If you want to monetize your blog or website, the most stable way is to create a sales funnel. Affiliate programs may come and go, but your email list of loyal subscribers will stay with you forever!
Recently I discovered a whole underground movement devoted to Pinterest marketing. And my outlook has changed. There are a lot of successful bloggers out there creating their own stuff to sell visitors.
Most of them are following a basic marketing principle: A sales funnel with effective email marketing in place.
Some people are still offering up crappy free stuff, but a lot people are offering up legitimate value within their free stuff.
This also has the side benefit of causing you to prioritize your money-making projects first. Because seriously, most of us are trying to earn a living with our websites, am I right?
As well, when you change your focus to one where you offer a lot of value that will bring you some loyal subscribers, you also work harder on giving your visitor awesome value in all of the free content, because you want to set yourself apart from the people giving away crap.
**This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission if you click that link and purchase something. This is at no extra cost to you and it helps me fund my blog. My full disclosure is at the bottom of the page.**
Here is how the funnel looks when you do not have an effective email marketing system in place:
Notice number 3? This is the key area. At this point in your sales funnel you need something really compelling to promote to your visitors…something to get them on your list. Because if they do not sign up for something, there is no reason for them to stay and enjoy all of your awesome content is there?
But let’s not get too far ahead. We shall start at the top and work our way down until we have sorted all of this out.
Customer seeks a solution
This can be anything…a recipe…how to clean your headlights…how to trim your dog’s toenails. They are searching.
Someone is seeking a solution to a problem. You have a solution for this person, so it is only a matter of making a connection between you and them.
Customer finds your website or link from social media to your website
You write an awesome blog post offering a perfect solution and then put your links in social media. And people find you and come to your website and this is AWESOME!
Which brings us to number 3
Customer assesses your solution
Well maybe. They may look at your post and think “I have read this before somewhere” or “I do not have time to read this” or …and then
So we can see that the problem happens at point number 3, when the customer assesses your solution. It may be an awesome solution but it is not keeping them at your site and it is not encouraging them to come back for more.
This is the point where you NEED an email system in place. Not a “sign up for my newsletter” random box in some obscure spot on your blog. Everyone has a newsletter, so that is not really compelling. And not a basic opt-in plugin because it does not give you the tools that you need to make a solid connection with your visitors.
No, your opt-in box requires priority placement and a way to send newsletters (not RSS feed, but a letter that you write)!
Sign up for MailerLite if you need an Email Service Provider (ESP). They are free for the first 1000 subscribers and you can create tons of opt-in boxes for your website that you can customize with your brand colors.
If your “About Me” blurb is at the top of your sidebar then put your opt-in box right ABOVE IT. When they sign up for your freebie (aka Lead Magnet) you can introduce yourself in your first email. If you have a theme that allows it, use an opt-in form as your header.
Write a blog post about your freebie. A whole post on what the problem is and then an opt-in to the solution. DO NOT GIVE AWAY THE SOLUTION IN YOUR POST! This is the key to getting them to sign up. Just hints.
And no, you do not have to do this for all of your posts. Maybe once a month or every six weeks or so.
Examples of great freebies are:
- Coupons, Discount codes, and Special offers – Incentive to buy from you in the future!
- Giveaways or sweepstakes – a great way to get a bunch of signups is a contest that you can promote on social media. They have to sign up for your newsletter to get their name in the draw (check your local laws for how to set up this type of giveaway so that you are not doing anything illegal!). The prize can be an ebook that you have written or a personal consultation for 30 minutes.
- Checklist, Worksheet, Free Report, PDF, Infographic – These are simple to create in Canva, which already has tons of free templates. Just swap out your brand colors and pertinent information. Create a mock-up or screen shot the freebie and put in your blog post!
- Free: Consult, shipping, upgrade, personal call (Value of $), strategy session – these are great for people who need to connect to a real person so that they can ask questions or gain clarity.
You do not have to spend too much time on the freebie. Some of them work and some don’t. You will have to try different wording, pictures and incentives to see what resonates with your audience. Use Free Canva to create as many of these as you want and test them all. I have a blog post on how to use the most common functions of Canva here.
You can also promote a free course that you offer only through sign up. This does not have to be complicated. I have signed up for some really decent content that was basic text-only daily emails with no pictures or media of any kind, but it was totally awesome and very helpful.
Later on, you can package the units into an ebook!
Pinterest Tip: Make a pin with a thumbnail of your freebie and put that on your pin. Be sure to use large easy-to-read fonts and emphasize the word FREE (call to action). Make sure that your website URL is on your pin as well. Then link it to the blog post. Part way down your blog post you put the box with the freebie opt-in. Monitor the results.
Your freebie needs to encourage the people who see your social media posts to feel compelled to click on over to your website and check it out. This creates the link from #2 in the funnel to #3.
After that, we want to change what happens in our funnel from the one pictured above, to one with better results at #4 and #5:
Once you have people on your email subscriber list, you want to nurture that relationship. You send them great tips, links to blog posts (don’t assume they have read all your stuff already!), helpful information from other bloggers in your niche, and strategies that they can use to help themselves.
Be consistent and helpful
If your free stuff is crap, they unsubscribe. But if they are still around at this point THEY ARE YOURS! You can now sell to them and have a better chance that they will buy.
In the early stages, during your welcome series of emails, you can promote something low-cost and not offend too many people with a sales pitch. If you are doing 4 or 5 emails in a welcome series, you can promote your item in the last or second last email, after you have introduced yourself and explained how you can help the person.
If you have series of posts that you can re-package into an ebook, you can sell that for cheap (no more than $7). If someone buys that, then you will likely be able to sell them something more expensive later.
This is also when you can promote a series of affiliate products that go together. Just make sure that the price is very affordable so you do not scare people away, or that they are getting a nice trial period before they have to pay a larger price.
You are not trying to make a fortune with your item
Instead, you want to give a little bit more of what you have to offer for a small amount of money. You are kind of testing the waters with your subscribers to see what interests them and who wants to buy. This also gets them used to purchasing from you.
This reminds me of when a tail light went out on my car and I could only find one YouTube video on how to fix it, and wow it looked complicated. I bought the tool that I needed but when I started the project I gave up because it was clearly going to be a pain in the neck, and I did not want to be hanging off the back end of my car in 35C (95F!) trying to figure it out.
A few weeks later, I went to one of those quickie oil change places. The guy there offered to fix my tail light for 5 bucks. I jumped on that!
The point with my story is that people are at various stages of research and may encounter your website at any point. I was very willing to pay 5 bucks for someone to fix my problem for me.
And if your people are in the stage of your relationship where they are starting to trust you, they will not mind paying $7 for a solution, because even if it is no good, it is still not much of a financial loss, so it is easier to swallow that price.
And if you surprise them by giving them super awesome value for that $7 you will now have a very loyal repeat customer.
And the best part is that if people do purchase these products, then it is likely that there will always be a market for it. And that means you create it once but sell it forever. Steady income!
I was trying to impart that when I wrote the post on Pinterest Ninja. I feel that I got a superior value for the money that I spent, because that information helped me immensely. I am now a loyal customer!
I hope that I have inspired you in some way to start an email campaign and create the integral part of a sales funnel. You hear tales told of 6 figure bloggers who all say that they regret waiting to set up email marketing, and who knows how much money they left on the table because they did not take the time to “get ‘er done”.
It will not take long to set one up. You need:
-Email Service Provider. Free: MailerLite, MailChimp
-Freebie for opt-in. Create with free Canva
– 4 or 5 emails for your welcome series, where you introduce yourself and how you can help, as well as useful and pertinent information to keep them from unsubscribing. Then weekly updates or whatever you want to offer. You want to keep your subscribers engaged so the stick around.
You can go with RSS feed until you set up a schedule for sending out your weekly newsletter. I would advise not waiting too long or you lose customers who are not interested in the weekly blog post, but are looking for something more personal. If you need ideas, sign up for a few newsletters and see what resonates for you and duplicate it in your own way.
3 steps…easy, no?
An effective email system is hub of successful affiliate marketing and a sales funnel that will bring some cash for your hard work. And creating your own stuff to sell guarantees that your product is always available. Then you just have to keep working on step 2 in the funnel because everything else is done.
A quick look around similar niches will show that the more and more successful marketers are selling their own products. Even a $19 ebook can generate decent income and if you can repeat that, as I have seen many people do, you will be creating a scalable income where the sky is the limit!