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Partnerships – A Beginners Guide to Expanding Your Audience

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A Beginners Guide to Expanding Your Audience Image

As bloggers, we’re always thinking of new ways to grow our audience.

I for one have come across countless articles about using social media as a gateway to new communities, and Facebook marketing to engage with established groups.

But is there a better way?

The answer is absolutely.

Establishing a partnership with another blogger in the same niche as yours could possibly double your audience.

Think of it this way.

If you establish a relationship with an influencer, and then pitch an offer to him/her, depending on what you offer them, they will either write for you, share your content, feature you, or even promote your product to their email list.

But the questions still remain,

  • What are other benefits of partnering with influencers?
  • How do you land a partnership?
  • How do you pitch an offer to an influencer?

By the end of this article, you’ll have all the necessary knowledge and resources to start reaching out to influencers today.

So let’s get started.

Benefits of Partnerships

It’s all about one word.


The audience of an influencer has quite a few advantages.

Some being:

  1. Highly targeted and quality viewers
  2. Ad Swaps
  3. Product promotions

And each one will more than likely grow your blog’s audience like never before. You may double, or even triple your email list!

But remember, not all partnerships will provide you with these 3 benefits. However, let’s talk about each one.

A High Quality Audience

Influencers have years of experience.

They’ve done their research. They’ve established a relationship with their viewers. They’ve learned how to create content that they love. And they know how to talk to them.

In other words, if you land a partnership with an influencer, you’ll gain a thoroughly established community that you could interact with.

Clay Bethune, an entrepreneur and co-founder of 9th & Elm,  wrote an article titled, “Advice for Bloggers: How to Pitch and Land Brand Partnerships.” In this article, he said,

“By working together, bloggers and brands can tap into each other’s networks. You can reach not only fans of the brand, but also other bloggers who have partnered with the brand — expanding your audience and enhancing your network.”

But keep in mind, this is only one advantage to partnering with an influencer! Along with a high quality audience, your partner will likely love to do an ad swap!

Ad Swaps: A Win Win

I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t love a good ol’ fashioned ad swap.

You’re probably wondering, “what in the world is an ad swap?”

Well, for those who don’t know. An ad swap is simply a method of trading ads with your partner and promoting it to your email list.

Ad Swap Image

Ad swaps allow you to gain exposure to other targeted markets and you’ll be able to take advantage of your partner’s marketing efforts.

In addition to potential sales, you’ll be able to drive those potential buyers/subscribers to your site.

Although, not all lists are equal.

You may have a list of 400, or even 4,000. While your partner may have a list of 10,000.

But generally speaking, it stands to reason that the larger your list, the larger the potential to earn big money.

Product Promotions

Ad swaps are a form of product promotions. The only difference is, you’re not obligated to share your partners product.

These promotions can be reviews, recommendations, or even a simple link back to your site.

What’s so great about them is that, if your partner approves of the product, his or her audience will likely purchase it.

Reason for that is because they’ve already built a trustworthy relationship.

So how can you get an influencer to recommend your product?

Create something irresistible!

Ivana Kitanovic, a writer at Rabbut that has become a killer resource for all things blogging, recently wrote the article, “Tricks on Expanding Your Blog and Growing Your Audience,” that received over 450 shares. She said,

“To grow your audience in stunning numbers, you need to get influencers to write for you. Yes, you heard right. Find the top influencers in your field and offer them to write for you. As you know, that’s a tough job, so you’ll need something irresistible to make them accept.”

Make a product that offers as much value as possible before you approach an influencer. This will put you in a situation where you’re able to provide the influencer with a return worth their time.

Landing a Successful Partnership

Even if you’re creating killer content that’s absolutely worth sharing doesn’t mean it’ll get the attention it deserves.

Your content could take years to generate a natural following, and most business/blogs do not have the sort of time.

That’s why landing partnerships is vital to your blog’s success.

So how do you do it?

Well, first you need to find influencers in your industry.

Finding Influencers in Your Niche

The easiest way to find influencers is to use Buzzsumo.

You’ve probably heard of this from previous articles or read about it on other sites, but what it is, is essentially a tool that you can use to research article topics, and influencers on a given topic.

So let’s say you’re stuck on what you should write about next for your lifestyle blog.

You can then head over to Buzzsumo and type in the topic you want to research, we’ll say you have a minimalist lifestyle blog.

So you type in the keyword, “minimalism.”

Buzzsumo Research Image

And seconds later, hundreds of articles will pop up. The awesome thing about this is that you’ll see how many times each one is shared. That’s a little bit of validation for you!

Buzzsumo Research Results Image

But We Want Influencers!

Finding influencers is as easy as clicking a button.

Simply click on the “Influencers” button at the top left of the navigation bar, and then you’re on your way to the races!

Buzzsumo Influencer Button Image

These are all the influencers in your niche that you can reach out to, spark up a conversation with, or even collaborate with!

Buzzsumo Influencer Results Image

You never know until you try. (;

You’re probably wondering how you can approach these people, so let’s cover that now!

Goal Setting for Two

A simple and effective way to land a partnership is by sparking up a simple conversation about a goal or proposition.

If you have a goal in mind, invite an influencer to a conversation and discuss how reaching your goal with their help will benefit them.

Let them know what they’ll get in return for collaborating with you.

In the article, “How to Use Influencers to Build Your Brand’s Own Audience,Aubre Andrus a content strategists and editor for Contently wrote that,

“But the best strategy is simple: Have a clear and comprehensive strategy. Invite the influencer to join the conversation and decide together how this partnership can benefit the both of you. Part of your strategy is goal-setting: Do you want to increase brand awareness? Or sell a product? Or increase attendance for an event? Then decide how you can best reach this goal together.”

The reason for this is because creating a relationship with someone who’s become a staple in your niche takes quite a bit of work. Influencers don’t want to collaborate with just anyone.

They want to see that you absolutely love what you believe in, they want to see how you can offer their community value, and of course what you can offer them.

What if you’re feeling a bit spontaneous one day and decide to just send an email to an influencer without first engaging in a civil conversation?

Pitching a Proposal to an Influencer

When you’re reaching out to a potential partner, you don’t want to say just anything. Chances are, you’ll come off as unprofessional or insincere.

So there’s a few things that you should mention in your email to prevent any unwanted deception. In fact, there’s 4 must-haves that you need to address.

Those 4 are:

  1. Why you want to partner with him/her
  2. How you think you two could benefit from each other ( usually include some statistics about your site )
  3. Your goal to achieve through the partnership
  4. The results you expect to gain from achieving that goal

It’s important to keep your emails short, descriptive and concise. Not everyone has the time to read through a super long email so it’s best to keep each must-have between 2-3 sentences.

It may take some time for you to get a response however. If it turns out that you don’t get one, don’t be discouraged!

We’ve been turned down plenty of times until we were able to actually offer something of real value.

Just know that everyone has different goals, and everyone has different plans for their business.

Don’t Take It For Granted

Too many bloggers have taken partnerships for granted.

After they got what they wanted, they can sometimes fall off the grid.

I get it. There’s no reason to stick around anymore right?

That couldn’t be further from the truth however.

You should appreciate your partnership! They aren’t always available whenever you want them to be. You can easily stay in touch by just sending regular updates, product launches, upcoming events, or even let them know about new ideas you have.

Hell, you can even send them some freebies if you’re feeling generous!


Super Size Your Email List with One Simple Strategy

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Super Size Your Email List Featured Image

Starting a blog from scratch is no stroll in the park. But there’s a few things that you can do to make your life a lot easier all while growing your email list like never before.

It’s been said a hundred times before, “understand your audience.”

And you really should.

If you’re able to understand your audience, then you’re able to write for them, and speak to them in a way that they’ll understand.

But how do you even begin to identify your audience? Let alone understand them.

Laser Focus Your Content by Creating a Simple Readers Persona

Sign up here to get instant access to our 10 min video training that shows you how we went viral and got 2200 course sign ups (with only 6 hours work) by creating a persona

Going viral with a reader persona

In addition to video training, you’ll receive training on using different call-to-actions, our social media calendar that’ll quadruple your traffic, and tons more!


Send Me The Guide!

Establishing a Connection with Your Audience

Lesya Liu, a contributor to who wrote more than a dozen successful articles recently said in the post “How to Create Stellar Content Your Audience Will Love to Share,

“Your content should be so brilliant that your audience can’t help but share it, repin it, and bookmark it. Yet, to create it, you have to understand what informational gaps people in your audience have. You have to uncover their pain points, and what issues they’re facing right now to be able to provide a solution.”

Now, this is absolutely true.

All it takes is reader persona. Or if you’re selling a product then it’ll take a customer persona.

Click here to get instant access to video training on creating a super simple persona.

Let’s just lay everything out on the table.

It takes 3 simple steps to develop a reader persona.

1. Where Does Your Audience Hang Out?

Find the communities that seem to well up-to-date and with an abundance of content. Of course only target these communities if they fit in with your desired target audience.

For my personal blog, I used Reddit to easily discover these communities. All I did was search a general keyword.

Reddit Community Search

This resulted in a pretty large community of over 150 thousand people.

I was then able to subscribe and start engaging with people. Simply by commenting and help others!

2. What Does Your Audience Want to Learn?

Once you’ve started engaging with your community of choice, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what they want to learn.

What’s even better is, people will post questions, asking for advice or how to do a certain thing. At times it does get redundant but that’s okay!

The more people that want to learn a single topic, the more traffic you can gain!

Here are a few questions that you can ask yourself to understand what your audience wants:

  1. Why do they want to learn about your niche?
  2. How will it benefit them?
  3. Why is it important to them?

3. Create Content That They Absorb The Most

If your audience is used to watching YouTube video tutorials, then start making videos!

If your audience is used to listening to podcasts, start a podcast.

If your audience loves 2000 word articles, well, you get the point.

Here’s a reddit post that I submitted that validate an article I had recently wrote for Project Pivotal.

Reddit Validation Image

Put It All Together!

This reader persona will make the difference between hundreds of subscribers and zero subscribers, or hundreds of sales and zero sales.

The more you can understand your audience and tailor your content to their specific needs and desires, the more they’ll love your blog and subscribe to receive everything you have to offer.

Lucky for you, we have a 10 minute video on creating a simple reader persona.

5 Writing Hacks to Create 300% More Effective Blog Content

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The basis of blogging is the content you create.

If you’re read the Pivotal blog at all, you’ll know that I put a high price on content distribution and getting traffic. But the truth is only great content gets attention no matter where you post it!

That’s why I compiled these 7 writing hacks that I use to create 300% better content.

How to write like a productivity guru

What if you could create awesome content in no time at all?

As bloggers, our main struggle is fighting against the clock. We would create content that blows our reader’s away every week – if only we had time.

With that in mind, let me share with you my favorite writing hack that allows me to create great content in nearly half the time that it took me to before.

The secret is something simple, but you’re probably overlooking it, or doing it ineffectively.

1) How to write great content 100% Faster

It’s all about a little word called outlining.

Yep, you read that right.

What I do is outline multiple articles at one time, especially during peak creativity times. Now here’s the real trick.

Just come up with a title of what you think would be interesting. If you’re at a loss, go type in some keywords into Google or BuzzSumo.

Once you have your title, write it down, and come up with at least 5 subtopics in succession under that topic.

Do you realize what you’ve just done?

You’ve now just shifted your blog post writing from working on a blank canvas, which is proven to be one of humanity’s most challenging tasks (creating from scratch,) to a simple fill in the blank exercise.

Now instead of thinking to yourself “Oh crap! I need to come up with a blog post idea!” as your busy week goes on, you just have to open up your doc, and fill it in.

2) This also does a little secret thing that get’s you more traffic

Don’t you hate BuzzFeed? The internet’s haven for clickbait and largely content that lacks substance. Even when I like Buzzfeed, I still kind of dislike Buzzfeed.

But they are a hugely successful company, for one specific technique that they use, which I’m sharing with you right now. You’ve probably heard of it before, but before you get turned off and leave, hear me out.

One word. Listicles.

Yes, those annoying articles that usually have titles like “22 Pictures That Prove Kim Kardashian Was Once Exactly Like Us” (Actual title from Buzzfeed right now)


But it’s been proven time and time again that list based posts naturally pull in more traffic. 71% more traffic in fact (

create a high quality list post

So how can we balance this technique while still delivering the high quality content that we know our reader’s love?

Well even though they have a bad reputation, no one ever said that list based articles have to be low quality.

So since you’ve already outlined your post, it will be easy to make it a high quality list post that is primed to pull in more traffic, draw more reader interest, and be easier to read.

We are all busy, knowing that we can digest the content in a list based manner is more attractive us and busy people.

So now you’re primed to get more clicks, but that’s not all that matters…

Once you get people to your site, is that the end? Have you already won the battle?

It’s a shame, but many bloggers just look at their traffic stats for their feeling of success. But there are 2 other numbers which are arguably more important. They are:

1) Time on Site

2) # of people who sign up for your newsletter

I’ll tell you why.

You don’t just need people to visit your site, you need them to engage with your brand, and become loyal followers. That’s the most important part of blogging, especially for all of you out there who want to make some money off of your blog.

3) Want to know how I doubled Industry average time on site and increased conversions to my newsletter by 500%?

Increase your visitors time on site

It was actually very simple. All this happens purely in the way that you structure your content.

Let’s go over some of my favorite strategies for structuring your content.

How to Structure Your Blog Content

You want to focus on just a couple of things.

Readability, and checkpoints that refocus on your reader.

4) Quick tips for structuring your post for readability:

  • Ditch the long paragraphs – It’s difficult to read long paragraphs on the web. Usually the more line breaks you have, the better
  • Always have a headline in sight – It’s easy for visitors to lose interest in your article and ultimately leave your site (called bouncing.) Evenly spaced out and interesting headlines draw them back in, even if they’ve become bored by one subject. Just look at this article to see how it’s done!
  • Images – Use Canva to save some image templates and add useful images to your post. The more images the better, as it keeps your visitors visually engaged, while your content is keep them mentally engaged

This will keep your reader engaged with your article enough to become familiar with your brand, especially if they are spending close to 5 minutes on your site.

5) Now you go in for the kill

If your visitors are spending a long time on your site, they are obviously enjoying what they are reading, or learning a lot. Which means now is the perfect time to get them to sign up for your newsletter.

If you want to make a profit off of your blog, building a newsletter is by far the absolute best way! You can learn more about how to do that in my training, the Profitable Blog Bootcamp, but no matter what your blogging goals are, building a newsletter is a must.

Once you’ve done everything in this post, your readers will be warmed up, and engaged and now you can offer them your post’s content upgrade.

What’s a content upgrade?

This is the way that I increased my website’s conversions by more than 500%. In short, a content upgrade is a call to action, made specifically for the blog post that you are working on.

This makes it so that 100% of the readers reading your blog post will be interested in what your content upgrade is about, since they originally clicked on the article expressing interest in the subject.

content upgrades for better results

Once you’ve done all of this, you are well on your way to having a much more successful blog post.


So in this post, we covered:

  • How to write better content, twice as fast
  • How to position and title that content to get more clicks
  • How to increase visitor engagement with your brand
  • How to get your blog visitors to sign up for your newsletter

Not bad for a single post! Do you have any questions? What do you want me to write about next?

Let me know in the comments section!

Getting Your First Email Subscribers and What to Do with Them

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Getting Your First Email Subscribers and What to Do WIth Them

Today we’re introducing the newest member to Project Pivotal! If you’re on my email list, you’d know that I’m making great changes to Project Pivotal. By bringing in one more person, we can start to release fine tuned content on a weekly basis!

Without further ado, this is Wesley! He is a web developer and designer, specializing in full stack development, but he is also a newbie to the blogging scene! That’s why I knew it’d be great to bring him on board because he can share all of his experience, as a beginner, with all of you guys.

Alright everyone, Travis signing out, enjoy the article!

A lot of new bloggers are reluctant to create a newsletter. I for one was actually really scared to. I honestly had no clue what my emails would be used for, or how to even write a proper email that provides any value.

As a matter of fact, I didn’t really know what a newsletter was. I mean, I’ve seen newsletters from major clothing stores. But I wasn’t sure why I would need such an email.

So let me share what I’ve learned about newsletters.

Straight to their Inbox

The truth is, every online business should have an email newsletter, but what are they for?

Newsletters allow businesses to connect with their customers, their audience, their users, etc.

People that are interested in what you have to offer will sign up for your newsletter because you have something that gives them value. Not only that, but it allows you to communicate with your viewers on a more personal level!

If you really wanted to, you could send personal emails to each subscriber to ask how they’re doing or ask for feedback! Take it from Pat Flynn, an entrepreneur, but more importantly a family man. He was laid off back in 2008 from an incredible career at an architectural firm and was in a bind because he was soon to be married. Fortunately, he was able to create an online business for himself which has now become a staple in the blogging community.

In the article, “The Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Newsletter and Email List,” Flynn says,

“It’s a great way to communicate with your audience on a more personal level. There’s just something about receiving an email from somebody that makes it extremely effective at getting a point across, or making people take some kind of action.”

In my opinion, communicating with my subscribers is a huge motivator. Knowing that they’re interested in my content and willing to take time out of their day to help me make it better is something that is taken for granted way too often. That’s why here at Project Pivotal we try to respond to every comment, every email, and every tweet.

But we also know that getting those first few subscribers is a lot of work! That’s why we’ve put together some of our greatest techniques on growing your list that’ll work for any blog. To kick things off, we’ll discuss content.

Content is King

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying before, “Content is King.”

In a lot of ways that’s true, but it isn’t the quantity that makes it so valuable. Creating epic content that solves a problem is what makes it king. If it solves someone’s problem, chances are that they’ll likely subscribe to your email list.

In the article, “5 Reasons Why Content is King,Teagan West, head of marketing and customer acquisition at Scrunch, a company that developed an incredible mobile application that allows you to search through millions of pieces of content, blogs, and it allows you to manage and analyze influencer campaigns, says that,

“Instead, a focus on creating unique, high-quality and utterly authentic content that is entertaining, useful and interesting for consumers will get you the crown. From text, video and imagery to infographics, surveys, webinars and podcasts, whatever your preferred content medium is, ensure it is shareable and relevant to your industry.”

Epic content is very time consuming, at first, but it’s well worth it in the long run.

You could spend 30+ hours on creating an in depth guide on a topic, distribute it, promote it, and watch it bring in hundreds and hundreds of visitors to your site, here’s a guide on how to do exactly that.

However, there’s a few of critical pieces of content that need to be included in your article. To name a couple you definitely need,

  1. Influencer quotes
  2. Visual elements (images, SlideShare, infographics)

Adding in just those 2 factors will increase the quality of your content drastically.

The influencer quotes will increase credibility, proving that you know how to do your research and showing that you’re taking the time to add value.

And visual elements help your article appeal to those who are visual learners, since not everyone likes to read as much as others.

Keep in mind that there’s a lot more that you could do to create high converting content, so for a complete checklist to creating epic content, sign up here.


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High Converting Website Cover Image

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The Content Upgrade

For those of you that don’t know, a content upgrade is just a piece of bonus content that people can gain access to in exchange for their email.

These content upgrades are usually specific to each individual blog post, which distinguishes them from sitewide products.

The problem with this is that it requires additional work but shelling out that extra bit of time and effort to create some bonus content is well worth the struggle.

Doing so will increase your  conversions, after all, articles with content upgrades still convert at a higher rate than articles with none.

Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko, which has become a staple in the world of content marketing, wrote an article about how using content upgrades can boost your conversion rates exponentially in just one day. In the article titled, “How To Boost Conversions by 785% in One Day (The Content Upgrade)” he says,

“I decided to see if giving away a post-specific resource would increase conversions on my blog post: Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List.

Before implementing the Content Upgrade, that page was converting at .54%.

Not horrible for a blog post…but not great either.

On June 1st I created a checklist and added LeadPages links to the to top and bottom of that post.

The result? A 785% increase in conversions (compared to the previous month).”

Think of it this way.

People are already viewing your content and clicking through your articles because they find them beneficial. That means that they’re obviously somewhat interested in what your post is about. So in order to convert those people to subscribers, you offer them something that’s better than what they’re reading.

Depending on how well you make use of your CTA’s, you could generate amazingly high conversion rates, but keep in mind that you will need to  drive the necessary traffic to convert at a high rate.

Keep the Traffic Moving

Driving traffic to your site is an absolute necessity. Without new visitors, your conversion rate will drop to absolute zero. Without new visitors, your email list will be dead in the water.

Okay, maybe that’s a little over the top.

There are plenty of ways to keep your email list growing, but driving traffic to your site is obviously the go to step.

In order to drive traffic to your website or to a specific post, there’s a few techniques that you should do that guarantee you high quality targeted traffic.

1. Reaching Out to Influencers

The number one thing you can do to drive high quality targeted traffic to your site is to reach out to influencers in your niche.

Dean also wrote an awesome guide that laid out his 4 techniques to driving traffic to your blog in the article, “Want to Increase Website Traffic? Follow These 4 Steps.” He stated,

“Bottom line: Publishing content that appeals to your target customer isn’t enough. You need content that your influencers want to share with their audience.”

Which means, if influencers in your marketing niche care about your content, and are interested in it, they’ll likely share your article with their audience. They may tweet it out, feature you, or even let you guest post on their blog!

Simple tweets can generate hundreds of new subscribers. An old article of Project Pivotal’s, “How to Get Blog Traffic: 13 Steps to Thousands of Readers,” was actually tweeted by Brian Dean himself! That reached 17 retweets and thousands of followers.

influencer tweets

2. Guest Blogging

In many ways, guest blogging / posting is a lot being tweeted about by an influencer.

There’s a bunch of reasons why you should take the time to guest post on other blogs. Not only that, but you should also allow others to guest post on your blog.

Just to list out the benefits of guest blogging:

  1. You’ll build relationships
  2. You build backlinks back to your site

Guest Posts Build Relationships!

Believe it or not, guest posting isn’t always just about the numbers.

It provides you with the opportunity to establish a friendship with other bloggers. This allows you to become a larger influence in your niche.

Don’t get me wrong, this is of course lead to more subscribers because now you’re exposed to a larger portion of the community, but creating this relationship is what’s essential.

This was put simply by Jeff Goins, the author of 4 books including the national bestseller, The Art of Work. In the article, “3 Ways Guest Posting Can Help Grow Your Online Audience,” Goins stated,

“By making friends with other bloggers through guest posting, you’re going to grow your influence in the realm of social media, which will ultimately lead to more blog subscribers.”

To make things even better, these guest posts will land you backlinks!

Guest Posts Builds Backlinks!

Not a lot people know what backlinks are, so to break it down, backlinks are just links that are mentioned on another website about a different website.

If I were to post a link on my personal blog to this article on Project Pivotal, that’d be a backlink. Now the question still remains.

Why do backlinks matter?

The answer is actually quite simple. With more high quality backlinks, you’ll be ranked higher on search engines. However, you can’t just go around the interwebs and start plugging a link to your blog anywhere you can.

Search engines have become way too smart. They now determine the quality of the link by considering the content of the it. If the inbound traffic to the link is has relevant content, the backlink will be considered higher quality. And of course, lower quality if the traffic is less relevant.

Goins also said, “Over time, these backlinks will raise the value of your blog to search engines, making your content easier to find via Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others.”

Which essentially means, your traffic will increase when people are searching for relevant content and come across your article or articles, which eventually leads to more subscribers!

3. Posting to Communities

Republishing and distributing your content gives you the added benefit of attracted people from tons of different sources. You could share a link to your article in pretty much any community or forum that best fits the topic!

For personal blog, I shared my articles on Reddit, more specifically, the webdev and web_design subreddits. Here’s an example of one of my most popular link submissions.

Reddit Content Distribution

This submission alone gave me a visitor spike of over 400 users to that single post! In the long run, I’ve received over 500 new visitors to my site. I have to admit though, it’s been 2 weeks since I logged onto my site. I’ve neglected it a bit too much this month. But here’s the analytics for that post!

Codewithwes Google Analytics

After They’ve Subscribed

People believe that once you started generating enough high quality traffic to bring in a decent amount of subscribers, you can start sending newsletters.

In a way that’s true, that’s essentially what it’ll boil down to, but there’s a few key steps you need to take prior to sending any mass email.

The Autoresponder

When a new visitor subscribes to just a general newsletter, they have to wait until you write up email, and send it out. That could take weeks depending on how often you write general newsletters.

Note: It’s important to keep up engagement but it’s also important not to spam your subscribers. At Project Pivotal, we send only 2 emails per week.

So when it’s crucial that you don’t forget about your new subscribers.

One way to make sure they’re informed about your publication dates, features, etc., is to create an autoresponder.

Well, what exactly is an autoresponder?

An autoresponder is extremely straightforward, it’s just an email that is automatically sent when a new user subscribes to your email list.

This autoresponder doesn’t have to be anything fancy, or anything complicated. All you have to do is welcome your new user to the community and preferably let he or she know a few details about your blog.

After this first email is when things get a little more strategic.

The First Email

Writing an email is simple, getting your subscribers to open the email is another story.

It’s not difficult to write an enticing title but it does take a little bit of brain power. But once you’ve created an awesome title for your email, you can simply write the actual meat of it.

It should include a short description of a new or relatively new article that you’ve written. And of course, you’ll want to add a link that the use can click so they can read more about it.

A recently updated email campaign study by MailChimp states that, about 21% of subscribers open newsletters, and that’s for the Education and Training Industry. That’ll vary depending on your niche, however.

About 3% of those people who open your emails will actually click on a link. One way to ensure your hard work isn’t taken for granted and that your users actually benefit from it is to send a follow up email.

The Follow Up

Following up with your subscribers is a great way to engage with them.

The follow up should include a simple description of the original post in case they missed out on the first email, and a link to that article. If that post has a content upgrade, you should provide that too.

Here’s a very simple example of one of our follow up emails that we sent out last week!

Follow up email example

Maximum Engagement

Engagement is a lot more than just asking how someone is doing, or making sure your content is beneficial. It’s about caring for the success of others. That’s what we, as content marketers, do. We provide content that adds value.

Doing so just happens to create tons of benefits that you can use to your advantage. But if you’re creating epic content, distributing it, and increasing your engagement, you’re not only setting yourself up for success, but you’re establishing a community that will stand by your product and see it through.

Now if you’ve made it this far, and you haven’t made a newsletter yet. Stop everything and get started. The more you distribute your content without a newsletter available. The more business you lose! After all, The Money is in The List.

Click here to sign up for our Ultimate Resource Guide for Growing Your Blog

3 Fundamentals of Choosing a Profitable Blog Niche You’re Still Passionate About

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So many aspiring bloggers struggle with it.

You have a desire to someday make a living off of your blog, but you still want to blog about something that you love. Should you just choose to blog about something that you think will make you money, or something that you love? Is it even possible to do both at the same time?

This comes down to the age old question that so many of us struggle with. Can you actually make money doing something that you love?

The answer is yes!

It is totally possible to do. In fact, there’s a simple structure that you can follow to discover topics that you love, that will still be able to make you money in the long run.

Here is that process.

Brainstorm and Determine Your Blogging Style

1. Start with some ideas brainstorm a list of ideas that you would LOVE to write about.

Many people have a hard time with this. Especially for those that don’t really like to write in the first place. It’s a shame that so many get stuck here.

But you still want a profitable blog, right?

So you have to push on! For most people, this starts with a question of who you are. I call this “knowing yourself.”

One of the biggest roadblocks for people in this stage is they think that in order to blog about something, you have to be an expert at it. WRONG!

Some of the best blogs in the world have been journals of people writing about something that they love, from an amateur perspective. So don’t think with these typical confines. Just make a list of things that you love and things that interest you. Here is what my list looks like.

Travis’ List:

  • Travel
  • Building Furniture
  • Managing Finances/investing
  • Entrepreneurship (duh!)
  • Music (Namely guitar and piano)
  • Cooking
  • Creative writing

Once you have a list of your basic interests (Make it as long as possible! The longer the better) it’s time to figure out your style. This is going to help you turn your interests into actual blog topics.

For instance, music is one of my interests, but teaching guitar is an actual blog topic.

DIY furniture is one of my interests, but a journey to mastering woodworking is a blog topic.

Here’s how to come to these conclusions.

Learn Your Style

To help guide your blog topics of things that you’d love to write about ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you like to teach?
  • Do you like to organize?
  • Do you like to disrupt?
  • Do you like to nurture?
  • Are you naturally curious?
  • Do you like to keep people informed?
  • Do you find something to be really messed up?
  • Have you had a really hard time with anything?
  • Do you like to optimize?

For me I like to teach, because I like to help people not run into the same problems that I’ve run into before. I also like to optimize, and help people be more efficient at what they do.

This means I will naturally lean toward blogs that focus more on teaching better ways to do something.

In all, I see different blog styles being:

Teaching and Tutorials – Blogs that focus on teaching readers how to do something better. Can consist of tutorials, case studies, journals etc.

Journals – Blogs that follow your journey to doing something. This could be a travel blog, parenting blog, or even learning how to cook. Just apply this style to one of your interests.

Story blog (fiction or non-fiction) – Many people blog as a creative expression, and use their site as a platform to tell stories.

Opinion/essay blogs (current events, parenting) – These blogs focus on getting relevant opinions out into the world in an interesting fashion.

News blogs – Blogs that focus on covering news in a certain niche. For instance if I started a music blog, I could cover the latest news about the industry, or even get as granular to covering specific news about a specific instrument.

Research and Reports – These blogs mainly focus on doing extensive research into your topic and presenting your findings in an easy to read and understand manner.

Case Studies – This is a more active (and fun) approach because you act as a guinea pig to accomplish a goal within your blog topic. You can also interview other people and write case studies on them.

Review Blogs – These blogs focus on review products, services and experiences based around your topic.

Now once you apply these blog styles to your passions, you will start to come up with different blog topics that are interesting for you to write about. Obviously some will make more sense than others! 😉

2. Now brainstorm a list of ideas that you think would be profitable.

Many people have things that they would like to write about, but don’t think that they’d be profitable.

So what you should do at this point, is make a list of 3-4 blog ideas that you think would be profitable.

These may intersect with your ideas for what you’d love to write about, and it they do that’s great! But they don’t always, which is why some of you will need to push your mind to think of some blog ideas that you think would make money.

A starting point for a lot of people is seeing blogs that already seem successful and thinking “I could do that too.” But a few other ways to identify niches are to reflect on your experiences on the internet, and see where money was being made. Just through your typical online browsing activity, ask yourself where do you see money being made? It’s all around you!

Usually answers will be along the lines of:

  • You see lots of ecommerce stores in that industry
  • You see lots of courses released on this topic
  • You would buy a product related to it
  • You see a lot of ads targeting specific products

You can take your ideas from this part of the process, and go back to the blog styles list above and think of types of blogs that would make sense around different subjects.

Real Life Examples:

Right now as I scroll through my Facebook feed I’m seeing multiple ads. The great thing about these ads, is most of them are retargeted, so you’ll see ads from sites you’ve been visiting lately, which will naturally show you ads of things you’re interested in. This will be different for everyone!

Here are some examples for me:

Facebook targeting ad 2

I’m being targeted by a landing page building software. There are many different routes I could take with this one, but I’ll go with the teaching and tutorials angle. This one would also walk the line of being a review blog as well, but as I mentioned, the lines sometimes get blurred and it’s up to you what your blog’s primary focus will be.

Blog: How to use the latest software to build your online business

Lead Magnet: How to make your business 5X more effective with the latest tools

Monetization model: Sign up for the affiliate programs of all different types of software in my niche and teach free video tutorials to push people to sign up for the service through my affiliate link. This would also build me an email list in the online business niche, where I could promote a multitude of other affiliate products and courses that I like.

Facebook targeting ad 3

I’m being targeted by bootcamps that teach you different coding languages.

For this type of blog I could start a journal where I learn different coding languages and blog to my followers about shortcuts they could implement to learn faster. These types of blogs are evergreen because you pretty much serve as a guinea pig to test things out, then give your readers the low down. Pivotal does this in many aspects, especially when I was first starting out. Here’s what I came up with:

Blog: Watch me learn to code, Journal blog that covers my journey to learning different coding languages.

Lead magnet: Save 25 hours learning (insert coding language here) with my shortcut cheat sheet

Monetization: Create and sell beginners guides in my unique teaching style to learning different coding languages. I could also promote books and coding bootcamps that I like as an affiliate.

Facebook targeting ad 1

I’m being targeted to hire freelancers. I could start a case study blog that tests the best freelancers and ranks them. If I built an email list around this I could feature Freelancers to my list and charge them a fee for getting new business.

I could also create or promote products on how to outsource tasks to maximize your productivity, and I would have plenty of case studies and examples since my blog would follow this format anyway.

I could also sell a rolodex of my best freelancers

Blog: Freelancers Reviewed, case study blog

Lead Magnet: List of my 5 best freelancers that increased my productivity by 5X

Monetization: Feature affiliated freelancers to newsletter for a fee, release/promote affiliate products that show you strategies to outsource tasks in your business/life.

Now that you have some ideas down, it’s time for you to do some research so you can validate or invalidate them.

Research and Validate

Now we need to find the money, or make sure the revenue potential is there. This is the most vital part, since all we’ve got so far is ideas. Even if you’ve gone through the exercise above where I came up with ideas for profitable blogs, it’s still important to walk through this to determine which option is the best for you.

To do this, we’re going to do some research on a few sites, that will show you if people are making money, and how much in the niches you’re considering to enter.

But stop right there!

Most average people would see this as competition, and they’d think it was impossible to enter the niche. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

In reality, seeing people already releasing products and making money is one of the best signs that you could make money in that niche as well. Instead of viewing other people as competition, it’s more realistic to view them as potential partners. In reality, most bloggers, and many business owners in the same niche end up working together to grow online.

With that in mind, here’s how you can discover whether or not there is money being made in your niche!


Search for keywords in your niche on Amazon. If there are plenty of physical products it can be a good sign, because you can promote these and generate commissions from them.

But as a blogger we know that most of the money for us is in courses. Formatting, teaching and delivering information is the primary value we deliver to the world, and something that is still needed no matter how many bloggers come onto the scene.

So you will want to specifically search the Amazon books and Kindle section to see what kinds of things are being written about, how much they are selling for, and how many people are reviewing them. Here’s how to do that.

Say I took an idea from my list of what I’d love to write about and wanted to start a blog about DIY furniture building.

Put in a keyword related to your niche in the Amazon search bar

search amazon

Now keep note of how many search results there are, and how many reviews the products are receiving.

lots of people purchasing books

By reading the reviews you will also uncover a treasure trove full of topics that you could write about in the niche. Especially in the critical reviews.

find blog topics on amazon

Keep note of the books and ebooks that are listed here and use the following numbers are your benchmark.

If there are 20+ books on your topic with at least 5 having 50+ reviews that means that this topic gets a thumbs up on the Amazon front.

This means that this topic is popular on Amazon, and is the first step to proving that there is a market and money to be made behind your blog topic. Remember that you can write your own ebooks on Amazon, and you can promote other people’s ebooks there for a commission.

Note: Some people blog with the intention of selling physical products and some point, which is fine. Do that same exercise on Amazon just for your product’s niche.


The next stop on our validation list is my old friend Clickbank.

Clickbank is the internet’s longest lasting affiliate marketplace for information products. Many people still use it, although it was probably at its peak in around 2008.

The key here is you can discover information products in your niche, and Clickbank actually tells you how well they are selling.

Here’s how to find that out.

Go to Clickbank and search for your blog topic’s keyword in the Affiliate Marketplace

clickbank blog topic finder

Now sort your results by “Gravity.” On Clickbank gravity is a somewhat complicated score that they have that pretty much tells you whether or not people are making sales on that product currently. It only takes into account sales made on a certain product within the last few months.

The higher the gravity, the more sales are being made currently. The lower the gravity, the fewer sales are being made. It’s not a one to one ratio (ex. for every point 1 person has made a sale) it’s just a scoreboard. But don’t worry, I’m about to tell you how to interpret it.

clickbank woodworking example

Now use these numbers as your benchmark for Clickbank. I like to use a rule of 20’s here.

As long as the average commission per product is at least $20 and the gravity is 20+ these are likely solid and worthwhile products to promote. But of course, the higher the better.

Now as long as at least 3 products fit this bill, I’d say it’s worth looking into. But the other thing that you’ll want to look at is the amount of loosely related products that a woodworking audience would still be interested in, their gravity and Avg. $ a sale.

For instance there are products the directly address the woodworking crowd, but things like building birdhouses, playhouses other DIY stuff etc. would also interest the crowd, and could be promoted to them.

So I would look for at least 3 products that closely fit the bill for specific products, and 10+ loosely related products.

Remember, that you can promote these products to generate revenue, but you can also create your own products. This is a great indicator that people are buying courses in your niche, and it even shows you how much they are paying for them.


Udemy isn’t the best place to sell a course for many reasons (mainly because the only way people by courses there is if they discount them to almost nothing,) and they definitely are lopsided more toward tech/online niches. But it can still be used as a great indicator to find out how much demand people have for your blog topic idea.

To do this, go to Udemy and search for your topic.

Udemy marketplace for blog topcis


Now you’ll want to click on the most popular courses, and see how many people are enrolled in them.

udemy course enrollment

I won’t give you solid numbers to gauge your niche based off of udemy, because like I said, it is a generally lopsided marketplace.

So here is how you should score Udemy.

As long as there are at least a few (3-5) courses with a couple hundred students, give this blog topic a thumbs up for Udemy.

Remember that you can create your own courses here (great for exposure, not so much for revenue) and you can promote other people’s courses as well.

See my guide on how to build an audience of 1000+ and profit with only 6 hours work on Udemy.

Search Engines

Many times the best money in blogging is being made outside of the networks like Clickbank, Amazon, etc. You have people that have large brands that don’t have to rely on any of these networks, because those networks do cut into your profits. Most $1M+ earners from their blog that I know, don’t even use these networks, because they don’t have to anymore.

It is very possible to partner up with these people at some point, but to look for some more indicators on whether or not your chosen niche would be worthwhile, we need to get a grip on where these people are!

To do that, we can search for these people.

Depending on your niche landscape, you may be able to find an abundance of different products, or hardly any at all! For instance in the online business niche I could name 10 huge brands right off of the top of my head, without even having to search.

Searching Google the old fashioned way can make it very confusing because it will bring a large mixture of results. For this niches where it’s a lot harder to identify, like woodworking, we’ll start off with a great search engine called Blog Search Engine. This tools searches the internet just for blogs, which makes it way easier to sort through!

Just type in your niche topic to the search engine:

woodworking search query

Now you just have to go through the results one by one to see blogs in your space. Click on each, and browse around their websites.

Blog search engine for woodworking

You will immediately start to see ways that these bloggers are monetizing, and you will be able to make educated guesses to how well they’re doing by looking at the following things:

  • How professional their site and graphic design is
  • Look for any numbers that they have published, such as email subscribers, Facebook followers, Twitter followers etc.
  • Look at any products that they are selling. How much are they charging?

This step will be up to your opinion. Based off of the blogs that you are looking at, do you think you could create something cool and make money in the space?

I can say that for my wood working example this section has good blogs and products, but nothing that I see standing out.

The second way to use Good Ol’ Google for this.

Search google for the following queries, with the quotation marks and plus signs just as you see them below.

“your keyword” + “course”

“your keyword” + “ebook”

“your keyword” + “product launch”

“your keyword” + “product launch”

“your keyword” + “income report”

In order to see where the larger earners are in a given niche you may have to search for a more broad niche. For instance, instead of Woodworking, I had to search for “DIY,” “renovation,” “home building,” and “furniture blueprints.”

If you can find more than a few blogs that seem to be doing well, give it a thumbs up for this section.

Now it’s time to move on the the last step.

Prioritize and Grade

Now look at what you’ve got. By now you will have gone through each of your niche ideas and got a very balanced view of the landscape.

As far as your passions and revenue potential, which ones are the best?

Which ones are the worst?

You will most likely find that a few of your interests are pretty close on the profit potential scale, in which case it’s best to choose the one that interests you the most.

You’re much more likely to work harder, and create a bigger success on blogs that interest you more! Just look at this post! I could have easily written a 500 word post, but I’m passionate about this topic, so I just naturally wrote a 3000+ word guide which will help my readers much more, and get me better results in the long run.

And that’s all it takes!

Do you have any questions? If so, I’m happy to answer them in the comments!

Steal My Strategy: A-Z Guide to Create, Promote and Profit off of a Blog Post

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When bloggers are first starting out, it can be a little discouraging to sit in front of your computer and write an awesome blog post, only to know that barely anyone will read it.

That’s how I felt.

I mean, I had a few subscribers and a few Twitter followers but I knew that I didn’t have the type of audience to read my posts that I felt that I deserved.

I knew that I had to write a blog post that was EPIC, if I wanted to get more attention.

The only problem is, it can be a double edged sword.

If I’m going to write an amazing blog post that takes 20+ hours to create, should I wait until I have a bigger audience. What if I spend all that time and hardly anyone reads it?

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So what should you do?

When bloggers are just starting off, I always advise them to write a few epic posts to kickstart their blog.


Because it will pay off big time in the long run.

The key is to overcome that fear that no one is going to read it initially, and put a process in place that will guarantee to showcase your hard work to thousands of people for months (and years) to come.​

Let me show you how that works

The Post that took me 30+ Hours to Create​

When I first started Project Pivotal, I was in your boat. Not many readers, and a burning desire to get more. That was about that time that I finally made the time to do what I had been putting off for a long time.

Write the post that I knew would catapult me past my current level of very little subscribers.

So I went and created my post, which ironically enough, was a super epic blog post titled "How to Get Blog Traffic: 13 Steps to Thousands of Readers."

It took some of my experience working with previous blogs and companies, and compiled it into a comprehensive 7000+ word guide.

I know. That's a little crazy.​

It's a post that deserves a lot of readers. The only problem was I only had about 100 subscribers at the time I published it.​

So how can you get around this, and get your post the exposure that it deserves?

​This comes down to 2 things: A short term promotion strategy, and a longterm strategy.

​Let's look at some of the results I ended up getting from this post, in the first 6 months.

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9 Extremely Powerful Steps to Kickstart Your Blog In 1 Month

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Everyone who has ever started a blog – whether it be for your business, or standalone hopes for quick success. I know that when I started out, that’s what I was looking for.

The only problem is, very few of us know how to get there. Some bloggers will have a blog for more than six months without getting any subscribers and having less than 100 visitors. That’s no way to treat the content that you work so hard to create.

In this post, I’m going to go over a 1 month roadmap that will kickstart your blog, and help you reach 500 subscribers by the end of your first 45 days of launching.

Start Your Twitter Account

This is one of the easiest things that you can do that can start building your potential audience.

No matter what niche you’re in, you have an audience on Twitter, which is why I stress using it as a default. It’s also very easy to start building.

Other social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram etc. may perform better or worse for you depending on what niche you’re in. So you can focus on testing those out once you’ve had your blog up and running for a while.

This Twitter technique will only take you 2 minutes per day, and you could have a few hundred followers by the end of this week.

I wrote a full post on how to implement this technique here, but to summarize here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Setup your Twitter account on (I set it up under my name, but you can also use your blog’s name)
  2. Login to Toolset or Crowdfire
  3. Follow 50-100 of the most popular account’s followers
  4. Return in 24 hours and unfollow those who didn’t follow you back
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 daily

This is the primary way that I grew my Twitter account, and I got it to the point where I can drive traffic pretty quickly. I’ll admit I’ve neglected it recently though! It should probably be a little bigger. (Oops)

Drive traffic from Twitter

Create a lead magnet

Now you will want to create your primary lead magnet. This is a lot easier than most of you might think, and could realistically be done within the next few hours. Focus on something that is enticing to your readers, and will get them to sign up.


Your Blog’s Homepage: What Should it Be?

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I got asked this question by one of the readers this week, and I thought it would be a great topic to write about. What is the most effective homepage for your blog?

To figure this out, let’s take a look at some of the most popular blogs, and the techniques that they used to get there.

Key Fundamental

You want your blog to grow as quickly as possible, right?

If so, it’s important to understand this:

Your blogs homepage main focus should be capturing leads. Your blog’s homepage will be your highest trafficked page 90% of the time. That means that most of your traffic goes there, so you need to be able to capitalize on it.

The way to do this is to build the most important asset that your blog has – your email list.

Once you do that, you can start having these people come back over and over to read your new articles or whatever you promote. Rather than landing on your homepage, possibly poking around your site for a bit, only to never return.

So What Should Your HomePage Look Like?

There’s one type of homepage that all of the smartest bloggers have been implementing lately. This is what I call the “lead magnet homepage.” It’s main function is to get the visitor to sign up for your blog, and everything else is secondary.

Many bloggers, including Noah Kagan, have reported a 300% lift in conversions once they implement this type of welcome page.

This is good for your goals, because remember, you want to grow your email list as quickly as possible, right?


Facebook Marketing: How to ACTUALLY Get Traffic to Your Site

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The first step of building a successful blog, or business for that matter, is creating a vibrant community centered around your subject.

Most people who start any kind of website aspire to get thousands and thousands of page views and become obsessed over getting traffic.

But what is traffic worth, unless they are engaging with your brand and your content?

10,000 visitors would mean nothing to my brand unless they actually cared about what I am blogging about. I would much prefer 100 highly engaged visitors that are likely to sign up for what I’m offering, comment on my posts, and become a part of my community.

Here’s one way to get that kind of traffic.

Identify Good Communities for You to Post In

This is the first step, and honestly the step where most people get stuck.

You have to find some good Facebook groups in your niche, which may sound like an easy task, but it’s quite the opposite.

Especially in my niche, there are thousands of groups that are filled with nothing but unengaged users and spammers. My blog wouldn’t benefit at all by posting in these groups.

I’ve done it before, and the results is usually 0 visitors. This is where most marketers will give up and say “it doesn’t work!”

But what you really have to do is do some digging until you find a group that has some good moderators that keep spam out, and engaged users that are actually liking and commenting on posts. Groups like these are going to be your traffic goldmines.


Steal My Strategy: How to Start a Blog from Scratch

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I get asked from time to time how to get a blog up and running.

Whether you are a lifestyle blogger, niche blogger or run the blog for your startup, there are challenges in getting up and running to be successful.

Whenever I get asked that question I think back to when I launched Project Pivotal, and what I did right, and what I would have done differently.

I launched the blog toward the end of May of 2015 as a place for me to document lessons I learned in marketing while I was working for a startup.I started it out with 3 posts that I published in May, and decided to spend June getting traffic whenever I had time to work on it. Here are my traffic stats from June:

​That’s not too shabby for just starting out, and working on this part time. Or at least I thought so at the time.

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Remember This if You Want to Be Successful

The whole point of starting a blog is in hopes that your efforts will compound, and getting traffic will become easier and easier. I believe that everyone who has ever started a blog has an end state in mind where they can post on their blog, and thousands of people will read, share and love their content.

I mean, isn't that the goal? Whether you are blogging for business or for leisure, every blog owner wants to reach more people with their content.

So through your journey through the realm of being "unpopular," remember that your actions should center around building your audience so you can break through to the place that you want to be.

Take it from Mark Schaefer, from BusinessesGrow. He's been on both sides, and has finally reached a place where his blog is successful.​ In his article on what he would do if he was starting a blog from scratch, he says:

It can be pretty depressing to pour your heart into a blog and know that nobody is reading it. I am speaking from experience. I get as many page views in a week that I got in my first 18 months of blogging put together! My blog was a lonely place for a long time."

Mark Schaefer

I can definitely relate. I still get sad sometimes when less than 200 people read one of my posts.

​Quick Synopsis of the Strategy that I Used in My First Month

  1. ​Created a lead magnet and landing page before I ever published a blog post
  2. Sent paid traffic to the landing page and starting building a small email list
  3. Guest posted and sent traffic to the landing page
  4. Published 3 solid posts on my own blog
  5. Created Content Upgrades for 2 of the 3 posts (due to time constraints) to begin building my audience from the posts
  6. Distributed each post by posting it in places like reddit, forums, communities in my niche, and my new Twitter account
  7. Personally invited many forum users and site owners to check out my content

So what's wrong with this strategy?

​Well... nothing. You can use this exact strategy to start building your blog's audience right now. This is the strategy that I used, and I've made it this far!


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