The past month on Live Less Ordinary has no doubt been one of the slowest months with blog posts coming twice a week if lucky. The reason for this is internet marketing and after sharing my statistics page at the start of June I have begrudging descended into the ugly world of selling myself. With 1,000 plus daily page views, 95% of them from organic search (Google), it is more than obvious that I rely to much on the one egg. I have therefore delved (shortly) into the world of internet marketing to build subscribers to my blog and to sell my soul. For this month (June’14) I have challenged myself to diversify my audience using forced incentive, initiative and feigned enthusiasm. For near two years now of blogging I have failed to find this. Internet marketing is by far the most tedious, depressing and unlikable realms of the internet… but it also the most important in terms of success. While my previous priorities were set on learning and building value in content I feel I have achieved this and it is time to share my blog with the world (sorry). While I have always known strategies to build subscribers to my blog it is now time to put them into action. Many of the practices are cringe-worthy and at times I nearly throw up but I have promised myself to push through the ordeal and as an incentive I am writing this post to document it. I have given myself only one month to complete the tasks and my first flight out is on 01 July with no going back.
Last month I received an email asking how to subscribe to my blog. My initial reaction was “why would anyone want to subscribe to my blog……?” but being curious I added a quick subscription widget to my sidebar. I emailed back and left it at that. Following this I received daily subscribers. Baffling I know. So if people will happily subscribe on their own accord then what happens if I add a bit of incentive and pressure to build subscribers. This original subscription widget did little more than take an email sign-up and send out notices each and every time I published a post. This all felt too ugly and spammy so my next step was to kill it and set-up a more likable newsletter. I will use this to share travels from the month, linking back to published posts. For Newsletters the best route is ’email marketing systems’ and I opt for ‘Mail Chimp’ (over Aweber) the sole reason being that it is free for the first 2,000 subscribers. I sync the account with WordPress through a Mailchimp plugin and create a simple form and widget to add to my site. So… the next stage is where I near threw up. Against all fiber of my being I add a pop-up subscription box to my site. For this I use ‘Optin Revolution’. I hate it but it works well and for the next month or so it will likely litter my blog. Again it is easy to set-up, easy to sync with MailChimp (ect.) and easy to customize with images and layout. Below are images of the pop-up in action including the ‘Welcome Email’ after opt-in.
So I feel on its own Newsletter Subscription is a limp deal (or at least for my site) so to add value to subscription the free eBook route is hard to fault. People like free stuff and they also like food and porn. I therefore compile a ‘Free Asian Food Porn’ eBook. My original plan was to outsource this task but it turns out eBooks are surprisingly simple and fun to put together. For publishing I use Adobe InDesign (eBook publishing program) which is simple enough to grasp if familiar to Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. There are simpler programs to learn but they will hold limitations in the future. So this took a good part of a week to put together but was no doubt worth it and I plan to further this to paid eBooks and “Essential Eating Guides”. Anyway the free eBook is then shared through a permanent sidebar widget (on the right there somewhere>>>>) which, following subscription, the user is redirected to a download page. The download page is no different than any other website page only it has a direct link to download the eBook hosted on the website. As well the same eBook is shared through the vomit-inducing, pop-up subscription form and, in this case, the user is emailed a direct link to the eBook download. All this is synced to the ‘Mail Chimp’ email marketing system. Feel free to test them below (don’t worry you can easily unsubscribe).
Benefits of networking with bloggers are from guest posts and subsequent outreach to new audiences. It also creates ‘back links’ to your site which are essential for building rank and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) but thankfully this influence has devalued of late. So there are countless of numbers of travel blogging communities but, by personal choice, I have avoided them. Travel in itself eats up an unhealthy chunk of my time so getting bogged down in the social side will no doubt lead to misery. It’s like working a 9 to 5 job then spending your after hours with work colleagues talking about work. I’ve seen travel bloggers’ lives being completely consumed by travel and I therefore avoid it and instead pursue my other interests (Whiskey and X-Box). However many travel bloggers will happily share guest posts and interviews if you offer similar in return. For this I set up a feature on my site “Travel Inspiration” where other travel bloggers can share their own travel experiences. It’s a win-win situation with reciprocal guest posts, both bloggers get links, both reach new audiences and both get content for their site. However, as someone who sways more towards the creative side of blogging than the social, this was the task I chose to outsource (eBooks win). Networking is by far the most tedious and time consuming of tasks, ongoing research of travel blogs, the back and forth of emails and of course writing and publishing posts. For this I instead hired a virtual assistant ($4 / hour) to take on the research and initial communication (but obviously not the writing). I record my articles for other websites here. This is somewhat frowned upon in blogging communities but for me not having a reputation means I have no reputation to lose.
A while back I was given free Facebook advertising coupons and now is as good a time as any to cash in. To start I spent up to $1 a day on a Facebook advertising campaign which accumulated rather impressive returns (stats shown below). Up to 142 new page likes per day, 1,o00 page likes in a week and more importantly a huge leap in post engagement, likes, shares and comments. By the end of this month (if not before) I should have doubled my previous page likes (2,440 to 4,880). For the first 1,000 page likes it cost less than $20 (or in my case nothing with free Facebook credit) and in honesty I am now considering to extend this permanently. My reasons for not building Facebook likes previously was because I am too lazy to share. Social media is again time consuming. Instead I have synced my website to direct publish on Facebook, I have synced our Instagram account to share our travel images and now our Facebook page is starting to take off. Of course this doesn’t build subscribers directly but it does build an audience and alone Facebook is highly influential. From it we have seen more Facebook referrals to our site and more than likely these visits will join subscriptions at some point. Success on Facebook will however differ in targeting. For our campaign we target a niche audience of English speakers, interested in travel, in ASEAN countries (Southeast Asia). This is our niche.
With the nauseating subscription pop-up in action I went all out to maximize exposure during its short existence. I therefore resorted to Google Adwords which I again take advantage of with free credits. A while back I bought £50GBP of Google Advertising and in return was given £150 GBP free credit (these introduction offers are common). Until now it has sat on it has done little more than sit on its ass. So I set a small sum of £1 a day for advertising and my website is now shown at the top of Google for set keywords. I choose ten or so keywords to follow and watch the new traffic roll in. The benefits here over organic SEO (Search Engine Optimization) practices are; I can now target competitive keywords which I failed to rank highly in before and I can target the harder to reach regions. In the advert I plug my free eBook like a carrot and I now plan to leave it here. Technically this campaign at £1 a day can run for the next 200 days (minus tax) before new investment.
My subscription account was established 18 days ago (05 June 14) and has now accumulated 31 subscribers (30 plus myself). Having only today completed my marketing tasks these figures are only likely to climb and hopefully incrementally. Are they good figures? They sure beat my previous zero of two years. Other than the occasional tweak to forms and advertising settings I don’t have much to come back for although tearing down the subscription pop-up is high on the priority list. I will continue to outsource the research for guest posts so again this won’t hold me back. While the month has no doubt been grimy and stressful I am happy to meet the end of it feeling positive and relatively unscathed. So what do I plan to do with my new found fame? I’ll probably just kick ass and take names, maybe wear sunglasses and act like an egomaniac douche-bag. Welcome to the world of internet marketing… Other than the obvious I’ll be starting my blog’s Newsletter next month and it will likely include my journey back to Angkor Wat and through Cambodia which starts next week. I’m sure I’ll think of others.