I recently started getting serious about building my email list, but the process of gaining new email subscribers really worried me at first. I use AWeber for my email marketing, so I need to be able to make money with my list in order to help pay for the $20 a month price tag. It takes a bit of work to build up a list you can start making money from, but once you get 100 subscribers or so, getting people to purchase affiliate products from you is a piece of cake – assuming you are recommending good products.
When I first started using AWeber, I was using their built-in form creator because it was convenient and functioned properly without any editing. Even though they have some nicely-themed forms, I was not happy with them. They didn’t integrate into WordPress very well, customization was lacking, and they were not converting very well. In fact, after one week I only had 5 subscribers and I consider my blog fairly popular, so these free forms from AWeber were obviously not working. I needed something that would capture readers’ attention and make them want to enter their email address into the opt-in spot.
I know a lot of bloggers that use the wildly popular plugin called Popup Domination. Basically, Popup Domination includes options to create the basic popup boxes (like the one shown in the image above) to integrate with almost any mail autoresponder such as MailChimp or AWeber. I was about to purchase Popup Domination, but I came to my senses and decided that $77 for a popup box is too expensive. I began to do some research and found WP Subscribers, another WordPress plugin that creates popups almost identical to Popup Domination. In addition to just having popups, however, WP Subscribers includes opt-in forms that can be placed within posts, in the blog header, in the blog footer, or when the reader tries to exit. They also have a referral system where you can reward your readers for getting other people to sign up for your list, Facebook integration for easier signup, WordPress integration to add your users to your list, and integration with the WordPress commenting system. The biggest advantage is that WP Subscribers has all of these features for only $47.
The Basic Popup
The whole reason I was searching for this plugin was to find a decent popup plugin. Most of the free ones have terrible designs and annoy blog readers. The thing I originally liked about Popup Domination was that the popups were so elegantly designed that anyone who visited the website would just have to look at it for a second or two. What really astounded me was that the popup designs included with WP Subscribers are equally as elegant. WP Subscribers includes 12 different popup designs that you can customize with 8 different colors.
I chose to use template #5 (shown in image above) with the red color and I was able to customize it to fit my needs easily. The content area allows you to include anything from simple text to an embedded YouTube video. You can also upload images and choose where it will appear on the popup with the click of a button. It’s really simple – I had my popup up and running within 10 to 15 minutes.
The Footer Bar
One of the main things that sold me on WP Subscribers is the footer opt-in form. I tried a free plugin that claimed to offer similar results, but I wasn’t able to even get the free plugin to appear on the page properly. With WP Subscribers, it was once again very simple and I had it running in 10 minutes or so. The footer bar is a widget that slides in from the bottom of the page and stays there even if the reader scrolls down the page. I was able to upload an image, enter some text, customize the color of both the box and the submit button, and choose the animation the footer box has when it slides into the screen.
I feel that this footer opt-in form will be incredibly successful because you can’t really ignore it. People have conditioned themselves to automatically close out the basic popup boxes, but when this footer box appears on the screen, they will most likely take notice of it without automatically heading for the close button to hide it.
Advanced Settings To Prevent Annoyance
Whenever I visit a website that has a popup to join their email list on my first visit, I always close it out without paying any attention. The popup had appeared before I even read the content, so why would I want to subscribe to the blog’s newsletter? It just doesn’t make sense. The thing I like about WP Subscribers is the fact that they let you control these factors. For example, my footer opt-in box does not appear unless you have viewed 2 pages on my blog and the popup box doesn’t appear unless you’ve gone to 5 pages. This ensures that I will not be annoying first-time readers and I am only targeting people who will actually be interested in signing up to receive the newsletter.
In addition to having options for when the popups will display, they have options for when it will go away. Once you subscribe to the list, the popups should never reappear unless you clear the cookies from your web browser. Also, the footer box will only appear 3 times a week and the popup box will only show up 2 times a week. This is another measure I am taking to prevent reader annoyance.
Referral System, Facebook Integration, and More
I was really excited to see that WP Subscribers included a referral system. Simply put, your subscribers can earn points by referring others to join your list. For example, if you have an eBook that you wrote, you can offer it on your blog to subscribers who have earned 50 points. You can then set it so each subscriber will earn 10 points for each new subscriber they refer. So if Jimmy signs up for your list and wants the eBook, he will have to share the link to your opt-in page on social media to try and get 5 people to sign up via his referral link. Once he earns the 50 points, the download link will be available to him and he will get his eBook. This is a simple way to turn 1 subscriber into 6.
The Facebook integration that WP Subscribers has included makes it easier for people to opt-in. Instead of having to enter their name and email, their Facebook data (assuming that they are logged in) will automatically will these boxes in, so all they have to do is click “Subscribe” because their information is already entered. This saves your readers time and can encourage more subscribers because they don’t actually have to type anything.
WP Subscribers also includes integration with the WordPress comments system. If you choose to display it, an additional checkbox will appear in the comments area that you can make say “Subscribe to our newsletter” or something of that nature. If that box is checked when they submit the comment, it will take the email address and name they used to write the comment with and add it to your list. It’s just one more way to suck people in.
Overall, I’m really happy with my purchase of WP Subscribers. I’m using it with AWeber, but it also works with MailChimp, iContact, GetResponse, FeedBurner, and tons of other services. I have a feeling that the amount of subscribers I will gain from this plugin will quickly pay off the $47 I spent on it. Everything is so simple, nicely designed, and it is truly the only popup plugin that doesn’t annoy readers. I recommend this plugin to anyone with an email list that needs some growth.
Try AWeber’s Email Marketing Tool Risk-Free
I recently had to make one of the biggest decisions in my blogging career and I feel that I made the right choice… The big decision was to stop using MailChimp’s free email service and switch to AWeber’s professional email marketing services. Please allow me to say that this was not an easy choice for me – not only does MailChimp cost nothing and AWeber is $19 a month, but I was truly worried that email marketing and the process of list building would be something I’m not ready for and my email list would fail. However, after playing around in AWeber and gaining a few subscribers, I am very confident and I’m glad I chose AWeber to service my email list.
It’s $1 To Get Started
Like I said before, it was a very hard decision for me to sign up with AWeber. I went to the “Sign Up” page and left it open on my computer for at least five hours hoping that some magical fairy would lower the price for me. I also went ahead and asked many blogging groups I belong to (one of them being Blog Engage) if AWeber was even worth paying $19 a month. I figured that almost every “professional” blogger I know uses AWeber’s services, so there’s got to be something that makes it worth the money when you can use services like MailChimp and SimplyCast for free. However, both MailChimp and SimplyCast are only free if you stay under a certain amount of subscribers. Once you exceed that amount, they start charging you to build a bigger list. If you do the math, AWeber will eventually be cheaper in the long run. I didn’t want to have to use MailChimp until I reached 1,000 or more subscribers then try to move to AWeber, so I decided to start building my list there from the get-go. Besides, AWeber makes the first month of service only $1 so I won’t be paying $19 until I have used the service for a good while.
AWeber Is Simple To Use
My biggest complaint about MailChimp is the complexity of their control panel. Doing simple tasks like setting up an RSS newsletter requires many clicks, digging through menus trying to find the right place. AWeber is actually really easy to use and if you can’t figure it out on your own, they have a wizard that will guide you through the steps. I actually opted to use this step-by-step guide to make sure I was doing everything right and it made setting up my email list, opt-in form, follow up messages, and everything else a breeze. Basically, the wizard says “Step 1: Create Your Email List” and it will show you exactly what to do. Then it will say “Step 2: Design Your Confirmation Email” and help you through that, and so on. Everything was so easy!
Additionally, I had a representative from AWeber call me to make sure everything was set up the way I wanted. This is nice because if you are getting stuck, the representatives from AWeber can help you through it. I did not sign up or opt-in to receive this call at all. They just called me to ask if everything was working the way it was supposed to and to let me know that they have support available if I’m ever stuck. This just goes to show how committed AWeber is to your success.
Follow Up Messages
Perhaps my favorite feature about AWeber is the follow up message feature. Basically, follow up messages are emails that you can set to send to your subscribers after they subscribe. For example, immediately after subscribing to my list, my subscribers receive an email from me thanking them for signing up and explaining what the Omega Web Newsletter is about. Then a week later, I have an affiliate offer set to release to my subscribers. Then two weeks after that they will receive a different affiliate offer, and so on.
The reason these follow up messages are so powerful is that they go to each subscriber. So it doesn’t matter if you have somebody sign up in September 2010 or February 2013, they will still get Affiliate Email #1 one week after subscribing and Affiliate Email #2 three weeks after subscribing. This is better than sending standard email campaigns with affiliate offers because if you send an email in September 2010 to your 230 subscribers, those people will receive the email. If you have 500 subscribers by February 2013 though, only the people who were on the list in September 2010 would have gotten your original email. The advanced follow up message system that AWeber uses allows for maximum exposure and hopefully maximum profits.
One thing that barely ever comes up in conversations about email services is email delivery. Lots of email marketing companies flash fancy features like rich HTML designers, but they never mention how often emails are delivered to subscribers. If you think about it, this is an important problem to assess. All of my emails I receive first go through HostGator’s servers and have to pass the spam filters there, then they have to be delivered and pass the spam filters on my email client, Apple Mail, which is great at catching spam and only spam. However, more primitive email clients like Mozilla Thunderbird will mark anything suspicious as spam and may cause your email to not be delivered to your subscribers. This is something that AWeber specifically addresses and they boast a 99% email delivery rate.
One of the main features I liked about AWeber in the first place was their first-class analytics information. AWeber collects information about each one of your subscribers – who opens your emails, who doesn’t, who clicks links (and which links people are clicking), how much money each email brought you, who unsubscribed from your list (and from what email), and so much more. This information is helpful because you can see which subscribers are making you the most money. Then you can group these specific subscribers together to be sent special affiliate offers because they are the people who are actually buying things from your emails. AWeber’s statistics tracking also lets you know which emails are most effective and which aren’t. For example, if your subscribers receive follow up affiliate email #1 and it has a 100% readership rate, that means everybody opened the email and was generally interested. However, if affiliate email #2 only has a 43% readership rate, you may want to consider removing it from the sequence of follow up emails to keep from annoying your subscribers.
Rocking Affiliate Program
Before I buy any service for my blog, I always check out their affiliate program. This is one of the main ways I make money from Omega Web and I want to make sure I can still do that promoting these new products. As it turns out, AWeber has a great affiliate program with recurring commissions which means if I have a customer I referred pay for AWeber for 12 months, I not only make a commission from when he signed up, but I make a commission for each month he keeps paying for AWeber.
Just a couple of days ago I decided to join Blog Engage. Basically, Blog Engage is a paid social network where bloggers can connect, share content, build backlinks, vote for other bloggers’ posts, and much more. It’s a great way to not only increase your blog traffic, but enhance your SEO, make connections, and potentially make more money. I have been reluctant to try Blog Engage because it’s a paid community, but that’s actually one of the reasons I like it. I’m so happy I decided to take the plunge and I’m here to let you know that you should as well.
It’s a Paid Community
Perhaps the only drawback of Blog Engage is the fact that it costs money. The cheapest membership is a $19.99 one-time fee that you have to manually submit your content with. This is a great starter plan, but I opted to get the $9.99 per month plan that has so many more features that will ensure your blog success. Although I’m paying money for this service, that’s actually one of the good things about it. Unlike Facebook or Twitter where anybody can sign up, Blog Engage is full of serious members who are there for the same reason as everyone else – to make connections, share content, and make more money blogging. Being full of serious members is nice because you know that everyone who sees your updates is not only within your target audience, but they will care enough to click on the link and subscribe to your blog. Besides, $9.99 a month is not that much money.
Content Syndication Over Many Feeds
One spot I fall weak in with blog promotion is my social media presence. For one, it’s really hard to build up a following. Before I joined Blog Engage, the only reason I was getting Facebook fans and Twitter followers was from my giveaways. The problem with these followers is that they are only clicking the “Follow” button because they want whatever you’re giving away. Nothing is stopping them from unfollowing if they don’t win and chances are, they will never click one of your posts anyway. After I joined Blog Engage, I had 7 people like my Omega Web Facebook page within the first few hours. This is significant because I knew that each person that liked my page would click and read at least one of my articles, thus increasing my viewers, building stronger relationships, and potentially making more profit.
Although it’s nice that Blog Engage increased my Facebook following, that’s not really what I’m paying for. The meat of the $9.99 service is what they call “Content Syndication”. Basically, this is a service that reads your blog’s RSS feed and automatically shares your post to their thousands of Twitter followers as well as posting the article on their website for other members of Blog Engage to see. This is where the majority of your traffic will come from. In addition to bringing traffic, the Content Syndication is specially built to bring you PR3+ backlinks to every one of your posts in your RSS feed. This will help the SEO and PageRank of your blog tremendously.
Meeting New People
Looking back, I’ve met so many people in so little time because of my blog. One of the first bloggers that I started talking to was Ehsan Ullah of Guide and News. Ehsan has been good to me over the months and I have learned a lot from his posts. The next blogger I met was Enstine Muki, the developer of Cash Donator and EasyRetweet.com. I met Enstine by buying his Cash Donator plugin that I saw advertised on another website. After I met Enstine, I joined his Facebook blogging group and met up with one of my closest blogging friends – Wade of Bloggers Make Money… The list goes on and on. Each connection led to another and each friendship with these unique bloggers is one more person I have commenting on my posts, recommending plugins to me, and purchasing products from my affiliate links. In fact, the main reason I started thinking about joining Blog Engage was because Wade recommended it to me.
Although I have made some good friends via Facebook and linked blogs, it would be great if there was a service that made it easier – and that’s exactly what Blog Engage does. Basically, all you have to do is select your niche and a whole list of similar bloggers will appear before your eyes. Not only can you easily connect with other people this way, but you can find posts written by those authors to see who’s really worth connecting with. Once you find someone, it works very similar to Facebook – click “Add as Friend” and they will appear in your friend list.
The Community Blog
One of the features that they market with a Blog Engage membership is their community blog. Not only do Blog Engage members have full access to reading it, but we have full privileges to guest post there as well. As of November 5, 2012, Blog Engage is a PR4 website which means you will be getting quality PR4 backlinks for every guest post you write.
In addition to simply guest posting on Blog Engage, they run a contest every year and give bloggers an opportunity to win $500 or more for writing a single post. This is something that I am definitely interested in doing at some point as $500 is more money than I can make from any one post here on this blog.
Rocking Affiliate Program (I Call This Affiliate 2.0)
I really like the fact that Blog Engage has a tiered affiliate program. I normally refer to these as “Affiliate 2.0” programs because they offer more opportunities to make money. Basically, the program is broken down like this: you get 25% of all direct referrals you make and a smaller portion of sales your referred customers make. So if you email your buddy your affiliate link (or he clicks it on your blog), then you will make 25% of what he pays per month. So if he signs up for the $9.99 per month plan, $2.50 will be deposited into your account monthly… Now your buddy sees how much money you are making from this program and places the banner on his own blog. If he makes two sales for the $9.99 plan as well, you will make $0.62 per person per month. All in all, you will be making $3.74 per month for just referring one person. If you could rack up 10 or 15 people, you could be making as much as $56.10 per month just from the Blog Engage affiliate program.
For a full rundown of the possible commissions, see this post on Blog Engage.
All in all, I’m glad I decided to join Blog Engage. I currently have two blogs set up with their RSS Content Syndication service and I’m hoping that each one will benefit immensely from the platform. I’ve heard nothing bad about Blog Engage and I believe that it will pay for itself very quickly.
Sign Up Now!
If you’re interested in signing up for Blog Engage (remember, it’s only $9.99 – you can’t go wrong), you can do so here.
If you are a beginning blogger that uses Google AdSense as a source of revenue, you probably check your earnings every few days to see if you are getting closer to that $100 payment threshold. I started earning with AdSense in 2010 (on websites and YouTube) and just received my first payment in October 2012. The check (seen above) was for $115.75 and I was very excited that I finally reached the $100 payout limit, but when I received the check in the mail, I needed to think long and hard about what I wanted to do with the money. I ended up spending the money on the Genesis WordPress framework and the Dynamik child theme (I will be doing reviews on both soon) which was a good investment because Omega Web needed a redesign. If you are interested, I am now running a completely custom theme that I created myself using Dynamik.
Invest The Money Back Into Your Blog
When most bloggers get their first payment, they blow it on something completely unrelated such as a new pair of shoes. If you truly treat your blog like a business, then you will not want to buy that new pair of shoes and you will want to improve your site in order to make more money. This can be done by buying a new framework to redesign your site, buying new plugins such as CommentLuv Premium which will help make you more successful, or paying off those web hosting bills that have accumulated over the months. Whatever the case, it’s always a smart idea to invest this first check back into your blog in order to make more money. Whenever you are making $500 a month, then you can choose to buy the shoes, upgrade to some new plugins, and use the rest for a car payment. Until you’re earning that kind of income, make sure you’re investing!
Join a Paid Members Blogging Group
One of the most popular paid blogging networks out there is Blog Engage. At $20 a month for the cheapest membership, Blog Engage is not cheap (in my opinion, at least). Joining this paid community will allow you to get maximum exposure for your blog posts and ultimately make more money in the long run. If you are relying on AdSesne to pay for your Blog Engage membership, $100 will last 5 months.
Start Up a New Project
One thing I am always doing is starting up new website projects. Although some fail, I have had some very successful ones. One of my niche sites was How To Make Lumpia and I actually make more money from that site monthly than I do Omega Web even though I get three times as many viewers on this blog. Depending on the project you are looking to start up, you could have costs anywhere from $15 to $100 or even $200. When I started How To Make Lumpia in March 2012, the domain name was available so I registered it for about $12. I then created the website in Adobe Dreamweaver without purchasing any kind of premium templates, so the startup cost was only $12 for the domain. A few months later I switched the website from a static HTML site maintained with Dreamweaver over to a WordPress-powered site (for easier maintenance) and now I make about $10 per month from this one niche project.
Starting niche websites or other blogs with your AdSense revenue is a great way to improve upon your earning potential. I currently have this blog, Aquarium Watch, and How To Make Lumpia earning me AdSense revenue. I also have the domain names MyDr.co (for a medical-related blog) and DIYCO2.net (for an aquarium CO2 niche site) which I plan to start whenever I have the time.
Any Other Suggestions?
I know I have many bloggers who read Omega Web who receive payments from Google AdSense all the time. Please share with us what you use that money for and how it has helped your blog… See you in the comments!
It hasn’t been that long since Google last updated their algorithm that powers Google search results, but bloggers and internet marketers continue to whine and complain about the updates. On September 27th (one month ago), Google released their newest update and dubbed it “Panda”. The Panda update slammed many sites that were ranking #1 in Google results down to position #4 or #5 or even on the second page. Of course, people will grumble about it, but you know what? My blog has done nothing but improve in traffic and revenue over the past month. In fact, I have recently noticed that some of my posts are ranking in the first five Google results within a few days of publishing the post. Why is it that these algorithm updates help instead of hurt me?
I Post Quality Content
The most important aspect to any blog is the content that is written on it. If your content sucks, nobody will link to you, your PageRank will stay PR0 forever, and your Google rankings will be less than par. Posting good content that people will want to refer to, share, and link to is the #1 key to success.
I’m No “Internet Marketer” or “SEO Guru”
If you look at who complains about the Google algorithm updates, they probably classify themselves as “Internet marketers” or “SEO gurus”. These are people who are in the blogging game for the money and nothing else. These “gurus” use a number of WordPress plugins, on-site techniques, and off-site SEO techniques to enhance the rankings of their websites. The problem with doing this is when Google decides that meta descriptions no longer matter and the “guru” has relied on meta descriptions to achieve #1 rankings. When Google takes this away, they don’t have quality content to fall back on and their rankings fall.
The only SEO plugin I use is All In One SEO for WordPress. I really only use this plugin to control my titles on my homepage since the default WordPress settings hardly have any customization. I don’t use any “premium” SEO plugins, services, or techniques. I only use All In One SEO and publish quality content – yet still rank high on Google results.
I Don’t Use Sketchy Link Building Techniques
I know some Internet marketers that swear by submitting their blog to directories, guest posting, link exchanges with other bloggers, or some other means of link building. I honestly don’t have a link building technique other than commenting on blogs with CommentLuv enabled. I believe in link building for raising PageRank, but as far as SERPs, quality content is the key.
I’m Patient and Not Trying To “Get Rich Quick”
One of the problems Internet marketers have with their blogs is that they are too new. I started this blog in May 2012 (so it’s 5 months old) and I’m averaging 33,000 Pageviews or so a month, with over 60% of those viewers coming from Google or other search engines. At the point in time I’m making about $40 this month from Google AdSense, but last month I made $28 and the month before I made $26. My earnings are slowly increasing, but I’m not expecting to get rich overnight. Blogging takes time and the blogs that can beat time are the ones that become successful. You simply can’t get upset when your two-month-old website loses Google rankings in SERPs.
It’s Over To You
Now it’s your turn to share… Does your blog or website get hit every time Google updates their algorithm? Does it have something to do with black or grey hat techniques you may be using? Does your content bring value to your readers? Share this in the comments below – I’m always interested in learning something new!
One of the reasons you may not be earning the amount of money you would like is because of poor advertisement placing. Online advertising is not much different from printed ads on billboards or in magazines in the sense that placement is everything. With ad placement, it’s important to remember not to overwhelm your users, but you need to get them to look (and click) the ad. So what do you do? Here are some popular techniques people use… (more…)