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THIS POST IS PART OF MY BLOGGING BUSINESS SERIES.

YOU CAN REGISTER HERE. 

The key to creating a full-time income from blogging is to identify the right mix of revenue opportunities, and optimizing them so you can make the most money possible.

Here are the steps you can take to figure out the best way(s) to monetize your blog:

1. Decide how you want to spend your time

We all have different skills and interests and want to spend our time in different ways. If you love creating recipes and taking beautiful photos of food, you will HATE pitching advertisers for your blog. However, you might find creating recipes books are a great way to monetize your blog. Maybe you will love creating video content, and land your own online food show.

The best way to decide how to monetize your blog is to decide how you want to spend your time. Passive income allows you to create projects that give you small amounts of income on a regular basis, while active income is something you are constantly working towards. Take inventory of how you enjoy spending your time, and figure out what revenue streams are going to give you the best life.

Also, I highly recommend you take this myers briggs test and get your personality type. This totally changed the way I approach my business.

If you take the test and send me your personality type, I will send you my favorite fact about that type. (I am an ENTP!)

2. Determine your hourly rate

The way to ensure you hit your income goals is to tie all of your pricing to a minimum hourly rate. Figure out how much income you should make for every hour you work, and use that as a benchmark.

Don’t forget, 30% or more of your income will go to paying self-employment taxes, and make sure to include expenses your employer previously covered. (health insurance, cell-phone, etc)

Also, 60% of your time will be spent pitching new business, managing programs and handling administration details. Be realistic about how much time you can dedicate to this type of work. Here is a simple calculator you can use to find your hourly rate.

You may also find this post about how to survive the gig economy helpful. 

3.  Assess each opportunity against your benchmark

Here is an example of how you assess revenue opportunities against your hourly rate:

Potential Income from sponsored post:
-Each sponsored post sale earns $250 in revenue
-1 out of every 10 brands I pitch purchase a sponsored post
-It takes me 1 hour to find brands to pitch, 1 hour to pitch and answer questions and 2 hours to create the post.

In this scenario, I would make $62.50 an hour for each opportunity I sell. However, it pitching and closing these deals takes longer than I expected I will need to re-assess my pricing structure.

If you run every income opportunity against your minimum hourly rate, you will ensure that you always hit your income goals.

 

HOWTOSELL

This post is part of my blogging business series. You can register here. 

The key to selling and creating good sponsored content is aligning with brands your audience will love, and integrating them into your content in a way that makes your audience care. 

There are tons of tools that can help you land sponsored posts gigs, and we will be covering many of them this week. Today we are discussing how to sell sponsored content directly to advertisers.

1. Set income goals for your blog

Once you decide that sponsored posts are a viable revenue stream, you should create a plan for managing sponsored posts. I have see too many blogs become inundated with sponsored posts, and I have seen bloggers struggle to control their income. During busy seasons (holiday) you may receive a ton of sponsored post opportunities, but when brands are actively promoting products you lose control of your revenue. Creating a plan allows you to pace your sponsored content, and create a consistent revenue stream.

  • Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to start creating a plan:
  • How often do you post on your blog?
  • What percentage of your blog content do you want to be sponsored?
  • How many sponsored posts per month can you offer advertisers?
  • How much yearly revenue do you want to come from sponsored posts?
  • What do you charge per sponsored post?
  • How many different programs/clients do you want to manage?

Yearly income goals:

Monthly income goals:

2. Create a list of opportunities you can sell to sponsors

Once you have a clear vision of how you want to work with brands you can create packages that make sense for your site.  Make a list of the different opportunities you want to find sponsors for, and map out a plan of what you will be pitching each month.  You can break your sponsorships into two categories: 

  • Seasonal: Brands often host holiday and season specific programs, so begin by identifying the different seasonal partnership opportunities you can sell to brands.  (Examples: holiday gift guide, spring cleaning series, 30 days of summer)
  • Regular series: Create a list of the regular content series you feature on your site. (Examples: Giveaways, weekly features, video series)

Here are some examples of what other bloggers have done:

3. Create a pitching schedule

Estimate how long it takes to close each sale. Typically, it can take 4-8  to secure a new sponsors and process the payment. This means you should always be pitching opportunities 2 months in advance. Some brands have a longer planning period, so you will need to pitch them deals 4-6 months in advance. If you give yourself an 8-week window, you can plan the sponsorships ahead of time and know what revenue goals you will hit. 

Create a pitching schedule for your seasonal programs, and fill in the gaps with the regular series’s you host on your blog.

4. Write the pitch

The best way to pitch new sponsors is to create a general pitch that you can use for multi-purposes.  This allows you to send pitches out on a regular basis without creating entirely new materials for every pitch.

Here is a sample pitch you can use to create your own: 

Hi X,

I am the founder of leading (YOUR NICHE) blog, (SITE NAME) and thought there might be a way for us to work together.

(Include 2-3 sentences describing the opportunity)

We are a huge fan of (BRAND NAME), and would love to have you participate. Our sponsorship opportunities allow you to be integrated into our content and engage our readers in a meaningful way.

Let me know if this sounds like something you might be interested in.

Thanks,

(NAME)

5. Identify potential sponsors & start pitching

Make a list of the potential brands that would be interested in sponsoring. Make sure to include brands you have current relationships with, companies you love and brands that would be a good fit.

Find contact information for the brands you are interested in, and start pitching!

Additional Resources and Tools:

SPONSOREDPOST

 

The biggest question people have about sponsored posts is, “what can I charge?”  You know your content is highly valuable to brands, but you don’t know what other bloggers are charging or what kind of ROI brands are looking for.

Here is an equation you can use to find the right price to charge: 

Time spent creating content X Hourly Rate) + (Pageviews/1000 X $10) =Price per post

If I charge an hour rate of $50, and reach 25K readers per month the equation would break down like this:

(3 hours X $50/hour) + (25 X 10cpm) =$400 per post

In addition, you can charge for the additional pieces of content you are including the promotion. (tweets, pinterest, etc) Every blogger charges for sponsored 

Here is a chart of average sponsored post rates: 

SPONSORED BLOG POST PRICING CHART:

AVERAGE MONTHLY TRAFFIC PRICE PER SPONSORED POST
1K-7K $50-$150
7K-15K $150-300
15K-30K $300-$500
30K-50K $500-$750
50K-100K $750-$1,500
100K+ $1,500+

SOCIAL MEDIA PROMOTION PRICING CHART: 

TOTAL FOLLOWERS PRICE PER PROMOTION
0-5K $25-$50
5K-25K $50-$75
25K-50K $75-$100
50K+ $150+

 

 

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I have spent the past five years studying the many different ways bloggers monetize their platforms. In the past couple of years, there have been huge shifts in the blogging industry. No longer can you place ads in your sidebar, and cross your fingers the money rolls in.

Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

Instead, bloggers can build a successful business by implementing many different revenue streams into your site.

After much research, (and a weekend of all nighters), I am excited to officially announce my newest program: “30 Days of Blogging Business.”

I created this program to help you explore the many ways you can monetize your audience, and choose the right path for you.

The program is totally free, and will give you access to 30 new blogging business ideas.

Each day you will receive a new blogging business model, examples of real bloggers that leverage this technique, a breakdown of the revenue you can earn, and an outline of how you can implement that model into your blog.

At the end of this 30-day program you will have:

  • A deep understanding of many different ways you can monetize your blog
  • Actionable steps for implementing these ideas into your existing business
  • All of the templates, resources and tools you need to take your blog to the next level

How can you get involved? 

To get started, here is what you need to do:

  1. Sign up: To take part in this program, simply click here and enter your name, website and email address. (its totally free) Each day you will receive an email outlining that days lesson, tasks for you to complete and exclusive tips for monetizing your blog.
  2. Connect: Introduce yourself to the other bloggers taking the challenge using the #BusinessBlogging hashtag.

Ready to get started?

Sign up now!

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There is this long-standing belief that media coverage is free. Once upon a time cute PR girls could sway editors and producers into featuring their products in front of millions of consumers. 

Times have changed, budgets have been cut, and the reality is? If you want to reach millions of consumers you are going to pay for it.

Here is my favorite recent example: ABC requires everyone who appears on shark tank to give up 5% of their company. Shark Tank recognizes how powerful their viewer base is, and they aren’t even letting the talent to get that exposure for free.

 

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I started selling Avon when I was fifteen. Within a year, I became the youngest Presidents Club member in the district. Adrienne just reminded me to mention that was more than a decade ago. (Whatevs.)

Selling Avon was my favorite job. It gave me a  deep understanding of sales and taught me lessons I have referred to over and over again in my career.

Here are five of the best lessons I learned selling Avon:

(There is a special offer at the end of this post, so stick with me here) 

1. Go where the people are.

Selling Avon in highschool was the smarted thing I could do. I spent everyday surrounded by hundreds of students and teachers who loved makeup. Also, students and teachers alike would rather shop than sit in school. I sold a ton.

My slowest time was during the summer, that was until I got roped into playing on the softball team. I spent every game passing out avon brochures to the crowd. They would place the order before the game ended, and it would be delivered at the next game.

Selling to an existing community gives you access to a huge group all at once, it builds an instant relationship with your consumer and it cuts down your costs because you don’t have to hunt everyone down to deliver products.

2. Love your product or forget it

I was obsessed with Avon. I still get excited when I get my hands on a new brochure. Each book was filled with new sales and new products and pretty sparkly things. I would spend hours memorizing the catalogs before going out to sell. I could tell you anything you needed to know about the products we carried, and point you to the page number of the most recent catalog. Avon allowed reps to back-order products at sale price, and I always knew what sale I could get my customers. Knowing my stuff and working to save them money encouraged higher sales from each customer.

3. Make recommendations

The more you know about your customers, the more you can sell. I knew the women who went crazy when Avon came out with new holiday stuff. I knew the customers that only ordered stocking sutffers at Christmas time. Learn as much as you can about your buyers prefence, and make recommendations that matter to them.

4. Have a differentiator

People didn’t buy avon from me because I had the best catalogs or the newest products. I had the same thing every avon lady in the world had to offer. The difference? I was sixteen and had more energy than any Avon lady in the market. I was a passionate and willing to hustle for what I wanted. People remembered me, and they wanted to support they drive they saw. 

5. Encourage word of mouth

Word of mouth makreitng is one of the most powerful tools in the world. If a friend tells me to buy something there is a VERY good chance I will do so. Here is the thing—I don’t sit around thinking about all of the businesses I interact with and who in my network might be interested.  However, if you ask me if I know someone who might be interested, there is a good chance I will come up with a name. Encourage word of mouth. It always pays off.

Today, direct sales reps have more opportunity than ever before. There are tons of free tools (like email!) that allow you to build relationships, close sales and land referrals.That is why I have decided to launch an online course that will show you  how to use online tools to increase your sales.

And since you made it all of the way through this post, I want to give you a little present. I think that everyone can learn something from this course, and want to offer you a $100 discount code. 

You can access the entire course by entering “AVONVIP” at checkout. 

Get all of the details and register here.

http://www.quistic.com/seminar/increase-your-sales-with-online-marketing 

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Every week there is a new post debating whether or not startups should focus on PR. While all of the arguments are different, they are mostly focused on the insane costs of hiring a PR agency, and whether or not it’s worth it.

The reality of it is that most startup founders have zero experience in PR, and most PR agencies have zero experience running a startup. You are living in two different worlds, and your idea of what you are trying to accomplish. Most PR professionals have zero experience in web traffic and analytics. This means that they have no idea what kind of media coverage will drive you traffic, and what to do with that traffic. Most startups don’t have the funds to pay an agency enough to truly integrate with your marketing team, which means you will never get the full value from your PR agency. 

I have spent the past five years working on online media, and learned the ins and outs of using media coverage to drive traffic. Here is a little guide to get you started:

National Broadcast:

  • National broadcast is a great credential and can help drive brand awareness, but national broadcast is a terrible traffic driver.
  • The caveat is if you are offering a special discount just for viewers. E! News the Today Show often do these types of features.
  • Unless you are besties with a producer, you will probably not get included in a segment. National television shows have gotten really strict about earned media placements, which has made it nearly impossible for brands to get organic mentions. (aka they prefer ad dollars)
  • The best way to get your foot in the door is to find the experts these shows feature, and make them fall in love with your project.

National Print:

  • National print is also a great credential and can drive awareness.
  • You will have to work really hard to get a placement, and the mention will probably be so small you will see very little traffic conversions.
  • The best ways to land national print coverage are to build relationships with the key editors, hire a freelance writer who regularly contributes to national outlets or pitch your CEO as an expert who could contribute.

Regional Media:

  • Regional media is the most overlooked type of media placement.
  • It is a known fact in the startup world that regional newspapers are the only media outlet that has not had a significant decline in their readership. Everyone reads their local papers, so there is a huge opportunity to connect with consumers on a personal level.
  • There is less competition to land regional media coverage, so you will get more coverage from the work you put into it.
  • The downside is that very few people get excited when you land a placement in a small town newspaper.

Traditional Online:

  • Traditional outlets with an online presence have almost no ability to drive traffic.
  • For example, the New York Times receives more than 4M page views a month, but they publish 1,500 articles a day. That averages out to around 95 page views per article. This doesn’t include the assumption that the top 20 most popular posts receive the majority of those views. with those numbers, you have almost no changes of converting that traffic into a sale.

Blogs:

  • I am being very general in my definition of blogs, and classifying  a blog as a smaller site that is updated a few times a week to a few times per day.
  • Blogs have an amazing ability to drive traffic. I have received more traffic from MightyGirl.com than I did from the New York Times and NPR: All Things Considered combined.
  • Building on my previous example, MightyGirl.com receives 300K readers per month, and publishes 2-3 posts per week. This averages out to around 25K page views per post.
  • Getting blog coverage can be very time consuming and often requires a minimal budget, but the ROI can be exponential.

What experience has your startup had with media coverage? What kind of coverage gave you the most results? What didn’t work for you? What did you learn?  Leave your experience in the comments below. 

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Last month, I left the comfort of a regular paycheck to become a full-time freelancer. I had no money in savings, and a regular stream of bills flowing in, so I had no choice but to hit the ground running. Within six-weeks, I was able to replace my full-time income. It wasn’t easy. It involved twelve-hour days, minimum sleep and a series of nervous breakdowns. But now? I couldn’t imagine my life any other way. 

Last week, I came across this article on how impossible it is to survive in the gig economy, and thought I would share how I was able to make the gig economy work for me.

1. Be Realistic About Your Needs

Freelancing isn’t for everyone. The reality is that anyone can freelance, but not everyone will like freelancing. I am an ENTP, which means my best work happens when I am managing lots of different kinds of projects. I thrive on fast-paced, big idea projects, and can shift my thinking very quickly. It also means I am completely incompetent at managing details.

Secondly, freelancing means giving up stable income, and many of the “extras” we all have come to enjoy. While every freelancer dreams of replacing their full-time income, it is something that takes time. You need to be realistic, you cannot survive trying to hunt down $5 gigs. It is not sustainable. 

How I did it: .

  1. Figure out exactly how much you need to earn to survive. A smaller goal can give you the confidence to get started, but this means forgoing most of the luxuries in your life. Don’t forget, 30% or more of your income will go to paying self-employment taxes, and make sure to include expenses your employer previously covered. (health insurance, cell-phone, etc) 
  2. Determine how many hours you will dedicate to client work. It may sound crazy, but 60% of your time will be spent finding new clients, marketing your business and managing administration details. Be realistic about how much time you can dedicate to client work.
  3. Set your rate. Once you have a clear picture of how much you want to earn, and the number of hours you can dedicate to client work you can calculate what you need to earn per hour. Start out with a range for your hourly rate, and be flexible until you figure out exactly what the market will offer.

2. Pick a Specialty

Consider how much money you need to make, what skills you have to offer, and narrow down the skills that you can make a living with.

Why would I hire you to do a job when I could hire a specialist at the same rate? If you try to sell everything, you will sell nothing. It is the equivalent of blindly submitting your resume to thirty different positions.

How I did it:

I have a huge range of experience from pitching traditional media to building complex influencer/content marketing programs. There are dozens of services I could offer my clients, so I narrowed it down to five skills that were in high-demand and pitched brands to see which services would attract the most work.

3. Use Your Network

The most important part of finding gigs is having a strong network. This is no different than the process of finding a full-time job. The chances of applying to a job posting, and getting the job is low. The way to get a great full-time job is to use your existing network. It is no different for finding gigs.

How I did it: 

I spent the past five years helping agencies and Fortune 500 brands create digital marketing programs. Through my work, I developed relationships with some amazing marketers. Theses people understood how I approached digital marketing. They knew the kind of traction I could build, and when I went freelance they were the very first people to hire me.

4. Get Comfortable with Cold Pitching

If you need consistent income (which I assume you do), you will need a huge pipeline of potential clients. Regardless of how large your network is, you will have to get comfortable with cold pitching.

The first step is deciding what kind of clients you want to work with, and then identifying what you can offer them to close the deal. While I love working with large brands, there are a number of downsides. It can take months to close a deal and most of your time will be spent navigating office politics rather than creating interesting work. You can make more money working with big brands, but getting work off the ground can be very slow moving.

This is why I love working with startups. They spark to out-of-the-box ideas, and can implement new programs really fast. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to take my big brand experience, and help startups build traction with their target customers.

How I did it:

  1. Identified my ideal clients—Most of my work fell in the consumer marketing space, specifically helping brands reach women online. So I started by looking for clients who were trying to reach women online. Because startups are typically strapped for cash, I looked for clients that had already secured funding. This way, I knew they had the budgets needed to fund a great program.
  2. Find potential clients—Once I knew who I was targeting, I started searching for potential clients. I looked on sites like Angel List, Beta List and Crunch Base. I started searching those databases for potential clients, and made a list of companies to pitch.
  3. Create the perfect pitch—The perfect pitch takes time. Start by sending out three different pitches, and measure which formats give you the highest success rate. Refine and test until you get the perfect mix.
  4. Get ready for disappointment—Creating the perfect pitch doesn’t mean you will get the gig. A while back, I discovered an amazing startup, and convinced myself that I was the perfect person for the gig. I pitched them, and they were interested. So I spent an entire weekend creating a deck that would show them exactly why they should hire me. I didn’t get the gig. I can’t tell you the disappointment gets easier, but it does give you some amazing learning experiences.

5. Get Ready to Hustle. 

The only way to survive in the gig economy is to hustle. Once you land a few gigs, you will find yourself in a place where you are activating multiple projects while negotiating new gigs. You have to move very fast and have the ability to quickly shift your mind to do different kinds of work.

How I did it: 

My first two weeks of freelancing, I pitched 200 potential clients, closed three deals and spent my afternoons crying because I was sure I would never make it. Surviving the gig economy is hard, but it is possible.

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Every spring college recruiters across the country head into high schools to “help” students pick the perfect college and choose a major. All of them doing so with the ultimate goal of getting students to choose THEIR college and a major in something THEY offer. Students receive a billion pieces of conflicting advice and none of it is really relevant because colleges are failing their students. On top of that the reasons for getting a college education are changing, the cost is getting higher and choosing the right major is becoming a bigger deal because parents want to invest in a degree that will get their child a career. (Check out James Altucher’s posts:don’t send your kids to college, 10 more reasons not to send your college and 8 alternatives to college)

So, how should you choose a major?

Major in the thing that you are passionate about. (aka the easiest most fun major you can think of) 

Every time I give this advice to a college student I  hear a million reasons why they cannot major in Women’s Studies/Philosophy/English/Art History/{insert other fun random major that won’t get you a job here}. Despite the fact that I was a Philosophy major and I am not doing live readings on the side of the street for money; people still assume that I am an “exception” and that they won’t be able to find a job with a degree in whatever it is they are passionate about.

I am here to tell you that you are wrong. Here is why you can major in anything you want:

1.  A college degree is not a golden ticket
Getting a college degree does not guarantee you a job or a career or success. It doesn’t guarantee you ANYTHING. Your college degree is simply a  credential. When leveraged in the right way it can get you a successful career. When not leveraged in the right way it is just an overpriced credential.

2. You learn the basics in every major
Somehow colleges  have convinced students that their degree program will give them the skills that they need to build a great career in that a specific field. In all honesty, college teaches you the skills that MIGHT give you the ability to land a job but not such great skills that you will be any good at it until about five years in when you finally get a handle on how everythingactually works. Any degree program can give you the basic skills you need to land a job. In the beginning of your career, all employers really need to know is that you can stick to something for four years,  are responsible enough to get good grades, can network well enough to get a few recommendations and that you have interests outside of work through clubs and associations. Any degree program can give you those skills.

3. You will stand out from the crowd
If you want to work in marketing, public relations or business, you must know the importance of standing out from your competition. There are a billion and one applicants that have majored in business, interned at a local newspaper and applied to this random position. How many resumes have they seen from someone that majored in music composition and launched their own online music project over the summer that was featured in regional and national media? In order to stand out and land a great job there needs to be something different and interesting about you. I was “that Philosophy student that hangs out at all of the blogging conferences.” People remembered me.

4.     If you major in something you love doing you will be really good at it and have free time to build a career
You know all of those hours you spent preparing yourself to pass your finance exam? When you finally get into business the most “financial” thing you will probably have to do is expense reports and/or hiring an accountant. When you have to learn  skills that don’t come naturally, it is really hard and time consuming and not always valuable. When you major in something that you are naturally talented at you will find that you are much better at the work you are doing and that it comes easier. What can you do with the time you aren’t spending studying for exams that you shouldn’t be taking? You could be building your career, looking for new opportunities, launching new projects and networking. You should be building a foundation so that when you finally graduate college you will have a career in front of you.

5. Your degree does not define you (aka noone knows what they want to be at 18)
Just because you get a degree in a major that isn’t related to the career you want doesn’t mean that you can’t work in that field later.  Very few people with successful careers majored in something practical, got a job in that field and worked their way up the ladder. The CEO of my agency majored in Art History as did the SVP of Creative and Strategic servicesCatherine Connors, has her PhD in Philosophy and is the Director of Blogs and Social Media at Babble AND runs one of the most popular parenting blogs on the web. David Teicher majored in Philosophy and manages social media and events at Ad AgeJessica Gottlieb  got her undergrad degree in Kinesiology and a masters in education. Now she runs a popular mom blog and plays a lot of tennis. Kate studied education and now she is in Law School.  J. Maureen Henderson has a degree in international development and is a journalist at Forbes. Get the picture? Shall I go on?

The biggest challenge to majoring in something you are passionate about vs. something realistic is convincing your parents its a good idea. Send them this link.  They can email me with questions.

 

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Last week a reader submitted a question about how to deal with small talk at network events.

“I was wondering if you had any tips regarding small talk, particularly at conferences and even in the workplace. I’m finding that I’m not very good at, especially in networking situations. I find it painful, and I don’t like the whole idea of it, which is why I’m probably not that good at executing it though I understand its value and need. I’d really appreciate any advice you could offer or resources that you might be able to point me, too.” -Ashley

So what exactly IS small talk? According to the Urban Dictionary, small talk is:

“Useless and unnecessary conversation attempted to fill the silence in an awkward situation. Commonly backfires into feelings of loneliness and social discomfort. Usually is initiated by comments regarding the current weather, weather pattern of the past/future few days or major weather disturbances in the recent past.”

While small talk is something that every professional has to deal with, it is something that is essential in the world of PR. Whether you are meeting with a client or mingling with editors at an event, small talk is something that PR professionals must learn to love.  And if you want to stand out from the pack, it is something you will learn to master.

What is the key to being the Queen of small talk?

No, it is not hiding in the corner cuddling with your Blackberry. (Put that thing down.)

It’s preparation.

We make small talk everyday yet few people take time to learn how to effectively navigate those awkward moments. Whether we run into a new colleague in the hallway or see an old friend at the store, there is an opportunity to build a new connection and extend our network. You never know if the person you’re making small talk with will be your next boss, the investor in your first company or a new best friend. Small talk could be the skill that takes your career to the next level.

How do you get started?