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The Pimp, the Grocer and the Hit Man: Magnetise Your Headings Using the Power of the Unexpected

This guest post is by Aman Basanti of Ageofmarketing.com.

In addition to death and taxes, there is another bitter pill you have to swallow as a blogger. It is that pimps, grocers and hit men all have an unfair advantage when it comes to commanding attention in the marketplace.

Be it an advert, a news story or a how to article, those who sell sex, food or danger attract more attention than the rest of us. Our subconscious minds are programmed to take note of these three things, and disproportionately assign attention to them.

Beyond sex, food and danger

So does that mean the rest of us are ruined? Does that mean that we are forever subject to the tyranny of the sex-selling pimps, food-flaunting grocers, and gun-toting hit men?

No. Because we have our own weapon for attracting attention and it is equally as powerful as sex, food, and danger.

What is this weapon of mass attraction?

The power of the unexpected.

You know what happens if we catch you smoking here at Southwest, don’t you?

“If I could have your attention for a few moments,” said the voice overhead. The passengers looked up to hear what exciting message the flight attendant had for them that day, only to realize that it was just another in-flight safety demonstration.

You know: “fasten your seat belts, place your tray tables in an upright position, don’t smoke on the plane and, in case of an emergency, follow the lights along the side of the aisle.”

One by one, the passengers started tuning out as quickly as they had tuned in, going back to reading their magazines, peering out the window or whatever else they had been doing previously.

Then it happened.

“If you haven’t been in an automobile since 1965, the proper way to fasten your seat belt is to slide the flat end into the buckle,” unexpectedly announced the attendant. Suddenly the tired old message to fasten your seat belts sprung to life.

So did the one to follow the lights along the side of the aisle.

“And as the song goes, there might be fifty ways to leave your lover, but there are only six ways to leave this aircraft: two forward exit doors, two over-wing removable window exits, and two aft exit doors. The location of each exit is clearly marked with signs overhead, as well as red and white disco lights along the floor of the isle. Made ya look!”

As for the “don’t smoke on the plane” part, the attendant had a way of spicing that one up as well.

“Speaking of smoking, there’s never any smoking aboard our flights. You know what happens if we catch you smoking here at Southwest, don’t you? You’ll be asked to step out onto our wing and enjoy our feature movie presentation, Gone With The Wind.”

And just like that the flight attendant had attracted the attention of everyone on board. Even the most indifferent passengers were listening intently and smiling. Most importantly, for our purposes here, she did it without implying sex, showing food or threatening danger.

What was her secret?

The flight attendant’s secret

At the heart of her feat was the use of the unexpected. We all know what an in-flight safety demo is meant to look like. We have an existing pattern and picture of that situation. What the attendant did was to break that pattern. She used humor, which in itself works because it makes unexpected connections, to challenge and change, and thus draw attention to, the tired old demonstration.

As remarkable as the flight attendant example is, however, it is not instructive of how most bloggers can use it on their blogs. To understand that we have to look at the Freakonomics Formula.

The Freakonomics formula for writing killer headlines

Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s books, Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics, have sold over 5 million copies worldwide. Apart from being controversial and insightful, what make the books attention worthy are their catchy chapter titles. By pairing two unrelated entities and connecting them in some way relevant to the message of the chapter, the authors create magnetic titles.

Here are some of the chapter titles from their books:

  • What Do School Teachers and Sumo Wrestlers Have in Common?
  • How is the Ku Klux Klan Like a Group of Real-Estate Agents?
  • How is a street prostitute like a department-store Santa?
  • What do Al Gore and Mount Pinatubo have in common?

The titles work because you do not normally associate teachers with sumo wrestlers, nor prostitutes with department store Santas. They break existing patterns of association, evoke curiosity and result in, as the flight attendant put it, the “Made ya look!” phenomenon.

So if you want your blog posts to stand out give them catchy blog post titles using the Freakonomics formula. Find two entities and create an unexpected connection between them.

Here are some more examples to get your mental juices flowing:

  • 5 Things a Bad Dog Can Teach You About Writing Good Copy
  • How Are Entrepreneurs Like Young Children?
  • What do Charles the Great and Genghis Khan Have in Common?
  • Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
  • 5 Diseases I would Pay Money to Get
  • 3 Ways to Impress Your Partner by Being Less Romantic
  • 5 Ways Porn Created the Modern World

Have you used magnetic headlines on your blog? How did they do at pulling crowds to your content?

Aman Basanti writes about the psychology of buying and teaches you how you can use the principles of consumer psychology to boost your sales. Visit www.Ageofmarketing.com/free-ebook to get his new ebook—Marketing to the Pre-Historic Mind: How the Hot New Science of Behavioural Economics Can Help You Boost Your Sales—for FREE.

The Secret Fairytale Magic to Irresistible Blog Posts

This guest post is by Amy of Harrisonamy.com

From Jack and the Beanstalk, to Little Red Riding Hood, to Cinderella, fairytales have been enchanting audiences for thousands of years. They are constantly being retold, modified and even made into blockbuster movies. Despite their apparent simplicity, they enrapture and engage audiences time and time again.

Copyright Arto - Fotolia.com

By using the following five key elements of a fairytale, you can harness the secret storytelling magic to write irresistible blog posts and keep your readers coming back for more.

1. Create desire

Every fairy story starts with some desire. Whether it’s Cinderella wanting to go to the ball, a poor man wanting to be king, or a girl taking some food to Grandma’s house, the story starts with a desire for something.

No enchanting tale starts without some kind of hope, dream, want, or wish. Even if it’s the wish for things to stay the same, the characters have to want something.

So how does this relate to your blog? Well your customers are reading your articles because they also want and are hoping for something, whether it’s entertainment, advice, or tips on a particular subject.

One of the best ways to stimulate that desire is by using your headline to show them that you have something they will want. For example:

  • 7 Ways To Go To The Ball If You Are A Beautiful But Poor Step-Sister
  • The Best Way To Get To Grandma’s House While Avoiding Wolves
  • How To Get Your Magic Beans To Grow In Just 2 Days

2. Overcome challenges

In every good story, there’s some kind of challenge or obstacle and your blog readers are experiencing the same thing.

The challenge is usually stopping them achieve what they truly desire. Red Riding Hood had to face the wolf, Cinderella had to get past her wicked step-sisters and Jack had to try and get round the giant to get his treasure.

So what is it that your blog readers desire and what is their ugly step-sister, wolf, or ogre that stops them? Perhaps your blog readers desire more traffic but are confused by the different methods to attract more readers. Or perhaps they want to write a novel but are getting stuck with writer’s block.

When writing a blog post, ask yourself what challenges come between your audience and what they desire, and how you can help overcome them.

3. Give them a hero to help

You might not be a woodcutter, a fairy godmother, or a king, but on your blog, you are your reader’s hero!  Heroes have experience, knowledge, and special skills, and your blog is the perfect place to show your readers that you are the right person to help them on their adventure by:

  • explaining how you’ve done something that they want to do
  • pointing out mistakes you’ve made on the way so others can avoid them
  • giving them shortcuts and tips to get results quicker than learning first hand.

If your audience grows to see you as their own fairy godmother of marketing, crafts, or blogging, they’ll want to keep coming back for more.

4. A transformation

Fairy tales always include some kind of transformation. It might be a pumpkin into a chariot, or a wolf into an old lady, but the most popular transformations are the ones that satisfy our desire for the fairytale ending.

So we love Cinderella becoming a princess, or Aladdin becoming a prince, and your readers are also looking for a positive transformation when they visit your site.

For example, after reading your blog post:

  • Can they do something they didn’t do before?
  • Do they feel better and inspired, or not so alone?
  • Do they have access to resources that will give them results?

Try and give some form of transformation, and your reader is more likely to not just enjoy your post but bookmark it and come back to it again and again.

5. A happy ending

Most fairy tales have happy endings. Now that doesn’t mean every blog post you have has to end on a high note, what it means is that your reader should be satisfied that they got what they were looking for.

So if they were coming to your blog for satirical remarks on celebrity relationships, then a photo casebook of embarrassing shots of the latest A-list couple is going to be their happy ending. If others are looking for mediation advice, finding out how to turn their office into a centre of calm is going to be their happy ending.

Consistency in delivering to your audiences expectations is important when writing a blog. You are essentially writing stories every time that you publish and just as we want a happy ending when we decide to read a fairy tale, your customer wants that same consistent experience when reading your blog.

Now it’s over to you. Are you already using these five fairytale elements, or do you have a different approach in writing irresistible content? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Amy is a copywriter for entrepreneurs and in addition to writing for clients, she coaches others to smash through their copy obstacles and get their message out to their audience. She provides free copywriting and content marketing advice on her website Harrisonamy.com

Sell $20,000 Worth of Your Next Ebook

This guest post is by Sarah Mae of MarketandSellYourEbook.com.

Marketing is the act of buying or selling in a market.

Where is your market?

Do you have one? Do you own one? Do you shop at one? In the new world of invisible wires where connections are made 24/7 all around the world, the starting place for successful marketing begins at your market … your space … your platform.

How is your platform looking?

Once you have established yourself as an influential voice in your market (your blog, other blogs you’ve created, social networking, conferences, meet-ups, etc.), then you can expect to sell at least $20,000 worth of ebooks if you do a few simple but significant things (assuming the ebook has been written, edited, and is ready to go with content people need).

Have a slammin’ cover

People judge a book by its cover, if it weren’t so people wouldn’t be hiring designers to create something magnetic for the cover of our words .. .we want to draw people in. My advice? You must have a professional looking cover, so unless you’re a graphic designer (and a good one), hire someone. I recommend Insight Blog Design (brilliant, easy to work with, affordable).

Involve your community in the ebook process

The more you involve your community, the more your community is going to want to be a part of what you’re doing. Some things you could do to get your community excited about your ebook:

  • Have them come up with the title or subtitle of the ebook.
  • Ask for their tips on the subject matter and include the best ones in the ebook.
  • Ask their opinions on things regarding the ebook.
  • Have them vote on the cover (two choices).

Get your ebook on Kindle and Nook

Have you read this? Digital sales are dominating—take note and get on the ships that are delivering! If you aren’t tech savvy, hire someone to format your ebook to Kindle and Nook. You have to do this if you want to be a serious contender in the game. Some tips:

  • Make sure to fill out your author profile with your blog/s and Twitter handle … also, a nice picture.
  • Before you tell the world that you’re on these platforms, make sure you have reviews (you’ve got to ask!).

To get your book on Kindle, go here For Nook, go here

Send your ebook to your friends and network community

Ask your friends to read your ebook, give you a quote if they like it, and leave a review on Amazon. Also ask if they would be willing to review it on their blog and/or host a giveaway.

Prepare a community … that you’re a part of

You need to set up a website dedicated to your ebook that includes:

  • a one-liner at the top that effectively describes your ebook and makes it desirable
  • quotes from people who have read it (try and get quotes from well-known people/bloggers)
  • a call to action—”Buy the Book!”—with links
  • pages: about the book, about you, people involved (link love is good), sample chapter, forum, blog, reviews, and anything else you can offer that benefits your community
  • a video of you talking about your ebook—this is no time to be dull (unless that’s what people like about you)! Also, keep it to two minutes or you’ll lose people!

You also need to set up a Facebook fan page and Twitter hashtag or handle.

  • Get your Facebook page up and ready with your ebook picture, description, and links—you will need to be involved in the community for it to work—leaving quotes, interacting, starting discussions, etc. Always answer questions!
  • Have a hashtag ready to go (that isn’t being used at all) and if you will work it consistently, a Twitter handle as well—you need to interact with your community!

Create a video

It’s all about connection. You want to make a connection with your audience, your community. A video allows people to hear and see you, your expressions, your passion, and your heart for what you have written. Creating a thoughtful video (not something just slapped together) will significantly increase your reach and your sales. Tips:

  • If you’re selling your book using E-junkie, use their YouTube branding to get more traffic to your ebook website.
  • Make sure to put the whole URL of your ebook website in the description—make it the first thing there.

Price it right

There are tons of opinions on how you should price your ebook, and you can utilize Google to find them all out. My opinion is that you should consider your audience and then make a decision. My audience is made up of mostly stay-at-home moms, so I decided to price my ebook at $4.99 (also, no weird numbers please, like $4.97 or $6.93—simple is always better). My reasoning? Who doesn’t have five bucks?

Build buzz

The minute I decided I was going to put out an ebook, I began to talk about it and get my readers involved. Build excitement. Read Top Things I’ve Learned in Selling an Ebook, by Tim Ferriss.

Launch!

This is the fun part! You have worked hard and are ready (albeit nervous) to get your book out “there”! Here’s what you need to do:

  • Have a launch day celebration with giveaways. I contacted companies and had them donate to the release of my ebook. I used both of my blogs to launch, and had different giveaways for each. Giveaways and fun build excitement and spread the word.
  • Be everywhere. You’ve got to get (and keep) your ebook in front of people. Ask bloggers to do reviews and/or giveaways (get tons of these … and don’t stop). Guest post. Perhaps even pay for advertising on strategic sites—but only if they write a post along with an advertisement. The posts are gold.
  • Give your ebook away. Free is always good. I gave my ebook away free for one day only to anyone who would spread the work via social media channels. I gave over 2000 away for free, but this proved to be the best decision I could have made. You’ve got to break through your own sphere of influence. Giving away my ebook by having others spread the word everywhere in the online space broke through. I gave away over 2000, but I’ve also sold over 11,000.
  • More freebies! What can you offer that will reward those who have purchased your ebook? Think “free printables” or “extra chapters”, “bonus material,” etc. Have a readers-only downloads page.
  • Find a way to keep your ebook fresh. For example, my ebook has challenges in it. I listened to the feedback from readers, and decided I needed to have easier challenges for those in a different stage of life. I created the new challenges and then made them available for free to those who purchased the ebook. Be creative, and listen to your readers.
  • Find a way to make your ebook work in groups. The power of groups can make your ebook go viral. Can you put together a group challenge of some sort? A book club with questions (that you perhaps put on a reader downloads page)? Again, think creatively.
  • Pay attention to what bestselling authors do, and then do it. Look at @garyvee and @tferriss—brilliant marketers.

What tips can you add from your experience launching and selling your own ebooks? Add them below!

Sarah Mae is the author of the new Ebook, “How to Market and Sell Your Ebook – Everything You Need to Know to Make Money with ePublishing” and the bestselling ebook “31 Days to Clean—Having a Martha House the Mary Way You can follow Sarah Mae on Twitter @sarahmae or on her blog, LikeaWarmCupofCoffee.com.

Lovely Little Leaps of Faith

This post was written by the Web Marketing Ninja—a professional online marketer for a major web brand, who’s sharing his tips undercover here at ProBlogger. Curious? So are we!

For most people, spending money isn’t an automatic thing.  You’ve worked hard for your money, and when you’re about to part with it, you want to believe your hard work will actually mean something.

Copyright malcam - Fotolia.com

This meaning doesn’t need to be a logical thing—it can be completely emotive.

But with the inherent desire for meaning, there’s always a little voice inside us looking for a reason not to spend our cash.  As bloggers and online marketers, we’re often our own worst enemies.  With some of the tactics we use, we’re basically handing a megaphone to our readers’ little voices, and encouraging them to scream, “Get the heck out of here!”

When I’m evaluating my own work, or that of others, I often refer to these as leaps of faith. The bigger the leaps of faith you expect your customers to make, the less likely they’ll be to make them. Let’s look at ten of the most common, and see how you can make them lovelier!

Not making it clear what your blog is about

Some say three seconds, some five, and some ten—but so often to I come across blogs that I can’t even figure out in five minutes!  If a user’s thinking, “I don’t know what this site is about,” how could you expect them to give them your email address, or their money?

Not communicating what’s going to happen

Our fear of the unknown is strong. Chances are low that I’ll give you my email address or my credit card number if I have no idea what’s next in the process.  If you’re collecting email subscriptions, make sure your reader knows what they’re singing up for; if it’s a ebook download, make sure they know as soon as the payment is made that they’ll be emailed instructions on how to download; if it’s a physical product, tell them the fulfillment process up-front. This is simple stuff, but it’s important.

Making people feel like you’ve gone back to 1999

Design isn’t that important, right?  Wrong.  If your website looks like it was built in the 90s, then all I’d say is you’d want to have some pretty awesome content.  You’re blogging on the web, so it needs to looks like it fits here.  I doesn’t need to be a work of art, though—good is enough.

Not showing people how secure you are

If your readers or potential purchasers feel in any way that giving you money is going to compromise their information, they’ll scamper. Use PayPal as one payment option—it’s widely regarded as secure. Use Visa and MasterCard logos and “secured by” messaging to show that your site and checkout processes are secure.

Making people jump through hoops

More clicks makes for fewer sales. Equally, the more convoluted you make your sales process, the more clients will drop out.  We’re busy people with short attention spans, so only ask for the information you need to complete the transaction—ask for all the nice-to-haves later.

Breaking down before their very eyes

If your sales process breaks somehow, only the most motivated buyers will tell you about it. And by the time you realize, customers—and their money—will have left for somewhere else.  Make sure your key buying processes are bulletproof from reliability, validation, accessibility, and cross-browser compatibility perspectives.

Not showing safety in numbers

We like to buy in crowds—it makes us feel safe and secure.  If 10,000 people purchased your product and they’re all okay, then I’ll see the purchase as low-risk, and I’ll buy.  As a matter of authenticity, show real numbers rather than a figure you made up.  Users are pretty switched on to those kinds of errors now.

Not showing the past or the future

If you have a lengthy sales process, which for some products is a must, then make sure you show people the journey, so they know where they have come from and how far there is to go.  It puts the process (its length and level if intensity) up front, and keeps users motivated, as they know there’s an end in sight.

Asking for too much too soon

Passwords are a common factor in this point. Unfortunately, too many people use the same password for every site and service they use, so asking for a password on a small purchase can be like asking people for access to their bank accounts. On the flip side, people will likely trust you pretty quickly if you ask for a password, but there is a time to do this, and it’s after you’ve proven your worth to them.

Looking, talking, and thinking small

There’s nothing wrong about being small, but you can make yourself bigger buy showing you keep pretty good company.  It might be mentions in mainstream press or from larger personalities, or perhaps just showing you keep good company.  Be small—but only when it works in your favor.

I had a conversation with friend this week about a checkout process that, after three attempts, I simply couldn’t figure out. He mentioned that it was complicated because the tax rules in his country were complicated. I responded with the same comment I say to everyone:

Don’t make your customers’ lives hard just because yours is

After 30 minutes of exploring different options, we found a way to make it work—you always can.

… and that’s the real secret to lovely little leaps of faith.

Stay tuned for more posts by the secretive Web Marketing Ninja — a professional online marketer for a major web brand, who’s sharing his tips undercover here at ProBlogger.

Is It Time to Hit the Reset Button on Your Blog?

This guest post is by Joseph of Blog Tweaks.

Don’t worry, nearly every blogger knows the story. You’ve been writing for six months or more, but haven’t seen a significant increase in traffic. Some of your posts have have been successful, but the majority have gone unnoticed.

Quite frankly, you’re ready to quit.

But should you?

No. Don’t give up just yet.

Why you shouldn’t give up yet

Did you know that most professional bloggers weren’t successful with their first blogs? This list includes Darren Rowse, Jon Morrow, and Johnny Truant.

With so much to learn in the first year, it’s almost impossible to start a successful blog on the first try.

But you also learn a lot in that first year. You learn how to write better posts and how to craft compelling headlines. You learn how to use Facebook and Twitter for promotion, and how to work the technical side of WordPress or Blogger or whatever platform you’re using.

After a year of blogging, you’ve got a lot invested in your blog. If things are going rough 12 months, it’s not time to quit just yet.

So what should you do instead?

Hit the Reset button

Instead of giving up on your blog, you should hit the Reset button.

It’s not that your blog isn’t any good—you just didn’t know what you were doing when you started. This is the case with most bloggers.

When starting, they don’t know what they want to write about, and they don’t know how to write for an audience. Most people don’t even know how to write a simple post or headline.

It makes sense that you wouldn’t be successful with your first blog. Does a magazine owner start a successful magazine without any experience? Of course not.

Magazine owners start successful magazines after being in the industry for a decade or more. After years of experience, they’re ready to start a publication. That’s what the first year of blogging is all about—gaining industry experience.

So now that you have some experience, how do you use it to run a successful blog? And what do you do if your current blog isn’t performing as well as you’d like?

Here’s what to do—instead of giving up, hit one of the two blog Reset buttons.

Reset button #1: the Refresh button

If your blog is good enough, you may be able to get away with hitting Reset button number one—the Refresh button. This means cleaning up the clutter, giving your blog a new look, and planning for the future.

To refresh your blog, mercilessly delete any weak or unnecessary posts. After this, take a serious look at everything else on the site. If there are any tags or widgets that are creating clutter and adding no value, get rid of them. All of them.

Widgets shouldn’t just take up space. If you can’t think of what value that they add or if they take away from something important, it’s time for them to go.

Here’s an example: Do you really need a calendar widget for your blog? Do people actually use it? And even if a handful of people do, should it really sit above other important sidebar elements like your subscription widget?

The answer is no. It’s got to go. If there’s anything else like this, it needs to go as well.

The goal is to have a clean, uncluttered site that doesn’t distract from the steps that you want people to take. That means reading your posts, subscribing for future posts, clicking on ads, or anything else that is really important for you.

If there’s anything that doesn’t fit into one of these important categories, it needs to be removed. Immediately.

After cutting out the unnecessary clutter, the next step is to refresh your blog’s look. This is the time to invest in that premium theme you’ve been looking at. They’re usually around $80 and totally worth it.

If you want people to take your blog seriously, you need a professional looking site. To get one, invest in a premium theme.

This is how to hit the Refresh button. If your blog needs more help than this, it may be time for the Eject button.

Reset button #2: the Eject button

It’s possible that your blog is in worse condition than the refresh button can help with. When you started, you really didn’t know what you were doing. Your blog was totally an experiment, and you don’t even like your topic any more.

In this case, you need to hit Reset button number two—the Eject button.

If you’re really tired of your blog and you know you’re ready to start over, now is the time to do it. Hit the Eject button and get out of your blog while you still can. It’s time to start over.

The harsh reality is that you have a limited amount of time to write for your blog. Everything you write needs to be creating value for the reader and needs to contribute toward your long term goals. If you feel like your blog is headed in the wrong direction, don’t just try to wash it up a bit—get out as quickly as you can.

If you do, don’t quit—start another blog. Take some time to decide what you really want to write about, and then get to work.

Pick a topic that will get you going in the direction that you want to go. Then, start a self-hosted WordPress blog with a premium theme that will give you the flexibility and look that you need to create a professional impression that readers will take seriously.

After getting these pieces in place, it’s time to start writing again. Go ahead, make that keyboard work.

A fresh start

Don’t worry, it’s okay to start over. A fresh start in a new direction may be exactly what your blog needs. You may not realize it, but most bloggers have done it already. Most successful bloggers didn’t start out with the site that they’re currently writing. Most of them hit one of these two Reset buttons.

So what do you think? Is it time for you to hit the Reset button?

Joseph recently started Blog Tweaks which specializes in helping bloggers reset their blogs. Check out the site to see how you can get your blog tweaked.

5 Reasons to Blog Anonymously (and 5 Reasons Not To)

This guest post is by Phil (not his real name) of somehighschoolblog.

It used to be impossible to run a business anonymously. Sure, some authors could pull it off, but if you worked at an office, what were you supposed to do? Go to work with a bag over your head? But today anyone can accomplish this, because anyone can author a blog (and you thought I was going to tell you to work with a mask on, or something).

Copyright Ovidiu Iordachi - Fotolia.com

Depending on your motives, you may or may not have considered blogging anonymously. You probably didn’t contemplate blogging anonymously if:

• your only motivation is to become “famous”
• your blog connects to another part of your life
• you are blogging to build more connections with your friends or boss.

You should consider blogging anonymously if:

• you’re planning on touching on a sensitive or taboo subject
• you don’t want to be identified with your blog
• you are worried about negative real-world consequences that could arise from your blog.

If you’ve already started your blog, it is too late to change to an anonymous persona (but you can always create another blog). However, if you are thinking of blogging anonymously, you should consider these points.

Reasons to blog anonymously

The concept of anonymity has always held a special enchantment for some people, and, for others it is purely practical. Whatever your blog topic, there are a five strong reasons to blog anonymously.

No pressure

If no one knows the “real you,” then they can’t tell you, in person, any thoughts they have on your blog. This means that no one will be able to make fun of, disagree strongly with, or ask to be featured on (using peer pressure) your blog. If your blog is a total flop, you won’t be publicly embarrassed.

While I wouldn’t advise disregarding your manners and morals, you don’t have to worry about close acquaintances or family members being offended by your posts.

A fresh start

Creating an anonymous identity also allows you to create a new character, if you so choose. Let’s say you are working full-time as an auto mechanic, but you are trying to create a blog on entrepreneurship. Your readers might not think you could be an authority on this subject as an auto mechanic, but an anonymous identity removes this doubt.

Instead, you could create a back-story to fit your blog; for this case, it could be something about how your latest entrepreneurial project is to build a blog anonymously.

You’re shy or unsure

Were you one of those people who is unwilling to put yourself on a blog for all to see, you should choose to blog anonymously. This way, you can hide behind a fake identity and not worry about what others think (similar to there being no pressure). You could also use anonymity to discover how people will react to your content before associating yourself with your content.

It’s a gimmick

Blogging anonymously might fit your content. For example, if you were to start a blog involving content that you received anonymously. Also, blogging anonymously places a shroud of mystery around the author and limits your personality to how you network and write your blog.

Additionally, you could make it into a marketing scheme, such as offering to reveal your true identity after reaching a certain number of subscribers.

Reasons not to blog anonymously

As an anonymous blogger who uses a pseudonym, I’ve been able to experience many of the negative aspects of choosing to remain anonymous firsthand. However, I have not yet encountered any one thing that was impossible to work around or ignore, so I have remained an anonymous blogger.

It’s harder to build traffic

Some of the initial things that many blogs recommend new bloggers do to build traffic cannot be done anonymously, and, thus, must be ignored or adapted to anonymity. For instance, many of the tips here and around the web encourage you to put your link in your email signature.

The only thing I use my anonymous e-mail address for is my blog, so this is redundant (it would be odd to have it in my real email). Also, linking to your blog from your Facebook page or Twitter account ruins your anonymity.

And, while you can (hopefully) trust your family not to share your blog’s identity, you can’t tell your friends or acquaintances to check out your blog and to spread the word, which is a great initial traffic builder.

More pressure

This is the exact opposite of “No Pressure,” but depending on what type of person you are, blogging anonymously could actually be more stressful than blogging as yourself.

You have to constantly watch yourself to make sure your anonymous identity never reveals your true identity (even in something as simple as signing your name to an e-mail) and vice-versa. Often, extra measures must be taken to ensure anonymity, and, while I won’t delve in to all of those, you must always check when giving any real information that it is not easily accessible.

Take this into account when creating user profiles for services or when registering a domain name (but you can choose to keep your information private for an extra $10 in this case).

No real-life connection

Since you can’t tell your friends about your blog, you can’t ever reference your blog in conversation.

You will need to depend on the digital world for feedback, and there will be no “Did you like my last post?” conversations. Instead, you will have to rely entirely on comments to gain a sense of how your readers feel about your blog.

The truth always appears

In such an interconnected society, if enough people put effort into it, they will discover your true identity. If/when this happens, you need to consider whether or not your readers will feel betrayed or angry towards you. You should consider this even if you plan on going public with your identity yourself at some point.

Feeling a loss of accountability

Many people think blogging anonymously protects them from whatever they write, so they are incredibly rude, untruthful, or worse. You should always know that people can find your true identity, and it is just plain useless to write this way. After all, no one will want to read it.

Furthermore, though, (and I can attest to this) it may sometimes be easier to excuse not posting for an extra few days, or not pursuing a guest-posting opportunity, because no one holds you accountable but yourself (no inquiries from friends or family). Therefore, you must be responsible and motivated to successfully blog anonymously.

Should you blog anonymously?

While there are both pros and cons to blogging anonymously, I feel that the negatives don’t outweigh the positives in certain situations. Each blogger is different, but, in my case, it is the lessened pressure combined with the creation of a new character that led me to blog anonymously.

Also, because it is harder to build initial traffic with previous connections, I think it is more challenging to build an anonymous blog (therefore, any experienced bloggers looking for a new project should try building a blog with an anonymous persona, disregarding any previous connections they’ve accumulated).

Do you have any experience, or advice for those thinking of blogging anonymously?

Using the pseudonym of Phil, Phil is a high school freshman who writes for, markets, and manages a humor blog about all aspects of high school life. Phil is unsure of what career he wants to pursue, but a few possibilities can be found here.

How to Use SEO Wisely for Long-term Profits

This guest post is by Moon Hussain of Experiments in Passive Income.

By now, we have all read about the basics of search engine optimization.  But despite knowing all the best practices, only a very few of us practice them.  I know this because shamefully, it was only recently I realized that most of my content isn’t search engine optimized.

This doesn’t make sense: you work hard using social media to get the word out about your glorious new post and are dying to see your Twitter stream blow up with your content.  That’s great and all, but why not optimize your work for the search engines and receive consistent, targeted traffic every day?

See, it’s the year 2011 and having grown up in an age where the Internet has morphed into a powerful tool, we use it for far more than stalking people on Facebook; I personally use the Internet for online shopping, restaurant reviews, dentist reviews (not kidding!), product reviews, checking out bands, downloading music… I could go on forever.  Whoever has their sites ranking in the top few related results is (potentially) raking in a lot of targeted traffic and money. This could be you.

If you have a blog online, the bottom line is you need to reach targeted audience.  You need to draw in new visitors on a constant basis to expand your online domain.

Shucks, Pa! How can I reach my target audience?!

With a few more simple but smart moves, you can really get a nice amount of new visitors on a monthly basis.

Hopefully, you know what type of audience you are trying to reach.  To reach your audience, a big part of what we, SEO practitioners, do is called keyword research.  You can use a free tool like the Google Keyword Tool to decide what keywords are worth your time.

For a solid year, I have been relying a little bit on keyword research and more so on social media (thanks to Twitter and my fellow network) to drive traffic to my site.

The main keyword that I have been trying to rank my blog for receives a nice 9000-10,000 hits a month.  Nice big fish, right?  Only problem is, it can take a while to rank for competitive keyphrases.  However, something pretty cool happened in the process of trying to aim for the main keyphrase: I now rank for another keyphrase that receives about 2000 searches a month globally.

Thanks to ranking for this “smallish” keyphrase, I get new visitors consistently every day.  Without having to do any extra work!

What does an extra 50-100 visitors a day mean for you?  Could this result in extra subscribers to your email list, affiliate sales down the line, new loyal readers?

Start with your blog posts

Even though you have a main keyword you want your blog to rank for, you should take a look at your past posts. Do you have any posts that review a product or shed light on a sub-topic?

For product keywords, you can easily optimize your post to rank for “product name”, “product review” type of keywords.  Even if these terms receive a low number of searches a month, you can earn a few affiliate sales because these are known as buyer keywords. People use such keywords to make up their minds about purchasing the products by looking up reviews; if everything checks out, they are ready to buy the product or service.  You want your link to be the one they click through to make that product or service purchase!

Move onto sub-topics

As for a sub-topic, again conduct some research using the Google Keyword Tool.  Just because you want your blog to rank for “vegetable gardening” [5400 searches globally] doesn’t mean you can’t have a post that ranks for “grow tomatoes” [1300 searches globally].  You can surely see that people who are interested in growing their own tomatoes would most likely also be interested in vegetable gardening.

Better yet, if you do proper keyword research, you can end up with a keyword pyramid which can help you dominate your competitive keyphrases a lot easier.

Since my blog is well over the year mark, I have made a list of five posts (and keyphrases) that I’d like to rank.  This may take me a couple of months but it ensures the survival of my blog.  I have already begun my SEO efforts on this post: Why Blog Blueprint Rocks For Your Backlinking Campaign—The Most Important Words You’ll Read Today.

About a month ago, this blog post didn’t rank in the top 1000 search results in Google.  Thanks to an awesome gig on Fiverr, it ranks #23 in Google now and I will keep up my backlinking efforts until I see it ranking in top three in Google search results.

If we take a look at my keyword research, you may think that ranking for this post isn’t even worth my efforts:

But that’s where you’re wrong! Not only is the competition for these keywords low but ranking this post in conjunction with a few other posts for the appropriate keywords will result in new, steady traffic.

Take action NOW

Which two or three posts can you rank with some on-page and off-page optimization?  Doing keyword research for these posts and hiring someone on Fiverr should take less than an hour.  The purpose here is to leverage your existing content using search engine optimization to get new visitors.

Ranking your post or website can take a nice amount of work and time.  It takes patience and endurance, kind of like a ninja. Seriously!

The first step in getting your site to rank is to conduct search engine optimization on the post.  If you are using WordPress for your blog, then hopefully you are using the All-In-One-SEO Pack for on-page optimization.  If you’re not, then you have some work to do.  This plug-in makes it super easy to fill in tags, description and title of your post (as in filling in the meta tags specifically for the post) for the search engines:

Next, you need your post to receive some backlinks.  If you have a powerful network, you can ask your friends to link to you (yeah right!)  For blogs with a small readership, this won’t come so easily.

If not, you can take matters into your own hands.  You can create social bookmarking links, article links, web 2.0 links or a nice link wheel.  You can take it a step further and use Fiverr to get your backlinking done.

However, don’t expect results overnight.  Rarely does this happen.

By ranking three of your posts for search terms that receive 1000 searches each, you have potentially added 1500-2500 new visitors every month.  For small blogs, this number of visitors a month is a lifeline.  Once the work is done, you will reap the benefits for months and years to come.  Even Darren dedicates time to search engine optimizing his posts once a month, only on a much bigger scale.  But you can start small and build your way up.

Why SEO is your friend

Most people new to search engine optimization give up before they see any results which is a shame because it can sustain your blog and your business.

Advertising takes money.  Search engine rankings can take time.  However, I’m a fan of SEO and ranking your website because it’s a low cost solution as long as you don’t mind putting in consistent effort and have time.

Within one month’s time, I’d love to share with you how my blog post is faring in the search engines.  Why not throw in the gauntlet?  What post(s) will you be working on ranking in Google?  Please let me know in the comments section.

Moon Hussain loves utilizing search engine optimization to fuel her so-called passive income experiments blog.  Check out her free report, To the Moon & Back: Honest Guide to Building Successful Passive Income Businesses Online in which she discusses all that she’s learned in a year.

Finding the Rhythm of Blogging

This guest post is by Stephanie Krishnan of guide2office.com.

I play the African drum: an instrument called the djembe. I’ve been playing it since 2005. Until last year I used to play it as often as four times a week with a local group. My husband requested that I reduce the frequency of my playing (as it took a lot of time away from our time together: he travels a lot for his work). Initially I resisted, however, now I play very infrequently—probably only once every three months when he’s out of town.

rhythm

Image is author's own

One of the things that made it easier to reduce the frequency of my drumming was fear. It wasn’t that I couldn’t play. Our teacher had a series of 20 rhythms of varying complexity and I did fairly well in mastering those. I could play them practically on demand (and still can). I even liked playing them in front of others at performances. The problem was that when it came to improvising and soloing, which was expected of everyone who had played for a couple of years, I believed I was terrible.

I tried various methods for overcoming this.

I would put together a “planned solo”—a rhythm that I could play when it was my turn to go alone. When it came to crunch time I would get nervous and forget it.

I tried to play the rhythm over and over again—on my car stereo, on my iPod, at home—and just play what felt natural to see if anything fit. Nothing seemed to fit together, or if it did, I couldn’t repeat it. Again, when it came time to perform I would go a brilliant shade of red, drum out a few beats and pass it on to the next soloist, convinced I’d just embarrassed myself royally in front of an audience and in front of other players whose opinion I cared about.

Now, I’m not an A-list blogger. I’m not even a P-list blogger (does the list go that low?). I have a passion for Office productivity software (eg. OpenOffice.org, LibreOffice, etc.). I love what it can do and I love the idea of open-source. I love the idea of developing something and giving back to the community. So open-source-office-productivity-software just plain floats my boat. I have also found that others don’t like Office productivity software. They see it more as a necessary evil. They use it because they have a task to do and want to know the best way to achieve that task without the software hanging or producing undesirable results.

I try to fill this gap.

So you would think that I had identified a problem and a solution to my problem?

Possibly—there is no guarantee. The problem I have is not with this. The problem I have is that now I have my “product”, I’m scared and I’m over-thinking everything. I’m back to the same problem I have with my djembe-playing.

Lessons from the djembe

My djembe teacher used to say that there are a few things that you need to do in order to solo well.

  1. Don’t think too much. If you think about what you are going to do too much, you’ll be slow, and you’ll miss the beat. Then your performance will sound as bad as you are afraid it will sound, and you will think even harder. It’s a never-ending cycle.
  2. Let yourself go. You have the knowledge and the skill. Now just let your body do what it feels is right. If it’s wrong, it will find its rhythm again and you will have an opportunity in the next beat to make it right.
  3. Find your voice. Think about what you want to say with your instrument and say it. Joy? Sadness? Love? Express it with your instrument!
  4. Practice. Often. Keep at it. Don’t give up. It will come and it will steadily get better.

I have intellectually known that I have not been applying this to my blogging. I have been letting fears that I am not expert enough, and that I don’t have enough information/expertise/whatever to put out the ebook that’s been sitting in the back of my mind.

I read blogs. I do research. I read on twitter. I read, read, read.

But I forget to write.

I see my figures on Google Analytics—the meagre 100 visitors that I used to get every month are dwindling – 80, 70 and now 60.

It’s time I learned to solo.

From drumming to blogging

Now I will put my djembe master’s guide into practice.

  1. Don’t think too much. I will commit to sitting down and writing Not reading, not researching. Just doing. A minimum of three times per week. Nike’s will be my mantra—”just do it.”
  2. Let myself go. I will start my ebook: first as a series of blog posts that will build into the full book. I can correct the mistakes based on feedback and I can put together solutions that people will be able to follow.
  3. Find my voice. I know what I want to say. I’ve just been afraid of what people will say. But you know what? There will be mistakes. There will be better ways to do things. And I can learn and grow and adapt as my readers do, and my voice can be one that shares this growth with others.
  4. Practice. And this means write. And keep on writing. And don’t stop. It will get better.

I can do this. I know I can. And then maybe I’ll get back to soloing on the djembe as well.

Have you found your blogging rhythm? Tell us how in the comments.

Stephanie Krishnan is passionate about Open Source and all Office Productivity Software, and her site at http://www.guide2office.com provides solutions, templates and tutorials on getting you the results you want from your Office software. You can follow Guide2Office on Facebook or Twitter.

Guest Posting and The Panda Update: Is Guest Posting the Problem?

This guest post is by Philip Rudy of www.inetzeal.com.

The recent Panda update has affected many websites, and not only the “content mills” of the Internet. Many bloggers are scrambling and wondering what they can do get their rankings back to where they were.

Side note: If you feel you have been wrongly effected by the recent update, let Google know about it here.

Many bloggers have even gone as far as to delete each and every one of their guest posts until their rankings bounce back, thinking that the guest posts they have allowed on their sites are what is affecting their rank.

However, guest posting is not a problem if it’s done right. If accepting guest posts is what’s keeping your web site at the bottom of the SERPs, then it’s time to start taking a better look at the guest posts your web site is accepting.

Let’s take a close look at the similarities between your sub-par guest post and the type of pages that were affected by the Panda Update:

Original content makes up a low % of content, either at the page level or throughout a whole site

Unfortunately, many guest post topics are rehashed over and over on the Internet. Is it always the guest poster’s fault? No, but when people are trying to build links rather than provide value through their writing, then topics become rehashed over and over again. If you have many guest posts like this then your web site starts to look like a duplicate content monster—and sometimes you wouldn’t even know it.

Solution: Research proposed guest posting topics and see what’s already out there. Let guest bloggers know that if they want to write on topic, then it has to be something completely different from what comes up in the SERPs.

Ads that don’t coincide with the content

Many times when you accept guest posts they may be a little off topic from what you are usually writing about. When you accept many off-topic guest posts, your site begins to look like a content mill—more like an article directory than a blog.

If you have advertisement on your site that’s the same on each page, you begin to have totally irrelevant ads on many of your pages. This is a sign of a poor-quality website—and one that is now measurable in Google’s algorithm.

Solution: Make sure when you are accepting guest posts that the topic is at least somewhat related to the ads that you run on your website. If you run a blog that covers a few or many different topics then make sure you place the appropriate ads to place on the pages that are guest posts.

High bounce rate and low time spent on the page

Low-quality guest posts ensure that the visitor will leave the site as soon as they land on it. Since many guest posts do not have the in-depth analysis on the topics that the visitor is searching for, and are usually just cover a broad generalization of the topic, a visitor will automatically assume that the rest of your website will be just as low quality.

Solution: At first glance the solution to this problem might be to require lengthier articles—but that of course is not a solution. It may in fact just add to the problem. There is no magic word count that will keep your visitors on your site longer—only good content can do that. A good solution to the problem is to require some type of study case or detailed analysis with each article—something to capture the readers’ eyes and keep them there.

Guest posting is not the problem

Guest posting should not be a link-building exercise first and foremost. It is a valuable tool, but one that can definitely be taken advantage of, and doing so will definitely leave your site susceptible to algorithm updates like Panda and others that will be similar in the future.

If you think submitted guest posts will increase the value of your blog, accept them. If they’re just filler, then you are probably better off without the unneeded content.

This article was written by Philip Rudy. Philip helps to run www.inetzeal.com, which is an Internet marketing company that provides a white label link building service.