Copyblogger’s Holiday Buffet Edition

You know how holiday buffets are … you take a little bit of cheese, and then another kind of cheese, and then four more kinds of cheese, then squeeze six desserts onto the plate, and finally you take a tiny square of Jell-O because it’s basically a vegetable?
No? Just me?
ANYWAY. This week we have a little buffet assortment for you … without the Jell-O vegetables.
On Monday, Sean Jackson and Jessica Frick were nice enough to host me on the Members Only podcast, where we talked about the days when I launched my first membership community. We laughed a lot and had a great conversation about the value of just plain moving forward, even if you’re not 100 percent sure where the path will take you.
Over on The Showrunner, Jerod Morris and Jonny Nastor dug deep into creating systems for your podcast (or any other aspect of your content or business, actually). Even if you’re not a podcaster, I think you’ll find this one useful.
Monday, I also had fun sharing some of my favorite bits of bad writing advice, sourced from the community (hey, that’s you!) and our editorial team — with some suggestions for what you might try instead.
On Tuesday, we saw a classic Brian Clark post about why education works so well when we’re trying to persuade … and how to structure your content to make it easy for your reader to say “Yes.”
And don’t miss Brian’s new conversation with Darren

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Why Passion Matters More Than Skill When Launching a Membership Site

Charity Preston — a teacher turned teacherprenuer — shares her incredible journey to creating an online membership network for teachers.
Imagine you have a sick child at home that demands 100 percent of your time and attention. And these demands require you to give up your professional career.
What would you do?
Today’s guest faced that exact situation — a classroom teacher at the pinnacle of her career that resigned in the middle of the academic year to care for her child.
But she was not content to give up her passion for helping others. So she made the leap from teacher to online teacherprenuer — with no technical training or online marketing expertise, armed only with a passion to help others.
In this 24-minute episode, Jessica Frick and I interview Charity Preston and discuss her journey from academic to online entrepreneur, including:

The personal event in 2010 that changed her life
Her haphazard online attempts that turned into a huge lead magnet
How she created multiple income streams in a cyclical sales environment
And the next frontier that she is exploring in community-driven membership sites

Listen to this Episode Now
The post Why Passion Matters More Than Skill When Launching a Membership Site appeared first on Copyblogger.

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My Favorite Business Model for a Breakthrough Digital Business

It was the end of 2008. Something you might remember about that year — in October, the markets took a nasty fall and the global economy melted down.
I was the sole breadwinner for my family. The company I worked for was going through round after round of layoffs. The well-paying, secure job I’d had for five years looked likely to evaporate underneath me.
I had some savings, but not a ton. I had a mortgage and preschool for my three-year-old to pay for, as well as silly habits like buying groceries and having health insurance for my family.
I had been noodling around with business ideas, but I hadn’t gotten serious.
In the final few months of 2008, I had to get serious. Early in 2009, I took the leap. Here’s how I did it.
My year of living dangerously
In 2009, I felt a lot like a chicken trying to cross an eight-lane highway. It was theoretically possible, but there was a non-optimal level of stress involved.
The first thing I did was hang out my shingle as a freelance copywriter.
In a lot of ways, it was wonderful. I worked on fascinating projects that I cared about. I had lovely clients who actually listened to me. I was able to implement content strategy (which I learned, incidentally, mainly from Copyblogger), instead of sitting in endless meetings talking about it.
The main downside for me was the “you don’t kill, you don’t eat” freelance model, in which I was endlessly

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4 Creative Models for Finding the Right Niche for Your Online Business

If you want your marketing to work, you have to focus.
You have to understand who your message is for, then speak to that person.
And you have to craft your offers to serve that person. Present options that appeal to her, that are in line with what she’s willing to spend, and that will benefit her in ways she cares about.
In other words … you need to specialize. You don’t have the budget to blanket the earth in ads that appeal to everyone, and neither do I.
One of the first things people do when thinking about building a business online is rush to identify their “niche.” And that isn’t wrong … but it’s more complicated than it might seem at first.
The word niche doesn’t just mean a focused topic. In biology, niche refers to how each type of organism interacts with all the other organisms in its ecosystem.
It’s how a plant or animal fits into the larger context.
Your topic is part of your niche, of course. But so is your audience. And your positioning. Not to mention your potential partners. And the folks who share your content. And the content platforms you publish on.
A conversation in the comments here on Copyblogger got me thinking about some of the different ways that business owners inhabit their niches.
Early niche sites
Back in the day, creating a “niche website” meant building a compact site around an under-served keyword phrase, pulling out all the SEO stops to

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How to Start and Grow a Successful Membership Site (In Your Spare Time)

Starting a membership site is hard work, especially if you have a full-time job. But with persistence and patience, it can pay off.
Our guest, Jerod Morris, shares his tactics and advice for growing a membership site. It was not easy — especially since his membership site competes with numerous online sport sites.
But he found his niche and kept working it, season after season, finding success after many years of perseverance.
And while his story is not unique, the ideas and tactics he shares on this show are priceless and can truly help you grow, and profit, from your work.
In this episode, Jessica Frick and I interview Jerod Morris and delve into the history of his site, including:

Why he stayed with the project even when his audience was small
The unique insight that helped distinguish his site from the competition
The one tactic he recommends everyone starting a membership site should use
And the different revenue paths he pursues to grow his profit

Listen to this Episode Now
The post How to Start and Grow a Successful Membership Site (In Your Spare Time) appeared first on Copyblogger.

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Enjoy Responsibly: It’s Grown-Up Week on Copyblogger

Hey there — welcome back to the Copyblogger Weekly!
Not sure why, but we had a kind of “adult” thing going on this week.
Sean Jackson and Jessica Frick kicked off Monday with a podcast about the, er, adult entertainment industry. If that’s a bit racy for you, I really enjoyed The Digital Entrepreneur podcast. Jerod Morris talks with Ed Feng (who’s fantastic; I always enjoy catching up with him at live events) about a pivot in his business to an “over 21” audience.
Really, we needed a podcast about drinking a fifth of Dewar’s to round out this week. You let me down, team.
But being an adult isn’t just about vices … on Tuesday I wrote about the Great Big Grown-Up Event of the week, the U.S. election — and how the techniques of political persuasion play out in all our lives.
And on Wednesday, Sean Jackson put together a very responsible, sensible guide for pricing membership sites. There were numbers and a chart and everything. It was a little bit like doing my taxes. But, you know, making money instead of spending it, so more fun in that sense.
After all of this grown-up stuff, next week I’m really looking forward to curling up with some glitter and coloring books. Maybe even a popsicle. Adulting is hard.
Hope you enjoy this week’s content, and I’ll catch you next week!
— Sonia Simone
Chief Content Officer, Rainmaker Digital

Catch up on this week’s content

How to Serve Students Around the World: A Natural

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The Smart and Simple Framework for Finding the Right Pricing Model for Your Membership Site

Building profitable membership sites is one thing we know a lot about at Rainmaker Digital, and one question we often receive is:
How do you create the right pricing for a membership site, especially one that is just launching?
Even sophisticated online entrepreneurs struggle with that question.
And while there are many ways to optimize your pricing plans once your site is launched, starting with the right foundation will make it easier to improve.
In this post, I will walk you through a basic framework you can use to determine the best pricing models for any type of membership site.
Rule #1
The most important rule you must remember is this:
You are in control of your pricing.
There is no national database of pricing that you have to follow. You are in control of everything when it comes to pricing — so don’t feel like you have to do what everyone else does.
Yes, the “market” does decide if your price is “right.” But you influence the perception of your price through the unique value you offer.
So toss out any preconceived notions of what you have to do and focus on what works for you.
Know your costs
I know what you are thinking right now:
“Damn it, Sean. I am a marketer, not an accountant.”
Don’t worry. You just need a “bare bones” understanding of basic math and a little logic to find your costs, so that your site will “live long and prosper.”
All membership sites share a common set of annual costs, including:

Credit card

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The Secret Tactic All Successful Online Marketers Use

Have you ever wondered how sites like Copyblogger succeed?
There are tons of websites offering content marketing advice, but not all of them are successful. Why is that?
Because most online marketers fail to create communications that inspire action from their audiences.
Yes, writing well matters — as well as engagement, landing pages, design, etc. But they are not the single most important element that gets your audience to act.
There is a tactic that professional online marketers use that has proven over the years to work better than any other — a tactic so powerful that we have created a new podcast to help you incorporate it into your marketing efforts.
So, what is this tactic? Read on to learn more …
The power of exclusivity
Exclusivity is defined as being limited or hard to access, restricted to those of wealth or prominence.
And we see it manifest itself in a variety of ways.
From the people who spend a small fortune to obtain a credit card in a certain color to the ones who go into debt just so they can have access to a VIP area.
Exclusivity is a very powerful motivator to get people to act. Fundamentally, it is about charging a premium for something that is limited and hard to obtain, but it’s more than just money.
In most cases, exclusivity is designed to reinforce our egos, helping us define the perception of ourselves by appealing to our desire to be unique and special.
This is why exclusivity

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The ‘Heart & Soul’ of Membership Sites, with Mike Morrison

Chris talks with Mike of the Membership Guys, and they discuss what it takes to come up with and maintain a membership site.
Membership sites have become something of an entrepreneurial pinnacle when it comes to online business. The idea of a regular and recurring income has sparked interest in so many business owners, but what does it really take to come up with and maintain a membership site?

On this episode, I deep-dive into the subject with Mike Morrison as we cover the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to the membership site model. We cover everything from how to validate your membership site idea to what it takes to keep it going. Great stuff!
Mike also shares his valuable insights into what makes up the heart and soul of membership sites, as well as how to handle launches and content the right way — without burning yourself out.
Get a pad and pen ready for this one and enjoy this episode of Youpreneur FM!
In this 59-minute episode, Mike and I discuss:

Why I think that membership sites are a natural conclusion to regular, recurring income
Mike talks about if membership sites are all about recurring income, or if there’s something more to it
How membership sites help the members themselves
Why you need to be seen to sell to help both your business and your membership community
Where entrepreneurs should start before they start their own membership sites

Listen to this Episode Now
The post The ‘Heart & Soul’ of

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Membership Sites Defined in 60 Seconds [Animated Video]

Let’s imagine you’ve published more than 100 articles on your website and you have 500 subscribers.
Many of those articles drive substantial traffic to your site, and you’ve published 12 guest blog posts on other websites. Those guest posts also drive traffic and help you gain subscribers.
About once a month, you get an invitation to be interviewed or sit on a panel. Due to the authority you’ve established, people in your industry look to you for advice, direction, and education.
Launching a membership site might be an ideal way to monetize your authority.
But what exactly is a membership site?
Watch our short, fun video about membership sites
With help from our friends at The Draw Shop, we whipped up 12 definitions from our new Content Marketing Glossary into short, fun whiteboard animated videos.
Here’s our video for the definition of a membership site:
Animation by The Draw Shop
For those of you who would prefer to read, here’s the transcript:
A membership site is a private, password-protected website that offers exclusive content and training and (often) the ability for members to interact with one another.
These members pay you either a one-time or a recurring monthly fee for access to the site. You can also build a free membership site, giving access to exclusive content or products in exchange for a prospect’s free registration.
Or, you can offer a combination of free and paid levels within the same site, allowing your customers to upgrade their subscriptions according to their needs.
You’ve probably

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