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Blog Business Model 1: Land Public Speaking Gigs Through Your Blog

This is the first post in our series on Blog Business Models.

Marcus Sheridan runs The Sales Lion blog, where he explores the marketing approach he’s used to build a successful business. But his blog has helped Marcus springboard very successfully into the public speaking circuit.

Marcus Sheridan

Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion

Marcus has told us his story before, in the post From Small-time Blogger to Professional Paid Speaker: My Journey. Here, he talks about how the blog supports that business in a little more detail.

Marcus, what was it that drew you to blogging in the first instance?

Since 2001, I’ve owned an inground swimming pool company that installs pools throughout Virginia and Maryland. Things grew nicely until 2008 when the housing marketing collapsed, ruining many pool companies and forcing us to figure out a way to continue to survive despite so few potential clients.

During this time of struggle I stumbled upon a company called HubSpot and learned about inbound marketing, and decided to embrace blogging as a means of generating more traffic, leads, and sales through our company website.

Because of our willingness to be incredibly transparent and informative about all things swimming pools, the site’s popularity quickly exploded and it became the go-to source for the inground pool industry. It also saved our business because although it really didn’t cost us much at all to do, it sold us many, many pools.

With so much success in the swimming pool industry, I decided to teach others about what I had achieved, and these teachings became what is today TheSalesLion.com, a blog that has made its mark as one of the premier inbound and content marketing focused blogs on the web.

The blog supports your business as a public speaker. Did you develop the blog with the intention that it would support your speaking work?

I knew I’d never get the type of speaking gigs I wanted unless I had a platform to build my overall brand awareness and influence. With The Sales Lion, I accomplished just that as it allowed me to express my thoughts in all their forms. Because people saw I had a unique approach to things, I started getting more and more invitations to speak.

Forcing myself to write about all things marketing, sales, business, and personal development has allowed me to refine my message. It has also embedded these teachings into my brain in such a way that I can now speak for hours upon hours about business and marketing without notes. Such is the power of blogging if we go about it the right way.

So the strength with which the blog supports you as a speaker is no happy accident, then.

Make no mistake about it: my blog strategy is intentional. I want companies to see I can come in and speak to their organizations and assist them in their content marketing efforts. I want conferences to see that I’m wildly opinionated, thought provoking, and unafraid to say what’s on my mind—with a whole lot of passion mixed in.

you make it sound so easy! Do you face many hurdles in using your blog to build your business as a speaker?

I think the biggest challenge is continuing to plant the seeds while you’re reaping the harvest.

In other words, striking the balance between producing new content on my blog and continuing to network while I also need to be helping my actual, paying clients. One will help sales later, while the other will help my cashflow right now. I think this is a balance we all struggle with, though.

True. So what’s the secret sauce that’s helped you get your blog business to where it is today?

  1. I make people feel good when they stop by and leave a comment, because I care and I’m grateful.
  2. I’m opinionated and not just regurgitating what everyone else is saying.
  3. I’m dang good at storytelling.
  4. I teach/write in such a way that anyone can understand what I’m saying. In other words, my goal isn’t to try to impress myself or sound intelligent.
  5. I haven’t let off the gas in three years.

That’s quite the list! But how do you define your unique selling proposition?

I don’t try to be all things to all people. And I’m certainly not afraid to have some guts when necessary and put myself in the line of fire if I feel something needs to be said.

Also, I know my shtick. I’m one of the best in the world at content marketing—not Facebook, or Twitter, or Linkedin—etc.

Well, speaking of online tools, which ones do you rely on most in your blog business?

As I mentioned, I love HubSpot for their lead tracking and behavior software. Like everyone else, I use WordPress and my theme is Thesis. I also have a virtual assistant who helps edit my stuff and offers needed support.

So what words of advice would you tell a blogger who wanted to get into public speaking, using their blog as the platform?

  1. Answer every single question in your field. Be the wiki of whatever it is you do.
  2. Be bold and gutsy.
  3. Make your readers feel good about themselves.
  4. Stand up to the “big boys” when necessary.
  5. Be great at networking.

Great advice! Finally, Marcus, what does the future hold for you, your blog, and your business?

That’s a tough question, because stuff is changing at an incredible rate. But I see my brand growing, along with my speaking schedule. I plan on being one of the best keynote and business speakers in the world and feel I’m well on my way to reaching that goal.

I’ll always have a blog, no matter what, because I simply have to express myself and put my thoughts to pen. That’s just who I am. And I plan on smiling for the entire journey.

Thanks to Marcus for sharing his thoughts with us. To find out more about Marcus’s business model, visit his site at The Sales Lion and read his story in From Small-time Blogger to Professional Paid Speaker: My Journey.

Five Blog Business Models That’ll Make You Money

One of the great things about the blogosphere is innovation, and the fact that there is an almost unlimited number of ways you can make money blogging.

One glance around the web shows such variety in terms of the way bloggers approach their audiences and provide them with value.

Building blocks

Image courtesy of stock.xchng user danzo08

The thing is, all that choice can be overwhelming. Those looking to being monetizing their blogs can be put off by the profusion of choices. Those who are thinking of extending their current monetization strategies can often fall back on tried and tested—but not necessarily optimal—methods simply because it’s so difficult to navigate the information around new ones.

So this week, we’re going to look at some of the more common blogging business models in depth.

The five six blog business models

Starting today, six pro bloggers will explain the ins and outs of the business model they’re successfully using to monetize their blogs.

Their insights will give you valuable ideas about how different business models might work with your own blog, niche, and audience.

Here are the business models we’ll cover—and the individuals who’ll share their experiences with us. Each day I’ll be updating this list with the link to the current days’ post, so you can bookmark this post to access them all:

  1. Landing public speaking gigs through your blog, with Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion
  2. Selling your print book through your blog, with Kevin Cullis of MacStartup
  3. Selling electronic products, with me, focusing on dPS
  4. Affiliate marketing, with Anshul Dayal of Nichesense
  5. Selling training and courses, with Jules Clancy of The Stone Soup.

Update: we’ve just received a bonus post for the series:

I’ll also be supplementing these articles and interviews with resource lists for further research for those interested in finding out more about that business model.

I hope you’ll find this advice useful, and that it inspires you to look at your blog’s money-making potential in a fresh light.

Before we begin, let us know if you’re already monetizing your blog, and how. Share your strategies with us in the comments.

Book Review: Marketing In the Round

Not long ago we published the post 5 Ways Blogging Supports a Multichannel Marketing Strategy by Geoff Livingston. Geoff’s one of the authors of Marketing in the Round, How to Develop an Integrated Marketing Campaign in the Digital Era.

Written with Gini Dietrich, Marketing in the Round is a marketing strategy book, designed primarily for large organisations that have multiple roles within the marketing and communications functions.

So as I began reading, I wondered: what would this book offer to solo or small-team bloggers like us?

Structure and contents

The book’s set out in three parts:

  • Understand the marketing round and develop your strategy
  • Four marketing round approaches
  • Measurement, refinement, and improvement.
  • Each chapter in part two is laced with examples of integrated strategies used by real organisations, online and off, all with mulitmillion-dollar turnovers. Presenting actual case information to exemplify the points that have been made in the first section of the book, and to really show how integrated marketing works, and what impacts it in the real world, is an excellent way to get readers’ heads around the information.

    Each chapter of the book finishes with an “Exercises” section that gives the reader practical starting points to act on the advice that’s presented in that chapter. The exercises can, at times, seem a bit simplistic but they are an excellent way to help readers take the high-level conceptual advice from each chapter and make it truly workable.

    The book does assume some knowledge, too—that readers have some understanding of pure marketing concepts, but also that they have some idea of how marketing teams function in large organizations, and the different disciplines represented by team members can work together. If you lack this understanding, Marketing in the Round may be a bit bewildering at first.

    That said, the case examples in the second part of the book should still prove useful and informative regardless of your level of experience with in the field.

    What’s in it for you?

    Despite the book’s targeting, bloggers can get a lot out of this title—if they’re prepared to read, digest, and consider.

    The book shows us:

    • what integrated marketing is in concept and practice
    • how it can be used to build a brand
    • what elements can impact on the strategy’s success
    • how to create an integrated marketing strategy
    • how to execute, measure, and refine that strategy.

    The benefit of the book’s focus on multidisciplinary teams is, I think, something of an advantage for solopreneur readers.

    Firstly, it addresses the issues of integration that arise when different people do different tasks. As a solo or small team blogger, you have to wear multiple hats on any given day—or indeed in any given moment.

    Stepping back and considering those roles (within the marketing and promotions effort) individually can help you to get perspective on what it is you’re doing. If you can understand how a team might use the marketing round to create an integrated campaign, you’ll be in a strong position to successfuly be your own marketing round.

    Secondly, the challenges of creating integrated campaigns using multiple tactics, executions, media and people over an extended period is probably the trickiest scenario in which to create an integrated campaign. At least if, as a blogger, you need to do everything (or most things) yourself, you’ll have a good feel for where the different components of your integrated marketing effort are at.

    I tend to think that learning from the most-difficult-case archetype is a good way to get your head around detailed technical concepts. If you can master the most difficult case, you’ll be one (or more) steps ahead when it comes to easier ones. Also, a book that discussed integrated marketing for bloggers would most certainly not cover the depth or breadth of information that this book presents.

    Yes, you’ll have to think about the material and discern what might or might not work for you—what’s applicable and what’s not. But the fact that it’s all there means you get to make those calls based on your skills, blog, audience, market, and personality. You’re not relying on the author to make those choices for you, and hope that their selection matches your needs.

    Finally, by understanding the biggest possible integrated marketing picture, you’ll be fully informed when it comes to critically assessing the work of those in your niche, whether they’re big brands or small, and to formulating your own integrated strategy for your brand.

    If you want to get smarter about your marketing, and think strategically about how you can get more out of the tactics you’re using, Marketing in the Round is a great place to start. For more information on the book, visit marketingintheround.com.

Build Readership by Building Leadership

We often hear the word “authority” mentioned in blogging circles, particularly in discussions around building a loyal following.

At its most basic, authority is about knowing what you’re talking about, and who you’re talking to. If you think about it, this is a key to rich exchanges in the real world. Why wouldn’t it be the same online?

Looking at some of the leading bloggers in some specific niches today, though, it’s clear that they have more than authority and a way with words or images.

They’re also great leaders. They show their followers how to overcome challenges successfully. They keep their tribe abreast of industry developments and warn them of pitfalls. They help audiences avoid making the mistakes they themselves have made.

That’s how they build readership: by being the best leader within their blogging niche. Let’s look at how this pans out in practice.

Lead through knowledge

To lead a group, you usually need to know more about the topic, overall, than anyone else in the group.

This doesn’t mean you have to know everything—none of us can claim that. But you need to have unique, first-hand knowledge of the topic, gained over time, through your own personal experience.

As a blogger, you need to know your niche better than anyone. This is your first point of value in attracting readers. It may also be a crucial element in your unique selling proposition.

An example is Jules Clancy from The Stone Soup. Jules is a food technologist-turned food blogger. She’s got a thorough knowledge of food at a very detailed level. And now she’s leveraging that knowledge at a high level, to blog about food and offer classes and courses to her loyal and growing readership.

Similarly, Nomadic Matt Kepnes has more than six years’ experience of having a fantastic time travelling the globe on a shoestring budget. Few of his competitors can claim that level of knowledge of the same niche, and his rising reader levels reflect how important that is in this complicated niche.

Lead through innovation

One thing we can say about leaders in pretty much all industries or niches is that they innovate. You don’t stay ahead of the pack for long unless you find new ways to operate. And by sharing the results of that innovation, you can gain a loyal following that values your bleeding-edge insights.

Leaders share their experiments so that they can save their readers time and trouble. Whether they’re experimenting to find ways to do things faster and better, or to get better outcomes for their efforts, leaders are always trying new things.

Gretchen Rubin, of The Happiness Project, is constantly researching happiness and conducting her own personal experiments in her own life, so that she can find what works for her (and what doesn’t) and help readers by sharing that experience.

Leo Babauta is another die-hard experimenter who’s made a blog—and a lifestyle, and a living!—through experimentation and innovation within his mindfulness niche.

Lead through empowerment

Good leaders empower the people in their tribe. Think about a good leader in an organization—they’re usually someone who’s great at perceiving the needs of their team members, and then supporting those people in any way they can, to achieve the organization’s goals. And of course everyone wants to work on their team!

Similarly, if you empower readers of your blog, they’ll share their successes and experiences with others, which will help grow your readership in a very organic and personal way.

How can we do that? There are plenty of ways, but one is to launch initiatives that directly and personally involve your readers, and build community around your blog. This has the twin benefit of growing readers’ experience and skill level, and connecting them with others who can help them make the most of what they’ve learned.

Danny Iny did this with his blogging business survey—he involved readers by asking them to participate in the survey. Then, he gave them full access to the survey results.

Gretchen took a similar approach with her year-long Happiness Challenge in 2011, which she worked through alongside her readers, supporting and empowering them at each step. Today she still helps new fans connect through her Happiness Groups.

Lead through connection

Creating connections is an important part of the leader’s job. By putting your audience in touch with others who can help them, you further empower them, creating a stronger bond between yourself and those readers. Whether you’re connecting them with other professionals, or with each other, that connection can act as a platform for learning, and lets participants share their own knowledge and skills.

Helping your audience to be their best is exactly the kind of thing they’ll naturally want to talk about with others. It’s also a key motivator to keep them coming back to your blog.

On Digital Photography School, we try to facilitate this through submit-your-shots posts like the Weekly Photography Challenge, where readers send in their photos to share with others. Like guest posts, this technique helps to draw readers’ attention to others who are doing good things in the same space.

You can also help to connect readers with authorities in your niche through an ongoing philosophy of sharing those leaders’ work and ideas. Social media, “industry roundup” posts, and promotions for the work of others in your niche are good ways to lead by connecting readers with other leaders—and grow your value within your target audience.

A blog that’s based almost entirely on this concept is BrainPickings, where Maria Popova curates “the best” ideas and concepts within the creativity and culture niche. Her blog effectively acts as a goldmine for readers who want to be “put onto” cool stuff. While they may pursue her links and tips to do their own further investigation into ideas, people, or things they like the sound of, they keep coming back to her blog as the ultimate source of great creative inspiration.

Leaders attract readers

In blogging, good leaders really do attract readers. Importantly, they’re not just good at attracting new readers—they’re also able to continually fulfil the needs of current readers, which keeps them off the new-reader treadmill and has let them establish a loyal and growing readership over time.

Are you using leadership qualities to build your blog’s readership? How? Share your thoughts and tips with us.

How to Back Up and Move a WordPress Blog

This guest post is by Caimin Jones of Genius Startup.

Sometimes you’ll need to move your blog from one host to another. It’s a bit of a pain and might seem a daunting task if you’ve never done it before.

But transferring a site is a fairly straightforward process that you can do yourself with an FTP program and this step-by-step guide.

Before trying the DIY method, it’s worth checking to see whether your new hosting company offers a site transfer service for new customers. Many do—but check whether there’s a cost involved. I’ve seen free services for this, but I’ve also seen prices around $300!

If you just need to learn how to make a simple backup of your posts, and don’t need to move hosts, take a look at this ProBlogger post.

But if you’re ready to back up and move your blog, let’s do it.

What you need to begin

To get stated, you’ll need:

  1. an FTP program (two good, free ones are FileZilla or FireFTP which works as a Firefox add-on)
  2. the FTP login information for your current host
  3. the FTP login information for your new host
  4. the MySQL username, password, and host name for your new server
  5. the nameserver information for your new host—there are usually two host names, sometimes more
  6. the login details for the registrar with which your domain name is registered.

It’s best to move hosts during a quiet time of the week for your blog, which probably means over the weekend. Check that support is available at your new host, and have the number handy. If something doesn’t work as it should, you’ll be glad you don’t have to go looking for that phone number.

Two preliminary steps to make life easier

If you’re using a cache plugin like Total Cache or WP Super Cache, deactivate and completely remove the plugin before you start the move process.

Cache plugins store file settings on the server, and these will be different for your new host, so you need to do a new install for those types of plugins. Most other types of plugins won’t need to be re-installed using the process I’m outlining here.

Secondly, it’s highly recommended go to your domain registrar or hosting company and lower the TTL value on your domain to something like 300 seconds, or the lowest value allowed.

TTL stands for Time To Live. It’s the number of seconds browsers should wait before refreshing the DNS information that connects domain names with web servers. Setting it to a low value means you won’t have to wait more than a few minutes for your host switching to take effect.

You’ll find the TTL as a setting under a DNS Zone file. For example, it looks like this in Media Temple:

TTL settings

And it looks like this in Go Daddy:

TTL settings GoDaddy

Make sure you change the TTL at least 12 hours before you plan to switch web hosts, so that the newer, faster refresh time has updated around the internet.

Making the move

Step 1. Install WordPress on the new hosting company

If the new host has a one-click install feature, use that to install WordPress—you’ll save yourself quite a bit of time and hassle.

If you have to install it manually, take a look at the official installation guide.

Step 2. Back up the database

The easiest way to make a complete database backup is to install the WP-DBManager plugin .

Once it’s installed, go to Database > Backup Database and click the Backup button. If you have a lot of posts or comments, this might take a few seconds.

When you see the message that the backup has been created, go to Database > Manage Backup DB and check the backup file is definitely there.

Step 3. Back up all the files from your old server

Using your FTP program, log in to your old host and navigate to your wp-content directory. Download everything in that directory to your computer.

At this stage you have a complete copy of your entire blog—and you’re halfway there.

Downloading the copy

Step 4. Upload your files to the new server

Now, it’s back to your FTP program. Log in to the new server and navigate to the wp-content directory.

Before you take the next step, double-check that you really are logged in to the new server and not the old one.

Now delete everything in the wp-content directory.

Then upload everything in the wp-content copy on your computer to your new host.

Step 5. Change nameservers

You’re nearly there! Now you need to log in to your domain name registrar and change the nameservers to those of your new hosting company.

Changing the nameservers

Changes to domain nameservers can take a few hours or more to propagate through the internet, so it may be a while before your blog is being served from its new home. However, if you followed the tip to reduce the TTL value before you began, you’ll only need to wait a few minutes for the changes to take effect.

Sep 6. Make the finishing touches

Visit your blog homepage and refresh it every few minutes until you see the WordPress install page (if you manually installed WordPress) or an empty blog using the standard theme (if you used a one-click install option).

Don’t panic! Log in to the Admin area and go to Database > Manage BackupDB. You should see the backup file you made on your old server. Select it and click Restore.

Now check your blog homepage and you should see a fully working blog, with posts, comments, theme, and plugins working correctly.

If everything looks good, you can now reinstall your cache plugin, if you were using one. I’d also say you’ve also earned a glass of your favorite beverage!

Caimin Jones is founder of Genius Startup which gives bloggers and small startups no fluff, practical strategies to build a successful web business.

SEO Your YouTube Videos in 10 Steps

This guest post is by Deepak of VideoMarketing.net.

In this article we are going to have a look at the various strategies and tactics that will help you rank your YouTube videos inside the YouTube video search engine.

YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world, according to Alexa.com. A lot of people are looking for information online in the form of videos and they will come to YouTube directly to search for “infomovies.”

Just like infographics, infomovies are articles in the form of a video. An infomovie can be defined as the audio visual representation of information (while an infographic is a visual representation of information). Infomovies usually include slides accompanied by text and images, and a voiceover too.

Right now there is not as much competition for video rankings in YouTube as there is for article rankings in Google’s index, but as more and more people convert their articles to infomovies, it will become harder to rank your videos in the first page of YouTube search results.

And that brings us to the purpose of this article: the process for optimizing your YouTube videos for search.

1. Use a suitable video filename

The name of your video file should reflect the topic of the video itself.

So, if you’re uploading an infomovie about dog training, your video’s file name should be something like “dog-training.avi.”

This sounds obvious, but many people upload video files with names such as “untitled.mov” or “MOV123.MP4.” Although this file name is not visible to the YouTube user, YouTube will give search preference to video files whose names include topic keywords.

2. Put your keywords first

Put your main keyword first in the video’s title, description, and tags. Your brand name or website’s name can be included at the end of the title, but put your topic keywords up front.

The title should, of course, be compelling and entice users to click on it. The rules of copywriting which you apply to blog titles and sales pages also apply to YouTube video titles. If you have an effective title, you will have a better clickthrough rate, and the YouTube search algorithm will take that into account in ranking your video.

Some videos that you upload will not get a lot of viewers in the beginning, but will gain traction and traffic in the long term—so there are long-tail possibilities with YouTube search!

3. Include keywords in your video voiceover

When you’re creating an infomovie, you’ll likely include a script from which the video’s voiceover was made.

This script is nothing but an article with small modifications to make is suitable as a voiceover for a video. And, just like a search-optmized text article, your video script should include the main keywords for your topic.

Here’s an example of a video with a voiceover.

Google has developed speech-to-text conversion technology which will try to convert your infomovie’s voiceover into captions—you can see the captioning in the video above by clicking the “CC” button at the video’s bottom-right corner.

Voice conversion

“CC” Stands for closed captions. Although YouTube cannot always transcribe your voiceover accurately, the technology is good enough to get an idea of the keywords you’ve used in the voiceover. And Google is improving it every day.

Accessing video captioning

This technology was originally developed for the free-411 service—a technology whereby users can call 800-GOOG-411 to get free, automated directory assistance. But Google has further developed this system to understand what videos mean and to improve video search technology, as Google’s Marissa Mayer explained back in 2007:

Whether or not free-411 is a profitable business unto itself is yet to be seen. The reason we really did it is because we need to build a great speech-to-text model that we can use for all kinds of different things, including video search.

Google—through YouTube, which it owns—is constantly trying to deliver the most relevant results for customers and users. This is particularly useful for those of us who create infomovies packed with content.

If we include keywords in our voiceover scripts, Google’s voice-to-tect technology will pick them up and use them, along with the other factors mentioned here, to rank your video in the youTube search results.

4. Upload a transcript file for video captioning

YouTube also gives us the option to upload transcript files for our videos. It has been confirmed through experiments that YouTube indexes the captions file of a YouTube video, and uses this information to help determine the video’s keyword relevancy.

In the experiment, a unique text string was included in the captions file. After a day a search for that string in Google returned that video. It couldn’t have been possible unless Google indexed the text in the captions file that was uploaded.

Uploading your own caption transcript is a better option than letting YouTube transcribe the audio itself, as you get total control over what appears in your video captions.

The original caption uploading feature required us to include the timing for each sentence or line in the video. This was a tedious process. It would take hours to create a captions or subtitle file if you included the start and stop timing for every single line.

But recently YouTube has refined its speech-to-text technology so that if you simply upload the transcript file without timings, it will automatically set the timings. This feature is still in beta testing, but I have never seen it make a mistake.

Google describes the difference between captions and transcripts like this:

A caption file contains both the text and information about when each line of text should be displayed.

A transcript file, on the other hand, just contains the text of what was said in the video. If the video’s in English, YouTube can use speech processing algorithms to determine when the words in a transcript should be displayed.

To upload a transcript file, click on Edit for the video in your YouTube video manager. Click on the Captions tab. Under the Add New Captions or Transcript header, select Transcript File as the Type, and upload your script file—the article from which we created the audio file for the infomovie.

Within a minute, YouTube will do its magic. You can see it work by watching your video. Click the CC button on the video and YouTube will display the words in exact sync with the audio. And your keyword-rich transcript file will be used by the YouTube search engine to rank your video appropriately in user searches for those terms.

5. Build an authoritative YouTube channel

If you are uploading your video to a brand new channel, your videos may not have a good ranking to start with. However if you have an established channel with lots of videos and subscribers, your videos will rank more highly in the search results as competition grows.

So try to create a channel for each niche you’re serving through YouTube.

6. Upload videos regularly

If you upload a bunch of videos to a channel and never touch it for years, then those videos may not have as much SEO power as the videos in the channel which are updated regularly.

This is just like blogging—if a blog is not updated for a long time then it will lose its rankings in Google. Freshness is seen to indicate relevance, at least to some degree. So keep your channel fresh with recently uploaded videos.

7. Respond to comments on your videos

YouTube tells us to “Respond to comments in the first few hours after you publish a video. These first viewers are your core audience and building comments early helps increase the video’s ranking in search.”

8. Create and use playlists

YouTube has a feature called Playlists that allows users to group videos spread across YouTube into a single list or collection. If your video is added to a Playlist, it can increase the SEO power of your video. We can see Playlists as social signals about videos that are popular or valuable to YouTube users, and well all know that Google’s working hard to integrate social signals into its search algorithms.

The playlist

9. Encourage other social signals

In a similar vein, your video’s search rank will benefit the more comments, favorites, likes, and video responses it receives. To attract these social signals, you’ll need to create a high-quality video and ask people to take those actions on it.

However, be careful not to incentivize users to like or comment on your video. For example, if you offer to give away a random prize for the commenters on your video, your channel may be terminated. YouTube does not like playing games with their algorithm and this kind of activity is against their terms and conditions.

10. Encourage off-site backlinks to your videos

Just like any web page, backlinks from other sites will help your videos to rank better in YouTube search.

Submit your video URL to social bookmarking sites, blog about it, and share it on your Twitter and Facebook profiles. The more backlinks you can get for your videos, the better.

Are you optimizing your videos for search?

With these ten tips, you’ll be on your way to much better YouTube search rankings for your videos. Have you created an infomovie yet? And are you using any of these techniques on your videos? Let us know how your videos are ranking in the comments.

Deepak blogs about video marketing for bloggers at VideoMarketing.net. He has 5 years of experience in using web videos to drive traffic. You can grab his 14 day free video training program on video marketing from this page.

Set Up Social Media to Give You Great Post Ideas

This guest post is by Douglas Lim of The 10 Habits of Highly Effective Social Media Marketing People.

Finding articles and ideas for blog posts is an important skill for bloggers to master—and one that can now be leveraged through the power of social media.

High-quality content is tweeted, liked, bookmarked, and shared around. That’s why social media is fantastic for sourcing great content: we know even before we look at it that it’s probably of high quality, since people are sharing it with their friends and followers.

Spend just five minutes setting up your networks of choice to send you great content, and you’ll have no trouble translating and leveraging that inspiration to create your own blog post ideas.

Twitter

One of the nice features of Twitter is that it gives us the ability to create Lists of Twitter accounts.

For example, you can create a List, call it whatever you want, and then add to it all the Twitter accounts that tweet about a particular topic. It could be thought leaders in your field, or it may list brands that regularly write about your topic.

When you load that List in Twitter, you’ll only see tweets from thosepeople—it’s a perfectly curated suite of informationon your topic. Even better, Twitter allows you to subscribe to other people’s Lists. So you can get the benefits of someone else’s work—look especially to the Lists of thought leaders in your field, who know other people who provide great information.

Twitter lists

To create a List, simply go to your Twitter homepage and click on the head-shot icon as in the image below. To complete your List, follow the prompts as directed.


Facebook

Facebook is another fantastic social network for sourcing great content. Similar to Twitter, you can create an Interest list and include Fan pages in it. Then, you can view that list and only see page updates from Fan pages you’ve included.

Many brands are now on Facebook, so you can source some great information. To create an Interest list, go to your Facebook home page, and on the bottom-left side click on Add interests, as in the screenshot below.

Add interests on Facebook

Next, click on Create List and follow the steps to create your curated list.

Facebook list

Google+

Google+ also allows you to curate social content through its Circles. On Google+ you can create a Circle (of friends, colleagues, thought leaders, etc.), adding Google+ profiles and brand pages to that circle. Then, when you need inspiration for a post, go to the Google+ home screen, and choose only to view a certain Circle by selecting that Circle’s tab.

Google+ circles

LinkedIn

This is one of my favourite places to hang out and access great content. If you navigate to your LinkedIn home page, you can click on “See all Top Headlines for You” as in the screen shot below.

LinkedIn headlines

Here, you can customize your news according to what you want to read. You can follow industries such as Accounting or Entertainment, or sources such as CNN. LinkedIn will also send you email containing content from these various sources.

The great thing about these top news stories is that they are also tailored to you on the basis of what your connections, industry peers, and the wider professional audience are reading and sharing on LinkedIn. I have found that, with LinkedIn, you get a different spin on the content that’s shared, because most of your connections on LinkedIn will be professionals. This means you can find some real gems that you would not normally have found through Twitter and Facebook, which tend to have broader market appeal. I highly recommend LinkedIn.

Pinterest

At the time of writing, Pinterest doesn’t offer filtering of boards. But what you can do is set up a separate account, search for your blog’s topic, and subscribe to their boards through that account. Then you can view all their pins in a focused way.

Paper.li

This is a really fun way of tying all of the networks we’ve just talked about together. Paper.li is great for pulling in content from Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, as well as YouTube and your RSS feeds. Paper.li displays all your selected content in a newspaper-style format; you can also find other people’s papers and subscribe to them.

Curating inspiration

There’s lots of great content that’s constantly being shared on each of the different social media channels. This information will hopefully assist you with sourcing and organising this information so you can curate and share the most relevant content with your followers—and get great inspiration for posts on your blog. Best of all, it’ll only take you a few minutes to set up!

If you have any suggestions or other great curating tips and ideas, do share them below in the comments section.

Douglas Lim is a social media marketing and search engine optimization evangelist. He is also passionate about business and owns his own web design company servicing thousands of clients. Douglas regularly writes about these topics on his blog at The 10 Habits of Highly Effective Social Media Marketing People. Alternatively you can find him living on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn or Facebook.

Top 5 Google Chrome Extensions For Bloggers

This guest post is by Anthony Wijaya of techexperience.

Today, I’m going to share with you some of the Google Chrome extensions that have made my daily blogging tasks easier.

These are my top five.

1. SEO For Chrome

SEO For Chrome allows you to check, well, pretty much everything about SEO in your site. All you need to do is type in your URL and tons of information about your site’s SEO will pop out, from your indexed pages in Google and Bing, to your Pagerank and traffic levels.

SEO  for Chrome

Another good idea to use this extension for is to check your competitors’ SEO status—do a little competitive analysis. You can also do some quick keyword research within the extension itself!

2. Evernote Web Clipper

Have you ever seen an interesting article or piece of news that you might want to post about later? It’s quite easy to get sidetracked and forget all about it while you’re browsing.

I usually take note of any ideas I see while browsing through the Evernote Web Clipper extension. Basically, all it does is note down the link for you through a darn simple click-and-drag selection function.

Evernote Web Clipper

The Evernote Web Clipper also doubles as a handy screen capture for occasions when you see that awesome screencap you want to take.

3. Google Dictionary

Nothing is more embarrassing than a grammatically incorrect word or sentence in your article. Not only can readers see it, you might even get criticized for those errors!

For safety’s sake, I use the Google Dictionary extension.

With this extension, you can:

  • double-click any word to view its meaning/definition
  • view the complete definition of a whole phrase.

Google Dictionary

It supports a myriad of languages, including German, French, Italian, and so many more.

4. Ruul screen ruler

I use this for, well, those times when I need to measure something in my browser. The Ruul Screen ruler was quite handy in my blog’s first week, since I want to have images on my blog at the perfect size.

Ruul

You can also use it to find out which font size works for you without doing any trial-and-error corrections. Just use the extension and measure, on a blank page, how much space you want for your font. The result (in pixels) will show you your perfect font size. Mine is 13px.

5. G.lux

This is actually the Chrome’s version of F.lux, which is a tool for the desktop. G.lux functions basically the same way, changing your screen color’s temperature to the warmer side for easier viewing at night (midnight typing anyone?).

G.lux

Ever notice your eyes getting tired in front of that monitor? It’s probably because of blue-ish monitor rays. This extension will at least reduce those blue rays to some effect, but keep in mind that it’s still not the perfect excuse for midnight blogging. If you want its big brother for the whole desktop, check out f.lux.

Do you use Chrome extensions in your daily blogging tasks? Show us your favourite options in the comments.

Anthony W. is a 17 year old who starts out blogging for fun and writes tips, news and reviews about technology in techexperience. He hopes that every post he write will be useful to that particular someone out there. Subscribe to his blog here or follow him on Twitter (@AnthonyNotStark) to get more of him.

Fresh Ways to Handle Blog Criticism

This guest post is by Harry French of BloggingTips.com.

Sometimes being famous isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

When a blogger writes a negative comment about you, or goes on an outright tirade, it can be hard to bite your tongue and move on.

Sometimes, however, that’s the best course of action. Sometimes, you need to put on your boxing gloves and get ready to duke it out.

Why readers post negative comments

Excitement? Jealousy? A clever ploy for attention? A Jedi craves not these things, but many bloggers do.

Criticisms and personal attacks don’t have to be legitimate or even coherent. In fact, many “rants” that visitors will leave in your comments section are just that: rants. They are often emotionally driven and they don’t make much sense when you stop to think about what’s really being said.

Sometimes, of course, criticism is warranted and the points being raised are legitimate. In that case, you can let the critic become your best friend.

But people can post negative comments for all sorts of reasons. It doesn’t even have to be about you or your article. It could be that they’re just having a bad day and decided to take it out on you.

Come to terms with this first, and it’ll be a lot easier to know when to respond and when to walk away.

When to respond, when to walk away

You should definitely respond to legitimate criticisms of something you’re written. With that said, it’s not necessary to repeat yourself like a broken record. If you’ve already answered an objection, you can usually just point any new objecters in the direction of your answer.

When it comes to derogatory, inappropriate, or nonsensical comments, you can ignore most of them.

Think about it: what’s the value of responding to these kinds of comments? Most of the time, it’s a waste of time to bother with them.

On occasion, however, you might be able to monetize someone else’s stupidity. That becomes an interesting decision to make. If you’re saying a lot of controversial things, and you get a decent amount of hate mail for it, you could use these hate comments to generate even more controversy. Take the most blatant offenders and show the world just how ridiculous they are, without coming right out and saying it directly.

Whenever you do need to respond to hate comments, you should do so with civility. Put yourself on moral high ground. This way, you could gain a lot of respect from your regular fans and demonstrate how you strive for rationality and objectivity, even when people say nasty things about you.

Showing your cool in the face of an attack also makes you look stronger (in fact, eventually, you’ll actually become stronger psychologically). It shows that while sticks and stones may break your bones, words really never do hurt you.

How to respond

When you’ve made the decision to respond to criticism, make sure you stay on point. Don’t veer off onto a tangent—that just makes you look a bit scatter-brained and can open you up to further criticism from the commenter.

Also, try to only address any essential aspects of any criticisms raised. For example, Matt Cutts came to Google’s defense by knocking down criticisms that Google’s search engine would favor TLD web addresses over “.com” equivalents.

Cutt’s didn’t respond directly on the website where the criticism was made. Instead, he posted his response to Google+.

Matt sticks to the essential points here, and doesn’t veer off onto tangents. He has a good track record of staying focused, even when criticisms of Google are irrational and emotionally driven.

Finally, don’t get sucked in to a long debate. “One-up-manship” is easy to get into and notoriously difficult to get out of. If you are sticking to facts and the essential points raised, you’ll never get into a back-and-forth argument that goes nowhere.

In fact, you could simply continue asking questions of your tormentor and hope he responds. He may draw out fans of yours who will gladly come to your defense. All the while, free content is being created for your blog.

The author of this blog post on rawfoodsos.com did not even need to get involved in the comments. A visitor dropped a hate comment:

A hate comment

Then, a fan responded for her:

The response

In this example, the blogger’s post generates a heated debate. That debate spontaneously generates massive amounts of free content that is keyword-rich and highly relevant to the blog itself. It may not have been the blogger’s intent, but it happened all the same.

How do you respond to criticisms of your blog? If you have any tips to share, we’d all love to hear them!

This guest post was contributed by Harry French, on behalf of BloggingTips.com.