In my third and final interview from The Pause Fest Conference, I sat down with Kate McKibbin, who is the founder of the Drop Dead Gorgeous Daily Blog. Kate is an expert in building blogs from nothing and through her own sites, she was able to quit her day job within 12 months, and make multiple income streams.
Kate is so knowledgeable in the blogging world that she started an online course called Secret Bloggers Business to share everything she knows. She was able to make a substantial amount of money from these blogging courses in a very short period.
Check out my interview with Kate on YouTube below.
Here are 5 key takeaways from the interview:
1. Start your blog lean
The temptation to go onto Freelancer.com and hire the most expensive person you can to help you build the best-looking blog from scratch is something you should avoid. Early on, you should concentrate on finding your niche and narrowing in on your target audience.
If you waste too much money before you have got a small amount of traction, you won’t know if your subject matter and the way you present it is relevant. Once you have nailed your niche, concentrate on giving as much value as you can.
2. Build an email list from day one
The issue with building up followers on social media is that you don’t own their data; specifically their contact details. Even though this strategy has existed for ages, Kate still swears by it: make your main focus building an email list from day one.
This email list down the track will become your customer database when you turn on monetisation. Forget the naysayers who tell you email is dead because it’s not; you just have to use it in the right way, deliver value, and not overdo it.
To help build your email list, try releasing a free eBook or a free course to get more subscribers. These two methods have been around for a while, but that’s because they work the best, as long as the content is perceived to be valuable and you put some effort in.
3. Ignore traditional blogging models (monetise early)
The bloggers who are the most successful are the ones who are not trying to follow the traditional blogging model. The traditional blogging model, Kate says, is to try and build up an audience before you start making any money.
Why would you put all this time into something and then start to make only a little bit of money much later down the track?
Your goal should be to make money from your blog from day one – period!
4. Test some monetisation concepts
When you offer free content and products, pretty quickly people will contact you asking for more and that’s when you can test some paid products or services.
The best way to test a product, according to Kate, is with as minimal spend as possible. The easiest way is through a free Kickstarter Campaign or by creating a landing page and driving traffic to it through a low budget Facebook Ad Campaign.
One tip Kate insists on is never to run Facebook ads just to get traffic; always have some type of opt-in offer as part of the ad. Also, you don’t need a huge budget for Facebook Ads – try starting with $5-$10 a day.
Once you have tested a few ideas with these methods, you will then have a rough idea of what people want and you can concentrate on putting a lot more effort into some new products.
“What you think people want, and what your friends agree and your mum agrees people want, doesn’t necessarily have any baring on what actually is going to happen”
5. Sell your own product vs someone else’s
With a blog, there is always the option to sell and promote other company’s products or to sell your own products. If it’s a personal blog about things you love, then you may be better off being an ambassador for other brands.
The most effective strategy, though, that Kate recommends, is to establish your own platform to sell your own things. Otherwise, you will be helping grow someone else’s platform and only getting a percentage of selling their products.
The other advantage of selling your own products is that you can do it with a much smaller list of email subscribers.
If you insist on working with brands and promoting their products, then you should start communicating with them early on. This way, you will build a long-term relationship with them that you can leverage once your audience is big enough.
6. Try eCommerce early on
Another income stream you can earn from your blog is to trial an eCommerce store as an extension of your site where you sell physical goods and ship them to your audience. Kate tried this and for her, she wasn’t passionate about it and felt it was too much work.
Either way, you should test an eCommerce store early on to see if it works for your niche and to gauge if it’s a good return on your time. The key to putting time into an eCommerce store is to understand how it’s going to affect your lifestyle by taking time away from other things that you love to do.
7. Offer a paid course
If you’re solving a problem for people with the content you are sharing on your blog, then that can be turned into a course of some sort. Kate did this by emailing her followers and offering a blogging course to see if anyone would actually pay for it.
When people signed up and paid her through PayPal, she then began creating the content for the course. Taking this presale approach to selling digital goods is a great way to create the mental willpower needed to come up with quality course content that is valuable to your audience.
As you become a subject matter on the problem that you are solving, you may be asked to go to the next level and make a further income from your blog by being paid to speak at events. As your audience really starts to grow you could even think about running your own events.
“There is never a point where I can say this business is sorted. You have to be constantly growing, developing, and innovating. It’s all about continuous problem solving and trying new things out”
Books Kate Recommends
The One Thing – Gary Keller
Sacred Success – Barbara Stanny