51 responses

  1. Stef

    The thing that popped most for me here Marcus is the fact that you’re bringing on a VA. So glad to hear it! I have a wonderful VA. Hired her before I felt “ready” and it was one of the best things I ever did. She’s awesome and is so great at taking stuff off my plate with NO drama!

    The other thing is listening to your list. So valuable. Gives me some great ideas going forward. Thank you!

    • Marcus Sheridan

      Hey Stef, I didn’t know you had a VA, cool! Yeah, it was a HUGE help to me and will continue to be going forward. Plus my VA is just dang awesome, reliable, honest, dependable….and kinda great at what she does. :-)

      Thanks for stopping by Stef!

  2. Adarsh Thampy

    “What is your biggest struggle with inbound and content marketing?” – You did “steal” it from Derek didn’t you? :)

    I also implemented the same method in my email list (I saw that you recently joined my list so you must have experienced it!)

    The problem with me is that I don’t give enough time to building an email list. My squeeze page has been ready including the copy, testimonial (one from you included), and the ebook itself with a custom ecover. However, I never got around implementing it (Will change it in a week though).

    Marcus, your post on community is an excellent one. I do believe that a community is built when you really connect with your target audience. Nice that you are getting what you set out to achieve.

    Well done Marcus.

    • Marcus Sheridan

      Actually, that was my line completely Adarsh, considering I wrote the book on it. :-)

      But yes, the “Halpern Header” is all Derek, and boy am I grateful for that!

      Thanks for dropping by brother, hope all is well on your end!


      • Adarsh Thampy

        Oh.. I thought Derek had that idea first. Glad to know that it was actually you who tried it out first. What matters is, the idea should be good. And it’s a damn good one I tell you.

  3. Craig McBreen

    Hi Marcus,

    Nice post and some great pointers, as usual. I’m also a big fan of Mr. Halpern and am working on just about everything you’ve mentioned here.

    Okay, the plan is to have it all done before BWNY. Think I can do it? Seriously, the focus for me right now is video, the list, and I’m now working on several pieces that I hope will actually help individuals and small businesses. Most will actually be completed in June.

    Remember back in December when you called me out of the blue? Well, I still have notes from that conversation and there is this list I have ;) Speaking is taking a bit longer than expected, but everything else is rolling along, so thanks for that December push.

    Enough about me already … I want to know what you really think about implementing the Feature Box? Just curious how it’s been received and how much it has helped with said list?

    I like what Adarsh wrote, especially the last part. You have obviously done a tremendous job connecting with your target audience. I’ve only been blogging for about seven months and in that period of time you have really taken off and that is so cool to see. Looking forward to seeing you in action in NY. You and John Falchetto are on the “must see” list.

    Now in that phase where I’m starting to make the connections Adarsh wrote about. The target audience. It’s more like a “trickle” right now, but that is a great feeling.

    Thanks, Sir.

    • Marcus Sheridan

      Kind words Craig. You rock brother.

      I’m going to write a post about what I call “The Halpern Header” (Derek didn’t brand that very well and I told him he should have called it that instead ;-) )

      To make a long story short, it’s HUGE. A MUST have. Wish I would have done it much, much sooner.

      Can’t wait to meet and chat in NYC!!


      • Craig McBreen

        Looking forward to that post for sure.

        “The Halpern Header” Good one! Maybe he can take that one and run with it! ;)

        Yes, I look forward to meeting you too!

  4. Tom Treanor


    This post really hit home for me today. I’ve been building my list and have started to really notice my hidden community. To tap this and to get more engagement, I do try to move some of them to my LinkedIn Group, Facebook Page or Facebook Group. I’ve kind of carved out my biggest fans into these groups by asking them to join me there too. We talk there and they’re also often the ones who email me after I send out an email. They give feedback, thank me or sometimes ask for help.

    I’m still working on my “formula” but I agree with you that the list and how you tap it is 1) fulfilling and 2) much more valuable from a business standpoint.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • Marcus Sheridan

      Tom, what I love so much about you is that you are really “working it” when it comes to the platforms. You’re not afraid to push, experiment, and learn. I mean this in all sincerity, but watching your growth and strategy has been quite a joy for me.

      Keep on keeping on my man,


      • Tom Treanor

        Thanks Marcus – I appreciate that!

  5. Rebecca Livermore

    Marcus, through this post you helped me to see an important aspect to having a list that I haven’t seen others write about, and that is that it gives people a private way to connect with you. I love the fact that you ask people questions and that they feel free to respond and how you are now using those questions and answers to benefit your podcast listeners.

    I do recall that my first communication with you was an email, and it was a little while after that before I started leaving comments. A lot has happened since then, for which I’m very grateful.

    • Marcus Sheridan

      Lots of dittos Rebecca. :)

  6. barbara

    Great post Marcus. As I moved my blog recently from blogger to wordpress I learned a lot about my community. My designer told me she had never seen a more loyal following in any blogs she’d worked on before (clearly she’s never seen yours!). I was very moved by that.

    As I began to go through my list to alert everyone about the move and how to stay connected I got positive feedback from some who never comment. I’ve been thinking about a monthly newsletter and you may have given me the nudge I needed to make that happen.

  7. Ryan Hanley


    There isn’t really too much more to say on this topic… I absolutely couldn’t agree with you more. The “Subscriber” relationship takes you to a whole new level. Especially was subscribers understand that they are getting a unique and special product for taking that extra step of engagement.

    I love my subscribers… I love them…


    Ryan H.

  8. Harriet

    When a I was younger I had a few blogs on the go and I gave up on them because I wasn’t getting any feedback. Obviously now I know that I need to network in order to gain readers so I’ll well equipped for when I start blogging again properly!

  9. Justin P Lambert

    This is a questions I’ve been struggling with as well. I’ve been blogging for a little over two years now and I am starting to pull together what I think is a “community”. But, like you said, I’m not quite where I want to be with the number and quality of comments on each post. I do have a list, but I have simply been lazy about accomplishing what I should with that group of special folks. I recently wrote a post about my re-commitment to them, however, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming newsletter.
    Thanks for your insights and your example!


  10. Cheryl Pickett

    Hey Marcus, we’re on a similar wavelength today. I just hit publish on my post and it’s about building community too. I think sometimes the problem is we, as the blog owner, don’t make it as easy as we could for people to engage on our blog. I kept seeing one “missing piece” pop up lately, so that’s what I covered (everyone’s gonna have to pop over to see what it is… :-) ) You’re in the clear though :-).

    I used to have a newsletter with a different blog but I stopped partly based on seeing other models, partly on my personal preferences changing. I’ve been thinking about starting one again though, and I like your rationale for the reasons why. Looks like my to do list just got a little longer.

  11. Radlyn mendoza

    Nice post Marcus from someone who came to your blog to find out more about inbound marketing for my law firm, which is a very different reason than most of your commenters (who seem to be marketing bloggers like you). I do appreciate the newsletter so thanks for all your hard work on it and answering questions. Best regards, Radlyn @ http://www.gardnerandmendoza.com

  12. data quality

    Thanks for this Marcus. My background is in marketing for a big multinational so I worry more about things like data quality than the community aspect. You have given me a few things to think about and I will defnitely be changing how I think.

  13. Andrea Hypno

    I thought the email was dead. :D

    No social media will ever beat the email whatever gurus will say, for the reasons you laid down. It’s direct and it’s personal. And I’m one of those who can say that if you say you answer to an email you do, every time.

    Btw every blogger is an entrpreneur so you’ve always talked with them. ;)

    Emails can be a burden especially when you’re receiving many but they reap much more than tweets. They require more time but they are worth it. I love receiving comments but when I get an email through my contact page it’s simply another thing, you took the time to write something more than 140 characters and that’s really appreciated, at least by me.

    I’ve been struggling with the idea to let the list grow on its own without giving something back, just those interested in my articles, but I’m beginning to think that I could change my mind. I do subscribe when the articles I read are interesting even for nothing but clearly not everyone is like me. Well, given that I don’t use Feedburner I could have thousands of RSS subscribers without knowing. It’s a bummer but I’m trying to leave everything G related.

    Great stuff as usual man! :)

  14. Mihai @ Freshome

    Hey Marcus. Wanted to ask you a quick question. Having a list of people subscribed to your site via Feedburner to get your daily updates is still considered a list ? Feedburner sends one email / day with the posts you published that day to all your subscribers.

    • Rebecca Livermore


      You need to have something more than a Feedburner list. If you use something like AWeber, then you can send additional emails of your choosing to those who have opted in to your list.

      As an example, on this site, those who fill out the form to receive Marcus’ eBook are opting in to his email list and he can then directly send email to those people. Make sense?


      • Mihai @ Freshome


        So what should I do with the ones that are in Feedburner right now and that are getting emails from us daily ? There are more than 20,000 people.

      • Rebecca Livermore


        As far as I know, you can’t do anything to merge the two — perhaps someone else here will be able to better answer that question for you.

        But here is a link to a blog post that explains the difference between Feedburner and AWeber and the advantages and disadvantages to both:


      • Justin P Lambert

        Probably the best bet in your circumstance is to create an e-mail newsletter that will provide additional, valuable content to your blog subscribers: something directly related to what you do on your blog, but above and beyond. Then, write several blog posts over the course of a few weeks describing all the incredible benefits of subscribing to your new newsletter. These posts will be automatically fed to your Feedburner list, and, if they know, like and trust you already (which they likely do) you should have a fully functioning e-mail list of at least a few thousand fairly quickly. Then, you can work on building that up going forward.

      • Mihai @ Freshome

        Thanks for the feedback Justin, but right now I’m not sure what I could offer in the new newsletter, because we’re already doing out best to show the people the best stuff on the site. :)

      • Justin P Lambert

        Yeah, that’s always a difficult hurdle. You definitely do want to offer top-notch content on your blog since it’s your mainstay. But if you ever want to cultivate your e-mail list so you have the chance to send them offers that don’t appear on the blog, they will need some sort of incentive to make that jump.
        Another option would be to compile a bunch of content you’ve already provided on the blog in a logical order and make it an e-book or a white paper. Then offer that for free in exchange for your blog readership’s e-mail addresses. This may be a touch less successful, but there is definitely something to be said for the convenience of compiled, curated information at your fingertips. It’s easier to use than individual blog posts. It might just be what they’ve been waiting for!

  15. Matthew Stock

    This is one area I’m struggling in. Getting a lot of traffic to my blog, but the “networking” opportunities are kinda slim in our industry. As you know, our niche business (basement waterproofing) is based on need. I’m not so sure how many continual followers I will ever obtain given it’s usually a one and done type service. I’d like to find a way to attract more links other than just blogging. I know…patience grasshopper! But after 3 months and 40+ blogs I’d like some more links for SEO. You hearin’ me Miyagi-san?

  16. Jack@TheJackB

    Very timely post for me. I just decided that it is time to build the list and have been trying to decide if I am going to use AWeber or MailChimp as my newsletter tool.

    • Jen Gresham

      Just my two cents, and I know a number of the big names use AWeber, but I personally think MailChimp is a much more user-friendly interface (not to mention cheaper). I’m one of the few who’s tried them both. Feel free to PM me if you’d like more info on what I see as the pros and cons of each.

  17. Pamela

    Decide whether your search will involve general or specialized information. Many databases are highly specialized.

  18. margie clayman (@margieclayman)

    This is a very important post, especially for folks who are new to the blogging circuit.

    For about the first 6 or 7 months, I’d say, of my blog, I literally could not BUY a comment. I tried everything. I tried asking questions. I tried asking people what they wanted me to write about. I tried to be funny, angry, trippy…lord only knows what I deleted instead of publish :) I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong.

    Then I moved to my self-hosted domain and suddenly people started commenting. I felt like I was writing the same way. One explanation could be that my Twitter community was growing, but even so, people in your Twitter world don’t always follow you to your blog. I wish I could pinpoint what changed.

    What’s interesting is that even though I have a community I adore on my own site now, when I post other places, I often start right back where I was on my own blog. I very seldom get a lot of comments on guest posts, and I can’t figure out why. It’s an interesting conundrum, but the best I can figure is that it’s not MY community there. I’m as new to them as I was to people when I first started.

    Sometimes things just take time to develop. And I think different things work for different people. I know that certain kinds of topics tend to garner a lot of comments, like “call-out” posts, but that’s not a great way to build community. That’s just a good way to get comments/flash mobs.

    I would just add that there’s a difference between comments and community. You got the reactions you did to your webinar offer because your community knows that you will offer good stuff. If a new blogger tries that, the response might not be as good, and that shouldn’t be discouraging.

    Great post as always, Sir Lion :)

  19. Pete Goumas

    Hi Marcus,
    I heard many times the importance of list building and When I first build list then I found significant change in audience response and it is the best thing to tap into our email community and grow our list. Many people like privacy and they don’t want to share their opinion in front of others without privacy so it’s best to communicate through emails.

  20. Shitij

    A highly enlightening post sir lion…Please continue to provide us with your valuable knowledge

    • Marcus Sheridan

      Glad you like it Shitij, hope you’ll keep coming back. :)

  21. Ruth Zive

    You’ve touched on an even bigger notion here Marcus – in my opinion, you’re really talking about sales.

    And to succeed in sales, you have to build and nurture relationships that are authentic and engaged.

    I came from the professional fundraising world. Fundraising is the nonprofit industry’s version of sales. And if your ‘prospect’ (or community) doesn’t feel engaged, invested, valued, respected – you will fail.

    The ‘build it and they will come’ model is a fallacy when it comes to business, and especially online business.

    So asking questions, posting meaningful (and free) content, reciprocating, responding to concerns and objections – all relationship-building tools. And Marcus, you’ve proven that those tools work.

    Can’t wait to hear about the VA. I just took an office (a big step). I’m hoping in 6 months I’ll need to take a VA.

    • Marcus Sheridan

      An office Ruth? Really? Go girl! I think that’s great and it sounds like you’re making more and more progress, even though times are a little tough.

      Keep rockin lady! :)


  22. Jen Gresham

    I’ve been a long time reader of your blog, always enjoyed, but also always had you on my RSS reader. That’s simply how I like to process the few blogs I read regularly, especially with an out of control email account already.

    That said, this post really hit home for me, and was enough to convince me to sign up for your email list. Besides, it seems high time we got to know each other better, since we seem to have so many of the same friends.

    Cheers and thanks for the great posts!

    • Marcus Sheridan

      Hey Jen! Thanks so much for the kind comment and I do hope you’ll enjoy the newsletter as it comes out. :)

      To getting to know each other…. :)


  23. Mark Evans

    Another good post. I just launched a weekly newsletter – “This Week in Canadian Startups” – as a way to offer something new and different. I’m also putting together a mini-ebook to build up my list, while providing more value to the community.


    • Marcus Sheridan

      Sweet Mark! I think that’s a great idea man and will certainly pay dividends!

      Let me know how it goes,


  24. Gail Rogers

    Great post. Never though that there’s such thing as hidden community in blogging. Thanks for pointing everything out. Kudos! :)

  25. Dickie

    From the moment I started reading this post, it was like you were speaking directly to me. I’ve been struggling with the exact same thing on my blog as you once did in terms of building a community and getting comments. I did recently discover Derek Halpern and some of his stuff is helping, but I haven’t tried his tip that you used in your first email asking what the person was struggling with most. How did that work for you in terms of generating responses?

  26. Danny

    Great article Marcus

    Marcus, from your experience, what are 5 key factors to making money from blogging?

    • Marcus Sheridan

      that’s a whole post Danny, so I don’t think I can answer it all now, but here are a few:

      1. Have guts
      2. Be relentless
      3. Understand content is your best sales tool
      4. Learn to think just like a consumer thinks
      5. Call it like you see it

  27. Jeff

    All the markets we enter we put in place a combination blog and email lead generation funnel. There is definitely an art to developing content for both.

    What we have found works well is to have a definite and immediate benefit for the email subscriber (7-part course, pdf giveaway with follow-up posts on the giveaway, a tip of the week, etc…) and then we also put together a blog digest each week that takes a couple of the highlighted posts and summarize them with a small forward (for those that don’t read every single blog post, it reminds them were are there :-)

    This back and forth marketing really is a situation where 1+1=3 – at least it has been for us.


  28. Wendy Bottrell

    As a fairly new blogger thank you!

  29. George Mackie

    Well it’s not common but it’s upto us to find it out..

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