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Case Study: My Experiment with Starting a 2nd Facebook Page for My Blog

Regular readers of ProBlogger would know that over the last 18 months, I’ve put a lot of effort into Facebook – particularly by building up the Digital Photography School Facebook page.

I’ve worked hard in that time to grow both the reach and influence of the page and while there have been ups and downs along the way, it has paid off in a fairly major way – with Facebook becoming the second-biggest referrer of traffic to Digital Photography School on any given day.

Dps facebook page

In the last year and a half I’ve developed a publishing rhythm on the dPS Facebook page that works really well. I publish five posts every day – two posts link to new tutorials on the dPS blog, while the other three link to posts from the archives (all from at least a year ago). Occasionally I throw in a discussion-related post but almost every post links back to quality tutorials on dPS.

Facebook seems to like what we do, as they seem to reward links to useful content. But more importantly to me, our readers seem to like what we’ve built with the page (which in turn helps Facebook like it too) and I’m hesitant to change up the rhythm too much.

I have experimented with more posts in a day from time to time, but five seems to be about right. When I’ve gone with more I get reader complaints that we’re posting too much.

Two Other Strategies Bloggers Are Using to Good Effect

At the recent ProBlogger Conference here in Australia, I had conversations with a number of Aussie bloggers who were also doing very well with Facebook and was interested to hear that my approach is not the only way to grow an effective Facebook strategy.

In fact I heard 4-5 bloggers say that they’d noticed that their page did best when they did a couple of things different to what we do:

  1. they post more frequently – while we post five times a day, some of the other bloggers I’ve been talking to publish up to 10 times a day (spread evenly through a 24-hour period) with little pushback from readers.
  2. they link out to other sites regularly – while at dPS we only really publish links to our own site, these other bloggers see increased reach and engagement with mixing up where they link to other people’s sites.

While I’m wanting to mess with the approach I currently have on the dPS Facebook page, I’ve been wondering since our conference how I could experiment with these approaches.

Why Not Start a Second Facebook Page?

Just over a week ago I was pondering the issue and wishing I had another site to experiment with Facebook on when it struck me – why don’t I just start a second Facebook page that relates to my site?

Most bloggers have a Facebook page dedicated to their blog – but what is to stop us from having more than one? Facebook don’t seem to have a problem with a user owning more than one page – so I began to wonder if there might be a benefit from having a second one to experiment with and potentially support my blog in a different way.

On the spur of the moment I decided to start one and quickly did so. I didn’t put a heap of thought into what to call it and impulsively decided to call it Do You Like Photography?

Do you like photography facebook

The idea was to brand it as different to ‘Digital Photography School’ but to be up front about the connection to the site.

I quickly set it up and began to post to it. This is what I’ve focused upon doing:

  • posing 6 posts per day – while only up by one on my regular page and not really much higher a frequency, I decided not to go with too many yet as we’ve been recovering from our conference and on a family holiday. I do plan to increase it gradually but will probably cap it at nine a day and watch how the frequency impacts the page’s effectiveness.
  • to this point all posts are ‘link’ posts that link five times per day to other people’s photography tips/tutorials. The 6th post a day links to an old dPS post. I want this page to be tied to dPS but to be more of a place to curate content from other sites. This has the benefit of being useful to followers but also build relationships with other sites.

Note: in many ways this second page is similar to what we’ve been doing on our dPS Pinterest page for a year now (it’s largely just us highlighting great content that we find on the web with a few pins to our own stuff too).

I linked twice to the new page from our main dPS page just to let our regular readers know it existed. I shared it with them saying that the page is for those who want more photography tips and tutorials in their feed that come from beyond just dPS. The response from these two shares was fantastic – I had many readers thank me for creating the page.

The new page has grown faster than I anticipated. It took just six days to hit 50,000 followers! Things have slowed down a little since then but we’re well on the way to 60,000. Obviously many of the initial likes came from our main dPS page but since those initial shares I’ve started to see other pages sharing our finds and there’s been some nice organic growth too.

I don’t have any real firm goals for the page at this point but really see it as a great place to:

  • experiment with a different strategies on Facebook
  • growing relationships with other bloggers in our niche by sending them traffic
  • expanding our own social reach/influence which will in turn send us some more traffic too
  • sharing different types of posts to see what I can learn that might inform our own content strategy down the track

The only cost of the experiment is the time it takes to update the page. At this point it’s taking about 15 minutes each night to schedule the next day’s posts. I’ve also seen some nice engagement and sentiment coming from followers and it has already sent some nice little spikes in traffic to my blog so for now – it’s an experiment worth continuing with.

Do You Have a Second Facebook Page?

I’d love to hear whether others have experimented with different Facebook pages? I’d expect that it won’t suit everyone but do wonder if there might be some benefits for some to do it – particularly for those with bigger followings who might have lost traction with Facebook in the last year? Maybe having a second page with a very different strategy might unlock some learnings for you!

Four Ways to Crush Your Email Challenge and Build the List

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This is a guest contribution from Luke Guy.

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

Why?

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

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

Challenges With Email

1. Collecting the Emails

2. Providing Content For Those Emails

3. Keeping Your Email Open Rates High

4. Keeping Unsubscribe Rates Low

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

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

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

How To Crush Email Challenges

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

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

Here’s four ways to Make This Happen:

1. Making your list a secret club

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

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

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

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

2. Only send emails that are useful

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

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

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

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

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

I’m offering the Kingsumo contest plugin ($594) here free in my contest. You have to be in it to win it!

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

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

Is there a connection? Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t forget to join my contest and win Kingsumo ($594). This plugin is essential in growing your list. 

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

 

Creating and Selling Ebooks Webinar

This webinar (available in full for ProBlogger.com members) features ProBlogger Marketing Ninja Shayne Tilley outlining the strategy for getting the best return on your efforts creating and selling eBooks.

It covers:

  • Sell Sheets: Do you need one? What is it? How to make a good one.
  • What content to have in your book – what shouldn’t you miss?
  • An effective book outline
  • Thinking about your audience
  • Your review process
  • Writing tips – not only to get content written, but also tips about format, consistency and even mindframe mid-book
  • The editing process
  • Adding visual elements
  • What your final draft should look like
  • The design – DIY or outsource? How to do it thriftily
  • Which format is best – PDF, ePub, Mobi, audio?
  • Sales pages – what should they contain
  • Gearing up for your launch, and what you should do to prepare
  • How to plan your launch month
  • How to manage the book and sales once it is out there.

ProBlogger.com is home to to the ProBlogger Community, featuring regular webinars on all kinds of content, forums to connect with other bloggers, along with discounts, and free plugin downloads. You can join here. See you there!

How to Craft a Blog that Attracts Customers and Converts Like Crazy

This is a guest contribution from entrepreneur Natalie Sisson.

So, you want to turn your blog into an online business?

Congratulations, so does every other person with wifi.

Now, I don’t mean to to bust your buns right off the get go, but if I’m being honest (and I always am!) then you need to know one thing:

A blog that doesn’t make money is a hobby, and a hobby is not a business.

The truth is, many of us don’t know what we’re doing when we’re first starting out online. Learning how to create a website, identify your ideal customer and convert them into sales will be a process, one that I am here to help you with though.

First things first; when you think of your website does it make you proud? If you are uncomfortable sharing your url with friends and family because it looks horrendous, then chances are your audience will be thinking the same thing.

Have you ever heard the theory that when shopping, if you hold an item for 10 seconds or longer you are more likely to buy? Well, the same principle goes for websites, but you have far less time to convert them – you have four seconds, to be exact.

A lot can happen in four seconds, which is why you need to make the most of it. If your viewer can’t find what they’re looking for, then they will surely go elsewhere. So how do you grab their attention and keep them on your site? It all starts by building a connection.

Every great relationship revolves around feeling a fundamental connection between two people. In this case, you need to build the foundation between your website and your audience. One of the best ways you can do this is to ask yourself what the primary goal of your website is.

Since your website is a platform to introduce yourself and your products to the world, knowing exactly what you mean to sell or achieve from having the site will help you target the ideal target audience.

The easiest way to convey this message is by creating a crisp, clear homepage. Your homepage is basically a landing page for any and all visitors. It will be the first thing they see, so capture them in those four quick seconds.

A few key tricks for ensuring a stellar home page is to:

  • Choose a clear web design – the more hectic your layout, the more likely your visitor will bounce
  • When asking your audience to opt-in to a free mailing list or free download, create one simple, to-the-point call to action
  • No one likes getting lost, so make navigating your site simple. Have a clear menu at the top so visitors can easily find their way around
  • Selling a product or service? Make it evident on the homepage. The harder they have to look for it, the more likely they will go to your competition
  • Outline what it is you’re all about. I’m not talking a novel, but one clear paragraph about who you are, what you stand for and what you’re offering

Now, to really start converting your audience you’re going to want to check off these next five steps from your to-do list.

1. Determine what it is you are selling

What do you feel jazzed about making money from? Whether it’s a product or a service you are are going to want to make this particular item forefront on your homepage.

Many people make the mistake of offering several different service on their homepage and it only confuses their visitor. For example, if you really wanted to sell business coaching, but offered website design coaching and business coaching on your homepage, how would they know which to choose?

Besides the fact that these two products sound beyond similar, why would you offer something you aren’t keen on doing yourself? Take away the option by simply promoting one service on you homepage.

2. Keep it clean

Some people just don’t know when to call it quits when it comes to web design. If you’ve ever happened across a site that seems to be hoarding widgets, images, links and more, then you know how unappealing and distracting that is to the eye.

Too much distraction will confuse and deter your visitor from becoming a sale. So here’s what you should do:
Remove any external links from your homepage that take them off your site
Choose social widgets that allow them to like your content without leaving your site
Avoid flashy text or image that takes their attention away from the product you want them to purchase

Are you starting to see a pattern here?

3. Implement a sales funnel

Your sales funnel should start on your homepage. That little chunk of screen you see when you land (referred to as ‘above the fold’) there should contain everything you need to compel your visitor to buy what you are selling.

Using your best copy, image, video or what-have-you to convey the many benefits of your product should all be visible here. To further resonate with your audience, feel free to direct them to your About page so they can get to know you and strengthen your bond together.

4. Make buying simple

You may have convinced them to buy, but if you make it difficult to pay that is a surefire way to lose a sale.

The easiest way to rectify this situation is to have a “buy now” option on your landing page; and be sure to make them feel safe when buying from you. To do that make sure you use and advertise a secure shopping cart option, like Paypal. A money back guarantee always helps solidify the sale as well.

5. Make sure your new landing page is working

I have no doubt that if you managed to follow the first four steps you will have created one heck of a landing page. Now that it’s there, it’s time to find out if it’s converting, which is where analytics comes in.

  • Set yourself up with a free Google Analytics account and add in the tracking code to your website. Every few weeks head back to that analytics dashboard and see:
  • How many unique (read, first time) monthly users are visiting your site
  • Where they are coming from, aka. traffic source
  • Your average bounce rate – how long they stay on your site before leaving
  • Which page exactly your visitors tend to exit your website from the most – visitor exit

You don’t need to be a geek to be able to read this data. For example, if you’re traffic is mainly mobile then make sure that you are using a mobile-optimized web theme. On the other hand, if your visitors continually exit on your product sales page, it’s time to think about doing a redesign.

With these five strategies, there is no doubt in my mind that you will be able to turn your current website into a cash converting sales machine.

Now tell me; what is the biggest change you need to make to your website after learning these steps? Share your thoughts and progress in the comment section.

Natalie Sisson is a Kiwi entrepreneur and adventurer who shares creative ways to run a business from anywhere. To start your very own lifestyle online business be sure to check out her new program, The Freedom Plan. And don’t be shy, – drop her a line on Twitter or Facebook.

Hypnotic Writing | 5 Effective Strategies To Put Your Reader In A Trance.

This is a guest contribution from Thai Nguyen of Wantrepreneur Journey.

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You are getting sleepy…very sleepy…

That’s typically what comes to mind when you think of hypnosis—a stage show with some unfortunate soul doing the chicken-dance. However, those who practice hypnosis are quick to give a proper explanation.

Here’s the textbook definition: The induction of a state of consciousness in which a person becomes highly responsive to suggestion or direction.

We enter into hypnotic states on a daily basis; completely absorbed in an activity and losing track of time. It happens when you drive, when you watch movies, and—when you read.

Hypnosis feeds off the psychosomatic power of words. An intriguing study in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink highlights the mind-body relationship inherent in words. Subjects were lead into a room, asked to describe how they felt. Then, they were told to read a list of words: “worried,” “Florida,” “old,” “lonely,” “grey,” “sentimental,” “bingo,” “withdraw,” “forgetful,” “retired,” “wrinkle.”

Afterward, subjects not only described feeling slow and sluggish, but physically walked out of the room slower than when they entered. In psychology, it’s referred to as Priming, in hypnosis it’s synonymous with “embedding a command.”

This fascinating link between words and physiology is often exploited by the advertising and marketing industries. Words are carefully crafted to evoke powerful emotions and a state of higher suggestibility.

Exploitation occurs because something is so effective. That effectiveness can certainly be applied to the article you’re about to write.

As you write, here are five hypnotic strategies to put into place:

1. Poetic Meter

Ever wondered why Shakespeare’s work is so mesmerising? He uses iambic pentameter heavily throughout his plays and sonnets. Pentameters indicate the rhythm of spoken words; iambic being the most common in English poetry. The rhythm of poetry captures us, and can be applied to writing.

Think of the da-DUM rhythm of the heartbeat and the tic-TOCK of a clock. The unstressed syllable followed by the stressed syllable is the iambic pentameter. It’s not only our feet, but also our minds that cannot help tapping to the beat. Here’s the first line of Shakespeare’s 12th Sonnet:

When I / do COUNT / the CLOCK / that TELLS / the TIME

Let’s be clear, this isn’t a challenge to try and turn all your articles in poetic pieces, but if you are able to bring more of a rhythmic and poetic flow to your writing, you’ll certainly be more engaging.

2. Active Voice VS. Passive Voice

Research and academic writing is general done with the passive voice—hence they’re so tedious to read. The focus is always placed on object—the evidence, findings, and results, rather than the subject—the person doing the research.  Hypnotic writing is all about the subject; always use the present active voice when structuring your subject and verbs.  The “now” engages people much more than the past or future.

Notice the difference between:

The brakes were slammed on by Stacey at the red lights.

and,

Stacey slammed on the brakes at the red lights.

3. Personal Stories

Everybody loves movies. Great stories are universal across all cultures because they allow for human empathy. When you share a personal story or experience in your articles, people respond with, “Oh yeah, I remember when that happened to me!” Or they can at least imagine what that’d be like.

A story brings you into a different setting. You’re suddenly detached from sitting on a chair and looking at your laptop to immersed in the scenario presented. Studies show that when we engage our imagination, the lines between what’s mentally constructed and what is real gets very blurry. A person who imagines practicing piano experiences similar neurological effect as one who physically does.

Use stories in your writing to activate your reader’s imagination and immerse them into hypnotic experience. Simply starting off a sentence with “Imagine…” will get the ball rolling.

4. “You.” Yes, You.

“You” makes readers feel as though your article is directly speaking to them. Although you’re writing articles in hope of having it read by millions, you certainly don’t want to sound that broard and generalised. That create a canyon of disconnect. You want to sound as though you’re having a personal one-on-one conversation with your reader.

There’s a psychological principle called the Fundamental Attribution Error—you’ll be furious and disgusted when you see someone texting and driving, but oh-so forgiving as you drive and text away. Our critical factors are on high alert when we analyse others, but take a break when we analyse ourselves.

If you write as though addressing a broad audience, you’ll have to fight through the critical factor, the more you are able to be personal, the more engaged your uncritical reader will be.

5. Explanations.

“Why is that so?”

“Because” is your key word here. Humans have curiosity hardwired into us, we’re always searching for answers and justification. Addressing problems and creating curiosity in your writing is crucial, but even more so is providing a resolution and explanation.

The classic “Xerox copy” study by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer demonstrated the power of simply giving an explanation. The set-up was a student attempting to cut in line for the copier:

In the first scenario, she asked “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” 60% allowed her to cut-in line.

The second scenario was more specific and asked, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?” The numbers shot up to 94%.

The third scenario is the most surprising: “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?” The numbers stayed about the same at 93% even with a redundant and ridiculous explanation.

A well written and hypnotic lead-in will create enough momentum for the reader to come to a climactic “Why?” But as the study shows, we’re profoundly responsive to explanations, and not presenting an explanation is like switching off a movie before the big ending.

The power of words to evoke positive change motivates Thai to write. Previously a professional chef and international athlete, he’s now somewhere in the world with a backpack, MacBook, and a story to share. You can follow his work at The Utopian LifeFacebook or Twitter.

The 5 Step Voyage of Creating Awesome Content

Image via Flickr user na.harii.

Image via Flickr user na.harii.

This is a guest contribution from James Scherer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Step #1 to Creating Awesome Content: Grab their Attention

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

Unfortunately, I can’t do that for you.

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

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

Content Title Formulas that Work:

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

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

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

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

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

Optimizing your Content for Readership:

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

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

Optimizing your Content for Engagement:

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

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

Optimizing your Content for Conversion:

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

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

No. No there’s not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Step #4 to Creating Awesome Content: Incorporate Awesome Images

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

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

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

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

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I know. It’s awesome.

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

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

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

I mean, c’mon:

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Put that little bit more time into your content. Find the Google Images “Labeled for Reuse” or subscribe to one of the million photo sites and use the least “stocky” images you can find.

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

 

Step #5 to Creating Awesome Content: Be Unique

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

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

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

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

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

Tell a Story:

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

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

Be Honest:

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

Consider articles entitled something like:

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

Be Yourself:

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

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

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

A few recommendations to set your content apart:

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

 

Top 10 Web-Based Personal Project Management Tools

TOP 10 (1)This is a guest contribution.

Every time we encounter the phrase “project management”, the very first thought you might have is that only businesses undertake projects for managing their needs. In reality, time-bound activities can be dealt as a project, irrespective of size. A wedding, opening a small store in a city, renovating an old home or a dumped caravan are all projects. They all require planning, have limited time, have cost and have a deliverable or objective. So, if we consider some of our daily personal activities or blog work as projects, we can apply principles of project management to enable us to measure success in our life, derive personal satisfaction, have better blogs, be better planners, and happier human beings.

Top 10 useful tools for enhanced management and tracking of personal projects:

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Basecamp

Tasks needing to be performed in a personal project can be properly listed through to-dos in Basecamp. These tasks can be assigned to different people participating in a project and can be checked off on their completion. It is so easy to view which activities happened in a project in a given time span. Relevant files and documents can be attached to threads. Important emails like bills can be forwarded to Basecamp, making it easy to search them from the heap of emails. Text documents help to track things which keep changing frequently with time like menus, gift cards, etc. Basecamp lacks time tracking, so it cannot be precisely known how much time was spent in executing various tasks in a project, which can be cruscial knowledge. 

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ProofHub

Personal projects can be smoothly managed with this online collaboration and project management tool. Important events like birthdays and anniversaries can be effectively planned and conducted as scheduled. People subscribed to events receive reminders in advance. Recurring events like get-togethers can be arranged on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. As tasks can be assigned to multiple people, so it becomes far easier to assign and distribute work among a group of family members or friends. This way everyone is clear about his respective tasks in a celebratory event. Labels like “in-progress”, “completed” and “high priority” can be assigned to the tasks, which helps to plan and track them in an easy manner. Deadlines can be set for tasks, so these can be performed in a time bound manner. Collaborators in a project can conveniently discuss matters concerning them. They can better share their views and ideas, and images. Any number o f people can be added as contacts into a project.

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Asana

Asana allows creation of separate workspaces for personal and professional projects, making it great for organizing all types of projects. Have calls to make? A shopping list? Throw it all in a workspace or project. Each project has its own sharing controls, so you can have a party shopping list with your roommates while organizing a wedding party with your family. You can even make your projects public. The Asana mobile applications make it even more easier to access your shopping list on the go and your friends busy in other arrangements, can easily track activities within seconds.

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Trello

​Trello is great for personal use. It consist of boards comprising one or more named lists to keep track of all the tasks. Trello’s power lies in assigning multiple people to a board. Comments can be added to the cards, allowing discussions on various topics. This tool does not provide the chat feature that could have facilitated communication and collaboration among people, though.

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Teamwork​

​Assigning tasks to collaborators involved in a personal project can be properly done with this tool. The priority for a specific task can be set and it can be known how much percentage of a task has been completed. Task reminders can be set. Recurring tasks can be created and tasks can be rendered private if required. Time spent over tasks can be recorded. Tasks can also be rescheduled. Collaborators participating in projects are able to communicate smoothly through messages. They can attach files. Improved task management and smoother communication enables successful accomplishment of personal projects.

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Podio

​People are able to collaborate on Podio over personal projects through workspaces which can be rendered open or private. Tasks can be better defined and assigned to concerned people. Reminders can be set to know if tasks have been completed within the defined time. Recurring, shared and personal tasks can be created. Files can be shared from any remote location. Distantly located collaborators have more clarity over tasks assigned to them. So they are able to execute their tasks within the limited time frame. This tool is quite useful for organized management over projects.

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Wrike

​The highlight of this project management tool is that tasks can be easily created from emails and can be discussed upon with ease. Priorities can be set for tasks and these can be executed in a scheduled manner. Progress achieved in a project can be precisely monitored in real time. So projects can be better organized and managed. Collaborators in personal projects are able to execute their assigned tasks in an orderly and scheduled manner. They can know the exact percentage of progress achieved in projects. This tool’s limitation is that it incurs a lot of time and effort in learning how to use it properly.

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AtTask

​Tasks can be better managed, organized and viewed at the same place through this task management software. Tasks and their due dates can be easily edited. Resources can be properly allocated to people in personal projects, so they do not get overloaded or underloaded with work. They are able to communicate smoothly. They can access documents from the same location and share them. Through feedback, they can be lauded for good work done by them. Reports help to keep everyone updated in projects without putting strain on the inbox. Time spent in projects and tasks can be accurately logged which enables accurate billing. The disadvantage of AtTask is that though users can comment on specific tasks, but there is no earmarked area solely for discussions.

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Comindware

​This work management software improves collaboration among people working together in projects. Messages, attachments and actions in a project can be arranged in a structured manner in group discussions. This improves organization over projects. It also has the mobile feature, so users can participate in discussions while on the go. So personal projects can be better organized, managed and executed. Users can readily share documents with each other.

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Smartsheet

​With this tool, personal projects can be effectively managed through simple task lists. People participating in such projects are able to attach files and set alerts. Due dates for tasks can be set. Tasks can be viewed and edited in calendar. Status details or brief notes can be added to tasks for more clarity over them. People participating in a personal project are able to collaborate in real time. Status of tasks can be viewed and updated even on the go through mobile app. The disadvantage of this tool is that it offers no solutions for time management.

In summary, on encountering the word project management, we naturally think that only businesses need to manage projects. In reality, big or small activities can be dealt as projects as they all require planning, got limited time, have cost, deliverable or objective associated with them. By considering our daily activities as projects, principles of project management can be applied on them. So we can be better planners and happier human beings. Project management tools like Basecamp, ProofHub Asana, Trello, Teamwork, Podio, Wrike, AtTask, Comindware and Smartsheet can be employed for improved management and precise tracking of personal projects.

What type do you use and recommend? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comment section.

Kanika is a freelance content writer who likes to delve deep into writing about technology tools. In her spare time she enjoys sketching, cooking, travelling and spending time with her family and folks.

Are You Ignoring this Important SEO Strategy?

This is a guest contribution from Al Gomez.

So, you have a new business – a new product to market. So now what’s next? Perhaps you are thinking about getting traffic, or how to have more visitors to your website? If so, then expect that your mind will be abuzz with terms such as social media, SEO, AdWords, videos, banner ads, articles, etc.

Or, it will be empty and blank.

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Focus.

Search Engines are what you need, despite all the buzz about social media. Google, Yahoo, and Bing remain a main source of traffic for many people. SEO can help you get there, simple as that. However, SEO is often confused with different technical tactics. If you are a search engine marketer,the tactic sounds technical, spammy, and secretive – it’s not worth your time. One great SEO strategy that works best in search engine marketing is making your website a valuable resource. But, before going into it deeper, let me discuss first the importance of having a good SEO strategy.

SEO Strategy and Its Importance 

SEO is the first concern when talking about traffic- despite the presence of social media. But what can you do and how are you supposed to do it to have the traffic you’ve been wanting for a long time?

It has been a common trap to get caught up in various tactics. These tactics, for the most part, may hurt your reputation, and worse – won’t work. If you focus on pleasing the people as your prime concern, you’ll end up ignoring SEO strategy and still be fine. But, this is not what search engine marketing is all about! Getting to grips with SEO the right way is a major help. There is no need to complicate things, just don’t ignore them. Among the many strategies that Search Engine Marketers employ to take the business higher, one of the most ignored is to make the website a valuable resource – making the website a one-stop spot for everyone and let users leave satisfied they found everything they wanted.

The Strategy: Make the Website A Valuable Resource 

The best SEO geeks at present focus on how they can please the people first, then, the search engine. The key point is that, you can actually do well in SEO by creating content that people would want to save, bookmark, share, comment on, and make as a reference. When you can make this happen, this would indicate that they see your content to be useful and they want it to be a reference for future use. This is what the search engine is looking for and in return, it will reward your content with higher rankings.

Custom Google Analytics 

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To intensify this strategy, you can make use of custom Google Analytics to give you an idea of your useful content and make a difference by serving as a reference material that will be of great help in solving your readers’ concerns and needs. Being reference material is good for ranking, given that it is likely to be shared, clipped, and linked to – a long-term value for your website.

Additionally, being a valuable resource will serve as a foundation for your content marketing strategy. Being a “valuable resource” may not sound as sexy as “engaging content” or “going viral”, but sure thing, it is a much better way to spend your time on, more so when you are just starting out.

Investing a significant amount of time on using SEO the right way is a must. There might be so many strategies around, but not all of them will be applicable to what you can offer to the people. It’s time to be picky – make sure that you’ll stay immortal on the web and people will always be craving what you have in store for them.

Al Gomez is an SEO Expert – working as an SEO consultant and strategist for the last seven years. He focuses on improving website visibility across different industries, including e-commerce websites, health and technology, legal and law, consulting firms, real state, SEO in Los Angeles, and many more. He has also acquired extensive experience in the field of Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Google Adwords (PPC), Email Marketing, Web Development, and other SEO strategies. Know more about Al Gomez by visiting his blog.

Blogging for Business – Why it Works

This is a guest contribution from Maria Mincey.

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

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

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

It Maximizes Reach

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

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

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

Which Blogging Platform to Use?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Know What You Have to Write

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

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

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

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

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

Get some Professional SEO Help

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

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

Some of the keyword tools that can be used include:

Keyword Planner

Word Tracker

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

The Images of the Post

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

Make Sure the Keyword Density is Just Right

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

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

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