#016: How to Start a Successful Online Business with Leslie Samuel

Today I’m talking with Leslie Samuel from the blog, Become a Blogger. Leslie and I break it down step-by-step on how to start a successful business online.

How to Start a Successful Online Business | MiloTree.com


If you follow the advice Leslie shares, you’ll be able to cultivate an audience, understand their needs, create trust, and sell products to them that make their lives better. It’s not hard to do if you start from a place of authenticity!

Leslie is a total joy! You will really love this interview!


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Transcript – How to Start a Successful Online Business

Intro: [00:00:03] Welcome to The Blogger Genius Podcast brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.

Jillian: [00:00:11] Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the show. Today, my guest is my friend, Leslie Samuel. Leslie is a blogger, a podcaster, a business coach, and he is the creator of Become a Blogger, which is a blog focused on how to start and grow a profitable blogging business. Welcome to the show, Leslie.

Leslie: [00:00:34] Well, thank you so much for having me, Jillian. I appreciate it.

Jillian: [00:00:38] So a couple of things. One, I met you in real life at Social Media Marketing World. I went to your session, and I came up to you afterwards and sai,d “I wish you had been my science professor.”

Leslie: [00:00:54] Yes, we did meet there in real life for the first time. I was very flattered by your comments.

Jillian: [00:01:02] Because you were a professor.

Leslie: [00:01:05] Yes, I used to be a professor.

Jillian: [00:01:07] You just have this lovely way that you teach, that I was so happy you were teaching me at Social Media Marketing World.

Leslie: [00:01:16] I’m glad to hear that.

Jillian: [00:01:17] And also I was a guest on your podcast.

Leslie: [00:01:20] Yes, you were.

Jillian: [00:01:21] Which was called Learning with Leslie.

Leslie: [00:01:22] Yeah, your audience should go on and listen to that episode because you killed it.

Jillian: [00:01:26] Oh, thank you. I’ll put it in the show notes so you can hear that conversation.

Leslie: [00:01:31] Awesome.

Jillian: [00:01:31] And the other thing that you taught me, which I’ve taken to heart, is I was so impressed with your setup. We just recorded the episode, and it was over. I had just started recording episodes for my podcast. I was spending so much time editing each episode. And you said, “I just record it, and I post it.”

Jillian: [00:01:54] And I said, “What if a dog barks?” You’re like, “Well, so? It’s just part of life.”

Leslie: [00:02:01] Yeah, dogs bark in real life so that’s all good. I’ve had episodes where someone’s child would come in and they were like, “Oh, I’m so sorry.” I’m like “No. Don’t be sorry. That’s what we do. This is a part of our lives.” I just leave that all in.

Jillian: [00:02:15] I love that, so I’ve started to do that. And I have to say, i t’s helped me embrace imperfection. It’s made my process that much easier and faster.

Leslie: [00:02:28] And what you’ll find is that you get better because now, there’s no editing. If you mess up, you mess up, and that’s OK. But I find that by pushing myself, I actually become better at what I do. I think it’s good overall.

Jillian: [00:02:44] I think you’re right. I absolutely think you’re right. So anyway, I have to thank you for that because you’ve saved me so much time, and you’ve helped me, I don’t know, embrace the fact that this is live and that mistakes are going to happen, and that’s okay.

Leslie: [00:03:00] Part of that, when I started my podcast, I was a high school science and math teacher at a boarding academy, doing that full time. At a boarding academy, full time is no 40 hours.

Perfection is the enemy of a blogger

Leslie: [00:03:12] I mean, you work whenever you work. I knew that if I didn’t do it this way, I would never get my podcast going. And I figured that done is better than perfect.

Jillian: [00:03:23] I love that.

Leslie: [00:03:24] It’s going to be imperfect but people are going to find value in it. So yeah, that’s the way I started and then, I just kept with it.

Jillian: [00:03:31] I love it because you’ve inspired me. Hopefully then, we can inspire our audience that if there’s something you’re scared about or something you’re thinking isn’t perfect, just put it out there.

Leslie: [00:03:42] Exactly.

Jillian: [00:03:43] Okay, so you are a blogging expert. We talked right before this, and I thought that it might be interesting to discuss the idea of why start a blog.

How to monetize your blog

Jillian: [00:03:56] Back in the day, we used to start blogs, and we think we would somehow make money off of them but we weren’t exactly sure how, and it was a way to get our voice out there.

Jillian: [00:04:06] But if my goal were eventually to quit my day job and create something online and somebody will say, “We’ll definitely start a blog,” what would you say to that?

Leslie: [00:04:20] Yes, that’s a great question. When I look at a blog, a lot of people say start a blog so that you can have a business, and I tell people that a blog really isn’t a business.

Leslie: [00:04:33] What a blog is, it’s a way for you to build a platform. Your blog is a platform where you can grow an audience of people that are interested in a specific topic.

Leslie: [00:04:44] Now, if someone wants to make money online, they want to build a business, quite frankly, they’re going to need people to sell to. They’re going to need an audience and a lot of people, they create these awesome products and they want to sell it and then after they have gone through all this effort of creating the product, it’s like, “Okay, so now, who do I sell this thing to?” That’s where blogging comes in.

Jillian: [00:05:11] People kind of have this idea like, “I know. I’m going to just run Facebook ads.”

Leslie: [00:05:18] Yep.

Jillian: [00:05:18] “And that’s how I’m going to do it.”

Leslie: [00:05:20] And while Facebook ads can be effective, if you want this ongoing audience of people to sell to, you need to actually build an audience. That’s why blogging is so important.

Leslie: [00:05:38] That’s what it allows you to do. It’s not a business but it can be built into a business because you have an audience of people that are interested in a specific topic. They have specific pin points that they need solutions for. If you can provide them with a solution, they are willing to part with their hard earned cash in order to get that solution.

Jillian: [00:06:00] Right. Okay, so let’s say, I have this idea for a product. Let’s say it’s a new mop. And I’m going to fly to China. I’ve got to get a factory to build my awesome mop. How would you think about a blog in that scenario?

Leslie: [00:06:22] Oh, that’s a good question. So you have an idea for an awesome mop. Now, what makes this mop awesome? I want you to think about what about this mop does the world need, and I want you to think about who needs this mop.

Think about who needs your product

Leslie: [00:00:00] Who is this person? I want you to get into all kinds of detail about what their day looks like, what they struggle with, when it comes to cleaning and all those types of things. You want to know that person because if you know that person, you can do what you need to do to attract that person. Alright.

Jillian: [00:06:59] So it’s that idea, remember, like fill the dreams, like if I build it, they will come? That is not true.

Leslie: [00:07:08] That is not true. It’s true in Field of Dreams. It’s not true in reality. Alright. In reality, you have to actually understand who you’re trying to attract. You need to create the kind of content to attract that person, and you have to go out there and actually start finding that person.

Jillian: [00:07:30] So would you recommend that before I fly out to China and I have this dream of this mop, and I’ve made like a prototype in my garage, that I actually start my blog before any of this?

Leslie: [00:07:45] Oh, most definitely. Because once again, if you have this mop to sell to nobody, you’re going to sell it to nobody. You need to have that audience. You have to build that audience. How do you even know that the person that you are trying to target wants that mop?

Leslie: [00:08:03] Do you have a relationship with enough of those people to be able to determine, “You know what. This is the solution that they actually want.” I think a lot of us think about this ideal solution in our minds without knowing that people actually want to buy it.

Leslie: [00:08:18] And by having a blog, by attracting that audience, by nurturing a relationship with them, by providing valuable content consistently over time, you can start getting feedback from them.

Leslie: [00:08:32] Now imagine this, I’m assuming we’re going to get into all of this even more, but imagine now, you have a blog of women that are passionate about cleaning, and they’re passionate about cleaning not just because they’re trying to be anal or something of that sort, but there’s something significant in being in a place where you feel rested, you feel at ease, you feel comfortable because your home is well taken care of.

Leslie: [00:09:02] Imagine, you have that audience of women, and you are providing them with valuable tips and then now, you have this idea for a product. Now, you can even get their input on some of the things that they would like to see this product do.

Leslie: [00:09:18] Now, you can refine that over time and make it better and better. They’re involved with that process. I guarantee you that when you release that product, they’re going to want it because they have some input into it. There are all kinds of things in that that we can talk about but having that audience gives you a significant amount of leverage.

Jillian: [00:09:39] Okay. I listen to you, and I go, “Yep, I need to start a blog, and I need to attract an audience.” How do I do that?

How to attract an audience with your blog

Leslie: [00:09:49] Very good question. That’s the million dollar question right there. How do I do it? The strategy, the tactics behind setting up a blog in 2018 and beyond, it’s actually relatively simple.

Leslie: [00:10:04] With WordPress, it makes it very easy. WordPress is the platform that I recommend for people to get started with their blogs because of how well-developed it is and all of the plugins, and so on that you can use.

Leslie: [00:10:19] You can literally go to YouTube and just search for how to set up a WordPress blog. You can go to my blog, becomeablogger.com. I have tutorials to show you how to do that. So the setting up of the blog is not really a big deal.

Jillian: And it’s not expensive.

Leslie: [00:10:38] It’s not expensive. You can get hosting for like five bucks a month. You could pay someone, quite frankly, 20, 30 dollars and have them set up your blog for you. Of course, you could pay significantly more depending on what you want to do, but it’s not a very technical process.

Jillian: [00:10:56] Okay, so I can get one up in an hour or two.

Leslie: [00:11:00] You can get one up in an hour or two easily. Alright, so let’s get that out of the way. It’s easy to actually set up. Now, what’s a little more complicated is to understand how to blog effectively. Alright?

Leslie: [00:11:19] Now, this is going to go back to really understanding the person that you are trying to attract. It comes down to understanding what kind of content they are looking for so that you can create that kind of content.

Who is your customer avatar as a blogger?

Leslie: [00:11:32] Now, what I recommend for people to do when they’re getting started is to kind of write out a story of, some people call it customer avatar, of who this person is, what are they trying to accomplish, what are their goals, what are their struggles, will they encounter as they are trying to accomplish these goals. Write that story out so that you can have a clear idea of who that person is.

Jillian: [00:12:00] And I would say that if that avatar could be similar to you, that’s probably a good place to start.

Leslie: [00:12:10] Yeah, most definitely. One of the people that you should know is you, even if it’s an earlier version of you. When I’m creating content right now, I am creating content to attract me when I was in college, because I wish someone exposed me to this kind of content back then.

Jillian: [00:12:32] I like that.

Leslie: [00:12:33] So that concept of having an earlier version of yourself that you are trying to help, and that earlier version might be 10 years ago, it might be a year ago, it might be a few weeks ago because you are learning this process that you’re teaching to people.

Leslie: [00:12:50] I think that’s one way to get started. So that’s one thing you want to be clear on. You want to also be clear on, and I should have said this first but, what is your niche? What is your topic? A lot of people will say things like, “I want to do a blog about personal finances.”

Leslie: [00:13:14] Okay, that’s a good place to start but there are so many personal finance blogs out there. Why should I come to you? Well, now, I’m just dealing with someone inside my coaching club right now that literally just posted this, and I just responded to this. She is now looking at personal finances for homemakers from a Christian perspective. You’ve niched down.

Advice: niche down

Leslie: [00:13:42] Now, if I’m a Christian homemaker, a woman between – I forgot the ages that she mentioned, but if I am that person and I’m struggling to get our family finances in order and I come to that blog, all of a sudden, I feel like, “Man, this blog is for me because I’m a Christian homemaker, I’m a woman, and she is talking about a topic that is of interest to me right now.”

Leslie: [00:14:11] So rather than being very vague, get specific. That has to do with the first part that I mentioned in terms of understanding who you are trying to attract. There’s another guy in my coaching club. He’s a woodworker but he’s also a home-schooling dad. He’s doing a blog about woodworking projects that a home-schooling dad can do with their kids. Now, if I’m a home-schooling dad that is interested in woodworking, when I come to that blog, I feel like this is the right one for me, and that’s exactly what you want.

Jillian: [00:14:51] Do you think you could ever get too small in a niche?

Leslie: [00:14:54] Absolutely. If you’ve niched down so, so far that there are hardly any people in your niche, you have a problem. Now, at what point is that? I think it comes down to testing and also knowing the people that you are trying to attract.

Leslie: [00:15:13] If I know that there are tons of homeschooling dads and that they would be interested in doing those kinds of projects with their sons and with their daughters, it makes sense for me to explore that as an option.

Leslie: [00:15:28] Now, how do you know if it’s not going to work? Quite frankly, you can do some research. You can kind of look in your niche. You could look on Amazon to see what kinds of products are for sale and look to see what kinds of books are selling in that industry. You can do some of that research. You can go to the Google keyword planner, and you can see, “Are people searching for these phrases that I’m interested in talking about?”

Leslie: [00:15:54] And if you’re seeing that, “Hey, nobody is going to Google and searching for this stuff,” that’s an indication that maybe you shouldn’t be targeting that. Maybe you’re a little too narrow.

Jillian: [00:16:04] Got it.

Leslie: [00:16:07] So yeah, there’s all kinds of research that you can do whether it’s using keyword planners, whether it’s looking at stores like Amazon, whether it’s looking at other blogs to see what’s out there and see how well they are doing, and you just kind of take all of that data, combine it, make your best educated guess and then, you kind of move ahead.

Jillian: [00:16:30] Got it. Now, I would say that this is something that I have to constantly remind myself. I come up with an idea. I fall in love with it. I think there are so many people who would love this and I, in the past, have done that.

Jillian: [00:16:46] I force myself now to do the research. I would say that I fall into the trap of not doing the research, building something and then being like, “Wait, why don’t people like this?”

Leslie: [00:17:00] Yeah, I think it’s a trap that so many of us fall into because we kind of get stuck in our own heads. “This is a great idea. The world absolutely needs this.” That may be true but it may not be. Unfortunately, the technology has come far enough to allow us to be able to accurately, at least relatively, accurately determine whether people are interested in this stuff or not.

Jillian: [00:17:31] So I recommend, to the people, don’t fall into my trap and that you force yourself to do some research. It doesn’t have to be a ton but you will save yourself so much pain if, in fact, you validate your idea.

Leslie: [00:17:47] Exactly. Exactly. I must admit, when it comes to like keyword research and all this kind of stuff, I don’t enjoy that. But if I’m starting a new project and I know that I’m going to be dedicating a significant portion of my time and my life to creating something that’s of value that can be a business that I can take care of my family and all that kind of stuff, I think it’s worth a few hours of research.

Jillian: [00:18:16] Yes. Force yourself to do it.

Leslie: [00:18:19] Exactly.

Jillian: [00:18:19] Okay, so I’ve done research. Now, I know that there is a market for home-schooling dads who do woodworking.

Brainstorm a list of topics for blog posts

Leslie: [00:18:29] Yes, so the next thing that I would recommend is kind of brainstorm a list of topics. I tell people that do this because it makes it easier when it’s time to actually create the content. If you understand who you’re targeting, you understand what they’re struggling with, you understand what they need to learn or what they need to know, you can start kind of outlining, “This is what I want to be covering.”

Leslie: [00:18:55] Alright. Now, I did this. For example, I started a blog that was a biology blog. I started a biology blog because I wanted to be a university professor but I was a high school science and math teacher.

Leslie: [00:19:07] I didn’t have a PhD but I wanted to teach at the university level so I started this blog to just teach at the university level with or without a PhD.

Leslie: [00:19:17] What I decided to do was I knew I was targeting upper level biology students that were struggling in physiology so I was pretty specific at the time. I actually went back to my physiology notes, and I just started outlining topics that I want to cover from my physiology notes.

Leslie: [00:19:40] Once I had those topics, I just went through, and I started with the first video. I remember it was an introduction to the nervous system and then, the second video was what is a neuron. I just continued in that sequence with the goal of providing the kind of content that my audience is struggling to understand.

Jillian: [00:19:56] So you made them first as videos.

Leslie: [00:19:58] I made them first as videos. That one, that blog, I focused on videos but I had like an article to go along with it which was mostly a transcript.

Jillian: [00:20:09] And you did that so that you could pull people in on YouTube if they were searching for physiology, and then, you also had, on your blog, keywords and things like that so if anybody were searching in Google, they could see your blog posts.

Leslie: [00:20:26] That’s exactly it. It comes down to knowing and understanding your audience. I knew that my audience is struggling to understand these complex topics in physiology. I could have these long research articles on my blog with physiology but the students probably aren’t going to spend the time to read all of that.

Leslie: [00:20:47] In my research, I went, and I looked to see what other people were doing, and I asked myself, “How could I be different?” That’s part of the research as well. I decided that my difference was going to be I’m going to create very simple videos that explain one concept at a time, and that’s it.

Jillian: [00:21:10] Okay, so how long was each video?

Leslie: [00:21:12] Each video was five to 10 minutes on the long end.

Jillian: [00:21:15] So like snackable pieces.

Leslie: [00:21:18] Exactly. So now, I have a unique topic for a unique audience in a unique format. I’m creating that content. I’m attracting an audience relatively quickly because I knew the kind of content they were looking for, and I put it on a platform that was conducive to that kind of content.

Jillian: [00:21:41] And also, I would say that you’re a natural teacher. You’re an engaging teacher so it’s like that’s your special sauce. By leveraging that, by getting people to see you teaching, like “Oh, this is a really cool guy. I want to watch his videos,” versus, “I just want to read his blog posts.”

What is your unique value proposition as a blogger?

Leslie: [00:22:00] That’s a great point because one of the things that I talk a lot about is your unique value proposition. It could be the niche that you narrowed down to. It could be that specific aspect of the content that you are addressing but it could also be your personality and the way you do things.

Leslie: [00:22:19] You’re not going to go to a university, take Advanced Physiology and have some weird guy in front of the class saying, “Hey, welcome to this class where we’re making biology fun.” But that’s exactly what I’m doing in every single one of those videos.

Leslie: [00:22:36] That makes me different from everybody else that’s doing it. And if you can find that point of differentiation, the answer to the question, “Why in the world should I listen to you?” If you can build that into every piece of content that you’re creating, all of a sudden, you have way less competition because nobody is doing it exactly like you are. So if you have this mop —

Jillian: [00:23:04] Right, let’s go back to this mop.

Leslie: [00:23:07] This idea for a mop that you’re creating but you are creating these short fun videos on really interesting things you can do with a mop, or really interesting ways that you can clean your house that the average person doesn’t think about.

Leslie: [00:23:28] Someone sent me a video the other day of ways to preserve food. There were all kinds of really simple but interesting things that they had in that video. One example was when you buy bananas, they spoiled relatively quickly but if you take the bag that it comes in and you wrap it around the place where the bananas connect, it’s actually going to be preserved significantly longer.

Leslie: [00:24:00] When I saw that, I was like, “Whoa, that’s a really cool tip.” I sent it to my wife. So if you can find little tips like that that you can share, that provides value to your audience of women that really want to clean because they love being in this environment where everything is well done or however you want to define it, that gives you an edge.

Jillian: [00:24:24] Tell me what you think of this idea. I would ask your friends or your spouse or something like, “What is it about me that you like, that you think is quirky, that you think is different? What do I do that’s different than other people?”

Leslie: [00:24:42] That’s one of the activities that I have people go through. I have them brainstorm for themselves but then, I tell them, “Hey, go to a few friends and family members, close friends that know you well and ask them what am I good at?” It may be completely unrelated to your niche but it may give you some idea.

Leslie: [00:25:03] Someone might tell me, like you just did, that you are really good at teaching in a way that helps people to understand. Okay, so if I’m good at teaching, I can use that in the content that I create. That’s why in all of the content I create, I emphasize teaching. I emphasize, “I want to help you understand certain concepts because I know that that’s a strength of mind.” So play to your strengths.

Leslie: [00:25:30] I know we haven’t gotten to the business aspect of it yet but I think these things are so important and often overlooked so that when people actually get to the business part, they don’t really have a strong foundation.

Jillian: [00:25:44] Right, or they are doing what everybody else is doing.

Leslie: [00:25:47] Exactly.

Jillian: [00:25:48] And thinking, somehow, if they like this person and I do exactly what they do, they’re going to like me too.

Leslie: [00:25:55] Exactly. And you are not that person. I always say when I first started making videos, teaching people about blogging, I learned from this guy. His name was Gideon van Schalkwyk, and he’s a guy from Australia. He has a very specific way of teaching.

How to find your voice as a blogger… practice

Leslie: [00:26:09] I always say that when someone watches one of my early videos, I sound like a Caribbean version of him. Yeah, and that’s it. But over time, and I also say this to encourage people, you may start off imitating somebody else but over time, you get to find your voice. And as you find your voice, you’re able to put your voice into even your written content, and that is going to make you different from everybody else.

Jillian: [00:26:39] And that’s why I say start, because the beginning is going to suck, and you have to kind of get through that to find. You’re not going to, one day, wake up with a voice or like how to do awesome video. I go back to our blog, I look at my early photos and I cringed. I thought that was good. Oh my God, because I’ve gotten so much better

Leslie: [00:27:07] Yes, that’s it exactly. And I think in the midst of everything that we’re talking about, we’re giving specific steps and strategies. Someone might listen to this and say, “Man, this is so overwhelming. I’ve got to think about this. I think about that. I got to do some keyword research. I don’t even know what keyword research is and how to do it.”

Leslie: [00:27:26] The important thing is get started. Yes, because you’re going to learn so much more by actually doing, than you’re going to learn from this. Even listening to this podcast episode, you’re going to learn a lot here. But then, when you start taking action on the things that we’re talking about, that’s when the learning actually happens.

Jillian: [00:27:47] Yes. And like you will be embarrassed. Again, starting with what you taught me about just press record and then, put it up. Embrace that. You will cringe. Know that, and it’s all good.

Leslie: [00:28:07] It’s all good. All the presentations where I literally will play my first interview, my first interview was with Pat Flynn, and I introduced him. It was kind of like, “Hey, this is Leslie Samuel. I’m so excited to bring Pat Flynn on. And I met him at this event. Pat Flynn, thank you so much for coming on here.”

Leslie: [00:28:30] And then, I play the second time I interviewed him, which was like after maybe 40 something episodes. It starts with me saying, “Hey. Hello, and welcome to another episode of Learning with Leslie, the podcast where you learn, I learn.”

Leslie: [00:28:42] And then, I go through his bio, and you can hear the enthusiasm, the energy and at the end, he compliments me because of how well I introduced him and how excited he was. When you listen to the first and you compared to the second, it is like night and day. But if I never did the first, I would have never gotten to the second.

Jillian: [00:29:02] Totally. So again because I think that business and life are so intertwined, that by taking risks like this in your business, you’ll be more apt to take risks in your life.

Leslie: [00:29:16] Exactly.

Jillian: [00:29:17] So it’s all good.

Leslie: [00:29:19] Definitely, I agree with you 100 percent.

Jillian: [00:29:21] Okay, so let’s go back. You create this blog with video because you know your audience will like the video, you’re going to give it to them in snackable pieces, and you build it. And then what?

Leslie: [00:29:37] So the next thing I want to talk about is how do you get people there, and then there’s how do you make money from this? So let’s deal with the “how do you get people there?”

Leslie: [00:29:50] That starts with creating good content. I see so many bloggers, they hear they are supposed to create content, so they just put stuff out there. While we are saying, “Listen. Take action and put stuff out there,” you want to make sure that you’re putting stuff out there that provides value, that solves a problem, that provides a solution.

Leslie: [00:30:14] It helps people in some way. I’m not going to overemphasize that right now because we kind of already spoken about that, but I think that’s the foundation of getting traffic. Because if you start doing these other strategies and people come to your blog and they don’t find value, what are they going to do?

The importance of SEO for a blogger

Leslie: [00:30:31] They’re going to leave. So make sure you are creating content. That’s going to be the foundation of this all. The next thing is you need to find ways to get people there. Now, there are different ways to do that. You can learn about optimizing your content for the search engines. That’s called SEO, Search Engine Optimization. You want to familiarize yourself with that.

Leslie: [00:30:55] It is not as complicated as people make it or that people think it is. It’s really about creating good content and then giving the search engines the information that they need in a specific way but it’s not very complicated. I would highly recommend for you to do some research on what it takes to drive traffic, what it takes to optimize your blog for the search engine.

Jillian: [00:31:23] Google especially.

Leslie: [00:31:24] Yeah, exactly. When I did say this search engine, you can assume that I’m just saying for Google.

Jillian: [00:31:30] Yeah. And the thing that I was just at a conference learning about SEO, and if there was one takeaway that I really internalized is that Google’s gotten really, really smart. And so if you write your content in a way that is helpful, using headers and stuff, that somebody could skim your content, understand it and get the answer to their problem that they’re looking for easily, you’re like 9/10 of the way there.

Leslie: [00:32:02] That’s exactly it. Creating good content solves a big part of that.

Jillian: [00:32:08] It used to be that you could game the system.

Leslie: [00:32:12] Yeah. Google is good.

Jillian: [00:32:14] They’re good.

Leslie: [00:32:14] Google is good. If you think about what Google’s goal is, they actually want people to come there, search for something else, and then, that’s it. Like in a perfect world, they would leave and find the answer to their question.

Leslie: [00:32:34] If they come to your site and then, they leave because it doesn’t provide them with value and then, they go to another site and then, they leave and then, they go to another site and then, they leave and they keep doing that, that’s not a good experience for that user, and it doesn’t provide them with value. Google doesn’t want that.

Leslie: [00:32:51] Now, if Google sees that whenever someone searches for this particular topic, and they go to your site, they spend a bunch of time there, they start going to other pages on your site, and they do specific actions, that’s going to tell Google, “Listen, this page here, it’s solving the problem.”

Leslie: [00:33:10] They’re going to start ranking you higher. Now, I’m making this very simple but that is the concept. That is what Google is trying to accomplish. They want to be trusted and to be trusted, they have to give answers to questions.

Leslie: [00:33:26] So how well are you answering people’s questions? That’s one thing. The next thing that we have to talk about is social media because social media is still a great way to get your content out there in front of many people.

Leslie: [00:33:42] What I generally recommend for people to do is contrary to what a lot of people teach. I hear a lot of people talking about, “Hey, you want to be on Pinterest, you want to be on Facebook, you want to be on Instagram, you want to do all this stuff.” And I say “Okay, be on those platforms but focus on one, maybe two because there’s so much that you can be doing on a daily basis.”

Leslie: [00:34:06] You want to make sure that you are focusing as opposed to trying to be everywhere. If you try to be everywhere, you’re going to be everywhere poorly. But if you decide, “Hey, I want to use Facebook to grow my blog. I want to use Pinterest to grow my blog.” You want to learn as much as you can about how to use that specific social network so that you can be using it effectively.

Jillian: [00:34:31] And where do you, right now, where are you finding the most success?

Leslie: [00:34:34] I am still finding the most success on Facebook.

Jillian: [00:34:38] Interesting.

Leslie: [00:34:39] It’s a combination, it’s kind of a mix between Facebook and Pinterest actually. On Pinterest, I find that I am getting more people over to my blog but they’re not spending as much time. On Facebook, I’m getting fewer people. I’m talking about, when I say more, I mean for the amount of effort that I put in. I’m getting fewer people from Facebook. But when they come over to my blog, they actually stay significantly longer.

Jillian: [00:35:09] And are you running ads?

Leslie: [00:35:11] I am not currently running ads. All of my social media is organic. I know a ton about Facebook ads because I’m the head of training for the Social Media Marketing Society. We’ve done a ton of training on the topic. I am now going to be starting to invest way more heavily in Facebook advertising.

Jillian: [00:35:34] Okay. Wow, you are getting organic Facebook traffic.

Leslie: [00:35:38] I am getting organic Facebook traffic. Not a ton, but I rely more on search engines, more on Google. Honestly, I’ve gotten more traffic from Google than any social network and also, I have a decent-sized email list that I’ve built over the years from all of the work that I’ve done. My email list is a big part of what I do for my marketing.

Jillian: [00:36:04] Okay. So let’s talk now about now I’ve got people coming to my site. They’re reading my content. I have created really good content, content that is specific and unique to me, meaning nobody’s going to get this anywhere else. And then how do I start thinking about making money?

Leslie: [00:36:25] Okay. So there are two things I want you to be thinking about. Number one, I want you to be thinking about building an email list. The reason for this is because this is going to be the way that you can communicate directly to the people that have said, “I want you to communicate with me”.

Leslie: [00:36:43] If you’re just growing a Facebook page, it’s great to have a Facebook page, and it’s great to have a lot of people liking that page but you’re not in control of the Facebook algorithm. They can tomorrow decide, You know what — which they have, many times over — that we’re just not going to show you to the content to the people that like your page unless you pay for it.

Why you want an email list

Leslie: [00:37:04] By having your own email list where you are communicating directly to those people via email, you are setting your business up for the long term success. I want you to be thinking about how you can make email a priority.

Leslie: [00:37:19] Number two, when it comes to monetizing your blog, I want you to always be thinking of this question: “How can I provide value to my audience?” Now, if I know that my audience has specific goals and I know that they have specific struggles that they’re going to have, how can I create or recommend the solutions that people would be willing to pay for?

Leslie: [00:37:48] That is the key. If you know what they’re struggling with, you can provide them with products whether it’s an ebook that you create or a course that you create or a mop that you’re making, whatever it is.

Jillian: [00:37:59] Or affiliates. There’s a product on Amazon that I love.

Leslie: [00:38:04] Exactly.

Jillian: [00:38:04] Maybe I don’t have to go to China and make my mop.

Leslie: [00:38:07] No, you don’t.

Jillian: [00:38:08] Maybe it already exists.

Leslie: [00:38:10] Exactly. Are there the top three or top five recommended mops for different purposes? And if so, are they available on Amazon? The answer is yes, and if they are available on Amazon, how can you create the kind of content that exposes your audience to those products?

Leslie: [00:38:32] If I’m trying to decide on the best lens from my camera, I have a Panasonic Lumix GH 5. I will go to Google, and I will start searching for specific lenses for specific purposes for the Panasonic Lumix GH 5. I’m going to go, and I’m going to find all these blogs that are comparing different lens. I’m going to look at some of the footage and so on.

Leslie: [00:38:54] I’m going to make all these comparisons and then, I’m going to make a decision. Now, if I have a blogger that I follow that is an expert on videography, and they use the Panasonic Lumix GH 5 to do the things that I want to do in my life, what am I going to do?

Leslie: [00:39:12] I’m going to go over to their blog, I’m going to search for lenses, and I’m going to see. What do they say? What do they recommend? And they’re going to recommend a lens, and I’m going to say, “You know what? This is the lens that I want and I’m going to click on the link, head on over to Amazon, I’m going to spend a thousand dollars on a lens and they’re going to make a commission from that.”

Leslie: [00:39:29] It’s all about thinking through. What problems will your audience face and how can you introduce them to or create the solutions to those problems? And then, let them know about it. That’s all it is.

How a blogger can build a longrelationship with his or her audience

Jillian: [00:39:45] Yes, I would say the one thing that, especially in your session that you talked about at Social Media Marketing World, is that that viewer, that reader has to trust you. You have to build that relationship. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Leslie: [00:40:04] Yeah, and that’s one of the reasons why emphasize the email list. I’ll illustrate this with a story. When I first learned about blogging, this was back in 2008, I went to this guy. I stumbled onto an e-book from a guy. His name was Jaro. And in that e-book, I was introduced to the concept of blogging as a business. I decided to go over to his blog. I read some content there, and I thought “this is good stuff.”

Leslie: [00:40:33] I saw he had a free guide so I got onto his email list to get that guide. And then, what happened next was I started getting emails from him. I noticed that man, these emails have such great tips in there to the point where whenever I woke up in the morning, let’s say, I had 20 or 50 new emails and I saw his name as I glanced down, I would jump directly to that email to see what he has to say because I know it’s going to be good stuff.

Leslie: [00:41:06] Then a few weeks later, a month or two later, I don’t know exactly how long it was, I got an email from him that he was opening his membership site at $97 a month for six months, and when I saw that, I literally didn’t even read through the sales page, I clicked on the Buy button, and I signed up immediately.

Leslie: [00:41:28] Why did I do that? I did that because he was sending me so much valuable information that I thought to myself “Man, if I’m getting all of this valuable content from him for free, why am I going to pay? What am I going to get if I pay him $97 a month?” That’s exactly what you want.

Leslie: [00:41:45] That’s the kind of situation you want to be in. At first, they encounter you. They are aware of what you have to offer but they come to your blog, and they read or watch or listen to valuable content, then they see that they have this valuable resource. They sign up for that, and they just start getting value from you.

Leslie: [00:42:05] They start connecting with you and understanding that you are an expert on this topic or you are someone that provides them with a value where this topic is concerned. And then as you do that consistently, they come to know, like, and trust you so that when you do recommend something, their resistance is down. They know it’s going to be good because you’ve recommended it. That’s exactly where you want to be.

Jillian: [00:42:32] What I love about what you’re saying is that you’re thinking about the long term. This is a long term relationship. This is like I talk to people on my podcast, and I say “Is this a get rich quick scheme?” Almost always, it’s not, and that this is about laying the foundation for a relationship, for trust and for the idea that you and your audience are going to grow together.

Leslie: [00:43:03] That’s exactly what it is.

Jillian: [00:43:05] It’s not like I’m going to go to China, I’m going to make a mop, I’m going to come back, I’m going to sell a million mops and became a billionaire or a billion mops, whatever. It’s not like that.

Leslie: [00:43:17] No, it’s not.

Jillian: [00:43:18] It’s slow and steady.

Leslie: [00:43:20] Exactly. It’s about going on a journey with these people that are coming to know, like, and trust you and valuing them enough to not just be the guy that’s just pitching them all kinds of mops because you know that the mops can make you money. No, it’s not about that.

Leslie: [00:43:38] It’s about going on this journey, providing them with value consistently and doing the best that you can to give them what they need. What are they looking for? How can you give that to them? If I am looking for a lens, I want to be introduced to the best possible lens at the best possible price for the scenarios that I needed. And if you can provide me with that information, I love you for it.

Jillian: [00:44:09] Yes, yes. So there is this emotional connection, and it is about giving things away.

Leslie: [00:44:17] Yes.

Jillian: [00:44:18] It’s not just about, “I’m going to sell my mop. I’m going to do everything. I’m going to buy Facebook ads, and I’m going to sell that mop”. No, it’s about that connection.

Why you want to give your content away for free as a blogger

Leslie: [00:44:28] I had someone asked, the other day, ask me a question of, “I have this idea for a blog and I’m really struggling because there’s so much that I can share but I don’t want to share it all because if I share it all, they’re not going to want to buy from me,” and my response to them is, “No. If you share it all, they’re going to trust you and if they trust you, they’re going to buy from you.”

Leslie: [00:44:56] When I record a podcast teaching you how to use Facebook ads or how to make your first dollar with your blog, I’m not going to say, “Well, I’m going to show you how to set it up. And if you really want to make your first dollar, sign up.” No, no, no, no, no. “I’m going to show you how to make your first dollar from your blog.

Leslie: [00:45:15] Now, if you want extra guidance, you want me to hold your hand as you do this, you can sign up for my coaching club.” But in terms of the content, I mean honestly, I have no shame in saying this publicly, everything I teach in my coaching club, you could probably find it for free on my blog.

Leslie: [00:45:33] And I’m happy to have it there. I know it will take some more work on your part to go and uncover all of the information in the right sequence and all that stuff, but even in that, I’m looking for ways to take all of my content and arrange it so that if you don’t want to spend one dollar with me, you could still build a successful blog.

Leslie: [00:45:54] That’s what I want to do for free. Now, I have ways that you can pay me to work with me, and you can pay me to get some of my other products and that kind of stuff but I want to provide value because that’s how people come to know, like and trust me.

Jillian: [00:46:09] I love that. I do. And by the way, I just have to say you can so know, like, and trust Leslie. But again, that’s it. Maybe I’m being, I don’t know, too Pollyanna or optimistic, but I do feel like the good people in this model, in this business model, the good people rise.

Leslie: [00:46:32] Exactly. The not so good people may arise temporarily but it’s not sustainable. It’s not sustainable. And over time, you’re going to see that the cream is going to rise to the top.

Jillian: [00:46:47] Yes. Oh, Leslie, I so agree with you. So can you share how people can learn more from you, how they can reach out to you?

Leslie: [00:46:57] Oh, most definitely. The best way to learn more from me is to go to becomeablogger.com. That’s where I blog about all things blogging.

Jillian: [00:47:06] Yes. And remember, he told you you can get everything you need on that site.

Leslie: [00:47:10] You can get everything you need for free on that site. And if you want to check out more, you want to join my coaching club, you want to get me to answer your questions directly, via video like you asked a question and I answer, you can check out my blogger, coachingclub@bloggercoaching.com.

Jillian: [00:47:28] And if you’re a podcast listener, check out Leslie’s podcast.

Leslie: [00:47:32] Indeed, and you can find out all about that at becomeablogger.com as well.

Jillian: [00:47:37] Terrific. Well, thank you so much for being on the show.

Leslie: [00:47:40] And thank you so much for having me, Jillian.

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