I'm sure most bloggers experience periodic "ah ha!" moments. These are the moments when you realize your business will never be the same, when something clicks that gives you the confidence to take a giant mental step forward in building your thing online.
This happened for Abby and I this past February. You see, I'm obsessed with "going paperless." I scan everything with my Fujitsu Scansnap and meticulously organize all of our household documents in Evernote. Abby had recently written quite a few posts about getting organized in the new year and she thought a post on going paperless with Evernote would be valuable to her readers. You can read the full post here.
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That post changed my mindset and made us some money. Before I talk about the dollars here are 5 reasons the post was a success:
1. Passion meets expertise
This post wasn't a reach for me in any sense of the word. I have been obsessed with organization,productivity, and going paperless for the last few years. I've read hundreds of blog posts and numerous books and eBooks on the subject. I'm passionate about the subject, so much so that it spills over onto friends and family and they are constantly asking me questions about my system.
In most cases, passion isn't enough to be an authority on the subject. You actually have to know what you're talking about. I had put in some hard work over the past few years testing and tweaking my system before I shared anything with the world.
If I lacked passion or expertise I think my wife's readers would be able to see right through it. Readers are smart; they know when you don't care, and they know when you don't know what you're talking about. Don't fake it.
If you're writing on a subject in which you are not an expert, then you need to be honest with your readers. Be open and tell them where you are in the process. They'll appreciate it. You always have to remember that you are a step ahead of some people but maybe behind others. Write to the people who are one step behind. Catch them up.
2. Bring something new to a niche
The post on going paperless with Evernote was a good article, but the fact remains that it's been done hundreds (maybe even thousands) of times before. I subscribe to quite a few productivity blogs and they've all done posts on their "paperless systems." There was nothing new and original about mine. Sure I have a somewhat unique perspective on what worked well for me but it was nothing truly original. I was ok with that!
What was unique was the online niche I was presenting this information to. As far as I know, no one in the mom blogger space had ever done a comprehensive tutorial on going paperless. (Please let me know if I'm wrong, I'd love to read other posts on this topic!) In publishing this post, I was bringing something new and unique to a specific niche. Like all blogging niches, everyone runs in the same circles. Everyone knows everyone within their space and theres a lot of material that everyone has seen a thousand times. Show your niche something they haven't seen before.
3. Key affiliate partners you can get excited about
The affiliate links in the post were not an afterthought. They were top of mind when structuring and writing the post.
Before I even decided to write the article on going paperless I was considering a few other topics as well. These were good topics that I was passionate about and had some expertise in. They also would've been bringing something new to the mom blogger niche.
I could've dedicated a similar amount of time to some of these other topics, but they didn't have the same clean affiliate possibilities that I had with the paperless post.
In the article you'll notice that I link to different Fujitsu Scanner options through the Amazon Affiliate program. These are not cheap items! Each one costs hundreds of dollars. I realized that in order to go paperless, you need a scanner. If you need a scanner, there's a good chance you'll purchase one on Amazon. I gave my recommendations and sure enough, many many people purchased their scanners through my links.
The biggest earner (by far!) in the post was Evernote Essentials affiliate income. If you're not familiar with the eBook, it's an in-depth guide to effectively using Evernote. Many people install Evernote but are overwhelmed with all the features various ways of organizing their notes and notebooks. Evernote Essentials solves this very specific problem. Brett Kelly did a great job writing the book, and he even provides free updates to those who have purchased a previous version.
A great eBook is nice, but it's not going to get you very far with affiliate income if you haven't read the book. Once again, your readers can see through any forced affiliate recommendations.
When I first started using Evernote years ago, I purchased Evernote Essentials and I can say without a doubt is was the turning point in me finally adopting and consistently using Evernote. I couldn't recommend the eBook any higher.
4. Memorable graphics, wording that matches the audience
When I wrote the post on going paperless for Abby, I did my best to format the article so it would resonate with her audience. As much as I tried, I just couldn't match the warmth in which she writes to her audience. I bolded the wrong words, didn't use the right headings, and didn't include any graphics.
Abby read through my article and made some significant changes to my wording. She told me it sounded like I was yelling at the readers. Oops! That doesn't go over well with the mom / DIY audience.
Not only did Abby tone down the harshness of my language, but she also added some memorable graphics with a picture of our family. This was at the top of the post, and I think it really encouraged her audience to scroll down and keep reading. She was also able to use the graphic on social media to draw additional attention to the post.
That's the beauty of a husband and wife team: we compliment each other in so many ways. If Abby was writing the post it wouldn't have been nearly as detailed and methodical. But if I didn't have Abby's help with the editing process, the article would've been a massive blog of text of me "yelling" at the reader with very few graphics. In the case of this post, we each brought very different strengths to the table.
5. Body links, not ads
Text links within the body of a useful post are powerful. When you take a look at the article on going paperless, you'll see I have two text links promoting Evernote Essentials. The anchor text on the first is "Evernote Essentials" and the anchor text on the second is "Get the book."
I knew that if the post was setup correctly, those two links would be the largest income earners on this particular article. I purposefully didn't include a huge button or even a banner that doubled as an affiliate link.
I am much more hesitant to click on something that resembles an ad than a carefully placed text link within the body of the article. Text links convey "I'm recommending another resource to you," whereas banners and buttons convey "I want something from you." There's a big difference.
P.S. I'm writing a new book called Marketing For Developers. You can download a 21 page sample here.
In this example the word "here" was a simple text link.
This option was a standard email signup form to subscribe to his newsletter.
Which option do you think converted better? The text link converted over 6x better than the email opt-in box. The text link offering something converted at 2% whereas the email signup box converted at 0.3% of visitors. The difference is stunning.
You need to understand that text links placed in the body of quality articles will convert significantly better than any affiliate banner, button, or ad.
As I've already mentioned, this post was a turning point in our mindset towards Abby's blog. Before it was a serious hobby blog and now, at least in my mind, it is a business. Here's what we made from this post in the month of February:
Amazon Affiliate Income: $670
This amount doesn't include the Google Adsense revenue generated from this post. That would easily put us above $2,000.
As nice as the money is, to me it was like a switch flipped in my brain regarding how we approach Abby's blog. My new mindset is going to make all the difference moving forward.
In addition to the 2k plus in revenue from one post during the month of February, the money continues to trickle in. We make an Evernote Essentials sale almost every day and once in awhile sell a scanner through our affiliate links. Google has picked up on the article and it has increased the domain authority of Abby's site.
How this changes the business moving forward
To some bloggers this success may not seem like much. To me, it was one of the most exciting things that happened in the past few years. I'm not overstating this.
Believe me, I played only a small part in this success. My wife put in countless hours over the past year+ building an audience, and I swooped in and wrote a decent post on going paperless. It just feels so great to have teamed up with my wife for a big success like this.
I'm convinced that little victories do a world of good for a business mindset. It's tough building your thing online. If it takes too long before your first victory, it's easy to lose hope. It's easy to give up. A victory like this for us gives us the confidence to push ahead. It gives Abby the confidence to keep pushing "publish," and it gives me the confidence to continue supporting her and helping in any way I can. This was big for us.
Possibly the most valuable lesson that we learned from this post was the power that we have when we work as a team. When our complimentary skill sets combine, we are WAY more effective than when we each work on our own. Not only does this knowledge help us in our business, it's a great reminder for our life and marriage as well!
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