I am sure a lot of our readers and members provide some sorts of online marketing services and thus they are facing with the well-known dilemma: How to measure and charge for the service? How to make your pricing competitive and clear while not under-pricing yourself.
[There's also a follow up to this article on how to manage your own time more effectively]
With these questions we came to some of companies:
David Leonhardt from THGM Writing Services
“…estimate how much effort is involved and charge by the project”
First, let us draw a distinction between time-management and client billing.
For time management, that being my own work and work for clients combined, as well as any personal/family/household chores to get done, I work from a to-do list. I try to get the most important things done first, then I usually panic because the list is not shrinking very fast, so I turn my attention to quick things that I can tick off… then, being able to breathe more easily, I turn my attention to whatever is most important among what is left.
When it comes to client work, I estimate how much effort is involved and charge by the project. I really don’t want to watch the clock, and a lot of client work cannot be done in a single block of time, but rather needs to be interspersed with other work.
Tat Apostolova from Mum in search
“Charging for tasks keeps me motivated”
Back in the corporate world, when I was working in a job that paid for time spent in the office, I always felt undervalued. I’m a hard worker and I loved my job, so I was putting my heart into it when other people around me would just do the bare minimum and get paid a similar wage.
It just didn’t seem fair. I was a lot happier when I switched to a commission based job (in fact, this is exactly the reason I switched to a commission based job – I wanted to be paid fairly for my effort). Now that I’m running my own business from home, I charge for tasks. It keeps me motivated to work more productively.
Ashley Faulkes from Mad Lemmings
The future of work is task based
When pricing and measuring my work I try, or am still trying, to bring the cost of a service to task based. Basing your work and ultimately your value on a commodity is old fashioned and not useful. And after seeing many a worker waste time in the office and still get paid, I am sure is a pointless system.
One of the biggest issues with this idea is that people still see many services as commodities. So it is hard to sell, for instance, a website when there are so many competitors undercutting your services. Even if you are delivering a better product. So you have to sell your service based on a result, rather than on a service which can be evaluated on the number of hours you work.
One way to do this is to add things others cannot offer in the same service. Even if these things are not time intensive. That is where in my area marketing combined with web design comes together. Most people cannot do both well. Most web designers barely know SEO and cannot write at all. So by offering customers expertise that is not a commodity, you are able to sell a value based package.
I am not saying it is simple to achieve, but it is the future and we should all work towards it. Otherwise, we are doomed to work 9-5, only perhaps at home instead of in an office!
Task based + Pomodoro
I’m a big fan of task based tracking. Not only does it focus you on getting one thing completed but it also puts halt to the temptation to multitask which has been proved to reduce productivity. I’ve used task based tracking for a while now for my freelance business and I’ve found that it works particularly well with the Pomodoro technique to keep you focused and productive.
What are your tips for measuring your work and charging for it? Please share below!
Welcome to 2015!
A new year is a good time to try something new (especially given that Q1 is usually a slower quieter time for many marketers!) Is there any tactic you are planning to try this year?
Here’s some inspiration for you!
Jolynno: Video Marketing + Podcasting
Yes, I currently use Instagram marketing and Facebook primarily. I plan to use video marketing in 2015 paired with podcasting. I think these 2 mediums are gaining in popularity and offer a more personal way to connect to my audience.
As for podcasting, I want to offer my blog posts as podcast sessions and see how I can then grow that to a regular podcast broadcast. Video marketing is an affordable and easy way to build rapport and share information and tips. I have only done a few videos in 2014 but want to expand upon this in 2015. I also plan to have several webinars as well so I can have a more immediate connection with my audience. This will also help me to grow my email list which is big goal for me next year.
Steve Counsell: Maximize Personal Branding
For a while I have been bouncing back and forth between a company based brand and a personal brand. In 2015 I will start to maximize on my personal brand but moving all of my efforts into my personal website and writing an ebook on DIY SEO.
To get started I have committed to blog every day through January and to finalise the first draft of my ebook in the next few days.
Creating a buzz around a brand has been a challenge but I feel that by pushing content out there and publishing it on social media and links building I’ll succeed in my goal of launching “Me” as a brand for online promotion.
I’ve watched other do the same, people like Brian Gardner and Ryan Deiss seem to be very good at pushing their own brand through CopyBlogger and DigitalMarketer.
I aspire to be like these guys – eventually…
Cormac84: “Skyscraper Technique”
I’ve already made the decision to create a lot more content for my site in 2015 and this led me to think what’s the best way to create long form content that will work well for me. So, after some thinking and some research I decided that Brian Dean’s skyscraper technique is one that works well and will help me achieve a lot of my goals.
It’s quite simple, just find a great piece of content on someone else’s blog and make a far better one again. Follow this up by reaching out to those already linking to the good piece, informing them about the existence of your even better piece.
For me it means long form content, more on-site blogging and hopefully more great links.
Jared Banz: More Focused Content Marketing + MyBlogU
I am not trying any new tactics per se for 2015, but I do plan to bring them together better. Content marketing was huge for 2014, and I think it will continue to be important in 2015. I plan to have a focused approach in my content marketing efforts as I know the competition will be fierce.
What do I mean for a “focused approach”?
I plan thoroughly research local SEO and interview other professionals through MyBlogU. Once I have researched the topic at length, I will likely write an e-book, which will likely be a revised version of multiple blog posts that I write. I also plan to explore new venues (for me) like SlideShare and YouTube to leverage the content I have already produced. Finally, I plan to offer professional services for local SEO, which I believe to be a hot item in the coming year.
I believe that this is a great approach because it involves other professionals and it helps me to become a master of a relevant topic. This past year, I utilized MyBlogU for one interview, and I was shocked by the amount of quality traffic that I received via social media to my blog post. I’m hoping to build on a great experience with MyBlogU, while also adding more opportunities for my business to grow.
Paul Manwaring: Video Marketing
For me it’s trying to create more engaging content through video marketing. I’ve seen an increase in bloggers venturing out into video such as Patt Flynn and Shane Melaugh. I personally enjoy watching a video post as opposed to reading an article.
I set myself a goal of producing 1 video post per week for my blog. Sometimes it will be a guide, other times it might just be a video version of an article I write. The idea is to give my readers the option of either watching or reading my content.
I have invested approx £1000 in studio equipment, it may seem like a lot but I want to produce very high quality videos as presentation is everything and no one wants to read an article on an ugly, poorly designed website, so I take the same viewpoint to my videos. It’s also partly my hobby being a designer and I really enjoy setting up the studio in my flat and recording and editing the videos. The equipment will last me for years so I’m not worried about the initial outlay, as I know it will pay off eventually.
Ashley Faulkes: “Commitment” Marketing
There is a great marketing tactic that I have been meaning to try and 2015 is the year for it! It is based on a psychological principal called “commitment” (which I am currently reading about in a book called Influence – I recommend you read it). The idea is this, by getting a customer to buy something from you, anything really, even something really small, they have made a commitment to a relationship with you.
Sounds simple and maybe even worthless, but the results can be amazing. By getting someone to commit to something, their psychology changes and they behave in a way that makes them live up to this commitment. The result is that they are far more likely to buy from you in the future, even a lot more expensive things. All sorts of companies do this on a daily basis.
I first saw this in action on SuperFastBusiness.com, a marketing site that I follow and podcast I listen to. The owner James Shramko is super experienced in sales and marketing and has loads of ideas to learn from. This was one of them. He sells a cheap SEO website check, a small commitment, and all the rest of his services are usually 10x more at least. He is running a 7 figure business that is constantly growing, so I am sure this works.
So this tactic is being rolled out on my websites in 2015. Let’s see how it goes!
Jeffrey Romano: Visual Content
One tactic that I’m planning to implement in 2015 is upgrading the quality of the visual content on my blog. Instead of using normal stock photography, I’m planning on creating blog post covers and I’d like to generally be more creative with the photos I have available. I believe this will add to the quality of the posts plus it will help when I share my posts on social mediHaving nice visuals to accompany posts when sharing on Pinterest, Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter helps to increase the CTR when sharing. Furthermore, it would help the credibility of my brand and help differentiate my blog from others in the Internet Marketing/WordPress space.
Two bloggers that have inspired me to improve my visuals are Regina from byregina.com and Andrea Beltrami from www.thebrandedsolopreneur.com. Both of them have great blog post covers which helps their posts stand out when shared. Particularly on Pinterest. Both bloggers also try to include many images in their blog in order to introduce variety in their content and keep readers engaged.
I hope the above answer is satisfactory Ann. If you have any other questions about this, please feel free to get back to me.
KenS: Short Fcebook-Friendly Videos
I’ve noticed a lot of mini-videos are appearing on Facebook these days. We have a pretty good FB following, but like most they tend to hang out on FB and not jump over to the site. Sooo… we are going to try a few of those short videos to get people to visit our site and blog. For example, I am going to put up a blog post about candy and cereal and to promote it I am creating a short video about my kids eating a bowl of candy (just like cereal). The hope is that the short video will push people to click on the link and see what else there it.
What new marketing tactic are you going to try this year?
Are you planning to try any new tactic (may be new to you, not overall new) to promote your site or your brand in 2015? Please share! Please share some example of who you were inspired / who you saw do it right!
Admit it, at least part of the reason you choose to write for a blog is to increase your traffic. Maybe you are a business trying to push your brand, or you might just rely on your content itself to produce revenue. Either way, you won’t get anywhere without plenty of people reading what you write. You can never have too many readers.
The truth is, some of this is going to come down to time. It takes a few years to really build brand loyalty, especially for a blog that deals entirely on interaction between the blogger and the audience. But in the meantime, you can definitely do many things to start increasing your traffic and so improve your chances of hooking the ever-sought long time reader.
Begin Narrowing Down Your Readers
One of the biggest mistake people make in any kind of content campaign is trying to appeal to everyone. Believe it or not, casting your net too wide will actually hook you less readers, and bring is far less traffic. Without a plan, you will just to blindly attempting to find people in an endless crowd, and most will not have any interest in your blog.
Ask yourself: who are you writing for? What kind of person will be most likely to read and enjoy your posts? Are they male, female, young adults, middle aged, in North America, in Europe, in Asia? Once you know who you want to write for, it will be easier to find out what content gets the most attention.
- Understanding Audience Demographics with Google Analytics
- 5 Tools to Research the Demographics of Your Twitter Followers
Start Researching What Those Readers Like
Now you have an idea of who you are targeting. It is time to start looking into their common interests. If you already have a following, even a small one, this is even easier. Most social accounts and blog commenting is connected through services like Disqus, or using social sign on with Facebook, Twitter, ect. You can just follow the line and see what catches their eye.
There is a fair chance you will actually be within your target demographic, and so will have a personal sneak peek into what they might like. If that is the case, take some time to consider what content you have looked at, saved, read through or shared lately. What gets you excited?
Begin Reaching Out To Other Blogs
Reach out to other blogs – or individual bloggers – and see about potentially writing a post for their site, invite them to contribute to yours or set up an expert interview with them. All it takes is one post on a single blog with regular traffic, and you can see a serious increase in your own blog’s traffic.
Not only that, but it boosts your own visibility and authority around the web. The more of an expert you appear on your niche, the more people will seek you out to find your opinion.
Build a Social Media Presence
This is one of the single most important things you can do as a blogger. Social media is the perfect compliment to a blog, because it allows you to both share your content and to engage directly with your potential readers.
Become well known on at least one social network, building up your followers there and really beginning a conversation. A well rounded social strategy is best, with different accounts for different types of interaction (Pinterest for sharing images connected to posts, Twitter for finding influencers, Google+ for connecting with others in your niche or microblogging, ect).
- BEST Social Media Tools: Are You Using Them? (Collective Mastermind)
- Use Viral Content Buzz for more shares and exposure!
Find Out What Is Popular From Competitors
Your competitors are another great place to see what is popular with your demographic. You can take a look at their highest performing posts, what is being shared, and on what networks. Read through the comments and get a feel for what people are saying, and what questions they might have.
While you won’t want to directly the topics of their posts, a competing blog can give you some inspiration, while pointing you in the right direction.
Get Comfortable With SEO
SEO is as much a part of search ranking as it ever was. But there is a right way and a wrong way to doing it, and you need to learn the difference to properly optimize your content. Having the right keywords to target, including them naturally in your posts, using tags and descriptions, meta-data and image optimization…this is all a part of it.
Make Sure Your Site Flies
Nothing is worse than spending weeks and months on building the traffic and then losing your peak moment because your server is down.
Besides, your site performance and load time also affects your user experience and hence rankings.
- Make sure your server is reliable. Site Geek is my top source of hosting reviews and uptime reports.
Track Your Site’s Analytics
Once you start to produce content, it is time to watch how it does. Tracking analytics, both those from your blog itself and on social networks, is a key to doing this. Seeing what is most popular, and what drives traffic more, will give you an idea of what to write about in the future.
It will also show you what content to re-promote later on, or repackage as other forms of media to further exploit.
Increasing your traffic in a more targeted way takes work. But it is also very rewarding, and over time using these tactics and a bit of consistent content writing/sharing, you will begin to really see results.
Have any advice to offer others searching for a way to boost their blog traffic? Used a particular method that has worked wonders for you? We would love to hear about it! Let us know in the comments.