This giveaway has been LOOONG due. In October 2011, I crossed 5,000+ subscribers, a milestone way beyond my expectations when I first started blogging. Last month, I exceeded 6,000.
So in celebration of surpassing 6,000 subscribers I am giving away four prizes to four random lucky winners. I have been planning this contest out for a while now and albeit a bit late, here it is . . .
1 Brand New Apple iPad 2 (16GB) with a Case – I will order this from Apple and have it delivered to your address in the color of your choice.
The iPad 2 has well over 80% market share in the US tablet market and although the iPad 3 is rumored to come out soon, I didn’t want to prolong this giveaway any further.
1 Free Vacation – This is a free certificate I won by promoting a particular product. I will not be using this certificate as I have plenty of trips already scheduled and paid for.
This certificate entitles you to a 4 day, 3 night vacation stay (Hotel room) in most locations, and a 3 day, 2 night stay in over 30 selected locations.
Locations include places like Orlando, Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Cancun, Mexico and more.
1 $25 Amazon Gift Card – I will order this from Amazon and email you the certificate
I am paying for the Apple products and the Amazon gift card out of my pocket. Although I have not aggressively monetized this blog, I have managed to make a decent amount, more than enough to fund this round of giveaways. I hope to continue to give away more down the road.
I also receive plenty of freebies just from day to day affiliate marketing activities that my (now over 20) niche websites participate in. For example, if I refer the most leads in a given month to Vendor A, they may send me a prize at the end of the month. Many vendors run all kinds of contests of their own to encourage boost in activity. I have received video games, iPods, bicycles, gift baskets and all sorts of goodies over time from these promotions.
There are a few reasons why I am doing this contest now. Although I never had doubts about persevering in the blogosphere, I didn’t really do anything for my one year anniversary which is a notable milestone that I really should celebrate. In addition, the blog surpassed 5,000 readers, another milestone worthy of celebration which I quietly ignored.
It is important for me to keep in perspective that when we work to earn a few dollars, we spend a few of them acquiring goods and services we need and want. Who we pay turns around and does the same. This simple exchange of goods and services makes the world go round. I make some, I give some, I make some more and I give some more. It’s what we call economy.
Similarly, being on the receiving end of many of these freebies, I’d like to give away some of them away in exchange for more exposure, which leads to more opportunity to win more freebies down the road for everyone involved.
Why do I want exposure? The primary attribute of my blog’s success is the readership community – You! I have exceeded all my expectations since starting this blog so THANK YOU! I truly mean that.
So here is to the next 5,000 readers which I want to achieve in the next 18 months. And as a small gesture from my end representing my appreciation for your support, I will continue to periodically host more contests and giveaways.
You can expect similar prizes in future contests.
This is an action based contest in the sense that your chances to win are based on the number of actions you take. Each action equates to a certain number of entries into the raffle drawing (excel spreadsheet). At the end of the contest I will randomly (really systematically) select three winners from this pool (more on how below). Here are the actions you can take to gain entries to the raffle:
Subscribe to my updates via email (earn 2 entries)
This is not the same as subscribing to my RSS feed. To subscribe to my blog updates via email, use the sign up box on the upper left hand side of the blog. All existing subscribers will be imported to the excel spreadsheet to ensure you also get the 2 entries.
“Like” this contest post on Facebook (1 Entry)
“Like” this post and then tell me you did it in the comments below. It can’t get any easier than this as I have a like button readily available on the right hand side.
“Like” the Extra Money Blog on Facebook (1 Entry)
“Like” the Extra Money Blog Facebook Page and tell me you did it in the comments below. Can’t get easier as the link above takes you to the Facebook page.
Google Plus (1 Entry)
Use the side bar on the right hand side and Plus One this post. Tell me about it in the comments section below for 1 entry.
Tweet this contest (1 Entry)
You can use the bar on the right side to tweet or retweet this post. Tell me you did in the comments section for 1 entry.
Follow Me on Twitter (1 Entry)
Scroll all the way to the top where you will see a Twitter icon to the right hand side. Click this icon and it will take you to my Twitter page. Follow me on Twitter, tell me about it in the comments section below and earn 1 entry to the contest.
Recommend another subscriber (5 Entries)
This one takes some effort, but if you are successfully able to recommend a new email subscriber (not yourself) to this blog, I will give you 5 additional entries to the contest. I want you to tell me that you referred someone in the comments section below if you did. However, send me a personal email and include the name and email ID of the person you referred to me. I will need this for my audit (read below).
Mention this contest on your website or blog (3 Entries)
This also takes a little more effort so I am giving 3 entries for this action. Mention this contest with a link to this post on your blog or website. Tell me you did in the comments section below and earn 3 entries. To be fair to everyone, if you don’t own a website or blog, mention this contest somewhere else online (this could be your Facebook or Twitter page, another blog or forum online) and link to it in the comments section below so I can verify it during my audit (more on the audit below). This option is only available to you if you don’t own your own website or blog.
Tell me how many of my niche websites I have mentioned on this blog (8 Entries)
This one can be challenging hence the 8 entries. I own several niche websites and have mentioned a good number of them on my blog over the last year and a half or so. Tell me which ones I have mentioned and I will give you 8 additional entries to the contest.
Maximum number of entries you can get to the contest = 23!!!
IMPORTANT: Comment in the comment section below (1 EXTRA Entry) – In the comment section below, tell me which of the above actions you have taken so I can give you the appropriate number of entries. If you are reading this on a reader or in your inbox, you can hit reply to the email and send me your answers that way, or you can visit this post online and leave a comment. You get an additional entry for providing your responses by commenting on the blog itself in the comments section below.
I will keep this contest open for a period of four weeks beginning today and ending on the 28th day from today at midnight Pacific Standard Time. At that time all entries will be uploaded into a spreadsheet in no specific order.
Once entered, I will select the winners in order from the fourth prize working up to the grand prize (Apple Ipad 2) using the random.org program. I will announce the winner in a subsequent post following the 28 day contest period.
Important Note: Unless otherwise specifically stated in the future, this is the only time I will be announcing a winner publicly on my blog. In all future promos, contests and giveaways I will make the announcement via my newsletter. I am doing this to incentivize you to stay subscribed. I hope you stay on. Future contests may also be announced via Facebook and Twitter as I get more involved with social media later this year.
In the interest of fairness to everyone, I WILL AUDIT EACH WINNER OF THE CONTEST. What do I mean by that? For example, if a reader comments that he or she did X,Y & Z and earned 10 entries as a result and I happened to pick them as one of the winners, I will go back and ensure that they did each and everything they said they did to earn those 10 entries.
For example, if they Liked this blog on Facebook, I will check to see that they did. If they subscribed to the newsletter, I will check to see if their information is in my list. If I am not able to reconcile the activity, I will disqualify the reader from the contest.
IMPORTANT: Unless I am familiar with your email ID from personal interaction or regular interaction on my blog, I will email the winner personally using the email ID provided to subscribe to my newsletter (prior to announcing who you are on the blog). I need to do this so I know your name and can announce it on the blog. If I don’t hear within 48 hours, I will disqualify the winner and select another one. Another reason to stay honest and fair to everyone.
I can’t believe I am finally doing this. I am very excited about giving these freebies away. Once again, I thank you very much for enabling this blog’s success. I hope you win. And if you don’t this time, I hope you win next time, or the time after that, or after that . . .
All the best to you!
Special thanks to the Yakezie Network for inspiring this giveaway contest. Several Yakezie members have successfully run similar promotions. Thank you everyone for your inspiration and support.
Anonymous blogging is an actively discussed topic within the personal financial space. Many bloggers in the personal finance niche typically have established successful professional careers, many of which do not allow them the freedom to openly express their views on a sophisticated and sometimes complex topic such as personal finance.
In my previous life in Corporate America, I was working for a multi-billion dollar Fortune 100 financial institution. In this organization, as it is in many others, employees are not permitted to publicly speak about their views on topics that may overlap with what their companies do, particularly those in an upper management role.
Those that attempt to obtain permission have a lifelong task of navigating through the minutiae of bureaucracy, from the risk management to the legal and then compliance departments, and breaking through layers of the red tape, often leaving them frustrated and causing them to stop pursuing. Given my background and some ties, when I started blogging, I too was facing this predicament.
If you tune into successful bloggers like Pat Flynn from the Smart Passive Income and Yaro Starak from the Entrepreneur’s Journey (two of my inspirations), they say those that achieve success quicker and in larger heaps are those who are fully transparent about who they are. Their identities are reflected on their blog. There is no difference between their personal and cyber lives, a difference that many personal finance bloggers have to maintain.
Note: Many times this is a necessity and thus a have to rather than a want to.
So why do bloggers like Pat put themselves out there? It’s not because they think they are prettier than Zeus and want the world to see them. Rather, it is because these guys truly believe and preach that your blog is your cyber home, and that you should not treat a cyber visitor any different than a physical visitor who drops by your home.
As impersonal as the internet can be, successful bloggers have succeeded at narrowing the impersonal gap by putting their personalities at the forefront, which often starts by having their photos up to build that instant connection with their readers. A picture is truly worth a thousand words, and successful bloggers have proved this over and over again.
I am certainly not advocating you completely take off your kimono and expose everything you’ve got to your readers, but injecting a dose of yourself in what you do subtly but consistently is what I am referring to when I say transparency and personality.
For example, is your About page about your blog, or is it about YOU? Is your style of writing on your blog or email newsletter generic and speaks from a “corporate perspective” to a mass audience, or is it a personable message written from a first person’s perspective in active voice? People develop relationships with people, not a blog, not a name and certainly not an auto responder.
Subtle acts of attempting to show personality gives you credibility and builds rapport between you and your readership. Remember that your reader doesn’t know who you are and what you look like, so you need to do your best to hone a relationship where your reader can continue to get to know you may it be only through your words (perhaps your voice in a later Podcast or Video voice over series) As the authors of our blogs, we are the main brand behind our blog. We need to work toward continuing to build that brand.
Well then what about magazine subscription type blogs? I understand that many bloggers consciously design their blogs anonymously, with a business like brand and approach keeping in mind the exit strategy in the end. I am not saying this is a wrong approach, but it’s not the approach I personally prefer.
There are many blogs that have managed to successful execute their exit strategies such as the Huffington Post and Get Rich Slowly, but what happens to those blogs when they exit? I suppose this depends on who you ask, but if you ask me, in my opinion these blogs lose a lot of their “flavor”.
Sure, it makes the owners rich overnight upon exit, and there are several such success stories out there, but I feel that the loyal readership is left behind, only to scour the web to find another blogger that resonates with them which they can start to follow. I know that I don’t read either of those two anymore.
If a multi-million dollar payout is what you are going for, then the message of this article may or may not resonate with you, and that is fine if that’s the route you want to take. A more preferred route for me however is one in which I am the voice and brand of my blog, one that is more personable in nature and one that develops lasting relationships with its readership base.
Yes you can, but it does take a lot more time, effort and perseverance. Because some bloggers just cannot put themselves out there for various reasons, it doesn’t mean that it cannot be done. Anything is possible if you are willing to work for it right?
I will provide some examples of things I have done different in the recent months, which have translated to expedited success, one which appeared a bit too far-fetched last year. As you will be able to tell, each action I took required getting out of my comfort zone, taking baby steps toward more transparency and personality with the intent that it shows through typed words without a face associated with them.
There are a few things I have been doing different in the last few months. Though I’ve pondered taking these actions for a while, I finally took the leap and took action with the intention of monitoring each’s performance and tweaking it until the desired outcome is achieved. I also understand that not everything will work, but the worst case scenario is not too bad. I know that if I fail in one initiative, I can simply move on to another action and continue to monitor its results. The key is to keep trying something new and then sticking to what works.
What did I do different?
I expanded my About page to an extra ordinarily long one, hoping to compensate for the lack of a photo. In my about page, I wrote about my background, my family and some details unique and very personal to me.
What was the result?
A flurry of personal email introductions from readers and other bloggers expressing their appreciation for the attempt / effort. At the same time, the page itself started to fetch comments, including comments from one very high profile and successful blogger in the personal finance space who I have been following ever since he got started. This I am sure caught the eye of several readers.
What did I do different?
I started to blend in subtle small doses of personality in my posts, showing my personal side and how what I blogged about in the post applied to me and my family (when applicable) on a practical basis. Everyone appreciates information that is practical and actionable.
What was the result?
More reader engagement and interaction through comments. Reader interaction clearly demonstrated the reader knew ME, thus encouraging others to also jump into the discussion.
What did I do different?
I responded to each and every comment left by every reader. In fact, I went back to the archives and responded to older comments. This was a serious undertaking.
What was the result?
Readers were notified of a response to their earlier comments and as a result came back for more discussion, often reviving older posts and giving them new life. I started seeing more pingbacks / trackbacks to these posts as well. I started noticing my posts tweeted and re tweeted more than in the past. The results were well worth the effort.
What did I do different?
I reached out to each commenter by emailing them personally to introduce myself and offering my help. This task also took several days and countless hours.
What was the result?
Tremendous appreciation, a shoot up in subscribership and more reader interaction in comments. More tweets, more Facebook likes, more active discussions and more self-satisfaction knowing that I made a connection with each reader. I know that I can afford to do this while my readership is still manageable.
What did I do different?
Announced my first big promotion, giving away $2,000+ in cash and prizes including $1,500 cash and an Apple iPad to celebrate surpassing 5,000 readers. In this giveaway, I foreshadowed developments under works, giving the readership preview of what’s to come as well as soliciting reader feedback to incorporate in future posts.
What was the result?
More participation than I’ve received in the past, with some genuine, sincere comments with a lot of value that will help shape the direction of this blog going forward. On a blog like mine where historically readers have silently read and devoured the content, this has been by far one of my more interactive and engaging posts. While readers want something useful, practical and actionable, I learned that every once in a while sharing personal success stories and interacting for the sake of interacting and connecting pays off.
The momentum helped the post go viral and carried me well over 6,000 readers in a blink of an eye since publishing the post. I also feel that I have really gotten to know my readers more.
What did I do different?
Because my email list is a blog update mechanism, I previously never provided explicit content and a reason to stay subscribed. I announced that I will host contests and announce giveaway winners through my email lists. In addition, I extensively surveyed my email list, giving away several gift cards on several occasions.
What was the result?
This helped me gather in depth feedback about what my readers want to read more about, what challenges they are facing and how I can step in to help them meet their objectives. This resulted in longer, more in depth and comprehensive posts that I am seeing the readership appreciate very much. Because I blog on three core pillars (personal finance, entrepreneurship and internet marketing), the survey results help me cater to each audience in specifically the way they want.
Overall, these actions have paid off huge dividends and I am very pleased with what I have been able to accomplish by trying new things and monitoring how each has performed. My total comments are up almost 30% in just the last few months. Page views are up, Tweets and Retweets are up, Facebook likes are up and the interaction on the blog is definitely a lot more robust.
Another point that I’d like to touch on for someone blogging anonymously is the utilization of “social proof”. Social proof is very powerful, something I feel not very many leverage to the best of its capabilities. When used appropriately, social proof can expedite your success exponentially.
For example, the Feedburner “chicklet” on the top of this blog is more likely to encourage new visitors to sign up. The robust discussions in the comments section following each post also more likely encourages one to drop by and participate. Similarly, images of payments received from online vendors in my payment proof section and readers discussing and promoting my content outside my blog is also very powerful stuff.
It is one thing when you are tooting your own horn, but when others do it for you, the horn sounds much louder and reaches more ears and sentiments.
It’s easy to get complacent and be content in some of the recent wins and successes, but that’s not enough. I feel my work is just now getting started. What’s next to come?
Perhaps a photo for my readership to put a face with the name. Perhaps a personal Facebook profile and a Twitter account? One that I have long ignored now. Maybe a link to Picasa with some of my personal pix? A podcast or a video series on YouTube? Maybe even income reports as I also blog about generating passive and residual income online.
More transparency and personality is definitely in the works. There is quite a bit to get done, and step by step I hope to get there.
A big upcoming step is certainly the $1,500 giveaway as well as an Apple iPad 2 and an Amazon gift card, a string of giveaways I have been long pondering over in celebration of surpassing the 6,000 readership mark!
The crux of this article really comes down to the fact that while blogging transparency is critical to one’s success, and by far a more effective approach to establishing authority online, anonymous bloggers too can carve out their space by consistently delivering value and incorporating their personalities into their blogs, thus attempting to show transparency whenever possible.
The biggest lessons I have personally learned over the last few months is not to be afraid to try something new and experiment. Often times we get too complacent and comfortable in our own ways that it takes a radical form of action to burst out of it.
Taking action to try something new certainly requires overcoming that inertia, and more so the fear of the unknown. But if you think about the success you’ve had in the past, think how you felt right before taking that one action that led to your success. I bet you felt very uncertain, a bit nervous about the outcome?
Pursuing things that are truly worthwhile gives us those jitters. That’s how you know you are making progress. Just think about this – what’s the worst thing that can happen to you? Your actions may not produce results right? That’s not at all a big deal. Simply take another new action, try something new, continue to experiment, monitor results and tweak it along the way, so as long as you are trying something.
Readers: If you are an anonymous blogger, do you consider yourself successful? If so, what do you think has led to your success? If not, what do you think you need to do in order to succeed? Do you agree or disagree that anonymous blogging hurts your chances to succeed? Why or why not?
STAY TUNED: THE $1,500 CASH CONTEST AND APPLE IPAD GIVEAWAY IS NEXT!
Today I want to Thank YOU from the bottom of my heart for helping the Extra Money Blog reach 5,000 plus readers. This is a wonderful gift for me this holiday season and I want to thank you for making it all possible. This milestone is particularly special for me because this blog is very different from what I am used to doing online, and prior to just over a year ago, I knew very little about how blogs worked relative to static websites.
Over the past 14 or so months, I have talked about having established and sold an ecommerce website for a quarter million bucks, having sold numerous niche websites at a five figure price tag, as well as establishing a portfolio of niche websites all of which generate passive and residual income for me month after month.
But unlike any of these ventures, I started this blog with a completely different intent, one that involves interaction and discussion with the readership community. It’s been an interesting journey thus far, one that I’ve enjoyed more than any other online endeavor in the past.
I think you should know that although most of my time and effort is involved in growing this blog, it is my least profitable web property to date; yet I enjoy working on it more than anything else online. Some of you may be nodding your head just about now.
Just a little over a year ago, blogging was completely brand new to me. I entered the blogosphere not knowing what to expect and where it would take me. Today I stand at a healthy readership of just under 6,000 and I genuinely thank you for being the reason for such a wonderful achievement.
So with that I’d like to share with you a few upcoming initiatives to look forward to:
Survey on What You Want! – I want to focus more on what you want to read about. I will be launching a public survey in the near future and I would certainly appreciate your input. You are the reason this blog exists. Please help me shape its future direction with your valuable input. I conducted a similar survey just for my email list, but this one will be for the entire blog (RSS readers). I will be giving away a prize to one lucky participant.
Giving Back – I will start giving away free stuff as my way of showing appreciation and encouraging more interaction. Some of what I am thinking about giving away are the following: gift cards of all sorts, free consulting sessions, items I have won on contests and those that online vendors frequently send me, FREE VACATIONS as well as free niche websites! I will also give away an Apple Ipad 2 and $1,500 Cash.
Podcasting Series – I will be interviewing successful entrepreneurs from all walks of life, as well as many who have established successful side businesses while maintaining successful corporate careers.
Training / Coaching – The response to my 0 to $1,000 a month report has been tremendous. Although I don’t know how many times it has been downloaded, I often receive emails (at least once a day) with all kinds of questions about the process. I will be releasing a classroom type training program with a coaching component in form of a weekly conference call (Q&A session).
I am thinking a video training series at this point, but I am open to your input ? ? ?
This training will cover niche site establishment from end to end, from conceptualization, niche research, to keyword research, site establishment, SEO, marketing and monetization.
I will cover building niche sites for the non techie like me using free or low cost turn-key tools and solutions available online. I am very excited about this initiative. Many fellow niche site developers have already contacted me with an interest to collaborate. This may evolve into a joint venture with other niche site veterans.
The Kicker: While I will initially publish announcements here on my blog, I will eventually communicate special events, promos, contests, giveaways and most importantly the winners through my email newsletter.
Many readers are subscribed through RSS, which is fine, but in an effort to increase newsletter readership, I will provide this exclusive content through my email newsletters. I won’t be hurt if you unsubscribe from my RSS feed and resubscribe to my email newsletter instead. In fact, subscribing via email will get you my Free Report on How to Make $1,000 a Month in Passive and Residual Income all in Your Spare Time.
So I hope you found this quick update helpful. I will try to do this more often to keep you updated on what’s in the Extra Money Blog pipeline, like a “state of the blog update” of some sort.
Again, I cannot thank you enough for being part of my small community. Needless to say that this blog exists because of YOU.
Readers: Please help me shape up its future direction by providing your thoughts / comments / feedback in the comments section below . . .
I wish you a very happy and festive holiday season!