8 Power Tools To Turn Your Blog Into A Profit Center

Turn Your Blog Into A Profit Center Turning your blog into a profit center. It sound like a dream, right?

We’ll continue to talk more about these things here on SocialMouths, hopefully you can benefit from them.

In this post we’ll take a closer look at what I call a perfect setup for your online income powerhouse, in other words, the tools you need to run your blog as a business.

Notice that I don’t include advertising or affiliate programs as ways of blog revenue, it’s because I talk about blogging as part of a marketing strategy for business rather than becoming a full-time blogger.

One thing I will mention before diving into the list is that while none of these applications are free, they are very affordable. And since we’re already in the subject, I will also say that I do love the whole “Free” concept BUT (uuuh… the big “but”!), when we’re talking about our business, and I will assume we want to be successful at it, we should be open to invest.

So I’ll include the cost of each service and at the end of the post we’ll add it to see how much we need to spend in order to turn your blog into a true profit center.

Disclosure: None of these companies has asked me or pay me to review their products or services. It would be nice… but they didn’t.

1. MailChimp

Mailchimp - Email Marketing

Let me put it this way, an email list is a list of people that have said “Yes, I like you and want to know about your updates, events or products”. My preference at the moment is Mailchimp but there are also other products like Aweber, MyEmma and others.

When you’re shopping around for a system to handle your email marketing, you need to consider things like how it integrates with your blogging platform, what kind of metrics it offers, if you can connect to Google Analytics, etc.

Cost: With Mailchimp you can manage lists of up to 1,000 subscribers for $15/month

2. SalesForce

SalesForce - Custome Management System

A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is not always necessary, let me explain. If you sell a quick check out product such as an ebook for $24.99, people come to the site and pay for it then maybe you don’t need to capture any data other than what you get on an email subscription.

Now, if you provide services as a freelancer, let’s say web design, copy writing or life coaching, then it is important to establish a stronger connection with your prospect or client. This requires more information than a name and an email.

SalesForce can capture those leads right from your site.

Cost: The “Group” package which includes basic sales and marketing for up to 5 user costs $25/month per user.

3. Paypal

Paypal

Not much to say about Paypal other than you MUST have it, like it or not. It’s been a while since Paypal became an online standard for payment processing, even if you had your own merchant account, Paypal should not be ignored.

Cost: Since you pay a percentage for each transaction you run, I’m not adding a monthly charge here. We’ll leave it open.

4. E-Junkie

e-junkie

E-Junkie is one of those “behind the scenes” kind of application. Some of you might not even know it. What it does is help you sell stuff online. It is an excellent tool if you are selling digital (downloads) products such as an ebook or an mp3 recording. It protects your file by being downloaded multiple times and it hides your url so it is not visible to the user.

You can also use it to redirect traffic to your own page if you want to host the file to download. E-Junkie also works for tangible products.

2 more things, it’s very cool that it makes Paypal part of its ordering process and lastly, you can manage affiliate programs for your products.

Cost: If you have 10 available products, e-junkie will cost you only $5/month including 50 MB of storage and 100 daily checkouts. You gotta be kidding me!

5. Flowtown

Flowtown

Email lists are usually very limited since we usually capture a simple name and email address. Flowtown takes that information and pulls all the social profiles affiliated with that address.

Don’t take this lightly, in my opinion this is pretty powerful, you just went from having an email address to a full profile that allows you to search and filter subscribers by different criteria. AND, having the opportunity to connect on different social networks with that person that just gave you his/her email address, that’s building community right there.

Two more cool things about Flowtown, first, if you manage your email lists with Mailchimp, you can now integrate Flowtown to add muscle to your plain mailing database. And second, the integration of Klout in their system so you can actually tell how influential your contacts are.

Cost: Flowtown packages start at $17/month and you have to add 4.5¢ per import OR, you can “pay-as-you-go” 5¢ per import, 250 emails/month, which means you’ll be paying $12.50/month. This is just ridiculous…

6. SurveyMonkey

SurveyMonkey

You might be thinking what do surveys have to do with turning my blog into a profit powerhouse. Remember how for the last couple of years we’ve been talking about how social media is a 2-way channel? a dialogue rather than a monologue? Well, bloggers are changing dramatically and are becoming more and more engaging with their audiences. Technology also allows us to push the envelope and get more creative.

The concept of crowsourcing is huge, your community is now telling you what they want, with detail. We just have to listen. Tools such as SurveyMonkey or SurveyGizmo make it very easy and affordable to take those conversations with your reader and kick it up a notch, now you can ask questions directly and the best part of all is… your reader, prospect or existing customer loves being asked!

Cost: For $16.67/month, SurveyMonkey gives you an unlimited account, that means you can setup as many surveys as you want with as many questions as you want.

7. Unbounce

Unbounce - Landing Pages

Pretty cool stuff here. Unbounce helps you build landing pages, track your traffic and conversion, run A/B tests and set up your own domains. They also have some pretty kick-ass templates that you can just grab to customize or you can create your own from scratch. You can run several campaigns at the same time.

This is a great tool for lead generation.

Cost: You can check it out by using the Free package which offers 200 visits/month, after that, the Basic package offers 500 visits for $25/month and it doesn’t show any Unbounce branding on your pages.

8. Google Analytics

Google Analytics

Don’t you feel like it does matter what we’re talking about, Analytics is always mentioned? Well, the application is pretty powerful and we probably use only a small fraction of it. When you’re running a profit center, besides measuring your visits, your bounce rate and all that stuff, you also want to track conversion.

The good thing about Analytics is that you can seamlessly integrate it with other platforms, for example, you can connect it to e-junkie to know each time a person bought your ebook or, you can track ROI on all your Mailchimp email pieces going out.

The truth is that Analytics is pretty powerful and you should commit to learn more about it no matter what you do online. Cost: AND… it’s Free!

So how much is your profit center?

Let’s see, we have…

  • Email list management and marketing for $15
  • Customer Relationship Management for $25
  • Payment processing (open)
  • Ordering process and downloadable files for $5
  • Subscriber visibility, demographics, location and social profiles for $12.50
  • Online surveys for some kick-ass, crowdsourcing product development for $16.67
  • Landing Pages for $25
  • And web analytics of all kinds for $0

Our monthly cost to handle business online like true ninjas is $97.17!!!

Ok, so you’re not very impressed… let me share this with you, about 7 years ago I spent $70k on a web-based CRM that is now obsolete, around the same time I purchased a $60k phone system that is now worth $2k, if I wanted to hear my prospects opinions I would have to organize a focus group for a couple of thousands to get bullshit results, I paid around $20k for a static website that the only interactivity it had was the contact form and, believe or not, I never got to know any of my customers, hell! I barely had their location!

Let’s just leave it there, you don’t want to get me started with mailing lists… what is this water coming out of my eyes?

Your Turn…

What are your thoughts? are you using any of these tools or maybe different ones? What are your suggestions if you already have some experience or what are your questions if you are barely jumping in the water?

Happy profiting!

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  • http://kikolani.com/ Kristi Hines

    This is a great set of tools to help monetize your blog. I use Aweber for the mailing list personally – I looked at the fact that MailChimp is less expensive up to 1,000 subscribers, but after that, Aweber is a little less (unless their pricing changed).

    Does Flowtown work with Aweber? I might have to check that out…

  • http://www.socialmouths.com Francisco Rosales

    Hey Kristi, thanks for your comment!

    I'm not sure if Flowtown works with Aweber, I see that it does with Campaign Monitor and iContact, I'm pretty sure it'll happen soon…

  • http://twitter.com/Kinanda Mary Alice Gilbert

    This is a great list of some very powerful tools. One of the most powerful tools for generating incremental traffic is your own content. If it's something that people find valuable, they'll share it with their network. There are several ways to do that including link sharing but probably the most productive in terms of click through would be to provide ways to actually clip and share the content in a visual way on blogs and through e-mail. There's a new free tool called clp.ly that lets readers make visual clips and quotes of web content complete with attribution and links back. Visual clips and quotes are generating more than 5% click-through rate. That's some powerful traffic generation.

  • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

    coool list.

    Mail chimp is a cool service – I'm in the middle of using it myself. I'm going to check out unbounce too – that service sounds promising.

  • http://ethanbloch.com ethan

    Hi Kristi,

    We don't currently integrate directly with Aweber but you can import your email list get the data, export it from Flowtown and import it back into Aweber.

    If you have additional questions you can reach me direct -> ceo@flowtown.com

    Ethan (@ebloch)

  • http://ethanbloch.com ethan

    Hi Francisco,

    I use or used every single one of these tools. They are all an absolute must, I would say, for almost any small business.

    Additionally I would also suggest http://kissinsights.com – great way to grab feedback from your visitors.

    Appreciate the Flowtown shout out!

    Ethan (@ebloch)
    Co-Founder

  • http://www.socialmouths.com Francisco Rosales

    Hey Ethan, thanks for stopping by and answering the question yourself.

  • Preston D Lee

    Some nice ideas here. I would disagree with SurveyMonkey.com, though. The statistics, professionalism, and ease of use that you get with Google Docs Forms is way better. Just my two cents. Nice article.

  • http://www.socialmouths.com Francisco Rosales

    Thank you Preston, I have to admit I've never used “Forms” but I'll give it a try.

    Have a great day!

  • http://twitter.com/howardcshen Howard Shen

    Hi there! :)

    As for me, I have been using google analytics for sometime now…
    But I thank you man,
    for giving me other options!
    Haven't tried others just yet.
    haha

    Keep it up,
    Howard

  • http://www.socialmouths.com Francisco Rosales

    Thank YOU Howard! Glad you found the post useful.

    And, as you start trying other tools, let me know your thoughts and please free to ask questions if you need to man.

    Have a great day!

  • http://loneplacebo.com/ Tony

    Unbounce looks mighty interesting…I'll have to inspect further.

  • http://smartincomeblog.com Kevin Douglas

    Thanks for the tips, Francisco! I heard of most of them, except Flowtown and Unbounce. Those are two new resources that I'll be adding to the internet marketing “arsenal”. : ) Thanks again!

  • Rick

    Hello Francisco, thanks for the Unbounce mention. I agree with Ethan, kissinsights.com is a must. We are using it and it's super useful in getting insights from visitors.

  • oligardner

    Thanks for including us on your list Francisco, there are a lot of powerful new tools coming onto the market, and it's awesome when you distill it like this.

    I've used all of these at some point or another.

    Love MailChimp's product and brand, Flowtown is a wikked add-on if you do lead gen and as Rick mentioned, we just started using KissInsights which is probably the quickest way I've seen to gather feedback from your users.

  • oligardner

    As you mentioned, we give you jack *** for your work here, so how about you give me your favourite charity and I'll dump some short change in there (we're a startup, I can't afford the big bucks).

    Name it, and it's done.

  • http://www.socialmouths.com Francisco Rosales

    Thanks for stopping by Oli, I'm loving what you guys are doing over at Unbounce. I'm aware of KissInsights but never used it before.

  • http://www.socialmouths.com Francisco Rosales

    Please do Tony, @Unbounce is really a great platform that takes landing pages to a whole new level.

    Thanks for your comment!

  • http://www.bulletproofreading.co.nz/ Angela

    “And since we’re already in the subject, I will also say that I do love the whole “Free” concept BUT (uuuh… the big “but”!), when we’re talking about our business, and I will assume we want to be successful at it, we should be open to invest.”

    I have to agree with this statement! I think a lot of people think that running an online business is expense-free. Well, it can be but I've found that if it is expense-free it's probably going to be revenue-free too!

    I took the (bad) advice from someone when I first started and used only free services. When I came to my senses and started *sensibly* investing some cash, the investments didn't just pay for themselves; they gave my business a huge boost.

    I think the key is to find the best service for the best price and recommendations from reliable sources like this make finding those good ones a lot easier. So thanks heaps! I'm going to check out the survey ones you've suggested – have some burning questions for my readers/clients :-)

  • http://www.dcc-1100pk.com Mia

    These are really so simple. I have done a few of them but, not all of them. Thanks.

  • http://www.redheadwriting.com The Redhead

    I love Emma – everything from the brand personality to the application. *swoon* I'm also a huge advocate of PayPal.

    I'll add Harvest (http://www.getharvest.com) to the list as a cost-effective CRM/project management/invoicing tool. It integrates with PayPal, too.

  • http://www.technoskillonline.com tricks tips

    Do u know any free service – An alternative to “Mailchimp” ?
    i really needs that….

  • Warren

    Thanks for some great tips.

    Curious though why you didn't include Wishlist Member. This product provides the infrastructure to have multiple customer levels (free vs paid) and controls who sees content (Posts, downloads, videos, etc.) It integrates with PayPal and MailChimp (among others). It even handles lost passwords for you automatically.

    At $100 for a single site and about $300 for unlimited sites (One time cost) this is a no brainer. http://wishlistproducts.com

  • http://www.socialmouths.com Francisco Rosales

    You are absolutely right Warren, Wishlist should be included in this list.

    Thanks for the recommendation.

  • http://twitter.com/superemployee Kevin Geary

    I've heard of all of them except Unbounce. That service looks awesome!

  • http://twitter.com/superemployee Kevin Geary

    Mailchimp is free for the first 500 addresses.

  • http://twitter.com/superemployee Kevin Geary

    It's not all about price. Mailchimp is murdering other email marketing providers with features, personality, and value.

  • http://www.socialmouths.com Francisco Rosales

    Email services are free, you are paying for what you're sending out, which is very affordable. Some of them give you a number of emails for free, I know Mailchimp gives you 500.

  • http://www.socialmouths.com Francisco Rosales

    And they just announced a bunch of new features. Thanks for your comment Kevin!

  • http://twitter.com/TravisPetelle Travis Petelle

    Great post. I use quite a few of the services you listed for my business as well. Google analytics of course is a necessity. You have to know what's working and whats not. There isn't a better way to do this then track results.

    Many of my ebooks and services I sell through e-junkie and paypal as well. It makes it so easy to set up and the extra fee is nothing compared to some merchant accounts.

    I've never tried mailchimp, but have heard good things before. I'm an aweber fan myself. Email marketing is a must for online businesses. It pretty much instantly increases conversion rate to 5% if you build the trust in your prospects.

    Love the post.

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  • http://twitter.com/NECTED NECTARIOS OBUNGA

    Thanks for the tip Mary. I have registered with clp.ly and i look forward to enjoying it.Pls check this product too http://bit.ly/ctPwc7

  • http://blog.wiredadvisor.com Stephanie Sammons

    I'm a big fan of http://www.batchbook.com CRM. Because they integrate with http://www.rapportive.com in Google Apps, I can pull in some great social data on people I'm connecting with. In fact, they integrate with a number of partners including Mailchimp and others you've listed here. I find Salesforce to be overkill in many respects but have used it in the past. Thanks for the article, great stuff!

  • http://www.socialmouths.com Francisco Rosales

    Thank you Stephanie, I just visited your blog and loved it. I'm subscribing!

    I didn't try Rapportive yet, thanks for the recommendation. In regards to the CRM, you're absolutely right, the truth with CRM is that I haven't been able to find one that's a perfect fit.

    Have a great day!

  • http://www.socialmouths.com Francisco Rosales

    Thanks for sharing that Travis. I'm glad you liked the post and hope to see you around again.

  • http://blog.wiredadvisor.com Stephanie Sammons

    Thanks so much! Happy to discover you online and I love your stuff!

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  • http://www.searchengineoptimisation.com/social-media.html Jack

    Unbounce is new for me as all others i have almost used for me or my clients in either way…this is nice post

  • http://twitter.com/RichardMaybury Richard Maybury

    Great list Roger.
    I like ConstantContact and use 2 of their services: mail and survey(which I also use for training evaluuations) which link up well.

  • http://www.searchengineoptimization.co.uk Bronte

    Nice tools… i have used SalesForce with success and its really nice

  • http://seanseo.com Sean SEO Marketer

    All these services are really powerful tools that can leverage most of our online needs. I appreciate your insight to provide the details on before hand that these tools are all paid! Nice briefing on every product.

  • http://www.vmpl50b.com Donna

    I use Google analytics. I do not have that much money to pay by the month. I do alot of reading and tweeking. It has taken me a long time to get to where I am. It is now beginning to pay off. Thanks to all the people who are willing to share their information.

  • http://www.2seo.com/ Teena

    A friend of mine has been using e-junkie and I think it's great. I'd love to try unbounce though instead of e-junkie. Thanks for the other suggestions.

  • http://www.socialmouths.com Francisco Rosales

    Thanks for your advice Donna, as you say, a lot of reading and tweaking is necessary. Happy to see that your hard work is starting to pay off.

    Have a nice day!

  • Kathy Garolsky

    Great tips and advice here.Thanks for this.Looking forward for your next post.

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  • http://twitter.com/FavTrip Thomas O'Hearn

    Unbounce looks fascinating…and I didn't know about Flowtown but have a large list of subscribers I was really unsure what to do with. Problem solved.

    Thanks!

  • http://cara-benar-bisnis-online.blogspot.com Jam's on BlogBisnis

    Yes, it powerful tools …

  • ramson

    CRM that is now obsolete, around the same time I purchased a $60k phone system that is now worth $2k, if I wanted to hear my prospects opinions I would have to organize a focus group for a couple of thousands to get bullshit results, I paid around $20k for a static website that the only interactivity it had was the contact form and, believe or not, I never got to know any of my customers, hell! I barely had their location!

    surveys

  • http://www.sa-metro-locksmith.com/ san antonio tx locksmith

    I will assume we want to be successful at it, we should be open to invest.

  • http://www.replicon.com/time-clock Employee Time Clock

    Survey monkey does help in extraordinary cases where Neither Google analytics or any tracking tool will be useful.

  • Survey Crest

    Interesting. A great summary