Episode 21 – Blogging with Lynn Terry

Lynn dropped additional nuggets of sales and marketing goodness in the EXTENDED Interview. Be sure to click here to access all of our great extended interviews, transcripts and more within our Insider's Club.

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I’m Lynn Terry, author of ClickNewz.com. I quit my last “real job” in 1996, and I’ve been working from home and online full-time for more than 17 years. My online revenue is my sole source of income, and has allowed me to have a FUN and rewarding career, while allowing me to create an amazing lifestyle for my family!

By popular demand, I finally decided to teach my own step-by-step process for starting and running a successful niche business online. You’ll love how fast my “Niche Success Blueprint” training modules help you make money online!

Podcast Transcription

Brian Basilico: All right, everybody. We're here today with Lynn Terry and Lynn, can you tell us a little bit about who you are? I guess you've been online since 1996?

Lynn Terry: I have. Thank you, Brian. I'm actually celebrating my 18th year this year in business. So I started out as I had a normal job like most people do. I had quite a large family at the time. There were six of us. At any rate, we were really struggling. It was the 90's, and I had not gone to college and had been fortunate enough to get a job I really enjoyed. However, it just wasn't enough to support the family.

Anyway, it's been quite an interesting journey working from home and of course living at work and various things like that. My first businesses in the '90s were offline businesses. What really got me into what I still do today which is affiliate marketing and looked at that as being the smallest revenue source in my business, but the most consistent whether I was working or not. I flipped my whole business model around to really focus on that more so that I could be home full-time – which was great and I had an opportunity to raise my children, I had an opportunity to take care of my grandmother her last two years around the clock and still run my business from home. Now, my life is wide open and can travel the world and just basically work from my back pocket from anywhere.

It's been an amazing journey.

Brian: It sounds like it. Yes, it sounds awesome. Now, tell me how you went from being a Unix system administrator – and I love geek by the way, I speak fluent – to a super affiliate and professional blogger. How did that transition happen?

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Lynn: It was very abrupt. I loved that job actually and let me just backtrack and say I did mention that I didn't have any college education. Getting that job was interesting. It was a proprietary system and I knew enough to know what that word meant. That's about it. It wasn't even a PCs at the time, I didn't even know how to turn a computer on and off. But I knew enough to know that if it was a proprietary system, no one was going to be trained or educated on it.

Brian: Right.

Lynn: So I basically have left my way through the interview, but I really, really enjoyed the job. It just became really difficult. Anyway, I'm struggling to work 50-60 hours a week. At any rate, just aside it – and I was young. Let's just say that. I was young and naïve, I was 23 and I didn't really have enough life experience to be scared or to worry about taking big risk. So, the decision to quit my job and start my first business, I didn't have enough knowledge to know what all I stood to lose or whatever. In my head, I ask myself one question: what's the worst that could happen?

Brian: That's a great question. I love that because really, it's all about having confidence in yourself and you know that you're in control and that's awesome.

So, let's get into the blogging side of things and tell us, what is blogging? A lot of people read blogs, but I don't know if everybody really understands the whole concept.

Lynn: Yes, it's a good question, actually. I'm in my 11th year of blogging. Anyway, blogging, it can mean a lot of things. WordPress, which is the most common blogging platform is simply that, it's simply a platform. You can create a static website, you can even create an ecommerce website with WordPress, or you can create an actual blog with it. There is some confusion there. Blogging though, it's simple. It's answering your market's questions. That's it. It's addressing their needs, their wants, providing the information that they're searching for and basically just answering their questions. It really is that simple. In fact often just for fun when people ask me, “What do you do for a living?” I say, “I answer questions for a living.”

Brian: That's awesome. I love that. Yes, because a lot of people don't understand the concept, the difference between answering questions and out there trying to use this as a sales platform. Would you agree with that?

Lynn: Yes and look, it can be an amazing sales platform if you're answering their questions and if you're doing it correctly, which we'll get into a little bit. When you talk about a sales platform, people can make an entire business around blogging alone, or you can use a blog as a means of marketing your business and a lot of people do. I'll give you an example, it's just so people can put it into a frame of reference.

I have a low carb blog and I absolutely love it, enjoyed it, it's called Travelinglowcarb.com. When I started this blog, really it was four or five years ago. At that point, there were already a ton of successful low carb blogs in that market, so that's one of the biggest things people are like. It's already so saturated. I actually consider that an asset. I think it's a really good thing – competition. It's one of my favorite things. Anyway, the thing is I don't cook. I'm in and out of my kitchen quicker than a public restroom. The only thing I make in there is coffee. So, I use to cook, mind you. That's just now that children are grown and when you're home alone, it's a different story.

Also, when I went low carb, I had to relearn how to cook and I'm like, “Who's got time for that?” I travel a lot. I have a very busy lifestyle. So I was actually at the beach with some friends and were all kind of eating a different way. Everybody has their own “food religion,” we'll call it now. Anyway, we were at the beach and I had been traveling non-stop that month. My friends, I don't know we were having breakfast together and I said, “I don't know why you're sticking to your diet” which I considered a way of eating, but when you're on vacation, I just eat whatever I want when I'm on vacation and I laughed and said, “I'm on perpetual vacation and that would never work for me if I only eat healthy at home.”

It occurred to me, this is the biggest problem people have with the eating low carb. It's what to do when you're camping, or when you're out of catered event, or when you're at a party, or over the holidays, or when you're at a cook out – anywhere but the kitchen. So, that's when I started Travelinglowcarb.com, which is low carb diet tips for the busy lifestyle. Now when people ask me what I do, I say, “I travel and eat for a living. What do you do?”

Brian: It's a great job if you can get it. That's fabulous.

Lynn: It's awesome. Yes, I know it's awesome. Even though a lot of my readers do cook and do like recipes which I can share from those other great blogs, they like those things but they also really appreciate the tips when they're going on vacation, or when they're taking road trips and all these kinds of things. So I tell them what to order at certain restaurants, or the fact that Olive Garden has a secret low carb and/or gluten-free menu and there's lots of little things that you wouldn't otherwise know. But yes, you can see when you say what is blogging, that's it. My job as a blogger is to teach that and to fill that void in the market.

Brian: So why should people be blogging? I mean what does it do for them in their business?

Lynn: Well, blogging is a great way to reach your market. It's a great way, it's a great platform to answer those questions they have. People, that's what they get online for. It's also a great way to engage them in topics when you hear that word “engagement” a lot, but it's huge. It's extremely important. It's a great platform for conversational selling, too. By addressing their questions and leading them into a definitive action and they're really looking for help with their buying decision. It's either, “Should I really buy this?” They want someone else to validate that decision, or, “What should I buy for this solution?” They need real people. They don't need advertising, they need real people to tell them, “Yes, this is” or, “No, this isn't.” There's that as far as why you should blog.

Of course there's the obvious answer, too, which is to make money. If you can build an audience, you can monetize it, period. Whether that's through advertising and sponsors who want to reach the audience that you don't, or through your own products and services, maybe you don't already have a business, or maybe you're creating products, or as an affiliate, which is bringing your market to various merchants in exchange for commission, or all of those, which is what I do. If you conserve a market, you have a business.

Brian: I love that. You're taking your passion and the thing you want to do and figuring out a way to turn it into a business in one way, shape, or form, which is fantastic.

My next question for you is this, what are some of the key components of a great blog?

Lynn: Usability is first for me. That's huge. Let's just boil that word down since it's kind of a geek word, but usability, basically when you go to a website, how easy and how intuitive it is to use? That's it. That's what usability is. I'm sure you've all been to websites where you're like, “What do I do next?” Or, “Where's the button or whatever?” Your navigation should be intuitive and it should be easy. Other obvious factors of a good blog are a look and feel that matches your topic and that appeals to your market, so that boils down to designing color scheme.

Then I would say things like a solid ‘about' page and this is really important. A lot of people want to know about you and it also includes easy-to-find contact information. Having a media kit or an advertising page is very important. One element I don't see a lot is a ‘getting started' page. This is a page that gives new visitors a starting point on your blog, like, “What do I do first?” Or how to find the most important content, which might be buried in your archives for an example.

Brian: Lynn, what are some of the most common blogging mistakes you see people making?

Lynn: Wow. I do see a lot of blogging mistakes. I'll tell you there are tons of them. One of them is repeating the domain name. Nobody needs to see the domain name in the header of your blog and this is real common for people to use it like as the title tag, or in the header of their blog, or whatever. Other things like referencing stuff without linking to it. It might be a previous post, or something you talked about before, and it totally leaves new visitors, somebody who just landed on that page completely lost. Our referencing an event, or a product, or anything like that and not linking to it, that's rude.

But you have to keep in mind that not everybody is reading your blog like a book from start to finish, and not everybody has been reading your blog from day one. It's interesting to me when you look at it like this: a blog is like a house, except that every single room has a door. So, people can come in from the basement, from the bathroom, from the attic, from the front door like you would like for them to, their bedroom, they could come in from any direction for your blog – the most common entry pages and it's actually extremely important to go do that, to go look at your stats and look at those entry pages. You want to be giving those entry pages the absolute utmost attention.

If you go back to the house analogy, if you look at your stats and you realize most people are coming in through the guest bathroom and you never thought of that. You never knew that. Your guest bathroom is a total mess and you're actually using it for storage. Don't you want to clean that out a little bit? Absolutely.

Brian: Good advice. Very, very good advice.

Lynn: Another big blogging mistake I see people make is being afraid to sell or avoiding it out of fear of offending their readers. It's actually a huge disservice to them not to let them know about great products and services, or great deals, or where to get them. So as a blogger in your niche or as a market leader – you are a market leader. It's your job to share these things. That's one of the huge mistakes I see and people being afraid to sell, but if you consider this, consider that you go to Walmart, and you walk in and there's no price tags on anything, and in fact there's no products on the shelf. You actually have to go find someone and ask them for the product and ask them how much it is, finding someone might be difficult. That's rude.

Brian: Agreed, yes.

Lynn: That's not a fun experience. Or if you think about shopping on Amazon, which I love, what if they didn't tell you what else goes with it? What if there was no order button? How annoying would that be? The other thing of course is related and it's not giving your reader the next best click. That's my favorite phrase for what a lot of people call the “call to action” but I like to simplify it and call it the “next best click.” This is rude, too, if you don't give them any other option when they're done on your page, let's say for example you go to a webpage and you read the entire thing all the way down to the bottom, what do you get to at the bottom? A copyright notice? A footer? Right, so you don't give them any other option except click the back button. There's nothing else to do.

So always consider where they should go next, and give them that link, and tell them why they should click on it, why they should go there next. You need to tell them what they should do, you should tell them why they should do it, that's huge, why. Always keep that word in your mind – why. Address it all the time and you should give them the link. Those are probably the most common blogging mistakes and there are tons of them, but those were the big ones that really stop people.

Brian: Good stuff. Great, great stuff. So what are some of the best practices when you're working with somebody and they're setting up their own blog? What are some of the things that you tell them they have to do on a regular basis?

Lynn: The benchmark for blogging is really serving your market. Those who truly have their market's best interest in mind are the ones that fast-track their business or their success at blogging. You'll see a lot of people who just try to follow the instructions, creating something, or putting together a piece of furniture they ordered on the internet, just following the directions and they don't really get into the concept of serving that market, or becoming a market leader. That's the most important thing. I mean there are tons of things you can do like for example you could curate content, or you could use private label rights content, or blah, blah, blah, but really, you want to be in the trenches – you've decided to start that business so it's something you love or enjoy, or wanted to do for some reason. Get in there and do it. That's my job.

Another best practice – I really have to say this one a lot – is to be yourself, full on. If you're quirky, or you're weird, or you smell funny, that's good.

Brian: I love that.

Lynn: I might be all three at the moment. The more unique personality your voice, that's what's going to attract your idle readers, it's what's going to create a real readership and an engaged audience. Holding back is very common. It's human nature to be a little bit self-conscious about yourself, this or that, but it does not allow you to stand out. It doesn't allow you to really connect with your readers and it does not give a blog, that unique flare that really attracts people to it.

Some of the most popular blogs in the past – we'll go way back – Dooce.com, her name is Heather Armstrong if you want to look her up. Anyway, she's so out there, and really opinionated, and somewhat controversial and start up a lot of things. Anyway, it was for a long time one of the most popular personal blogs on the internet. It's certainly one of the most successful in terms of revenue. I'm not saying that you need to be someone you're not as far as try to have a big personality. One of the things about me – this is a shocker. Are you sitting down?

Brian: Of course.

Lynn: I'm an introvert. I'm a huge introvert and it's an interesting thing because people often think that means you're shy. I used to be shy. I used to be so shy they didn't make deodorant for women like me. I really struggled with that. Anyway, I got out of that some time in my 30s, but I'm still very introverted which means extroverts I should say are energized by a crowd. They get more energy. The more they're around huge crowds of people, they may not even be able to sleep at night because they're so full of energy and so pumped up. An introvert doesn't mind to be in a crowd and can be very social and even be the life of the party that they get drained from it. That's the main difference between an introvert and an extrovert.

I travel a lot, I go to big events, I speak even on stage. However, I have to retreat back to my room or some quiet space. That's actually part of my personality and people know that, so people post on my Facebook all the time, funny sayings about introverts or whatever. It gives them a point of connection with me that attracts other like-minded people. It attracts other introverts even – the whole quirky thing of not being able to cook. You might see that as a big drawback, someone who has a food block. But I make it part of my personality. I joke about it – things like that. Anyway, there are a lot of people out there who may know how to cook, don't know how to cook low carb, so they can relate to that or whatever.

But you just want to be yourself even if yourself, if you think, “Oh, I'm not perfect.” Or, “I'm not this or that.” I know people for example who do video as part of their marketing online and I know someone who actually does professional studio lighting, wears fake eyelashes, like the whole nine yards. Me, I'll jump from the camera in my pajama sometimes or just wherever I am, whatever I'm doing, or what have you. That's what people can really relate to. Of course that obviously depends on your market if you're a real estate agent, or if you need a lawyer, if you need to have that specific professional appearance.

If you're anyone but yourself, let's say for example I try to act really outgoing, I'm going to attract the type of people that annoy me.

Brian: Yes, that's so true.

Lynn: Yes. Then I'm going to be miserable everyday trying to talk to people on Twitter or answer my blog comments. I don't want that. I love my audience because being myself has attracted the type of people I enjoy being around. It boils down to being your target market. That's huge – and being able to connect with your target market on a level that evokes trust and respect and your audience, knowing that you have their best interest in mind, which is basically trust. But being your target market is huge because if you are your target market, you are in the trenches consuming products, consuming services, working with merchants, brands – that kind of thing. The fact that I actually eat low carb means that I'm shopping for those products, I'm visiting those websites, I like or don't like certain companies – that kind of thing.

That is really where you get the perspective and things that you can share, experiences that you can share and that's what it's really all about. If you are your target market, you never run out of things to share. It goes back to that big word “why.” I'm telling them why.

Brian: This builds back to what you said a lot earlier in the fact that don't be afraid to sell. But the keyword that I got through what you just said was authenticity. If you're authentic, then you have the ability to sell those things. There's a lot of people I know who are not authentic who are constantly trying to sell things. By being yourself, I think that is by far one of the best tips I've ever heard about blogging. So thank you very much for sharing that.

Lynn: That's a good point about being authentic, but the thing is the reason people are not authentic is because number one, they're either not their target market. They're trying to work in a market they have no idea about so they are fumbling. They don't know the lingo, whatever. So get into stuff you love. If you're doing this so that you can afford an RC helicopter hobby, then you should be doing the RC helicopter topic, period. You need to really be into what you're doing. That's where authenticity comes in, when you are enthusiastic about your topic.

The other thing is self-confidence and being self-conscious which is human nature. It's normal, it's natural. It's like I guess myself so all the time. Everybody does. That said, you need to be – again, if you are your target market or whatever, then it's just a matter of finding your voice and getting confident. One of the easiest ways to get that is just to get out there and start doing it. My first blogs were horrible. I look back sometimes at old work nine, or 10 years ago, eight years ago, three years ago maybe – because you're constantly improving, but the only way that I ever would have gotten as good at it as I am now, is by having done it as much as I have. Really the only thing you can do is just jump in there and do it wrong until you get it right.

Brian: Love that. So, how do we measure success with blogging? What are the tools, tips, techniques? I know it's different for everybody, but what do you tell your clients?

Lynn: Well, I tell people and everybody is going to give you a different answer, but then I'll tell you the most important thing. First, in order to even measure success, you have to know your objective. This is completely backwards how most people do it. Most people measure their success by comparing themselves to others. You can't compare yourself to someone who's been blogging for more than 10 years if you've just started this year. That doesn't make any sense. To measure success, first you have to know your objective, meet a specific goal – let's go back to that word I love, “why?” Why are you blogging? What is your goal? What is your objective?

Once you're clear on that objective, measuring success counts a lot easier. People look at all sorts of metrics. People look at traffic, they look at views, they look at click-through rate, but the only real metric that matters is conversions, period. That's either converting your visitor into a subscriber, into a customer, into a client, into a referral, or making the sale, or whatever the case depending on your objective. That is the only metric that really matters, is conversions. On that note, I'll give you a little advance to that.

I worked with brands and I work with merchants as an affiliate. I work with various companies on a commission-basis or on paid-basis and one of the things I really want, I like numbers. They're pretty and I like pretty numbers. Anyway, I want to show those numbers and a lot of times I'll use those if I'm pitching a proposal or trying to get in with another company. I will say, “Look, I got an X% conversion rate with this company.” Or whatever. Those kinds of things can really help you out. I'll tell you a little trick; sometimes I qualify my traffic. Instead of trying to get all the traffic I can, all the views I can to some particular offer, I qualify that traffic because less traffic means my conversion rate is actually going to be much higher because I've qualified that traffic to a certain extent either through price, or through eligibility, or whatever the case, so that it's less traffic so that the people who are actually there are actually very targeted and very interested so it produces a much higher actual conversion rate.

Brian: Do you mind sharing how you do that qualification?

Lynn: Well, again, it depends on whatever the particular campaign is. What if it's only for iPhone users? You say that before they ever click through. What if it costs $1,900? don't try to hide that at the bottom and then lose the sale. Say that before they ever click through which is we're talking in pre-sale copy in one of your tweet, or in the thing you mailed to your list to try to get them to your site or whatever. Qualifying that traffic by some eligibility would be, “If you're a droid user, don't click. You're going to ruin my numbers.”

Brian: Lynn, you have a specific system that helps people understand how to better utilize the things that you've taught us and the philosophies. Can you tell us a little bit about that, please?

Lynn: Yes, absolutely. It's Niche Success Blueprint. It's really great. It's actually a step-by-step process. What the goal of this is people were asking me all the time, “How can I be you? I want to do what you do.” That kind of thing. So what I do is for an entire year, you get a training module every Friday morning. It basically tells you, “Here is what you need to do this week. Here is why you need to do it. Here are live examples of how it's done and blah, blah, blah.” Step-by-step, so it's very easy to follow, just following the steps and what it does is it causes you to consistently be moving forward doing the things that give you the fastest results possible and the easiest way possible. You're skipping all that junk.

My goal like I said and a lot of people actually who take the course already have a business. I have people who have been blogging for five or eight years or more that take the course and they're amazed at the creative ideas in every single module. It's actually designed for an absolute beginner, but it's great for anyone who knows they are not at maximum profit potential, who knows they could be doing so much better, and making so much more, and reaching so many more people.

Brian: So Lynn, if people want to get a hold of you, can you give us the best way for them to contact you?

Lynn: Sure. I'm on Twitter at @Lynnterry and of course my blog is at Clicknewz.com. However, I really, really enjoy being low carb travel, so often you'll also find me at Travelinglowcarb.com to you. If you like bacon, join us over there, too.

Brian: I love bacon. So Lynn, let me get back to the food thing that you were talking about and you totally gave us a baker's dozen delivery today. You gave us so many great tips. I really appreciate you coming and joining us today. I know my audience will, too. So again, thanks for all your great insights.

Lynn: Thank you, Brian. Thanks for having me on and thanks for everybody who's listening in and I look forward to connecting with some of you. Really, really enjoyed it.

Brian: Wow, those were some awesome tips from Lynn Terry, our blogging expert. Man, I love this expert interview series because I learn a lot and I'm sure you do, too. So, join us next week for another awesome expert interview and some great stuff. Rock on.

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