Do you know what has made the biggest difference for me? eBooks. This year I started collaborating with other bloggers. If someone reached out and said they were looking for suggestions or ideas I always responded. If I saw a call for submissions to an anthology, I sent in a piece. And I asked for their contributions too. I really started to see a lot of growth. This time last year I had a following of about 120 people, but now I am in the (low) thousands. I don't mean to say that to brag, just to show that you can only go so far by yourself.
I had been blogging for almost 3 years before I attended OBC, but my numbers were pretty low. As soon as I started reaching out and "playing well with others" I saw a big increase in traffic. Are you thinking, "Ok, great. But how do I do that?" I can tell you one way that has been working for me.
I learned this next trick from Anna of My Life and Kids. Last Christmas, she put together a great eBook about holiday traditions and gave it away for free to anyone who liked her Facebook page. She featured one of my suggestions and we both saw a lot of traffic. Even better, the readers felt like they were being rewarded for their loyalty by receiving a gift. I followed Anna's suggestion and offered a free Mother's Day eBook as a gift to my readers this year when they subscribed to my newsletter. I host the eBook on a hidden page on my blog, rather than emailing a pdf, so that every time someone opens the file it brings me traffic. This kind of short eBook is easy (and free!) to put together, so the results are certainly worth it. Unlike holding a giveaway, you can give it to ALL of your readers, so everybody wins! I just created it as Word document and saved it as a pdf. Most of the pictures are just graphics I made in PicMonkey, the same way I do for my blog.
I asked other bloggers for their ideas and featured many of them. I link to them within the book. The hope is that they will get traffic in exchange for providing content. You probably have an area of expertise that would make a great eBook. What about a collection of free pattens or recipes? Try collecting ideas from other bloggers (with permission, of course!) and turning them into an eBook. And it's not just eBooks. Anthologies where bloggers collaborate with each other are also becoming very popular. This spring I had the wonderful opportunity to collaborate with 36 other bloggers on the anthology I Just Want to Pee Alone. We each wrote our own chapter and Jen of People I Want to Punch in the Throat did all the hard work working with editors and designers to put them together and then she published our essays as a book. The result was amazing! By ourselves we probably couldn't have done as well, but when we combined our readership and social media reach in a collaborative book? This happened:
Working together as a group allowed our book to become a number one best-seller on Amazon and iTunes! Sometimes it is easy to fall into the trap of looking at other bloggers as your competition, but the truth is that the easiest and most rewarding way to get ahead is to work together. We are all working towards the same goal of building our brands. Creating collaborative eBooks is a great way to do that!