Today, we live in the age of social media. We are connected with one another over several digital mediums. Some social platforms make it easy to follow influencers while some are good at keeping in touch with family and old high school friends.
How would you define each social media platform? I have given this a lot of thought and based on my past several years of personal experience with each one of them, here is my take on the big four social media platforms in as few words as possible.
Facebook connects you with people you already know.
Twitter helps you connect with people you don’t know yet.
Instagram connects you with a community where you are constantly inspired to be your best self.
YouTube is the largest TV network for millennials by millennials.
Social Media Explained
Facebook is similar to Family. You don’t get to choose much. It comes in full package, with joy and stress, laughter and gossip, warmth and judgment.
Twitter is similar to college life. You have several groups of friends tied via common interests, goals or classes. You constantly make new friends and drop those who are not best for you. Like college life, Twitter is full of activism, politics, technology, and various hobbies.
Instagram is like being single and looking for romantic partners. There is no time and space for long BS or silly jokes. You constantly seek to self-improve. You are made jealous of others accomplishments, great shape, looks, popularity, and lifestyle. In return, you try to do your best and as a result, at the end of the day, you also get better. Instagram makes you date-ready.
YouTube is nothing less than the largest TV network on the planet. There are billions of shows in every possible genre and any length imaginable. This TV network is not only for consuming entertainment and music or finding food recipes or how-to-tutorials but also a platform which allows anyone to become a film producer and creator. YouTube allows its users to play with their creativity and experiment. Best of all, it also pays you money to do your thing.
I have been on the Internet now for more than 18 years now. And, I have been blogging for the past 12 years. Starting from the Google Groups, Yahoo Groups, Blogger blogs, WordPress blogs, to Facebook Notes to the many aggregated blog platforms.
Eventually, for me, this long journey reached its first significant milestone with the launch of “The Naked Soul” blog in 2015. The next major milestone was the launch of “The Art of Travel” blog in 2016. The third big milestone for me was the launch of my eCommerce site, The Art of Travel Store, in 2017.
This may seem like a long time, but I feel we are in the beginning stages of a really long journey. Eventually, all humans and many A.I machines will have their own blogs, eCommerce store, biodata, resumes, medical history, and other details, all online, for anyone to access at any time, based on access level.
But my today’s blog is not about A.I. or the future of the Internet. Today, I want to talk about the perfect blog.The anatomy of a perfect blog. What makes a blog perfect?
A Perfect Blog
A healthy and successful blog is like a perfect human body. It has strong bones, healthy blood, lots of muscles, some fat, beautiful face, is attractive, has great skin, and has healthy-functioning joints. It is flexible. It is adaptable. It is resilient. Above all, it is living and growing.
I’ll take the example of my own blog here, The Art of Travel blog.
The Art of Travel is a baby right now. It is growing fast. It is healthy and it is cute but it is far from perfect or matured. Let’s note, it’s only an 18 months old baby right now.
All the Content on the blog is its Meat and juicy Fat.
The formatting and structure is its Skin.
The Home Page is its beautiful Face.
The hundreds of internal hyperlinks in our blog’s thousands of pages are its Joints.
For this baby to grow into a strong, matured, perfect human adult, we are working to make its BONES strong. The thousands of FREE Travel Destination Guides need to be expanded and showcase the best and most gorgeous photos from each destination.
Like a human skeleton, these bones (destination guides) connect to each other and form sections (Asia, Europe, Australia, etc.)
Our current focus on the Travel Blog is building muscles and adding some “Meat” and “Juicy Fat” to it. The several hundreds of blogs that we are planning to publish each year are just that. It’s like adding meat to the skeleton. More blogs, more juicy stories, more topics are like making this blog work out and build up.
The Internal Hyperlinking Project (similar to Wikipedia structure) is making sure all Joints are properly linked and functioning. The more joints a body has, the more flexible, bendable and adaptable it becomes.
The Skin (formatting) and Face (home page) are already healthy and glowing. We are just ensuring that this shine stays.
A healthy blog is never complete. It is always growing. And, we will keep it growing.
That’s it. This is “the Secret” of giving birth to a winning blog, a healthy and growing blog. This is how we are planning to raise this The Art of Travel baby. This is it. This is all.
PS: I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on what you think is the best way to grow and build a perfect blog. Please comment below.
How to crush it on the social media? Today’s customers and fans expect every brand to be on the socials. And most brands are. We are. But, how do our fans judge us? What are the criteria that determine which pages, personalities, or accounts get followed or which brands are cooler?
I have found that there are three critical criteria.
What’s the first thing you notice when you stumble upon a brand’s social page? The number of followers it has? Right! Why do we look at this number and why is it important? It’s important because we unconsciously judge a brand by its existing social reach and authority. The bigger it is, the more trust it has.
If a million people follow a particular t-shirt company, then their t-shirts must be good. So we must also follow them to see what they have got and how can it benefit me! A big follower count matters! It demonstrates dominance and most people want to cheer for the winning player!
Soon after when are back to the reality and the flashing light of big numbers fade into the background, we look for who else is excited to be part of this brand’s community? What’s their story? Who all are commenting and what are they saying? Or, am I the only one excited here until I move on to the next one.
If a brand page has half-a-million followers but no one is talking in the comments, and no one is sharing, then something is wrong. Either the brand doesn’t care about its community or the community doesn’t care about the brand. Either way, it’s just a bunch of inactive people clumped together without their consent or awareness. May be they were bought! May be they were trapped by false advertisements or giveaways! Who knows, but, this brand doesn’t look trustworthy!
Immediately your mind will go, “may be they [these fans] were bought! May be they were trapped by false advertisements or giveaways! Who knows, but, this brand doesn’t look trustworthy!”
So, as a brand, you need constant engagement to sell your story to a new prospect and to keep the current ones engaged! What could be better than to make your community part of your brand’s story? Think about it!
Advertisement vs. Entertainment
Ok, yes, I like these fan pages but that doesn’t mean my existence is for the consumption of their products. We need fun. More of it. The last criteria that we use to filter who to follow and who to unfollow is by how much advertisement they push upon us vs. how much valuable information or entertainment they share that engages me. It’s all about the value add!
What benefit am I getting by following this brand? Are they inspiring me? Do they have solutions or answers to my problems or questions? Are they affordable? Are they high quality and better than their competitors? Lastly, do they care about me as a human being or are they treating us as a marketplace for their damn marketing!?
Lastly, do they care about me as a human being or are they treating us as a marketplace for their dumb marketing!? As a brand, you must answer to these and make sure you are positioned in the best possible way!
Treat your fans with respect and love! If you truly care for them, then show it to them by sharing your best content, information, videos, Infographics, etc. for FREE! Then, go for selling and even then keep it to a minimum! Let your fans come to you for a purchase. You want to pull them with your story, not push them through excessive marketing!
Today, I am going to reveal my 10 years plan. As many of you (those who are regular on the Naked Soul blog) know we started this community to connect like minded individuals around the concept of “naked soul” in summer of 2014. This blog was launched in Oct 2014.
I published the Naked Soul, book I (a collection of erotic love poems) in January 2015. We started the Naked Soul Podcast in November 2015 and here we are today. It’s already April 2016.
2015 was a great year for me. But 2016 came with disappointments. My dad was diagnosed with stage IV stomach cancer and I went to care for him full-time for almost 3 months. I stopped the podcast series, stopped blogging, stopped writing and did not get paid for almost 2 months.
I had to borrow huge amount of money from my relatives to pay for my father’s medical bills. It was brutal to say the least. Emotionally I was at my all-time low and the entire first three months of 2016 was just painful and exhausting.
After I returned back to my normal life (not sure if I am truly back to my normal state of being), I started to write and blog aggressively. I am re-starting the Naked Soul podcast and working on publishing my second book (a poetry book on a spiritual theme). Sign up for Naked Soul VIP letters to get notified when it comes out.
Okay, so coming back to main topic for today’s blog. I was assessing my standing, my expenses around running this blog, podcast among other things and my income statement today. I have to admit, things do not look over-the-top, but I do see a trend here and a viable options to create a million dollar a year company which adds probably over 100 folds in value in return to the naked soul community and society in general.
I started The Art of Travel project which we would be launching soon next month. We separated Health & Fitness and Travel from the Naked Soul and created separate YouTube channels, blogs, social media accounts, and so on. So, now, our vision and messaging is even more clear and focused.
Although, traveling to explore your inner self, staying healthy so you can be of service to others and living like a naked soul are all related. Yet, we decided it is better to separate the three so that we can serve each communities within our larger community better and effectively.
What I wanted to tell you though is you can do this too.
I am going to outline my plan and revenue streams. I have written about some of these income streams in my other blog posts so make sure to read them. I won’t be repeating anything in this blog post. Everything is new and fresh. We want to take a step forward.
To cross $100K in yearly income and to hit 7 figure income you first need to plan out your long term financial goals.
Following is my financial goal as a whole (which includes The Naked Soul, The Art of Travel, & Fit Couple Goals):
Year 1 2015 $500 (yes, I made only $500 in my first year)
Year 2 2016 $2500 (5X growth)
Year 3 2017 $20,000 (10X groth)
Year 4 2018 $60,000 (3X growth)
Year 5 2019 $120,000 (2X growth) (one person retires)
Year 6 2020 $250,000 (2X growth) (both person retires)
Year 7 2021 $450,000 (1.8X growth)
Year 8 2022 $675,000 (1.5X growth)
Year 9 2023 $875,000 (1.3X growth)
Year 10 2024 $1,052,000 (1.2X growth)
What is X factor here?
The X denotes the times or multiplier. So for example, 5X growth means five fold growth or growing 5 times. Similarly, 1.5X means growing 150% or one and half times compared to the previous year.
There are several ways you can bring in revenue. Some of these income sources bring in revenue for me today and some don’t. But as your community matures you can can be sure that all of these revenue sources will bring in some cash flow for the engine to keep running.
You need cash flow or else your engine will shut down. So, you have to plan this out from the early on.
(In no perticular order)
Online Courses, Webinars, & Trainings
There is a good chance that you are either a freelancer or a employee somewhere meaning you have a job (full time or part time). The first step is to bring in enough cash so you can safely exit and begin serving your community full time. To grow something into a self-sustainable business, you have to give your 100%.
My main objective is to replace my current private consulting income and begin engaging in full time entrepreneurship.
And, by year 10 (i.e. by year 2024), I want the enterprise to cross cross 7 figures in revenue. Well, revenue is not same as income, but that would be sufficient to grow these communities world-wide.
Next, I will suggest you to draw the vision board for the next 2 years, 3 years, 5 years and 10 years. I did that. This is a very important step. Don’t skip it. Spend a lot of time creating your vision board.
Next, like ours, your biggest challenge is going to be the first three years, 2016-2018.
But, having said that, after you have created and spent time absorbing your vision boards, just FOCUS on hitting the 2016 goal for now. Just focus on Year 1. That’s it.
Our 2016 goal is to bring in $2000. You can set a different number. It can be $100 of passive income. Or it can be $10,000 of side income in year 1. Again, it doesn’t matter. You decide and then plan it out according to the formula that I have just shown you above.
So where are we in 2016?
So far in 2016, we have made, $490 (Naked Soul YouTube) + $20 (Art of Travel YouTube) + $20 (Fit Couple Goals YouTube) + $380 (print book sales) + $200 (kindle) + $170 (Naked Soul Blog) = $1280
$ Made = $1290 (in 120 days)
Target by Dec 31, 2016 = $2500
$ to Hit Target = $1220 (246 days to go)
I am totally confident that we are going to hit our goal.
If you noticed, one trick is to set a realistic goal; a goal that you are likely to hit and one which is not easy either. This way you won’t feel disappointed if you fail because you won’t fail too far off (if you fail at all). The point is not to avoid failure but to really hit your target.
And, if you succeed, your small success will act as a motivation for you. This will make you more likely to work harder for your next year goal.
Let me know if you any questions? I would be happy to answer anything you may want to ask me.
Take care for now and stay tuned for The Art of Travel. It is a beautiful, beautiful website with a lot of great essays, entertaining videos, inspiring pictures from around the world, travel tips & hacks and more.
“Last spring, Forrester analyzed more than 3 million user interactions with more than 2,500 brand posts on seven social networks.
Unfortunately those brands achieved less than a 0.1 percent engagement rate on six out of the seven platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. Instagram posts, however, generated a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21 percent. That means the app delivered brands 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter. Let’s look at a real life example of this difference.
This week, Red Bull posted a photo of Lindsey Vonn on both Facebook and Instagram. Currently, the brand’s 45 million Facebook fans had liked the photo just about 20,000 times, while its 2.2 million Instagram followers had liked the photo nearly 70,000 times.”
So what does this mean? Seven social platforms analyzed. It means, Vine, Periscope, and Snapchat included. Your effort should be more on Instagram than other social media. Instagram for writers or artists means: 1. Make good art consistently (which many of us love to do). Write, record audio, music, paint, draw, sing, dance, talk, whatever you do 2. Turn your art into poems, quotes, pictures, videos 3. Post them (in fact, post more frequently 4x/day) 4. Cut videos, audio, music into 15 sec or less frame & post as videos or slideshows 5. Engage with comments and other users 6. Reply to relevant DMs 7. DM other Instagram users and build a team/network of friends 8. Collaborate and do S4S (shout for shout) 9. Unofficially advertise on Instagram through other big accounts 10. Officially advertise on Instagram through Facebook
Currently, many of us are not doing a lot of these steps in our Instagram marketing and outreach. What do you think? Can you suggest some game plan on how someone can become more efficient in using Instagram without spending more time? Read my detailed post on Instagram:
1. Post Regularly: Whether it is an old post or something small (and interesting), post regularly. You can think of recycling here. If you have 500 posts on your Instagram, that means, you can recycle easily at the rate of 1 old post per day. That’s huge. It basically means, if you simply repost your old posts, you can literally continue to do so for one year at the rate of 1 post per day.
2. Theme: You can create a simple background theme for each of your writing we post. This strategy is widely adopted by most of the users with more than 30k followers.
3. Data & Science: Remember, according to one study done with 30 featured images on Instagram out of 8 million total, Curalate found:
Bright and high light generates 24% more likes than darker images.
Images with plenty of background white space generate 29% more likes than those with minimal space.
Images featuring blue as the dominant color generate 24% more likes than images that are predominantly red.
A single dominant color generates 17% more likes than images with multiple dominant colors.
High levels of texture generate 79% more likes. (Think about this one!)
The point here is not to copy these strategies but to test it out for your content and your audience. Try and test different things. And then stick with the winning strategy.
Comment below! What do you think? What would you like me to cover next?
Earlier this year, I deleted most of the irreverent videos from The Naked Soul YouTube as I want to take Naked Soul more towards the literary, self-help, and podcast domain.
Build A Successful YouTube Brand
This is what happened in the past 12 months and what I learned from it.
1. My Naked Soul subscriber count went up from 1200 to 1682. My watch time went up by 182,000 minutes monthly and 62,000 views monthly from 30,000 views/100,000 minutes in the past.
On the flip side, my earning went down from $100 monthly to $66 despite doubling my views. Why? Maybe AdWords is becoming competitive. This is bad news for every Youtuber, by the way.
2. By using custom thumbnails, I was able to grow my Fitness YouTube by 700% in just past 3 weeks. (See picture attached with my notes).
3. By uploading videos consistently, I was able to increase the view time for my Travel channel. (screenshot attached)
YouTube Video Marketing
1. When I did not use custom thumbnails, our total Fit Couple YouTube view was 50 for the first 3 months (Jan – Mar). After I created and upload custom thumbnails for each video, my views went up to 350 in just past 2-3 weeks. That is almost 700% growth.
2. Fit Couple Goals uses custom thumbnails on all of the videos. 12 subs and 350 views, 10 likes, no dislike, videos getting added to several dozen playlists — all good signs. Mainly because of catchy titles and thumbnail.
3. My Travel channel does not effectively uses the thumbnail technique (not yet) and therefore is suffering view counts and click-thru-rate (CTR) despite having more subscribers and total # of videos. 23 subscribers and only 400 views. Also notice, only 5 likes and less videos in playlists. Why? I guess, not having catchy title and video cover (i.e video thumbnail).
4. It takes time and creativity to write a good catchy video title, descriptive description, meta tags to maximize the video’s SEO and finally, a nice catchy thumbnail is the icing on the top. This is essential for YouTube success.
5. From my notes on the screenshot, you can see how adding a lot of new videos helped The Art of Travel to gain average watch time, total views, and total view time. So, that’s a good thing.
6. On the other hand, more interestingly, Fit Couple Goals did not add as many new videos but see the spike in total views after I uploaded custom thumbnails for each video. See the above screenshot for details.
Your YouTube Brand
What does this all mean? I have something interesting to share with you all (in my next post) but first I would like to hear your thoughts and opinions. What do you think is the future of YouTube videos vs. Facebook video? YouTube like revenue sharing with users or Facebook like total control over revenue from advertisements.
Facebook sells advertisements to its users and keeps 100% of the revenue. Due to low organic reach FB is no longer the first choice for entrepreneurs or new advertisers. On the other hand, YouTube has been sharing revenue with content creators and has finally turned a good profit.
Also, what about Vine and Instagram? Snapchat? Periscope? All of these platforms allows the users to broadcast and post videos of various length. Should you and your brand be on all of these platforms? My first response to this is “Yes!”
But is it that simple? Or is it even needed of you to be everywhere with your video content.
These and other questions similar to the ones I have pointed above is currently being brewed in my mind’s lab. Check out back in few weeks for part 2 of this interesting discussion. For now, bombard me with your comments!
As I come close to launching The Art of Travel (as one of the biggest travel & wanderlust brand in August of 2016), it is time to look back at The Naked Soul journey and figure out what have I learned and how am I going to apply these lessons to my travel venture.
Challenges of Growing a Blog
Here are the top 6 challenges that I faced while running The Naked Soul blog. These challenges are not unique to my situation. You can relate to them (irrespective of your domain) and can hopefully even learn from my mistakes.
1. Team: To succeed in any business, you need a great team.
Lesson: We built a team when I launched The Naked Soul and we were able to produce great results. But, due to the tight budget and marketing mistakes, I had to cut down on team and I went solo for almost rest half of 2015. I was still running the engine but the growth was slow. Time is the most precious commodity and we lack time the most. With a team, you can better manage the vast amount of tasks that needs to be done. (Team = Having More Time.)
2. Content: Content consistency is the most important factor for success.
Lesson: We know by now that producing daily content is the way to go. On the blog, on social media, everywhere. You need to create a schedule, publish it, build expectations and then stick to it.
For the blog, publish every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For YouTube, publish every weekend, for Podcast, record and publish atleast twice each week. On social medial, publish daily and even multiple times each day. You can’t cut corners here and expect growth in traffic.
3. Budget: Money can be helpful but it can also be harmful.
Lesson: When I was launching the book, I set aside $10,000 for marketing. If I had a smaller budget, we would have been more successful. Actually, having a big budget harmed me both financially and creatively. We spent money wherever we thought we should without any data to backup our wild expectations. I was thinking I can push the book up in sales ranking by heavily advertising. I was everywhere and a lot of people did notice the book. But they did not buy it. On pinterest alone, half a million ad impressions were made. The reason was I was a no-name, first time author with a tiny platform. I could have used the money to produce my second and third books. I could have used the money to create more quality content. I could have used the money to hire a VA for the entire year.
4. Design: From blogs to books, Good Design matters.
Lesson: Throughout 2014 and 2015, I constantly tweaked The Naked Soul blog. I was always making changes and never fully satisfied. Why? Because, I started with a poor concept and design. I created a book website and later tried to switch to an author website. It turned out to be a very expensive transition. I still have broken links on my website and there is a lot that we can do on the design aspect of it.
5. Technical Problems: Throughout 2015, I was constantly struggling with website downtown.
Lesson: It took me almost a year to make the switch from a bad hosting service to a good one. My website used to be down every month and sometimes for days. The response was terrible from the hosting company. And it was not that the hosting was cheaper, in-fact it was expensive. It was just a bad company and choice. I took too long to pull the plug. Why? Because, I was distracted and spending time on lesser important matters. Website uptime is a critical factor in building trust.
6. Generic to Specialized: The Naked Soul brand had a mix of everything.
Lesson: It took me almost 14 months to separate fitness from writing and travel from podcasting. The Naked Soul soup was a hot mess. It was catering to everyone and therefore no one was truly loyal to it. In 2016, we have three very different platforms and we are focusing on only two. Our Travel blog and our Writing blog. Since travel will require a lot of writing as well, the two lines of business somewhat overlap.
Fitness required more of videos and spending time in the gym which was not overlapping with travel and naked soul. With this transition, we can now upload all travel videos to Travel YouTube and Fitness videos to Fitness YouTube. Health and Fitness still matter to us and remains a priority but we won’t be spending a lot of time here from the business perspective. But we still have a lot of work to do on our new YouTube channels.
This is a short list of what I am doing in 2016. You can make a similar plan based on your own personal or business goals.
1. Produce daily content (written, audio, video, images, etc). Divide the work and conquer. Each team member plays to your strengths. #TeamWork
– 3 Blog posts per week
– 2 Podcasts per week
– 2 YouTube Videos per week
– 2 to 4 social media post daily
2. Focus on good design on The Art of Travel blog from day one. Further improve the design on The Naked Soul blog.
3. Spend money where it really, really matters. If there is a creative way to solve a problem, as a rule, DO NOT SPEND money. Exercise creativity. Having money actually harms your long term survival in the game. Without money, you are forced to make smarter decisions.
4. Figure out ways to monetize the blogs and business to make it self-sustainable. The blog should be able to pay for itself.
5. Find and make use of college students as volunteers. (for Content creation)
6. Focus on building quality back links to both blogs. Grow blog traffic to 100,000 monthly.
7. Check both blogs and each social media platforms daily. No downtown and no broken links.
8. Finish and publish my next sets of books. Do not just leave it. Be aggressive about it.
9. Get each social platforms to 100K range using creative ways (and not with money power). Advertisements bought from money doesn’t last long.
10. Do team brainstorming on weekly basis. Exchange ideas and then execute them one at a time.
11. Let’s become the industry leader in my respective niches. Let’s narrow down our competitors and keep a close eye on them.
12. Fix the descriptions, tags and SEO on YouTube. Fix the cover pictures. Do a complete audit of each YouTube channels and video.
13. Do a complete audit of the Naked Soul blog. (Find and fix broken links, messed up texts, errors and typos, and anything that is not at par premium quality)
14. Apply all new tools and techniques learned from the QuickSprout blog.
15. Get The Naked Soul book to have 100+ reviews on the Amazon. Simultaneously, plan on receiving 25+ reviews upon launch of on my second book.
Platform building is a long and difficult process. Where and how to best spend your time, energy, and money for the best possible outcome is a neverending quest for most of the independent artists, authors, and musicians.
In this blog, I will share my best tips and tools to make your strategy successful.
A. Idea Incubation & Content Creation
1. Write original content (books)
– Take pictures, make videos, learn
– Create content (video making)
– Create content (writing)
– Create email list
– Create content (talking & recording)
– Create content for SM
– Post content
B. Marketing and Promotion
3. Social Media (Share content)
4. Email Your List
5. Broadcast your podcast
6. Speaking Engagements
7. Attend Industry & Networking Events
8. Book tours and book signing
Promote Your Brand The Right Way
Prioritize in terms of revenue generation or monetization capabilities.
1. Speaking engagement > income from speaking fee
2. Podcast (or Talk Show) > income from advertisement
3. Books > income from book sales
4. YouTube > income from advertisement
5. Blog > income from advertisement
6. Social Media > income from traffic volume, shoutouts, endorsements, & brand awareness
7. Products or White label Products > income from product sales
8. Affiliate programs > income from commission
9. Online courses > income from fee
### Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of deep souls, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!
Do you need help in platform building? I provide online mentorship and one-on-one coaching. Or, if you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment and I would love to read it.
Sad but this is a fact. Read it, research it, accept it, swallowÂ it, and get over it.
If you are thinking of creating a passive income from your blog and you are starting now, you are entering into a very competitive domain. That said, let me show you a few things that you need to do to be successful at your online business built around a central blog.
Blogging 4.0 Defined
Blogging 4.0 basically means an online business centered around a blog since 2014. This is not a new concept but a new strategy and new perspective to look at the world of blogging and online business in general.
Enter Blogging 4.0
Blogging is competitive and it takes lots of hours. You need to research, you need to write, you need to post consistently.
Building a readership from scratch is tough (read: not worth the time investment). Building a large readership who engages with your content is even harder.
Today, you need to think beyond blogging. This is where blogging 4.0 comes into the picture.
There are over 250 millions active websites, over 8 million blogs and almost as many vlogs (video blogs), and about 115,000 podcasts (audioblogs).
Blogging 4.0 includes (well, more than just a blog): 1. Blog (for long form content + introducing your product/services) 2. Podcast (this is the least competitive domain) 3. Social Media Platforms (for short form content) 4. Videos (Youtube, Vine, Vimeo, Periscope, etc) 5. Repurpose Your Content (Quora, Medium, LinkedIn)
1. Blogging To start, here are few tips:
Blog long form content. Save the short quotes and daily muse for social media. If you want to succeed in blogging, go long and detailed.
Try to solve a problem. Try explaining a situation from a new perspective. Tell a good story that most people can relate to.
Write and then offer free eBooks.
Collect emails so that you can email to your group when a new blog post is up.
Guest blog and cross promote each other.
Encourage your blogger friends to leave a comment. Reciprocate the generosity.
Provide incentives to your readers for commenting. For example, reply to your comment and answer their questions. Or simply just acknowledge them.
2. You need a Podcast As I mentioned above, podcast:blog ratio is very low. Podcasts integrates with both blogging and social media. Podcasting is technical and intense. And that’s why you have less competition there.
You must explore this medium to connect with millions of 9-5 job going workers when they are commuting to work, exercising at gym or taking a long walk.
4. Go Video You are writing. You are researching and inserting catchy images in your blog posts.
You are building your social authority and building your platform on each major social media.
Now go full circle. Go video.
Make videos. Make SlideShare out of your blog posts and turn those SlideShare into YouTube videos.
Make video of some of your audio recordings (podcasts) and push it on Youtube.
Make videos out of images and add music to it. Publish them.
Remember, rather than waiting for people to find your blog, you want to find your tribe. You must go where people are already gathering. Then broadcast. Let your lost tribe members find you.
Bring them home (to your blog). Reward them for following you.
5. Repurpose Your Content Just as if you have a book to offer, you’ll most likely sell it on Amazon and through Barnes & Noble rather than your own website, similarly, you must blog on platforms which are already trusted by millions of users.
There are studies done that vast majority of readers prefer (read: trust) to buy a book (or a product) on Amazon than directly from a blog or website. And the reasons are simple.
Return. Refund. Shipping options. Trust. Existing account, etc.
Likewise, rather than publishing your posts just on your blog, be mindful that there are millions of users on Medium and LinkedIn and Quora who would not go to your blog because they spend a vast majority of their online time on these platform. They do not have any need to go to your blog.
So what can you do? You repurpose your content. Change a few things and tweak it to the like of the target readerships and re-publish. Leave a link to your blog.
Those who would resonate with your content and find value in your offering would become your reader.
What do you do then? What do you do in the end after all is said?
Publish. Be Original. Be Consistent.
Consistency is the key.
Strategies & Steps to Achieve Success
Creating and Curating The Best Content Yes, how many hundred and thousands of people create and curate the best content on Internet but eventually give up and FAIL because there were no eyes looking at their blog. There were no readers and no money coming in.
The Truth Behind the Expenses I am listing the minimum that you would be spending if your blog is going to be a an online business.
You need to attract visitors, you need them to sign up for your mailing list, you want to offer them something of value in return, you want your website to load on mobile and computer, be fast and responsive to devise site and browsers.
Okay, okay. But, wait.
You also need to spend enormous time (= opportunity cost) to develop your product, market your product, engage with your customers or fans and handle customer support.
Let’s take a look at the dollar-and-time investment.
Domain name/renewal: $15/year Website hosting: $300-$500/year Website upgrades: $100/year eBook creations: $500/year Equipments (lights, camera, mike, recorder, et al.): $1000 – $2000 Podcast hosting: $120/year Social Media promotion: $500/year Time: between 40-100 hours/week and a bunch of other things…
The 4.0 Strategy What can you do? First, you know that you are a serious blogger. You are committed to take your blog as a mini online business.
Your first goal should be to break-even. Here is the 6 phases of it:
Spend the minimum that you can afford and sustain.
Then work your best to recoup your investment.
Invest in upgrades and expansion.
Invest and building a brand that attracts readerships on its own.
Offer products and/or services to recoup your additional investment.
Break even on quarterly basis and achieve a state of financial balance
Authenticity You have to be authentic. You have to present your true self before your audience. Your voice should sound genuine. No mimicking, no imitation, but your voice, unfiltered, afraid, naked yet true.
Value Provide value. Provide Quality. Look how can you improve the quality of an information, service or product out there. It took me hours to write this answer and then organize the content in such a way that is easy to read.
Did I increase the quality of my post by spending time on it? You be the judge. Was value added by me to the blogging community as a whole by spending over 8 hours of my time) on this post?
If the answer is Yes and Yes, then I have to do the same on my:
Social Media Platforms
Weekly emails (newsletters)
Books that offer for free
Books that I write to sell
The products that I am building to market
The services that I provide
On Quality Quality content is integral part of providing value.
Make sure, in terms of Quality, your videos and pictures are high-resolution, clean and clear. Make sure your podcast is noise-free. Make sure the background of your videos are neat and organized.
Likewise, your blog posts should be clean, neat and organized. Add pictures. Edit the post before you publish. If you notice an error after publishing, edit and fix immediately.
Treat your blog as Apple treats its product packaging.
Now you have the energy it takes to be a real-life blogger who actually makes a living or decent passive income from her/his blog. Great! You must feel good to have all this energy to work so hard. Not 4 hours a week but 100 hours.
How do you use this raw energy to create a positive, uplifting enthusiasm that motivates your community and wants them to come to your content again and again?
Follow these 3 Simple Rules
1. Do not engage with haters, spammers and negative people, comments, or content out there on Internet. Save your energy, every ounce of it and use it for your blog. If someone makes you angry or frustrated, instead of fighting, turn that emotion into a blog post. (Remember, everything is a material for a writer).
2. Present a positive solution, scenario and interpretation to a negative problem, scenario and story. Go deep. Go long content. When you are trying to cover a topic or an issue, get to the heart of it. Again, look at this Quora answer as an example. It is pain to type such long answer… my back is hurting; I want to drink coffee; it’s Saturday and sunny, I rather go out… but damn! my answer is not complete yet! But I am going to write until the question is completely answered.
3. Engage with your fans, readers, customers, whatsoever you call them as if your life depends on it. And it does. They pay for your services or books. They use your products. They send you thank you emails and talk good about you. These all makes your life more meaningful and makes you feel fulfilled. Do whatever it takes to make sure you are replying to all comments, even if they in hundreds. Reply to as many emails as you can. Again provide value. Be energetic. Be a lion. Be a cheetah. Be a deer. Be a rabbit. Be whatever it takes.
Attitude Attitude is your mentality, your personality. How do you interact with failures? How do you take losses? Attitude is very important.
Even if you do everything right as I ask you to do in this post, there are chances that you will fail ten times. May be you wont see readership or visitor growth for 6 months or a year.
May be you are having hard time coming up with new ideas. Perhaps, it will be hard for you to allocate this much time to build a great blog.
What will do? Because, I can tell you, this will happen.
And if you are mentally not prepared, you will quit or settle for a mediocre blog which no one reads and then you will ask a question on Quora, how to get more traffic to my blog in hope of as if some magic answer will you fix your attitude problem.
Are you a sheep? Or are you a lion? Are you a giver, quitter and loser? Or are you made for hard battles and fighting until you win or die? Ask these questions before you wet your feet in the murky waters of online blogging-businesses.
Successful blogging business is not for the faint of heart. But if you think, this is You, then welcome. Start today. Hit me an email or comment. Create a network of other successful bloggers.
Share ideas, exchange tips. Help one another. Create a mastermind group (online or in your city). Create a Facebook group and share your daily wins and fails. Have fun. You have to make this process fun because it is incredibly time consuming and difficult. But can it be done with laughter while having a good time? Oh yeah, that’s what I am having.
Guest blog and mutually support one another.
I am sure, thousands of other bloggers can say the same.
On the other hand, another popular blogger Maria Popova (Brain Pickings) focuses on books, art and life advice. James Altucher focuses on writing, books, and online business building.
On social media too, you would notice the biggest accounts or pages are those who stick to one theme or context such as fitness, bodybuilding, jokes, poetry, etc.
Start with a sub-niche. Then cover your niche to which your sub-niche belongs. If you are successful up until here, go broader.
That said, it is always better and more effective to cover a single theme or semi-related, overlapping ideas. Both Tim Ferriss and I, for example are doing the later.
We cover more than one topic on our blog and social but all of them are overlapping with a single goal of improving our self.
Hope this helps!
Now go build or do something meaningful!
Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!
If there are aspects of this important topic that you would want me to cover in-depth or an area you think I have missed and should have touched, please let me know in the comments and I’ll update the post or write a new one. What do you think? Tell me and share with us your thoughts on blogging 4.0. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them. So share your thoughts.
The first ever blog post I wrote took over three weeks to put together before I somehow found the courage to hit â€˜publishâ€. Iâ€m not kidding, for several weeks, painstakingly Iâ€d write most nights (and during the day too if time permitted) optimistically hoping that, that particular day (or evening) would be the one when Iâ€d feel courageous and confident enough to cease editing or writing and finally unleash my â€˜nakedâ€ self out into the blogosphere. This was back in 2007.
I have been blogging since my college days. I have blogged on Tumbler, WordrPess and Blogger.com. I have written blogs and have abandoned them completely. Not until recently, I finally took blogging a step further and bought a domain name and started to blog one more time, but this time with a professional touch to it.
The Lessons (2007 – 2014)
I learned three simple and valuable lessons at the end of of my blogging apprenticeship period.
1. Writing. The first being that writing is just the half of it. Even after youâ€ve written what you believe to be a half-decent blog post, patting yourself on the back is not an option just because youâ€ve finished writing it. The hard work is just beginning â€“ with plenty of other stuff needing attention. Like working on how your blog looks for starters and (more importantly) promoting it – getting people to actually read your blog also requires serious perseverance and commitment.
In short, the art of completing just one blog (in my case anyway) actually takes twice as much time and effort as you think it will. I realized that if this was going to be a regular venture for me, it would need careful planning and an immense amount of on-going hard work and conviction.
2. Fresh Unique Content. Interesting blog topics and ideas would regularly have to be thought through and planned in advance, with time set aside for researching, and writing the (hopefully) engaging copy. For each blog, Iâ€d also need to source rights-free images, add all the clickable links and find someone to proof read my copy. BloggingÂ needs much time and attention, seemingly for little or no financial return. It is mostly a labor of love.
3. The Economics. ItÂ cost me money to have a website (where I post my blogs). It has cost me money to build my website and pay for maintenance and domain name renewal. Itâ€s hard enough for writers to make a decent living from writing anyway, so instead of blogging, given the fact that itâ€s the love of writing that brought me to creating my first blog post in the first place, maybe my efforts nowadays would be better concentrated on trying to make money through just writing instead of blogging.
Main Point In this post Iâ€ll be mulling over the arguments for and against my continued involvement in the blogging world. After all, people are quitting blogging all the time these days; usually informing their readers why theyâ€ve decided to call time on their blog, through one final post. Once daily blogger from The Dish, Andrew Sullivan, did just that, quitting earlier this year – deciding he wanted to return to the â€˜real worldâ€ (after blogging for fifteen years). I totally empathize. You can read his final note to his readers.
Other bloggers decide to quit for different but still understandable reasons. Writer, Sara Hepola blogged for five years before informing in her last blog: â€œBlogging wasn’t helping me write; it was keeping me from itâ€. Her postÂ This Is My Last Entry explains a little more.
Both these authors quit for valid reasons but neither encouraged others to do the same. Below, writer L.L Barkat pitches a strong argument against experienced writers blogging, in this post that she guest-authored for Jane Friedmanâ€s blog a couple of years ago.
Other Arguments against Blogging One fundamentally important argument against continued blogging is that the role of the blogger on the social media spectrum has changed hugely over the last decade.
Back in the day, sharing the latest installment of your life on a weekly or even a daily basis, to an ever increasing amount of subscribers (if you were lucky) would (hopefully) bring comments, shares, likes etc. Giving the blog author new-found confidence; perhaps kudos too, and, quite possibly, an inflated ego as well.
True Creativity? Honest Voice?
If your readers liked what you were writing, youâ€d put concerted effort into not letting them down, which meant working to please them, not yourself. At that time, blogging (although still hard work) became, arguably, more of a rewarding pastime than it is nowadays.
It gave published and unpublished writers with something to say an equal platform to get their voices heard. Some lucky posters even became well-known and popular in certain fields or amongst certain groups. Young or old; pro, or non-pro, company based, media or non-media outlets, anyone and everyone could (and often did) use their voice to spread their message across the blogosphere (actually even writing this word now does feel kind of dated).
These days, itâ€s not that people arenâ€t still blogging – thatâ€s simply not the case. Blogging is still popular but not across as many different groups as it once was. Itâ€s become a lesser counterpart to the more widely used, instantaneous, sometimes quirky social media and micro-blogging tools available today.
However, writers will continue to blog because writers love to write, but with so many new (ish) kids appearing on the social media scene during the last decade: Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (to name a handful) itâ€s blogging by those under thirty that may have had its day now!
This ties in with another extremely important thing I havenâ€t mentioned but probably should have earlier, mobile technology.
Sharing your life with followers through your blog on a regular basis, using, letâ€s say a smart phone would be a more drawn out and a tiresome business these days; but status updates, picture uploads or sharing whatâ€s on your mind to your group of followers in less than 140 characters, well, thatâ€s easily done through the technology we carry in the palm of our hands today.
Smart phone use for accessing social media is on the increase and the newer methods of social media communication reflect that. Blogging doesnâ€t. Mobile technology advances have changed the blogging spectrum but this definitely doesnâ€t mean that blog writing is over.
Blogging can be anti-Writing
One last point that I want to make is blogging can become a chronic habit to avoid real writing. Writing for book or publication requires decisiveness, discipline, and mental focus. You can be relaxed with your conversational style writing when you write a blog post but if you working on a book project, your words and sentence structure matters.
Our human body is optimized to avoid stress and work and therefore your mind will do anything to avoid the real work – writing. If you feel that you are spending 80% of your writing time on writing blogs and 20% on your book, probably you should take a break from blogging and practice writing in the journal until you can reverse the ratio. Remember, blogging is to supplement your crystallized thoughts that you put into a book or other print/digital publication, not to replace it. Don’t let your blog become a form of writer’s block.
Arguments for Blogging
When writer, Dan Blank also guest authored Jane Friedmanâ€s blog a couple of years ago, he delivered some compelling reasons to continue blogging, and gave his take in this post on when itâ€s the right time to kill off a blog and move on.
A lot of what Dan says makes sense, despite the growth of new social media mediums and mobile technology ensuring that blogging takes a back seat in terms of production, follower growth, shares, likes etc. there are still some great advantages to be had by creating and regularly updating yours (whether youâ€re over thirty or not!)
Most potential employees that Iâ€ve come across love it when candidates provide a link to their own blog or website, especially if its subject matter is linked to their company in some way. An example, if you blog about health and well-being and youâ€re attending an interview at a sports club, it will probably serve you in good stead, so long as it is written well.
Actually even if what youâ€re blogging about has nothing to do with the position youâ€re applying for, itâ€s still a quick and easy way to showcase your writing talent. For example, if youâ€re applying for a job as an Online Content Producer but you blog about, letâ€s say, Bee Keeping as long as your blog is well-written, free from grammatical errors and interesting, it will show that youâ€re already familiar with producing online content, putting you one step ahead of candidates who donâ€t blog or have a website. You canâ€t really say that about having an Instagram or Twitter account.
A blog is out there on the web, itâ€s easily accessible and will be for a long time to come. Also, if you notice youâ€ve made any grammatical errors etc. once your blog has gone live, you can always go back, make corrections and re-publish, you donâ€t have that kind of investment with Twitter or Facebook publishing and feeds.
More reasons to continue blogging
Letâ€s say, youâ€ve always wanted to write a book, but the prospect of writing one has always been a bit daunting (the amount of time, focus, and research it requires has never felt achievable) depending on what youâ€ve been blogging about. You may well have the makings of a best-selling e-book hidden within all those blog entries youâ€ve been posting over the last few years.
For example, if, over the last ten years youâ€ve been blogging weekly about the latest happenings in the Hip-Hop world, collating what youâ€ve written could well be turned into an ebook entitled The Changing Face of Hip-Hop since 2005.
Similarly, if youâ€ve been writing about gluten free healthy eating, or your secret life as a dominatrix, why not go over your posts to see if you have enough material to create an ebook or impress a publisher.
Blogging doesnâ€t always have to lead to followers, comments, etc. some writers care little about these things because theyâ€re truly writing for themselves. Letâ€s say, youâ€re going through a hard time health wise, and you need to learn more about certain conditions, if someone else has had the same experience or diagnosis as you and has shared what theyâ€re going through on a blog, that blogger has fulfilled their need to write and created something valuable to you and future readers, no doubt paying little regard to the amount of likes and shares etc.
Blogging can be good for business, done properly it can direct business to your company website e.g. if a savvy DIY store owner posts several â€˜how toâ€ blogs, such as â€“ how to unblock a drain, how to unblock a pipe, etc. Their blog may help users fix stuff themselves without the need of an expensive professional if you own a plumbing shop or DIY store, sharing one or two tips about common problems, could lead people to your site and increase sales and materials. Making it a win, win situation for both parties in an instance like this.
I can understand why people need to stop blogging if itâ€s not working for them anymore (as in the case of Andrew Sullivan and Sara Hepola) if stopping feels like the right thing to do, then itâ€s the right thing to do!
But for me, continuing blogging feels exactly like the right thing to do, contrary to some of the arguments Iâ€ve included, I plan on blogging more. Why? Because I blog for pure pleasure, I am also a book writer and when I donâ€t feel like working on my manuscript or writing something new, I still want to sit down and write something and blogging helps me in reaching my daily 1000-2000 word count. Itâ€s also an easy way to answer questions that I get on social media (from my readers) or to share with others, things that I learned the hard way. By blogging I am revising my own lessons and crystallizing it into specific topics.
When I write a blog it still feels like itâ€s about my needs rather than other peoples, and I know other bloggers out there who feel that too. People will always need to share their stories and experiences, not just for egotistical reasons either, whether theyâ€re professional writers or not.
Blogging works for me because Iâ€m a fairly new author, therefore my website is not ranked high in Google. So blogging good content is my way to earn that right to show up on Google’s first page of search results for certain keywords.Â Iâ€m also lucky that I have a team of friends who help me generate ideas for my blog posts and a Virtual Assistant who handles my social media and saves me some time.
In spite of all my arguments for my continuing to blog, I must also add that once I get busier with my book writing, the blogging will slow down. If it ever comes down to choosing between book writing vs blog writing, I will pick book writing over blog writing any day, hands down to be honest.Â Iâ€m not expecting that to happen any time soon and Iâ€m also not sure that I could ever bring myself to write that final â€˜goodbye and thank youâ€ blog and have the courage to press â€˜publishâ€.
Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!
What do you think about blogging? If you think there are more compelling reasons for or against blogging that I have notÂ mentionedÂ here, please feel free toÂ comment. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them via email (sort of like buddies). So share your thoughts. Any other questions please feel free to share with the community.