How to Blog

25 Ways the Guest Blogging Apprenticeship Program Set My Online Success Into Overdrive

6 Comments 17 May 2012

I talk a lot about Jon Morrow’s GuestBlogging Apprenticeship Course in my blog posts and vlogs, so I decided to finally do a run down here of the concrete reasons I encourage people to sign up for the course. 

 

One of the first executive decisions that I made when I went to work for myself, leaving the corporate world behind, was sign up for Jon Morrow’s GuestBlogging Apprenticeship Program.

Honestly, I was terrified. 

I had quit my job, and everything was resting on my success in the notoriously competitive blog world.

I had $2,000 to my name.

Things had the potential to fall apart very quickly.

So how did I get the guts to go for it?

First of all, Jon’s reputation preceded him.

Do you know Jon? Well, you should.

Jon Morrow is the associate editor of Copyblogger and, to put it bluntly, is one of the highest paid (and most well-known) bloggers in the world.

Many are drawn to Jon because of his personal story - he was born with a neuromuscular disorder called Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a nearly always life-threatening illness, but instead of dying (or sitting in a corner being taken care of by a team of nurses) he’s making a fortune living down in Mexico and dominating the blogging world. He isn’t dominating it because people pity him, he’s dominating because he’s – to put it bluntly – a brilliant writer, salesman, storyteller, blogger, and businessman.

So, when I had less than $2,000 to my name and everything riding on my success as a blogger, I spent $600 of it on Jon’s courseBecause to be the best, I believe you have to learn from the best. Today, I’ve not only graduated the course but am a virtual assistant for it. I also have had a successful blogging career, working with some of the most talented individuals in the world to keep my dreams alive.

Is the investment worth it for you?

Only you can decide that.

But, to take the edge off things, I’ll skip to the ending and tell you why I spent that money, why my decision paid off, and why I haven’t looked back since.

 

1. Jon’s Credentials

Like I said before, to be the best, you have to learn from the best. Jon’s the Associate Editor of Copyblogger, one of the most authoritative blogs for bloggers out there. His writing is consistently some of the most viral traffic online, with posts like this being shared over 4,000 times. He’s a headline master, a brilliant copywriter, and in the inner circle of the biggest bloggers in the world.

 

2. Your Credentials

See, Jon’s credentials carry over to you when you graduate his program.

If you walk into a job interview and say you graduated from Dartmouth or Harvard, you have an advantage over the self-taught Joe Shmoe. Well, if you go anywhere in the blogging world – a conference, pitching a guest post, requesting an interview – and you say that you’ve graduated from Jon Morrow’s course, the person you’re talking to knows you mean business, you know what you’re doing, and you’re an online force to be reckoned with.

 

3. Access

Consulting with Jon is hundreds of dollars an hour, and he’s booked. Private coaching with him is thousands of dollars, and you have to interview to be one of his clients. But, with the GuestBlogging Apprenticeship program you get forum access, headline clinics, personal editing and writing help, plus the prestige of being one of his students. It’s the single most affordable way to get personal access to one of the masters of the online sphere.

 

3. Name-Dropping 

Blogging is a lot like high school – there’s an inner circle, a little click of big names and big players. Wading through it all alone I struggled to discern the big guys – the real money makers, the real authority figures – from the legions of self-touted internet success stories. Listening to Jon throughout his course - the videos, the calls, and the forums – I learned who to really spend my time paying attention to (and where not to waste my energy).

 

4. Success

There are an estimated 450 million blogs just in the English speaking world alone. If you think 20 minutes a night plus a “build and they will come” mentality is going to get you anywhere, you’re kidding yourself. You need to begin standing out from the masses, and just like in any other industry there are two roads that can’t be ignored: education and connectionsIt’s about who you know, and it’s about what you know. This is the first, and best, solution I’ve found to conquering those entities in the online world.

 

5. Priorities

The internet is the world’s largest time suck. There are a million pieces of any blog, website, or business strategy online that are vying for your attention, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to pay attention to them all. Where does social networking fit in? How much time should you spend writing for your blog versus marketing your blog? What types of blogs should you find to write for in order to reach a strong niche that will migrate back to your site and provide you with powerful traffic?

The only way to begin sifting through the jumble is to talk to the people that are doing it. It starts to weed out the time sucks, and helps your put your time and energy where it counts. If your time is worth money, the class pays for it in that arena alone.

 

6. Save Yourself Embarrassment  

In any world there’s a set of protocol – a way to approach one bigger fish, request help, grow your business – without looking like a novice or a self-promoting phony. You don’t want to be “that guy.”

But online you can’t watch others. You can’t see people’s facial reactions. You can’t even control how your tone will come across. In this course, you’ll learn how to approach those big fish, ask for help, and create authentic connections without embarrassing yourself.

 

7. Preferential Treatment

Blogs like Everyday Bright only accept guest posts from graduates of Jon’s course. Why? Because they can’t sift through the thousands of people wanting to post and this way they can ensure that they’ll spend their time with quality producers of content. Be one of those people.

 

8. Scripts

One of the most powerful parts of the course are the tangible tools that Jon provides to facilitate reaching out to other websites and bloggers. We’re talking scripts for how to email, how to tweet, how to connect. Why? So you don’t look like “that guy,” and you don’t become another annoying voice of the internet masses. Instead, you become a voice that stands out, connects, maintains its dignity, and effectively connects.

 

9. A Powerful Community                        

See, like attracts like. The types of people that sign up for the GuestBlogging Apprenticeship program have a lot in common: they’re all dedicated to their online success, they all put their money where their mouths are, and they’re all looking to put in the work to learn how to be the best.

When you have a community of these people, you end up with an instant network of powerful bloggers that are invested in one another’s success. It could take you years to establish a community of your own that’s this large and powerful, but when you enter the class it’s right there waiting for you - right from day one.

 

10. All-Levels

There are individuals in the course that don’t even have a blog yet, and there are others with already very successful blogs looking to go to the next level. No matter where you are, you can accelerate the speed at which your project grows and thrives online. Plus, you can learn from those that are more advanced then you, and support those who haven’t yet reached your heights.

 

11. Extensive Headline Help

One of Jon’s biggest talents is headline writing. That works out well, since headlines are one of the most fundamentally important of online success. Headlines are, essentially, how we navigate the online world. Like all crafts in which millions are competing for eyeballs and attention at any given moment, learning headlines is an art. So, Jon has made headlines a large focus of the course - crafting them, perfecting them, and making them go viral.

 

12. Effective Free Advertising

With guest blogging, you get to promote yourself for free. Yes, the course costs money, but once you learn the art you have a new mechanism to effectively promote yourself for free, indefinitely. Consider it a one-time marketing fee of $600 for your business. Suddenly, it isn’t expensive at all.

 

13. More Effective Free Advertising

Throughout the course you get learn how to promote yourself, for free, on other people’s blogs or websites. But within the course itself there are ample opportunities to promote yourself to one another. From your signature line in the forums, to pitching your blog and concept in the live calls, many important blogger connections are made behind-the-scenes. In fact, just this morning I interviewed someone I met in Jon’s class for my website, Blogging Fearlessly. If it wasn’t for being a part of the community, neither of us would have established that connection (and now we’re meeting at BlogWorld in June!).

 

14. Reach a Targeted Audience

The beauty of guest blogging is that you write for an audience that will, hopefully, one day be your audience as well. It’s more effective than traditional advertising because you’re showcasing your skills rather than pitching your product or website. The problem is, the efficacy of this approach depends on writing for the right site and the right audience. This is what Jon helps you sift through and develop action-plan around.

 

15. Improve Your Search Engine Rankings

One of the most understated benefits of guest blogging is its impact on your website’s search engine rankings. When another blogger allows you to guest post on their site, you are generally also able to include a byline with a link back to your website (in fact, if they don’t allow you to do this then you really shouldn’t be writing for them!). This link back to your site on another, unrelated site, is seen by Google as a strong “vouch” for your site’s credibility and value. As a result, each guest post that you write for another site (and the stronger the site you write for, the better) the more Google will boost your search engine rankings. Win. Win. Win.

 

16. Learn How to Write for an Online Audience

When I took Jon’s course I had been blogging for several years and had been a writer my whole life. Even after my time spent studying journalism at NYU and writing essays all throughout college, I have never learned the things Jon taught us about how to write for an online audience. An English major himself, Jon is able to speak to the academic and the novice about how to re-craft their writing to gain and hold the attention of the blogosphere. Those modules alone, to me, were worth the price of the course.

 

17. Jon Proofreads a Post

Taking this one step further, not only will Jon train you to write for an online audience, but he then works through one of your guest posts with you. We’re not talking one time, but as many drafts as it takes to get it right – so that when you eventually put yourself out there, you’re ready to make a huge impact.

 

18. Live Question and Answer Calls

In addition to forum time, course modules, and editing one of your posts, Jon will get on regular Q&A calls with his students. This allows everyone a chance to talk about and work through their biggest problems with their blog and guest posts. It’s basically access to one of the highest-paid blog consultants in the world, regularly.

 

19. Live Headline Clinics

In addition to Q&A calls, Jon has regular live phone calls with his students that are geared entirely towards helping them craft their headlines to make their guest posts go viral. If you finally get a chance to write for an A-List blog, don’t you want one of the best copywriters in the world working with you on your headline?

 

20. Archived Question and Answer Calls

In addition to access to the live Q&A and Headline Clinic calls, students get access to the entire archive of Q&A calls. When I joined the course I put every one of these calls on CDs and played them in my car during my daily commute. These hours of questions and answers culminated, in my opinion, to a blogging education all in itself.

 

21. Behind the Scenes at Copyblogger

Included in the bonus material for the course is a behind-the-scenes look at guest blogging for Copyblogger. Since Jon is also the person who approves and posts guest blogs for Copyblogger, it’s a pretty great connection to have if writing for Copyblogger is on your blogging bucket-list.

 

22. The Headline Hacks Report

If you aren’t sold yet that headlines are one of the essential keys to online success, then I don’t know what to do with you. Basically, the Headline Hacks report is Jon’s guide to templates for virally spreading headlines. He literally hands you a template to online success. Over, and over, and over again.

 

23. Behind the Scenes of Zen Habits

When you sign up for the course you’re also given a behind-the-scenes look at Zen Habits by the famous Leo Babauta. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you want to be the best, you need to learn from the best. 

 

24. How to Make More than $2,000 a Guest Post (On Average)

This bonus content with Johnny Truant demonstrates how he, and Jon, make more than $2,000, on average, per guest post they write. If this coursehasn’t paid for itself about 10 times by now, this has to prove it to you.

 

25. A Roadmap

In my eyes, the most frustrating part of being a blogger is the fact that there really isn’t much feedback. You’re swimming in this vast abyss of online content, trying to make a name for yourself, you’re exhausted, and there’s no way to tell if you’re doing anything right. 

Jon’s course provided me a roadmap, connections, and the education to give myself a roadmap. It put me on the map. It gave me confidence.

 

It made me a real blogger. 

In my eyes, that’s priceless.

How to Blog

TL;DR – 3 Reasons Why No One Wants to Read Your Blog Posts

3 Comments 16 May 2012

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When I first started blogging, I was knee-deep in my over-caffeinated college education. I took the writing I was doing for class, or the ideas that my teachers didn’t want to read, and turned them into blog posts.

They were long.

They were dense.

They were brilliant, if I do say so myself.

But goddamnit, they were boring.

When I started studying with Jon Morrow I learned that good blog writing isn’t the same as good writing anywhere else. Academic writing is different than legal writing, poetry is different than business plans, and novelists are singing a different tune than grant writers.

Somewhere along the course of my blogging career I learned that my dense academic writing wasn’t doing me any favors.

It was probably somewhere around the same time that I realized my traffic rankings were never breaking the double digits, and my mom had stopped bothering to even pretend to read.

Exhausted from all of my hard work, I decided to take a step back and take the intensity out of my content. I started writing more like I was talking to a friend and less like I was talking to a professor. More like “Jen’s had three glasses of wine and isn’t afraid to make someone mad” and less like “this blog is going to please everyone and I’m going to instantly become recognizable for my brilliance.”

 

Lesson #1: Write Like Your Most Fun and Engaging Self, Not Your Smartest Self

Most people, when trying to sound like their smartest self, come off like an asshole.

You know when you go on a date and the other person is just trying way too hard? How you never want to go out with them again? How they end up looking more like a needy insecure looser than someone that’s much more aloof and far less desperate? Well, don’t be that guy.

Do you know what will prove that you’re smart?

Making interesting points. Captivating people’s attention. Proper use of grammar (for the love of God, check your “its/it’s” and “you’re/your” and “to/too” before you press “Publish”). These things alone will set you above 99% of published content on the internet.

Do you know what will make people come back to your blog?

Being engaging. Being humble. Admitting what you don’t know (and being passionate with what you do know). Having character. Being relevant. Teaching your readers something useful that they want to know (not just that you want to talk about).

Blogging, my friends, is a lot like life in this way. Have real value, have grace and humility, don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself, and don’t be arrogant. Oh, and know your grammar.

 

Lesson #2: TL;DR* – Break Up Text with Sub-headers

One of the biggest lessons newbies mess up (and I still fail to do myself, sometimes) is break up text visually.

Internet eyes are skimming and wandering eyes. They’re like the boyfriend that’s always looking to see “what else is out there.” They are not committed people, my friend.

So, if you had a boyfriend with a wandering eye, would you sit down and explain to him how wonderful you are to convince him to pay attention? No, you’d put on a skimpy dress and walk around like he doesn’t exist. Much more effective.

Similarly, if you try and get someone’s attention by putting a big dense block of text on the page, they can’t skim it, so they lose interest and wander off elsewhere.

But, if you break up the text with catchy little subheads they are able to skim, they get caught up in the buzzy little titles, and are forced to read to see what it is your talking about.

For instance, tell me which of these pages you’d rather read:

Effective Subheaders for Bloggers

No subheaders. Just a lot of Jen. 

Effective Subheaders for Bloggers

Still a lot of Jen, but now elegantly divided up with little inner teaser titles (aka, sub-headers)

The efficacy of sub-headers when looking at a piece of text is one of the many reasons list posts are so effective. For instance, one of my most popular posts is the eloquent piece “7 Signs You’re Dating a Sociopath” (apparently I’m not the only one interested in these things). One of the reasons I believe it’s so effective, though, is because of its visual appeal and intrigue:

Sub-headers and list posts for bloggers

Lesson #3: Let Multimedia Spice Up Your Life

One of the coolest parts of producing content online is that you can embed images, audio, and video anywhere you like.

We all learned the “show don’t tell” philosophy in elementary school, and now we can take that to a whole other level.

If you’re trying to explain how to do something but one step is particularly technical, make a short YouTube video demonstrating it and embed it in your post.

Draw diagrams. Doodle. Draw pictures.

One person who has mastered this is Austin Kleon, who I interviewed here on Blogging Fearlessly for his book Steal Like an Artist. We can also learn from web comics like The Loading Artist or Hyperbole and a Half.

The message is, there are many ways to illustrate ideas and concepts – the more mediums you’re able to throw in there the more stimulating your blog post will be for the reader, and the more likely your message is to resonate and make an impact.

At the end of the day, make content that’s fun to read. The more you can provide real value and be entertaining, the more likely people are to come back and want more. x

*TL;DR = “Too long; didn’t read.” When Chase and I first started dating he said this about all of my blog posts. He later learned that if he wanted a girlfriend that that acronym could no longer be a part of our relationship internet messaging dialogue.

How to Blog

The Basics of Creating a Subscriber Base

4 Comments 19 April 2012

It’s really important in the early stages of your blog to set up the infrastructure for a subscriber base. Why? Because that way you give it time to grow. Here’s the how/when/why details, in a tidy 7 minute package.

 

How to Blog

The Fear of Starting a New Blog

2 Comments 12 April 2012

When I presented the challenge to my girlfriend, Meghan, of starting her own blogs (one personal and one professional) she jumped at the challenge. Her personal blog, Time for Renewal, is up and running, and I’m consistently shocked at what a hilarious and gifted writer she is. This is the perfect example of “how dare you to have been depriving us of this for so long!?!” 

Well, on Time for Renewal, she finally wrote a post about how nervous she is about the launch of her second (professional) site which deals with much more serious topics. When I read how beautifully she expressed how scary it is starting a new site, especially about topics that we really revere and, well, don’t want to mess up, I begged her to let me re-publish the post here on Blogging Fearlessly. She agreed, so, here it is. Continue Reading

How to Blog

5 Short Videos About How People Make Money Online

1 Comment 10 April 2012

Ever since I started blogging full-time, the most frequent question I get is “how do you make money from that?”

The answer is, it’s really, really complicated. There are lots of tactics and routes that depend on your traffic, the service you’re offering, if you have anything to sell, etc.

So, since I’m part of the 30 Day Vlog challenge and need to be making daily videos anyways, I figured this would be an ideal opportunity to give everyone the brief overview shpeal so that we’re all on the same page. Continue Reading

How to Blog

Debunking the Traffic Myth: Why Success Isn’t All About the Numbers

4 Comments 15 March 2012

So here’s what will happen: you’ll start a blog. It will look awesome. You will be obsessed, staying up all night to configure it and fill it out with new amazing content. You will stand back in pure awe as the light shines down on you. How could you have created something so insanely beautiful? It will only be a matter of time until Oprah is calling you and Random House is begging you to write a book.

Now, you need to find a way to chart your traffic. Google Analytics is awesome and it’s free, but it only reloads once a day. If you are anything like me, this will drive you insane. I like checking my traffic throughout the day, so I use Sitemeter, which I love. It updates in real time, and teaches you about your traffic sources in a simple way that even I can understand.

So you set yourself up with an analytics program, and you’re rearing to go, and you have your amazing content, and you refresh, and you have…. 10 visitors. 10 VISITORS? What is this? Didn’t Rebecca Black’s “Friday” have some 30 million views? How are you going to get on Oprah at this rate? Continue Reading

How to Blog

Get Rid of Writer’s Block Once and For All

No Comments 01 March 2012

So you want to start a blog.

You sit down to a blank piece of paper, or a blank word document, and you stare. And you stare. And you stare.

So you get up and get some coffee.

Then you have to pee.

So you’re in the bathroom, and you start fixing your hair. Because you want to look good for your computer, right? No, but it’s always tempting to fix your hair when you’re in the bathroom.

So you sit back down at the computer. You check your emails. Check your twitter. Check your Facebook.

Now your stomach is growling and you’re hungry. Get some food. Ay yi yi. Now you’re thirsty. Better get some water.

Soon the day is done, and your grandiose plans to start a blog were thwarted by the fact that you couldn’t write a single damn thing.

Well, you have writer’s block. Continue Reading

How to Blog

Why Free Hosting is Dangerous

No Comments 23 February 2012

At the end of the day, here is the argument I always return to about using a hosted site like Blogger (or even a WordPress hosted site where you don’t own your own hosting):

The problem with not owning your stuff (i.e. using free hosting) is that you don’t own your own stuff.

That sounded dumb, right? Like using the word in its definition? Well, I said what I meant and I meant what I said. See, here’s the thing.

If you decide to borrow space from Blogger that you don’t pay for, not only do they technically “own” your site, but they can decide to shut you down if they want to. They also control the name of the game, so can put ads on the top of your site, or ignore your plea for help when something goes wrong. Continue Reading

How to Blog

Blogger vs. WordPress

No Comments 23 February 2012

When I first started MsMorphosis, I had no idea what I wanted. I’ve always liked writing and expressing myself, and I knew I wanted to write about self-improvement/development, but I didn’t know much else. I knew that the Internet, however, had millions of users – so I figured that if I was able to find a way to create unique content, market it to like-minded people, then hopefully I could grow some sort of community. Continue Reading


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