All the Tools I use to Be a Rockstar Content Marketer & Traffic Driver
As a digital media publisher, I have been creating, curating, marketing and promoting online content via blogging, e- and web-courses, ebooks, vlogs and more for over two decades.
In the process, I’ve grown several blogs from the bottom to over 10 million in page view traffic; cultivated viral posts and pins, including one that was repinned over 50,000; and grew a social media following across my various social channels and brands to 54,036 followers, reaching a total weekly, 2.5 Million people. In one of my personal handles, I can reach over 120M people. (see attached). Contests I host on my blog get over 19,000 entries and my personal Google Plus page has been viewed over 60M times, 10M more than Google’s CEO Larry Page.
People ask me how I can have a ubiquitous presence and promote so many sites at the same time, and my answer is simple: Automation and tools.
I’ve gotten several requests for access to the tools and platforms I use to grow traffic, promote and market a blog, website, ecommerce store and and to social media network one or multiple sites simultaneously.
Please see a pretty comprehensive review below and I may do corresponding video tutorials to accompany this post later.
[note: I’ve added my affiliate link to some of these so know I’d get a small commission on my referral.]
Starting a Blogging Network
You can start with one site and after mastering that one, add others and eventually have a your own portfolio of websites and blogs. You can use these different sites as landing pages, to promote a new StartUp, as a personal digital resume and more
I too started with one site but quickly realized that I could purchase a shared hosting account and be given large enough bandwidth to host several blogs. Even if you elect not to put anything on the site, you can get the domain as place holder then download WordPress, get a neat theme or create a landing page until you’re ready to do something with the site.
I use GoDaddy to purchase my domains starting at $.99. I usually pay the extra money they offer to keep your name and company address private because you may want to be anonymous, have an anonymous site and/or would prefer not being publicly connected to a site.
I love GoDaddy‘s customer service because it is available 24 hours and I’ve only dealt with competent and friendly people they who can resolve your problem within hours. I’ve never had a problem.
Over the years, I have used a host of other hosts including Bluehost, HostGater,
Social Media Automation
It is imperative to growing followers that you have an active account. But you are only one person and there are only 24 hours in a day, how can you possibly update and engage on social media, while working or building your biz. The answer is Automation.
How to Auto Share Posts to Social Media
Plugins – You can download a plugin like JetPack that will let you auto share your post each time you post so you dont have to do it manually. Each time you hit publish, your content will be delivered automatically to all of your followers. If they Retweet, share or Repost your post, then you’re likely to net additional traffic.
Hootsuite– Another tool that I love to use to fill in my social media with content on auto pilot is Hootsuite. It’s free! But if you want to schedule out a bunch of content in advance, you can upgrade to the $10 monthly level, which still isn’t that much. When you go to that level, you can use its Bulk Uploader. You can put in a set of pre-drafted posts and set them to auto-post for you. You can manage multiple different accounts. It’s also great if you are a social media manager and you have several different clients. Or if you are the social media manager for your company and you manage different verticles, Hootsuite helps you manage them all using one dashboard.You never have to think about it again. I show you how to do it in this video here.
Edgar -Edgar does what Hootsuite does but is better because you don’t have to reload the content after everything you inputted drips out. Edgar will automatically reload them for you. But you need to be invited to access it.
Co-Schedule -This tool does the same thing as the others but this platform is created specifically for content creators and inbound marketers. You get a generous 14 day trial but then the plans range from $30 to $1600 per month, depending on the level of service. It recently added a ReQueue option similar to Edgar’s system of auto re-loading but you only are permitted a certain number of Re-Que per plan
Buffer – Another excellent resource for scheduling out content is Buffer. It even has an extension for Chrome and mobile so that when you come across interesting content, you can add it to your pre-set cue. And Buffer has integrated itself with other content marketing tools like Hootsuite. They used to have an option where they recommended content for you to share and you could just add it to your cue with a click of a button but not any longer. This is still a fave resource of mine and it is one of the less expensive at just $10 per month.
Klout– Even thought Klout is a social media influence measurement tool, I like to use Klout for recommended content to keep flowing through my various feeds. It does what I used to love about Buffer. You can select a category and with a click add it to your auto-feed to go out during a time that Klout has determined will get you max eyeballs and exposure. I like to take one day out of the week to schedule Klout posts to go out for the week. It too has a really easy mobile app version so you can set up content on the go, while you’re commuting, waiting for your kid at dance class, waiting for your turn in the barber’s chair. Whatever. It is also FREE!
If you don’t know by now, the one asset digital publishers or anyone who operates a business online must have is a list. A list is the name and/or email addresses for subscribers or anyone who has been to your site, purchased something from you or engaged with you somehow online. It’s a marketing gem because with it, you can reach out to those who have opted in to sharing their contact information again.
Here are the tools I use to grow my list:
Hello Bar – A recent report that Google is penalizing interstatial adds and big pop-ups for interfering with the web surfing experience, her is where Hello Bar comes in handy. It is a simple strip at the top of your site. Thru it, you can invite users to subscribe to your list or give them an offer for a cheat sheet, ebook or some other free asset in exchange for their email.
App Sumo – This is a deals resource that offers website owners a great arsenal of tools for tracking traffic, increasing engagement, developing subscriber pop up boxes and other fantastic content marketing gems at a discount. Everyone uses AppSumo products. Check it out and take a look at all the offerings. Sign Up for an AppSumo here!
Convert Kit – This resource is created just for bloggers. I love Convert Ki! You can created landing pages or forms and embed them right into your blog posts. Each time someone signs up, you capture capture emails. The best thing about Convert Kit however, is that it takes the guess work out of email sequencing. After someone subscribes, you can tag them instantly to join an email sequence. It has seamless integration with other list building, inbound and outbound marketing programs like Teachable, MalChimp, and others. The emails you send out are tracked for opens and clicks on links. You can also re-send an email only to those who didn’t open the email the first time and adjust the subject and message. It really makes drip email and email funnels a piece of cake! Give ConvertKit a try and plans start at $29.00 which is very reasonable even for hobby bloggers.
Analytics and Data Analyzing
Everyone uses Google analytics to track website traffic but there are a lot of other platforms that we use where it would be beneficial to learn how they are reaching audiences, what type of engagement we are getting and the best times of day to contact.
VIDIQ – For YouTube videos and channels, VID IQ is my tool of choice. With it, you can get a deeper dive into measurement of your videos and the videos of your competitors. How long people stay on a video, how much money was earned by the YouTuber for each video but the best part of VIDIQ is that it lets you know which tags your competitors used. You can then easily copy their tags and use them for your videos. I created a tutorial you can access here.
Fruji -For those new to blogging who may not have the traffic and social media follows needed to interest brands and partners, it’s key to be creative and find other measurements to elevate. It calculates all your follows and their followings and give you an estimate of your potential reach. It looks quite impressive.
A great way to drive traffic, build a social media following and increase engagement is to do a giveaway or contest.
Rafflecopter – A long time ago, bloggers had to manually check contest entrants, verify their entry, count winners and figure out all the details of managing entries. Those days are over as there are a lot of tools on the market that automate all of that. One that I used when I first started doing contests is Rafflecopter. You get to select how people enter and it even auto selects winners. You get access to all the emails too and can add them to your subscriber list later. Starting at $12, you can add Pinterest as a means of entry, custom build forms and upload images on your contest widget.
Gleam.io – I love this platform because it has a lot of ways for entrants to enter the contest. You can make it a requirement to visit a website, a social media site, watch a YouTube, Pin an item, or Like a post on Instagram and more.It has more options than Rafflecopter, but in exchange for these enhanced methods of entry, Gleam.io retains the email addresses and only let you have them if you have a basic upgrade plan at least. I shared how I use Gleam.io to get thousands of entrants in this post HERE!
It’s very difficult to make money from blogging from ads or affiliate sales in the beginning and that is why the conventional wisdom now is for bloggers to create some asset, real or digital, like planners, e-courses, webcourses, ebooks, wall art, or webinars. A lot of bloggers use drop-shipping by selling products on their site and having them shipped directly from a supplier in Asia, via Ali-Express or some other similar site.
But first they have to set up a credible looking site that will give users trust.
Shopify -The industry standard is Shopify. It has loads of professional looking templates and also, you don’t have to worry about collecting funds, calculating taxes and shipping and dealing with refunds on your own. Shopify has tools that make all of that super easy. Also, there are a tons of apps built on top of Shopify that can be integrated in a shop. It’s like going to a candy store.
Etsy – While Etsy is traditionally for handmade products, a lot of online entrepreneurs and bloggers sell digital products like templates and planner sheets via Etsy. It charges just .20 to list and takes a small commission off sales.
AmazonKD – You can create your very own ebook and sell it on Amazon.com using its Direct Self-Publishing platform called AmazonKD. I have several titles on Amazon that way. The hardest part is the formatting. I hired someone from Upwork to do that for me. You don’t even need original content. Half of my ebooks are old blog posts that I turned into ebooks and each month, I make sales and periodically, I get a nice little royalty check.
iBooks/iTunes – Similar to AmazonKD, get someone to help you format you book so it can also be seen on iTunes. Here are my titles on iTunes and iBooks. I was able to turn my podcast I create on SoundCloud into an iTunes podcast following SoundCloud’s simple rules
got the books and a podcast I created using SoundCloud on iBooks and iTunes by following along with their submission requirements and sending them in for approval and got in! You can purchase my books and podcasts and/or just follow them from these notable and well-known platforms. People are more likely to follow or buy from Amazon and iTunes than your website hence why it’s great to list there as well.
Sign up to become an Apple Affiliate!
Anyone who has some knowledge or know-how in anything can teach. While it is more cost-effective to sell courses straight from your site using one of many plugins out there or hiring someone to build you a site, there are too many services that will help make it easier. Also, it is easier to cheat you out of sales if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Sellfy– I use Sellfy to sell digital products like webinars and webcourses. The interface is a lot like Gumroad in they both capture the email of purchaser, let you set your price and makes the download available immediately. You can even attach a token to each purchase to make sure buyers aren’t gaming the system and cheating you out of sales. Each purchaser gets one token so they don’t share it with all their friends. Sign Up and Sell Your Digital Ebooks, Webcourses through Sellfy HERE!
Teachable– My teaching school of choice is Teachable. It makes it very simple and easy to create a course. You can make a subscription course, a one time payment or payment plan options course, or have it free and use it as a tool for getting emails for your subscriber list.
Ads, affiliate marketing and sales, and ad networks are used by bloggers to make money. Also,there are dozens, if not hundreds, of blogging networks. These networks serve as a liason with brands and the PR companies that represent them and bloggers. Instead of having to apaproach hundreds of bloggers individually, they can just enter an agreement with the network. The network then make the offerings available and lets the brand select which blogger it wants to work with. The Network administrator, naturally, take a generous cut of the sales but they’re worth it because it saves bloggers also the hassle of having to pitch to brands for opportunities.
Adsense – The most popular and one of the oldest ways blogs, websites, YouTube channels and other online content gateways have monetized their presence is through AdSense. It is owned by Google and essentially, owners of sites place tags on their pages and AdSense feeds advertisements to the location where the tags were placed. In a YouTube video, this can be in the form of a video ad right before the content a user wants to see of an in video textual ad across the bottom of the screen or to the right of the video. On blogs, for example, they are auto placed on banner ads. It doesn’t pay that well for those starting out because it requires a significant amount of traffic before hitting the $100 threshold for AdSenses to send you any money.
Nonetheless, one good thing about AdSense ads on your blog, even before you start getting enough traffic, they give the blog or website a bit of credibility. The average user may not know they are affiliate ads and could think someone paid to have that ad there. That placement may entice other potential ad purchasers that land on your site to perhaps reach out to you and seek an ad placement. It happened for me during my early years of blogging.
AdSense now lets you insert code in your site and it will determine which area does well and automatically populate ads there. Do this! Since I installed these codes, I’ve seen a dramatic increase in earnings.
Amazon – The next most popular advertising vehicle is Amazon Affiliates. As you probably know, Amazon sells any and everything on its massive eCommerce platform. It has a very dynamic Affiliate marketing program with lots of tools. You can install codes that will give readers a selection of items related to the content on the page, increasing the likelihood of a sale. Any purchase made from clicking a link on your page earns you a commission. Amazon also has a tool that will highlight certain words on your page or post and create a popup of a product related to that word. You install a piece of code on your site and does the rest. Other tools infuse native ads on your site, so the ads and content match up perfectly without you having to do anything or even think. Amazon doesn’t just pay per click but per commission and commissions can be anywhere from some change to $50 or more depending on the item purchased.
In addition, to placing ad codes on your site, you can also join a variety of Ad Networks that are intermediaries between advertisers and content providers. The networks negotiate with the advertisers promising to deliver their ads to a wide variety of blogs. As you can imagine, this saves brands tons of time compared to reaching out to and negotiating with thousands of bloggers. Likewise, bloggers and website owners don’t have to do independent and individual pitches.
Also, once an ad for a national brand appears on your site, you can arguably list that brand among nationally-recognized reputable sites that have advertised with you, even if they did not do so independently and they don’t know you exist.
Use this info to embellish your blog media kit or enhance your pitch email or letters to potential partners.
Gourmet Ads – I use Gourmet ads which focuses on Food blogs. It fulfills a lot of my blog ad inventory for me. You can select what type of ads you will permit on your blog like video ads, intersatial or auto start. This is my highest source of monthly revenue. Gourmet Ads has tags you place on your blog and it feeds ads automatically. You do nothing but collect your royalties in the account you sign up to receive payments. Easy peasy! Apply to the Gourmet Ads newtwork TODAY here!
Shopstyle and Rewardstyle – These two are the most popular affiliate programs . Rewardstlye is invite only and they only work with bloggers who are already popular and have a large following or huge conversion rate. Most, especially those starting out, don’t.
The rest and most use Shopstyle. It has tools that let you create looks and widgets to display clothing similar to the ones you wear on your blog outfit of the day posts or if you are a celebrity blog, and you mention what a famous person wears and want to give your readers a chance to purchase the look. You list the looks underneath a photo or somewhere on the post discussing the fashionable look. It also has an integration option for Instagram so you can monetize your Instagram posts.
Also, although it is a pay-per-purchases program, meaning you get a commission on sales, it also is pay-per-click so you can easily stack up earnings when people simply click an affiliate link or image and it drives traffic to the affiliates’s site.
Skimlinks – Skimlinks works similar to the way Amazon’s tool that monetizes words in that it connects a related affiliate ad to the word so in case someone clicks it, you get the sale. Skimlinks also is wonderful for turning any ecommerce or merchant site into an affiliate. Install the browser extension and each time you land on a site that sells products, the extension will auto populate and let you know if that site pays a commission. If it does and you want to mention it in a blog post or Youtube video, you can cut and paste an affiliate code and drop it in your post after the mention of the item. There are over 2,000 merchants in Skimlinks’ network. Join Skimlinks HERE!
People are more likely to purchase an item based on your recommendation, review or discussion of it more so than if it is just appears as a banner ad
Affiliate Window– Is a popular global Affiliate marketing network that is based in the UK but has a nice inventory of brands. It recently acquire Share-A-Sale network. JOIN HERE!
Linkshare –Linkshare also has an extensive inventory and is one of largest of all networks. Like all networks, you apply to be accepted info the individual brand’s affiliate program and when accepted you get access to banner ads, text inks you can put on your site and drive commission shares. Sign up for Linkshare HERE!
Commission Junction – This ad network has the largest network in the world. Personally, I haven’t had much luck driving sales through them but their inventory is massive so you’re bound to find relevant merchants to sign up with! You can also create your own placement opportunity and create a pitch to all the advertisers on its network to find you and consider placing their ads or links on your blog. Use this option to present non-numerical bonuses to your site especially if it is new or has low traffic. You can pitch that it is niche, has won awards or is read by influential parties in your industry. It’s a great feature.
Share-A-Sale – I have had great fortune with Share-A-Sale. The commission on Share-A-Sale are generous. For example, I recently netted a $25 commission simply for signing up for one program.
ShopHer – I recently joined this network which specializes in promoting coupons. I created a coupon and deals page on all of my blogs and plan to update the coupons on those pages and also share the deals using social. You get fresh new coupons in your inbox daily. It’s up to you how to promote them and drive leads and sales but you’re restricted by advertisers parameters so pay attention. A lot of the offers include free digital magazines, and substantial discounts off of popular items.
There are hundreds of other similar affiliate networks too.
Sponsored Post Networks
Sponsored Post Networks negotiate similar o affiliate networks. They work with brands that want to have their products discussed, reviewed or otherwise featured on a blog.
They set the terms and parameters of the post and usually pay a combination of product product plus fee or a fee. This fee can range from $50 to $500 or more, depending on the campaign.
These networks offer the greatest opportunity to make a sizeable and consistent income from your blog.
When Mode.com, (formely Glam Media network) was still in business, some bloggers would earn thousands monthy or per campaign. There are others out there that won’t permit as lucrative an earning but close.
Other new Sponsored Post Networks include
Best Buy Blogger Network – This is the personal blogger influencer network for BestBuy.com. They offer vouchers and codes for the purchase of products and the bloggers do a post about the item. Most items are worth $100 or more. Usually, additonal compensation isn’t offered.
Blog Dash – Brands pitch to you and you can pitch to brands back using blog dash. A lot of the opps are paid but there are some affiliate and pay per click or pay per sale opps as well. It is relatively easy to use and they seem to accept most applicants. Sign up today!
Bloggabase – A network for bloggers to connect with marketers and vice-versa
The Blogger Programme – I signed up for this programme but have not had much luck because most of the opps are for UK bloggers. mainly UK opps
Bloggers Required – This is true of this sitre as well with most of the opps are for British bloggers.
Coopertize– This network offers a lot of high paying cash opps for travel, and high end merchants. You apply and/or are invited to apply to a campaing and if selected, you’re good to go. Just follow the parameters and submit your content by the deadline. You can apply to Coopertize here!
Feed My Blog – You get a ton of offers for sponsored posts for links but usually for between $25 to $100 per link. http://feedmyblog.org/sign-up
IZEA – Bloggers bid on open campaigns or are invited to bid by brands. They write 300 word pitches to sell themselves. For the free level, bloggers can make 5 bids per month. It is one of the better known networks. Sign UP HERE!
Joe Blogs Network – This network features UK’s best brands and promises access to exciting events, exclusive content and products.
Massive Sway – This is the sponsored network of the SITS girsl and I must say it has the best opps and variety too!
Social Fabric – Also known as SoFab, this network let bloggers pick the campaigns they want to work on and create original content. It is a membership site and only accepts some bloggers.
Social Spark – With this site, you can browse campaigns and pitch to join and sometimes, brands and marketers invite you to join campaigns. There are great reputable brands using this service but I’ve had no luck getting opps.
Tap Influence -This Invite Only is a hub for other niche networks that filter opportunity to bloggers within the sub-hub.
Vig Link – This network is similar to Skim Links in that it will monetize words within your content. It takes the guess work out of affiliate marketing.
We Have Zeal – When this network starts a campaign and need bloggers to take part, it reviews its database and pick out the bloggers the admin think it would be a good fit for and then contact them directly. They also post opportunities on out Twitter @zealbuz