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10 Ways To Get More Email Subscribers For Your Blog

This guest post is by James Penn of AcceleratedNicheProfits.com.

I’m sure you’ve had it drummed into you by now that an email list is vitally important to your blog and your business.

Darren often discusses how vital it is to build your email list and he recently Tweeted this graphic to emphasize his point. He says:

“If there is one visual I can give as a reason to start an email newsletter—it is this.”

Once you have an engaged database of subscribers, you pretty much know every blog post you put out is going to be a hit.

You can send just one email to your list notifying them of the new blog post, and within 24 hours you’ll have had 100, 500, perhaps even over 1,000 eyeballs reading your content, clicking your ads, and buying through your affiliate links.

Plus, I’ve also found that readers who arrive at my blog from an email newsletter I’ve sent to them are also much more likely to share my content on Facebook and Twitter.

This enables my blog to grow at an exponential rate. I send an email out to my subscribers, and they share my content, which results in more people reading my blog and joining my email list, which increases the number of people who click through to my blog in the next newsletter, which means more people sharing, which means more traffic and more subscribers, and so on.

If you aren’t building an email list from your blog yet, start today.

If you are already building an email list, then try adopting some of these ten strategies to increase the number of people opting into your newsletter, and see your traffic and your profits soar.

1. Multiple opt-in forms

Try to have three or four opt-in forms in your blog template. The more you have, the greater the chance you’ll have of capturing your readers’ email addresses. I like to have one pop-up opt-in form that fades in after about 15 seconds of reading (I know these can be annoying, but they work), one form at the top of the sidebar, and an opt-in form at the end of each post.

2. Quality content

This goes without saying, and I hope it’s something you already do, but if you produce top-quality content that readers love, they’ll actively hunt out your opt-in form, join your email list and, most importantly, open your emails.

I’ve definitely noticed a correlation between quality of content and opt-in conversions on my two most popular blogs.

3. Freebies vs. updates

I’ve also found that offering a free product in exchange for an email address converts much better than simply encouraging readers to subscribe for updates.

On my health blog, my “Subscribe For Updates” opt-in form at the top of the sidebar converts at just 1.5%. On my internet marketing blog my opt-in form, which offers a free report and blog updates, converts at 6%.

4. Gentle persuasion

At the end of each blog post, encourage your reader to join your email list to receive a free report and blog updates. At this point, they may be thinking of leaving your blog and may never return again, but this gentle nudge towards your opt-in form will help turn them into subscribers and long-term readers and “sharers” of your content.

5. Make the most of popular posts

Sometimes, and often for reasons unknown, some blog posts take off. They might get an unusual number of Tweets and Likes, or Google might just decide to stick it on the first page for a highly searched keyphrase.

It doesn’t matter why that post is getting so much traffic, but it is important to capture as much of it as possible and turn those visitors into subscribers. You could do this by putting a welcome message to new readers at the top and encouraging them to opt-in for a special free report and to receive future updates.

One of my blog’s most popular posts, 50 Ways To Add More Subscribers To Your Email List, does just this and it gets me a number of subscribers every day.

6. Premium content

Occasionally, perhaps every month or so, create a special report, video, or audio file for your blog readers. Post a teaser of it as a regular blog post, but require readers to submit their email addresses to read/watch/listen to the rest of it.

As soon as they submit their email addresses, take them to a confirmation page (if you are using double opt-in) and instruct them that to access the full post they simply have to click the confirmation link.

They get to read the full post which is, hopefully, of incredible quality—and you get a new subscriber. Win-win!

Worried about annoying existing subscribers? Don’t be. Put a snippet of text above the opt-in form saying something like:

“Already subscribed? Simply enter the email address you are subscribed with and you will instantly be taken to the full post. You won’t be opted-in again.”

If you use Aweber (and I’m sure other email service providers have this feature), you can set an Already Subscribed Page when you create your opt-in form.

If you set the Already Subscribed Page to the full post, then existing subscribers won’t be taken to the confirmation page—they’ll go direct to the full post. It will essentially be more like them logging in rather than opting in.

7. Hold a competition

Holding competitions is one way to encourage more readers to subscribe. If you hold a competition, state that entrants should subscribe in order to be notified of the winner(s). A huge percentage of these entrants will do so. What’s the point of entering a competition if you aren’t going to be able to find out if you win?

If you can run a really successful competition that gets hundreds (even thousands) of entrants, you can easily recruit a huge number of new subscribers.

8. Auto opt-in blog commenters

One way some bloggers get more subscribers is to have everyone who leaves a comment auto-opted in. I believe there are a few plug-ins that can do this. It’s not a strategy I’ve tried, since I’m not sure those who comment would appreciate being automatically added to my email list.

Does anyone do this? Does it work? Have you had any (or many) complaints?

9. Create special reports on popular topics

On my health and beauty blog I noticed I was publishing a lot of posts with natural recipes for beautiful hair. I decided to compile the ten best recipes into a special report. I created a simple squeeze page that offered the report for free and requested an email address.

I went back through each blog post that discussed hair recipes and put a little snippet of text that suggested that if they wanted to find out my ten best natural hair care recipes then they could download my special report. I then linked to the squeeze page.

That squeeze page only gets about ten or 15 visitors per day, but the opt-in form is converting at over 60%, so it’s getting me an extra six to ten subscribers per day. Not bad for an hour’s work!

10. Get more traffic

If you implement the above nine methods, then you’ll be converting a significant proportion of your readers into subscribers.

Therefore, the only other way to increase the number of subscribers we get is to increase traffic.

That’s beyond the realms of this blog post, but it’s a topic that has been covered in great depth on Problogger and many other blogs. Take a look through the “Blog Promotion” category for help with increasing traffic.

Having your own engaged email list is one of the most important assets you can own as we approach 2012 and beyond. Make sure you are building one!

James Penn shares his internet marketing experiments, tips and secrets at AcceleratedNicheProfits.com. Take a read of one of his favorite posts: Daily Action Plan To Build Your List Fast

Help Us Help You Improve Your Blog: ProBlogger Census 2012

Here at ProBlogger HQ we’re gearing up for a big year of blogging. Central in our focus is a desire to make ProBlogger as useful to bloggers as we can. After all if we’re not helping you to improve, we’re wasting everyone’s time.

To help us achieve this goal, we’d love to find out a little more about you and your blogging and have put together a short ‘census’ survey to do just that.

Please take the survey here.

Note: information gathered in this survey cannot be tied to individuals and will be used solely for the purposes of improving this blog and serving you better. We may report on some of the statistical information we gather about blogging platforms etc., but nothing you share will be used for any other purposes, and your anonymity is assured (unless you include personal details in one of your answers).

Thanks for taking the time to participate—I’m looking forward to a great 2012!

How I Took the Toughest Blog Niche, and Owned It

This guest post is by Dominick DalSanto of Baghouse.

Imagine you are called into your boss’s office and presented with the following assignment: head a new marketing initiative for your entire company.

You are to do so using a medium and associated technologies that you have absolutely no experience with, and the plan you are going to follow is one that a great many other companies have tried/are trying to do, only to see failure. You are to do all of this without any training or instruction of any kind.

A tough industry

Image copyright Cowboy in the Jungle

Needless to say, you might a be a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of the task assigned to you. I know I sure was when this very thing happened to me a few years ago. I found myself tasked with running a new online marketing strategy for our company, with little experience, and hardly a clue on how I was going to do it. Quite a daunting task for the new guy at the company.

Our company, Baghouse.com, which sells industrial dust collection systems (a type of air pollution control technology), had decided that we needed to exploit of the overall lack of internet presence in our industry, and use that to our advantage by initiating a new online marketing strategy. This new strategy included a redesigned website with a focus on useful, practical content that would increase our company’s reputation as a industry leader, and bring in new customers.

My job was to figure out how we were going to do it, how to do it for a reasonable price, and then put it into action. Some of the challenges that lay before me included:

  • a lack of experience in both blogging and web marketing
  • my competition was fierce and included a Fortune Global 100 corporation with nearly endless resources
  • a very small potential audience/target demographic (industry professionals who deal with air pollution control equipment, and specifically dust collection equipment).

Where was I even to begin?

I found advice, but it wasn’t quite what I needed

As with most people in my generation, I figured that I would be able to learn all I needed about blogging by reading about it online. I did manage to find a number of great sites, such as Problogger and Copyblogger, among others. I also managed to run across Darren’s book about blogging, which also was an immense help.

Over the next few months, I read more articles about blogging than I can even number. Most of them had excellent tips for starting, maintaining, and promoting blogs for success. While some of these articles were very helpful (such as ones about SEO, design, software, etc.) I began to realize that a lot of this advice was not quite as applicable to my blog as it was to others with a more mainstream niche target.

For just one example, many articles talk about the importance of using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites to promote your articles, and to engage your readers. Here’s a cold hard fact: middle-aged industrial engineers (a large part of my target audience) looking for ways to decrease static pressure drop across their pulse-jet dust collector at the advanced manufacturing plant where they work are not the types that sit around and go looking for articles on Facebook while they are at work.

I quickly realized that while there was a wealth of valuable information on these sites, I needed to adapt it to my unique market, and combine it with more traditional industrial marketing methods to have any success.

Fast-forward to the present day, we rank #1 for five of the best keywords in our industry, and have increased overall traffic, traffic quality (more focused), and conversions (contacting us for a quote). Here’s what I did to take my blog from its beginnings to where it is today.

1. Learn your topic well enough to teach others

One problem I encountered was that to be a successful blogger, you need to know your topic well enough that your writing offers something valuable to your readers. Your articles can inform, they can teach, they can warn, they can do a lot of things, but you as the author need to know your niche well enough to identify what stories will fill these roles for your readers.

Despite working in the industry from a young age (it’s the family business), I, as the simple high school graduate, now needed to know enough about dust collection technology to write something with appealing value to guys with engineering degrees from MIT.

I needed to learn everything I could about the industry, but you can’t just go to Barns and Noble and buy a book on dust collection. I needed to find other ways to educate myself. This lead me to asking people at our company with decades of experience, finding other professionals on LinkedIn and asking them specific questions, and devouring whatever reading material I could get my hands on from websites, to trade publications, etc. In such a specialized niche as mine, tracking down this kind of information often proved exceedingly difficult.

In the end, my education did not happen overnight, but little by little I learned more and more and right away I started to use my still growing knowledge to write. Initially my writings were a little simpler, and harder to do, but I always worked hard to use what knowledge I had to prepare interesting, informative, and useful content for my readers.

Two years on, I still have a lot yet to learn, but I have gone from writing simple news stories to being featured in major industry trade magazines/blogs, and large environmental advocacy sites among others.

2. Do what you can for SEO, and recognize that pros can do the rest better

One of the most valuable of the many things I took to learning about when I started was search engine optimization (SEO). In many ways the potential SEO benefits to our main site were the driving force for establishing a blog in the first place. I learned quickly, however, that simply adding a blog to your site, and filling it with a few articles is not all it takes to shoot straight to #1 on Google.

As with the technical aspect of my niche, I made sure to subscribe to several of the best SEO sites out there, as well Website Magazine to learn all I could about SEO. After a while I became pretty knowledgeable about SEO and our site saw a marked improvement.

However, it is very important to avoid becoming overconfident in your own newly-acquired abilities. In time I began to realize that there was a limit to what I could accomplish with SEO, while still devoting sufficient time to content research and authoring, webmaster duties, as well as other marketing endeavors.

So we made the decision to hire an outside SEO firm to help us. After doing extensive research (well over 20 quotes) we settled on a smaller company out of Idaho that impressed us with their knowledge and vision for our site. We managed to negotiate an innovative agreement with them that would see us pay a reduced rate upfront, and then pay a higher total price only if we obtained a set number of goals (in our case, a first-page listing on Google for each of our five target keywords).

This allowed us to make the initial investment even with our tight budget. If we then should we see success from the campaign, we would be able to afford the higher rate. (I find it utterly laughable that SEO companies claim that they cannot offer any sort of promise that you will rank well after they take your money. What other business in the world could get away with such a brush off of responsibility for their work like that?)

The results that have come from this partnership are astonishing. With their skilled staff, they were able to correct several technical errors on our site that I had endeavored in vain to fix on my own (still working on learning web programming). Additionally, since they were taking care of the mundane SEO tasks (technical tweaks, press releases, etc.), I was able to focus my attention on higher value SEO initiatives (guest posts, high quality link exchanges, recommendations from other sites, etc.) which required more effort, more time, and an actual expert knowledge of the industry.

All of this has lead to us in less than five months improving three out of five of our target keyword rankings from an average of 60 to between #1 and #3 on Google.

3. Find creative ways to network

With such a tight focus, and a niche that in general has almost no internet presence, finding networking opportunities was by far the most difficult part of developing our site. To say it required extensive research to find other sites in our niche online is the understatement of the year. Besides other competitors, the number of directories that include our industry is limited to around five. After you get a listing there, there is really not much else out there for us to go for.

LinkedIn proved itself deserving of the accolades it frequently receives, by filling in the gaps in business marketing like it has. By creating a custom profile for myself, and for Baghouse.com, we were able to introduce ourselves to others in our industry. Along with that, LinkedIn groups provided us with not just one, but a number of different forums to post our articles, find help with technical questions, and introduce ourselves as industry problem solvers to potential customers.

In fact, the most visitors we ever received was when I posted a link to an article on five ways to increase dust collector efficiency to one of the LinkedIn groups, and then asked for everyone to share their thoughts on it, and let me know what if any additional items I could cover in the next article in the series. It resulted in a traffic increase of over 200%, and brought me to the attention of several major players in the industry, which then lead to several offers to write for several important trade magazines.

4. Guest post like your life depends on it, and expand your topic’s reach

Of all the SEO/web marketing tactics out there, few provide as many benefits as guest posting. Guest posting simultaneously provides means for direct marketing relationship building, and immense SEO value.

Yet I had an extremely difficult time locating sites with a similar focus to mine that allow guest posts.

My initial efforts to post on the few larger, directly related industry sites (industry trade magazines, pollution control equipment directories, etc.) ended in failure because no one would take me seriously as I did not have an established record of content that was up to their standards, and more simply because I was a nobody. So this again forced me to adapt my methods.

I started looking for ways to broaden my articles’ reach, and make new connections between what we do at baghouse.com and the rest of the world. I then began seeking out a wider range of sites that I could then guest post on.

I began to write articles that focused on the environmental aspects of our work, how our equipment is playing a part in protection the environment (environmental advocacy sites), how it protects workers from health hazards at work (workplace safety and workers’ rights sites), and how the recent legislative developments (stronger governmental pollution regulations) would soon require upgraded dust collection equipment (political blogs, environmental and corporate law sites).

Keys to success in industrial blogging

It was not easy, it did not happen overnight, and the battle to be and stay #1 will be ongoing. Nevertheless, I believe that we owe our success to these four points:

  1. Study your topic enough to be able to inform, educate, and motivate your readers: You can do this by reading trade magazines, subscribing to blogs and sites, and asking others in your field and learning from them.
  2. Learn all you can about SEO, but find a pro to help, allowing you to use your time pursuing the most valuable things: You can do this by: Reading, and studying about SEO online, and in print. Find an SEO firm that fits your company size and scope, and that can provide their services at a reasonable price with reasonable expectations.
  3. Find creative ways to network with other industry professionals and potential customers: you can do this by digging deep to find directories, news outlets, and other sites that deal with your niche. Utilize LinkedIn to the full, by creating complete profiles for both personnel and the company, and by joining Groups that fit your niche.
  4. Use guest posting to increase your prestige, improve SEO, and attract new visitors: You can do this by identifying all blogs and content publishing websites in your niche, and broadening your scope of your content as much as possible to take advantage of “nearby” niches and their blogs.

Whether blogging about industrial dust collection systems or other less common niches, you will find success if you are willing to be adaptable, insightful and creative enough to take methods that have guided countless others to blogging success, and use them to find success yourself.

Dominick is a dust collection systems expert and author, having published numerous articles, whitepapers, and news pieces covering the benefits of baghouse filter technology in controlling industrial air pollution. California born, Chicago raised, in his spare time, he writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs from his current home in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

872 Subscribers in 24 Hours?!

This guest post is by Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing.

Could you get 872 new subscribers in just 24 hours?

Have 1,587 subscribers by the third day?

And 3,381 within three weeks?

I didn’t think I could do it either, but I did, and in this post, I’ll show you how you can do it too.

Those first 24 hours happened on November 29th…

November 29 was launch day

November 29 was the day that my new book Engagement from Scratch! officially launched to the public, in a massive, frenetic frenzy of launch promotion activities:

  • I had built relationships with all the major players that I could find…
  • Studied the successes (and failures) of the book launches of big name authors like Tim Ferriss, Guy Kawasaki, Jonathan Fields, and Seth Godin
  • Built a mini-site and two video trailers to promote the book…
  • Wrote 28 guest posts about anything and everything relating to the book (including one right here on Problogger called Why I Wrote the Kind of Book That I Hate)…
  • Ran a “nominate your engagement superstar” contest on the blog, that attracted dozens of nominations for the position (Adrienne Smith was the winner)…
  • Spent over $2,000 on postage to mail out hundreds of review copies of the book…
  • And then, to top it all off, I wrote the ultimate book marketing guide documenting everything that I had done for anyone who was interested.

The results were impressive; 872 people downloaded the book in the first 24 hours, 1,587 had downloaded it by the third day, and the book keeps getting downloaded (on days with zero special promotion, I’m averaging 30-50 new subscribers).

So, am I telling you that to get tons of subscribers you need to write a book and have a huge, fancy launch?

No, not necessarily.

You see, the truth is that it wasn’t really the launch itself that made it all happen…

It’s about doing it fully baked (and then some!)

The real lesson that I learned from the book, from my co-authors, and from the launch, is that it really doesn’t matter what your particular tactics are; whether it’s a book, or a launch, or a contest, or a round-up of expert opinions, or a video series, or whatever – what makes all the difference is whether you’re doing it all half-baked, or fully, beautifully baked to perfection.

Here’s what I mean—these are some examples of half-baked ways of doing things:

  • Releasing a book: Outlining and writing it over the course of a month, getting a cover designed, turning it into an ebook, putting it on your site, maybe making it available on Kindle, emailing your list about it, and maybe writing a handful of guest posts.
  • Doing a round-up post: Sending an email to a few dozen industry experts asking them for their number one tip on your subject area, pulling it all together into a post, and publishing it.
  • Running a contest: Writing a post with a question, and asking people to leave a comment answering it, with the best comment winning a prize.
  • Writing guest posts: Committing to write one guest post per week, and really writing two or three posts per month (about 30 posts per year).
  • Doing a survey: Outlining a survey, plugging it into SurveyMonkey, writing a blog post about it, emailing your list about it, sharing it on social media, and then writing a post about the results.
  • Creating a video series: Making a list of things that your audience would be interested in, turning on a flip camera and recording yourself answering the questions.

Do these descriptions sound like viable strategies to you? Well, they aren’t—not even close. Here’s the fully baked way of getting it done:

  • Releasing a book: Research exactly what angle will most interest your audience, then do the work to create the best possible book that you can (reaching out to 30 industry experts and soliciting chapters from them if necessary). Get the cover designed, do the typesetting, get the book edited, and have it produced in paperback, PDF, and for the Kindle. Do an elaborate book launch with a minisite, two trailers, a contest, and dozens of guest posts.
  • Doing a round-up post: Spend hours coming up with three questions that your audience would just love to have an answer to, and will really get the contributors thinking. Then reach out to the experts with personalized emails explaining why you picked them for the project, and why their answers will help your readers. Assembling the answers into a series of posts, releasing them with as much promotion as you can manage, and sending personalized thank you emails to all of the contributors when the posts go live.
  • Running a contest: Choose a premise for the contest that will be valuable to contestants and to your audience, and come up with prizes that will be attractive and appealing. Put out and publicize a call for contestants, and then correspond with contestants over the course of a month and a half to get the best entries you can ready for show-time. Then display the entrants to your audience over the course of a month, and let them vote on the winners.
  • Writing guest posts: Committing to write an average of five guest posts per month, sticking to it, and ramping up to as many as 20 or 30 posts per month when you’ve got something big to promote, or that you want to spread the word about (writing more than 80 posts in a year).
  • Doing a survey: Come up with a series of questions to which data-driven answers would be valuable to your audience, and then crafting a detailed survey to gather that information. Then find over a dozen partners to help you spread the word about the survey, collect the data over the course of a week, do the statistical analysis to extract the results (or hire someone to do it for you), and create a report sharing those results with everyone who participated.
  • Creating a video series: Spend a month mapping out a detailed curriculum for your video series, and then scripting each of the videos. Carefully record and edit the videos, add music and effects, and create worksheets and resources to go with each and every one. Then show them to people to get feedback, and make them better before releasing them to your audience.

Do you see the difference? It’s the difference between doing just the bare-boned necessities of the strategy, and going all out, above and beyond to make it as much of a success as it possibly can be.

Half-baked implementations rarely work (believe me, I’ve tried), but fully baked implementations often do. Which begs the question…

Why is there so much half-baked stuff out there?

Near as I can figure, there are four big reasons why there’s such a huge amount of half-baked garbage circling around the interwebs and blogosphere, and those four reasons are laziness, lack of passion, bad advice, and fear…

The first reason is laziness

This is the guy (or gal) who’s bought the “internet lifestyle” routine hook, line, and sinker. They want to make tons of money without doing any work, and cycle through one short-cut scheme after another that doesn’t create value for anybody (except, they hope, for themselves).

This is the only reason for half-baked implementation that I have no respect for, and I wish the people who fit into this category would get out of the game, because they give the rest of us a bad name.

The good news is that there aren’t a lot of people like this, though—most of the people who might seem to be lazy are actually suffering from either lack of passion, or bad advice…

Then there’s lack of passion

This is much more common than actual laziness, because a lot of people confuse passion for their outcome with passion for the path that will bring them there.

In other words, they’re passionate about the lifestyle that their online business will create, but they aren’t passionate about the actual business—it’s just a means to an end, and they’re following it because they’ve been sold on the idea that it’s incredibly easy (which it isn’t). Unfortunately, if you aren’t passionate about the work that you’re actually doing, then you aren’t going to go all-out to make it all spectacular.

The solution to this is to find something that you really are passionate, and make your work all about that—because if it isn’t, you won’t be motivated enough to do the work that needs to be done.

There’s just plain bad advice

Yes, let’s face it, the internet is full of bad advice, and the particular piece of bad advice that I’m talking about here is the “don’t worry about making it good, just get something out there” idea that is flung around in action-oriented productivity circles.

The logic driving this advice is that doing something is better than doing nothing, but the truth is that if you’re doing something mediocre, it isn’t all that much better than doing nothing at all.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying that you should do nothing—I’m saying that you should brace yourself, take the plunge, and do something truly awesome. At this point, there’s usually one reason why people still don’t do it, and that reason is fear…

And then there’s fear

There are all manners of fear that keep us in the world of half-bakedness (to coin a new word):

  • The fear of failure (“What if I blow it?”)
  • The fear of success (“If this actually works, will I be able to handle it?”)
  • The fear of being judged (“Who am I to take on something like that?”)
  • The fear of being accountable and overwhelmed (“What if I tell everyone that I’ll do this, and then blow it?”)

These are all legitimate, serious fears that keep people from achieving greatness (or even taking the chance that they might achieve it) every single day.

A lot of people aren’t going to like my solution to this particular problem, but here it is:

Suck it up, and do it anyway.

Yes, we all feel fear. A week before my book launched, I was terrified, thinking “What if it bombs? The book is about building engagement—I’ll have zero credibility left!”

Well, that’s just tough—without taking risks, nothing of significance is ever achieved. And taking risks means that every so often, life is going to kick you in the teeth. When that happens, we nurse our wounds, pick ourselves off the ground, dust ourselves off, and try again.

So are you afraid? Probably.

Was I afraid? Definitely.

But I sucked it up, and so can you.

What about time? Isn’t that a reason, too?

The other excuse that people sometimes hide behind is time.

You’re working a full-time job, and doing your business on the side. You have a spouse, kids, parents, in-laws, and friends who complain that they don’t see you anymore.

In light of all that, is it fair to say that half-baked may be the most you have time to do?

Sorry, but no.

In the last year, I released a book, ran two contests, wrote 80+ guest posts, did a survey campaign, and created several video series… in addition to running my business, and planning a wedding.

Do you have to do all that to be successful? No, you don’t.

But can you pick JUST ONE campaign and throw yourself into it?

Yes, you can.

What will you throw yourself into?

Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration—in other words, the ideas are easy, but then it’s the work that separates the successes from the wannabes.

It’s throwing myself into the work that got those 80+ guest posts written.

It’s throwing myself into the work that grew Firepole Marketing into a recognized brand in just a year.

And it’s throwing myself into the work that got me 872 subscribers in 24 hours.

So if you were looking for overnight success, as in 24 hours’ worth of work that would get you a giant number of subscribers, traction, and money, then I’m sorry to disappoint.

But if you’re looking for the real secret to true success in business, life, and everything else, that you’re willing to put the time and energy into applying for real over the course of the coming year, then there you have it.

So what are you going to throw yourself into this year? What project will you take on, plan, work at, and build into something truly spectacular, and truly awesome? How are you going to change the world?

Find and answer to that question, and then get started.

Good luck, and godspeed. I’ll see you at the finish line.

Leave a comment and answer this question: what will you throw yourself into?

Danny Iny (@DannyIny), a.k.a. the “Freddy Krueger of Blogging”, teaches marketing that works at Firepole Marketing. Together with Guy Kawasaki, Brian Clark and Mitch Joel, he wrote the book on building engaged audiences from scratch (available on Amazon, or as a free download).

Why You Should Create Your Own Graphics for Your Blog

This guest post is by Naveen Jayawardena of sleepWRITER.

When I decided to start a blog on sleep habits, I wanted to try something different. As any aspiring blogger, I was trying to stand out from the crowd. And I did it by creating my own graphics.

Now I run my blog exclusively with “home-made” graphics. My readers love it and I enjoy making graphics as much as writing posts.

The alam bully, who features on Naveen's SleepWriter.com website

I am not a professional graphic designer. So I can assure you that most people can learn how to make graphics with a little practise.

I am a self-taught amateur graphic artist. And I started out from scratch. And I will tell you how to do it yourself.

I use “home-made” graphics for each and every one of my blog posts. If you are wondering whether this is worth all the trouble, then consider these benefits you can get from using graphics:

  1. Graphics blend in with the blog design more easily than photos. I have limited my blog design to few colors and could not have achieved this without the use of graphics.
  2. It’s much cheaper than buying photos or graphics.
  3. It introduces your own, unique voice to the your posts via graphics.
  4. You can come up with the right picture for the posts every time.
  5. You can explain difficult concepts with infographics.
  6. Making graphics is fun. Drawing a few sketches after writing a post can help you relax and think creatively.

How do you start?

If you’re an absolute beginner, I suggest you start simply. Don’t worry about your graphics not being lifelike. The idea is to create your own style, with which others can identify your graphics.

You can draw something on paper and scan it, or take a picture of it from a digital camera. This is a very basic method of using graphics. You can draw cartoons and add lists in your own handwriting.

At some point you need to learn to use graphics software. I use Adobe Illustrator, but there are plenty of other software packages that can do a good job. I suggest you stick to one and learn it well.

You can learn from books, web tutorials, video tutorials and by attending classes. There is a range of brands under each category, and most of them cover the basics. I used video tutorials but I feel that having someone to show you the ropes can help you learn faster. Take time to learn the basic functions, and remember that learning keyboard short-cuts can save you a lot of time in future.

Once you have the basic skills in place, you can explore on your own. But if you are serious about graphics, then there are plenty of online tutorials that teach you, step-by-step, how to create advanced graphics. I use online tutorials to sharpen my skills and also to learn new “tricks.”

To create good graphics, you need to be a good observer. Look at the graphics on stock graphic collections and libraries. What techniques are they using? Can you replicate them? Look at the graphics and cartoons that appear on newspapers and websites and learn.

Once you are confident in making graphics, then you can adopt your own style and technique. When I write a post, I also think of the graphics which can go with it. If I don’t get a good idea for a graphic, I finish my writing and visit again with a fresh perspective for a graphic idea.

What are the drawbacks?

It would be unfair if I told you only the good side of creating your own graphics. I have encountered few disadvantages of using graphics for my blog:

  1. Detailed graphics take time. This can affect your posting routine. But with practice, you can create them faster. You can recycle old graphics to save time.
  2. It takes time to learn to make graphics. It took me few years to master the art of graphics and I still learn. It is not a quick fix.
  3. It may not suit all types of blogs. But it is worth a try.

Graphics can be a nice addition to your blog. I hope I inspired at least a few of you to bring your inner artist to your blogs! Please do share your own experiences using graphics on your blogs.

Naveen Jayawardena is a doctor by profession and blogs during his free time. You can find plenty of graphics and sleep tips at sleepWRITER.

Why Most Bloggers will Fail, No Matter How Hard They Try

This guest post is by John Smith of WeightLossTriumph.

If you visit your favorite blogging tips and marketing tips blog today, you will come across a lot of tips, ranging from tips on writing well to tips on building an audience.

The reality is that a lot of new blogs spring up every day, and the majority of these blogs are bound to fail right from the beginning. It’s not because there is something wrong with their approach, but because they fail to neglect something really important: their wellbeing.

Do you know that blogging is not only a physical challenge? It is also a mental challenge.

There are a lot of things we bloggers go through every day that no amount of practice will help make easier, but by focusing on being okay in every aspect of our lives (mental, emotional, physical, etc.) we’ll find those challenges easier to deal with.

In this article I’ll be touching some subjects bloggers hardly discuss online, and I’ll be giving tips to help you deal with them.

Dealing with criticism

Do you know that one of the major dangers of being a blogger is being exposed to criticism? If you’re still a new blogger you might not have noticed it yet, but in over two years of blogging, I have seen several clear examples of blogging criticisms. In fact, I have seen bloggers been sent death threats, and I have seen several bloggers quit because of that. Why? Because they chose to give value to the world through their blogging.

If you think blogging is a bed of roses, or if you think everybody will be your friend, then you need to think twice. There are hateful people online hiding under the cloak of anonymity. There are also people who are ready to vent their anger on you as a result of some personal problem they’re facing. The best way to deal with this is to be prepared, and to get ready for the worst at any time.

Blogging has a great emotional connection to it, and a lot of bloggers these days are starting to pay the price of being celebrities. You need to realize that there are people that will come and vent their hate against you for no reason whatsoever, and you should be ready for them.

I’m not trying to say you should fight back. Instead, I’m telling you not to take it personally. You need to realize that their reason for criticizing you isn’t because you’re the problem. You should also know that not all criticisms are bad. Naturally, there are healthy and unhealthy criticisms, and it is your duty to be able to differentiate the healthy criticisms from the unhealthy ones, and to improve where necessary.

Dealing with failure

Another problem you have to deal with as a blogger is failure. It can get really tough when you plan to achieve something in six months and can’t achieve it in one year—especially when you see another blogger getting better results with what looks like little to no effort in the same time span.

The first tip I have for you is to try to avoid jealousy. You need to realize that failure is part of the game, and that we all have our own challenges and our ways of dealing with them. Don’t be jealous of another blogger’s success. Jealousy is always unhealthy. Instead, take a look at what that blogger is doing, what approach he or she is taking, and start viewing the person as healthy competition.

It’s also very important not to allow your fear of failure prevent you from trying. You need to realize that failure is part of this game, and that not everything is bound to work. If you’re afraid of failing, you will have a hard time succeeding. Your first step is to eliminate every fear of failure within you, so that you can easily try new things no matter what the outcome might be.

Eating well

Do you know that the food you eat can have a great impact on several aspects of your life, including how you think and solve problems, and how you react to emotional challenges?

Have you ever woken up and found it difficult to work hard or get motivated for the day, even though you had a normal sleep the previous night? While sleeping and resting regularly is great, it is very important for you to realize that the food you eat will to a great extent influence your physical activities.

Most things we do as bloggers require us to think and plan effectively, and we also have to deal with the results emotionally—whether good or bad—which is exactly why it is important for us to eat good food to help ourselves be more effective. In other words, eating junk foods makes you dull and emotionally weak, and as a result you will only create poor work that brings bad results. The results will also deal you a massive blow since you’ll likely be emotionally weak.

If you’re emotionally strong, you can easily turn even the worst of problems into a lasting solution, so being careful with what you eat should always be a priority as a blogger.

While you might think you will make a lot more money and get fast results by “saving time” by eating junk foods, you’ll often discover you find it difficult to focus and concentrate because you aren’t in the right frame of mind to do quality work.

Improve your diet, and you’ll be amazed at how much your blogging will improve.

Exercising regularly

Do you know that regular exercise has a lot of benefits, including helping you gain energy and making you more emotionally stable?

I have observed carefully what I can do on a day when I exercise compared to a day when I don’t. I’ve noticed I can get two times more work done if I spend around two hours a day exercising compared to when I don’t.

Are you in a bad mood after waking up in the morning? Do you want to get some serious work done in any given day? Spend at least one hour exercising every day, and you will be amazed at what you can achieve.

To be honest with you, exercising isn’t that easy if you haven’t done it before, so start with ten minutes a day, and then scale it up till you can do one hour a day. Trust me: you will want to do more of it when you see the benefits.

I think, as bloggers, we have a lot more to worry about than our content and marketing ourselves, and we also have to be taking regular measures to ensure we’re physically and mentally active. The above are a few tips that can help you! I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments.

John is an expert weight loss blogger who teaches people how to lose weight on WeightLossTriumph. He also gives the best nutrisystem coupon code and medifast discount code on his blog.

Blogging With Kids: 9 Tips and Tricks to Keep You Sane

This guest post is by Marya Zainab of Writing Happiness.

Are you a blogger? Are you also a Mum with school age kids? Or a stay-at-home Dad?

If you’re like me, you might find it really difficult to manage your time—and your life—to get some writing done. You are talented, you are persistent. If only you could be really productive, so you can get some work done.

And you can be! All it takes is smart use of your time. This is what I recommend. Feel free to take what gels and discard the rest.

It’s okay to lie to people who don’t “get it”

Have you ever tried to tell your son’s school teacher that the reason why you can’t volunteer at the latest fun raiser is because you have to blog?

Apart from the blank stare that you’d most likely get, you would then have to explain yourself, become defensive and go away feeling very guilty, or carry a list of stuff that you ended up saying yes to.

Try telling the teacher you have other commitments that you simply can’t get out of.

One of your not-so-close friends is having a casual get together? Tell her you have some work-related stuff to do.

If the world is going to pretend that I, as a blogger, don’t have kids, I am going to pretend I have imaginary work-related commitments.

Think of the whole process as trying to save yourself the guilt trip and spare others trying to understand what blogging is. Tell people who do understand, by all means; they probably will get it anyway.

Appliances are your best friends

I don’t have a dishwasher in my house. For one, I don’t have the space for it, but the real reason is that I really don’t mind doing the dishes. This is almost a mind-cleansing activity for me.

The fact that I don’t have to use my brain to wash the dishes keeps my hands occupied while I have the time to clear my head and sort through things. I often get my best ideas when I am doing the dishes, and often go away (happily at that) to jot ideas.

But you might hate it! And that’s even more the reason to get a trusted dishwasher, if you haven’t already. While you’re in the process, get yourself a dryer, a weekly cleaning service (if you can afford it), kids’ car pools etc. Do your grocery shopping online. Let kids become a part of the solution—assign them some basic chores.

Outsource as many things that don’t require you personally to get done. This can save you valuable time.
My most favorite—TV, of course! Although use it with caution, and use sparingly. A close second is take-away one week night so I don’t have to worry about cooking for that night.

Get some help from Dad

Nothing beats a hands-on Dad. Get his help with various chores and kids activities.

Get him to cook one night of the week. Ask him to take the kids for their weekend sports. Ask him to do the night-time-bath-and-story-book thing once a week. Is he naturally more chatty, more outgoing than you are? Swap roles of being a “school mum.”

Is he stronger than you? Of course he is—remind him of this when he is grumbling about mopping the floors!

Be flexible

The only way a mum can survive as a blogger is to be as flexible as possible. You will miss out on a lot if you don’t.

There will always be things related to your kids and your household that you would have to do first. You won’t be able to write if your four-year-old is screaming for Spaghetti Bolognese right now. You won’t be able to write if your kid is at home sick—or your partner is home sick behaving like one.

Making an occasional batch of cupcakes with your kids will earn you serious brownie points and will go a long way in creating a harmonious relationship. Hopefully, they will then take a long time to eat those cupcakes as you sit down to write.

Just relax and look at a problematic situation differently. And be flexible.

Live one life

If your blog permits it, bring your children in the picture. Let them sprinkle their magic on your blog.
Then turn around the do the same for them—let your kids see you work. Show them you are as proud of your blog as you are of them. They may not understand it if they are little, but they will get used to see you do other things beside cook and clean.

Just the other day, my four-year-old told his older brother, “stop blogging me!” That lead to great laughter all around. He might not know what blogging is—he probably thinks it a synonym for “blocking”—but at least he is aware of the lingo. Many adults still aren’t.

Put on your oxygen mask first

How many times have you heard that happy parents make for a happy household?

Well, that is in fact the truth. Taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of others. Do the things that really make you happy. This doesn’t make you selfish. Think of it as an investment. When you invest in yourself, your family reaps the rewards.

If blogging inspires you, by all means do it. Remember that you would have to prioritize some time for yourself, otherwise you will never be able to get it done.

Every time I complete my blogging goals for the day, I feel on top of the world. I am a happier mum, I am a joy to be around, and my kids love me even more.

You don’t have to be a poster parent

Resist to be a contestant for the race of being the Best Mum in the world. There are plenty of things you can do without:

  • You don’t have to bring adorable, homemade snacks to your kids’ school. Realize that you can buy cookies from the supermarket and nobody will really care.
  • You don’t have to have your house in tip-top condition. Well in case nobody ever told you, kids are messy: they make a mess everywhere they go! Must you clean after them all day long? Avoid doing activities that lead to even more messes, especially when you are running short on time.
  • Ironing your family’s PJ’s? Hello!

A blogging parent and pedestal parent are not mutually exclusive. Stop comparing yourself with others. Aim for “good enough.”

Focus

It’s about the quality than quantity. Be present. Be truly present in the moment, whatever you are doing. Whether it be playing with your kids, or writing that next blog post that goes viral. If you are distracted and spread yourself too thin, you will end up totally exhausting yourself.

  • Plan your day well ahead of the schedule. If there’s one thing every blogger mum or dad needs, it is to manage their time. You have to become extremely organized and self-disciplined—and you need an organizer.
  • Create more detailed to-do lists.
  • Plan weekly menus.
  • Organize your outfits for the week if you work outside the house.
  • For a clutter-free house, give something away when you buy something new. It’s a great lesson to pass on to your children as well.

Take this advice, and you’ll have more meaningful time to spend with your family, and even some left over for yourself. Best of all, you won’t feel so guilty about the time spent blogging.

Find a great blogging partner

While it sounds fantastic to have some real-life friends who are mums and bloggers on top of it, it’s very unlikely you will magically discover them.

I am very lucky to have a best friend who actually encouraged me to take up blogging in the first place. She is the most wonderful person to talk about my blogging “habit,” as even my husband struggles be understanding sometimes.

Find yourself other blogger mums online, take your time time to get to know them and then befriend one or two as real friends—not just the networking sort of friend. You will sleep better knowing you have one person who “gets it!”

Blogger mums and dads, what tips and tricks can you add to this list? Share them with us in the comments.

Marya is a communicator of ideas – writing for bloggers, writers and content creators. Catch more of her posts at Writing Happiness. Grab her FREE 29 page ebook How to Write Blog Content that Works – Get Noticed Online (and elsewhere!). Follow her @WritingH, she is very friendly.

Forget Blogging as Usual: 5 Outrageous Tips for Super-sized Attention

This guest post is by Neil Patel of KISSmetrics.

It happens every minute. About six thousand new blog posts are published. That’s a lot.

Blogs have given enormous power to people. It’s given them a chance to have a voice in a world that used to be controlled by gatekeepers like traditional media. While I’m happy about this, this makes it very hard to get attention in the online world.

Do you want attention for your blog? What about super-sized attention—the kind you get when someone likes Drudge or Time magazine links to your blog because of your work? Well, here are some tips on how to do that.

Super-cool user-generated sites

One of the most popular sites on the web is a user-generated site: I can has cheez burger. Sure, it’s silly, but it’s a valuable lesson: people want to laugh and share stuff for an audience, no matter what it is.

Another site that does this really well is Dear Blank Please Blank. This user generated site is simple. All you do is fill out a short form, click if you want to be notified when it’s published and then submit. That’s it.

While I think this site is genius for the simplicity of the idea and ease of execution, I think it’s simply beyond genius when it comes to the way readers can interact. For instance, after reading the entry, you can choose five options that describe what you feel about it. “How Dare They,” “You’re a Douche,” “Hilarious,” “Like This,” and “Umm, WTF?!”

Of course, you can also comment. The point for you is to think of outrageously different and unique ways of generating user content, because sites like Dear Blank Please Blank show that people want to contribute a lot.

Super-sized photos

According to the 2011 Technorati State of the Blog report, 90 percent of bloggers use some kind of multimedia on their site. This shouldn’t surprise you, but the most popular form is photos:

With this in mind, just putting photos on your blog or website postings isn’t going to get you a lot of attention. The Boston Globe’s Photoblog is one of the most unique blogs in 2011 because of its use of photos. At over 990 pixels wide, these photos are big and bold and are hard to ignore. They look good when they show up in my RSS reader.

A lesser known but equally powerful blog, Fiked, peppers each post with dozens of powerful photos. The copy is lean, so you move very quickly through each post, but the posts are also very long. Think of it as a list post on steroids.

Another fantastic site is Cabin Porn. They take it even further than The Boston Globe and each photograph fills just about the entire screen.

Super-sized posts

One of the things I try to do over at Quick Sprout is give readers a very technical and detailed understanding of my topic. This is the best way to go about it, especially since the Panda and Farmer updates, which essentially targeted sites and blogs with lots of low-quality content.

Besides, because of the glut of blogs and post, people are not going to pay attention to half-page, half-baked posts. They are not going to bookmark or share them either.

You need to create high-quality, interesting content if you want people to read, comment and bookmark. Here’s a short list of questions you can ask yourself that will help you create technical and detailed blog posts:

  • Is what you wrote original?
  • Can you provide practical advice or relevant research?
  • Did you correct any spelling, grammar or factual errors?
  • Is the topic of interest to a reader or a machine?
  • Is the article well edited?
  • Does your site have authority?
  • Are you providing insightful or interesting information beyond the obvious?
  • Would you bookmark your article?
  • Is your article cluttered with call-to-actions, ads or promotions?
  • Would a magazine or journal print your article?
  • Is your article short, weak and useless?
  • How much time and attention did you give to detail?
  • Would someone complain if they saw this article?

Writing high-quality content takes time. But if you ask yourself those 13 questions each time before you write your chances of creating great content will improve.

Cut back your blogging frequency

It used to be that everyone would tell you to blog every day to get the attention you need. Believe me, it’s not easy to keep up that kind of production. Eventually you’ll wear out of ideas and produce crap.

But it also has an effect on your readers. One of the things I learned over the years is that the frequency of blog posts affects interaction. In some of the tests I’ve done, when you deliver long posts that are detailed on a less than frequent basis, like once a week, my readership and number of comments rise. I think it’s because you give space for readers to read, comment and absorb what you wrote.
You do have to keep in mind that this flies in the face of research by Hubspot in their 2011 State of Inbound Marketing. According to their report, bloggers who blog daily will get five times as much traffic than those who blog once a week or less.

Personally, this hasn’t been my experience, so I recommend you test what frequency works best for you.

Wage war against an enemy

Whatever you’re feelings for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, you have to admit that he was a genius when it came to drawing battle lines.

There were enough people in the world who felt like their government was keeping secrets from them, especially in the U.S, and Assange used that anxiety to create an information empire and become an international celebrity.

That tactic is also a common theme when it comes to copywriting. In his “Influential Writing” course, copywriting legend Dan Kennedy used to talk about the “rally against a common enemy” strategy. If you can identify a person, industry, organization or thing (like a disease, for instance) that enough people feel threatened by, you can create a following by waging war against that person or thing.

Think of the story of David and Goliath. We root for the small guy. A consumer advocate blog like The Consumerist is a good example of going after a common enemy. You can even think of Drudge as being an advocate against a common enemy, namely traditional media.

Conclusion

If you want to get a lot of attention for your blog, then you need to start ignoring the traditional ways of blogging and embrace some more outrageous, out-of-the-box ideas. Hopefully the above examples and tips will help you do that.

What other outrageous ideas can you share about getting massive attention for your blog?

Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.

Mastering the Art of Slow Blogging

This guest post is by Kelly Kingman of Kelly Kingman Media.

Several years ago, I hired a personal trainer and we’d work out in the park near my apartment. One day she had me run the loop around the park and noticed that I had difficulty keeping a consistent pace, I would stop and start a lot. She suggested that I run slowly (which she claimed was smoother than jogging—running experts, feel free to debate). The result was that instead of being either in a short-lived sprint or an exhausted, limping jog, I could sustain a smooth, slow running pace by dialing down my intensity.

How many people start a blog and then quit after two months?

When you take off blogging at a sprint, posting daily or even three times per week, your idea generating and writing muscles can cramp up pretty quickly. Over the past three years, I found that not only do I prefer to post irregularly—I average about every two weeks—it keeps me from burning out. I’ve even taken a month off from time to time. For example, I took November off to complete a content-creation challenge. I haven’t posted in weeks because my new website isn’t ready yet. (Stop gasping in horror.)

Fast blogging can lead to “content inflation”

Economic inflation causes our currency to be worth less. Content inflation is what happens when your content decreases in value—you have more of it, but it’s not that powerful or interesting. When we’re so obsessed with posting frequently, we risk churning out less than exciting stuff, and this can water down our brand.

My blog exists primarily to support my claim that I write well, know what I’m talking about and have interesting ideas to add to the conversation. I don’t want to fill my blog so full of content-for-content’s-sake that it’s hard to find the good stuff. Plus, most of us are better writers when we are expressing something we feel strongly about or just had a flash of insight, and that doesn’t happen every day.

Spend your energy wisely

Less-than-great posts aren’t the only possible side effect of forcing yourself to blog all the time, you could be sabotaging your other efforts. Are you spending all of your energy blogging to the point you have nothing left over for other creative content? Are you lagging on client work because you’re blog must be fed? If you spend some time thinking about your business goals, it may make sense for you to slow down or take some time off and write that ebook or give your newsletter a little more love. The world will still be here, so will your subscribers.

I spent most of December creating pre-launch content for a new course that I am launching this month (about, surprisingly, how to build your online business without killing yourself). I am taking my sweet time to create a great opt-in offer for my new site, and in the meantime I want to keep my email list engaged by sending a newsletter two times per month. This all takes work in addition to working with clients, and I’m only human. While I actually do love blogging, I try to keep it as a piece of the bigger picture.

Create a web, not a stream

Much is made of creating a steady stream of traffic to your blog, but in order to practice slow blogging you’ll want to create a web of presence. If your blog is the only place you’re consistently showing up online, then as soon as you take some time off you’re essentially invisible. I’m not just talking about social media, but about an email list, a network of affiliates, maybe a Facebook page and guest posting opportunities. Diversifying the places where you connect with your target audience online will reduce the pressure to constantly be updating your blog.

Is blogging your business model or your marketing?

There’s an important distinction to make here, and that is one of business model. The reason I can blog at a casual pace is because I don’t base my business on volume of traffic. Income that is generated directly from my blogging, in the form of product sales or affiliate commissions, is far less than the income I receive from working for clients or from my own products (for which others are affiliates).

I couldn’t even tell you how many people visit my blog on a regular basis, I never check. I focus my energy on making connections with people on social media platforms and converting visitors to email subscribers. Content is key, of course, but I make sure it gets to people on my email list first, and then the blog. When you’re small (and even after you get big) having a healthy email list—one that’s fed a steady diet of good content—is critical. There are always exceptions to any rule, but for the majority of Internet-based businesses, this is true.

Blogging is a marathon

If the tortoise and the hare taught us anything, it’s that good things come from a sustained, if slower, effort. In the end, blogging once every two weeks but keeping it up for three years will give you about the same total number of posts as posting daily for two months, but the cumulative impact is likely to be much greater.

The good news is that there’s no such thing as a perfect frequency for blogging. The bad news is that sometimes without a schedule, you might not find the time to post at all. The key with blogging, as with just about everything, is finding the balance that works for you. If you find that having a set schedule can actually help you stretch your imagination and come up with good ideas, by all means go for it. But if you find you dread blogging because you “have to,” it might be time to try your hand at the art of slow blogging. Your blog, and your readers, will thank you.

Kelly Kingman is a content strategist and visionary who will blog sometime soon at her new site, but don’t hold your breath. In the meantime, she’s just explained and mapped, online business models that work despite a lack of traffic, for a new course she’s co-teaching called the Way of the Peaceful Entrepreneur.