During the panel, our host Ana mentioned that any technical questions could be answered and resources shared here on the blog. We didn’t have many questions in that regard but I wanted to share a few items.
First, filtering spam comments came up. If you’re on WordPress, the Askimet plugin is the gold standard in comment filtering. You can also choose in your settings whether or not to manually moderate comments (Look under Settings->Discussion). Some bloggers also choose a third-party comment platform like Disqus or on Intense Debate, though I know some people are less likely to comment if they need to create a separate login for leaving a comment. (THIS POST discusses a few of those options.)
I also passionately argued that those using WordPress (not a WordPress.com site) need to make sure they are updating WordPress and their plugins on a regular basis. If you are on a managed host, your host will take care of this for you and also tackle any hacks to your site should they occur. If you notice your site is not updated regularly, than you probably are self hosted, which means you are responsible for updates and hacks. If you are not technically savy, I highly recommend paying the extra $10-15 a month to move to a managed host and let them take care of everything. If you have a free blogspot.com blog, or WordPress.com blog, Blogger and WordPress respectively handle all those problems for you.
I was asked how I selected what products to develop and, to be honest, you probably shouldn’t imitate me in this regard. 🙂 I created a planner because I wanted to design an updated planner for my use, not because I saw a need amongst my readers. I created a retreat book based on Thomas a Kempis ‘Imitation of Christ’ because I wanted to, not because I polled my readers and they asked for it. So you can certainly follow my lead and make things that you want to because you will use them and if other people can too, great!, or you can poll your community to find out what they want and develop products to meet those needs. I am trying to write a book that I feel is actually what my readers want, but writing a book is super hard and in some ways it’s easier to pump out smaller products, rather than tackle a large overwhelming project. I think this is the perfect example of resistance. (See ‘The War of Art’ which I mentioned in my talk for an explanation.)
If you are interested in building an email list (which is really the best way to market a product to your readers since not all of your FB followers or readers may find your post) I personally recommend MailerLite. It is free up to 1,000 subscribers, is easy to use, but also offers lots of high-end options (pop up sign in forms, ability to break subscribers into groups, automation, etc.). I do have experience with Mail Chimp, and I still prefer MailerLite.
Should you choose to promote other people’s products (affiliate programs) make sure they really mesh with your readers, otherwise people will run away from your blog and you’ll feel like you need a shower every time you promote something. I wrote THIS POST to promote a recent parenting bundle, but afterwards I removed all the sales copy and you can see that it still works as a stand alone post. If you can produce posts that are of value in and of themselves, your readers will not mind the sales quite so much. (If you read Carrots for Michaelmas, Haley also does a really good job of this.) I had an email list of about 180 people during the bundle sale and each day I sent out an email that I tried to make useful while also promoting certain items in the bundle. I did lose five subscribers, but I gave people the option to opt out of bundle promotions but still receive my email newsletter, so I will still be able to reach out to these people about other income opportunities (speaking, books, etc) in the future.
I think this covers all the questions I received. Did I miss something? Post in the CWBN Mid-Atlantic Facebook group, the national CWBN group, and someone should have the info you’re looking for!