Four Ways to Crush Your Email Challenge and Build the List

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 9.26.21 pm

This is a guest contribution from Luke Guy.

I support building your email list more than any other thing. It’s the building block to any platform-building. You should be collecting emails before you even build the blog or write the book. I Wish I did it this way to begin with.

Why?

Collecting emails has got to be the fastest, easiest, cheapest way to build a community. You can approach someone and more likely get their email than a “like” on Facebook. Email is about discovery. Facebook is about liking what we already like.

You know this though. You know that email is the way to build your online presence. You know the benefits and have heard it plenty of times. But like anything though, everything has it challenges.

Challenges With Email

1. Collecting the Emails

2. Providing Content For Those Emails

3. Keeping Your Email Open Rates High

4. Keeping Unsubscribe Rates Low

You’ve probably read the “8 Reasons Why Your Email Open Rate is Nosediving” that I wrote for Problogger a while back. These points listed within that post will give you insight on how to format those emails. It was mostly about format, and how Google sees your email campaign.

Either as spammy or as friend, you’re one or the other with Google.

Today isn’t about the technical side of things though, it’s about your performance in content. You can do all the things mentioned in the previous post, as formatting goes, and still miss potential readers and customers because the content was horrible.

How To Crush Email Challenges

Okay, so you have these challenges looking at you like a ban of ugly monsters and not sure how to tackle them. You’ve tried everything and no one wants to join your email list, your open rates are low, and the few that have joined are unsubscribing just weeks after joining.

I want to solve this for you. If you focus on this one thing, it will make your email list explode, Connecting with Quality Information.

Here’s four ways to Make This Happen:

1. Making your list a secret club

Let’s think about this for a second. What’s in it for them when they join your list? If you think they’re joining so you can punch them every week with a pitch, you’re wrong.

You’ve got to offer benefits. Make them feel part of a secret club. People love feeling like they’re “in”, you know? To feel connected with someone they look up to is one reason why they join.

Here are some other things you could be offering to your list:

  • Offer instant contact when they join your list
  • Give your list exclusive opportunities like when your product launches
  • Let your list be the “beta testers” with any new software, program, app. Get their feedback and make them feel like they created the product with you.
  • Skype with them individually. Pick out five a month and just email with them back and forth. Do it as a surprise though. This makes things exciting.
  • Offer free courses on the email list, get their feedback, improve the course based on that feedback, and then sell it on your site. They feel special because they got it free, and they just made it huge because of the amazing feedback. Then on top of that, you’re making money on a product that was formed by a community. Isn’t that cool?

2. Only send emails that are useful

Make sure every time you send out an email it gives them a feeling. A good feeling. A feeling of hope, inspiration, and success. An email, that when they’re done, makes them feel like they’ve walked away with something valuable. Don’t just send an email that reminds them you’re still alive. It should never be like that. Send an email that is worth a lot and makes that reader a raving fan. If that means one email instead of two a week, then let it be. How To Find CONTENT For You To Write About is a great post if you’re stuck on how to create more valuable content.

3. Offer something of value to push them over (like a contest).

You remember all those benefits I mentioned in the first section? List it on the signup page. Make it feel like a free membership with benefits, because if there is no benefits, you’re not getting many subscribers. Advertise the benefits on that page creatively.

But on top of that offer something that is enticing to new people who haven’t experienced those other things yet. Offer a product, service, ebook etc, that you know is something they would crave. Something that would make them sign up today! Make sure it’s relative to what you do. Offering an iPad is not a good idea by the way.

Then start a contest and offer this prize. Your list will grow quickly, but understand it takes a lot of energy and can’t be done too often. You’ll lose the buzz.

4. Don’t be like other bloggers. Be available

Make your email list about connectivity. Offer your list more availability than anywhere else. I don’t care if you have 100k readers on your list, answer every email in a timely manner. This is a major problem in the blogging world. You can email most bloggers, and you’re lucky to get a reply. The ones making the money though, many of those will.

Is there a connection? Yes.

I’m not saying all millionaire bloggers respond to email, because they don’t, but more of them will. It’s why they’re making money, they respond to every question or at least most.

Why? You never know where this conversation could be going.

Besides, you should want to reply. It’s exciting! To think, someone is reaching out to you and wanting to hear from you. It should thrill you. When you get to the point that you feel like your readers are a nuisance though… You won’t be in business for long. So make it #1 priority and answer every email.

Apply these and your list will grow within time. Hope you have walked away with some fresh ideas and spark some more creativity within your tribe.

Did I forget something? Comment below with your ideas on how to build your list and beat the email challenges.

Luke Guy blogs at Lukeguy.com. He researches email marketing and how to grow businesses doing it. He talks about other things but usually it involves emailing. If you need further help with your email challenges, you can join him here!

 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Four Ways to Crush Your Email Challenge and Build the List


@ProBlogger

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Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content – Interview with Ann Handley

Ann Handley

The bell has rung and class is in session.

The topic? Creating content. In particular, ridiculously good content.

Your professor for this essential business skill is none other than Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, the largest marketing community on the web. During the incredibly busy week that was Content Marketing World, Ann took the time to exceed my expectations (once again) and shine her bright light of wisdom on the power of good writing.

In business and in life, writing is an essential part of communications – no matter how digital, virtual and science fiction we get in our communications. That’s why Ann’s new book launching today, Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, is so timely.  From Twitter to White Papers to books in print, Ann has smart, actionable advice for us all.

Let’s get to it. Ann, are you ready to talk about creating ridiculously good content? Please pick 6 of the following questions to answer:

Sure…  grab some pops and nachos and hang over here for a few. You ask. I’ll answer.

Everybody Writes Book Cover

What do you love about writing?

I don’t particularly LOVE writing – it’s hard work, and I’m slow at it. ? But I love to read good writing. And I love to have written!

And more generally: I do love the way the process of writing forces a deeper clarity of thought and an empathy for the reader: What am I trying to say really? Am I making this crystal clear for the person I’m trying to reach?

So writing is thinking. And for us as marketers, good writing is good marketing, too: Because when we swap places with our readers during that editing, we are getting inside our customer’s heads to figure out what will matter to them. To create content with meaning for them.

Intellectually, it makes all the sense in the world to create meaningful content. At the same time, the ADD generation is decidedly short form when it comes to writing. A great example is that almost no one live-blogs at conferences anymore, they “live tweet.” How can we get millennials excited about writing again?

Well, isn’t tweeting writing? The words we use on Twitter matter as much as the words we use anywhere else.

Writing doesn’t have to be long to be meaningful. I’d argue that the words we use everywhere – on our websites, on our landing pages, on our LinkedIn profiles and so on – are just as important as the words we use in places we typically think of as “writing.”

Our words are our ambassadors – they tell the world who we are no matter where they appear. And that’s true whether they appear in a tweet, or in this answer right here, right now….

With 28 writing rules in Part 1 of Everybody Writes, it can seem overwhelming to a mediocre writer like myself. What are 3 of the most important writing rules you can recommend so that people like me can write better?

The last thing I wanted to do was produce a writing guide that was as impenetrable and heavy as a swimming pool full of wet cement. And truly, those “rules” are more like bumpers on a bowling lane than hard and fast rules – and in that spirit I encourage any Content McGyvers out there to break them as they wish!

But if I had to choose three: I’d suggest these:

  1. Shed high school rules. (There really is no one right way to write.)
  2. Follow a writing GPS. (Having a sense of what path you’re taking makes the journey less anxious.)
  3. Embrace the Ugly First Draft. Everyone writes badly on a first draft; the key is to be an excellent editor of your own work on subsequent drafts.

Awesomesauce is a Frankenword? Oh the irony! Where do such rules apply when it comes to humor and adding language to conversational content like blogs and social media?

I’m allergic to the word “awesomesauce” and other Frankenwords (like “amazeballs” and “clickability.”) But they bother me less than obese words (almost any word with –ation as a suffix) and jargony “fake words.”

Such words to my ear are the chemical additives of writing – you can use one or two of them sparingly but too many can make you content toxic.

Humor and conversational content is another matter entirely. Most of the content we produce should be conversational – using lots of “yous” and “us” and not so many “our customers” and “the organization.” Corporate-speak like that makes you sound off-putting and impersonal in this post Cluetrain Manifesto-era.

What are some of the most common grammar and usage rules you see being broken with business content?

Part of me doesn’t want to answer this, on the grounds that too many people equate writing with grammar, when it’s so much more than that.

Writing is more about thinking and creating great content experiences for your reader, customer or user. That’s why the “grammar” stuff in the book is second – because in my mind while grammar is important, it’s secondary to the idea, the message and the writing itself.

But since you asked so nicely… and because I like you: I’d say the most common errors I’ve noticed in 25 (!) years of editing business people and marketers are these:

1. Wordiness. Both in specific words (why use “at which time” when you might say “when”?) as well as indulgent, bloated blog posts and other longer-form content. Writing with stylish economy is a gift you can give your readers.

2. Using this/that and these/those when the antecedent isn’t clear. I see this ALL THE TIME. Especially at the beginning of the sentence. This drives me nuts. (What drives me nuts? The sentence? The usage? The question? See what I mean?)

Please name 3 ways a company can get to know their audience better to inform content topics?

Is this the sixth question? I’ve lost count. And you said to answer only six. Anyway, I like that you say “please.” It a small gesture, but it’s nice.

So, as for the answer: certainly getting out and talking to people is key. A lot of marketers I know rarely talk to customers – very often, only customer service or sales does. So, ask customers what they think. Watch how they behave. Look for patterns. I do this via social platforms, too: Twitter is a great listening tool, but many companies use it to listen only for sales opportunities or (worse) they use it to broadcast only.

Pay attention to context as well. Avoid grouping customers in an artificial setting like a focus group. Instead, meet them in their natural habitat so you can get a better sense of how they interact with your content and your site and whatever it is that you do or sell.

And finally: Be a natural skeptic of your own work. Ask So what? about every piece of content you create – and then answer it with a Because. Ask/answer until you uncover the true value for a customer. Why does this matter to them? Why should they care? I wrote a bit more about that here. http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2014/25986/writing-gps-for-ridiculously-good-content

What’s the balance between content that empathizes with the customer and content that communicates information to help prospects to buy? We should be able to do both, right?

Those two things are the same thing, to me. The best content answers the questions that customers have – or might have if they knew enough to ask.

So content that helps people make important decisions about their lives is a kind of gift you can give your customers or prospects. The key is to take your product or service out of the starring role – and let it play the supporting role of helping the customer.

The best content marketing isn’t about what you do or what you sell – it’s about how what that thing does for others. That’s a subtle shift, but an important one, and a hard one for companies to truly embrace. (And I say that with love in my heart and with no judgment. I get it.)

What is brand journalism and when does it make sense for a business to include that approach with their content marketing and communications?

Some companies are looking toward traditional journalism to fill the gaping content maw; they are hiring those trained in J-school tactics, such as reporting and storytelling, as in-house brand journalists. A brand journalist or corporate reporter works inside the company, writing and producing videos, blog posts, photos, webinars, charts, graphs, e-books, podcasts, and other information that delivers value to your market.

In short, brand journalists bring a reporter’s sensibility to your content—an editorial approach to building a brand.

That approach is especially useful when we all need to place the needs of our audience first and rise above our corporate-centric messaging. Journalists’ innate understanding of audience means that every time they sit down at their desks to create content, a little voice in the back of their head reminds them: Nobody has to read this. That kind of pressure on your content-creation efforts can only benefit your brand and enhance your integrity.

With so many different platforms, people and situations, is there really such a thing as universal rules guiding the ideal length for blog posts and social media updates?

Ah, you’re referring to Part V: Things Marketers Write. It is one of the more prescriptive parts of the book, so here’s what I’d say:

There is no way one to write, just as there is no one way to parent a child or roast a turkey. (And that’s true of writing social media updates, too.) But there are terrible ways of doing all three things.

So in Part V I’m offering a starting point for companies who aren’t sure where to begin writing a Facebook page update or LinkedIn profile or blog post or landing page or how to use hashtags… or the like.

As I said, Content McGyvers can feel free to toss this section entirely – it’s a section I considered NOT including in the book, because the general approach in the previous four sections confers enough guidance, I thought. But ironically Part V is the section many marketers seem to dig, based on early feedback.

So what do I know? Is there more salsa?

How do you suggest marketers organize writing differently for each social channel? Is it a single idea written different ways or different ideas per channel?

I think it’s more important for marketers to adopt a point-of-view; a clear voice. And then, adapt it to the audiences on those channels.

What are 3 of your favorite content tools? What do you use daily?

I use Word and WordPress daily. But calling them content “tools” is a little like calling underwear part of your OOTD. Technically, yes. But no one really calls out the basics.

I also regularly use Instagram (my own, as a source of content images) and Scrivener, for longer content projects like books and ebooks. That’s four. Oops. I’m terrible at math. Clearly.

What content tool do you wish existed now (but doesn’t)? What would it do?

Hmm. Good question. I already invented blogging.

And I wish I invented Instagram. But alas.

Ann Handley

Any future predictions on the state of “content marketing” in the next 5 years? Hot or not?

HOT. Or actually…. Let’s not say HOT. Because that implies a fad, a trend, a passing fancy.

Let’s just say that great content is great marketing. And that will be more true in the next five years than it is now. Which is to say – VERY!

I just realized I answered all of these, didn’t I? See “bad at math” comment, again.

Thanks Ann!

You can get more information on Ann’s soon to be best-seller Everybody Writes on the book website or just go to Amazon or BN and buy it. I did.


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The 5 Step Voyage of Creating Awesome Content

Image via Flickr user na.harii.

Image via Flickr user na.harii.

This is a guest contribution from James Scherer.

Do you struggle for content inspiration? Do you feel like every article you write is exactly like another you’ve already written or read?

You’re falling victim to content stagnation, and it’s something we all deal with.

Perhaps you need a refresher, a reminder, or just someone to give you a few new ideas - a nudge along the way.

This article will give a full look at how to encourage and capture readership, optimize for action and engagement, and get the most out of your content – the full gamut of content marketing best practice.

I’ll refocus you on the five steps that you need to take to create interesting content that get shares, comments, engagement and loyal readers as well as content that generates leads.

Let’s make sure you’re doing this content creation thing right.

 

Step #1 to Creating Awesome Content: Grab their Attention

I wish I could tell you that the title of your content doesn’t matter anymore, that your content’s readers, visitors, viewers and listeners have grown more discerning in the past couple years and now it’s all about the quality of your content: the expertise, experience and analysis you throw painstakingly into each and every article, podcast, video and presentation.

Unfortunately, I can’t do that for you.

Your content’s title is hugely important to its success – not just because of search optimization but for clickability, shareability and engage-ability.

Without a title that snaps, grabs the eye, intrigues, frustrates, scares or humors, your content will fall flat on its face, no matter that it’s the second coming of Gangnam Style.

Content Title Formulas that Work:

  • New! Never-before-seen Insights into [your Job/Sector/Relevant Subject]
  • Exclusive Strategies from [Sector Expert/Authority/Boss]
  • 23 Things you Need to Know in Order to [Succeed in Some Way]
  • 10 Tricks to [Achieve a Goal]
  • How [Your Field/Relevant Subject] is Like…
  • How I [Did Something Unbelievable/Surprising/Awesome/Terrible]
  • 16 [Amazing/Awesome/Sexy] Things you Need to Hear About
  • Are you Making this Huge Error that’s [Leading to a Bad Result]?
  • How do you do [Activity]?
  • 52 Ways to [Improve in Your Job/Your Sector/Relevant Subject]

Step #2 to Creating Awesome Content: Optimize for More than SEO

It’s taken me a bit too long to accept this fact, but fact it is nonetheless: SEO is antiquated and incomplete, a universal term of use we should steer away from.

Let me back that up, because I hear some of our SEO readers sharpening their pitchforks and lighting their torches.

Optimizing your content for search is still hugely important, but we should stop using it as an umbrella phrase when what we actually mean is optimizing for readership, engagement and conversion.

Optimizing your Content for Readership:

This is the general SEO stuff: the strategies we implement to get our content to the top of the front page of Google.

  • Use H1s (title) and H2s (sub-headers) and where applicable. Ensure these include keywords.
  • Put alt text on your content’s images and videos relevant to the content’s subject.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing (keep it to about 1 in 25, depending on sector).
  • Place meta tags within your content.
  • Consider long-tail search keywords and niche topics (rather than competing with the corporations).
  • Link intelligently by including keywords in your links. Never use “Click <here> for more information”. Instead use, “Learn more about SEO in my article <How to Easily Optimize your Blog for Search>” (see how I did that?).

Optimizing your Content for Engagement:

Content engagement, also known as social shares and comments, is not only important because of the Hummingbird Algorithm (Google’s update to SEO a year ago that placed more importance on social endorsements) but because the more your content is shared, the more readers you have. Duh!

  • Have a title optimized for SEO and another title optimized for social platforms (shorter, more Buzzfeed-like). Include one in your URL and a different one in your social toolbars.
  • Ensure your content’s header is social-friendly so it shows up whole on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Include “Tweetable” statistics or takeaways (with a link) throughout your content to encourage a specific social share.
  • Ask for questions, comments or examples from your readers at the end of articles.
  • Be an active commenter on other people’s sites (as well as your own).

Optimizing your Content for Conversion:

We’re blogging for business here, not musing about the trials and tribulations of maternity (unless you are… In which case you still need to be optimizing your content for conversion!)

Think about it, is there any real point in your article being at the top of Google’s search results or having a million readers a week if nobody’s acting on your CTA buttons, downloading your ebooks, registering for a free trial or subscribing to your email list?

No. No there’s not.

Here are a few ways you can optimize your content for a real-world conversion (something that helps your business in a concrete, measurable way):

  • Include links to your email-gated content on the sidebar and bottom of your blog articles, podcasts, webinars and Slideshares.
  • Implement click pop-ups and email subscription toolbars so readers or viewers don’t have to be sent to a separate landing page and tab to convert.
  • Don’t link to competitors.
  • Link to related articles and resources on your site (increasing the value of engagement) and external content where you’re business is mentioned (increasing the level of trust and authority).
  • Test CTA button copy to determine what “Ask” resonates most with your readers.
  • Implement exit pop-ups promoting email-gated content relevant to your content’s subject matter. For instance, implement an exit pop-up with “want to learn everything there is to know about landing pages?” and show it to unique visitors (once!) as they go to leave the page.

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Step #3 to Creating Awesome Content: Format Your Article Intelligently

The longer you can keep a reader looking at your page, the less likely they are to leave it, the more likely they are to share it, and the more likely they are to convert on one of your “Asks” spread across your optimized blog.

Your title, hook and introduction get them to stay for the first 10 seconds (the most crucial section of your article as, if they stay for more than 10 seconds, the chance of them leaving drops like a rock):

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Beyond those first ten seconds, your articles (or podcasts or webinars) needs to be structured to encourage readers to stick with it and stay engaged.

Here are a few best practices that will help you do that:

  • Segment your articles with bold, clearly visible subheaders that grab the eye of your reader.
  • Include an image once every segment (if possible) to keep the reader visually stimulated.
  • Use bullet-points or numbered lists in your sections to communicate your message or advice clearly and quickly. This also increases the chance that someone skim reading will pause for a moment.
  • In both podcasts and webinars, give a short breakdown of the points you’re going to cover at the beginning
  • Where possible, include exclusive tips and tricks (in all types of content) that you tease your audience with at the beginning and only include at the end. In webinars and podcasts, test hiding your big secret without telling people when exactly it’s going to be.

 

Step #4 to Creating Awesome Content: Incorporate Awesome Images

Articles with images are shared twice as much as those without.

But I’d like to emphasize that it’s not just any image that encourages a share or keeps a reader scrolling. You have to be using awesome images.

Put time into original image content (even if you’re just drawing over and citing someone else’s pie chart). Put time into getting to know PhotoShop, GIMP, even Google Drawings or Presentations.

For instance, I made this with the Google Presentation tool in about 6 minutes:

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 10.43.35 am

I know. It’s awesome.

Images not only encourage social sharing, communicate data and statistics quickly and grab the eye of the reader, they also humanize your business and make your articles more visually appealing and scrollable.

When used badly, however, they can cause your readers to go elsewhere, your articles to flop socially, and your authority to decrease significantly.

Stock images, for instance, are increasingly recognizable for what they are. As a result, they’re increasingly becoming one of the chief causes of a page bounce:

I mean, c’mon:

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 10.44.26 am
Put that little bit more time into your content. Find the Google Images “Labeled for Reuse” or subscribe to one of the million photo sites and use the least “stocky” images you can find.

And don’t force an image. They should always serve a purpose (as “teamwork” rarely, if ever, would above). Instead, communicate the stuff that adds to the value of your article (statistics, case studies, industry report findings, etc) in a visually appealing way.

 

Step #5 to Creating Awesome Content: Be Unique

Content audiences (the people that listen, read and watch your content) are fickle creatures. They’re skim-readers, hyped up on coffee with not enough time on their hands and an urgent desire to, essentially, channel-surf content.

Channel surfing is actually a pretty solid analogy now that I think about it.

Your content audience is like a TV watcher before we had Netflix: sitting slouched on their couch hitting the “up” button on their remote control, searching for something they haven’t seen before. More often than not they’re disappointed (as your “10 Marketing Best Practices You Haven’t Seen Before” article is a blatant lie).

But sometimes they land on your article, give it the standard three seconds, and decide they’ll put the remote control down on the couch, cross their arms, and watch.

But how do you ensure your content engages your reader more than the other 100,000 shows on TV right now?

Tell a Story:

People like content relevant to them. Even more than that they like content relevant to them written by an author recognizable to them with a story they can relate to. The more like your reader you can be, the better your content will be.

That’s not to say you don’t have to tie your story into genuine, professional analysis of changes or best practices in your sector – but make it interesting and make it recognizable.

Be Honest:

Transparency in marketing is becoming best practice (just look at Buffer if you want to know what I’m talking about). It’s about being an open, honest, modern company – a company that plays foil to the murky, underground goings-on of multinational corporate giants or the federal government.

Consider articles entitled something like:

  • “5 Lead Generations That are Working for Us Right Now”
  • “The 10 A/B Testing Mistakes I Tried that Failed Miserably, and Why”
  • “10 TImes I was the Mayor of Fashion Faux Pas City”
  • “5 Divorce Mistakes I Wish I’d Known About”
  • “A Step-By-Step Guide to Our Sales Funnel”

Be Yourself:

What is it about you as a content creator that sets you above your competitors. Is it your ability to pump out content, your silky-smooth podcast voice, or your never-ending anecdotes that entertain and educate?

Increasingly your content audience is looking for something to differentiate you (and your content) from that of your competitors. It’s like when applying for university or a job: readers are receiving thousands of applications every day and they’re struggling to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Here’s what I recommend: make your application bright pink, printed on poster paper, covered in golden glitter, or make it a pop-up book. Do something that sets you apart.

A few recommendations to set your content apart:

  • Become a visuals guru, incorporating awesome graphics into every one of your articles, videos, webinars and ebooks. It might take you longer, but it’s worth testing the ROI.
  • Create a content persona, mascot or alter ego – something to make your content entertaining.
  • Find the niche in your niche, and own it. Be the go-to expert on a specific part of your sector.

Or, honestly, just get creative every once in a while (I’m not talking about every single article) but test adding personality to your content periodically to see what kind of return you get.

Conclusion

Hopefully that’s given you a refresher course (or even an educational one) on how to optimize your content for readership, engagement and loyalty.

Content marketing is officially (there’s no arguing anymore) the best way to increase your business’ online profile, generate leads and ensure brand authority. It can be a challenge though, don’t get me wrong.

My main recommendation for creating content that snaps, crackles and pops is to put time into how you start your article. Focus on finding the right topic, the right title, the right structure and the right way to make it different. Then start writing.

 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

The 5 Step Voyage of Creating Awesome Content


@ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Blogging for Business – Why it Works

This is a guest contribution from Maria Mincey.

Based on study by HubSpot, the companies that run a business blog have 97% more inbound links. Now, that’s a statistic that should set rolling the blogging mills of enterprises – be them startups or multinationals. 

Official blogs have had proven benefits for businesses. The very fact that they jazz up the monotonous tone with which a brand is communicating to its audience, and replace it with a line of communication that is much core connective and personal, is what makes business blogs a priceless asset. 

There are several ways blogs benefit businesses, two of which are more than obvious:

It Maximizes Reach

A blog helps companies reach a much broader customer base than their website would. Let’s be honest, how many people bother going to the website of a particular brand or a product they have been using? The websites of companies have to be restricted to providing business-centric information and advertise the offerings of the company. Every bit of information provided on the blog is static, and that is the singularly most relevant reason for your visitors to be totally disinterested in the website, even if they liked to navigate through it on their first visit. Having a blog makes your site dynamic as you keep giving newer insights to the readers and tell a story about your brand.

It Boosts Incoming Traffic by Not just By Intriguing Readers, But also by Enhancing the SEO Aspects

Naturally, when the blog section of your site is offering your readers something new to read, you are bound to get more number of repeat-visits; not to mention the greater number of unique visits as the blog gets shared and liked across the web. But another contributor to this increasing traffic is the optimization of the SEO capability of the website. When you are making quality writers write content for the blog, they know how to write interesting articles while injecting the relevant keywords that is identifiable for your target audience and also let the search engines crawl your website with a greater degree of eagerness and direct a higher volume to the site. You can add only so much of keywords to your product website. 

Which Blogging Platform to Use?

There isn’t a dearth of highly popular and effort-worthy blogging platforms out there. However, if you wish the blog to click into the top gear right away, there is no need to look beyond WordPress. Acc. to more stats:

WordPress is the most sought-after CMS as more than 19% of the self-hosted websites are running on it. 

More than 17% of Alexa’s top million websites use WordPress.

Now Before You Start, Why do you want to Blog in the First Place?

There are also brands who fail to get the desired results they’d expected their blog to pour in for them. Reason: their blogging strategy was too haphazard and there was hardly a plan into the place regarding who are they targeting and how many numbers they hope to achieve. Apparently, the blogs were headed for doom from the very first day due to the lack of insightful approach.

Here are the questions you, as a company blogger or entrepreneur, need to as yourself:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What percentage of that blog audience is prospective buyers?
  • What do they really want to read (what should be the mix of company related info, the industry related info and the interesting bits that only remotely connect to your brand)?
  • What should be the frequency of your posts?
  • How good is your networking?

Unless you have a clear-eyed answer to each of these questions, it is advisable to wait

Know What You Have to Write

It is understandable if you find yourself scrambling for topics to write on or deciding on how to structure your posts. But there are several things to be tried out:

  • Create the “best of ….” style posts. Such posts do command attention and get a lot of clicks. If written in a qualitative manner, they also get shared over the social media.
  • Post reviews, but not just of your products. Let’s say you are running a blog for a job portal. You can post a review of some movie that has released recently that is themed around careers and accounts for some relevance to what you represent.
  • Interview the influencers in your industry. People love to read interviews, and they are going to do their bit to boost the traffic.
  • Crowd source your content. When you ask your readers to be your contributors, and if and when they contribute, they are going to boost the site visits by sharing their own content among their circle.

Have some really interesting titles and subtitles for the articles in order for them to take hold of the readers. There is a large section of Internet users who like to just scan the content by reading only titles and subtitles – and more often than not, they only segue onto the subsequent content if they find the subtitle intriguing enough.

Again, on the Internet, shorter paragraphs would mean more attention span.

Do make sure that you break your post into bullet points in order to make it more readable.

Get some Professional SEO Help

If you haven’t realized it yet, it’s seemingly impossible to attain high volume of traffic without resorting to SEO. The SEO professionals know how to make your website more visible across the web, how to create relevant backlinks and at which places. Getting a good page rank for your site is extremely important, and that’s one area SEO professionals are able to address successfully. 

Getting an appreciable number of organic visits a day is what dictates the success of your blog at the end of the day. When visits from Google start pouring in, you can be rest assured that your blog is one the right track to empowered traffic. 

Some of the keyword tools that can be used include:

Keyword Planner

Word Tracker

The keyword tools can help you know what are the keywords that get most searched by the audience of your industry. The meta tags and meta descriptions are arguable very important for any website to place its targeted keywords in a manner most reachable for the search engine crawlers. The meta descriptions can be up to 140 characters – so you have a fairly good scope of including the keywords into them. But what works bets is when you place the keywords at the very beginning of the description.

The Images of the Post

The images in your post not only make them more readable by telling a story and moving it forward, but images make a great SEO tool as well. Do not let your image files’ name sbe gibberish. When you name them appropriately, there is a greater chance of them cropping up in the Google image search results. Also, do fill out all the fields. There is a field, “Alternate text”. It will serve you well if you don’t leave it blank and write something in four to five words that describes the content.

Make Sure the Keyword Density is Just Right

When you are sure of the keywords you are including are relevant and will do their bit in bringing in the traffic, the next thing you need to be sure of how densely you spread them across the content. Experts say it should not exceed more than 2%, since Google might penalize you for forcing the keywords into the content. And when you are including keywords in any post, make it certain that those are visible within the first two lines of the post.

Banality may more often than not find a room in business blogs since they are presenting information about an industry that already has voluminous literature dedicated to it. But giving your writeups a spin that is unique – both in terms of technical bits and the language – is what helps you stand out from the herd. 

Maria Mincey is a blogger who loves to share everything about web development and new web design technologies initiatives. She currently works as a chief writer for WordPrax , a PSD to WordPress Conversion company and has a quantum experience to share. Follow her on Twitter: @mariamincey64

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

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How to Create Massive Value Content & Blow Your Readers’ Minds

HOW TO CREATE MASSIVE VALUE CONTENT

This is a guest contribution from Pooja Lohana.

Let’s face it. Your readers are selfish.

The moment they land on your blog, they look for “what’s in it for me?”.

And that’s not such a bad thing after all.

Knowledge is power. Once you know what they are looking for, you can serve it to them.

At the time of writing this, there are 152,000,000 blogs on the Net. That means every half a second, a new blog is created somewhere in the world.

It’s getting harder and harder to be found in the blogosphere and this is not changing in the future.

If you’re passionate about your topic, perhaps you won’t mind blogging without traffic. But eventually, you will end it all in frustration.

You want people to share your message and to have great conversations with.

You want to stand for something.

The only way out is to stand out by writing unforgettable content or as I like to call Massive Value Content.

What is Massive Value Content?

Jon Morrow calls it an “epic” post and prefers writing one epic post week rather than writing one mediocre post every day.

It solves you readers’ specific, burning problem.

You become a mind-reader. They relate with your post, thank you and leave tons of comments.

Here are some examples:

  1. 39 Great Ideas to Beat the Dreaded Writer’s Block
  2. 102 Quick Recipes to Prepare Your Meals Under $ 10
  3. The Ultimate Guide to Building a Business from $ 500
  4. The Reason Blogging is Dead & What to Do Instead

Get the gist? Good.

When done right, it has good chances of going viral and bring you new eye balls.

Your blog gets back-linked, a lot. Influencers in your niche love to talk about you. Other bloggers invite you over for guest posts and webinars.

Perfect, isn’t it?

There is only one question: How.

I am not going to leave you high and dry or ask you to “go create epic sh*t”. I’m actually going to tell you how to do it and get noticed big time.

The Ultimate Cheatsheet to Create Massive Value Content on Your Blog

STEP 1. Keep Calm & Create a Plan

Ever get a killer idea for a post in the shower? It hits you like a brick, and you cannot wait to run to your desk to complete your post.

You sit down, compose a cool post, add a stellar image and boom – you hit Publish.

And you wait for the comments to pour in. For a long time.

Slowly you realize that your “killer” post is actually a dud.

I’ve had that experience in the past. It still happens when I don’t pay attention to what I’m creating.

In fact, I’ve set a timer for 60 minutes in the past to write, format, and publish a post with a featured image.

The result? Only a handful of readers.

What’s missing is a concrete plan to stick to. I love how Jon stresses the importance of having a calendar. That was, all you have to do is “blindly” follow it!

Your editorial calendar is one of the simplest and most effective productivity tools out there. It’s a roadmap.

Here’s an example of a calendar for your blog:

DATE TYPE TITLE STATUS
June 02 Massive Value Content (MVC) Tentative title Published/Pending/WIP
June 09 Regular posts/Podcasts/Interview/Opinion/Video posts Tentative title Published/Pending/WIP
June 16 MVC Tentative title Published/Pending/WIP
June 23 Regular posts/Podcasts/Interview/Opinion/Video posts Tentative title Published/Pending/WIP
June 30 MVC Tentative title Published/Pending/WIP

Give yourself at least 7-8 hours to churn out each MVC post because you will need time for research and writing.

Then there’s external linking, sourcing images, social media so that that into account.

You can alternate MVCs with “regular posts” that can be shorter, quicker and easier to create. The frequency of both these posts and how you schedule them is totally up to you, but as a thumb rule, for every 3 regular posts, write at least one MVC post.

Now I know what you’re thinking – that looks like a lot of work in a month.

And I’m not going to lie to you. It is a lot of work.

If you rush a blog post, you will see mediocre results. The best advice if you’re serious about it is to be patient and focused.

STEP 2. Pick Your Type

1. Long Lists Post

People are lazy. Top it with the millions of results available at our finger tips from Google and you ought to love a shortcut.

A lists post gives your readers just that. It makes a specific promise and delivers.

How can you ever get a list post title wrong? Only when your content is not high-value.

If you are giving great value upfront, this type of post can never go wrong.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the right hand sidebar of BBT. You’ll find it is full of list posts.

Why? Because list posts build authority. They are easy to relate with and promise juicy benefits to your readers upfront.

Here are a few tips to make your list posts even more effective:

  • Steer clear of fluff. Deliver value straight to the point. You can do this by staying focused on creating a list of steps that are fresh, effective and in-depth.
    Tell them how. For example, in this post I’m not just saying “write massive value content” but I’m also sharing how.
  • Add references. Just because you’re creating a long list post doesn’t mean you have to cover everything. Link to external sources where necessary.
  • Write more than 7 items for more eye-balls. One internal test done by HubSpot proved that list posts with less than 6 items weren’t as popular as their longer counterparts.
  • Know when it’s not a list post. Don’t try to convert every single piece of content into a list-based post. Some are better off a tutorials or “ultimate guides”. A good example is when the list is less than 6 items.
  • Use odd numbers when possible. According to a study conducted on students, odd numbered grouping worked better than even-numbered one.
    I wouldn’t take this too seriously though and I encourage you to come up with your own findings.
    And if you have 12 unique bullet points to share after multiple re-reads, by all means go ahead and share them!
  • Use fine adjectives. Strategic adjectives work like a charm.
    Think “29 Killer Exercise Rituals”, “53 Magnetic Headlines” or “10 Easy Recipes Under $ 10”.

2. Case Studies

If you have clients, you can use case studies and use it for dual purposes.

One, you’re creating MVC because case studies are much in-depth piece of information.

Two, you’re promoting your clients along the way.

KISSmetrics blog does this very well. They are known for rich case studies that solve a problem or deliver value.

Here’s one that explores industry-wide gender bias by WordStream.

A case study focuses on a specific example (WordStream in the above example) or a company as opposed to a white paper, which is more generic.

Using a case study boosts your credibility manifold. It shows your readers what’s possible and all they have to do is follow the exact steps you’ve listed.

Again, the magic of telling them how to do something, instead of telling them the what, is at work.

3. Tutorials & Guides

Ever seen an “Ultimate Guide”?

Perhaps the most common ones have to do with social media or marketing.

“The Ultimate Guide to Using Pinterest” or “The Ultimate Guide to Successful Email Marketing”.

A quick search for “ultimate guide” on Google returns 439 Million results on my end. Refine the search for your industry or niche to get more specific.

For example, “ultimate guide blogging” returns more than 2 Million results.

This type of MVC is a full-blown tutorial on the topic, complete with screenshots, infographics, real life examples, steps, external reference links and calls-to-action. Anything that adds value goes.

In short, as a classic MVC, your ultimate guide will detail step-by-step instructions on how to do something.

Here’s another tip: Since these posts tend to be long, sprinkle visual elements in the form of infographics, video and memes to keep your readers engaged.

83% of learning happens visually. Contrast this with people remembering only 20% of what they read every time so a visual guide along with supporting text works great.

You can always create infographics and other visually engaging content to support your articles with online apps such as Visme.

No matter what niche you’re in, you can still make use of an ultimate guide and do a few things with it.

  • Give it away to your subscribers as a PDF in exchange for their email address. (Also known as lead magnet.)
  • Split it into a series of articles and send it to your mailing list in the form of an e-course.
  • Publish it on Kindle platform (You can list it as free or paid).
  • Record it in your own voice and sell it as an audio.
  • Create a course on Udemy and give it away.
  • Hold a webinar on the same content and give the guide away to listeners after the webinar.

4. Collaborated Posts

Want to tap into other people’s audience for free?

You can. Except for the “free” part.

You see, there is no free lunch, so you have to put in some planning and effort in the mix before you can leverage an influencer’s reach.

  1. The first step is to create a list of influencers in your niche.
  2. Then split the list into tiers 1, 2 and 3 according to their popularity. The bloggers with a slightly larger email list or reach that yours will go under “1”; a more popular one will occupy “2” and so on.
  3. Start with the low-lying fruit, tier 1. (Although not absolutely necessary, you start here because that way you will be more confident when approaching more authoritative blogs.)
  4. Build a relationship with these people.
  5. When the time’s right, pick their brains on one specific question relevant to your blog post and bring all answers together for your next MVC.
  6. When the post’s live, send the contributors a link and thank them. Let them know you’d appreciate if they can tweet or post about it.
  7. Once you’ve worked with tier 1, it’s time to reach out to tier 2.

5. Curated Posts

Do you know why authorities like Oprah are famous? Because they know well to curate.

Curators are people who bring the best stuff at one place – in your case, that “place” is your blog.

Think about it – if your readers can get the best of all worlds, all well-organized, structured and ready to be served, wouldn’t the love you for it?

Curated posts, such as round-ups from the Net or resource pages listing out the best content others have spent hours creating, scream “authority”.

Here’s one: 63 Blogging Tools that Will Make You Insanely Productive.

Do you see how it’s got 171 comments? Also, it’s one of the most popular blog posts BBT’s hosted as you can see in the right-hand sidebar.

It’s actually a resource post listing everything you need for your blog to be up and running (and making money too).

6. “Start Here” Page

Although this is technically a page, you can still count it as MVC because of its nature.

Think of it as a mini-about me page. Your visitors may be finding you from literally anywhere — Facebook, Twitter or another website.

When they land on your page, they need to be held by the hand and shown around.

The Start Here page will do just that and your visitors will thank you for it.

Most of all, this page gives you a chance to gain familiarity and likeability from visitors.

The purpose of a Start Here page is twofold:

  1. Tell them why your blog exists (the benefit)
  2. Spoon-feed them your best content.

So it’s a good idea to organize everything into categories and make it easy to check things out.

And while they’re here, why not ask their email in exchange for a juicy lead magnet (a free report, an audio clip etc)?

In a pistachio shell, here are some things to consider putting on your Start Here page:

  • Why your blog exists
  • What’s in it for them
  • How can they access your content nicely tucked in one place
  • A welcome message with your photo
  • A video of you (optional)
  • Your vision, mission and values (don’t make it boring)
  • What you promise to offer
  • A reminder to join your mailing list

STEP 3. Do It Already!

It’s time to start creating Massive Value Content and claim your authority as a blogger.

Whatever your goal from blogging, the above steps will get you noticed, talked about and attract tons of eye-balls if you combine it with strategies like guest-posting and social media.

Every serious blogger wants to know when they will hit “the jackpot”.

The first 1,000 subscribers.

The first time when they hit 5,000 visitors a day.

The first mention by NYT.

The first $ 10,000 month from blogging.

What they should be asking instead is how to become a better writer and generate unforgettable content.

In the words of Brian Clark, here’s how:

  1. Write.
  2. Write more.
  3. Write even more.
  4. Write even more than that.
  5. Write when you don’t want to.
  6. Write when you do.
  7. Write when you have something to say.
  8. Write when you don’t.
  9. Write every day.
  10. Keep writing.

What exactly are you waiting for? Go create that piece of awesome content and make someone’s day!

Pooja Lohana is a freelance writer, ghost writer and online marketing mentor featured on Problogger, Firepole, JeffBullas, MarketingProfs, Hongkiat and more. If you’re an aspiring writer and want to become self-employed, create wealth and live a better life by launching your online writing biz, steal her free mini-course to make your first $ 1000 (and more) writing at home.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

How to Create Massive Value Content & Blow Your Readers’ Minds


@ProBlogger

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Stop Writing for Free and Launch Your Own Profitable Blog

You’ve spent countless hours crafting article after article. Your articles have generated thousands of page views. You feel pretty successful in terms of exposure, but large media companies are not knocking down your door to hire you. That paying gig you have been dreaming of still seems just as far away as it always has. Your writing hasn’t earned you a dime, and your exposure hasn’t done anything but bring you momentary comfort. Sound familiar?

There has been a long-raging debating about the merits of writing for free. Some have spoken out heavily in opposition of doing so, saying it devalues the writer’s work. Others have supported it on the condition that the writer is either getting somewhere or is comfortable writing as nothing more than a hobby. In reality, a writer must make the decision that best fits her circumstances. Does she have time to write for free in addition to her paying job? Does she have a clear goal in mind and a path toward a full-time, or part-time employment in the writing field? These are all tough questions, but the decision to write is often one made from passion as opposed to logic. Passion is funny like that, driving us to do things that often don’t make sense.

There’s a way to have the best of both worlds, though. While there is no shortage of sites that will give a blogger the potential for exposure, not many offer pay. Even if some do offer pay, the money is insignificant. The allure of being read is strong, but writers can get the same (or similar) exposure while generating far more income. All they have to do is launch their own site.

Simple, right? Set up an account with Blogger or WordPress, throw up some ads, and start making some money. Not quite. Launching a blog, whether it be in sports, fashion, technology, or any field is difficult. You have to have a clear understanding of the market, of the steps necessary for success, and of the resources at your disposal. In my guide to launching a profitable sports blog, the focus is clearly on sports, but the steps to go from unpaid writer to founder of a site generating a profit can be applied for just about any other topic.

To see the traffic and the success necessary to justify launching your own site, you’ll need to focus on a few key areas:

  • Content Quality
  • Costs
  • Promotion
  • Quantity

Each area, if handled properly will ultimately lead to a blog that generates enough traffic to make a good amount of money. The sites I launched using these strategies have generated thousands of dollars. So, let’s get into it.

Content Quality

The most common pitfall in blogging is poor quality. For some reason, this is overlooked by those just starting out. It may be the rush to get thoughts out in the form of a blog, or it could be a lack of education in proper grammar and style, or it could be any number of things driving the quality of the content down the drain. If that’s happening with your blog, you’ll never build up a traffic base that will sustain any sort of revenue stream. Focus on quality first.

You can do so by taking your time. Read your articles out loud. Have others read them. Read them again yourself. Only after multiple reviews should you hit the publish button. But what if you don’t feel like you have the writing background or skills to ensure top-notch quality. Don’t worry, there are plenty of resources at your disposal. Some will cost you a bit of money (like Coursera’s class on Crafting Effective Writers), but others are completely free (a Google search will yield plenty of free results). If you struggle with your writing quality but want to run an effective blog, you should seriously consider classes. The improvement in your writing will pay dividends in the long run.

When you are launching your blog, trying to attract readers, and trying to get people to share your content, the quality of your blog will set you apart. Invest in that quality, and you won’t be disappointed. Ignore quality, and you’ll be just like the vast majority of blogs out there – ignored.

Costs

Blogging can be very inexpensive, but the costs can rack up fast depending on what you’re looking for. The most likely cost you will incur is hosting. If you use Blogger, you will not have to worry about hosting. All you’ll pay is your domain registration costs. Those are generally inconsequential. However, if you decide to use a content management system (CMS) that requires you to pay for third party hosting – WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla are good examples – you’ll want to make sure you monitor your costs closely.

Hosting providers will generally offer three types of hosting; Shared Hosting, Virtual Private Servers, and Dedicated Servers. Each comes with an increasing monthly cost. Let’s start with Shared Hosting.

Shared Hosting simply means you will be sharing a server with numerous other websites. If your blog is not attracting a ton of traffic this should be a perfectly acceptable option. In fact, if you are just launching, I highly recommend starting with a Shared Hosting plan. If you end up needing to upgrade, that should be easy. However, if you spend more money up front, you can never get back those wasted expenses.

A Virtual Private Server is similar to Shared Hosting in the fact that you will still be using the same server that other websites are using. However, unlike Shared Hosting, your site will be given a partitioned section of that server which helps improve performance. That improved performance means your blog can handle more traffic and will likely be more secure. This service will come with a steeper cost than Shared Hosting, so upgrade wisely.

A Dedicated Server should only be considered once your blog has reached the big time. If you are doing millions of unique visitors per month, you may need to look into a Dedicated Server. This set-up is exactly as it sounds. Your site will have its own server to itself. No sharing, no partitioning just to get a little privacy. A Dedicated Server will also offer the most security since you won’t be as vulnerable to attacks on other websites that may share a server with the other plans. The cost for a Dedicated Server is hefty, so make sure you truly need it before going this route.

Managing the costs of hosting is just one part of managing your blog’s overall costs. Running your site should be inexpensive, but you can gradually scale spending up as you’re generating more and more revenue. I would not recommend immediately going out and paying for advertising on social media or any other channel. Keep costs down to improve profits early. Reinvests those profits for future expenditures.

Promotion

Speaking of future expenditures, you may want to spend a little money on promoting your site once you’ve laid the early groundwork. While Google AdWords is the go-to method for advertising other types of websites, your site will be generating revenue from ads. Spending money on normal pay per click advertising just to generate traffic that may or may not stick doesn’t make much sense. If you decide to spend money on promotion, social media advertising may be your best option.

With the sites I launched, Twitter was my best friend. Twitter referral traffic often ranked in the top-three of all traffic sources. It can be difficult to build a following, but it’s possible to do so without spending money. First though, I’ll explain the paid route. By paying for promotion on Twitter (or Facebook for that matter), your site’s account will show up in the feeds of those who do not follow you. This can generate some quick follows, and those follows are likely to stick. However, beware of non-Twitter services. There are sites out there offering to get you thousands of followers for just a few dollars. Those followers will be robots and they will do nothing to help drive traffic to your site.

If you decide not to spend money on social media advertising, that’s perfectly fine. You can do so pretty easily with Twitter. In order to build a following without spending money, you’ll have to give up the notion of “being cool” on Twitter. If you look at most brands and plenty of individuals, they will have thousands of followers but will be following very few. Don’t worry about being cool. Connect with your potential readers. Follow back anyone who follows you. Seek out those who might be interested in your content, and follow them. Most people are willing to follow back, but be careful how often you do it. Twitter has a policy against “aggressive” following. They don’t explicitly define this, but if you are not following hundreds of people per day, you should be fine. This process takes commitment, and it takes time, but it pays off. The Twitter accounts for the sites I launched now have over 70,000 followers combined. That was the result of almost exclusively non-paid promotion.

You want real, engaged followers. You want those followers to click on links to your articles. Use a service like TwitterFeed or Dlvr.it or something similar to automatically post your content to Twitter as soon as you publish. If you build up a solid following and automate the delivery of your article links to your social media profiles, you’ll see social media suddenly become one of your top traffic referral sources.

While social media traffic is a great source of readers for your site, it’s not the only option. Perhaps the topic you’re covering has a network you can join. For example, in the sports blogging world there are networks like Bloguin and Yardbarker. By joining, you carry some of their approved ads and split revenue with them, but you more than make up for the revenue split with increased traffic viewing your non-network ads (think Google AdSense ads). If your topic of interest does not have a network like this, fear not. You can network on your own. Reach out to similar sites. Share links, offer to share their links, build a connection. While it all seems minute initially, these types of connections build up over time.

Finally, running contests and forging partnerships is a great way to promote your site and see an increase in traffic. With the sports sites I launched, I reached out to other sites who were not direct competitors that I knew I could drive traffic to. We arranged simple link deals where I would put a call to action at the end of each article sending traffic their way, and they would either do the same or promote my site on social media. Contests worked even better, though. If you can afford the cost of a giveaway prize, you’ll be amazed at how much interaction you’ll get with a giveaway. Make those who want to participate share your site’s link, follow you on Twitter or Facebook or do something else that helps build a long-term following. Then, you can randomly select a winner. As long as it’s fair, people will love it, and you’ll see a spike in traffic.

Quantity

We already discussed the importance of quality, but another driving force for your blog’s traffic will be quantity. Quality is far more important that quantity, but the amount of content you produce can usually be directly correlated to the volume of traffic your site sees on a daily basis. The articles all still need to be of a high quality, but you should strive to produce as much content as you possibly can.

Think of it this way, if each article maxes out at 500 views and you produce one article per day. That equates to 182,500 page views in a year. If you double that production to two articles per day, you might see a leap to 365,000 page views in a year. What happens if you produce 10 articles per day or more?

10 per day = 1,825,000 page views in a year

15 per day = 2,737,500 page views in a year

20 per day = 3,650,000 page views in a year

Obviously, there is no guaranteeing you’ll hit 500 views or more for each article, but it seems like a reasonable goal, doesn’t it? When you break it down by views per article, you can focus at a granular level that should help keep you motivated. But wait, you can’t possibly write that much, can you? It depends on the topic you are covering. If each of your articles is a 2,000 word in-depth analysis of something, you’re probably not going to hit 20 articles per day no matter how much help you have. However, if your articles are more quick-hit, you can certainly recruit a staff of writers to help you and easily hit 20 articles per day.

With my sites, we routinely hit 20 to 30 articles per day. It wasn’t always like that, of course. My co-founder and I were originally the only ones writing. We didn’t want to recruit a staff until we could pay them something. We were able to pump out quite a few articles per day, but it wasn’t until we brought on additional writers that we started really producing a lot.

If you choose to bring on a staff, just keep in mind the reason you started this blog in the first place. You were tired of writing for free. Don’t make your writers writer for free. Even if you can’t pay them much, pay them. It will help you build long-lasting relationships, and you’ll be able to bring on quality writers that will help you maintain the quality you worked so hard to enforce early on.

Conclusion

Launching a blog is easy. Launching a profitable blog is hard. If you follow the guidelines above, you won’t be guaranteed success, but you’ll certainly have a leg up on most other people launching new blogs in the area in which you’ll be focusing. The key to making sure your site is profitable is making sure you dedicate yourself. This is not going to be passive income. You’ll have to write, promote, recruit, promote, write some more, and hustle all around. If you do, you’ll love the results.

 

Justin Hunter co-founded Sports Injury Alert and Sports Rumor Alert. He is also co-authoring The Guide to Launching a Profitable Sports Blog. If you enjoyed this article, the guide will provide far more information and go into far more detail.

 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Stop Writing for Free and Launch Your Own Profitable Blog


@ProBlogger

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How to Use Content Themes to Make Blogging a Snap

This is a guest contribution from Sonja Jobson.

This might sound familiar: you’re staring at a blank screen, panic slowly rising, headache setting in, mind blank. You’re due to publish a blog post but you have absolutely no idea what to write about. Again.

The “writers block” cycle can put a serious cramp in your blogging style, but contrary to popular opinion, it’s not a mysterious ailment with no known cure. In most cases, writers block is a direct result of poor planning.

This is good news, because it means that with correct planning, you can skip right over the blank screen and save loads of time and sanity when blogging.

First Things First: Your Editorial Calendar

Before we dig into using content themes, you need to have some tools in place to hold the whole process together.

The editorial calendar is like a blogging secret weapon – except, it’s not so secret. Most successful blogs – across all sorts of niches and industries – use editorial calendars to give structure and consistency to their blogging.

If you’re not already on the editorial calendar bandwagon, now’s the time to jump on. 

If you’ve been putting off starting an editorial calendar because it sounds too time consuming, complicated, or technical, don’t worry about it. Starting an editorial calendar can be as simple as grabbing a cheap wall calendar from the store and penciling in blog posts on the appropriate dates. Or, you could go digital and use an app like Google Calendar or start a simple spreadsheet.

What are Content Themes?

Coming up with an endless stream of fresh blog post ideas can be exhausting. But, like most tasks, it can be made simpler by building on your momentum instead of approaching it in a scattered, ununiformed way.

Say you get an intriguing question from a reader that sparks some inspiration, and you spend some time figuring out how to transform that idea into solid blog post. It takes a bit of time, but you finally find a good angle and the perfect way to tie the topic into your overall blog theme. Next week’s blog topic: check.

Now you go back to square one and begin coming up with an entirely new blog topic to add to your editorial calendar.

Starting the idea process at square one over and over again is time consuming. There is a simpler process that requires you to complete step one just once, and then build on that same foundation to create weeks or months’ worth of content ideas all at once.

That’s where content themes come in: it allows you to pick a broad topic and build off of it with a bunch of hyper-focused topics, making the planning process quicker and more organized.

For example, take a look at ProBlogger’s product creation theme week

 Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 2.50.30 pm

For an entire week, each post focused on creating products, diving into sub-topics like what to do before you create a product, what type of product to create, and launching a product.

How to Create and Plan Content Themes

You can structure content themes in several different ways.

Some bloggers find that themes save them so much time and hassle that they use them on an ongoing basis for content planning (each theme beginning right after the other one ends).

You can also use themes for a set period of time (say, one week or one month) scattered throughout your editorial calendar whenever you want to create a focused burst of content on a specific topic.

Regardless of whether you choose to use themes on an ongoing or selective basis, the steps for creating and planning your theme will be the same.

Step #1: choose your topic

You always build a theme on a base topic. For example, a health blog might create a theme based on the topic of ‘eating raw foods for weight loss’. Or, an entertainment blog might create a theme around the topic of ‘80’s movies that are still going strong’. 

The two keys to coming up with theme topics are 1) choosing a topic that is broad enough to support several sub-topics (in other words, you shouldn’t be able to sum it up it just one blog post) and 2) the topic needs to be something your audience cares about.

Step #2: choose your timeframe

After you know your topic, you’ll need to decide how long you want your theme to run. A week? A month? Several months? There is no hard and fast rule on how long a theme should run, so make the decision based on how much content you think you’ll need to create to cover the topic, or simply how long feel like talking about the same thing.

Step #3: Choose and schedule your sub-topics

Now that you know your main topic and the amount of blog post slots you want to fill, it’s time to sit down and plan your individual blog posts. Coming up with a calendar full of ideas should be much easier now that you have a base topic to work off of. A great way to get started is by asking yourself “what are the most pressing questions my audience has about this topic?”

As you decide on individual blog post topics, schedule them into your editorial calendar.

And that’s it! You now have an organized group of blog posts and, for the duration of your theme, you’ll never have to wonder “what should I write about?”

Bonus: Use Your Blogging Themes to Simplify Your Other Marketing Outlets

Saving all that time when planning out your blog content was pretty good, but it gets even better.

You can use the themes you create for your blog to streamline all your other content marketing efforts as well.

Use your theme to help you come up with social media updates, live event (like webinars, live steams, or Q&A sessions) topics, email marketing or newsletter content, or whatever types content you create to market your blog or business.

Using one theme across all of your online platforms will help you to create consistency, structure, and a lot more free time.

Your turn:

How will you use themes to simplify your blogging life? Or, if you’ve already used themes, what were your results? Share it with us in the comments below!

Sonja Jobson helps entrepreneurs grow their audience online in a way that fits their schedule, style, and personality. Want even more advice on simplifying your marketing life? Take her FREE 5-Day Marketing Dare.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

How to Use Content Themes to Make Blogging a Snap


@ProBlogger

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Why You Have a Better Chance of Landing a Guest Post Than You Think (and How to Do It)

Image via Flickr user Freddie Peña.

Image via Flickr user Freddie Peña.

This is a guest contribution from writer Ali Luke.

Do you ever think about guest posting but worry you’re not ready?

You probably already know that guest posting is one of the most effective ways to build relationships in the blogging world, get writing credits, and grow your audience … 

… yet you might worry that no-one will take your posts, because you’re too new to blogging, your own audience is too small, or you’re not (yet) a great writer.

Maybe you’ve heard bloggers say that they get dozens, even hundreds, of guest post pitches each week, and you feel certain that the numbers will be against you. 

It’s true that a lot of people are pitching guest posts: as Editor of DailyBlogTips (Sept 2013 – July2014), I got a huge number of pitches.

The truth is, though, that many of these pitches are just awful. And you could easily do much, much better.

Here’s an all-too-representative sample:

Hi 

I am [name removed]. I wanted to guest blog on your esteemed site under SEO section. Here by i  am sending doc conatining article named ” Secrets to improve your page rank” .

Kindly do the needful action

Thanks & Regards

Dear Webmaster,

I have come across your website and found it very informative.

I am currently the webmaster of (a specialist Email Marketing Company). We are interested in writing a “guest blog” for your website.

Please kindly let me know if this is of interest to you, with any terms/conditions of posts. I will then send over some fresh and inspiring content for you to review.

On another note, please could you also give details of any link exchange opportunities?

Looking forward to your positive response.

Yes, in that second example, they really did write “(a specialist Email Marketing Company)”.

Drowning in emails, I soon started deleting pitches straight away if the would-be guest poster didn’t even bother using my name.

I sent brief “no thanks” emails to anyone who pitched something clearly off-topic, or whose email suggested they had a poor grasp of spelling and grammar.

(Yes, that might seem a little elitist, but when I’m offered one nearly-perfect guest post and one that’s going to take hours of my time, it’s an easy choice to make.)

Even the slightly better pitches made some annoying mistakes, like:

  • Telling me they wanted to write a guest post, but not suggesting topics.
  • Acting as though their post was sure to be accepted (e.g. “Tell me when it will be live on the blog.”)
  • Getting my name wrong and starting “Dear Luke”. (Ali is my first name, short for Alison; Luke’s my surname. I know it’s weird!)

I agreed with Daniel (who owns DailyBlogTips) that I’d publish one guest post every two weeks – we wanted the blog to be mainly our own content – and I rarely had much difficulty deciding who to accept. It was rare that I got more than one decent pitch in a two week period.

So you probably have a far higher chance of success than you think. You don’t need to be the world’s greatest writer, and you definitely don’t need a big audience. In fact, I gladly published guest posts from people who were just starting out. All that mattered to me was that they could deliver useful content.

Here’s how to maximise the chances of your guest post being accepted:

Read plenty of posts on the blog before you begin: at least five. You need a clear sense of what’s on topic, and what the audience is like. One of my biggest reasons for rejecting reasonably good pitches was because they weren’t on topic enough (e.g. pitches about running an “ecommerce website” when DBT focuses on beginner bloggers).

Offer a topic or perspective that the host blogger can’t easily provide. I’m definitely no expert on SEO or blog security, for instance, and I was always particularly interested in posts on those subjects. I’d also have been interested to hear from bloggers at a very different stage of life from me (e.g. teen bloggers, people in their 70s, or bloggers with six kids…)

Plan out your post before you start writing. Some of the posts I saw had decent information, but they rambled all over the place. I did accept one or two that needed quite extensive editing, but there’s no guarantee an editor will do this. Having a good plan, and thinking through your post structure, makes it much easier to create a strong piece.

Don’t make obvious, generic points. I saw a few posts that weren’t badly written, but that didn’t say anything much. They gave very obvious advice, and didn’t offer examples, quotes, screenshots, or anything similar. There wasn’t anything new or interesting there for readers.

Edit your post carefully before sending it. I strongly suggest you look at the “big picture” first – do you need to cut any paragraphs, or add in anything new? Once you’re happy with the post overall, do a close edit to make sure your sentences all read smoothly, and to fix any typos.

Get to grips with formatting a blog post well. I loved having guest posts with subheadings, bold text for key sentences, lists in bullet point form, images, and so on. Too often, though, I had to add these things myself when editing. No-one wants to wade through a mass of long, dense paragraphs … and that includes blog editors.

Follow the guest post guidelines. I bet you’ve heard that before! I know it sounds obvious, but so many bloggers ignore guidelines – and that’s often enough to get your post rejected (or at least send it to the end of the queue). If you can’t find any guidelines, take a close look at recent posts to at least get a sense of how long yours should be and what sort of style it should be in.

Include links to posts on your target blog. Some guidelines ask for this, but even if they don’t, it’s good practice. It shows you wrote the post specifically for that blog, and it adds extra value for the host. If you include plenty of links like this, you can usually get away with one or two to your own website as well (so long as they’re relevant).

There aren’t any guarantees in blogging – but if you can write an interesting, well put together post that’s on-topic for a large blog in your niche, there’s a pretty good chance it will be accepted.

(But if you never even try – it definitely won’t!)

I know that pitching a guest post can be daunting, but the worst that can happen is the host blog says “no thanks” – and you can always rewrite the post a little and approach someone else instead.

Is it time for you to write your first guest post? Choose a blog today to target, dig into some of their posts, and brainstorm some topics you could write about. If you get stuck or have a question, just pop a comment below. Good luck!

Ali Luke’s ecourse On Track is a free seven-week program for bloggers and writers, designed to help you get motivated and moving again on your blog (or ebook, or any other big writing project). It’s packed with practical tips to help you move forward week by week, and comes with a free ebook, Seven Pillars of Great Writing. Find out more and join here.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Why You Have a Better Chance of Landing a Guest Post Than You Think (and How to Do It)


@ProBlogger

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How to Make Friends and Influence People at the ProBlogger Event

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This is a guest contribution by blogger Johanna Castro.

Day one of the ProBlogger conference dawns, and butterflies are probably winging around your stomach as if making a bid for freedom.

For many of us this day has been eagerly anticipated for about 6 months, and it represents one of two days in which you’ll meet some of the biggest names in blogging: Presenters, bloggers, media celebrities and a heap of new friends.

But first. You walk in, you register at the front desk, and then you face a sea of people. That sea of people seems to be undulating like a wave mingling effortlessly with yet another wave of people and the worst thing is that they all seem to know each other.

Crikey!

While you, on the other hand, are standing there on your own without a friend in sight.

I know. Because I’ve been there done that, and at my first ProBlogger event in 2011 I cringed with embarrassment and wondered how I’d dared to bring me and my little blog out into the open to such a huge conference.

After registration I clung to the nearest wall like a boggle-eyed wallflower and actually shook to the souls of my pink suede boots.

Added on to the anxiety of meeting people I had little idea about What to expect at a Problogger training event.

You might also like: Problogger Event 2013 and The Meaning of Life

Be Prepared

Forearmed is forewarned as they say, and since then, and after many brazen ‘fake it till you make it’ occasions, I’ve been continually reminding myself that a conference is not just a fabulous place to learn (Problogger Perth), it’s also a great way of networking in real life with others from the online world.

So it’s a really good idea to be armed with some strategies to put yourself ‘out there’ in order to meet new friends and influence people.

This year I decided I’d up the ante with my networking, and at my local library I found a book called “How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends” by Don Gabor (Simon & Schuster) which gave me the idea for this post, as well as some prompts for conversation openers. I’d like to reference it because it incorporates a lot of great advice and echoes many of the thoughts I’d been having about making the most of a Problogger event and getting to know as many people as possible.

Help I don’t know Anyone!

So you’re standing there hoping that your make-up isn’t smudged and you haven’t got lipstick on your teeth, or as a bloke maybe you’re hoping that in this meadow of mostly women you might find a friendly male face.

You look around the room, feel slightly overwhelmed, and don’t know where to start.

How to introduce yourself

Relax. Have a walk around. Smile, and look for smiling faces. Also keep an eye out for small groups of people. You might think that these people know each other already and are chatting about old times, but in reality you’ll probably find that they’ve only just met.

Hover close by (keep smiling won’t you) and when there’s a gap in the conversation, take a deep breath and say: “Hi, I’m … this is my first ProBlogger event. May I join in?”

Tip: Don’t leave it too long to introduce yourself in a group situation, because if you do it could make the other people feel uncomfortable.

Better still look out for anyone standing alone. They’re probably in the same boat as you and longing to chat with someone, but they don’t know who to approach for fear of butting in on a group of friends.

Perhaps you could say, “Hi my name is … I’ve never been to a ProBlogger event before. Have you?” and if they say “Yes,” then follow with something like, “How does this one compare to previous years?”

Getting a conversation going

Keep a look out for bloggers that you’ve met online. Smile, make eye contact and say something like, “Hi, I’m … and I’ve been longing to meet you.” If they’ve given a presentation you could add, “That was an awesome presentation you gave and I really related to X or Y comment you made.”

Remember that what you say doesn’t have to be clever or witty. As long as you come across as smiling and friendly you’ll be surprised how willing other people will be to talk to you. They’ll also probably be sighing with relief that someone has approached them. A simple, “Hello, my name’s …” offered with a smile and a handshake and followed with, “Nice to meet you,” should do the trick to get a conversation flowing.

Body Language

Body language is also important. I try not to cross my arms when I’m chatting and even if the conversation veers away from my own interests I think it’s important to keep engaged – so I nod and maintain eye contact – because soon you will hit common touch-points or shared interests, and it’s important not to have turned the other person off by then due to bad body language.

Influence

Influence begins by being noticed.

To be noticed you need to make new friends and acquaintances. Just as you might comment on other people’s blogs in the online world, you need to carve out a ‘belonging’ in the real life world too.

In time you’ll be noticed as ‘one of the in-crowd’ or ‘one of those in the know’ and bit by bit you’ll become viewed as someone with influence rather than an unknown newbie who needs befriending.

So make a point to meet, introduce yourself and chat to as many new people as you can because these are the relationships which are likely to continue online as well as offline.

It’s this connectivity which leads to influence.

And ultimately, influence leads to making money blogging.

Remember people’s names.

You’ll meet tons of people at ProBlogger and Don Gabor says that five seconds is all the time it takes to make a good first impression. Remembering a person’s name makes them feel important and adds warmth to the conversation as well as helping to build rapport.

Author and public speaker Dale Carnegie said, “The sweetest sound in any language is a person’s name.”

Darren Rowse is very good at names, and I’m sure he employs lots of useful strategies.

5 name remembering tricks

  1. When you’ve been introduced to someone, try to repeat their name back to them in the conversation.
  2. Focus when you’re introduced to people. Don’t think about what you’re going to say, and don’t worry about what people are thinking of you, or if your clothes are ok … just focus.
  3. If someone has an unusual name, mention that it’s unusual or unique and ask them to spell it.
  4. Don Gabor suggests trying to use a person’s name at the end of your conversation so you’ll better remember them next time you meet. “Ronelle, it’s been lovely chatting to you. Here’s my card, it would be great to keep in touch.”
  5. If you’ve forgotten someone’s name, don’t fudge over it! Just be honest and say something like, “I do remember you, and we’ve been introduced. But I’m so sorry your name has suddenly escaped me.” We’re all human after all ;)

Other conversation openers

At coffee or lunch breaks – where the food is likely to be awesome :) you could start with an opening gambit of, “Wow, doesn’t the food look fantastic! What would you recommend trying first?”

Or … “Hi, my name’s … Isn’t this a great event? What’s been the best bit of the conference so far for you?”

Most people like being asked for advice or information, so if there’s someone you admire then ask them something. “Excuse me. My name’s … and I love your blog/I loved your presentation … may I ask you a question?”

Be interested in others – remember people like to talk about themselves. “May I ask you what your blog’s about?”

If you’re sitting next to someone you don’t know then don’t just stare ahead. Strike up a conversation. Ask them something like, “Which speaker have you enjoyed most so far?”

Tricks to keep conversations going

  1. In group situations keep your ears open and listen to what other people are talking about, then respond with a positive comment that shows you’ve been listening. Note: “Negative comments are conversation stoppers,” says Don Gabor.
  2. Don’t give unsolicited advice unless you are expressly asked for it. It’s always better to ask questions and respond accordingly.
  3. Remember that most people like talking about themselves and bloggers like to talk about blogging.
  4. Have an opinion but don’t be overtly opinionated.

Compliments

Sincere compliments make people feel good. Notice something interesting about the person you are talking with, and then weave your compliment into a question which will ease any embarrassment. “You’re always dressed so stylishly. I love the dress/shoes/top you’re wearing – may I ask where you got them?”

If you’re given a compliment then smile and say thank you. Don’t dismiss it, belittle it or make light of it in any way.

Mrs Woog (Woogsworld) and Liz Lennon (Life Dreaming) taught me a lesson quite recently on Twitter about receiving compliments gracefully, when inadvertently I’d made light of one.

“I’ve worked with 1000′s of people and one thing I say is ‘just say thanks’ to the gift of compliments,” said Liz.

“I learnt years ago from someone who took compliments well. It is grand,” added Mrs Woog.

Okay. QED!

And I was grateful for being pulled up on that one.

So … Thank you for reading to the end of my post today :) Any compliments will be received most graciously ;)

I really hope if you’re attending ProBlogger Event that you’ll use one of the techniques I’ve written about and pop over for a chat with me. I’ll probably nervously be wondering a) if anyone will come and speak to me or b) who I could approach to engage in conversation!

Anyway, it’s your conference. Make friends and start influencing people. You deserve it.

Do you have any tips to add for attending a blogging or social media conference?

Jo Castro is freelance writer who also facilitates blogging and writing workshops. She’s the founder of two blogs: Lifestyle Fifty, an inspirational blog empowering women to live life to the full as they get older, and ZigaZag a Travel and Leisure blog. A gypsy heart and geologist husband keep her in search of utopia – a tropical beach, a simple shack, and a fridge filled with chilled champagne would do nicely.

 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

How to Make Friends and Influence People at the ProBlogger Event


@ProBlogger

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How to Build a Blog Worth Monetizing

Earlier in the week I co-hosted the popular #BlogChat Twitter chat. The topic was ‘How to Build a Blog Worth Monetizing’ – a massive topic.

The hour-long Twitter chat was one of the fastest moving Twitter chats I’ve been involved in (and the biggest BlogChat ever according to it’s founder Mack Collier). We covered heaps of ground but I thought I’d pull out some of my most RT’d and commented upon tweets from the hour here as a blog post.

I hope you find these helpful!

Foundational Advice

I was asked to prepare some advice for those about to start a blog (although much of this can be applied by more established bloggers too).

On getting to know your readers through creating reader profiles (sometimes called personas):

On identifying how your readers will ‘change’ as a result of reading your blog:

The Four main areas to work on to build a profitable blog:

On Creating Compelling Content for Your Blog:

On Finding Readers for Your Blog:

On Building Community on Your Blog:

On Monetizing Blogs:

Phew – all of those tweets happened in about 40 minutes. Afterwards we continued to discuss the topic with lots of back and forth. You can read the full transcript including some great advice from other bloggers who participated here.

Lastly – I’ve since had a number of people ask me about the graphics and slides included in the tweets above and if there’s a ‘deck’ they can get them from.

The above all comes from a big workshop that I occasionally run for small groups of bloggers that walks bloggers through how to build profitable blogs. The workshop goes for a full day (last time I did it it took 7 hours!) and there’s no single deck that I’m comfy to share as a lot of the slides in it really need me there to explain what I’m showing.

Having said that – two of the webinars mentioned above cover some of the same ground so they’d be a good place to start out!

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

How to Build a Blog Worth Monetizing


@ProBlogger

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