Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Ten Ways to Increase Your Blog Revenue

Do you want to make more money with your blog? Of course you do. And in this post, I will give you ten ways to increase your blog revenue.

Listen to Episode:

Increase Blog Revenue

Infographic: Increase Blog Revenue

The post Ten Ways to Increase Your Blog Revenue appeared first on Become A Blogger by Leslie Samuel.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

How to Start a Blog in 2018: New Method That’s 20X Faster

What if I told you there’s a new way to start a blog that’s 20X faster, requires no software or technical expertise, and costs absolutely nothing up front?

You’d think there must be some hidden catch, right?

But there’s not. It’s totally real.

In this post, I’m going to walk you through the newest method for how to start a blog, step-by-step, with screenshots and links to all the resources you need. Let’s jump in…


Should You Even Start a Blog in 2018?

With the dominance of video content on platforms like YouTube and Facebook, you might think the whole idea of blogging is a little… out of date. Research tells a different story, though:

And it’s not just companies who are getting great results from blogging. It also works well for…

  • Nonfiction authors: Before giving you a book deal, publishers want to know you have a “platform” — an audience who will be happy to buy and promote your book. Blogging is one of the best ways to build that platform, and so it’s no coincidence many popular bloggers also become bestselling authors.
    A blog is also helpful when you’re self-publishing. By leveraging your existing audience, you can drive your book up the Amazon bestseller list, giving you the chance to grab the attention of readers who would’ve never heard of you otherwise.
  • Lifestyle entrepreneurs: If you enjoy writing, and you’re willing to be patient, you can use blogging to produce a passive income that gives you the lifestyle many people only dream of having. Top bloggers often travel the world, buy dream homes in the mountains or next to the ocean, and have nearly unlimited free time to spend with their family or doing whatever they choose.
    Where does the money come from? In the past, bloggers were limited to selling advertisements and sponsorships, but today you can make even more money from affiliate marketing, creating your own course, or charging ultra-high rates for coaching/consulting. For example, I once charged $1000 per hour for advice over the phone, only worked five hours a week, and had a six-month waiting list.
    That being said, it’s hard to do. You need the skill, persistence, and talent to attract hundreds of thousands or even millions of readers. If you can pull it off though, you may never have to worry about money again.
  • Mature businesses with millions of potential customers: This might be surprising, but not all businesses should start a blog. If you’re running a tech startup, small retail store, or manufacturing plant, for example, it’s probably not the best use of your time. On the other hand, it’s a great fit for mature businesses in markets with millions of potential customers.
    By “mature,” I’m referring to companies with a refined and effective product or service, existing revenue (at least six figures), and a deep understanding of their marketing metrics. In other words, you’re not really guessing about whether your company will succeed. You’re just looking for a way to grow.
    And ideally, you’re in a market with millions of potential customers. This one can be tricky because it’s not the size of the market that matters. Space rocket manufacturing is a multibillion-dollar industry, but I would guess there are a few hundred customers out there buying rockets. On the other hand, there are millions of small businesses, clothes shoppers, productivity geeks, and so on. For a blog to be effective, that’s the kind of market you want.

So, let’s say you fall into one of these categories. Should you just install WordPress and get cracking?

Actually… no.

The Old Way to Create a Blog (And Why It Doesn’t Work)

A few years ago, I would’ve said WordPress was the only game in town. It’s faster, more powerful, and more customizable than anything out there. That’s why they power 27% of the sites in the world.

The problem?

WordPress is also extremely complicated. Here’s a typical list of tasks for setting up a new site:

  1. Purchase web hosting
  2. Set up a new site through cPanel
  3. Create a new WordPress installation through Fantastico or one of their competitors
  4. Pick out and install your WordPress theme
  5. Customize your theme until it looks the way you want
  6. Install and configure caching plugins
  7. Install and configure backup plugins
  8. Add any extra functionality you need, such as social sharing, e-commerce, etc., by installing additional plug-ins

If you’re a techie, and you’ve done it all before, it’s not a big deal. You can do it all in a few hours.

But if you’re a beginner using WordPress for the first time?

It’s overwhelming, and once you see how much there is to learn, you’ll probably feel like quitting. If you do push forward, you can spend months or even years stuck in a technical quagmire, just learning how to do everything the right way.

Of course, you can always outsource it, but you don’t really know what you are doing, your chances of picking the wrong service provider is pretty high. You might get scammed, hacked, or overcharged.

And here’s the really disturbing question:

Even if you get your WordPress site set up the right way, what if you discover you chose the wrong market or nobody likes the content you are publishing?

It happens all the time. When I was a beginner, I went through three failed blogs before I created one that succeeded. Each time, I spent dozens of hours setting up WordPress, only to discover the blog was never going to work, and I had to start over. If you push forward and set up WordPress without testing your idea first, I pretty much guarantee the same thing will happen to you too.

The bottom line:

Putting it all together, I think setting up a WordPress site is the worst possible approach for a beginner. You’re just setting yourself up for failure.

Fortunately, after working with thousands of students, I’ve discovered a new method that is much, much easier, not to mention faster, and I’m going to outline the entire process for you here.

How to Start a Blog the Right Way (the New Method)

The driving principle behind this new method is simple:

Waste as little effort as possible.

If you’re familiar with the thinking behind The Lean Startup by Eric Reis, everything outlined here will intuitively make sense to you. If not, here’s the idea:

Innovation is messy. Anytime you create something new — regardless of whether it’s an app or book or blog — there’s a huge chance of getting it wrong and having to start over.

The problem with blogging?

Most people don’t know there’s a huge chance of failure, so they spend months or even years creating a blog that has zero chance of succeeding. Eventually, they realize where they went wrong, and they start over, but again, they invest months or even years into creating a second (or third or fourth) blog that doesn’t work.

And here’s the part that’s tough to swallow:

This kind of failure is inevitable. Whenever you’re doing anything new, you will make mistakes and have to start over. It doesn’t matter if you are smart, rich, or successful at many other things. The first time you launch a blog, you will fail. It’s pretty much guaranteed to happen.

The good news is, you can dramatically speed up the process. Instead of wasting months or years chasing a bad idea, you can find out if it’s going to work in weeks or even days. In fact, the process I’m outlining here often destroys a bad idea within minutes.

The result?

You waste WAY less time. Instead of banging your head against the wall for months or even years before you finally figure everything out, you can adapt quickly and get to the right idea within a matter of weeks or months. It’s at least 20X faster. Probably more like 100X.

So, let’s dive in:

#1. Make Sure Your Blog Is Actually Viable (Not All Are)

Important: The ideas in this section are subtle and hard to grasp. Reread it several times, and think about it carefully. We have tested it on thousands of students starting their blogs, and there’s no question it’s correct, but it’s easy to misinterpret these rules. When in doubt, consult an expert (like us).
It’s not fun to think about, but if there’s no chance in hell of your blog succeeding, wouldn’t you rather find out right now?

Well, sometimes you can.

One of the most damaging myths about blogging is the belief that you can start a successful blog targeting anyone, almost as if it’s a one-size-fits-all technology for getting “free traffic.” But it’s not true. The fact is, blogs are good at getting traffic when targeting specific kinds of audiences, and they are absolutely terrible when targeting others.

It’s also shockingly common to target the wrong audience. Of the thousands of students who come into our courses, more than 95% begin by targeting a poor or nonexistent audience that will never be able to support a successful blog, no matter how much time they put into it, and we have to use this checklist to push them in the right direction.

Surprising, right? You probably had no idea there was such a thing as a “bad audience,” but it’s true.

Here are some examples:
  • Men suffering from erectile dysfunction
  • Business executives
  • Parents
  • People struggling with depression
  • Women who are planning their wedding
  • Guys struggling to understand masculinity
  • Freelancers
  • Breeders of Dobermans
To be clear, I’m not saying you can’t target these audiences. I’m saying blogging is an inefficient way of attracting them. You’re better off using advertising, public relations, attending conferences, etc.

Of course, the obvious question is, “Why?” Why is it that some audiences are well-suited to blogs and others aren’t?

Let’s step through the criteria, and I believe it will become more clear. A good audience…

  • Self-identifies (“That’s me!”). Recent scientific research suggests that some boys who are raised by single mothers struggle to understand their own masculinity. The problem is, they don’t think of themselves that way. If you were to ask a group of men, “How many of you have trouble understanding your masculinity?” no one would raise their hands.
    The solution: target the symptom. Ask, “How many of you get friend-zoned by girls, and you can’t figure out why?” A bunch of hands would go up on that one. In other words, you must describe your audience using the words they use to describe themselves. In almost all cases, you’ll describe the symptoms, not the actual cause.
  • Is happy to be grouped together. You would think freelancers would be a viable audience, right? After all, there are so many successful sites that seem to target them! Again though, it’s misleading, because there are many types of freelancers: photographers, copywriters, designers, and so on. They all share similar perspectives (getting and managing clients, etc.), but if you put them in a room together, they would naturally sort themselves by field. For this reason, blogs about a particular type of freelancing are always more successful than blogs targeting freelancers in general.
  • Includes a wide continuum of experience. In every market, the most successful blogs are the ones with a lot of beginners and relatively few experts. For example, there are millions of people thinking about starting a software company, but there are relatively few billionaire founders. However, if you target an audience like “business executives,” you are narrowing the continuum of experience to new executives and experienced ones, or perhaps middle managers and CEOs. In either case, it’s fatal to the blog, because the most rabid audience for blog content is always the beginner (in this case, someone who wants to become an executive someday).
  • Shares the same perspective. For example, both mothers and fathers fall under the category of “parents,” but they generally have different perspectives on what being a parent means. For that matter, a parent of a toddler and the parent of a teenager will also have different perspectives. Therefore, the audience of “parents” should be subdivided before it can become viable. For instance, “middle-class mothers of toddlers” might be a good audience to target, because their perspectives are relatively similar.
  • Talks with each other on social media. Erectile dysfunction is a multibillion-dollar market with millions of men who are desperate for help, and yet you’ll never see a popular blog about it. Why? Because men don’t talk with other men on social media about erectile dysfunction. If you started a blog on the topic, you wouldn’t get any traffic from Facebook, for example, and that would make it very difficult for it to survive.
  • Wants to learn. With millions of people suffering from depression, you would think a blog about it would be wildly popular, but there’s not one, and here’s why: for the most part, people with depression have no desire to read about depression on a regular basis, probably because it makes them depressed! On the other hand, a blog for families of people suffering from depression would probably be quite popular, because they have a deep and ongoing desire to help their family member.
  • Has an ongoing interest. At any given time, there are millions of women who recently got engaged and are planning their wedding, and yet there are no big blogs for them. Why? Because they are only interested in planning their wedding until they actually have the wedding! As a result, this particular market has a lot of “churn” — people going out and new people coming in — and the limited window of opportunity makes it unsuitable for blogging.
  • Consists of millions of people. Occasionally, you’ll find an audience that passes all the other tests, but it’s so small in number it can’t support a blog. A good example is breeders of Dobermans. You could easily start a blog for them, and you would probably have a small following of loyal readers, but it’s unlikely the audience would ever grow large enough to make running the blog worthwhile. For a truly effective blog, you need a potential audience consisting of millions of people. Otherwise, it’s not worth the effort.

Interesting, right? And perhaps a bit unsettling?

The good news is, a rule disqualifying a bad audience usually suggests the adjustment you need to make. For example, the audience of “parents” was disqualified by the rule that a good audience must “share the same perspective,” but by subdividing the audience down to “middle-class mothers of toddlers,” we were able to find a viable audience.

Sometimes though, you can’t make a topic workable, no matter what you do. In those cases, look at the bright side: you just saved a lot of effort by finding out now rather than after years of trying.

But what if your idea for a blog is indeed viable? Well then, it’s time to do a little good old-fashioned espionage!

#2. Spy on Popular Blogs to See What’s Working

Thankfully, this next step is a lot less painful than the first one. It’s also much easier to explain.

Once you’ve verified your blog has potential, you need to study the blogs your audience already reads.

For instance, let’s say you want to start a blog for new homeowners. You’ll teach them how to make simple repairs themselves, maximize the value of their home, save money on their mortgage, and so on.

After going through the checklist above, you discover it meets all the criteria, and — alakazam, alakazoo — you have a workable blog topic. What’s next?

Well, the average new homeowner is in their 30s. Many are also parents. Chances are, a lot of them also have at least a passing interest in personal finance. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to afford a home.

So, here’s what you do: study the top personal finance and parenting blogs. In particular, you need to uncover their most popular content and learn from the patterns you see.

Here’s how:

  1. Use Alltop to identify the most popular blogs in your space. I recommend sorting through several of the subcategories, collecting a list of 20-50 popular blogs you think your audience might be reading. Here’s what I mean…
    Use Alltop to identify popular blogs in your space
  2. Plug the domain names for those blogs into Buzzsumo to find their most shared content. In particular, pay attention to Facebook shares, because it’s driving the most traffic in almost every space right now.
    Buzzsumo - What's Most Popular
  3. Look for patterns that might give you a clue into what kind of content your audience might like. Focus on the headlines, but also click through on any posts that grab your attention and read the whole post. You might even want to read the comments because they can give you insights as well.
    Buzzsumo - FB Engagement
  4. Use a tool like Evernote or Google Drive to keep a list of headline ideas. Write down any headlines that occur to you while doing your research.

When you finish, you’ll have a list of ideas for blog posts backed by evidence of popularity. While nothing is guaranteed in life, the success of these posts will be far better than anything you might dream up in the shower and decide to write about. As a result, you should have a much easier time outpacing your competitors.

But it’s still worth testing a few of them, just to make sure…

Test Your Ideas on Medium (Not WordPress!)

At this point, you might be tempted to grab a hosting account, install WordPress, and start blogging your heart out, but don’t.

Yes, you’ve done some cool research. Yes, your ideas for blog posts are far more likely to succeed. Yes, you’re way ahead of most beginning bloggers.

But I hate to break it to ya…

There’s an excellent chance you analyzed all those popular posts from other blogs your audience reads and came to all the wrong conclusions. Before going through all the effort of creating a new blog, I recommend testing your ideas on perhaps the coolest blogging platform out there right now:


If you’ve never heard of it, Medium is the brainchild of Ev Williams, the geeky and brilliant co-founder of Twitter. He created it to become the largest, easiest to use blogging platform in the world, and he’s managed to attract over 30 million monthly readers, as well as celebrity writers like Matthew McConnaughhay and James Altucher.

And here’s the really cool part: you can write on Medium and get the chance to have your writing exposed to its 30 million readers, free of charge. Here’s how:

  1. Register for a free account. When you visit the site, you might notice banners inviting you to become a premium member. There’s no doubt it gives you access to some excellent content as a reader, but as a writer, it’s by no means necessary to test your ideas. The free account gives you access to all the writing tools, so register for that.
    Join Medium
  2. Write a post based on one of the headlines gleaned from your research. Using Medium’s excellent editor, you can have a stylish post put together within a few hours.
    Medium Post Editor
  3. Make sure you choose the appropriate interests. Anyone who subscribes to that interest will have a much higher chance of noticing the post.
    Medium - Select Interests
  4. Conduct a miniature outreach campaign to the blogs you studied in the previous step. By emailing them and asking them to share your post, not only do you have a chance to start building your audience, but it’s an excellent way to validate your approach. If influencers are willing to share your content, there’s a good chance you’re on the right track. I’d recommend emailing 10-20 of them.
    Click here to read our extensive post on outreach.

Now, here’s the big question:

How do you know you’re ready to switch over to WordPress?

Should you target a certain number of claps? Shares? Comments?

Actually, none of the above. In my opinion, none of those really mean much.

You’re much better off paying attention to your outreach success rate. You see, influencers are an excellent judge of content. If you can convince 20% of the blogs you email to share your post, and you can hit at least 20% on three different posts, I believe you’re ready to start your own blog.

If your outreach success rate hits 20%, there’s also an excellent chance at least one of your posts will end up featured on Medium, either on one of the interests or maybe even the front page, driving thousands upon thousands of new readers to your post. Again, not only will that help you build your audience, but it’s an excellent indication you’re on the right track, and it’s time to branch off on your own.

Note: If you’re familiar with the Lean Startup, the approach we’re following here is similar to the idea of an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Instead of creating a product though, you are creating the minimum amount of content necessary to test your post ideas.

Get a Clear (Not Clever!) Domain Name

So, lots of influencers are sharing your post on Medium, and you’re itching to crank up your own site and snag some of that traffic?

Cool. Let’s just take it one step at a time, and the first step is getting a clear domain name.

Put yourselves in the shoes of the visitor. You’re browsing the web, and you see a headline for a blog post that catches your attention. Maybe a friend on Facebook shared it with you, maybe it came up on a Google search, or maybe it’s just a link in another article you’re reading. Regardless, you click the link, and consciously or not, you’re asking yourself a single question as you browse through it…

“Is this for me?“

Within a few seconds, you have to decide whether to keep reading the post or move on to something else, and the only way you’ll stay is if it’s relevant to you. Not just the post, either. When you’re deciding, you’ll take in the design of the page, other post headlines, and, yes, the domain name.

For example, consider Is there any doubt who the site is for? Entrepreneurs, of course!

How about Obviously, it’s for people who want to make a living as a writer.

Neither names are clever, but they help you decide to stay or go by clearly articulating who they are helping. That’s what a good domain name does.

Of course, all the great domain names are taken, right?

Not necessarily. Here are three different methods for finding the perfect domain name for your site:

  • Name the audience. The simplest way to get a clear domain name is to call out the audience in the domain itself. Examples:,,
  • Name the topic. If your blog focuses on a specific topic, try finding a domain name that describes it in clear, concise language. Examples: The,,
  • Name the benefit. Why should people stick around? If you have a good answer, sometimes you can turn it into a domain name that really stands out. Examples:,,

My suggestion:

Use these three strategies to make a list of 10-20 domain names you’d be happy having. You can write them out in a word processor, or if you want to get fancy, you can use a tool like NameStation to generate a lot of ideas at once.


Once you’re finished brainstorming, head over to a site like NameCheap to see if they are available. Click “Bulk Search” in the search box and paste in your domain names to check them all at once.

Namecheap Bulk Check

Sometimes you get lucky, and one of your favorites is available. If not, you either have to head back to the drawing board for another brainstorming session, or you can go to a premium domain name marketplace like Sedo.

Either way, one word of advice:

Don’t get hung up on your domain name. While it’s certainly helpful to have a good one, there are thousands of hugely popular sites with terrible domain names no one understands.

In other words, it’s not really a “make or break” factor for your site. Give yourself a few days or maybe a week to brainstorm ideas, and then make a decision, because once you have your domain name, you are ready to…

Switch Over to WordPress

You knew we had to run into some technical stuff sooner or later, right?

Well, here it is. There’s no code, complicated software to install or anything like that, but there are a lot of little steps you need to follow in exactly the right order.

It’s not too bad, though, I promise. You can do everything here in about an hour, and I have step-by-step guides to walk you through every little detail.

Let’s get started…

  1. Choose a web host. If you’re not familiar with the term, a “web host” is kind of like a warehouse for websites on the Internet. You pay one a small fee to keep your website on the Internet, handle all your visitors, back up your website, and so on. There are a gazillion different hosts out there, but the one we recommend and use ourselves is SiteGround. Click here to get a 60% off discount (affiliate link).
    Siteground WordPress Hosting
  2. Install WordPress. Once you have your account set up, you can use their built-in tools to install WordPress for you. It’s super easy. Here’s a video that walks you through all the steps:
  3. Migrate your posts from Medium to WordPress. Thankfully, Medium makes it relatively easy to export your posts, but you do have to jump through a few hoops importing them into WordPress. Click here to learn how.
    When you finish, all the content will have switched over, and you’ll see all the posts on your own site, but that doesn’t mean you’ve finished. While WordPress works exceptionally well out-of-the-box, it still needs a little tweaking. Let’s talk about how to do that next.

Set Up WordPress the Right Way

The great thing about having a self-hosted WordPress site is you’re in total control. You can change how it looks, what functionality it has, improve its performance, and almost anything else you can imagine.

The problem?

Complete control also comes at a cost: complexity. There are thousands upon thousands of themes and hundreds of thousands of plug-ins to choose from, and you can easily lose weeks or even months of your life wading through them all and trying to figure out what’s best for you.

So, I’m going to take a minimalist approach here. Rather than giving you a huge list of things to do, I’m reducing it down to the absolute minimum, and I’ll even recommend some specific themes and plug-ins. Before we begin though, let me be clear about one thing:

Your content matters more than anything else.

You can have a site that’s ugly, clunky, and slow, but if you have great content, you’ll still get a lot of traffic. Not the opposite, though. You can have the most beautiful, user-friendly website online, but if the content sucks, nobody will give a damn about you.

So, don’t allow yourself to get lost in these details. Focus on making your website functional, and then you can always come back and make it unique or beautiful later.

That said, here are some different options to consider:

The Simplest Option: Elegant Themes

Cost: $89 per Year

You might wince a little at the annual price, but the advantage of Elegant Themes is they give you everything you need in one package:

  • Divi, the most popular WordPress theme on the market
  • A built-in page builder that can design anything you can imagine
  • Monarch, a social sharing plug-in that’s customizable and looks great
  • Bloom, a simple but functional app for building your email list
  • Regular updates and support, making it easy to stay current
Now, is every piece of it the best?

No. In fact, I don’t think they are the best in any single category.

But the combination of everything put together makes it far easier to get started. The design is also top-notch. That’s why they’ve become the most popular theme company on the market with over 400,000 paying customers.

The bottom line:

If you’re looking for a simple, stable solution that will last you for years and doesn’t require a “tech guy” to get up and running, Elegant Themes is the way to go.

The Free Option: A Hodgepodge of Stuff

Cost: Zero

So… what if you can’t really afford to spend any money on your blog? What should you do then?

The answer:

Cobble together a hodgepodge of free stuff into a workable site.

Here’s what I would do:

  • For your WordPress theme, install the free version of Astra
  • For your page builder, check out the free version of Elementor
  • For social sharing, go with the free version of Sumo
  • For building your email list, also go with the free version of Sumo
The downside?

Sumo will only last until you hit 500 subscribers, and then you have to either switch to something else or start paying a rather high monthly fee to stay with them. You also have to update everything separately, and you’ll have far less support if anything breaks.

To me, those are some pretty big downsides, and I really wouldn’t recommend it, but sometimes you don’t have any other choice. If that’s the case, give it a try.

A Quick Word about Caching

Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll want to install a caching plug-in before you start getting too much traffic (100+ visitors per day). The two most popular options are plug-ins called WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache.

If you’re looking for simplicity, I recommend WP Super Cache. You can install it, and you’re done. Here’s a video where a guy gets everything set up in three minutes:

Later, when you’re getting 10,000+ visitors per month, you might think about getting a tech guy who really knows the ins and outs of either plug-in to configure it for you. It really helps, but it’s not worth the trouble or expense for a new blog.

Important: If you end up going with Siteground (affiliate link), as I recommended above, they have their own caching plug-in, and it only takes about a minute to set up. Here’s a tutorial that walks you through it.

Grow to $1,000 per Month (And Beyond)

In the immortal words of Harry Connick Junior…

Up to this point, you’ve published posts on Medium until it’s clear people love what you write, you switched over to your self-hosted WordPress site, and now you are up and ready for the world. So, here’s the big question:

When does the money start rolling in? After all, that’s the point of all this, right?

Well… good news and bad news.

The good news is you’ve done the hard part. By far, the hardest part of building a popular blog is writing posts other people enjoy reading. Nothing else even comes close.

The bad news?

That’s just the beginning.

Now that your blog is up and running, you have to learn the ins and outs of getting traffic, building your email list, and monetizing your site. Even if you have top-notch writing skills, it’ll still take you at least 3-6 months to figure all that out.

But think about it this way…

Nothing worth doing is quick or easy.

Personally, I was a slow learner, and it took me three years to reach $1,000 a month. That’s a long time, right? Well, two years after that, we crossed $100,000 per month, and we’ve never looked back.

The point:

Getting started is the hardest part. It might take you a few months or even a few years to build up momentum. And you might feel a little dumb for investing so much time to it, but then that momentum builds and builds and builds, and you wake up one morning to the stupefying yet delicious realization that you’ll never have to worry about money again.

That’s what happened to me. Might happen to you too.

At the end of the day though, there’s only one way to find out:

Get started and see what happens.

About the Author: Jon Morrow is the CEO of Smart Blogger. Check out his new blog Unstoppable and read the launch post that went viral: 7 Life Lessons from a Guy Who Can’t Move Anything but His Face.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

How to Use Mastermind Groups to Transform Your Business

Have you spent significant time growing your blog and online business?

Do you know that you have the ability to grow your business more, but feel like there’s something missing?

In this episode, I will share how you can use Mastermind groups to transform your business.

Listen to This Episode

Ten Years in Business

On January 8th, 2008, my life changed. It was the day I made my first dollar on the internet.

In fact, I made $70 that day.

For the first time – I was able to say that you could actually make money online.

It has been a decade, and there have been many challenges along the way.

But it has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my lifetime.

One of the key reasons for my success in my business have been mastermind groups.

What is a Mastermind Group?

The mastermind principle is a concept promoted by Napoleon Hill. It is “the coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony”.

The Role of Mastermind Groups

There's one thing I'm sure about – I would not have lasted in business if not for my mastermind groups.

When I started my business, I knew that I had to network and connect with other entrepreneurs.

But the most influential mastermind group for me has been my Greenroom Mastermind.

I've been meeting with these guys almost every week for over seven years.

These guys, Cliff Ravenscraft, Mark Mason, Pat Flynn, Ray Edwards and Michael Stelzner, have helped me grow my business in huge ways.

Greenroom Mastermind

Greenroom Mastermind: Mark Mason, Michael Stelzner, Pat Flynn, Ray Edwards, Cliff Ravenscraft, Leslie Samuel

Here are a few results that I attribute to being a part of this mastermind group:

  • I took the leap of faith and left my job
  • I started working with Social Media Examiner
  • I've grown my business to the 6 figure level
  • I grew my speaking career

Why YOU should be in a Mastermind Group

Mastermind group

Two (or more) minds are better than one and can help you tackle huge challenges.

While there are MANY benefits to being a part of a mastermind group, I'll share a few here.

  1. Raise your profile. “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” – Jim Rohn. By surrounding yourself with awesome people, you're elevating yourself.
  1. Get insights from people with experience. If you choose the members of your mastermind group well, this is a huge deal. Two (or more) minds are better than one and can help you tackle huge challenges.
  1. Accountability. Knowing that you have to report back to your mastermind group has a way of pushing you to do better.
  1. To accomplish more than you can accomplish on your own. Every member of an effective mastermind groups brings unique talents and resources. Leveraging each others talents and resources can be powerful.

Who should be in your mastermind group

mastermind members

You have to choose who are going to be part of the group.

Everyone's not a good fit for your mastermind group. You want to have people who are…

  • on a similar, but different, journey. Are you an entrepreneur or blogger? Look for a group of other entrepreneurs/bloggers. They don't have to be in the same industry, but it's good for them to be on a similar path.
  • close to your level. The last thing you want in a mastermind group is to be the coach that everyone benefits from. It must be a mutually beneficial situation.
  • committed to the mastermind group. If the members don't take the commitment seriously, your group won't last.
  • committed to one another's success. Mastermind groups aren't about any one person. It's about the group as a whole. It's a team effort.

How to Run Mastermind Meetings

Zoom mastermind meetings

Running mastermind meetings through Zoom

There are different formats for how to run a mastermind group. Our chosen format is very simple:

  • We do our meetings via Zoom so that we can be on video if necessary.
  • First 10 minutes: We go around the group and have each member share a win of the week – something they are grateful for.
  • Remaining 50 minutes: One member gets in the “Hot Seat”. During that time, they are free to share whatever they want related to their business. If they are struggling with a specific issue that they need input on, they share that. During that time, the other members of the group get to pour value into that person's situation.

Why I'm starting a Paid Mastermind Group

When I left my job in 2014, I started offering one-on-one coaching. Many of my clients have gone on to be very successful.

In some cases, they've doubled, tripled and even quadrupled their businesses.

There is something significant to being able to invest into the life of someone else on a one-to-one basis.

But I've also seen how much value comes from masterminding.

Being a part of a high-functioning mastermind has taught me what it takes to do them well.

I want to be able to invest at a much deeper level into 4 – 6 individuals.

Announcing The Blogger Dream Team

The Blogger Dream Team

The Blogger Dream Team

I'm my coaching and mastermind group experiences into this new project.

The Blogger Dream Team is a paid mastermind group with a coaching component.

During our mastermind calls, I provide guidance as I do in my one-on-one coaching calls.

But you also get to tap into the experience, training, education, specialized knowledge and influence of the other members.

And there are some other things I have planned that will unfold as we go along.

And no – it's NOT for everyone.

Here's who I'm looking for:

  • 4 – 6 bloggers (max) who have built their blogs to a decent level of success.
  • Bloggers who are committed to taking their success to the next level.
  • Bloggers who are looking to be leaders in their industries
  • Bloggers who are looking to expand their network

It is NOT for you if:

  • You are trying to figure out how to start a blog/business (if that's you, check out my Coaching Club).
  • You are unsure of the direction you are going with your blog.
  • You aren't willing to commit to your own success and the success of others.

What's the cost?

I decided to keep the cost of membership in the Blogger Dream Team the same as the cost for my one-on-one coaching.

For $1,000/month, you get my guidance plus the masterminding aspect of being a part of the dream team.

If you're interested in being a part, go ahead and click here to apply now.


Mastermind Groups for Your Business

Infographic: How to Use Mastermind Groups to Transform Your Business

The post How to Use Mastermind Groups to Transform Your Business appeared first on Become A Blogger by Leslie Samuel.


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Best of 2017: Our Favorite Posts for Writers from the Last 12 Months

2018 is around the corner.

This could be the year you crack your first 1,000 subscribers. This could be the year you get published on that blog you’re dying to write for. This could even be the year one of your blog posts goes viral.

But none of that will happen unless you keep at it.

You not only have to keep writing, you also have to keep honing your craft.

Because the one thing that separates the winners from the losers in this blogging game is that the winners are always trying to improve.

They’re always trying to take their writing chops to the next level.

And they never stop trying. Because there’s always a new level to reach.

Here at Smart Blogger, we publish a ton of content to help you level up your writing, because we want you to become the best writer you can be.

But we’re not the only voice out there. The blogosphere is full of accomplished wordsmiths who have perfected their writing for years and now share their experience.

So today, we want to highlight a few posts that other bloggers published in 2017 — posts that will help you hone your craft and meet your writing goals in the year to come.

Check ’em out below:

We Analyzed 100 Million Headlines. Here’s What We Learned (New Research) – Buzzsumo

Author: Steve Rayson

You know the headline is the most important part of your article, right?

That’s why this is a must-read.

Buzzsumo has aggregated all the share counts of all the content that is published online. And in this post, they analyze that data to determine which headline phrases get the most social engagement, and which get the least.

Use this fascinating data in 2018 to give your headlines a better shot in the social arena.

The 7 Differences Between Professionals and Amateurs – Medium

Author: Jeff Goins

Jeff Goins is an iconic blogger who has five books and over 1,000 blog posts to his name. He’s a pro writer, but he had to start somewhere as well. He wasn’t always as effective as he is now.

In this post, he opens up about his past struggles to make it in the writing field, the mistakes he made along the way, and the mindsets that held him back.

The message is simple: If you want to be a pro, don’t act like an amateur.

Read this post and make sure that you’re not.

5 Writing Techniques that Stir Your Audience to Action – CopyBlogger

Author: Brian Clark

If you want to stir someone to action, you must first stir their emotions.

That is the premise of Brian Clark’s post, and he describes five writing techniques you can use to do so.

If you want your writing to stir your audience, practice these techniques.

Your writing will be more powerful and persuasive for it.

Sentence Structure: How to Make Your Sentences Easier to Read – Doris and Bertie

Author: Clare Lynch

This short post mirrors two sentences against each other. They both say the same thing in the same language, but one is easy to read, and the other is hard.

The difference?

Their structure.

Not enough bloggers review their writing on such a micro level. They don’t analyze their posts sentence by sentence. But this post shows that the way you structure a sentence can make a huge difference.

Give it a quick read because it could open your eyes.

The Anatomy of the PERFECT Article Intro (And How to Reverse Engineer It) – Unsettle

Author:  Sarah Peterson

In this epic post, Sarah goes deep on the art of writing compelling introductions — and make no mistake, this is a must-have skill for bloggers.

After all, your intros carry a lot of responsibility. They must not only convince people to start reading, but they must also convince people to keep reading.

Sarah breaks it down step by step to ensure the next intro you write has the desired effect. If you want people to read your article far enough to discover your brilliant ideas, read this post.

How I Wrote 200 Unique Blog Posts in 200 Days — A Formula for Infinite Creativity – Medium

Author: Barry Davret

Many people think being creative is all about coming up with original ideas. The truth is, creativity comes from knowing how to combine ideas and experience into something that feels fresh.

This author’s formula for creativity gave him 200 unique blog post ideas in as many days. It’s simple but effective.

That’s what earned him a spot on our list.

A List with 99 Strong Verbs to Make Your Content Pop, Fizz, and Sparkle – Enchanting Marketing

Author: Henneke Duistermaat

Henneke is an insanely talented writer with a knack for writing vivid content that jumps off the page.

In this post, she explains how you can create the same powerful effect by choosing strong verbs that paint a picture in your reader’s mind.

Her list of strong verbs is a good resource, but the advice that precedes it could change the way you write.

Hone Your Craft and Meet Your Blogging Goals in 2018

Don’t be one of those writers who hits a plateau and never takes the effort to improve.

You have to strive to become better. You have to try new techniques, and you have to practice until you’ve mastered them.

That’s what will equip you to make it in this blogging game.

The techniques from these posts are a good start. Practice them in 2018 to hone your writing, and when you look back in twelve months, you won’t believe how much you’ll have improved.

Have a happy new year!

Author bio: Robert van Tongeren is the Associate Editor of Smart Blogger, who helps our writers get their posts in tip-top shape. He also runs his own blog that helps guys dress a little sharper at Restart Your Style. You can find him on Twitter here.


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Six Mistakes I’ve Made While Building my Blogging Business

Are you making mistakes when trying to build your blog?

Well – you are not alone.

In this episode, I give you insight into mistakes I’ve made while building my blogging business.

Listen to This Episode

Making Mistakes

failures on social media

Most people don’t write about their failures publicly.

Do you know what’s REALLY easy to do in this online world? Assume that the people we see online have everything together.

Most people don’t write about their failures publicly. We don’t generally go to Facebook to tell people how we messed up.

We post the things we want others to see, so that it paints a good picture of who we are.

I believe that this is natural.

Before the internet, we didn’t create photo albums showing themselves doing boring stuff. And we definitely didn’t create albums of our mistakes.

But this gets amplified with the internet.

As a result, it’s easy to look at others and think they never mess up.

But here’s the truth – we ALL make mistakes.

My Blogging Mistakes

I teach people how to build blogging businesses. But guess what – I’ve made Many mistakes on this blogging journey.

Here are six (of the many)…

1. Not Focusing on Building a Team

I didn't focus on building a team.

When I first started my online business in 2008, things got crazy. I spent so much time on my business that I hardly had any time for anything else.

It got so bad that I decided to quit.

Fortunately, after a break of a month or two, I decided to get back at it. At that point, I decided to get a Virtual Assistant.

This helped me tremendously and I’ve had at least one ever since.

As much as that helped, I never really took it to the next level – I never built a team.

As a result, I have not been able to accomplish as much as I would like.

2. Didn’t Put Enough Emphasis on Growing MY Business

I didn't put enough emphasis growing my business.

One of the areas I’ve had a considerable amount of success with over the last three years is with my one-on-one coaching.

In most of my coaching experiences, I’ve been able to help my clients grow their businesses SIGNIFICANTLY.

In some cases doubling, tripling, and even quadrupling the size of their businesses.

We were able to do this because we FOCUSED on growing their businesses.

But I gotta be honest, I haven’t focused on growing my business as much as I did theirs.

And while my business has experience a LOT of growth, it’s nowhere near where it should be based on the knowledge and experience I’ve had.

3. I Didn’t Take my Finances Seriously

I didn't take my finances seriously.

I HATE dealing with finances. It’s not something that excites me. In fact, money doesn’t excite me.

As a result, I’ve neglected my business finances in ways that I shouldn't.

I hate tax time because I ALWAYS end up spending a bunch of time trying to figure out what happened over the previous year.

And at the end, I’m always surprised by the crazy amount of money I have to give to uncle Sam.

4. I Jumped the Gun on Too Many Ideas

I Jumped the Gun on Too Many Ideas

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but I’m easily excited. It’s true.

As a result, I quickly jump the gun on too many ideas. This has happened multiple times in my business.

Some examples are:

  • When I decided to start an audio blog
  • When I decided to write a new post every day
  • When I decided to create a video every weekday

And yes – those are just a few of the ideas.

The problem is that when I jump the gun, I don’t usually come up with a sustainable plan to make it happen.

5. I Didn’t Follow Through on What Worked

I Didn’t Follow Through on What Worked

There are two things I’ve done to date that have been tremendously successful in growing my business.

Thing 1 – Creating resource centers

Thing 2 – Using Webinars to grow my Coaching club

Here’s what’s embarrassing. As great as they are, I have not done many of them. In fact, I created ONE resource center over two years ago that is responsible for a bulk of my income.

One would think that I would’ve created many of them since it has done so well for me. But nope. I haven’t.

And the same goes for webinars. If they work that well, I should be doing them regularly. Instead, I do them once in a blue moon.

6. I Haven’t Pushed Myself Hard Enough

I Haven’t Pushed Myself Hard Enough

Most of the progress in my business has been the result of external circumstances.

When I left my job, I NEEDED to hustle to get things done so that my family could eat – literally.

So that’s exactly what I did, and I got my business to the level that I needed it to be to take care of my family.

Then I stopped pushing.

The truth is – I’ve pushed mostly when things got challenging. But that push wasn’t internal.

Why I’m sharing these Mistakes

When you read a post like this, you probably expect the author to tell you how they overcame these issues.

The fact is, these are mistakes I continue to make. I have not “gotten over them”.

But here’s the thing – I’ve been able to have an impact in spite of these mistakes.

There are thousands of people all over the world who have gotten value from the content and resources I’ve created.

You don’t have to get everything right in order to have an impact.

What you HAVE TO do is take action.


six big mistakes

Six Mistakes I’ve Made While Building my Blogging Business

The post Six Mistakes I’ve Made While Building my Blogging Business appeared first on Become A Blogger by Leslie Samuel.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

How to Use Transitional Phrases to Keep Your Readers Sliding Down the Page

Some writers seem to have a magic touch…

One minute you’re reading their opening, and before you know it, you’ve reached the end of their article.

Their content reads so smoothly, it’s almost impossible to stop.

So how do they do it?

Well, great writers are meticulous about making each line flow seamlessly into the next. They understand how important it is for the reader to have a smooth reading experience, and they make sure to fix anything that would cause friction.

And one powerful way they do so is by using transitional phrases.

So today you’ll learn how to use them yourself. But first, let’s examine why they’re so important.

The Little Secret That Copywriters Have Known for Ages

Copywriters have known this for a long time:

The primary purpose of every paragraph you write is not to make a point, or to build your argument, or to convey valuable information. It’s to get your reader to read the next paragraph.

Famous copywriter Maxwell Ross likened this to a “bucket brigade.” Let me explain why…

In the days before fire trucks and pressure hoses, people would put out fires by forming a human chain. They would pass a bucket of water from one person to the next until the last person finally threw it onto the fire.

In those days, it was vital the chain remained unbroken. If the bucket wasn’t passed smoothly from one person to the next, the water would spill and not make it to the fire.

Likewise, each paragraph (and really, each sentence) you write must pass the reader on to the next. And just like in a real bucket brigade, the chain must be unbroken, or you will “spill” readers along the way, which means they won’t make it to the end of your article.

And that’s where transitional phrases come in.

How Transitional Phrases “Lubricate” Your Writing So Readers Slide from Line to Line 

Have you ever been with a group of friends and someone suddenly makes a random comment that doesn’t follow from anything that anyone else has said?

I bet you have — we all have.

It’s a strange moment — everyone (except the person who made the comment) just looks at each other, bewildered.

Well, writing without transitions is like that.

It causes friction in your reader’s mind and leaves them scratching their head, wondering “How do you get from this to that?”

Any piece of writing is a series of ideas, propositions, and arguments placed one after the other.

But those ideas need to be linked to each other. You need transitional words and phrases to help readers understand how ideas relate to each other. Without them, readers will feel like you’re switching from idea to idea too abruptly, and in most cases, you’ll leave them feeling confused.

Want to know how to do it right? Take, for example, this excerpt from Jon Morrow’s post How to Make Money Blogging: How This Blog Makes $100K per Month:

Even if you’re making fantastic money from affiliate marketing or selling services, chances are you’ll want to try your hand at developing your own product at some point. So, where should you start?

My answer: with blogs, the most profitable price is usually the end of the funnel. Here’s what I mean…

You’ve seen a sales funnel, right? A company entices you with a freebie, then they offer you something cheap but irresistible, and then they gradually sweet talk you into buying more and more expensive stuff. It’s a tried and true marketing tactic, and you should absolutely build a sales funnel for your blog.

What you might not know is you should build it in reverse.

A lot of bloggers launch a cheap e-book as their first product, and then they get frustrated when they don’t make much money. Here’s why: the real profit is at the end of the funnel, not the beginning.

You might note that these phrases don’t convey any information. All they do is make the ride smoother. All they do is connect one idea to another.

The good news is, you probably already use transitional phrases in your writing to some extent. Most people use them naturally. However…

There’s a special class of transitional phrases that many bloggers don’t even know about.

13 Exceptionally Engaging Transitions That Readers Can’t Resist 

Remember Maxwell Ross, the “bucket brigade” guy?

He had a list of transitional phrases that don’t just help readers transition from one idea to the other, but actively work to keep those readers engaged.

These phrases keep readers glued to the page by either evoking their curiosity or by hinting that something important is about to come.

They give a jolt to readers’ brains, waking them up and demanding they pay attention.

Make no mistake; these phrases are powerful. Backlinko’s Brian Dean credits them for readers staying on his pages for an average of four minutes (which is a lot). Brian uses these transitional phrases in all of his articles (as you can see in the screenshots below).

So let’s dive in.

#1: The “Mind Reader” Transition

How it works: You claim to know what the reader is thinking, or you assume the reader agrees with something you’re about to say. The reader will then want to find out if you’re right.


  1. I know what you’re thinking…
  2. And now, you’re thinking…
  3. I can almost hear you thinking…
  4. You guessed it…
  5. I’m sure you’re with me on this one…
  6. Here’s something we can both agree on…
  7. I think you’ll agree with me when I say…
  8. You must be wondering…
The "Mind Reader" Transition

#2. The “Can’t Miss This” Transition

How it works: You literally tell the reader you’re about to share an important piece of information. Nobody wants to miss anything important, which is why this simple phrase will pique your reader’s attention.


  1. Now, this is important…
  2. Here’s the interesting part…
  3. Here’s the bottom line…
  4. Here’s why that’s important…
  5. So what’s my point?
  6. And the best part is…
  7. You don’t want to miss this next part…
  8. It all boils down to this…
The “Can’t Miss This” Transition

#3: The “Important Insight” Transition

How it works: You hint you’re about to share an important insight or discovery. Your reader will be curious to find out what it is.


  1. That’s when I realized…
  2. And then it hit me…
  3. Here’s what we found instead…
  4. I finally understood that…
  5. Then it finally dawned on me…
  6. But guess what I realized just in the nick of time…
  7. You won’t believe what we discovered…
The “Important Insight” Transition

#4: The “There’s a Catch” Transition

How it works: You hint at a problem or obstacle that might keep the reader from reaching their desired goal. The reader will want to know what the problem is (and they’ll assume you’ll also provide the solution).


  1. But there’s a catch…
  2. So what’s the catch?
  3. There’s just one problem…
  4. The problem is…
  5. Here’s the main issue with that…
  6. And this is where people run into trouble…
  7. That’s when you might hit a snag…
The “There’s a Catch” Transition

#5: The “Big Answer” Transition

How it works: As I said, after you identify a problem, you have to offer a solution. That’s where this transition comes in. When you’ve just told readers about a problem they’ll be facing, they’ll want to know how to solve it.


  1. So what’s the solution?
  2. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution…
  3. The solution is simple…
  4. Here’s the big secret…
  5. The answer?
  6. The trick is to…
  7. Here’s how you solve this…
The “Big Answer” Transition

#6: The “But Wait, There’s More” Transition

How it works: You use this transition when your strategy or product has two (or more) big benefits. Typically, you’d start with the most important benefit first, and then use this phrase to transition into the additional benefits.


  1. But wait, there’s more…
  2. But that’s not all…
  3. It gets better…
  4. And I’m not stopping there…
  5. As if that’s not enough…
  6. And on top of that…
The “But Wait, There’s More” Transition

#7: The “Exemplary Example” Transition

How it works: You introduce an example (obviously). Readers tend to pay attention to examples because they help contextualize the theory they’ve just learned.


  1. For example…
  2. Take Billy’s story, for example…
  3. Here’s a little case study of this strategy in action…
  4. Case in point…
  5. Just look at what happened to…
The “Exemplary Example” Transition

#8: The “Lifting the Veil” Transition

How it works: You hint at a clarification or supplementation of the preceding text. Readers will pay attention because they realize it will help them understand the information better.


  1. I’ll explain…
  2. Let me elaborate…
  3. Let me walk you through…
  4. Let me lift the veil for you…
  5. Let me break this down for you…
  6. Here’s what I mean…
  7. Let me clarify…
The “Lifting the Veil” Transition

#9: The “How To” Transition

How it works: You transition from the theoretical to the practical. You introduce the steps the reader must take to get the promised result. This is the reason most of them are reading your article in the first place, so it will make them sit up.


  1. Here’s how to do it yourself…
  2. Here’s how you can do the same thing…
  3. How?
  4. Here’s how…
  5. You’re about to find out how…
  6. But how do you… ?
  7. Let me tell you how…
The “How To” Transition

#10: The “Stay with Me” Transition

How it works: You command the reader to stay on the page. Use this phrase whenever the reader might have doubts about a bold or shocking claim, or after you’ve doled out some complicated information. Most readers will feel compelled to comply.


  1. Stay with me now…
  2. Stick with me here, because…
  3. Keep reading…
  4. Don’t stop reading now…
  5. I know that’s a lot to take in, but bear with me…
The “Stay with Me” Transition

#11: The “Curious Question” Transition

How it works: Questions engage the reader’s brain and make them feel like they’re part of a conversation (rather than being lectured). And of course, whenever you pose a question, the reader will want to know the answer, which means they have to keep reading.


  1. But what does that mean?
  2. But what exactly is…?
  3. Why is that?
  4. Why does this work?
  5. How do I know?
  6. Is it true?
  7. But what if… ?
  8. But where can you find… ?
  9. So when do you use… ?
The “Curious Question” Transition

#12: The “Rhetorical Question” Transition

How it works: Rhetorical questions engage the reader’s brain in the same way as curious questions. The only difference is that curious questions hint at an upcoming answer, whereas rhetorical questions assume the answer. This will prime the reader to agree with you.


  1. You see my point, right?
  2. Do you see how huge this is?
  3. Don’t you wish… ?
  4. Is that something you’d like for your business?
  5. How awesome is that?
  6. Do you ever wonder… ?
  7. Sound good?
  8. Amazing, isn’t it?
The “Rhetorical Question” Transition

#13: The “Guess What Happened” Transition

How it works: You hint at the conclusion of the events or the result of the activities you’ve covered. Readers understand that this is one of the most crucial parts of your article or story, so they pay attention.


  1. Guess what happened?
  2. Here’s what happened next…
  3. Even I was surprised at what happened next…
  4. You won’t believe how the story ends…
  5. These were our results…
  6. The result?
The “Guess What Happened” Transition

Master Your Transitions and Watch Reader Engagement Shoot Up

When you master the art of transitioning, you’ll notice that readers will stay on your posts longer. You’ll notice more of them will read your posts to the end.

Don’t get me wrong; these phrases aren’t magic. They won’t turn a bad article into a good one.

But they can help turn a good article into a great one.

You still have to write content that’s, you know, of interest to your audience. But if you do, these phrases can help keep your readers glued to the page. One minute they’ll be reading your opening lines, and before they know it, they’ll have reached the end of your article.

So sprinkle transitional phrases throughout your content, and one day, you’ll check your analytics and notice people are spending a lot more time on your posts.

That’s when you know they’re doing their job.

Sounds pretty good, right?

About the Author: Rob Powell shows beginning bloggers how to write blog posts that engage your readers and keep them on the page. Download his list of 517 Transitional Words and Phrases and literally pull your readers down the page.