Monday, October 31, 2016

Income Report Roundup – October 2016

One of the most popular posts I publish are my income reports.

So I decided to round up as many income reports as possible and rank them based on earnings to see how I stack up against the rest.

If you publish an income report on your blog and would like it included in next month’s post then please let me know in the comments!

Here we go-

#1) – $97,487.00 (+$10,799.00)

It’s been a great month for Michelle as she won a Plutus Blog of the Year Award and she’s reporting her second biggest month for income yet!

Having spent the month catching up on work after focusing on her course over the summer she’s now two months ahead of her posting schedule.

This month she attended FinCon which she says is her favourite conference and focused her featured question around how attending a blogging conference can help you.

With a lot of her traffic coming from Pinterest she’s also decided to spend more time diversifying traffic sources moving forwards.

#2) – $27,241.00 (-$9,297.00)

It’s a slight dip in income for Abby & Donnie this month and they’ve been having a crazy month outside of the site!

This month they moved house and had to prepare for the children to go back to school. They are finally closing their introductory pricing for their ‘BookBoss’ course six months on from the launch.

Abby reflects on how blogging means that having personal tasks to take care of this month didn’t effect work too much. She loves being able to set certain tasks to autopilot to keep things running while she’s busy!

#3) – $27,046.88 (+$1,641.01)

Income is on the rise for Jon this month but he’s had a tough month full of challenges. He’s been working on a lot of growth projects and adapting to the loss of his Amazon Associates account.

The impact of that was cushioned by his sites in the education niche this month but he expects more of an impact on the performance of his money sites next month.

He also shared his Amazon Associates audit process based on his experiences to help readers avoid the same problems.

Despite the challenges he’s happy to report good progress towards having his site management completely systematized and his team is working hard to provide great results for clients!

#4) – $20,388.83 (-$1,297.26)

Despite spending two weeks with a friend in Costa Rica I still managed to achieve a lot this month, including making some big changes to address site speed.

The blog has been getting very slow recently so to change that I moved hosting, removed and updated plugins and set up Cloudflare. That decreased load time by 67% on my heaviest post.

I cleaned up the on site SEO on the blog not so long ago which has increased search traffic and that continued to grow this month. So with the site loading faster than ever I expect that to increase this month!

I’ve also been split testing layouts for user experience and going forward I plan to overhaul the graphics on the blog and make big improvements in my email marketing strategy.

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#5) – $8,457.25 (-$1,604.79)

Brendan MaceIt’s a slight dip in income for Brendan but he’s really excited about things to come. He’s been busy travelling and is writing this month’s report from Bali.

This month he visited Thailand for the second time and was unlucky enough to have another motorbike accident there, Déjà vu!

He made two new YouTube videos and is looking forward to launching his first product next month. He’ll also be exploring Facebook ads and buying traffic to test out his new lead page.

#6) – $8,316.39 (+$4,859.16)

IncomeBullyNathan has had a great month for income coming just $70 short of breaking his income record. After struggling with productivity he’s taken a step forward this month.

He spent a lot of time working on his new local SEO course which he hopes to launch in December and took on a lot of coaching work.

That’s something he says he would like to do more of and actually promote instead of having people randomly get in touch to ask for it.

Going forward his plans are to launch a dedicated coaching page, add a sub menu, continue to perfect his SEO course, finish his autoresponder series and launch a Facebook ad campaign with his new lead magnet.

#7) – $6,256.84 (+$4,339.72)

Get Post CookieDave’s celebrating his best month for income so far after fixing a bug which was responsible for an 80% drop in income the last couple of months!

After a couple of bad months for the site’s performance Dave spent some time improving the site adding live feedback and improving the sign up page. He also launched a new version of the tool.

He took a two week holiday with his family which left him feeling energised and motivated, and going forward will be looking at Virtual Assistant options to help keep on top of emails.

He’s also looking at options to keep Cheatography free of ads and allowing others to sell their work as an alternative revenue.

#8) – $5,388.00 (-$1,200.00)

untemplaterSydney has had a slight drop in income this month and has had a great time at Comic Con in San Francisco and a weekend retreat with her a cappella chorus.

This month she more than made up for not investing earlier in the year. With a goal to invest at least $5k per month, this month she put $40k into three different investments!

With her assets mainly based in the U.S she’s thinking about trying to pick things up abroad with more international exposure in case the U.S heads towards a slump.

#9) – $5,243.17 (+$1,228.68)

ThePracticalSaverIt’s Allan’s best month for income for the sixth month running over at The Practical Saver and he’s had no expenses this month either!

He’s focused heavily on social media for traffic and although he’s seen a bunch of paid courses on how to grow traffic he’s decided to stick to free courses and try things out for himself first.

This month he became part of AOL’s Finance Collective and has spent time working on Pinterest collaborative boards.

Going forward he hopes to write reviews for some of the products he’s used. His goals this month are to increase his pageviews, reach 600 email subscribers and double his income!

#10) – $2,489.74 (-$393.09)

ohpRon’s seen a slight drop in income this month due to having less consultation work, something he’s not too worried about as he focuses on creating passive income.

He took the first half of the month off and enjoyed some time in Brazil. He’s happy to report that Udemy and One Hour Professor both brought a good income without much effort this month.

His expenses were also up a little due to Authority Hacker Membership fees, moving JFFHub to HTTPS and hitting next tier email pricing. He reminds readers of the importance of keeping your list tidy.

This month he was annoyed to find a copycat website stealing his ideas and information. In future he’ll be referring to his new authority sites by abbreviation only without sharing the URLs.

#11) – $1,489.12 (+$570.75)

Passive Income TrekIt’s Richard’s best month for income so far for the second month in a row and he’s also celebrating his first four-figure month! He’s had a busy month and only got around to publishing two posts this month.

He also spent time tweaking his Twitter automation. Not having had much success with sticking to monthly goals he’s decided to focus solely on growing traffic for the next couple of months.

This month he was disappointed to see a drop in affiliate income and knows his side income will be decreasing a little each month, but he has plans to improve all that going forward!

#12) – $1,394.15 (+$149.84)

OnlineMoneyzIlya has had a crazy month in between moving across the country twice and starting college and he’s still managed to see a slight increase in income despite a drop in traffic.

He’s been really busy hiring and teaching his first VA, buying PBN links for one of his sites, finding low competition high search volume keywords for another site and buying keywords when he didn’t have time to find them himself.

Next month he’ll be focusing on Amazon Affiliates and preparing ways to get the most income out of the holiday season, all while preparing for his midterm college exams!

#13) – $700.96 (+$80.00)

AliRazaIt’s Ali’s second best month for income so far and this month he’s happy to be celebrating twelve months of income reports by sharing his five most popular posts this year!

Working hard to improve user experience as always Ali has removed his email opt in popups due to readers finding it annoying and is interested to see how signups perform without it.

He also added a last updated plugin so that readers can see how up to date his articles are and has finished his page offering his consultation services.

His featured question focuses on how to take your offline business online for more sales. Next month he hopes to improve site speed, write more than 15,000 words and get at least 2,500 unique visitors to the site!

#14) – $580.72 (+$176.28)

PassiveIncomeWiseAfter a crazy month and getting married in Spain, Francisco finally got back down to business this month. He’s also celebrating twelve consecutive months of income reports and his best month for income!

This month he visited Montpellier in France for a conference as part of his PHD and presented some of his research. He began work using forums and Q & A sites to give more exposure to his website.

Next month he plans to invest in some premium plugins for the blog and is thinking about hiring someone to create a logo. He’ll also be writing a more in depth report on his ‘Niche Site 2’ which he says is starting to get interesting.

#15) – $361.41 (-$822.47)

livingoffcloudThis month has seen a big drop in income for Nadya as she reports high expenses and unusually low revenue. She’s also celebrating her blog’s one year anniversary!

She had a scare this month as Adsense gave her a warning about her ‘Elephant’ website and left her with 72 hours to fix the problem. An adsense ban would have a major impact on revenue so she spent two full days fixing the issues.

Going forward she’s contemplating moving away from Kickfurther because they don’t support non-U.S users. She also hopes to increase conversion rate on her ‘Rat’ website and continue improving the PBN for her ‘Honeybee’ site.

#16) – $138.12 (-$80.94)

The Restless WorkerIt’s a bit of a drop in income again for Madi this month as she decided to reject some sponsored post opportunites. She’s opted for quality over quick income.

With Pinterest still a top source of referral traffic she also started to advertise more with her Facebook page for more exposure.

She began taking a closer look at how traffic is growing in this month’s report and is continuing to work on all the same goals as they roll over from last month.

#17) – $81.78 (-$11.30)

mypathtopassiveincomeIt’s a slight drop in income for Esteban this month and after a nice holiday he came back more motivated than ever!

He’s feeling great after recovering from his laser eye surgery and is enjoying looking at life with 20/20 vision. Since starting his new job he has found it difficult to stay active.

After noticing how that affected his eating habits and productivity he recently took up MMA. He’s also really excited about an opportunity to invest in a new apartment.

His goals for next month include sticking to his new MMA classes, getting a mortgage and earning $1000 with his side project!

#18) – $26.80 (+$61.68)

TheExtraIncomeProjectWhile income hasn’t been a top priority for Lloyd his attention to traffic and email list growth is starting to pay off!

He smashed his most important goals this month despite getting sick twice and spent a lot of time job hunting for a pay rise. That did take his mind away from his publishing goals though, so he only published two posts.

He was excited to get a glimpse of how the blog can keep up a passive income stream without having to focus on it every day. He’s also been testing Pinterest automation and split testing Pin designs this month.

Now that he’s becoming more comfortable with the level of growth across various traffic sources he’s thinking about turning attention more towards income in future.

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In Summary

This month we’ve had no new bloggers in the roundup and the total income has dropped $28,190.73 from last month to $213,088.17.

It’s been an exciting month for our bloggers as many take a slight hit in income in favour of planting seeds for the future.

Two bloggers are also celebrating twelve months of reporting their income and one is celebrating their one year blogiversary!

Ten blogs are reporting an increase in income this month with four celebrating their best month for income so far and another four coming in just shy of that with their second best month.

I can’t wait to see how everyone’s attention to real quality over quick income opportunities pays off in the long run!

If you feel inspired to start your own blog then why don’t you start a blog now? It only takes a few minutes!

Performance Tracking

I only include the earnings history of the top 10 blogs each month to make the graphs easy to read.

I’m having a problem with the graph right now and will update the post when fixed

Income Report Roundup – October 2016 was originally published on Matthew Woodward

from Matthew Woodward

Starting From Scratch: How I Would Start and Grow a Business With No Money

Imagine if you woke up tomorrow with no money and no business.  What would be your first steps to start building a profitable business?

Perhaps for some of you, this might not be that hard to imagine.

Today, I would like to answer this hypothetical question: “What would I do if I were starting over today with no money and no existing business?”

Believe it or not, this question isn’t that hard for me to answer.  I boot strapped all my own business ventures, and a decade ago, I really had no money to speak of to kick things off.

So, let’s jump right into it: here’s what I would do to start a business with no money.

I Would NOT…

If I was considering a brand new business, and I had not run any previous successful ventures, I would not seek outside funding.

In other words, I would NOT:

  • Borrow money from family and friends
  • Get a loan
  • Self-fund through credit cards, or other types of debt
  • Break open my kids piggy bank with a sledgehammer
  • Rob the mini-mart

If you have savings…great!  You can use your own savings if you want to fund your own business.  However, this discussion is for people that don’t have any savings to speak of…now what?

Take the Stair Step Approach

We’ve all been there.  No money in the bank, and your day job is barely covering expenses.  How in the world are you supposed to start a business empire?!

Well, you need to start small and grow from there.  You need to take the stair step approach.

In other words, you need to find some way that you can bring EXTRA money in the door without investing money that you don’t have.  Only once you have some seed money (even $500 can be considered enough seed money in some cases), can you then invest more into your business idea.

Here’s a few ways that you can bring in extra money each month, outside of your full-time job:

  • Consulting.  This is actually how I earned my first $600 that went into investing in my niche site business…which eventually turned into a full-time six figure business for me.  I built a simple WordPress website for a local accountant and he paid me $600 for my time.
  • Writing.  Thousands of jobs are posted almost daily by people looking for someone to write for their websites. and are just a couple of places you can get hired to write for other websites (there are MANY others).
  • You can do all sorts of “gigs” on  This could be anything from graphic design to voiceovers, or even singing happy birthday to someone.  Matthew Woodward has written a great guide on making a few bucks on Fiverr here.
  • Freelancing.  Between Upwork,,,, and many others, you can find all sorts of people looking to hire freelance workers.
  • Udemy.  If you have a microphone, video editing software, and something you can teach; then you can likely create a course and sell it on Udemy without investing any money.
  • Garage Sale.
  • Work extra hours at your current job.
  • Get a second job.
  • Budget and save.  You might not need to do anything else other than start living on less than you make for a few months until you have your small nest-egg that you can invest in your next business.
  • Other Side Hustles.  There are tons of other ways that you can make money on the “side”.  Nick Loper has a great article where he lists 99 side hustle ideas.

The one thing that you notice about most of these ideas is that you will be trading your time for money.  Ideally, you can get away from trading your time for money as soon as possible and move on to building a business that works whether or not you are working.

Once you have some seed money, you can then step up your business.

The Next Step Up…

After I did one consulting gig and made $600, I decided that I never wanted to do consulting again.  So, I took that $600 and invested it into building out niche websites.

I then took some of the money I made from niche websites, and started Long Tail Pro.

Along the way, I’ve taken some of the income from Long Tail Pro and invested in other websites, Amazon FBA products, and other business ventures (some have failed and some have not).

I now have a few revenue streams and a nest egg that I can use to invest in future ideas that I will surely have.  I’ve never borrowed any money or gone in debt to grow my businesses.

This is the exact same approach that I would take if I were to start over again.

Take your $500, $1000, or $10,000 that you have and build a business that has more potential than a one-time or short term freelancing gig.  What business idea to invest in is really up to you at this point, but your first business venture should probably be something small that you can quickly see returns on.

What you start could be a number of things:

  • A small blog or niche website
  • A WordPress plugin
  • An ebook
  • A video course
  • A small software application
  • A mobile app
  • A physical product idea
  • many others…

The key advice that I would give at this step, is that I would start small.  Again, I would not invest my life savings into something; especially if you have never started a business before.

Rob Walling actually wrote a great article about this type of stair step approach and shared some great examples of people launching simple products.

The Grand Finale…Kinda…

Once you’ve launched your first product; hopefully, you will start seeing some money come in the door whether or not you are working.  If you have the right systems in place (pretty easy to do online these days), people will be buying your product or software whether or not you are at your computer.

This first product still might not be enough to quit your full-time job yet.  So, you need another step up.

For your next step, you may decide to go a bit bigger.  Create a new software (or website or other product), that has a bit more market potential.  Find an idea that you think can make you a full-time entrepreneur and go for it!

You now have money to invest (because you’ve been smart about saving the extra income from your first venture instead of blowing it on a new car or eating out at the Cheescake Factory every night).

Take that money and invest in something bigger, or perhaps invest in multiple “small” ideas.  The key now is to learn from the mistakes that you’ve surely made on your first venture and you should have more success in your next one.

This new business could be your grand finale!  The one that allows you to quit your job and feel comfortable super sizing that drink without even batting an eye.  Congrats!

Or you might just become a serial entrepreneur that enjoys the constant challenge and excitement that comes with launching additional ventures down the road.

Remember, Patience is a Virtue

None of this comes easy or quick.  You can’t simply start with nothing in the bank and expect to be quitting your job 3 months later.  It just doesn’t happen that way.

For me, I struggled to find my right “niche” for about six years before I quit my job.  I launched several ventures that never worked out.  I stayed up late writing articles for websites that totally flopped.

However, I stuck with it until I started seeing some initial success.  Once I saw some success with my niche websites, I doubled down on that approach and turned it into a full-time gig on March 11th, 2011 when I quit my job as a business banker.

It’s now been nearly 6 years since I quit my job back in 2011, and the pain and frustration I felt before I quit my job isn’t as fresh anymore, but boy am I glad I went through all of that!

I’ve learned some valuable lessons, and now I’m lucky enough to have built and sold a very successful software company and currently sell several successful products on Amazon.  (I also have a few other websites that I work on as well).

So, just remember that patience is truly a virtue.  Those that are willing to patiently and consistently think through their potential business problems are the ones that are likely to eventually succeed in starting a business with little or no money.

This could take you years, but it’s better than the alternative in my opinion.

Sure, you could keep working a job that you only occasionally care about.  And that’s pretty much the worst case scenario in this stair step approach.  If you fail, you still have your job.

If you DON’T take the stair step approach, you might take your live savings, quit your job, and borrow a bunch of money from the bank.  If your big idea fails at that point, well, you are MUCH worse off than if you had taken the approach that I recommend here.

So, now it’s up to you.  What will be your first step?

The post Starting From Scratch: How I Would Start and Grow a Business With No Money appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

from Niche Pursuits

The Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Scannable Content

Rarely do people read content from beginning to end.

Maybe it’s because of our “microwave,” instant gratification culture. Maybe it’s because millions of other articles are vying for people’s attention.

Or maybe it’s because reading from screens takes about 25% longer than reading from paper. Research has even indicated that readers experience an unpleasant feeling when reading online text.

Whatever the case may be, it’s crucial to take the right approach when writing for online readers—a new approach.

There’s a certain art to digital writing that differs significantly from writing traditional paper text.

If you expect to convert more of your audience into actual customers, you need to crack the code.

You need to switch up your game plan.

In my early days of writing, I didn’t realize this. I had an eye for visual appeal, but I was unsure of how this applied to blogging. There I was, blogging away every day without realizing how people were viewing my articles.

Now, I have a better idea of how people interact with written content online.

What you’re viewing right now is a result of my research and testing.

It’s about scannable content.

What you’re up against

First, let me set the stage for the idea of scannable content.

Did you know that 55% of people spend fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page?

That’s not ideal when your goal is to keep visitors exploring and to get them interested in your product/service/brand.

You’ve got only a small window to grab their attention and motivate them to read your content. And it’s not realistic to expect visitors to read it in its entirety. Hardly anyone does that anymore.

In fact, research on the way people read websites found that only 16% of their subjects read a webpage word by word. Most participants—79% of the test subjectsscanned new pages they came across.

The takeaway is that less than two out of 10 people will actually read an entire blog post. The vast majority will be highly selective about what they read and will merely scan through it.

Another interesting thing is that just because content gets shared doesn’t mean reading engagement increases.

Chartbeat analyzed 10,000 articles shared on social media and found “that there was no relationship whatsoever between the amount a piece of content is shared and the amount of attention an average reader will give that content.”

This graph illustrates this phenomenon:


What’s the solution?

It’s simple. You need to become adept at writing scannable content. This is what the modern digital reader is looking for (whether they consciously know it or not).

What exactly is scannable content?

According to Forbes,

“scannable content is short, sweet and to the point. Sentences and paragraphs are brief. Bold text and bullet points highlight key points. Links to other content are used to provide your readers with supplemental information.”

This writing format is geared toward 21st century readers, who primarily read content on a screen as opposed to a book or any other print publication.

It’s specifically tailored to streamline the way readers absorb information to keep them interested.

And it works.

Dr. Jakob Nielsen even found that scannable online content boosted readability by 57%. If you’re used to conventional writing (e.g., large blocks of text), you need to throw that approach out the window.

You need to embrace scannability. Fortunately, there’s a step-by-step process you can follow.

1. Write short paragraphs

You might have noticed that I prefer to use short paragraphs in my content.

Really short. In fact, a lot of my paragraphs are only a single sentence in length.

That’s not by accident.

I would say that this technique is perhaps the most important when it comes to creating scannable content.

Allow me to provide you with an example. Here’s a large, ugly block of text:


You probably find yourself straining your eyes to read through it.

And here’s some text broken down into much smaller, more digestible chunks:


Which do you find more aesthetically pleasing and easier to read?

I would bet you’d say the second one.

It’s broken up in a way that allows you to move seamlessly from one point to the next without it taxing your brain in the process.

The key is to include only one idea per paragraph and make it a maximum of four sentences. However, I try to stick with just one to three.

Remember that white space is your friend, so use plenty of it to break up text into smaller chunks.

2. Keep your sentences short

There’s no reason to drag your content out by writing long-winded sentences and using PhD-level vocabulary words that only the academic elite will understand.

You need to remember that your audience will consist of a lot of different readers with varying levels of education (and vocabulary).

If readers have to continually check the dictionary just to understand what you’re trying to say, it defeats the whole purpose.

That’s why you’re better off keeping your sentences fairly brief and not getting overly wordy just for the sake of sounding smart.

As a rule of thumb, any more than 16 words per sentence is too long.

Be practical, and try to simplify complex information as much as possible so that everyone can understand it. “Dumb it down” if you have to, but keep the value high.

3. Follow the four-syllable rule

A simple strategy to ensure your writing isn’t wordy is to avoid using any words with more than four syllables.

For instance, you would want to stay away from:

  • Unintelligibly
  • Appropriation
  • Lackadaisical

You get the idea.

Your readers should be able to maneuver their way through your content without becoming exhausted during the process.

4. Use subheaders

Most readers won’t be interested in every single point of your article.

Instead, most readers would prefer to bounce around to seek out the few pieces of key information that interest them the most.

You can accommodate this desire by including several subheaders throughout the body of your content.

This breaks it down in a logical way that makes your content “flow.”

If you read posts from any of my blogs including Quick Sprout, Crazy Egg, and Neil Patel, you’ll notice that I take full advantage of subheaders.

They serve as a quick and easy way to locate main points and accelerate the scanning process. Just make sure that each subheader encapsulates what the following paragraphs cover.

Also, try not to get too clever or cute about it. Instead, keep your subheadings simple and practical.

5. Use bullet points

Who doesn’t love bullet points? I know I do.

They seamlessly break down information so readers can extract key data without having to think too much about it.

Here’s a good example of bullet points used to perfection:


Rather than writing out your list in a sentence, separating your points by commas, create a bullet list, and your readers will love you for it.

6. Sprinkle in images

Images serve two distinct purposes.

First, they serve as an eye candy and fulfill your reader’s subconscious desire for visual stimuli.


Second, they provide periodic breaks between blocks of text.

Both help keep readers on your site for longer and encourage them to engage with your content.

I try to throw in an image at least every few paragraphs or so because I know the images I use enrich my content with information and add validity to my points.

I recommend using data-driven pictures (like graphs) or images to serve as examples, rather than merely using “placeholders,” because these will really add to the overall depth of your content.

7. Add links to external sources

To add authority and credibility to your writing, it’s a good idea to include quotes, data points, graphs, etc. from reliable sources.

I do this with pretty much every piece of content I write. It backs up my argument and proves that I’m not just pulling statistics out of thin air.

But since it’s not practical to include every gory detail, you’ll want to simply include a key sentence or two and insert a link to the original source.

If your readers wish to learn more about a certain topic you cover, they can simply visit the link. As a result, this won’t bog down your content with extraneous information.

8. Create lists

I love lists.

There’s something about breaking down content in a logical, sequential order I find satisfying. It keeps things neat and tidy.

Apparently, I’m not alone.

A study performed by Buzzsumo and Okdork analyzed over 100 million articles to determine which received the most shares. According to their findings, lists were the second most shareable format (only infographics were shared more).


If you really want to maximize the scannability of your content, use plenty of lists.

I’m not saying do this for every single piece of content you create because it will become redundant, but 50% or so should be a good number to shoot for.

Lists are a great weapon to have in your arsenal because they lend themselves to being scanned naturally.


Creating scannable content has arguably never been more important than it is today.

By accommodating the modern online reader and presenting information in a streamlined, visually appealing way, you can improve the reader’s experience.

This technique is also effective for preventing “cognitive overload,” which can drain a reader’s mental energy.

The end result is happier readers who spend more time on your site and who are more likely to convert.

Can you think of any additional techniques for making content more scannable?

from Quick Sprout

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Anatomy of Virality: How to Engineer the Perfect Viral Blog Article

You hear the term viral all the time.

I’m regularly reading Internet content that has “gone viral” or watching the latest viral video post. I research virality, and I read articles about content virality.

Virality is a big deal. If you think about it, viral content is what shapes our culture.

The idea of viral content has become rooted in Internet culture. It’s obviously something that most bloggers and marketers strive to achieve with their content.

Viral content can come in many forms and mean different things to different people.

For example, by some standards, I’ve written several “viral” articles—articles that were viewed by millions and shared by thousands. But when I compare my little blog article to other viral pieces of content, I see that its reach is tiny.


The underlying quality of a viral piece of content is that it circulates rapidly across the Internet and reaches a widespread audience in a short period of time.

It can go from obscurity to mass exposure overnight.

Whether it’s a meme, video, blog post, or commercial, viral content has a way of capturing the attention of people from all walks of life.

There’s something exceptional about it even if you can’t necessarily put your finger on it.

Although there’s no magical recipe that instantly makes a blog article epic and uber-sharable, there is certainly a formula you can follow to achieve virality. After all, virality is a scientific phenomenon, even if achieving insane levels, like 2.5 billion views, isn’t predictable.

You can engineer virality to a certain degree. You start by understanding a few factors and elements that unite viral content.

Here’s a sequence you can follow to engineer the perfect viral blog article.

Content type

First things first. Which types of content receive the most shares?

I think you’ll agree that it’s easier to watch a four-minute music video, for example, than to read a 2,000-word article.

I’m interested in written content for the purposes of our discussion, so I’ll stick to long-form articles.

OkDork and Buzzsumo analyzed over 100 million articles to uncover underlying patterns that contribute to virality.

Here’s what they found in terms of what content was shared the most:


When it comes to blog content, you’ll notice that list articles performed the best overall by a fairly large margin.

This is followed by “why posts,” “what posts,” and “how-to articles.”

So, in theory, you’d have the best odds of your article going viral if you created a list—more specifically, a 10-item list because it increases your odds even more.

According to OkDork, “10 item lists on average received the most social shares—on average 10,621 social shares. In fact, they had four times as many social shares on average than the 2nd most popular list number: 23.” The next best performing articles were lists of 16 and 24 items.

The exact number isn’t as important as the fact that it’s a list. BuzzFeed, the king of listicles, regularly produces viral listicles. When I checked on Buzzsumo the most popular articles in the past year, two of the top five were listicles.


The number seems a bit arbitrary. But the fact that it’s a list? That’s the appeal.

Keep this in mind when deciding on the number of items to include on a list.

Content length

The word count of an article is another huge factor in determining the potential for virality.

There’s a common misconception about long content.

It goes like this:

  • If the content is long…
  • …then nobody will read it.

Guess what? That’s totally false.

Obviously read is a slippery term, so I won’t get into the mechanics of what reading means to people.

Here’s what I do know: longer content gets more shares, backlinks, views, and all the good things that great content deserves.

Here’s what the study mentioned above revealed:


By analyzing this graph, it’s clear that the higher the word count, the better the likelihood of a blog article going viral: 3,000-10,000 words generated the highest overall number of shares.

And this totally makes sense if you think about it.

I’ve definitely noticed a pattern where long, well-researched, in-depth content kills it, while your average, run-of-the-mill 500-word articles achieve only marginal results.

Although people may not read a long article in its entirety, they’re still likely to scan it. To me, that’s important. I try to create articles so people can get value from them even if they don’t read every word.

Aiming for at least 2,000 words per post is ideal if you want your content to get shared across a wide audience.

Evoking the right emotions

Next, there’s the issue of getting readers to feel certain emotions.

The same study from OkDork and Buzzsumo revealed which content received the most number of shares based on the emotions it evoked:


According to these findings, the top four emotions to target are:

  1. Awe
  2. Laughter
  3. Amusement
  4. Joy

What’s the underlying pattern of these emotions?

They’re primarily positive emotions.

Although awe could be positive or negative, laughter, amusement, and joy are all emotions that make people smile and bring about good feelings.

You’ll also notice that negative emotions, like anger and sadness, don’t perform as well. What’s the takeaway? Positive content has a far better chance of going viral than negative content.

Capitalizing on trends

Striking while the iron is hot is also important.

If you can create blog content based on something that’s wildly popular at the moment, the potential for virality increases exponentially.

Although this approach is likely to have a fairly short shelf life and probably won’t be evergreen, you can still generate some massive exposure for a little while.

And if your content is epic, there’s a good chance that many readers will return to your site to see what else you’ve been up to.

Buzzsumo offers a great example.

They mention an article on Fox News Travel from 2015 that talks about a zombie-themed “Walking Dead” cruise.


This article managed to generate a whopping 1.5 million shares and over 400,000 comments. Not bad for a piece about undead brain eaters.

The lesson here is that writing content based on current trends can definitely work in your favor.


People love visuals. They make even the most mundane content come to life and bring the points of a blog article into a cohesive whole.

So as you might imagine, images play a considerable role in virality.

To put it simply, including images in your content increases your odds of getting shares.

Skipping images reduces those odds.

Here’s a graph that shows the impact images can have:


As you can see, articles with at least one image greatly outperform articles without any images.

In fact, having just one image will theoretically double your number of shares.

However, I wouldn’t stop at just one. The more visual appeal, the better.

That’s why I always make sure I include at least a handful of images in every blog article I write.

Author byline

There’s also the issue of a byline, which briefly tells the reader who the author of an article is.

In this case, that’s you.

OkDork and Buzzsumo found that this is also a factor in virality:


Overall, content with a byline/bio receives more shares than content without one.

While there’s virtually no difference in terms of shares on Facebook, it definitely makes a difference on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

But why?

It’s simple. Having a byline lets readers know who the author is, which adds to the article’s credibility.

More trustworthiness = more shares.

Do yourself a favor and make sure to include your byline with each article, ideally with a professional-looking headshot.

Posting at the right time

One factor that’s commonly overlooked is the day of the week a blog article is posted.

Research has found that the odds of content going viral are increased considerably when the article is posted during the weekdays. More specifically, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays are your best bets.


There’s a very clear drop off on the weekends, which makes sense, considering many people are out and about and less likely to be glued to the Internet.

For the best possible chances of your article going viral, it would be smart to post on a Tuesday.

The power of influencers

One last thing. If you can get influencers to share your content with their audiences, the potential for virality goes through the roof.

Here’s what I mean:


Even if you can get just one influencer to share your content, the results can be significant.

But if you can somehow get five influencers to do this, it can have a monumental, earth-shattering impact.

Of course, this is easier said than done.

But one strategy for getting an influencer on board is to first see which types of content they’ve shared in the past.

You can then base your article around a similar topic and reach out to the influencer once it’s completed.

Putting it all together

Here’s the deal.

You can never tell for sure whether or not any given piece of content will go viral.

There is a nearly infinite number of factors involved, and you can never fully predict how people will react.

However, you can follow a formula to give yourself the best possible chance.

Let’s recap.

  • Create a “list article,” ideally with 10 items. Otherwise, lists with 23, 16, and 24 items work best.
  • Make sure it’s a fairly long article with at least 2,000 words. However, the more words, the better. Pieces with 3,000-10,000 words receive the most shares on average.
  • Try to stick with positive themes that evoke awe, laughter, amusement, and joy. Don’t kill the vibe of your audience with overly negative themes.
  • Base your article around a popular trend that’s sweeping the world at the moment.
  • Include visuals. One image is a must, but don’t be afraid to go a little crazy with your images. Your audience should respond favorably.
  • Insert your byline/bio at the end of the article to boost your credibility.
  • Post during the weekdays. Tuesday is ideal.
  • Reach out to relevant influencers, and try to get them to share your article with their followers. If you can manage to get five influencers to share, your exposure will quadruple.


Just think of all the benefits a viral blog article can have.

You can create instant exposure for your brand, grow your social media following, generate a massive volume of leads, and increase your brand equity.

Along with this, it’s reasonable to expect that your sales numbers will increase significantly as well.

By understanding the key elements contributing to content going viral, you can devise a more effective strategy.

And once you “crack the virality code,” you can simply rinse and repeat.

What do you think the most important element of a blog article is in order for it to go viral?

from Quick Sprout

Thursday, October 27, 2016

6 Step Process for Building Niche Sites as a “Real” Business

Today’s article is a guest post from Kevin Graham.  Kevin has been building successful niche sites now for a few years and he shares some great tips for building, scaling, and selling your site.  In fact, he and his partner have sold 2 sites for over 6 figures!

While some of the guidelines that Kevin teaches aren’t exactly in line with what I do (building LOTS of sites instead of focusing on a few, using PBNs, etc), he has clearly found s system that works well for him.

Overall, I hope you pick up a few great tips to help you build a successful site!

Here’s Kevin…

The key to success with web assets is to take an approach that turns the building and management of niche sites into a real business. To replace the income from my 9-to-5 job for the long term, I’ve decided that I want to build many sites (instead of just a few) – and that requires a different approach.

What do I actually mean by a “real” business? The government, tax department, and college textbooks all have a different definition of what a business is, but when I talk about a “real” business, I consider it to have the following traits:

  • It is profitable, and profitable to the extent that it is your main source (or a significant source) of income
  • It employs others or uses the work/services of others
  • It is non-passive – you, or a manager, are active in the business and it requires direct effort, thought and oversight
  • It delivers scale – your business creates more than you could create on your own
  • It is repeatable, not a one-off deal, hack or scam. There are systems in place and they are documented
  • It is monitored and managed for performance

More About My Niche Site Business

Like Spencer, I starting building niche sites in my spare time whilst working full time as an IT Support Officer. In late 2013, I sold a small AdSense niche site for $3,000 with Empire Flippers and realized I could make a real living off niche sites.

In 2014, with some savings and my partner in tow, I moved from my home in Australia to Chiang Mai, Thailand to start building niche sites full time. Thailand is a very cheap place to live and Chiang Mai has a fantastic expat community meaning savings and motivation last a lot longer.

Fast forward to October 2016, I’m still in Chiang Mai but have traveled all over the world whilst building niche sites (the latest trip being to the remote Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal to do some whale watching).  By the numbers, I feel that we have achieved a lot:

  • 37 niche sites built
  • 3 niche sites sold
  • 5 regular contractors
  • 6M+ words written
  • Over 3.5 million visitors to our sites in the last 12 months
  • Two six figure sites sold on the Empire Flippers marketplace

This was way beyond my initial expectations and goals.

My 6 Steps for Building Niche Sites

My goal and expectation for any given niche site remain very low. My stated aim is to make $500 per month, once the site is 6-12 months old. Some sites make $0 (we made a mistake or took a chance on a keyword) and some sites make $5,000+ per month after 24 months, but the $500 per month goal remains the target. After four years building niche sites, about 5% flop and 10% hit it out of the park with my model. The other 85% are my troopers – we build one to two sites per month. Build and rank 20 niche sites making $500 per month and you are set.  With that target in mind, here are the steps that we follow to build a site:

Keyword Research

It all starts here. Keyword research is the most important step of the process, because finding low competition keywords is vital to the success of your niche site. This is the domain of my partner – he uses Long Tail Pro for keyword research, and analyses the data in detail to evaluate competition. He also uses a lot of gut feel and instinct built up over the years – he says “keyword research gets easier, but it is never easy in my opinion”. His advice for new players: follow Spencer’s posts from the Niche Site Projects 1, 2 and 3 on keyword research – they’re still as relevant as ever, and start exercising that keyword research muscle.

Brand & Site Plan

This involves selecting which keywords will make up a site, what pages and articles will feature, the brand and domain name, word count, cost to build, guidance for your writer/s and logo design. Be original with your branding. Don’t pick up the domain – be creative and come up with a brand that will stand out from the crowd. We use a simple Excel template to outline the following key points that we then send to our writer:

  • Brand and domain name
  • Logo design brief
  • Target keywords
  • Titles for each page/article
  • Minimum word count of each page/article
  • Cost of content, edit & images
  • Stock images required
  • Products to be researched
  • Stats & ranking of products researched

Content Creation

“Content” is another way of describing the words, images and product reviews that form the basis of your niche site. Having the best and most helpful content in your niche will help your site to rank and convert visitors into buyers. Finding good writers to produce that content for you can be hard but once you have them, they are an invaluable part of your team. We wrote all of the content for the first site ourselves, but once you start making money, you should hire some good writers to leverage your time.


Sites need to be built, hosted on severs, have logos uploaded, themes formatted and content posted. Make sure your site looks good and loads quickly to get the best results. We have a site builder on our team who does all of this work for us, allowing us to focus on other parts of the business.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Your site could be the most helpful site in your chosen niche, have amazing content written by A-grade writers, on super fast hosting with a clean and responsive theme… All of that won’t matter if you don’t do any SEO – no one will see your site. You will get beaten by the competition with their rubbish content and clunky site, who simply did a little SEO. Everybody has his or her own take on SEO, so find a method that works for you and run with it – whether that’s building your own Private Blog Network, renting links from others or doing outreach and link baiting – or any combination of the above.

Monitor & Manage

“What gets measured, gets managed.” Want to lose weight? Weigh yourself and count calories eaten & burned. Want to make money with niche sites? Track your site’s visitors with a tool like Google Analytics or Clicky (Clicky is much better) and track your rankings with a keyword tracker. This helps you pick up issues with your sites and gives you information to help improve your keyword research (remember I mentioned that gut feel & instinct in step 1?). We track the following stats on a monthly basis for each of our sites:

  • Keyword rankings
  • Number of visitors
  • Earnings
  • Page views
  • Bounce rate
  • Goals (the number of people who clicked to Amazon)
  • Orders on Amazon
  • Items Shipped by Amazon
  • Page Views per Visitor
  • Average goal value
  • Average visitor value
  • 3/6/12 month average earnings
  • Potential sale price after brokerage on a marketplace like Empire Flippers.

Tracking this data allows you to interpret what is actually going on with your sites. If traffic increased during the month but earnings decreased, what happened? Was it because more visitors bounced from your site, so there might be something wrong with your site. Or did the product you review go on sale, reducing your commissions? Maybe the products you reviewed have gone out of stock on Amazon? Some things you can fix, some things you can’t.

Niche sites are extremely low maintenance compared to other businesses (you see all the updates for Long Tail Pro right?) but they are not completely passive. Neglect them completely and your income will eventually dry up. If you don’t want to keep up with a site, it might be time to consider selling it.

A Story of Success

Earlier this year, I sold one of our sites on the Empire Flippers marketplace. The site had been a passive earner for us for quite some time (apart from our regular monthly stats review and quarterly site review), and we felt it was time to find a new owner for this site.

When we listed it for sale, the site was making about $5,600 per month, and sites of this size generally take a little bit longer to find the right buyer. The process took about three months in total from when we submitted it for sale on Empire Flippers through to when it sold and I transferred it to the new owner.

Empire Flippers make it really easy to sell profit making sites on their marketplace and they have a number of buyers ready to snap up sites, especially sites that are earning from $500-$1,000 per month – those sites will generally sell within an hour or two of listing.

I was super pumped with this sale – it provided a big cash win for us and a high-return asset for a new owner who can spend more time working on that one site and take it to the next level. They’re already posting new content for additional long tail keywords and working on expanding the site.

Current and Future Plans

With money coming in and my partner remaining focused on niche sites, I was able to try and fix a problem that had I’d been facing in the operation of our niche site business. In late 2015, I launched a new business called Bulk Buy Hosting where we provide reliable, reputable & affordable hosting for private blog networks.

(Spencer’s Note: I do not personally recommend PBNs as explained here).

In January this year, I launched a case study on my blog. The case study covers buying a premade niche site and ranking it with your own private blog network. I called it the “Starting from Scratch” case study, as it was exactly what I would be doing if I was starting over in the niche site business. The case study shows how I spent my $1,000 budget and bought everything that is needed to start earning affiliate commissions from a niche site.

Thanks for reading and letting me share my thoughts and successes. I also want to say a big thank you to Spencer and the Long Tail Pro team – without you guys, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

The post 6 Step Process for Building Niche Sites as a “Real” Business appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

from Niche Pursuits

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How to Use Humor to Power up Your Content Marketing


When I write content, I’m usually not that funny. My written jokes don’t go over too well, so I stick with solid, meaty stuff that helps my readers solve problems and achieve marketing goals.

But I know humor is important.

Some of you reading this article are funny people. You have a knack for creating content that makes people laugh.

I’m here to tell you that’s awesome. Humor is a powerful tool.

Have you noticed that more and more brands are incorporating humor into their marketing these days?

Old Spice, Geico, and Dollar Shave Club are just a few companies that come to mind.

Well, there’s a good reason for this trend. Humor sells. That’s why I applaud you if you’re able to insert humor into your content.

In many cases, making your audience laugh is the key to winning them over, boosting your brand equity, and creating the perception of authenticity.

There’s even hard data showing the appeal humor can have.

Nielsen conducted extensive research on which marketing themes resonate the most with a global audience.

Here’s a breakdown of how advertising appeal differs around the world.


As you can see, the European and North American audiences respond most favorably to humor at 51% and 50% respectively.

So, at least theoretically, throwing humor into your campaign should help you win over half of your audience.

If you do it right, you can use humor to propel your marketing and branding to epic heights.

Why is humor so effective?

The way I see it, there are three main reasons why humor works.

First, it forces people to lower their defenses.

Let’s face it. Many people are skeptical when it comes to advertisements.

And it’s easy to see why.

Because we’re so used to a constant barrage of ads, we tend to close ourselves off from hearing their messages.

Humor works well because it catches people off guard.

It’s like hitting them with a right hook. All of a sudden, they find themselves laughing, amused with the hilarity of a situation.

In turn, this often reduces their skepticism, and there’s a bit more openness to hearing your marketing message.

Second, you can use humor to connect with your audience.

Numerous studies have shown that humor acts as an inherent social bonding mechanism.

In an experiment, Dr. Robin Dunbar found that:

…laughter not only plays an important role in social and non-verbal communication, but it also provides evolutionary qualities that encourage group bonding and protects us from physical and psychological pain. 

In other words, humor brings us closer together and can make your brand more relatable to your audience.

Third, humor often leads to sharing.

Think about it. What’s some of the most shared content on social media?

It’s stuff like crazy cat videos and ridiculous memes.

Take Grumpy Cat, Condescending Wonka, and First World Problems, for example.


If a person comes across something that elicits a legitimate laugh, there’s a high probability they’ll share it with others.

If you play your cards right, a humor-infused content marketing campaign can go viral.

Leveling the playing field

In my opinion, humor is also a great equalizer and has the potential to bridge the gap between small companies and their much larger counterparts.

Just take Dollar Shave Club, for example.

This is a fairly small company specializing in razor blades and shaving accessories.

It’s a drop in a very large bucket of the shaving industry, and it’s up against mega competitors such as Gillette, Remington, and Bic.

But somehow they’ve been able to carve out a nice niche for themselves and, as of mid-2015, had a net worth of $615 million. Not too shabby.

I would say that a large reason behind the success of Dollar Shave Club is their humor.

Although they didn’t have the massive budget of their huge corporate competitors, they understood how to capture the attention of their audience with humor.

One of their most notable slogans is “Our blades are f**king great.”

Do some people find it offensive? Probably.


But guess what? The company crushed it.

As of October, 2016, this ad was viewed over 23.5 million times on YouTube.

This just goes to show that even obscure brands who are up against seemingly insurmountable odds can claim their piece of the pie (and more) by weaving humor into their content marketing.

Now that we’ve established why humor works, let’s talk about how you can use it to amp up your campaign.

It all starts with YOUR demographic

Humor is subjective. What may be funny to a high-schooler may be offensive to someone in their 60s.

For this reason, it’s critical you fully understand your audience and come up with an approach they’ll find legitimately funny.

You need an angle that makes sense and that will hit its mark.

What you don’t want is for your message to come across as being overly offensive, crass, or distasteful.

This obviously won’t do your brand reputation any favors.

The key is to come up with an angle that your specific audience is likely to respond to.

You don’t need to worry about pleasing everyone, but it’s absolutely essential to create (or curate) the right humorous content that’s going to stick.

Humor needs to align with your brand identity

Authenticity is another key ingredient in the success of humor marketing. It needs to reflect what your brand is all about.

Let’s look once again at Dollar Shave Club.

You could consider their brand of humor as edgy, blunt, and non-conservative.

They don’t fit the traditional mold of razor blade suppliers, and they’re totally fine with that.

In fact, they fully embrace their brazen and brassy behavior.

That’s why their humor-centric ads hit just the right note. The ads align perfectly with their brand identity, and people have responded positively.

To recap, you first need to know exactly whom you’re trying to reach and then align your content around your brand.

If you can do these two things, your chances of success will increase exponentially.

Keep it simple

The more complex and complicated your humor is, the more likely it is to miss the mark.

If it needs to be explained, it immediately loses its effectiveness.

In other words, people shouldn’t have to think too much about it. Why it’s funny should be obvious.

Keeping it simple and to the point is your best option if you want your message to resonate.

What kind of humor works?

Perhaps the most straightforward way to evoke laughter is to simply make a joke or snide comment about something.

Take this cynical blog post from The Onion, for example.


Most people immediately get the fact this is mocking the 2016 presidential candidates. It doesn’t take a genius to figure it out, and it’s quite humorous.

In fact, The Onion is an expert at being satirical—humor is woven into its very fabric.

If you’re looking for inspiration on how to be funny in a classy, sophisticated kind of way, this is a good resource to check out.

Another option is to utilize a casual, tongue-in-cheek style.

Maybe you use ludicrous images or snarky pop culture references to grab the attention of your audience and form a bond.

Here’s another example from Wait But Why that pokes fun at the presidential race.


Notice how the simplicity of their content and their ridiculous hand-drawn image instantly resonates with readers.

Going this route typically requires a little more brainstorming than simply making a joke or comment but can have a really big impact when you do it just right.

A third possibility is to shock your audience into laughter.

This is where you create content that catches people off guard by being over the top.

It’s a technique that doesn’t necessarily require a lot of thought or effort. It’s more about taking things to extreme and being so ridiculous that people can’t help but take notice.

A good example of a company who does this well is Skittles with their “taste the rainbow” commercials.

Most of their ads are pretty far out there, e.g., a teenager confessing that he has “Skittlespox.”


A final note

Keep in mind that you don’t have to be a standup comedian to inject humor into your content marketing. You don’t have to leave your audience rolling on the floor laughing.

All you usually have to do is get them to smile and “get it.” That’s enough.

The key is to keep it simple while being authentic and relatable.

If you can win them over with humor, this should allow you to make a genuine connection and leave them more open to exploring your product or service.


Humor is no joke when it comes to content marketing.

It can be very potent and potentially help you win the hearts of your audience.

There’s even firsthand proof that humor can catapult a small, no name company into the upper echelon of its industry, allowing it to compete with big name titans in a way that would otherwise be impossible.

But in order to capitalize on this tactic, you need to do your homework and come up with a game plan that allows you to hit the sweet spot.

By taking the right approach, you can achieve some highly important goals, including building valuable rapport, boosting your brand reputation, and generating a high volume of leads.

Can you think of any other companies who have nailed it by being funny?

from Quick Sprout