How to Turn Blog Posts into a Business — with Vanessa Van Edwards

How to Turn Blog Posts into a Business — with Vanessa Van Edwards

Meet Vanessa Van Edwards. 👋

Vanessa is the charisma QUEEN.

Recently, I talked with Vanessa about what it takes to be successful.

In this post, you’ll learn how Vanessa completely skipped the corporate world and went from scraping by writing freelance blog articles… to hosting $25,000 in-person seminars.

Specifically, you’ll learn:

  1. Why you should start practicing your craft early
  2. How to spot the BEST marketing opportunities for 2018 (and beyond)
  3. Why you should piggyback off large audiences to drive your revenue

Check out these lessons from Vanessa below (or listen to the 8-minute podcast episode for even more details).

How Vanessa Van Edwards bypassed the corporate world and built her business

1. Turning blog posts into a business

The best time to start is always now.

Whether your goal is to…

  • Create your own business
  • Launch a successful YouTube channel, podcast, or TV show
  • Make a million dollars by the time you’re 40

… you should start as soon as possible.

It won’t be perfect, but it’s often better to just get started.

In college, Vanessa started her career by writing simple blog posts. Looking back, they weren’t anything special.

But because she started experimenting with writing, she was able to skip the boring office job as a college grad and do freelance writing.

NICE, Vanessa! No lame Intel gig for you… 💪

Through years of experience writing on her own blog, and a focus on helping magazine and other blogs, Vanessa was able to land a few freelance gigs ranging from $30 to $200 per blog post.

It wasn’t much, but it got her foot in the door.

Vanessa covered a ton of interesting topics in her writing, like:

  • Conversation formulas for networking
  • How to write better sales emails
  • Strategies to improve communication

As time went on, Vanessa learned more about research, using data in her writing, and creating more compelling blog posts.

Companies started noticing her, and asking if she could help them in other ways.

“Hey, we really liked your article. Do you do keynotes? Can you help coach my team on customer psychology?”

Vanessa jumped at the opportunity and started doing workshops and keynotes for companies.

These keynotes paid up to $25,000 per event! 😲

That’s waaay more than the $30 she made from each blog post.

After seeing the $$$, it clicked…

The content would help her get found, the keynotes would help her make a living. 💰

Vanessa did a great job of taking different opportunities.

Instead of accepting the keynote offer, it could have been easy for Vanessa to say, “I’m not a trainer.” Or, “I don’t do keynotes.”

By embracing new things and stepping out of her comfort zone she was able to significantly grow her business…

Successful entrepreneurs often start one thing… and end up doing something TOTALLY different as they see what the market wants.

For example, I’ve started DOZENS of businesses — but only a few have succeeded. 💸

2. Look for untapped opportunities

In business, you should ALWAYS be looking for untapped opportunities.

Want to hear more advice from Vanessa? Listen to our podcast episode together below.

As I’ve said before:

Advertising is MOST successful when there’s a market inefficiency.”

For example, every business owner from the top Fortune 500s to Joe from your local family store is using Facebook Ads right now.

You’re competing against everyone for ads… but 5 years ago, Facebook Ads were incredible value, because tons of people were using Facebook and there were less advertisers shoving ads down their face.

Advantages occur on channels where there's a lot of volume, but less competition.

Vanessa’s business really started to take off because she found an inefficiency on YouTube.

Back in 2009 to 2010, everyone was playing the Google game…

  • Writing SEO-heavy content
  • Buying ads on Google
  • Optimizing everything for search

As a writer, Vanessa could have copied everyone else and tried to compete.

But she looked for a market inefficiency and noticed that very few people were creating content for YouTube. So Vanessa began to dig into YouTube marketing.

To find out what to make videos about, Vanessa turned to her analytics.

Like many website owners, Vanessa had a TON of unused data tucked away in Google Analytics and Search Console. Both tools were great for generating content ideas.

First, she’d go to Google Analytics and check her most popular posts.

To do this for yourself:

  1. Open Google Analytics
  2. Click “Behaviour” on the right hand side
  3. Look at your most popular posts, and create videos based on those posts

okdork vanessa van edwards google analytics

Next, Vanessa would check Google Search Console to identify the keywords people were searching to find her website.

To do this for yourself:

  1. Open up Google Search Console
  2. Select “Search Traffic” and then “Search Analytics” from the left-hand menu
  3. Select “Queries” and you’ll see all the search terms people use to find your website

okdork vanessa van edwards search console

Armed with data, Vanessa would create YouTube videos based around the topics and keywords, and then optimize them for YouTube search.

This tactic has helped Vanessa get over 11 MILLION views on YouTube. 📹

Finding untapped opportunities is one of the key tactics I used to grow Mint.com from ZERO to over 1 million users in six months.

At Mint, I used to advertise on super-small sites where prices were low and traffic quality is high. Many website owners were HAPPY to get $500 for a sponsorship, and I was able to have sole sponsorship of their site (no competition!).

When the market is going one way, and everyone is doing the same thing, that’s a sign it’s time to try something new.

ALWAYS look for untapped channels to reach your audience.

3. Piggyback off large audiences

“It’s easier for people who have a huge mailing list.” 😖

“I don’t have an audience I can sell to.” 🙄

“I only have 10 subscribers.” 😭

I’ve heard tons of excuses from wantrepreneurs about why they can’t grow.

Some of them are valid… many of them are not.

You can STILL be successful even if you’re small and don’t have big company resources.

For example, when Vanessa first started, she…

  • Wasn’t “known” in the industry
  • Only had a small email list
  • Didn’t have a budget for expensive ads or viral campaigns

But she didn’t make excuses and let these things stop her from testing and learning.

Instead, she tapped into pre-existing audiences to sell her products.

To get an audience, she decided to create charisma courses for Udemy.

Putting a course on Udemy allowed Vanessa to reach a HUGE audience through the Udemy platform.

Now, over 90,000 students have taken one of Vanessa courses.

No matter what stage you’re at with your business, there are ALWAYS opportunities to piggyback off large audiences.

For example, when I launched Noah Kagan Presents I reached out to a bunch of influential people with large, relevant audiences to help me promote it.

This led to awesome people like Tim Ferriss promoting my show:

okdork vanessa van edwards tim ferriss

Ready to learn more?

Listen to the full interview with Vanessa Van Edwards below. We cover a bunch of super interesting, actionable stuff that we couldn’t quite fit into this post. Including:

  1. Vanessa’s biggest mistakes — she said, “there were a lot of them.” Vanessa shares what went wrong (so you can avoid them)
  2. How Vanessa made her content stand out from the thousands of writers online
  3. Bonus: My favorite questions to ask someone you meet and… networking tips I’ve learned from meeting people like Tim Ferriss, Mike Posner and Jesse Itzler

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5 responses to “How to Turn Blog Posts into a Business — with Vanessa Van Edwards”

Felix Dragoi
December 29, 2017 at 3:05 pm

Hey Noah,

I'd have to say this podcast format was really short, not sure if Vanessa doesn't like talking too much unless there's a bigger audience or if you were busier during this time but definitely could be a little longer so we could enjoy more of the knowledge your guests have to share.

//Felix

Reply
Isaac Thrupp
December 28, 2017 at 5:16 pm

Noah,

Thank for the write-up and interview. Love the insight into her experiences. I agree with Chenell, it was very wise to build a course on Udemy. Generally speaking, it is not always important to find a market which requires disruption but rather somewhere where you can provide value. This will always be worthwhile and is a step towards success. It never hurts to pay it forward and gain experience.

Reply
John Voulgarakis
December 28, 2017 at 10:29 am

This is ultra dense, no-bullshit content. Man you've hit me right on.

p.s thanks

Reply
Kenny Moses
December 23, 2017 at 3:25 am

Great content and golden tips. I will take up doing courses for Udemy to get in front of large audience.

Reply
Chenell
December 19, 2017 at 6:54 am

I love the idea of building a course on Udemy, NOT for the money aspect of it, but instead for getting in front of that audience. Talk about a long-term play - I like it.

Reply