Transcript: Blogging Essentials for Busy Entrepreneurs

August 6, 2015

AMY PORTERFIELD: Hey there, Amy Porterfield here. Welcome to another episode of The Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast. I hope you’re having a fantastic day. Thanks, so much, for tuning in. 

My son, Cade, and my husband, Hobie, are at laser tag today. I have sent the boys out of the house. And the dog, Gus, is at my mom’s house. In the summertime it feels like I have a million distractions. And to be quite honest, when my husband is home from the fire station he is home a full 24 hours. So when he’s home he thinks everybody has the day off. 

He wants to play and have fun and go do stuff. And in the summertime I really want to go do stuff with everybody. But I’ve got some work to do. We’re batching the podcasts right now. We’re doing tons of great interviews and I have been working on new content for the webinar program. It is a busy summer. 

Of course I have built in some time to spend with the family but my husband likes it to be whenever he wants it to be. That is very tempting because I love to go out and do stuff with the boys. But I don’t love laser tag to be quite honest. So I thought it would be good to send them to do something I don’t particularly love to do. That way I’ll enjoy doing the work I have in front of me a whole lot more knowing I’m not running around some sweaty room with some really big light on my chest because someone just hit me with a gun. 

I don’t love that stuff, I’m not even sure if that’s how it works. It is just in my head I think I have a target on me and someone is going to hit me and that just freaks me out. So I’m going to skip the laser tag today and I am going to be here with you while we do a really cool interview. 

Today’s interview is with my good friend, and I can say good friend because I really mean it. I always hate when people say that when they hardly know me when they are introducing me. But this is true. I consider Darren Rowse a great friend for many years now. I was first introduced to him way back when I was doing some work with Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner. 

I was so nervous, I remember it like it was yesterday. We were at a BlogWorld event in Vegas and when I got to meet him I asked for a picture right away because I’m such a fan. I didn’t realize he was so soft spoken. He is kind of a shy guy but he has an amazing confidence about him. 

He’s one of my very favorite people, especially in the online marketing world. I was just so thrilled when he said, “yes” when I asked him to be on the show. Of course we are talking about blogging because if you know Darren Rowse you know he is the founder of ProBlogger. And if you’ve been blogging for a short time or a really long time there is no way you haven’t at least stumbled upon ProBlogger. 

If you’re like me you have visited the site many times. It is a wealth of knowledge over there. I would say it’s like the encyclopedia of tips, tutorials, and case studies all related to blogging and, my favorite part, monetizing your blog. That  doesn’t necessarily mean selling directly on your blog, but ways to use your blog to build your business. 

Darren was truly one of the first people to recognize the potential of blogging as a way to generate income. He has remained a leading authority on how to gain traffic, convert leads, and build community one blog post at a time. 

In addition of being the founder of several highly profitable blogs in a variety of sectors, photography being a big one, Darren is a speaker. He is a consultant and most recently (we’ll talk about this right at the beginning of the interview) he is a brand spanking new podcaster. He just launched his very own show called the ProBlogger podcast and his first round of episodes are taken from his book 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. 

The podcast is excellent. It has a really great mix of inspiration and encouragement with actionable advice and a lot of good strategy. The episodes tend to be really short and I love that. I wish I could do that, I just can’t. But it is a fantastic podcast and I want you to check it out. 

Before we go any further I also want to tell you about the freebie for this episode. It’s a really cool one. I know I say that every time because we put a lot of thought into what the freebie is going to be for each episode. So let me tell you about today’s freebie. 

The ProBlogger website is one of my favorites. But if you have ever been on the site it is a little overwhelming because there are so many great articles. You want to read this one but what about that one and what about this? You don’t have a lot of time…at least I don’t. So I always wish someone would curate the best of the best for me. 

A big part of making the most of ProBlogger is to know what articles are going to give you the biggest bang for your buck. I have been talking a lot about building a sales funnel, building your email list, selling more online. So what I have done for your freebie is create a PDF cheat sheet you can download instantly called How to Boost Your Blog’s Business Potential: ProBlogger’s Top Ten Tips to Growing Your Email List and Selling More Online. 

I found the ten best blog posts on that blog (and there were a lot to go through) but I picked the ten best. I actually wrote a little commentary about why each blog is so important for your business, why you should read each blog post, and what’s most important in that blog post so that you can get the most out of ProBlogger and start growing your email list and making more money with every single blog post you write. 

It is a really cool download. To get your hands on it all you need to do is go to http:// or you can text the phrase 69download to 33444. That’s how you get your hands on it. It’s really valuable. And if you’re focused on building your email list and making more money online then this is the freebie you have to get. 

I won’t make you wait any longer, let’s go ahead and jump in. 

Amy: Darren, thanks so much for being on the show today. I truly appreciate it. 

Darren: No problem Amy. It’s great to talk to you. 

Amy: You too. I’ve been looking forward to this because blogging is a big topic for my audience. But first, before we get there, I need to congratulate you for joining the podcast world. How’s it going out there? 

Darren: Good. It has only taken me three years to get around to it. 

Amy: But you are there. You have one of the best voices that I absolutely love to listen to so when I heard you were doing a podcast, first of all I was just excited to hear that Aussie accent every single day, right now this is a daily show. Tell me just a little bit about the podcast and how you are feeling about it. 

Darren: It has been a long time coming and I have had a lot of nagging about it from all kinds of people, some of whom you know quite well. It’s been a real learning journey for me because I didn’t have any technological background or skills. So it has taken a bit of a learning curve. But I’ve really enjoyed it. 

It started off with 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, which is a new book that I created a few years ago that sold really well. I have kind of repurposed that and put each day’s teaching and tasks into a podcast episode, all in under 20 minutes. 

It has been a lot of work but it’s getting really good feedback and I am loving that. 

Amy: Oh yeah, you’re at the top of the charts all the time on iTunes and that’s exciting to see. I just had John Dumas on the show and we were talking about podcasting, of course. He was saying that you can repurpose some of your best content and that could be an outstanding podcast. That’s pretty much exactly how you’ve started your podcast. 

Obviously, you will be adding to it but you completely repurposed and talked about this content in different ways on the podcast, right? 

Darren: Yeah, I see a lot of podcasters using their blog posts as the basis for a podcast but I guess I am basically going the other way in that I’m sort of using podcasts and am then going to turn them into blog posts as well. I think you can swing either way and then can also use other things you have created, like eBooks. 

Amy: I agree. So the moral of the story to me is that you do not need to reinvent the wheel. There are always new ways to repurpose the content you’ve got and then repurpose it again in different ways. So you can have podcasts, blog posts, videos, and all that good stuff from just one piece of content is always a smart way  to  go, especially when it’s good content. 

I’m excited for your podcast. I’m telling everybody to listen to it. So congratulations for launching. I know that’s a really big accomplishment and it’s going so well. So congrats to you. 

Darren: Thanks Amy. 

Amy: Today we are talking about blogging, of course, and this is a hot topic for my audience. The first thing that comes to mind for many people listening when we are talking about blogging is the writing. To be honest, most of us would say that at times writing can be completely consuming. I love this quote from ProBlogger, “It’s pretty easy to get to a stage where your blog is running you instead of you running your blog.” 

I think we have definitely all been there. So here’s my first question for you: For people who are mainly wanting to use their blog as part of a sales funnel to grow their list and build authority and get their name out there and create consistent content to eventually sell more online, what are some fundamentals of a successful blog? What are things that can guide them in the writing process so they don’t have all of the overwhelm but really be accomplishing the goals of a sales funnel? 

Darren: All kinds of stuff comes to mind but one of the things I think blogs are great for is helping people to know, like, and trust you. I don’t know whoever came up with that know, like, trust quote. It has been used all over the place. But for me a blog is really great at 1) getting your name out there and helping people to know you, but 2) then taking them to the next level. 

I have discovered over the years that when I go to a conference people come up to me and hug me and say, “I love you!” I always wonder why because I have no idea who they are. But it’s the regular contact, the personal aspect of blogging, that really helps people to like you. Then over time they come to trust you. 

I guess I would encourage people to think about creating content that does each of those three things. I think there are different types of content that helps people to know you. For me, on my digital photography school site, it is thinking about what kind of content people will share that will be the first point of content that people would have with us as a result of a friend sharing it. 

Humorous content helps you to be known. It gets shared a lot. It doesn’t really help people to like you so much. It doesn’t take people to the next level. For us, infographics are great. So we share a lot of infographics that get shared a lot and they are often the first point of content for a new reader on our site. 

Around the infographics we are linking to content that’s going to help people to go to the next level of liking us. Related links that you can read begin to build a like and trust. That “knowing” type content is great but you wouldn’t want to just create infographics on your blog or humorous posts on your blog. You want to also have that next level of content. So for us, creating content that helps people to like you is sharing stories, more personal content (video or podcasts or webinars or periscope or something that shows people your face and that helps them to hear your voice), inspirational content (anything that helps them to get motivated, I find helps people to feel they like you with a more personal connection), any kind of content that helps people feel something or feel like they belong. 

I guess you are wanting to create content that makes people feel something towards you. Probably the best way to do that is to change their life in some way. For most of my content on my blogs I am very much about trying to bring about a change in people’s lives. I am trying to take them from not knowing something to knowing something or from not having a skill to having a skill. 

I think if you can do that that’s definitely where the like comes in. But now you are starting to build trust with people because they see that you know what you are talking about. What you have said is actually changing their life. And if you change someone’s life they are coming back again tomorrow and they are bringing their friends. 

Amy: So true. 

Darren: Any kind of how-to, any type of ultimate guide to anything where you show what you know in some way whether it be a case study or an ultimate guide or even you sharing a mistake you made and what you now know. Those pieces of content will take people from liking you to trusting you and then you are in a great position to be able to sell to them or promote to them or bring about some other change in their life or call them to some other sort of action. 

Amy: Definitely. Okay, so we’ve got the idea of the content. What can we write about and how can we write about it in a way that allows us to start building up our sales funnel and it comes back to the know, like, and trust factor. I think that is  very important. 

A lot of people get stuck on what to write about. I think that we’ve already tackled that question. But I’m going to come back to it in a little bit because I want to dig a little bit deeper. But before we get there I want to ask you about the whole SWOT approach. Many people have heard it, Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats. 

But you go a step further. You say that people can turn their weaknesses into strengths and their threats into opportunities. But you’ve got to give me some examples because I’m not sure I totally get it. 

Darren: When I started ProBlogger in 2004 I had only been blogging two years. I had only been making money for less than a year although it had gotten to a point where it was almost full time. I kind of knew what I was talking about but I was relatively inexperienced. I had a heap of gaps in my knowledge. 

I am not a very technical person. I had never set up a blog apart from the first one on Blogger so I had never set up a WordPress blog to that point. I just didn’t have that sort of skills. In some ways I was really fearful of people calling me out and saying I didn’t know what I was talking about. This was a weakness and a potential threat that could potentially kill my blog. 

I decided to actually use that as a positioning tool and to be really up front and say I didn’t really know that side of blogging yet I have gotten to  a  point  where  I  am making a living from it. I actually used that weakness right up front and was very transparent about it. I said in many posts that this is something I don’t understand and that I get help with. 

That made me so much more relatable. It was kind of like I was the anti guru who still knew what he was talking about. I can’t quite describe what happened but people really related to that. Most people don’t know what they are talking about. Most people have never set up a blog before. Most people are not developers. So, to actually position myself as someone who was on the journey, maybe a few steps ahead of you but I still haven’t gotten it all together, really resonated well with my audience. 

The same thing with my photography blog, I’m not a professional photographer. I have never claimed to be. I am a step ahead of a beginner, maybe a few steps of a beginner. So when I launched that blog it tackled topics that I knew about like how to hold a camera, what is aperture, what is shutter speed. It wasn’t about how to shoot a wedding. It was not a professional kind of thing. 

Again, I was really up front about it. I am on the same journey that you are. I am a few steps ahead and here’s what I’ve learned. Actually, being really up front about your weaknesses becomes a strength of your site. This guy isn’t talking to us in a highfalutin kind of voice, he’s not pretending to be an expert looking down on us, he’s someone who is helping us up on the journey. 

There are those types of opportunities in the weaknesses that you might feel you have if you are able to use them as positioning statements. 

Amy: I love that. And it makes you so relatable. That is really why so many people love you, Darren, so much. You come across as just somebody’s really good friend. You never make people feel less than or like you know it all and they don’t. There’s never been a moment I have been around you that has been like that. 

That’s what people need. Especially when they are just getting started and are trying to learn something and are feeling vulnerable about it. I really hope everyone that is listening now really hears what Darren is saying because I remember when I was just starting my business when I was leaving Tony Robbins. 

I remember thinking, “I am not truly an expert in social media.” Who is, especially back then, five or six years ago. I felt really, really less than because of it but I was so wanting to create my own thing and I knew I had something to share. 

Sharing what you know and being honest about not being  exactly  positive  about things but saying you have done “this” and it really works for you and telling how you have done it (that How-To you mentioned when we were first talking), people love that. If you can share what you know and be honest about what you don’t know makes you so relatable. I think that’s exactly what you are saying there. 

Darren: For sure. And if you look around, much people are presenting as experts so it is a really great way to differentiate yourself. 

Amy: That’s such a great point, humbling in a way that is inviting to other people. I love that. Okay, talk to me about the Threats part. 

Darren: I would probably say it is similar in lots of ways. The threat I felt was that people would call me out and there was a gap there. I guess in terms of some of the opportunities that you might have around you. There are heaps of opportunity all the time, particularly with new mediums. 

Righty now, for instance, everyone seems to be jumping onto Periscope at the moment. I think there is an opportunity there that, obviously, someone should take. In fact, there are a couple of bloggers in Australia who are really jumping onto Periscope at the moment. I can’t remember the guy’s name but he is now in the top ten Periscopers in the world and I had never heard of him before. 

He is a travel blogger and that’s great. I’ve seen this over the years, people who jump onto mediums and happen to jump onto the right one. They propel themselves and it has an impact upon their other social media as well. So always be watching out for the new mediums, watch out for new trends in your niche. 

There is a guy called Steve Huff who has a blog called Steve Huff Photo. He used to blog about Leica cameras, which are really expensive cameras that no one can really afford to buy. But he noticed a trend emerging in the photography space that people were starting to move away from digital SLR to smaller, compact system cameras with interchangeable lenses but were much smaller without mirrors inside of them. 

A lot of people were laughing at the cameras and saying they weren’t as good a quality. But he realized the manufacturers were putting a lot of time and energy into building them. So he started a category on his blog to look at this particular trend. 

Now these cameras are getting to the point I think they are going to take over from digital SLR and he is the go-to person on this topic. He has been flying around the world to every launch of new cameras and all kinds of stuff. 

Just keep an eye on new trends. It doesn’t have to be starting a whole blog on it. It could just be a category. But that could become your thing. So there are heaps of opportunities always emerging with new technologies and new developments in different niches. I guess the other thing outside of opportunities and turning opportunities into great things is to just watch what is giving you energy and also what’s giving other people energy. 

I’m not a prolific experimenter. I’m always tweeting things that I’m interested in and I’m always watching to see what happens when those things go out and what comes back to me. If I notice that something I say gets a whole heap of reaction that’s where I start to create a blog post. If that blog post gets a whole heap of attention that’s when I start thinking this could be a category for my blog or could be an eBook. 

So, the energy I get back from the experiments I do is how I actually started the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. I put this idea out there and overnight I had a whole heap of people say they wanted to do that. So I did a blog post series on it that then turned into an eBook and that is now a podcast. You’ve just got to watch what people react to. 

Amy: I love that. What’s giving you energy and people are getting energy from what you are putting out there as well and really paying attention to that. I think it also comes down to being your own person and finding that confidence even though we don’t always have it. Finding the confidence to say, “This is something that interests me and I know other people are finding it interesting.” 

It may not be thousands of people yet but knowing there is something there and having the confidence to forge forward as a category on your blog instead of saying that no one big is really talking about that subject so you should just follow the trends instead. Having that confidence, I think, would be something that could really come out to be a fantastic thing like the guy on Periscope. Who knew it was going to take off like that. 

That’s all I’ve been hearing about lately. Have you jumped on Periscope yet? 

Darren: Yeah, I did five or six of them over four or five days. I actually delivered a keynote on it the other day. I took one of my keynotes and shortened it into 15 minutes. I just talked at the camera. I didn’t actually respond to people for that 15 minutes. It went over so well. 

Amy: Okay, help me understand real fast. I am always a late bloomer here. It is live video, is that right? 

Darren: Yep. 

Amy: Is there a time limit? 

Darren: No. It is kind of like Hangouts but it is on your phone so you just say, “I’m on now” and it tweets out that you are on. Anyone who is following you gets a notification if they have their notifications on and people just appear. 

Amy: It’s so bizarre. 

Darren: The first time I did it I didn’t even know I was going live. 

Amy: Oh gosh, my nightmare! 

Darren: I went live and 100 people were there. I was like, “Okay, let’s do a Q&A.” It’s great. It is very interactive and it’s kind of like Ustream or Hangouts. 

Amy: Do you see them? Obviously I need to get on it and experiment. But, are you seeing them? 

Darren: No, you see their comments and if they tap the screen you see a love heart. It feels nice. 

Amy: I’ve got it. Because that could get a little confusing if they are jumping on and you are seeing them and yourself and all that crazy stuff. 

Darren: Then what you have created stays on there for 24 hours as a replay. 

Amy: And then it’s gone. 

Darren: Then it’s gone. You can save it to your camera straight away and that’s good. But you don’t get the comments saved to your camera, you just get the video itself so that you can use it again in some other form. But it’s kind of cool. 

Amy: Interesting. Okay, I’m obviously going to have to do it. I’m definitely not going to be the person that discovers a new social media site. I never know if something’s going to do well or not. That may be one of my weaknesses. But I have been hearing about this way too much so I am just going to have to experiment, for sure. 

Darren: Give it a go. 

Amy: I’ll let you know. So let’s talk about something else related to blogging: Titles. This is always something that, I don’t care if you have written about it a million times on your blog, it’s always going to be a hot topic. By titles, I mean the titles of blog posts. 

There is something that was said on ProBlogger that I love, “Many bloggers pour a lot of effort into writing engaging and interesting posts but then just slap any old title onto it without realizing that in doing so they might be insuring that their post is never read.” 

That is so very true and put so perfectly. But I was doing my research and I was looking at some of the blog posts on ProBlogger and there were so many works of art. I know there are a lot of people that contribute. But I’ve got to tell you three of my favorites: (of course one with Facebook), Nine Facebook Marketing Tactics That Will Triple Your Fans, that is just so perfectly put; another one, Three Reasons No One Comes Back To Your Blog And How To Fix It; and another one, A Systematic Approach To Writing Successful Blog Posts. 

Those are all so perfectly put together. They are short. They build curiosity. Here’s my question for you: What are some headline tips for being original enough to build up that curiosity but not confusing or off putting at all? 

Darren: There are lots of different approaches. You pretty much know the title of your post changes the destiny of your post in many ways. That sounds dramatic but it can be the difference between somebody reading it and sharing it and it just sitting in the archives and never being read again. 

People make decisions on the title. That is kind of sad in some ways but you do need to pay attention. There are a whole heap of things you can use. I wouldn’t say to use all of these in every headline but some of them are: 

  1. Communicating a benefit. This is probably the one I use the most. If there is a benefit in the title you are giving someone a reason to read it. On my photography site, How To Take Sharp Images would be a good example. That post goes crazy. It’s not the sexiest title in the world but sharp images are something photographers want so there is a benefit there. 
  2. Asking a question can be good. It can be good for SEO as well because a lot of what people are typing into Google are questions. Quite a lot of out posts are either the actual question itself or the answer to the question. An example of that might be: What The Numbers on Your Lens Mean. Again, it isn’t the sexiest post but it actually did really well for us. It is being found in Google for that particular theme. 
  3. Creating curiosity or intrigue. You need to be careful with this one because there is so much click bait going around that I think people are starting to react against this you-won’t-believe-what-happened sort of title. You want to be a bit careful with that but you can still do things like (on our photography site) Three Lenses Every Photographer Should Own. That makes me wonder what are those three lenses? Do I have those three lenses? Again, it’s not the most hyped up title but it works. 
  4. Controversy or debate could be used. You want to be a bit careful there because you are going to create some discussion. We know if we do Nikon versus Canon we are going to create a debate. But it does get people to click through. 
  5. Being personal in your headlines can work too. So instead of writing something like: Ten Mistakes Bloggers Make, say: Are You Making These Blogging Mistakes? Adding the word “You” into the title actually really personalizes it and makes people think about themselves rather than just reading about an abstract title.    I actually find this works on Facebook as well when I ask questions with “What do you do?” rather than “What have you seen other bloggers do?” That “you” word really works quite well. Using the word “I” can work too along with “my” or “me” for the things I have discovered. Or to say, “This is what I did” will sometimes work too. 
  6. There is a whole heap of power words, words like “free” or aspirational words like “stunning” or “discover” or “secrets”. We find the word “mistakes” works really well in a lot of our articles so anything about mistakes people make work. Words like “easy” or “step by step” are words that trigger something. Over time, the more you write titles the more you will begin to discover they are patents. Quite often I will sit in Google Analytics and scan through the posts that have done well over the last month and jot down the words I see in more than one title. That is where I have discovered that “step by step” works really well on our blog and so does “mistakes” or “bad habits” and that type of words. They are trigger words for us. 
  7. The last one I will say is big claims or promises. One of our best ever posts was: 21 Techniques All You Camera Owners Should Know. 

Amy: That’s a good one. 

Darren: It is a curiosity one but also makes a big claim that you should know these things and that has worked quite well too. 

Amy: That’s good. Have you ever made a correlation between the titles of a blog post and the subject lines of an email? Do you think that the principles there and the tips and tricks are really different or do you think they can translate pretty well? 

Darren: I think a lot of it can translate well. The same with tweets or Facebook updates. I think there are certainly things that work well there. In an email headline I think you need to be really careful about words that might trigger spam filters and that kind of stuff that you can probably get away with in blog posts a little bit more. 

On Facebook I have noticed that anything that mentions “deal” or anything that is slightly sales related dies. The same is true in an email. 

Amy: True. You have to be careful about that. 

We are talking about titles and you have just given a lot of great tips. I want to just let everybody know that one of the articles we have curated for your How To Boost Your Blog’s Business Potential: ProBlogger’s Top Ten List For Growing Your Email List and Selling More Online is all about the titles of your blog. There are so many great articles about it but we found one you can’t live without. 

That will be in the freebie at and you can get your hands on that. 

We’ve talked about titles and we’ve talked about content. Let’s talk about how people are going to find your blog. One recent article on ProBlogger was about the fact that you don’t have to only rely on Google searches to be found. What are some of your favorite ways to reach out to the world with your blog without  having  to  rely  on Google search? 

Darren: Again, there are heaps of different things. 

Amy: Heaps is my favorite word you say. It’s so adorable. I might have to start using it. So, there are heaps of ways, but tell me a few. 

Darren: I think probably the ultimate question you need to ask is where your potential readers are hanging out. It will be different for every blogger.

  1. You need to know who you are trying to reach and
  2. where are they hanging out? 

Different social media networks interact with different people so that might be one place. Periscope might be a place that a lot of early adapters and innovators are there. I still like guest posting. I think it has kind of gone out of fashion a little bit because Google changed how they rank posts so it’s not so great for SEO. But I think it is brilliant for getting your name out to the right people if you appear on the right blog. 

Please don’t give up on that. You just need to select the right blog and I think also going to events and in-person contact seems to work really well. It’s hard to get a speaking gig but you can be an attendee and be a participant and be on a #hashtag for an event. That type of thing tends to work quite well. 

I am a big believer in adding readers one by one. I don’t think you need to be attracting thousands of readers everyday to your blog. You are really looking for those opportunities to bring a new reader on because that new reader has a whole network as well. Just watching on Twitter for people using your keywords and responding to them, being helpful in forums, joining Facebook groups that are on your particular topic and being helpful. 

For me it’s really about building a presence in the places that my potential readers are and being useful in those places. We have actually had a few of the challenges in our podcast over the last few days on this very thing, how to join a forum and a social media group and be helpful, and use that to build your profile. 

Amy: Okay, so you just reminded me of something. I haven’t really done a whole podcast episode about it yet because we are still experimenting with this, but there is a whole trend going on right now, especially with Facebook ads, about amplifying your content. Have you heard people talk about (Digital Marketer talks about this a lot) driving Facebook ads directly to specific blog posts. Have you experimented with that yet? 

Darren: I have a little bit. We don’t do a heap of advertising but if I notice something is going really well, on Facebook particularly, I’m driving even more to it with ads. That has worked very well for us. 

Amy: I agree. I think a lot of times in many of my teachings I teach about running Facebook ads to an opt-in page and getting that lead. But it is a lot cheaper and there is something to be said about adding value first, especially free value with no opt in, and using free content on your blog to get people to know, like, and trust you and finding more people (that are your target audience) with Facebook ads to go to your blog. 

I am telling you there are so many great opportunities that I think we are going to see more and more of it. I am glad you are experimenting with it a little bit but I do think it’s very valuable. 

Darren: For sure. Who knows how long it will last. 

Amy: I know. That kind of kills me in the sense where the trend might change or Facebook might not make it as cheap as it is right now to drive Facebook ads to a blog post. It is usually a lot cheaper than driving to an opt-in page. We’ll see. I’m doing some experimenting and will definitely report back but I just wanted to ask you about that. 

One big question that comes up a lot is whether you should be selling directly in your blog. You talk a lot about monetizing your blog. There are so many great articles and we have curated a few for our free giveaway. But what is your take on selling directly in a blog and would you suggest that over using a blog and then inviting people to opt in to something free from there. 

Darren: I don’t tend to do a heap of selling in the blog itself. I use the blog to generate leads for the email list, which I find most of our sales come from. I think we did a test last year on an eBook launch that we did on digital photography school and something like 94% of our sales came from our emails even though we posted about it on the blog two or three times and we did heaps of tweets and had it on our Facebook page a few times and even paid for advertising. 

Amy: Wow. 

Darren: Email! 

Amy: Email. It’s where it’s at, right? 

Darren: Yeah, it is. In our blog posts we are not direct selling. If we launch an eBook with someone we would interview them on the blog. The blog post would be an interview that mentions the eBook. We would feature a guest post from them or multiple. 

Over two or three weeks of our launch they will be getting emails about the product and also seeing content that is not hard selling them but it builds the credibility of the offer. It showcases the work in different ways. 

It shows they have expertise and also builds some aspiration in our readers so we might do an image collection that shows the type of photos you can take if you have that type of knowledge. We are creating content on the blog that we are then able to use in the emails to say, “As we covered this week in this post, the eBook takes you to the next level.” 

I will do the selling in the emails. I don’t tend to do a whole heap of giveaways. We have never really gone there and I don’t really know why because I know they work for other people. But we find that putting as much great content into the blog itself and then calling people to subscribe seems to be working pretty well for us. 

Amy: You make a great point. I think email marketing is definitely where it’s at. It is something I talk about a lot and it truly is where the bulk of my sales come from as well. But if we didn’t podcast or blog or have our video sites (that extra content) I don’t think our emails would sell the way that they do. 

So there isn’t just one strategy that works and you can ignore all the rest. That doesn’t mean you have to do it all. I always say that because I think my audience is so overwhelmed with whether they should use Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Periscope. They wonder if they should be videoing or emailing or whatever. 

We don’t have to do it all all of the time. But I do believe, and why I wanted you on the show today, that with everything we always have to have that platform, that main place where you can come home and say, “This is where I create.” 

To me that place is usually the blog. It could be a podcast or something else. But when you start growing your email list it always compliments – and having that consistent content is so crucial. You would agree, right? 

Darren: Yes, for sure. The blog, podcast, whatever it is you are doing, is creating a foundation. People often use the analogy of putting money in the bank so that you can then make a withdrawal later with people. It doesn’t work for everyone. 

For some people, the moment you start to sell to them they are out. That’s just who they are. But I think most people appreciate lots of free good content that helps them and they are willing to buy based upon that. 

Amy: I think that a lot of people open up my emails because they know I have given such great valuable free content in so many different other ways that I have a relationship with them and I don’t think I would have that relationship if I didn’t work so hard on my free content on my blog and my podcast. 

I really do think the two go hand in hand. You are a perfect example of that so I am really glad that you shared that connection of selling online through emails but also having a platform. I think it is a good lesson to remember that you truly do need both. 

Darren, I can’t thank you enough for being on the show. I think this is a perfect place to wrap it up. But I want you to tell people one more time the name of your brand new podcast. 

Darren: ProBlogger. 

Amy: It’s so simple. I thought maybe you had a subtitle but I don’t think you do. So let’s just make it super easy. So, ProBlogger. And people can read all of your blogs at 

Darren: We’ve just set up as a portal these days. You can find the podcast off of that and the blog will be moving over onto that as well. It is becoming the home of all things ProBlogger. 

Amy: Perfect. So is really the place to go? 

Darren: That’s right. And you can find everything from there with the job boards, the eBooks, and all of the different things we have going on. 

Amy: Fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing your blogging knowledge with us. Your podcast is just outstanding. Everybody needs to go take a listen and I’m just so glad that we’ve gotten to connect and I’ve gotten to call you a friend for so many years. So, Darren, thanks again. 

Darren: Thanks, Amy. I appreciate it. 

Amy: Take care! 

So there you have it. Do you love Darren as much as I do? I just love how soft spoken he is but confident and really knowledgeable in all things blogging. I am such a huge fan. I hope if you didn’t know Darren before you have become a huge fan because the guy has a lot of great content to share, especially when it comes to building a better blog. 

So don’t forget the great PDF, the awesome giveaway for this podcast episode is How To Boost Your Blog’s Business Potential: ProBlogger’s Top Ten Tips To Growing Your Email List and Selling More Online. To get your hands on the free PDF cheat sheet today go to Or you can  text  the phrase 69download to 33444. 

Thanks, so much for being here with me today. I don’t take it lightly. I know you have a lot of choices out there and that you chose my episode today means the world to me. Thanks, again and I can’t wait to see you again next week. Bye for now. 

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