February 28, 2009

The Next Level

Before I leave the topic of MMO blogs, I want to take a look at Caroline Middlebrook for a few reasons. One is that I just love the way she framed everything she did as a project and maintained spreadsheets documenting her detailed progress for all to see. This takes real courage, especially since several of her projects were not successful. And I think that, in the end, the trust gained by this forthrightness outweighs the always-flawed aura of infallibility that typical wannabe MMO gurus attempt to acquire. Another reason is that her blog is just the next level, not only for the MMO niche, but for any niche.

First, check out the SEO stats. The site has 28,000 backlinks. Searching through them is an education in itself. Yes there's a lot of blog commenting, and various forms of guest posting (including some interesting multi-author contributions), but Caroline's work has also attracted a bunch of natural backlinks. Make no mistake, in the end, nothing beats natural backlinks. You can post on dofollow blogs for a year, and buy links hand over fist, but a competitor who makes just one high value post that attracts natural backlinks will beat your numbers by an order of magnitude. Content really is king.

So what did Caroline do to attract all those backlinks? A great study in and of itself. In a nutshell, Caroline took advantage of the buzz around Twitter to create link bait. Now Caroline is a programmer, so you might think that some of the link bait she created is out of reach for you. But honestly, outsourcing means that we are all programmers now. You still need ideas, but outsourcing program creation is just not that much more expensive than, say, outsourcing graphic design work or article writing. Anyway, the point is that Caroline took the worthless waste of time that is Twitter, and turned it into an opportunity. Behold the power of trend surfing.

But that's not all. Another part of being "the next level" is creating your own products. The MMO world abounds with private label reports (PLR) for you to rebrand and sell as your own, and certainly rebranded PLR sales are an area of enormous opportunity, but nothing builds a brand like your own product. Caroline has multiple products, each selling over the $100 mark and is, as is right and proper, exploiting them in multiple ways. First, Caroline has affiliate programs set up for her products, and for someone with her social networking skills, those programs are going to bring in more traffic and sales than almost any other means of advertising. Second, Caroline has one of her products split up into 49 sections that she will email you for free, at the rate of one per week, just for signing up to her mailing list.

"Isn't that counterproductive," you might ask, "taking a $100+ product and essentially giving it away to all comers?" Understanding that the answer is "no", for almost any niche, is another part of being the next level. By giving away quality information, Caroline builds trust with her readers. This trust is invaluable. The oft-quoted stat is that each opt-in list subscriber, with whom you have built a trust relationship, will result in an average revenue of $1 per month for as long as they are a subscriber. This might not sound like much, but since lists of 10, 25 and 50 thousand are not uncommon, your list can easily become your bread and butter. On top of that, people who can wait 49 weeks for the information in a particular product are not sales prospects in any case. Nothing is lost. Much is gained.

There's a lot more at Caroline's blog. If nothing else, you should check out her current series on article marketing. Article marketing is a traffic generation skill that is useful in any niche. And again, outsourcing costs are such that everyone can take advantage of it - even if you just hate writing articles.


  1. Wow. This is a great informative post, and as for the backlinks, it's something I think of daily. I need to step it up and get the type of top quality backlinks that Caroline has on her blog. Thanks for pointing out her blog. I will definitely study it.

    And yes, the next step.... I'm on it! Everyone in my niche dispenses the same info over and over again ad nauseum, and I've recently realized that just trying to be an original voice in the midst of that niche is not enough. I gotta bring out da big guns, and yes, I've got 'em! ;)

    Thanks for sharing your great info and studies as always!

  2. Thanks very much for the plug Zack! Just to clarify one point, even though I am a programmer I have not yet used any programming skills in my MMO ventures so any backlinks I have received are attainable by anybody else too!

  3. yeah i have been reading Caroline's blog and she is a great mentor! worth visiting and you will learn something from her especially beginners.

  4. Her accomplishments are so far my goals right now. Backlinks, affiliate marketing, all sorts of stuff are yet to be realized in my blog so all I can do is as you say, post contents that are of great value and can attract other bloggers to link to me.

  5. @FD - Anyone with your determined spirit is sure to be successful, but I am glad that my posts are helpful.

    @Ms. Middlebrook - You're ever so welcome *swoons*

    @Lilian - Yes, a genuine treasure. So many MMO blogs are hype and nonsense but, as you say, Caroline's posts are pure mentoring. Condensed years of experience helping us to avoid the ruinous shoals of the MMO sea.

    @Jared - It's great to have someone like Caroline who is setting the standard. Without that, it can be easy to rest on your laurels (however modest).

  6. As a newbie, I think I have a lot to learn and to do. How Caroline accomplishes her goals in natural ways, get trust from readers, and so on. Thanks for this valuable post.

  7. Article marketing has seen me in good stead for many years, a big thumbs up from me.

  8. That is why I love social media, right now I have 4 very reverent stories I could cover that people want to know about, stories that are popular yet mainstream media doesn't cover. This is why blogging is such a powerful tool.

    Thank you for posting this, the blogger's bible is really good. It will help me a ton, thank you again.

  9. That's a TON of backlinks! You've just given me a new goal! I am going to try and get as many backlinks as her. Hopefully it'll do me some good! Don't worry Caroline, I'm not in the MMO niche!

  10. @Melanie - Yes, I've been thinking of stepping it up myself lately. I've been watching for blogs that provide dofollow Top Dropper and Top Commenter lists - these basically give you a free sitewide link. That can be thousands of backlinks from one blog. It's actually harder than you think putting a list together, some sites that advertise themselves as dofollow most decidedly are not, and lots of sites use javascript to build their lists - I understand why, but they are completely useless from an SEO point of view. I'll put up a post with a decent starter list of sites in a couple of days. I still have some checking to do.

  11. Great post and great link. That's very useful information on a hot topic such as getting backlinks.


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