Why “Product First” is the Better Way to Build a Profitable Audience

Note from Caleb: This essay is by Nathan Barry, who wrote a post here last year about pricing which has gone on to become one of the most popular posts in the history of Think Traffic. Here he argues that building a product before an audience is the best way to jumpstart earning a living online. Take it away Nathan. 

The typical path to monetizing a blog looks something like this:

1. Write until someone starts paying attention.
2. Write more until that one person turns into dozens and hundreds.
3. Keep writing and teaching until you have thousands of rabid fans.
4. Launch an ebook or other product so that you can finally make a living from your hard work.

This is the audience-first method of building a blog and many people have done it. It does work and can be very successful, but it’s not my favorite approach — especially if someday you want to make a living from your blog. Continue reading Why “Product First” is the Better Way to Build a Profitable Audience

30 Day Blog Challenge Results: 100% More Traffic, 30% More Sales and #1 on Amazon

(Note from Corbett: a couple of months ago Natalie Sisson from The Suitcase Entrepreneur stopped by for an in-depth Founders’ Story interview for Fizzle. Afterward we got to talking about strategies she could use to boost her new book launch. I suggested an oldie-but-goodie idea of running a blog challenge. Her results were pretty incredible, and I asked her to share them with you in this special guest post. This is a thorough guide, and the full process is laid out here.)

In August 2013 I ran a 30 Day Blog Challenge on my blog to coincide with the launch of my book The Suitcase Entrepreneur and tied in with using software called Contest Domination to really create some buzz.

The challenge was a lot of work, but to date it’s been the most successful initiative I’ve ever run on my blog. I’m going to share the entire planning, process and results with you in case you want to run a similar challenge yourself.

Here’s the full process from start to finish. Feel free to skip ahead to see the results, or start here and work your way down. Continue reading 30 Day Blog Challenge Results: 100% More Traffic, 30% More Sales and #1 on Amazon

Write Funny Shit

Of the top 50 viral videos of 2012, over three-quarters of them were funny.

In a world where people ignore ads like the plague, Kmart’s “Ship My Pants” ad was viewed on Youtube over 19 million times and shared thousands of times over.

(Note from Caleb: It has been almost three years since Corbett published “Write Epic Shit” and it still is one of the most popular articles on this site. Today we have a guest essay from Therese Schwenkler about how to make your writing, podcasts, or videos funny and what being funny can do to grow your audience. Take it away Therese.)

I watched this stupid “Daddy Long Leg” video, like, five times the other week. Then I sent it to all my friends. (WTF?!!)

No joke, humor is one of the most effective, supercharged ways to get a message across. If there is just one thing you’re overlooking that could make your content explode across the Internet Gangnam Style, humor is it.

But sadly, humor is most often reserved for stupid cat (err, Daddy Long Leg) videos and Internet memes, which is truly a shame.

Enter the power of writing funny shit. Continue reading Write Funny Shit

10 Fast Ways to Become a Better Writer (Even When You’re Burning the Midnight Oil and Can’t Afford an Editor Just Yet)

In the world of online and email communication, writing powerful copy makes all the difference.

Writing doesn’t just communicate ideas; it generates them. If you’re bad at writing and don’t like to do it, you’ll miss out on most of the ideas writing would have generated. -Paul Graham

The sun’s been down for hours and you are alone with a warm drink next to your laptop. You’re burning the midnight oil again in the back room, building your online business, and you know you need to put another post up on your blog, but you’re just not sure what, exactly, to write about.

The struggle of building your business and hustling on the side is that you don’t always have the time and luxury to write whenever you want, and while the idea of editors, proofreading, and revising your essays sounds great-you need to write something and write it now.

For people working a full-time job during the day, juggling families, and responding to other demands, having ample time to fill notebooks, draft, and re-write sounds like a pipe dream.

How can you quickly improve your writing? What tools are there beyond grammar and spellchecker to make sure you’re doing your best work?

Sometimes we need tactical, specific, and immediately useful tips to make our writing better. Most writing tips, for me, always seem to feel good – and then I struggle with the actual writing and re-writing. How do you transform the writing tips of Stephen King, Stephen Pressfield, Seth Godin, and Ray Bradbury (amazing storytellers, all) into actionable outcomes?

Here are 10 of my favorite strategies that help when you’re self-editing, scrambling to make ends meet, and holding both a beer and a coffee in your hands while trying to write-and want to do your best work.

Continue reading 10 Fast Ways to Become a Better Writer (Even When You’re Burning the Midnight Oil and Can’t Afford an Editor Just Yet)

4 Ways To Build Your Email List Today (Without Spending Time Learning New Tactics)

(Note from Caleb: When we talked a couple weeks ago about what we wish we’d known before starting our businesses, many of our friends mentioned not focusing more on their email list was their biggest mistake. In today’s post by Nathalie Lussier, she discusses four ways to build your email list faster than you are now. Take it away Nathalie.)

When I first started out in the online business and blogging world, I tried every tactic I could get my hands on to try to gain more traffic and build my email list. I felt like I was throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what would stick, and what I ended up with was a splotchy wall and very little traffic to show for it.

Today, things are different, and I have a much better “big picture” view of how to generate traffic and conversions, and what works best for different people. You see, I realized all of the information out there about traffic was valid, and it was just a matter of combining the right tactics into a bigger strategy based on the outcomes I wanted.

Let me walk you through the 4 strategic ways to apply common list building tactics, no matter what kind of business or blog you run. The trick is knowing which one to use and when to use it, but don’t worry I’ll go over that too! Continue reading 4 Ways To Build Your Email List Today (Without Spending Time Learning New Tactics)

Generosity Pays: Results from Launching a “Pay What You Want” eBook

Note from Caleb: Sometimes you don’t want to sell something you’ve made and you just want it to reach as people as possible. BUT, you put in a ton of work to make it. In this post by Tom Morkes, he shares his results from offering an eBook about two days he spent with Seth Godin as a “pay what you want” offer. Keep reading to find out what he learned.

I’m a longtime Think Traffic reader.

Even before I started a business online, I followed Think Traffic because I find online marketing fascinating (weird? Probably…).

While all the content is great, my favorite articles are those that go beyond theory to show practical application and results. In other words, I like seeing numbers.

Today, I want to show you how generosity pays – not just in theory, but in practice (with numbers to prove it).

But first, a little background to help you understand the numbers a little bit better. Continue reading Generosity Pays: Results from Launching a “Pay What You Want” eBook