In this first episode of Become a Blogger Live, we cover interesting questions in the world of blogging.
We deal with everything from pop-ups to software for live streaming, driving traffic to choosing a topic to blog about.
Also, stop struggling to come up with blog content ideas. Make sure to download my 2017 Blog Content Calendar Spreadsheet. It’s free!
Now let’s go to the questions…
Question 1: What do you think about using pop-ups for collecting email addresses now that Google has started penalizing sites for this? – Bridgett from Cincinnati, Ohio
When I first started blogging, I hated pop-ups. I thought they were annoying.
However, after hearing so many people talk about them, I decided to give one a try. What happened next was very interesting.
My opt ins increased by over 520%. Then I realized something.
By using a pop-up, I was getting more people on my list, and these people were getting even more value from me.
If I have something extremely valuable, I should try to make sure as many people get access to it as possible.
However, Google has made some changes to their algorithm that penalizes sites who use large popups on mobile devices.
Why? Because it takes up the entire screen and ruins the user experience. So here’s what I recommend:
- Don’t be annoying (and intrusive) with your popups.
- Don’t use large pop-ups that take up the entire screen.
- Use exit-intent technology, which loads only when someone is leaving your site.
- Consider turning your popups off on mobile devices.
This is a relatively new change from Google. I will be doing some more tests and will be sharing more best practices with you, so stay tuned.
Question 2: What software are you using to create this live video? – Rafael
The software I was using was Wirecast. It’s pretty pricey ($495) but is great for going live from your desktop, including lower thirds, sharing multiple screens and cameras, etc.
The free alternative is OBS. You can accomplish the same thing, but it’s not as user friendly.
There are more options coming all the time. You can even go live directly from your desktop browser now, but there aren’t as many features.
Question 3: Is Wirecast only for desktop streaming? – Bridgett
Yes it is.
Question 4: What app/software are you using for us to hear the music and audio from the calls? – Katherine
I’m using the iJingle Pro app on my iPad. It allows you to load up audio clips and play them back by tapping on the one you want.
This is how I’m able to record my podcast episodes weekly without the need for editing.
My iPad is plugged into my mixer and that gets connected to my computer via an interface, allowing you to hear the audio.
Side note: I always dance when I’m recording my podcasts, even though you can’t see me.
Question 5: What’s the best and most economical pop-up? – Nanette
The best pop-up I’ve found is OptinMonster. They really get what it takes to build an email list.
They are always working on advancements and improvements. I just love what they’re doing.
It also integrates directly with Google analytics, which is a plus.
However, it’s pricey in that you have to pay a monthly subscription. It starts at $9/month, but you don’t get some of the advanced features like exit intent.
The most economical one is Sumome. It’s free. If you can’t spend money on a pop-up, I’d start there.
Between those two options, you have ThriveLeads. It does a lot of what OptinMonster does, but it’s a bit more technical to set up.
However, you can buy a single-site license for $67, and be done. No monthly subscription.
Question 6: What are your best tips for driving more traffic to your blog? -Katyan
There is no magic bullet when it comes to traffic. You have to be consistent and build up your audience over time.
To get traffic, you have to:
- Have a specific audience you’re trying to target
- Create great content that is valuable to that specific target audience
- Get your content in front of the right people
If you do these things consistently, you will start to see your audience grow and your Google ratings improve.
But when I want to get a significant amount of traffic in a relatively short amount of time, I decide on one, specific problem that I want to solve right now.
For example, when Snapchat really started to take off among bloggers, I knew there was an opportunity for me to create a great resource. I created the ultimate Snapchat resource.
This was a strategic move. I knew that if I could create something that was better than anything else out there, it could get traction quickly.
And I was right: this resource has over 5000 shares across all social networks.
And as a result, if you go to Google today and you search for “Snapchat tutorial,” I’m right there on the first page.
But I didn’t do it alone. I also sent my Snapchat resource to other bloggers. I knew their audiences would get amazing value from it, so they wouldn’t mind sharing it out.
So, to jump-start your traffic:
- Make sure you’re solving a “right now” problem
- Make a FANTASTIC resource
- Connect with other bloggers
Getting traffic isn’t an overnight thing. It happens over time as you build relationships with your audience and with your peers in the industry.
Question 7: What are your tips for doing live interviews? -Bridgett
Doing interviews well is an art and a science. You learn and you get better at it over time.
Here are a few tips that I have picked up.
90% of interviews start the exact same way: “Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?”
But that doesn’t sell your audience on the value of listening to this interview.
I want to entice my audience right up front. If I know the person I’m interviewing is up to something great, I’ll them about something current that illustrates the result or the benefit of doing the stuff we’re going to be talking about in the interview.
Instead of starting with the backstory, jump in on the middle of the story and then go back to fill in the gaps.
Another tip is to LISTEN to what people are saying.
You should always have a plan for the interview. But sometimes people surprise you. You want to be able to dig deeper into an answer or ask a follow-up question.
Finally, before you start interviewing someone, get them in the mood.
Some people can jump into an interview right away, but others will be nervous. Maybe they’ve never done an interview before.
So it’s a good idea to warm them up a little bit, have some friendly banter, and help them relax.
In terms of technology, you’ll need a number of different things.
First of all, you need a way to communicate with the person you’re interviewing. Skype is a great tool for that.
But you’ll also need something that will allow you to share your screen. You can use OBS or Wirecast for that.
If you’re just starting out, I recommend OBS because it’s free, so you can try it out and see if this is something you really want to pursue. In fact, I have some OBS tutorials available for you!
Question 8: Are you using Logitech for your webcam? -Nanette
My webcam is a Logitech HD C920, which you can find at iamlesliesamuel.com/webcam. When it comes to doing anything with a webcam, this is the best option.
I’m also using an app called iGlasses by ecamm.
iGlasses allows you to do lots of things: adjust brightness, temperature, contrast, tint, exposure, white balance, focus, etc.
It also allows me to flip the image so that you can see everything the way that I want you to see it
Question 9: Are you using lights? -Nanette
I am using lighting!
I have soft boxes that cost about $100 for the set.
It can be tricky to find the perfect lighting if your skin in darker. So it took me a lot of trial and error to find the perfect lighting.
Question 10: What is a good way to get into affiliate sales? -John
For those of you who are new to this, affiliate sales involves recommending a product or service. You use a specific link to send your audience to purchase that thing. When someone clicks and makes a purchase, you get a commission.
To get started in affiliate sales, ask yourself the following question:
What does my audience need in order to overcome a specific struggle or accomplish a specific goal that is relevant to the content that I create?
My biology blog started off all about physiology. The specific struggle for that audience may be that they’re in a physiology class, and they’re struggling to get through it.
I made some great resources, but I knew that there was a lot more information out there. So I found a physiology study guide that was great and could really help someone pass that class.
Once I found it, I thought, “If I don’t tell my audience about this, then I’m doing them a disservice!”
So I started creating content that promoted that resource. You can do that in lots of different ways. It could be blog posts, emails, a resource center, videos… the sky's the limit!
The key is that you have to make sure that the things you’re sharing will help your audience overcome a struggle or accomplish a goal. You also have to educate your audience as to how this product or service will help them.
Question 11: Besides your own blog, do you recommend writing on other platforms to build authority? – Katyan
Is your audience there? Is this a platform that you want to focus on?
You have to make a conscious decision about where you want to spend your time and energy. Where will you get the biggest return on your investment?
If you just publish occasionally on LinkedIn, you’re probably not going to see a return on investment. But if you commit to that platform and you intentionally build up your authority there, then that could be a good strategy.
You can’t just put your stuff everywhere and hope that people will find you. Ain’t nobody got time for that! You have to be strategic.
Question 12: What about your headphones? What’s the benefit? – Bridgett
I use headphones so that I can hear what’s going on on the computer, without that sound going into the microphone.
Headphones isolate the sound so that you can hear it, but the microphone can’t (Well, the mic doesn’t have ears, but you know what I mean!)
Question 13: Would you be brave enough to take a laptop, webcam, and Wirecast out to do a live, in person video? -Bridgett
I would if I knew I’d have a stable connection.
I recommend trying it at home first. Perfect your strategies so that when you’re out in the field you know exactly what to do. There are a number of things that can go wrong!
I always prefer to plug in because that’s the most stable connection you can get. Wi-Fi will work if it’s a very stable connection, but it’s safer to plug in if you can.
Question 14: Is that a TV in front of you? What do you have on that screen? -Bridgett
In front of me during the live show, I have my laptop and then an external monitor connected to it.
Wirecast is running on my laptop. I have the separate monitor so that I can share my screen with you.
This setup helps me to look at what you’re looking at when I share my screen.
Question 15: I have a full-time job in addition to my blogging business. What value can creating a podcast add to the growth of my business, given that I have limited time? -Katyan
You have to decide if that’s where you want to invest your energy, because a podcast requires a lot of work.
If you listen to my podcast, you spend, 30 minutes, or 40 minutes, or even an hour with me. If I only gave you a blog, would you spend that much time with me? Probably not.
A podcast takes your connection with your audience to the next level. It can help you nurture relationships with people in your industry if you’re doing interviews, too.
But it is something that takes a lot of time.
If you decide you want to do it, go at it full force, really commit to it, make that decision that that’s where you want to spend your time, and you will see the benefits
Question 16: Where can I find resources mentioned on one of your podcasts? -LaShaun
Go to iamlesliesamuel.com/[episode number] to read the show notes and get access to all of the resources mentioned on the show.
Question 17: What topics should people blog about? -Sandi
Start with a problem that you can solve.
I started a biology blog where I taught upper level biology content by making videos to explain one concept at a time. The problem to solve was: students signed up for physiology, they got to class, and they had no idea what the teacher was talking about.
I chose this problem because it was something I was passionate about.
Combine your passion with a problem. Then find a solution, and you’ll know what you should blog about
Question 18: How can you tell if it’s a good business decision to buy a blog from someone? -Rachel
Figure out why you want to buy this blog.
Is it adding value to something you’re already doing? Is it something you’re passionate about?
Look at the details of that blog. Look at the analytics.
Does it make any money?
How many subscribers does it have?
How’s the traffic?
What about activity and engagement?
Get a thorough picture of that blog.
If you’re buying this blog because you want to take it over and make it your main blog, that could help jump-start you. But you want to know as much as possible about the blog before you make that decision.
Some people follow my blog because they connect with my personality, and they may or may not connect to a new person taking it over. Can you continue the personality of the blog you’re buying?
Get as clear a picture of the blog as you can, and then make a decision about how much it would be worth to you.
However, I would caution you against trying to manage two blogs. It takes so much to build a blog and make it successful. I wouldn’t recommend splitting your attention.
Question 19: How well-versed do you need to be to be in a topic before you start a blog about it? -Kitamu
If you’re well-versed, you can share what you know, and that can be of value to someone else.
If you’re not as well-versed, you can present as the person going on a journey with your audience. When I started out, I definitely wasn’t an expert, so my audience was going on that journey with me.
Just be authentic with your journey. Don’t pretend to be an expert if you’re not an expert.
- 2017 Blog Content Calendar Spreadsheet – download this spreadsheet to get started with your content
- Software you can use for doing a live video:
- Free resouces I created for Become a Blogger:
- iJingle Pro – the app I have installed on my iPad to help me load the audio parts of my live video.
- Popup services:
- iGlasses – iGlasses is an app I use to help me do a number of things with my webcam
- Logitech webcam – my best option for webcams to use