Update: According to Alexa, this post is the 14th most popular page on the entire internet at the moment! This graph is starting to look impressive. Thank you all for sharing and commenting!
This guide is going to reveal the concept of Email Blogging, a strategy which I personally think is one of the easiest and most profitable ways to make money online. The idea behind Email Blogging actually came to me by mistake. A total accident.
It was email marketing (or, a friend of mine who uses email marketing) that led to my accidental discovery. The friend – who just gotten into internet marketing 12 months earlier – came to stay with me for a couple of weeks. He was previously self-employed, though the reason is unrelated, and wanted to get into the industry.
Let me add that this person is one of the smartest people I know, and when I heard he was going to give internet marketing a try, something inside me just knew he was going to make a lot of money. That doesn’t mean to say that you have to be crazy-smart in order to learn and implement this strategy though.
My instinct wasn’t wrong, and it didn’t take my friend long to start having success. In fact, he’s made close to $100,000 in his first year. His strategy is something I personally don’t use, and nor do I plan to. It is, however, a common method followed by some of the world’s wealthiest internet marketers.
The concept is quite straight forward. You create a simple product page on the topic of your choice, buy traffic from the likes of Google and Facebook, and then continually tweak your landing pages to get the most sales you can from the money that you’re spending.
If you can produce a high converting sales page and a decent product, you can make a lot of money very quickly.
I don’t relate to this method, since I prefer to give value in the form of content before I would ever try to sell to somebody. It may not be a good business move, but I guess it just feels better to me. That being said, I don’t have anything against people who turn to this method of making money online.
After speaking with him a few months earlier, I was inspired to create my own squeeze page (a page with the sole aim of collecting an email address), which can be found at cloudniche.com. The back story is that I come up with niche and website ideas every single day, but just don’t have the time to follow through with the majority of them.
Since I’m not using the ideas, I thought a great “service” would be to send these ideas out to my audience. I didn’t know if the idea would be popular, or whether my site ideas would seem as good to other people, but I decided to run with it anyways.
The results absolutely blew me away. It didn’t take long to get over 1,700 people opting in for updates, and I receive thank you emails on a daily basis. People are also implementing my ideas, which is great to see. Especially in an industry where people are known to buy products or stumble across ideas, and do nothing with them.
The thing that really surprised me was the open rate I was getting on those emails. Typically, an average open rate for any marketer is about 20% – 30%. If you’re really good you might hit 60%. This means that for every hundred emails you send, it’s respectable to get 20-30 people to open them.
The second email I sent to cloud niche subscribers received an open rate of 83%. Something pretty much unheard of in our industry. I will say that the idea in the email is one I’m proud of, and personally think is very valuable. However, people didn’t know that until they had opened the actual mail.
I didn’t let myself get too carried away with these figures, as the list was “fresh” and it’s possible that future emails may not be opened as much. Two weeks later – which is considered a huge (read: too long) delay – I emailed the list again, with profitable niche idea number three.
Over 91% of people opened that email. I was floored.
Just a few weeks earlier I had never really focused that much on list building and squeeze pages at all. I did have them, but I considered them an “extra” to other work I was doing, and definitely not my main focus. Yet, here I was breaking personal and colleague open-rate records, while having 100+ people sending thank you emails for the information I was sharing.
In a few weeks I was achieving what would have taken me months with regular blogging, and I was saving a lot more money, a lot more time, and building my audience easily. Based on this, I came to the conclusion that…
It seems strange that I would be saying this, since I’m a huge advocate of blogging, in a number of ways. First of all (as many of you know), I built a very successful blog in the personal development niche called PluginID. I no longer own the site, after selling it for a mid five-figure fee, but did manage to grow it to over 7,000 subscribers in just 18 months.
After the sale, I decided to resurrect ViperChill, where I cover unique topics and ideas like the one you’re finding here. I even teach people how to become better bloggers, and make more money from blogging.
As a final nail in the coffin, I’m also creating a product on blogging, and have involved A-list bloggers from a number of different niches to help make it amazing.
I’m putting all of this out there to acknowledge how strange it will be for people to hear me say that blogging sucks. It don’t even like that I’m saying it myself. I’m just finding it more and more to be true.
Let’s look at a typical blog, and the process you have to go through in order to set it up. I’ll excuse the steps which are involved in setting up pretty much any kind of website.
Step One: You spend hours, days or even weeks deciding on the blog topic that you’re going to write about.
Step Two: You hunt for a blog design which has something to do with your industry. Struggling to find a nice free option, you head to a paid themes site like WooThemes or ThemeForest, and purchase one there.
It isn’t exactly what you want, but you say “It’ll do”. Down the line you may hire someone to tweak it for you, or take hours out of your own schedule to do it yourself.
Step Three: You’ll start writing articles on your topic. You put hours into each piece only to see that nobody is really visiting your blog and even if they are, they’re just not leaving comments.
Step Four: Because of the disappointment in step three, you start reading blogs like ViperChill, Problogger and Copyblogger in order to learn how to grow your audience and encourage more discussions.
You learn about Twitter, Facebook, blog commenting and article marketing.
Step Five: You start to put some of the strategies into place, while continually writing content for your site.
Step Six: Eventually, a few months down the line, your hard work starts to pay off. People are giving you feedback on your writing. Other bloggers are linking to posts of yours they enjoyed. You’ve even got a few hundred fans on Facebook and dozens of followers on Twitter.
Step Seven: You keep doing this for about a year, and then decide to release your own product. It might be a hit with the audience or you may have gotten the angle wrong, but you did it anyway.
After all, the big bloggers are telling you to “release your own product”. Right?
Now, I know the story I’ve posted above is quite a sad and depressing example. I’m really a huge fan of blogging, and think it works well as both a CMS and a platform for you to share your voice. I’ve been fortunate to make a lot of money thanks to blogging, and it has allowed me to have an audience I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Yet, for every successful blog out there, there’s 100+ failures to go with it. A simple fact is that most bloggers simply don’t build a large audience or make a lot of money from their websites. The course I’m making will hopefully change this, but that’s still the current reality.
Based on all of the above, we can say that the benefits of blogging are:
Besides a few rare exceptions, your blogging journey is either going to go one of two ways.
1. You start the blog and stick with it for long enough to reap the benefits above.
2. You start a blog, get frustrated through lack of results or passion, and let it wither away.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve preached blogging to others because of the benefits above. But, the work involved can often be a big drawback, and something that constantly demotivates people to keep working through the dips.
I’ve discovered something which allows me to reap the benefits of blogging, and not have the drawbacks present. That’s where Email Blogging comes in.
Before I get into the finer details of Email Blogging, let me tell you a little more about what it is from a base level. In essence, email blogging is simply providing the same content you would on a blog, but instead to an audience of people who only receive emails from you. It comes with two downsides over regular blogging:
But comes with the following advantages:
And in comparison to regular blogging, it can be just as profitable, if not more so.
It is said that nobody knows the world’s best SEO’s (search engine optimisers). The argument is that if somebody is really good at ranking in search engines, they wouldn’t be teaching others how to do it, but instead ranking in profitable industries, and making a lot of money with their own private tactics.
The same, in a sense, could be said for the best marketers in general. They don’t have to share everything in public (yes, I’m insulting myself here) to know what they’re talking about. As I’ve found in my own research into email marketing, many internet millionaires are made behind the scenes on big email lists.
If all of the biggest players in the internet marketing niche took their email lists and converted them to blogs, I have no doubt they would be bigger than any of the top marketing blogs today. On some launches I see, the marketer has such a big and responsive email list that his site reaches the top 100 sites on Alexa for that day.
It should be clear now that there’s obviously some benefits to solely focus on building email lists. Even if you build a blog and let people subscribe via email (which 4,000+ ViperChill subscribers do anyway) then what difference does it make if you blog publicly?
Email lists, quite simply, can make a lot more money than regular blogs, which is why so many marketers focus on them. Having permission to repeatedly email someone – something you shouldn’t take for granted – will often result in them buying the products you promote.
If they’re liking the content you’re sending them regularly, then there’s a good chance they’re going to like the products you create. Email subscribers are more likely to buy your products than any other type of audience.
In saying this, there is another important point I have to make…
When I gave a basic outline of the email blogging structure to cloud niche subscribers, a couple of people replied to me saying “isn’t this just email marketing?”. I had highlighted in the mail the differences between this and say….running a newsletter, but they wanted further clarification.
For those of you who are familiar with email marketing, the benefits and idea behind email blogging can definitely seem similar at first. However, based on my knowledge of the process that 99% of email marketers follow, I can safely say the two are actually very different.
Email blogging is different to operating a newsletter, first of all, because a newsletter is generally created in addition to a normal site. Whether it is a service or a blog with a newsletter on top. Generally these newsletters just share some personal ideas, every few weeks, and occasionally link back to the website the newsletter is attached to.
Email blogging, on the other hand, is something you focus on entirely, and it isn’t something to be seen as an “addition” to your regular blogging or marketing activities. It is a full money making ecosystem, and should be seen as a flagship project. Not something you do on the side.
It’s different to regular email marketing and typical list building strategies in a number of ways. Most email marketers use email as a direct selling process. They’ll typically tempt you on to your email list with some free or cheap product, send you a couple of valuable emails, and then continually pitch you with more expensive products, as time goes on. Each mail offering a product which increases in price.
Email blogging follows the typical blogging process, but instead of constantly pitching to your subscribers, you actually offer all of the value you would in a typical blog, and promote products when and how you would on a typical blog.
So, it’s different to a newsletter, it gives more value than typical email marketing, and it’s actually a lot simpler and (potentially) more profitable than regular blogging.
As a final comparison of regular blogging and email blogging, I’ve listed some caveats of each, with the differences between them:
|Regular Blogging||Email Blogging|
|You set-up WordPress and install various plugins||You create a one page website|
|Subscribers only see new content you post||Subscribers see everything you’ve written (using a follow-up sequence)|
|You write tons of content, and people subscribe if they like it||People see your enticing squeeze page, and join your list|
Now that you can see just how profitable and simple the idea behind email blogging can be, it’s time to look at exactly how you can put it into action.
Side note: Some people may argue that since it isn’t really a blog, and just uses blog style content, that I shouldn’t call it email blogging. If you’re one of those people, feel free to call it whatever you like 😉
I’m not just going to give you one of the best methods to make money online, without telling you how to utilise it.
The great thing about email blogging including all of the benefits that regular blogging brings, is that many of the same principles applied to blogging, apply here. This means that deciding on a niche for your email blog is really no different to deciding on a niche for a regular blog.
Since you’re still going to be writing content, it’s best to focus on a topic where you do have some expertise, and you can offer advice to people. With this in mind, I recommend that you take a few minutes to list some of the topics that you’re most passionate about. Topics where you feel you can provide information which is valuable to others.
Any of the above examples could make for excellent email blogs, if you know the subject well. So many people out there are looking for ways to produce their own food, get rid of computer viruses, learn how to play an instrument or get more done each day.
Personally, I’m interested in the marketing, personal development, and fitness. I could easily start an email blog on any of these topics, as there’s a ton of people interested in the same things.
If you’re really struggling with this, then let me ask you another question. What topics do you like to read about? Usually there’s an answer in there which would help you build a much needed email blog.
As I say to people who struggle to come up with a slogan for their regular blogs, don’t worry too much about trying to define the topics you want to talk about. If you want to give people advice on self-improvement, don’t stress about coming up with a catchy sub-heading which perfectly describes what you offer.
Just keep a general niche in mind at this point. Let your readers define what you cover if they really want to.
I don’t think of myself as someone who is great at naming websites, so I really don’t think you have to worry about this section too much. For example, the two successful blogs I ran, ViperChill & PluginID, have names which don’t really mean anything. The important thing is that they’re memorable.
I have even created a brand around the word “cloud” with sites like Cloud Living, Cloud Niche and Cloud Flood, even though the names individually don’t make it entirely clear what each website is about. When choosing the domain for your email blog, I would advise that you focus on something which is relevant to your niche, where possible, but focus more on making sure your domain is both brandable and memorable.
Since squeeze pages by nature can give off the vibe that they’re spammy, don’t’ make life harder for yourself by getting a domain filled with hyphens or something that isn’t a .com or .net.
Creating a squeeze page is probably the most technically challenging part of this guide, but it’s really not that difficult. As a quick reminder, the aim of a squeeze page is to get people to give you their email address, so you can build your list (your audience).
There are quite a few options available to you when it comes to putting the page together. If you use WordPress, you could simply design your own on a separate page, like I did for my 10K Subscribers eBook. If you would struggle to do that manually, then Optimize Press is probably your best solution which will make the process ridiculously simple.
You don’t have to use WordPress, of course. On cloud niche, for example, I actually used a static HTML template (this one, to be exact). I then just customised the header to include my own graphic and call to action.
Alternatively, you could also use my own software, affiliateSkin, to get the job done with ease.
Since the sole purpose of your homepage (squeeze page) is to convert visitors into subscribers, it’s important to offer something very enticing. It’s crucial to know your audience here, so you know what is valuable to them. For headline ideas, I recommend you read my article on headline suggestions here.
The key point is that you create an attractive header to get them to subscribe. For your consideration: “Jump 22% Higher in One Week” (Basketball), “7 Little Known Fat Loss Tips, Revealed” (Health), “Sound as Good as Zeppelin Today!” (Guitar Tutor).
You could also go as far as to create a short eBook that they can instantly receive as an incentive for people to subscribe.
For your email broadcast provider, I would recommend either Aweber or MailChimp. I personally use Aweber, and love the service, so they get my first recommendation. MailChimp is a good alternative, though I haven’t used it that much, and they have a free package that you can use if you want to try this strategy without spending a penny.
Note that MailChimp are a little protective of what you send out; they don’t allow affiliate links in mails, for example, but it is free, so you can’t really complain.
Create a list in either one of these, and then get your opt-in box which they provide for you. Just paste the box code anywhere on your website, and you’re ready to collect emails. Well, right after you do this…
As highlighted in the table above, one downside of blogging is that users who subscribe to your blog a few months in have missed all of the great content you posted earlier. Unless you continue to internally link to it, your readers are missing out on your value.
With the likes of Aweber though, you can create a follow-up sequence (a series of content), and they’ll see all articles no matter when they subscribed to your list. I recommend you create about 10 articles to start with, and then add them all to the sequence. All subscribers will then see messages 1-10 on a weekly basis, and never miss anything you post.
The contents of the messages is entirely up to you, and does really depend on the industry you’re operating in. If I was starting an email blog in the health niche, for instance, I may have created a quick eBook on building muscle, put it on my squeeze page, and then started emailing people about ways to build muscle.
I could send some quick tips. I could send interviews with bodybuilders. I could send a story on my own personal involvement in the industry, and so on. Since the name of this strategy is email blogging, it’s safe for you to assume that the types of articles you would put on your blog are suitable for your follow-up sequence.
Just make sure you know how to write viral content.
Unless you’re happy to continually provide free content to your list, you’re going to need a product in order to make some money. You could promote a product from the likes of Clickbank, but I think you’ll find your conversion rate to be much higher if the product has your name on. After all, it’s your content that they want to read.
Your product can really be anything, but I recommend promoting something good enough for a $17 product. This will allow you to introduce your audience to buying things from you ($17 provokes impulse purchases) and get a feel for the types of things they’ll buy, before creating a fully-fledged product.
One benefit of setting up a 10-week follow up sequence from day one is that you have 10 weeks before you have to create any new content. That means you have 10 weeks available to create a product and promote it as message number 11.
eBooks, Podcasts and Videos are the most popular type of information product. Work on the one you’ll be most comfortable creating.
A good ratio of content to product promotion is around 80:20 or 90:10 in favour of content. I would personally go as far as 95:5, but mail more frequently (once every two, three days) on some weeks. The reason I don’t like product promotions to take up a big ratio of emails is because I want to make the product so good, and the copy so enticing, that people will buy it first time around.
Once your squeeze page is up, it’s time to promote it and get subscribers. Note that while many of the recommended traffic sources are similar to those you would focus on for a regular blog, bear in mind that certain precautions (outlined below) apply.
It’s far easier to get people to subscribe to a squeeze page than it is for a regular blog, but it is more difficult to get traffic to a squeeze page, in some ways. When I first pitched the idea of email blogging to cloud niche subscribers, the main concern they seemed to have was that they wouldn’t be able to get search engine traffic anymore.
What a squeeze page lacks in traffic options, is made up for by its conversion rates.
Solo advertising is used by a lot of marketers to build their email lists. Solo ads are basically ads that you buy in the email list of another marketer. For example, I could pay $150 for a guaranteed 500 clicks to my website, from another persons list (in the same industry). If what I offer on that squeeze page is enticing enough, they’ll join my list as well.
A good place to start is Safe-Swaps (affiliate link as I use the service heavily) or the joint venture section of WarriorForum. Make sure you request to see the landing page they built their list with, so you judge its “quality” for yourself.
Cloud flood was designed exactly for this type of dilemma. How do you get traffic to a squeeze page? Over 700 people are now using Cloud flood on their websites, with many emailing me about “record traffic days”.
To explain how it works, picture this scenario. You have built a list of 1,000 people. You create a 10 page report on something relevant to your list topic. You want to give it to your list for free, but in return they must Tweet or Facebook share a link to your website (your squeeze page). It worked very well in promoting Cloud niche:
Cloud flood enables you to put up a “barrier” between content, and only gives access to people who Tweet or Facebook share a link. Because all of their social media followers see the message, they head on over to your site, and repeat the process. This can result in exponentially increasing traffic.
So much has been said about this online that I don’t really have to go into it. Simply write articles around popular, relevant search terms and link to your squeeze page in the author bio. I’ve put together a list of the top article directories for you.
Blog commenting, done properly, can drive a lot of traffic to your website. I’ve seen links in the comments of ViperChill get over 800 clicks, so I know far more people read the comments here than leave them. And the people that read, click. If you’re going to do this, then leave comments which really add to the discussion of a post, and get people thinking.
If your reply is insightful, they’ll click on your link. Keep in mind that a number of bloggers may not like seeing these squeeze pages linked to in their comments. I personally don’t mind. The only thing I care about regarding commenting etiquette is that comments don’t use some keyphrase as the persons name.
I’ve purchased quite a few blog banners for my sites over the years, to varying degrees of success. The easiest solution for these ad buys at the moment is to use Buy Sell Ads. They work with over 2,000 bloggers to automate the buying of ads on blogs and you can enter keywords to find blogs that match your industry.
Another option is to manually go out and find popular blogs in your niche. They’ll make it clear on their site whether they accept advertisers. Plus, you may be able to get them cheaper if you go direct.
Now that you have your niche chosen, your page up, and you’re sending traffic to your site, it’s time to split test your traffic. Split testing basically means that you compare one version of your website to another, and see which one results in more people subscribing to your email list.
This is one of the most overlooked aspects of internet marketing, yet the one that is usually needed the most. Anyone can build a website and get some traffic to it, but it takes patience and determination to build a squeeze page with a very high conversation rate.
For split testing I personally like to use Visual Website Optimizer. I have previously tested Google Website Optimizer (Free), but find it to be slow to update and the support is minimal. Visual Website Optimizer comes with a free trial if you just want to test it out, then it has a monthly fee after that.
In a test I’m going to be blogging about soon, I discovered my squeeze page had a 27% conversion rate. That means for every 100 people I sent to my site, 27 would give me their email address. After tweaking just the headline, and nothing else, I increased that opt-in rate to 57%.
Over time this can make a big difference. If I end up sending 1,000 people to the page, I would get 570 opt-ins, rather than just 270. Split testing is so simple and so beneficial, that you would be crazy to miss out this step in the process. If you find any of it technically challenging (it’s actually very simple to set up) I guarantee that the VWO guys will help you out one-on-one.
I hoped I would have a great punch line to end the longest post I’ve ever written here, but instead it seems like I’m totally out of words. Writing this mammoth post must give me some plug privileges, so I’ll say that if you still haven’t subscribed to ViperChill (crazy, I know) then you can redeem yourself here.