave it a review.  So after, the first few days we already had 15 reviews!  Perrin’s aunt only gave us 4 stars, but we’ve gotten over it. :)

We also picked up a couple of other “natural” reviews during the first week or so.

18. Reach Out to Relevant Groups and Blogs

Reaching out to both Facebook groups and relevant blogs can be a good way to jump start downloads of your book.

During your free days, here’s a list of the 5 Facebook Groups that we submitted too (and the one’s that Nick recommends):

These are all groups that promote free books, so they welcome your submissions.
Certain niches could have good success reaching out via email to bloggers that are relevant to your book.  Ideally you can do this ahead of time before your launch to have the most impact.
I’ll admit that Perrin and I tried reaching out to several bloggers but had almost no success in getting mentions.  Luckily, that didn’t seem to matter as we still ranked very well naturally in Amazon’s ecosystem with the other marketing efforts that we did.

19. Post to Free eBook Sites

Did you know that there are websites out there that do nothing but list and promote free Kindle eBooks? The websites accept submissions from people, so you should let them know your book is free!

Sarah at SarkEmedia.com provides 72 places you can promote your Kindle eBook when it’s free.  Below I’ve just included the 35 free eBook sites suggested by Sarah.

Here’s a list of 35 free eBook sites:

  1. http://www.pixelofink.com/sfkb/
  2. http://bargainebookhunter.com/feature-your-book/
  3. http://ereadernewstoday.com/category/free-kindle-books/
  4. http://www.freebookdude.com/p/list-your-free-book.html
  5. http://authormarketingclub.com/members/submit-your-book/ (you have to be a member, but membership is free)
  6. http://blog.booksontheknob.org/p/about-this-blog-and-contact-info.html
  7. http://www.freebooksy.com/editorial-submissions
  8. http://www.thatbookplace.com/free-promo-submissions/
  9. http://snickslist.com/books/place-ad/
  10. http://addictedtoebooks.com/submission
  11. http://www.kindleboards.com/free-book-promo/
  12. http://indiebookoftheday.com/authors/free-on-kindle-listing/
  13. http://www.ebooklister.net/submit.php
  14. http://digitalbooktoday.com/12-top-100-submit-your-free-book-to-be-included-on-this-list/
  15. http://thedigitalinkspot.blogspot.com.es/p/contact-us.html
  16. http://freekindlefiction.blogspot.co.uk/p/tell-us-about-free-books.html
  17. http://www.freeebooksdaily.com/
  18. http://www.freebookshub.com/authors/
  19. http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,97167.0/
  20. http://www.frugal-freebies.com/
  21. http://www.ereaderiq.com/about/
  22. http://freekindlefiction.blogspot.co.uk/
  23. http://www.mobileread.com/forums/ (membership required)
  24. http://flurriesofwords.blogspot.co.uk/
  25. http://askdavid.com/free-book-promotion
  26. http://digitalbooktoday.com/join-our-team/
  27. http://ebookshabit.com/about-us/
  28. http://www.ereaderperks.com/about/
  29. http://thefrugalereader.wufoo.com/forms/frugal-freebie-submissions/
  30. http://www.goodkindles.net/p/why-should-i-submit-my-book-here.html
  31. http://www.blackcaviar-bookclub.com/free-book-promotion.html#.UXFB27XYeOc
  32. http://www.totallyfreestuff.com/
  33. http://www.icravefreebies.com/contact/
  34. http://uk.hundredzeros.com/
  35. http://freedigitalreads.com/
  36. http://readingdeals.com/

You can do the submissions yourself, or you can hire someone from FancyHands.com like Nick Loper did. We used FancyHands, it it worked out very well.

Finally, there are also tools out there that can help you submit even faster and to more sites.  BookMarketingTools.com has a submission tool to free Kindle sites right here.

This free period is your chance to really get on the map!  You need to utilize all the marketing avenues that you can to help give your book the best chance of ranking well in Amazon naturally.  Once you start ranking naturally in Amazon and if you book truly is valuable to readers, you should continue to sell well once you switch from free to paid.

20. Ask Others to Email For You

If you don’t have an email list, why not ask others that do have an email list to spread the word about your book?

This can be a little more difficult to do if you don’t already have relationships with people in your niche, but it is possible.

For example, Perrin and I were able to contact someone in our niche that we knew had a large email list and we simply asked them if they would tell their audience about our free Kindle book.  They agreed.

We asked this person to email their list when there was only 24 hours left before our book went to $0.99.  We did that to drive up the free downloads on the last day, but to also get some sales for those people on the email list that missed the free download deadline.

We were clearly getting lots of free downloads before this email went out, but the last day was definitely our biggest free day.  See this chart:

kindleemailblast

I think our book would have done just fine without that email blast (we had over 1500 free downloads the day before); however, it certainly didn’t hurt.

21. Get More reviews

I know I already mentioned it, but getting reviews are SO important if you hope to gain traction in Amazon’s huge marketplace.  As a result, you shouldn’t just stop trying to get reviews when your book is no longer free.

Once our book went to $0.99 we were able to reach out to friends and family and get a couple more reviews.

Although we haven’t tried it yet, you can also reach out to top reviewers on Amazon to see if they are willing to read and review your book.  Here is a list of the top reviewers on Amazon.

Chris Guthrie also has a tool called AmaSuite that helps you find top reviewers and their contact information more easily.  The software has only been privately released at this point, but it will be publicly available soon I’m told.  When its available, you can go to this page to check out AmaSuite.

22. Create a Print Version and Test Pricing

Some people want their books in digital format and others want the physical book.  Luckily, it’s easy to turn your Kindle book into a printed copy using CreateSpace.com.

This is a print on demand service owned by Amazon…so don’t worry about stocking and shipping any physical books on your own.

The printed version can also create a nice price anchor to help your kindle version look like a better deal.

printprice

When people see the $6.99 price this increases the value of the book in their mind.  This is an age old marketing tactic.  People will feel like they are getting a $7 book for only $2.99…what a deal!

So, the only purpose of creating a print version of your book is not to only sell printed copies.  A big reason is to make your Kindle price look like a better deal and sell more copies of the Kindle version.

As you go forward, you should test and tweak pricing on both the printed and kindle version.  Your final price doesn’t have to be $2.99.  If you can sell almost as many copies at $4.99, then you will be making much more money.

I have not had a chance to test different pricing strategies with my book just yet, but it’s certainly on the to-do list.

23. Launch Another Book!

I have been told by multiple successful self-publishers that the real scale of this business comes when you start releasing additional books.  Readers of your first book will start to browse your author page and your additional book titles.

The more quality books you have, the more likely that your current buyers will be interested in something else you have written as well.  Steve Scott attributes a lot of his success (makes over $40,000 a month from Kindle books) to building an audience and having multiple books in the same niche.

So, now that you’ve had some success with your first Kindle eBook, it’s time to leverage that success by creating more and more books in your niche.  This can take a year or two to build up a significant library; however, the business potential is very real.

Perrin and I have already sat down and brainstormed our next book.  We’ve chosen a topic, title, and have started the outline.  We expect to launch our second book in the next 30 days.

Let’s Discuss…

Overall, Perrin and I are extremely happy with the success of our best selling Kindle eBook.  My only disappointment is that I didn’t start sooner!

In fact as I see the huge success and now the huge business potential as we add more titles, I honestly can say that I haven’t been this excited about a new business venture in a long time.  Is the success of our first book out of the ordinary?  Absolutely.

But did we follow some very specific steps (as outlined above) to try and achieve exactly what we did?  Absolutely.

The business potential of becoming a self published author on Amazon is very real, and hopefully some of you are able to achieve the same kind of success that we are currently seeing as well.

I would love to hear any comments or questions that you might have below.  Let’s discuss some of the finer points of the process in the comment section and hopefully we can all learn from each other.

The post How to Self Publish a Book on Amazon: 23 Steps to Launching a Kindle eBook That Makes Over $100 a Day appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

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