WARNING: this will be the longest post you will read today (maybe the only one!)
Yesterday, I was talking about bloggers who put their blog up for sale and shouldn’t . They shouldn’t do it right now because it is a very bad market. If they would have sold 3 months ago, I guess they would have made 50% more than what they can make today. This is a huge difference. So instead of selling, there are a number of things you can do in order to build a better blog and create a true sustainable source of income. The following is my own ultimate list of everything I have tried successfully so far on my various blogs that had a real impact.
1. Rethink Your Design
I’ve had 3 different designs on TFB so far and this one is the one I like the most. It’s important to rethink your design to put strategic elements in place. I’m not talking about the color or the logo, that is a question of personal taste (mind you, I LOVE my logo J ). I’m talking about the first impression you want to leave with a new reader. You have about 5 seconds to make your first impression on the web before a visitor decides if he will stay on your page or not.
Real impact: The main goal with my new design was to get more readers to come back. This is why the first 2 things you see on the right are my RSS subscriber button and my newsletter sign-up. I also removed the Adsense block above the fold. In fact, I eliminated all advertising above the fold. The only thing people get when they land on TFB is content. This was my main objective.
2. Get a Newsletter Started
I won’t lie to you; a newsletter is a lot of work. It is a lot of work on top of your actual blogging routine. But by putting the best content in there, you are assured of keeping a very high and loyal readership. I don’t send the “best of my blog” or “most commented articles” in there because I think it would bore most of my readers. Instead, I focus on writing awesome and useful content for bloggers who wants to make more money with their blog. It’s up to you to find what you want to talk about in your newsletter. Find a topic that you like and narrow it down. It’s important that you clearly define what your newsletter is about. You don’t want to simply create an extension to your blog. You want to create a separate medium for people that will actually follow your advice and trust you.
Real impact: since I’ve added the focus on my newsletters, I’ve been growing the subscriber list steadily (here’s an example of how many subscribers I can get ). I used several techniques to grow my readership such as offering a freebie (eBook), using contests, writing series on my blog and finishing with exclusive content available only through my newsletter, making my sign-up block obvious, etc. you need to plug your newsletter as often as you can. This is how you can get many sign-ups!
3. Wrap-up an eBook
I just told you that offering a free eBook is an awesome strategy to gain new readers, right? Well the next thing you must do is actually write one! But you don’t have to write that much. You can actually use your existing content and package it well. This is definitely far from being the idea of the year (many people have done it before me) but it works darn well! Just look at my 3 different results from my eBook experience  and you’ll notice how well an eBook created from existing content can work. The thing is that nobody reads your archives… so nobody will notice that you are using your old stuff!
Real impact: To be truly honest, about half of what has been written in the Dividend Investing eBook was already written on either The Dividend Guy Blog or The Financial Blogger! I just repackaged everything, wrote an introduction, conclusion and added a little bit of meat in between. Once everything had been copied/pasted, I just had to rewrite some parts to make it more coherent. But the hard work was already done J. You can even sell your “new” eBook! It’s much easier for people to buy your book than going through your archives and reading everything you have written. You basically sell the packaging and not really the content!
If you want to grow within your niche, you need allies. This is why it is important to make a short list of bloggers that evolve in your industry. Try to narrow it down to 5 blogs that share the same passion and write about the same topic. For example, I would not combine The Financial Blogger with a frugal blog. This is just too different! By forming a small group, you can interact with them, write guest posts, comments and eventually swap a part of your readership. This is a great way to make new friends and to grow your blog. Try to concentrate on a few relations instead of going at large and comment on 25 different blogs. It’s like in the real world; are you closer to 5 of your best friends or to 25 of your “best friends”?
Real Impact: I have my own list of buddies online where I chat with them once in a while. It’s important for me to stay connected to them as we can help each other while having a good laugh!
5. Make a Short List of Bloggers Out of Your Industry
While knowing bloggers in your industry is essential if you want to grow and establish yourself, knowing bloggers outside of your industry is an awesome asset that most people neglect. They think that because you don’t write about the same topics that you can’t help each other. But this is totally the opposite: you can get an outside perspective of your work. Most people that evolve in the same industry will share a similar background, operate a similar scheme and will think alike. If you talk to people from another industry, you will get more “outside of the box” ideas for your own stuff.
Real Impact: I’m currently working with people outside the PF blog industry to launch my next eBook. My goal was to get ideas other than what I have seen and talked about with PF bloggers. So far, I’m getting a lot of alternative options to problems I’ve encountered since my first eBook creation.
6. Create a Group Project
Once you have built a great relationship with several bloggers, you can then start a group project. Group projects are awesome because they provide back links (which is good for search engine traffic), it gives free promotions (which is good to gain more readership) and provides an awesome perspective on a specific topic. The purpose of a group project is to have several bloggers talking about the same topic and linking to each other. This is how you can send and receive a lot of traffic.
Real Impact: I could talk about my own projects but the most impressive project I’ve seen was the ROTH IRA Movement  by Good Financial Cents. This project created such a hype that Jeff shows all time record traffic stats since then!
7. Become an Active Part of a Forum
When you become an active participant in a forum, you automatically gain a lot of credibility and authority. This is where you can make a lot of good friends and find help quickly. If you have time, it definitely worth it to connect with other bloggers in a forum. However, be sure that you truly contribute to the discussion by adding a point of view, information or by helping others on the forum. Commenting for commenting is not very useful.
Real Impact: I must admit that forums are part of my flaws. I’m very limited in terms of time and often skip this part of my routine. However, each time I do a “blast” of comments, I see an immediate impact on my blog (visits, comments, personal emails, etc). This is always a fun way to connect with others!
8. Write 1 Epic Post Per Week
On TFB, I’m trying to write 1 epic post per week. I’m not always able to do it but I always keep this as a goal. You can think that writing a post like the one you are reading right now takes a lot of time. I can’t fit this in my regular “30 minutes/article” schedule. I need a good hour to write such content but it totally worth it! I just need to get into a great groove of inspiration!
Real Impact: I’ve noticed that I get a lot of traffic and links back to such articles. Other bloggers appreciate these long articles and make sure their readers are aware of them as well. I also notice more newsletter subscribers on days that I publish them.
9. Write Less But More
Several blogs operate on a 1 post per workday schedule. This is the “classic” model for most blogs. However, this is a burnout model in my opinion! I can write 5-6 articles per week because I write them on 3-4 different blogs talking about different topics each time. I would definitely not be able to write 6 articles a week on dividend investing for example! This is why it is important to slow down your number of posts (ideally to 2 or 3 a week) but write longer articles with more insight, more info and more punch. 500 words articles don’t make the cut on TFB anymore. I try to have them near 1,000 words all the time.
Real Impact: I’ve clearly increased the number of subscribers, pages viewed and average length on TFB since I’ve moved to this model. Since people read less articles from me in a week, they can digest longer articles.
10. Narrow Your Readership
Now that I cover several blogs at the same time, I’m able to write about everything I want but on different blogs. If you try to cover 15 topics, you might lose a lot of readers and the one you keep are not necessarily always appreciating what you write about. My largest audience is on TFB because it is still a combination of my passion for entrepreneurship through my online adventure along with the distraction of my personal finance and thoughts on many topics.
Real Impact: When I made the official switch towards my “online adventure” on TFB, I was expecting to lose readers at first. The fact is that I did lose a few readers but I gained more so I never felt the claw back of my decision. People that now read TFB know that I’ll be talking a lot about how I run my business and will get a few articles about my own personal situation once in a while. However, all my thoughts on general personal finance or investing have been moved to other blogs I author.
11. Get a Tag Line
I first thought that having a tag line was a marketing trick at first. I didn’t think it would be that important. However, over time, I’ve realized that a simple tag line is a lot more than a marketing hook. It should reflect your blog, it should be your mission, your unique selling proposition. Mine is “Making 6 Figure Income, Working 4 days a Week”. This means that I focus on making more money while working less. This is exactly what this blog is about!
Real impact: since I have had a defined tag line, it became a lot easier for me to know what to write about. I simply write about what my tag line says! This helps retain readers and connect with them. I’ve completely thrown away the idea of gaining as many readers as possible. I’m now focusing on gaining readers that see the world as I see it so they can laugh when I think it’s funny and they can be upset when I’m frustrated J.
12. Attach Your Reader
When I wrote about sustainability  yesterday, I mention how important it is to be more independent from Google. While you definitely need search engines to get traffic to your site, it’s important to find a way to retain these new readers and make them regular visitors. These folks won’t be clicking on your Adsense but they will surely be interested in your affiliate products! On top of that, these are your best ambassadors! They will talk about your blog to their friends and family and this is how you can get more readers outside of Google!
Real Impact: I get about 250 direct hits/day on some of my sites. These hits are from people who go directly to my blog to read what I’ve written on that day. I receive emails from people telling me that they talk about my blog each week and I send them over to my newsletter landing page to sign-up! Writing great content, offering a newsletter, eBooks and writing series on specific topics are all tricks that help to attach your reader to your blog. Stop writing about a review of this or that and hoping to make an affiliate sale. Write with your gut and tell the world what you truly think! Write about your passions and your motivations.
In the end, if you don’t write about your passion, I think you should just quit. But if you like something enough to write about it each week, I think that going through this list will definitely make your blog a better place and will ultimately help you to make more money!
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image credit #2 Google+