The biggest mistake people make when they want to start a blog is that they start a blog.
Well, they start a blog without a plan.
Abraham Lincoln knew the power of preparation:
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Lincoln wasn’t just a politician with a metaphor, he was being literal. Before he became famous for politics he was known as one of the best axe-wielders around. The guy knew how to chop down trees better than anyone. (Lucky for us, he expanded his skill set beyond swinging sharp, heavy objects.)
Everyone wants to start a blog, and they should.
You can use a blog to generate massive amounts of revenue or just fascinating opportunities that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
A well-known local paper has about 40,000 copies in print. StartupBros gets about 150,000 unique views per month. We’re not that huge of a blog, but we’re still outpacing many traditional papers.
We don’t have a massive email list, just over 30,000 of the most active in the StartupBros community. That modest-sized list has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue in the last several months.
Will and I have been seriously working on StartupBros for just over a year. A lot can happen in a year:
I recently read that there is a blog started every few seconds.
The harsh truth is that virtually zero of these blogs will attract any meaningful attention. That’s fine for people who are using a blog as a sort of personal journal or résumé. It’s daunting for those of us who want to build a tribe and make money.
Putting in the work is necessary–few people deny the grind anymore–but it’s not sufficient. There are just too many people putting too many hours in for that to be your competitive advantage. You’ve got to have a better strategy than them too.
Using a proper sequence will organize your energy so that each step builds on the next. A solid launch strategy will put you ahead of the majority of people blindly starting blogs because of some vague urge that they “really ought to”.
This initial advantage will compound through the entire lifetime of your blog.
A good strategist understands that strategies are not one-size-fits all. Instead, they use the best method for the situation. Napoleon’s genius was not that he was more learned than the other generals. He had a feel for the situation. He knew how to improvise.
This sequence is malleable like the best strategies must be. It’s also designed to be implemented step-by-step. Especially for those who fit the descriptions below:
Who Is This Sequence For?
The use-cases for this strategy vary widely and we’ll get to some of the more popular ones shortly.
First, let’s talk briefly about the person who inspired this post.
This girl, let’s call her Jess, owns her own business and has worked as a yoga teacher for more than a decade. She is able to make a decent income and her business is extremely fulfilling. Her message so far has stayed mostly within her yoga studio and the many events she leads. She has more reach than most, but no place for her tribe to congregate online.
I worked with her to apply this strategy to her goal of reaching a wider audience online while building a stronger connection with those who already know her. I’m sure you’ll be hearing from her soon 🙂
There are a ton of people who can benefit from using this strategy:
- The author building an audience for his book while he writes it. Even authors who have six-figure advances from major publishing houses are responsible to bring their own audiences to the books they publish. Waiting for publication to market the book isn’t an option—you’ve got to have buyers ready. The best way to do this is to build a list of people who want to be told every time you release something new. This applies to established authors as well as new ones.
- The entrepreneur launching a business. What if you could launch your product to a ton of people who are just waiting to buy?
- The coach or consultant launching their business. It’s the same deal… having a group of buyers waiting to be sold is always going to be better than paying to get in front of people who may or may not want to hear from you.
- The established consultant or entrepreneur who is expanding his offerings. If you already have a service up but want to begin building demand for another branch of your business you can also use a variation of this strategy.
- The future blogger. If you know you want to build a readership and are starting from zero, this is the single most powerful way to launch. You will take advantage of other people’s traffic and avoid burnout by wasting your energy on ineffective activities.
- Any person or business who is building their email list. Email has remained the most powerful form of communication online. The connection you can build with people by showing up on their social feeds can’t compare with the power of an email in their inboxes.
- Anyone starting in the expert industry. You need to be heard to build authority. Not just once, but many times. Authority builds exponentially. The strategy you’re about to learn allows you to continue your relationship with readers that would have forgotten about you before the end of the day.
We’re going to get into a bird’s eye view of this strategy next. First, I want to specify one group who this strategy is not for.
If you know that you want to build your business in the expert industry and you know what product or program you want to sell then there is an advanced sequence that you can follow. It’s higher risk, demands more certainty from you up front, and takes more (time, effort, money, organization) to launch effectively… but it’s powerful and enables you to monetize immediately. If anyone falls into this category feel free to ask about it in the comments (or email) and I’ll be happy to give extended answers.
Now, onto the Expert Blog Launch Sequence!
Expert Blog Launch Sequence: The Overview
Let’s look at each piece of the strategy in brief. You’ll want to keep this overview in mind when reading through each step.
- Define your goal. The way you execute this strategy will be defined by your aim.
- Discover your value proposition (loosely). You don’t need to get hyper-specific at this point. You just need to have a general idea of what you’re going to do. StartupBros launched with the tagline “You don’t need a job…” and our mission ever since has been to provide you the tools to create your own business to create an income. We didn’t know what specifically would work but we knew we would find something.
- Create a free resource. Have you seen the “5 Levels of Entrepreneurship” in the top right corner of our site? It’s the free ebook that we offer anyone who comes to StartupBros.com. It’s also an integral piece of our strategy. When we deliver the ebook to someone we create trust with them—and we gain permission to contact them in the future. This permission is one of our most precious assets. I will show you exactly how to create a resource like this quickly using information you already have. Then I’ll show you the technical requirements to deliver it.
- Create a landing page in 5 minutes. This is going to serve as your home base while you build your initial list. The page has a single purpose: collect email addresses. You will use this page to deliver the free resource you made above. It’s difficult for people to accept this step. They think they need to have a full site with a dedicated page to themselves. This is the key that multiplies the value of your efforts.
- Drive qualified traffic. We will focus primarily on guest posting as a way to drive traffic to your landing page. That way the only people hitting your landing page have read your work before and thought, “I want more!”
You should have some serious questions at this point. I’m confident that they’ll be answered as I unpack each of these steps and show you exactly how to execute them. If I don’t answer your question feel free to ask in the comments.
Now that you have an overview of the Expert Blog Launch Sequence, let’s zoom in on the first step.
1. The Easiest Goal You’ll Ever Set
This is the simplest step.
And if isn’t simple, you’re doing it wrong.
The 3 requirements for your goal:
- What topic you are building an audience for so you know who to talk to and what to talk about.
- How many emails you want to collect so you know how big your audience will be before you launch your blog.
- A timeframe so you stay on track.
Here are some possible goals you might set:
- Get 1000 readers for my fitness blog by September.
- Collect 3000 readers that want to hear about my new investing book by the time I send it to my publisher.
- Collect 5000 emails from people who want to hear more about my mindfulness teachings by the time my course is ready.
- Get 500 highly targeted potential clients on an email list that might be interested in my online marketing consulting services.
Again, don’t stress about this. If you don’t know what is realistic then I’d err on the low side. Try 500 emails in 3 months. Then add a who and what and you’re good to go.
One of the few ideas from Napoleon Hill that has stuck with me is the “Definite Chief Aim”. This is the overriding goal of everything else. Every decision you make and action you take should move you toward this aim. If your Definite Chief Aim for this strategy is to Get 1000 readers for my fitness blog by September then everything you do in the following steps should be done with this in mind.
2. Define Your Value Proposition
What are you going to offer?
Why would someone choose you over anyone else?
You don’t need to be totally clear on the answers to these questions yet but you should be thinking about them.
When we launched StartupBros, we knew that we wanted to talk about entrepreneurship. We wanted to show people a way to get out of shitty jobs and build their own things. Our tagline was “You don’t need a job…” and we’ve been striving to deliver on that promise ever since.
Just today someone emailed about how he was able to quit his job because of our importing training program. Now he can spend more time with his family, especially his newly born baby girl. That’s life-changing value.
You might not know exactly how you’ll deliver on your promise yet, that’s fine. (If you are clear about exactly how you want to serve others then you may want to use the advanced method I mentioned above.)
What’s important is that you have an idea of the problem you can solve for other people. It shouldn’t be that vague, either. You’re not an expert at everything. Stick with your area of competency and you’ll do well.
“You have to figure out what your own aptitudes are. If you play games where other people have the aptitudes and you don’t, you’re going to lose. And that’s as close to certain as any prediction that you can make. You have to figure out where you’ve got an edge. And you’ve got to play within your own Circle of Competence.” – Charlie Munger
We can often be blind to our own competencies. Severe versions of this leads to the impostor syndrome. You are blind to what is most natural to you and things feel natural because you’re good at them. You can ask these questions to start to hone in on your competency: What can you do easily that others struggle with? What do you love talking about that annoys others? What do people pay you to do?
To give you an idea of the breadth of possible value propositions, here is a short list of some of the problems people will pay to have solved:
- Teach unhealthy people to get healthy.
- Teach fat people to get ripped.
- Show guys how to get girls.
- Show girls how to get guys.
- Show people how to make more money in their job.
- Show people how to make more money outside of their jobs.
- Show people how to relieve their depression.
- Help people get started playing the guitar.
- Help young people get clear on what to do with their lives.
- Help people later in life figure out what that’s all about.
- Teach people how to take perfect Instagram photos.
- Show businesses how to use Instagram to market their products.
- Teach people how to start a podcast.
- Teach people how to start a blog.
- Teach people how to get their book published.
- Show people how to self-publish their books.
- Show people how to get better at basketball.
- Teach people how to master Call of Duty or any other game.
- Teach people how to ace high school without trying too hard.
- Teach people how to travel cheaply.
- Show people how to develop addictive products.
- Show people how to eat well on a pescatarian diet.
- Show people how to teach their dogs tricks.
- Show people how to make their dog trick videos go viral on YouTube.
- Teach people how to speak another language quickly.
- Teach people how to make a business creating third-party cell phone attachments.
- Teach people how to make money with their photography.
- Show people how to master negotiations.
- Whatever it is you’re interested, you can make money talking about that.
Almost all of these came from real-world examples—many of them multi-million dollar businesses.
The problem you’re solving doesn’t have to sound “world changing”. PewDiePie has 32.6 million subscribers on YouTube. His value proposition was Entertain people who like video games.
Decide on the value you want to deliver first. Then look at other people who are succeeding at delivering on a similar value proposition and see what you can copy and what you can do differently.
This kind of competitive analysis is a huge subject. For now all you need to do is decide on your value proposition. Some examples:
- I’m going to show entrepreneurs how to use YouTube to drive sales.
- I’m going to provide a program to help relieve depression for new mothers.
- I will help show people how to have more self-esteem.
- I will show people how to make money selling their art.
- I will show freelancers how to double their rates.
- I will show people how to work remotely while traveling.
- I will show people how to pick the perfect piece of fruit, every time.
Once you have this down you are ready to get into the nitty-gritty.
So far our focus has been on planning. You know your aim now and you know the problem you’re going to solve for people. From here on we’ll focus on technical execution.
3. Create A Resource To Give Away For Free
You’ve seen them before: the ebook, the free PDF, or the video series that are offered in exchange for your email address. Then you’re sent the resource and continue to receive emails unless you unsubscribe.
You may have already downloaded our free ebook, The 5 Levels of Entrepreneurship. It’s our free offering for people who want to hear more from us. Our email signup rate doubled when we began offering the ebook instead of just saying, “Sign up for our value-packed newsletter!”
People email us regularly telling us just how much the love the ebook. It doesn’t feel like a “bribe” or a trick. It’s real value that we deliver for free.
Clay Collins from Leadpages recently did a webinar with us where he revealed that shorter free resources actually convert much better than long ones. He started using a list of the gear he uses instead of a long ebook because it did so much better. A lot of people, including David Siteman Garland from The Rise to the Top use “cheat sheets” as their resources. These are converting well too.Remember who you’re talking to, then solve a universal, basic problem for them.
Here is a sampling of possible free resources:
- 4 Tools to Start Making Great Video for Less Than $100
- 3 Quick Ways You Can Optimize Your Website Today
- The 7 Foods That Are Sapping Your Energy
- 5 Unique Exercises To Get A Six-Pack Fast
- 9 Strategies To Multiply Your Productivity as a Designer
- 7 Hacks to Re-Ignite Your Creativity
- A Cheat Sheet For the Perfect Blog Post
- The Startup Finances Cheat Sheet
- 9 Steps to Hiring Your First Virtual Assistant, The Cheat Sheet
- 3 Ways to Get A Raise This Month
- 7 Trends Every Investor Needs To Know About
To give you an example, here is David Siteman Garland’s current freebie promo:
Four things to notice about this freebie that you will want to incorporate into yours:
- It’s a list. Lists work well for basically everything.
- The promise is obvious. By the time you’re done reading this freebie you will know how to launch a successful online course.
- It’s easy to take in. It’s a “cheat sheet”, not a 100 page report. The reader doesn’t know if they want to invest that much time with you yet. The idea is to solve a problem quickly.
- It’s related to other parts of the business. David’s main product teaches people how to create online programs. He is most interested in gaining readers who want to create online courses so he designed his freebie to attract them.
Three format types for free resources:
- The PDF. This is the most common format and it’s most likely the one you should start with. Cheat sheets and ebooks will both be delivered as PDFs to your readers.
- Auto-responder series. This is an automated email series that will be sent over a period of time. You can make a six-week program that will help your readers solve a certain problem.
- Video series. This is an advanced auto-responder. You can have a video segment released to your readers each week. These take a bit more planning and work but can be extremely effective at collecting emails, building a relationship with your audience, and priming them for purchase.
Don’t let this step stall your progress. If you spend a week on this then you’ve spent too much time.
Make a great cheat sheet to start. You can change it later if you want.
4. Create A Landing Page
In this step you will create a simple landing page that is designed to collect emails and deliver your freebie.
This is the current landing page for our ebook:
Notice how sparse it is. There isn’t anything there except an image of the free resource and an opt-in box.
When readers hit this page they almost always get the book. It’s not because the page is so great, it’s because they got to this page with the goal of hearing more from us.
When you set your landing page up, remember the context in which the readers are arriving. They saw you elsewhere on the web and wanted to get more from you.
This landing page is not a permanent solution; it’s a stand-in solution to collect email addresses while you build your audience. You want to launch your blog to thousands of readers, not zero.
We use LeadPages to create all of our landing pages. They make it ridiculously simple to set the page up, allow us to collect emails and to deliver the free resource.
You’ll need to get an email service at this point in order to collect email addresses and send people your free resource. We use Ontraport but to start you may want to go with something like MailChimp or AWeber.
5. Drive Qualified Traffic
This step will require the most effort by far.
If you really want to, you can knock out steps 1-4 in a day. After that, it’s all about getting people to give you their email addresses. That means driving traffic to your landing page.
There are several ways you can do this. Among them are publishing Kindle books and running Google or Facebook ads. Kindle publishing is a massive topic beyond the scope of this post. Facebook ads are effective if you’ve got a product to sell but probably aren’t worth the investment if you don’t have a product yet.
Let’s focus on guest blogging.
There are a lot of people with a lot more traffic than you. Why not take advantage of other people’s traffic?
Let’s assume you are trying to get 1000 readers before you launch your blog. How many guest posts would you need to do?
It depends on the posts and the blogs you get on. To help you gauge this, Daniel DiPiazza wrote a kickass guest post for us and got 200 new subscribers from it. Between two guest posts at ArtOfManliness I’ve gotten 600 new subscribers.
It’s not going to take you too long to reach 1000 or more readers if you consistently publish on quality channels.
To get started you need to get a list of sites you want to publish on. There are detailed ways to do this but if you are already an active participant in what you’re talking about (and I hope you are) then you probably can get started by pitching your favorite blogs to read.
I read probably 50 guest-post pitches a week and delete almost all of them immediately because the pitch was crap. You’ve got to learn how to write a killer email pitch.
Ludvig Sundstrom has one of the most popular guest posts on StartupBros (How to Blast Out of Obscurity). Not coincidentally, he wrote one of the most effective email pitches I’ve received:
6 things to learn:
- The purpose of the email is in the headline. I don’t have to read any of the body to guess what he’s talking about.
- He introduces himself and immediately provides 3 reasons why I should keep reading.
- He acknowledges that we’re busy… and doesn’t continue to talk about himself for ten pages. This happens all the time. What the hell are these people thinking?
- He provides more proof that his work performs well and that serious publications have published his work.
- He then provides three specific article ideas. What you can’t see in the screenshot above is that he also provided a brief outline for each post. Just the headline and then the three main ideas.
- The whole things is broken down and organized well. I can glance at the email and get to the important information. It makes reading it super easy.
A great guest post pitch doesn’t take a lot of effort and it will radically increase the rate at which you get accepted for submissions.
The other thing here is that you need to be able to write a post that people love. Learning some basics about powerful writing will serve you well. I’ve put together a writing guide for entrepreneurs that you will find useful.
That’s that! Let’s review…
Expert Blog Launch Sequence: The Review
This is a simple strategy that you can implement this week. By using this specific sequence you will avoid wasting time writing posts that nobody will read.
You will avoid stretching yourself thin trying to build your own site while simultaneously creating an outreach program.
You will guarantee your success by building it before you even launch.
You will be able to monetize your blog before you even launch it.
These wins can’t be exaggerated. It’s the difference between becoming a successful entrepreneur and staying in the rat race.
Wrapping This Up...
Today, right now, complete the first two steps.
Then outline your free resource.
You can do all of this in less than 15 minutes and you will have begun laying the foundation for your future business.
If you have any questions about any part of this process, let me know in the comments!
If you already have a product, coaching program, or consulting service idea that you know you want to launch and are interested in the advanced method, let me know as well.
Looking forward to talking with you below!