Why You Must Build Your Email List Sooner Rather Than Later

As part of Blog Prefect’s Email month, I am covering email lists, the most obvious and important element of an Entrepreneur’s arsenal. It is also one of the trickiest elements to master.

Previously I looked at an email list’s importance for blogging.

And here’s the part where I feel like a fraud.

The truth is my email list is not exactly thumping with noise right about now. If BlogPrefect’s email list was a disco, there would be some very unhappy owners wondering why the beer stock numbers haven’t changed in months. My other blog doesn’t even have one yet.

“You are doing it wrong!” I hear the big wigs cry.

Which is exactly why I’m the guy to cover this.

Why You Must Build Your Email List Sooner Rather Than Later

Why You Must Build Your Email List Sooner Rather Than Later

Blogging Marketing Mix in Detail

Blogging has a marketing mix. It’s not like the pick and mix sweet buffet that many children rot their teeth on. We are getting into the business suit now boys and girls, so listen up.

  • Q: What then, dear Headboy, is a Marketing Mix?
  • A: Exactly what it says on the box. A mix of marketing avenues.

What Types of Marketing Exist in a Blogging Market?

Social Media Referral

Your efforts here either repays through organic (unpaid), or paid links. Social Media provides light returns for high effort expended. In the early days where your numbers are small, the gains and click-through rates will be weak.

The disproportionate nature of such returns forces the need to boost through with paid advertising either to gain following to further reap, or simply to sow. Law of attraction wins out where high visible reshare and like factors spool the viral engine to success. Prepare to explode on the launch pad in the early days grinding for traction in a bloated market of competitors.

Advertising (by means of a third-party)

There are a number of locations where you can gain access to advertising. Adsense is one but there are others.

Each agency uses virtual billboards and technology to follow the target demographic around the internet.

As long as you know what you are promoting and what kind of audience you want to attract, everything is golden. If you are not all that sure, prepare for losing money hand over fist.

Possibly the only reason you’d be tempted to go this way is if you have a product and a marketing budget. If you are a standard opportunist without that budget then this option is unlikely to be for you.

Many blogging entrepreneurs start out with no product to market. They instead move to attract a following so that they can design a product to meet that market’s desire.

The problem is that bigger competition has most likely already got it covered so you will have to do something truly unique or outstanding in order to make a difference.

Developing unique qualities takes time that many Entrepreneurs don’t have the patience for.

Backlink

Through interlinking between blogs of like topic backlinks are established. Unfortunately backlinks don’t provide as good a return as they used to and Google doesn’t measure these links as favourably. Backlinks are not without drawbacks despite how useful they can be.

Backlinks were cracked down on because black-hat creators went too far in trying to artificially boost their traffic. These over optimisations were penalised in algorithm changes made by Google.

SEO – Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation makes the titles and content used for each post look attractive for the search engines. This includes; Keywords and their density, quality of the article, the authority of the website, the ranking of the page on a search engine and a number of other nefarious criteria.

SEO is a dark art and a science. The process is influenced by algorithmic filtration and the illusion of fairness.

Direct

Email marketing and Bookmarks feature as direct traffic. Email marketing goes directly to the inbox of the recipient and provides an unadulterated link back to the blog. A bookmark sits on the browser and takes the reader directly to that page.

Out of the Mix, which would you pick?

Direct is the best choice and here’s why.

  • You already have permission.*
  • You hand deliver your audience the destinations you want them to look at.
  • Your viewers are motivated by a relationship with you and your work.
  • You can self-promote without penalty.**

* If you abuse that permission by hitting your viewers with anything that isn’t directly relevant, you may lose the audience.

** The audience can punish you if they don’t like what you are promoting by choosing to ‘vote with their feet’.

Reach

This term is market-speak for the total number of people you can reach. Your reach is only “Potential”. As I make reference to many times, you cannot get 100%. You won’t even get 10%.

Your grasp of your audience in most of your other forms of marketing is restricted by the platforms that provide you that reach.

Why?

These media corporations want your filthy lucre. In translation, filthy lucre stands for money or more business suit and tie; advertising revenue.

The fat controller wants to provide a better service to the audience therein is motivated to be aggressive on stamping out synthetic marketing unless it is paid for.

If the fat controller can throttle you back to a portion of your audience they can sell you on advertising to the rest and to those outside your sphere of influence.

No Limits

There is no limit on reach in your marketing list. The only true limit is the number of people you have in that list. This means that you can send an email and everyone on that list receives it. It does not mean that everyone on the list who receives the email will open it but I’ll go into that in the limitations below.

Email Lists Are Evergreen

This means that as long as you’ve reached a decent subscription count that remains stable in gains vs losses, you are going to generate a constant stream of predictable traffic to your blog and to your website as a whole. This helps boost up your figures to Google who will score you higher in authority which means you will get more Search Engine traffic in those articles that are well placed.

In analytical terms, you will see a gentle spiking pattern based on the days that you see your content posted. Email lists generate that predictable traffic you need each time you push out an article you spent valuable time on.

When I say predictable traffic

It will be predictable within a range. The truth is you never get 100%. It just doesn’t happen. What can be predicted is that you will get a healthier share of engagement than you would from simply publicising your post on social media or hoping that somebody stumbles upon it via a Search Engine. I’ll go into this in more detail below.

Limitations

Whilst big wig bloggers do speak about the email list as a ‘panacea to all ills’ there are some limitations and hiccups to email lists:

Diminishing Returns

You are not guaranteed to get every member of your email list open and perform the actions you want every time you post. The “open rate” can be a small percentage of the whole. Having said this, potentially the engagement factor is higher in an email list than on a social media site. Regardless, if you have a tiny list you are only likely to capture a percentage of your list each time.

Click rates, those people opening your emails and deciding to take action, are less than the open rate. You may have readers who take no action.

In fact, your list can go through some decay over time leading you with these types of subscriber.

  • Leavers – Subscribers who up and leave.
  • No open – Subscribers who never open your emails, either sending them straight to delete or just leaving them to pile up like your unfulfilled dreams.
  • No action – Subscribers who never click links in your emails.

Subscriber Attraction

Motivating subscription is tough. When you’ve built your list but nobody shows up. Remedial action requires you to perform extra marketing activities to capture those followers and it isn’t that easy initially. You can use a weight of number strategy later to encourage more attraction to a list. My free guide to making guides provides another insight into how bloggers can capture readers through offering an incentive.

Funky Fresh

Automation doesn’t always work. Humans become bored after a certain length of time. This is why big wig bloggers and prolific brand owners modify their approach over time. Freshness in presentation is important but hard to quantify. Sometimes it is more of question of “How long can I leave it until it starts looking tired?” which is likely to be the wrong attitude.

Filtration

HTML based emails get blocked by spam filters or placed in promotion inboxes. Running an RSS feed may not be the most effective way to go as a result. The problem is, do you have time to go manual? Creating a manual email to your list takes longer and doesn’t have the benefit of as much interactivity.

Email List Providers Cost Money

The service isn’t free. Except Mailchimp which starts out free but will eventually cost when you hit a subscription/email threshold. Free options will not provide you the flexibility of the professional alternatives which burdens you with a demand on your ROI (Return on Investment).

Having a drain on your rations from the start puts you under the cosh. You could argue that at least the money you pay to gain reach is transparent but you’ll be left to claw it back.

Why Start Now?

Reason 1

It is going to take you a while to figure out the best way to present your email offering so it is better to have everything tested even if it means that some of your early subscribers have a rough experience.

Reason 2

Your audience is your most important asset. Email provides a good way of retaining that audience as long as you continue to satisfy their needs.

Reason 3

The strength of the incumbent members of your niche is increasing by the day. New entrants are also popping up on a daily basis. Barriers to entry in entrepreneurial endeavours on the internet are very low. (It does take a considerable length of time to make a healthy profit for a green initiate however). You will need to start collecting a loyal audience.

Reason 4

It is an essential part of your marketing mix.

Reason 5

It can be low maintenance. The minimalist approach works well with email marketing.

 

In Closing

The sooner you start, the sooner you start to learn and adjust. It is going to be horrible at first but eventually you will find ways to attract and retain your audience. Email subscribers are not an asset you should leave to gather later.

If you have found this article useful or feel it could use something more, feel free to leave a comment.

You can contact me on twitter @blogprefect or through the contact page

Image Credits

Featured image from Pixabay by werner22brigitte

Community Group Spotlight Blogging on Google+

Blogging Community on Google+

I’ve been with this Blogging community for a long time and have contributed numerous posts to this community. I have viewed, added comment, shared and plussed many articles. This community has driven around 60% of my Google+ traffic over the time that I’ve been with Google+. I felt it was time to show my appreciation and cast a bit of light on this community and its characteristics.

The Community Link

Members

The group as of today (17th November 2015) has 89,185 users. This is not a bad number. That number would fit a good stadium.

As you can probably imagine, there are likely countless inactive users, it goes with the territory. I have made a rough handed segmentation based entirely on my own mad thoughts about how the community might be composed based on the length of time I’ve been with the community and the visual and rough trends that I see. You are welcome to challenge this perception in the comments.

Community Group Users – by means of Jacksonised Hyper-Generalisation

Insidious Members

Blog Post Comments

  • Passive Lurkers: Join up but never contribute, read, plus, comment or share. These are the types of Google+ user that have joined with their Blank Page or happen to be a Johnny No-Face.
  • Fly-by-Nighters & Early-Quitters: Join up for a short period with limited (but not entirely without merit) contact then go silent like the grave never to return.
  • Spam-Monkeys & Link-Droppers: Join with the clear intent of being entirely self-serving with their dodgy goods and services. Fortunately the moderators do a good job of sweeping them away from what I’ve seen.
  • Low rent negative commentators or Borderline Trolls: The epitome of jerk. People you’d happily punch in the balls or lack therein. Fortunately I’ve seen very few signs of these.

Middle of the road Members

  • Former contributor to mid-term passives: Have contributed in the past but are now more passive either because they don’t need the attention, aren’t all that bothered or just are time poor. They may shower with love on the rare to occasional but aren’t up to full operating speed.
  • Semi-regulars: These users pop up in fits and starts and then disappear again for undefined periods. They tend to run short to medium campaigns then pull up their capes and disappear to the Batcave.
  • Holiday-timers: Only seem to produce high levels of interaction during seasonal periods indicating that they are students of some form or happen to be constrained by their job’s calendar.

Active Members

  • Consistent contributors: They are weighted more to pushing their content or sharing others.
  • Consistent observers: They are weighted more to checking out what interests them, once hooked by the title, they are likely to view your content.
  • Consistent plussers: There are those who will + your shared work but may not necessarily have viewed the link you wanted them to follow.
  • Consistent sharers: Those who share other’s work consistently. Sharing is not such a common activity so this category rubber bands those people who share more occasionally than rarely.
  • Consistent commentators: Whilst these guys and gals don’t comment all the time, they sooner or later make an appearance, and you’ll be glad of their words.

Exceptional Members

  • Serial Commentators: Perhaps the least common are the serial commentators. These are dependable individuals who make an effort.
  • Serial Sharers: These individuals are also a rarity. Serial sharers normally exist with busy communities of their own and large numbers in their circle so are the types of people who like to feed their followers with content to appease their thirst for knowledge.

Other Members

  • Those that don’t specifically fit into any generalised box. The non-descript.

Distinct Community Contributors?

I don’t foresee that there are any specific long term contributors. This community is different in that way. Rather than serial contributors I tend to see a trend of those middle of the road type 1 users or “Former contributor to mid-term passives”. They ride with the community for so long then bow out leaving a clearing in the forest for somebody else. Handing-over quality is a characteristic that I like about the community because you can get pretty bored with the usual faces over time and I’ve been in other communities where some contributors get too big for their boots.

Common Themes in blog diversity

There are some blog themes that come up quite often in the group. I might classify some of these as common “magazine themes”. They are the type of content you might open the front page of a magazine for.

SEO or Search Engine Optimisation, marketing and business. A highly subscribed term of phrase for those bloggers who want to make money but also an area that is heavily crowded even at the sub-sub-niche level. This is why SEO practitioners, scientists and pan handlers spread their net wider with marketing and business leaving the audience with a variegated cornucopia of content (a mixed bag for the dim-witted).

Tech. Everybody loves tech and this seems to surface quite regularly. A rather important aspect to tech is the choices presented, often there are a number of rivals in any given sector. We are all built into this cycle of constructive discontent by being guilted into the next iteration of a product so it stands to reason that each new generation needs a review and comparison.

Fashion. But not just English speaking fashion, oh no! I am a secret fan of the fashion blogs even though they don’t tie in well with the niche I’m in. Mostly because I get to have a look at some intriguingly dressed women. What’s not to love? Google translate, do your worst! Sandals with socks need not apply.

Relationships. Relationship blogs creep up a lot. I’m not entirely convinced on how they make money (but that’s most likely me being ignorant) other than pushing people towards dating sites but they do chart from time to time. Relationships are a significant element of a person’s life unless they choose to be alone so it stands to reason that there should be some blogs about them.

Fitness & Diet. Fitness has been a massive boom area online, mostly because it is very easy to develop a service/product mix and integrate tangible real world results quickly into blog format with, and this is important, videos. Fitness produces a lot of products varying from mechanical to pill based giving the marketer a wide range of scope. This coupled with the fact that obesity and personal image has become such a popular diversion spells a recipe for those energetic sales hungry individuals to care and share (but mostly share).

Miscellaneous. There are more topics in between but they don’t feature as prominently. That’s not to say that certain topics are any less important or less noteworthy, just to say that those varied niches don’t figure as commonly into the more traditional “magazine themes”.

Variety of Blogging Platforms

Predominantly I see both WordPress (.org and .com flavours) and Blogger platforms. I haven’t seen much in the way of Weebly or Drupal but there are the odd sites there to represent them. Of course there are platforms that rest outside of this and fortunately the sinister ones like the Empowerment network are very scarce and never gain a foothold.

Money bloggers versus Personal bloggers

There is a skew towards money bloggers or at least those aspiring to make money but I’m happy to see that some personal bloggers share their content as well. It is satisfying to know that not everyone is always chasing the green (insert your national denomination’s colour here) in their online pursuits.

Amateurs versus Semi-Professionals & Professionals

I would hazard that the balance of Amateurs versus Semi-Pros & Pros would be in the range of 7:1. For every 7 Amateurs there is 1 established blogger. Amateurs doesn’t necessarily mean newcomers with new blogs, more those who have not had sufficient impact or are still Income-Zero.

Method and variety of posts

The distinct and prime flavour of the posting is to involve images, images and images. Did I mention images? Images. Yes, images. The prime posting flavour also includes a link to a website, provided either with a shortlink or the full page URL. Because of the way Google+ works, it is preferable to place the full URL rather than a shortlink because it looks a bit sexier on the preview. If the link is shortened by Bitly or WordPress, the site shows a different origin in the preview pane of the post.

Those lazier posters sling the URL in the text element of the G+ post with no explanation and it’s lazy, don’t do it!

Rarely, a question is asked with no links. I like seeing those in the community and from time to time find myself being the first to answer. I’m often not sure why people hold off on helping out, it costs nothing in the end. So you risk looking stupid but normally with a few right answers people either leave happy or a bit less confused than when they started. Of course, on the rare occasion you will get a full “derp” question in which case, feel free to steer the answer barge clear.

Now that Google+ provides a survey post type, a few of these have appeared. These are quite enjoyable as long as I agree with the questions asked (and such a thing is always subjective to the participator). It’s always interesting to see the sway of public opinion!

Is this a good community to join?

The answer to that is you have nothing to lose. If you have a blog that needs a bit of exposure, this isn’t a terrible place to head.

There is a but…

Not everything works and you are putting your content in front of fellow bloggers. There is potential you’ll get copied if your ideas are of merit so watch out. Besides those issues you’ll have to work hard to impress but the added traffic is beneficial and there is potential to connect with a helpful community. A lot of the time it depends on what you ask and how you interact.

Feedback Welcome!

Had some experience with this community? Don’t agree with my views? Feedback welcome.

You can contact me at headboy [at] blogprefect [dot] com, via the contact page or through twitter via @blogprefect.

Being rapped over the knuckles for Self-Promotion

It may not have escaped your attention that if you are a blogger trying to earn your stripes you need to promote your content in numerous active channels to put people in front of your content. Promotion lets people know you are hip and happening. Hitting the streets with your work is your divine right! Why make a written piece of work if you can’t share it?

Then we focus on social communities, where we get acceptable behaviour, then violations. It’s the break on the runaway train to greatness.

Angry Nun with Ruler

Being rapped over the knuckles for Self-Promotion

It has become a rather growing theme that in certain communities the act of self-promotion is considered a crime.

Spamming

The act of repeating a rather low quality message numerous times. 

You’ll most likely get ejected for this or muted. It’s not a good strategy. On Twitter, repeating some of your tweets are no bad thing but on many other social sites you might become a hate figure if you are seen repeating yourself too often.

It depends on whether you want to really push the envelope and risk consequences or want to be modest.

Spamming in community areas is a strong no-no. Often you should try to avoid becoming too much of a dominant voice because you crowd out others around you. It can cause an arms race where the person who spams the most wins the spoils. This isn’t a mark of quality in a community. People are turned off very quickly by obvious attempts to oversaturate with self-promotion. If you give nothing back, why are people likely to be interesting in participating?

Another dark mark is directly contacting people with shares with the expectation they’ll take a look. If there is anything that looks like a cut and paste job, it is bound to be a more blunt force method of pushing your message across.

What’s up with advertising?

We’ve grown a bit weary to advertising as a unified world. Advertising doesn’t hold a person’s attention like it used to mostly because we’ve been bombarded with it for a long period of time and in order to stand out you have to go considerably further to impact your target.

I find adverts repulsive. I like to record programs on traditional channels and fast forward the adverts. Do you do that? If there is an advert I don’t like hearing on the radio I am sometimes compelled to lower the volume or turn off the radio altogether. Do you do that?

The other problem with advertising is that it can be indirect. Sometimes you might think to yourself “Who is this advert really for, it’s lost on me!”

So when you see a channel full of adverts often you might think, what is the benefit in that for me?

This leads to policing and moderation….

What’s the problem in a Police state?

Unnecessary brutality is a key symptom of a Police state. That is to say that for the good of keeping self-promotion from the eyes of the viewer, there ends up being very little incentive for content makers to participate. The reward of being part of a group is that you can share your stuff (even if nobody looks at it).

Facebook have been starting this process. The content published now only reaches a small percentage of the total. It has been filtered for the good of humanity. If you are cynical which happens to me most days, you could say the good of Facebook’s bank balance, which is already rather plump.

If you pay for it, it’s alright, isn’t it?

Paid advertising is now and has been the route that many social media outlets like to tout. Google has made most of its money on this activity above all others. Facebook generates huge revenue from paid advertising, having a large community of high grade businesses. Twitter and LinkedIn also make money from the same.

One of the major concerns with paid advertising is that you don’t have an iron clad return. You’ll be given guarantees but they have to materialise. You could run your advert and see nothing back. It is a gamble at the end of the day.

There is another argument that you drive the horrible industry that you are trying to escape from. Remember all those adverts you fast forwarded through? You are adding to that pile. There is something to leaving your sensibilities at the door when you get involved in business yourself but it smarts doesn’t it.

Is there any way to go about self-promotion in a ‘righter’ way?

Sadly not! No matter how you tackle this issue, you’ll have to look self-promotion in the face. Your stuff cannot exist in a vacuum. You have to work at building influence in order to become a stronger voice.

“He the man, She the man!”

henry-winkler-the-fonz-murphy-elliott

Image Source: Fine Art Of America by Murphy Elliot

I mentioned before in a previous post about becoming the Fonzy (Fonzarello from Happy Days) of the social world. Unfortunately, you have to embrace a bit of that ‘super star’ in order to succeed at the network. Promotion is a numbers game, you can write the worst title going and people will look if they see enough other people doing it. The tips that these big wig bloggers might tell you mean nothing when compared to the weight of number.

Weight of Number is a topic I will look at in more depth this year but in short summary; attraction can be influenced by social activity in numbers.

A lot of time you only reach the right level of exposure being in the right place at the right time. That special influencer spotted you at the right moment and shone the torch light on you. You then need to perform the right activities to succeed after that point. Throttle up or choke.

The false expectation of virility

We expect and pray for viral success, it is the reason why we share what we do. We want to join together thousands of like minds on a topic and reap the benefit whilst they get their fix.

The truth is, and this is an unfortunate truth, we may never go viral. We might produce the most epic content going but it may never be seen in the viral numbers we are expecting. Only a very small number of high quality content ever sees viral levels of traffic.

Even if we see a viral hit, will it have the impact that we hope for after? Will it retain sustained traffic in higher numbers, opening the flood gate, or will we still chart in the same level of numbers we were used to before?

We are under the false impression that our cookies are the best tasting cookies in the world. We haven’t realised that they got a bit burnt in the oven and tastes a bit salty. “It’s an acquired taste for a more complex palate.” We might say. Actually our baking is weak.

No calls to the CDC anytime soon….

Over To You

What are your thoughts about self-promotion? Love or hate?

What is social proof in blogging?

In this article I wanted to look into the ways in which you may need to invest in your process in order to get returns.

Would you think about working free of charge with your first client to build social proof?

Social Proof, what is it exactly?

What is social proof in blogging

On a number of occasions I have highlighted the necessity for Social Proof. This needs more explanation.

  • You have your product/service ready to go then what?

Without social proof very little is going to happen, there will be some apprehension by your potential customer because they don’t want to risk a bad service event when they can see other providers doing a better job with more warmth. You might not even appear on the radar because the customer has filtered by best recommended. Tried and tested equals money.

Social Proof is a marketing term. It relates to a signal that your customers love your service or product and have had a good trust relationship with you. You can think about the artifacts of Social Proof including; Testimonials, Positive Comments and Pure Numbers.

Testimonials

Testimonials are much better than just Positive Comments and Pure Numbers. You know that with the person who wrote the Testimonial, you can contact that individual directly and ask them a question on how the person providing the service handles them. When you see a successful individual using somebody else’s service it may naturally drive you towards further inquiry.

Testimonials show the best side of customer to supplier relationship. (mostly because you’d never put a negative testimonial in front of a prospective customer).

Entrepreneur magazine provides a useful summary on Testimonials here: “How to effectively use testimonials”

Positive Comments

Positive mojo in abundance is another sign that your customer will get something good out of what they are spending their time doing.

If your customer decides to take a wander along your site’s blog and sees plenty of engaged customers, they are reassured by this, as supposed to hundreds of negative comments.

Comments aren’t quite as reliable as testimonials, through censorship and through skullduggery; you can manipulate what is shown. Remember that with Testimonials, a potential new client can track that individual down, ask them a true reflection of the service you provide.

With a comment, it is a more static affair, potentially subversive by the way in which the subject has been devised. You could be talking the talk but not walking the walk. You could have employed commentators.

Comments are very valuable and should not be treated lightly.

Ryan Biddulph was able to cement a sizable empire with his blog commenting, he even wrote a successful ebook about it.

Pure Numbers

I have in the past talked about “Weight of Number”. This is a borrowed philosophy from somebody much older and wiser than myself. Sun Tzu was a famous general of the Chinese army. He was a master strategist and tactician who wrote a short but effective book called the “Art of War”. You should understand that weight of numbers will often conquer resistance.

Attack few with many,

And my Opponent

Will be weak. – Sun Tzu

By seeing number of clients served, numbers of jobs worked to a satisfactory completion, and number of positive ratings, you can be more reassured that this isn’t an overnight flash in the pan. Seeing numbers insinuates that the provider has honed their craft and has developed a suitable operating capability.

There is a dark side to Social Proof

There are those that are honest.

Through a moral code, individuals work from the void of nothing, to gain eventual kudos, this gives them a platform to drive further sales. It is a hard journey that requires a dogged determined streak.

There are those that are dishonest.

These are the individuals who will bypass a moral code and shortcut the process. They will seek methods of driving interest through various “Boosting” activities which will give them an elevated position relative to their time served.

In order to survive in competition, you might have to occasionally embrace the dark side and employ methods of getting ahead because starting blank can be painful.

What methods can be employed to “get ahead”?

I’m going to mention a number of service sites that bloggers tend to use as well as some other examples of e-commerce. You might be able to relate to some of these strategies because you might have tried them.

Amazon: Paying someone to buy your product and write a review.

You don’t want to be a Johnny no star. An obvious tactic is buying a 5 star review with a suitably lengthy and descriptive comment, biased to be positive from the off, jump starting the sales process. One review may not be enough, you may need to obtain a handful of these reviews to get the ball rolling.

This can apply to all sorts of products but is especially effective on unique, untried and untested products that don’t naturally sell.

You can apply this strategy to more than just Amazon. Any outlet that provides reviews can be influenced in this manner. All you need is the capable reviewer and the money to pay the fee. Some reviews can be done in exchange for things other than money (like other reviews or something of equal value).

There is danger with this strategy though. I found two particular articles that highlight this problem.

Huffington Post “Five Stars for Five Dollars”.

Motion “Bad Idea: Paying for Amazon Reviews”.

Shilling: Attracting that first activity.

A “Shillaber” or the term known as “Shill” is to have someone in the crowd ready to take up the mantle of going first. The origin of a shill was an employee in the times of the circus to get people to laugh or in a magician’s show being a willing participant. Fear is a negative driver and many people are fearful of going first, often they have to be coerced to take action.

Consider a group of tourists in Australia who are about to undertake a bungee jump for the first time. Do you think they are more likely to jump after the instructor takes the first drop successfully to demonstrate the harness is safe and the height is right? Of course they are. If that didn’t happen, the instructor might call for anyone who has been bungee jumping before to step up to the plate.

The act of watching that person go first spurs others to do the same. In some ways we act to do things as a community. Sheep, ducks and cows flock together. There always has to be the first water buffalo to cross the crocodile infested river in Africa. Once the first has successfully navigated that water, the rest follow, with safety in numbers.

You may go as far as asking your mother, father, partner or friend to be that first sale with a full refund. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s that first turn on the turnstile.

The wrong comes in products and services that are sub-standard. Where you have the gall to put high praise on something that is clearly deficient is often a date with trading standards or some furious backlash.

Facebook: Paying for activity.

There are numerous vendors who will provide followers, likes and impressions for cash money. Depending on the quality of the vendor, they have ready established networks to provide warmth, uplifts in number and some form of target to your goods or service.

As mentioned, quality will vary! Depending on what you are trying to achieve, often the numbers alone, in this high-speed world, will be enough to sway your prospective client. Proof of engagement can often be more difficult if the quality is low so expect scrutiny.

This activity can be applied to all social media outlets, all you need to do is find the right vendor for the right flavour of social media you want to uplift.

Would I recommend this activity?

I would initially say NO.

You can lose track of your true engagement very quickly if you hyper inflate your numbers through this method. You can effectively cheapen your hard-won audience and make a mess for yourself.

Taking this as a personal example:

I have a small number of Twitter followers but I know for the most part of this group, they will respond to me if I contact them.

On the other hand I have approximately 1,800 Google+ followers and I know that I have a very small group of individuals (in the 1% range and thus disproportionate to twitter) who will respond if I ask them to.

If you were to ask me which group I prefer, I would say Twitter even though I have been working longer with Google+.

If you put in genuine work to cultivate your audience, it has a better pay out in the long run. Don’t shortcut your audience.

But I said initially….

Social media can be used in different ways and depending on how you are trying to sell your product or service, a significant short-term boost could be necessary. There is nothing like time to drive a sense of urgency. If you have a time limit, paying your way higher might be a necessity.

Separating adverts from the mix

Advertising is not cheating, and is not what I consider; the dark side. Advertising is a genuine activity where you pay to get more exposure to potential. I say potential because even though your advert can be served up on a platter to the right person, this person still requires taking the required action, normally the responses are minimal. It is just those techniques where you move into deception territory where you have to be careful.

You can drag a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

The crux of this post:

I will be launching a number of services on my new blog. I cannot claim that any of these services will be unique in the market but I can claim that I am uniquely performing these services and as I become more competent these services will evolve to become more unique.

In order for me to get traction, I need a willing first participant to be my prototype client for one key service, to help me develop the potential. I have a good idea of the types of clients I would like to attract and also have a good idea on how to expand the operation.

This key service is important because ultimately it could be the biggest driver of profit. The service needs to reach a return amount that could aid to free me from my 9 – 5:30 current day job.

The selection of this candidate is an easy one for me. I know and have commented on this person’s blog for months and know that I can have a good working relationship with this individual but it is not a done deal.

There is a sacrifice to be made however.

I will be working for this client for FREE.

What do I stand to get out of this arrangement when I am likely to be working hard for this person?

There are a number of benefits:

  • A Testimonial will be provided straight off the bat. This person knows me, we have a good relationship, we share some affinity. I can rely on this person to speak well of me.
  • I am able to feature this person’s work, and the work I do to improve it, extensively and exclusively.
  • I can call on this person to improve my prototype service, give me essential feedback on what I need to improve to make the process smoother and more professional, and provide ideas for developing the premium package.
  • This person may be able to assist me in isolating future clients who meet the same criteria from their already thriving network.
  • I can work a more flexible arrangement to suit my time commitments.

Strategy:

In terms of strategy, I will be driving a lot of traffic around the service page and my writing as part of the blog is going to be more focused around the subject of “writing”.

If you have followed Blog Prefect’s track for any length of time you’ll know that it follows a more general track along the aspects of blogging and how to do it like a boss, along with the occasional useful how tos, the shared traffic report and some rare diversions.

In conclusion:

  • The important note to draw upon; is that starting out blank, without social proof is a difficult step to jump, especially if it is hard to persuade someone to go first.
  • There are many creative ways to kickstart the process of getting that first customer by using others to help. The payoffs are worthwhile. Social proof is not an element that should be ignored in the launch process.
  • Not every arrangement has to involve money to be beneficial.

I look forward to having a new site in January and hope to see you there! I’m keeping the domain name under wraps at the moment.