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Rebranding Your Blog: The Resources

REBRANDING YOUR BLOG-

Last week we had Jodi from Practising Simplicity talk us through the decision behind rebranding her six-year-old established blog.

Many of you had questions about the technical details of moving a blog, so I’ve rounded up some resources to help. You will find everything from changing social media handles to 301 redirects. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments and we will try to assist!

Before you even start, get clear on WHY you want to rebrand: Nuts and Bolts Media // Things to Consider Before Rebranding Your Blog.

The Lotus Creative // How to Rebrand Your Blog Has a step-by-step guide right from the very beginning – choosing a name and getting a .com. Kate also discusses traffic loss due to the switch, and what you can do about it.

This post also goes into moving a blog from an SEO perspective to keep your traffic high : Search Engine Land // How to Rebrand Without Losing Your Hard-Earned Rankings.

Freeing Imperfections // How I Rebranded My Blog goes into more design issues – how to find a customisable theme and how to make your blog visually reflect you the blogger.

Tico and Tina has an entire series on Rebranding Your Blog which should have you brainstorming taglines and making decisions about navigation in no time.

There are step-by-step images and screenshots on exactly how to switch to a new domain here at Elizabeth Loves // Rebranding Your Blog 101: The Technical Stuff.

And for seriously in-depth discussion (with a little bit of humour!) about the nitty-gritty of seamlessly rebranding your social media accounts, Moz has got you covered with How to Rebrand Your Social Media Accounts. They include just about every social account you can think of. More than I could think of, actually!

What kind of hiccups have you encountered when rebranding your blog? Is it even making the decision to do it?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the gal behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

The Power of “TK” in Content Writing (and How it Can Help You)

Sometimes blogging is just slooooww…

If you’ve ever been struggling (painfully) to write a couple of paragraphs that would make sense, only to find yourself with 400 words after two hours of effort then you know what I mean.

There can be many reasons why this is possibly your reality at the moment.

Maybe it’s just not your day.

d1

Maybe you have some kind of a
writer’s block.

d2

But maybe you’re just
slowing yourself down
by getting hung up
on a missing word
for minutes at a time.

Yep, maybe that’s the case …

But the problem here is that
it’s against human nature
to leave blank spaces
or to keep writing when there’s clearly a word or phrase missing.

We – humans – just don’t like such [_ gaps _]!

d3

This is where
the concept of “TK”
comes into play.

It’s the oldest trick in the book that all of our journalist friends have known for ages (shush!).

In short, TK stands for “to come.”

Here’s how to use it :

Whenever you have a word missing
(any word, verb, noun, specific name) …

… put “TK” in its place
and keep writing like nothing ever happened …

… With some practice, this will allow you
to continue going forward
without breaking your flow.

Some examples:
(1) “There are tons of people who TK at blogging because they took too much TK upon themselves.” (2) “You can get such functionality with a plugin like TK.” (3) “It performs a number of checks against things like TK, TK, and a lot of other stuff.”

d3

Then, once you’re done writing,
you can go back to every instance of TK
and replace it with the actual word or phrase.

“But wait a minute, ‘to come’ is TC!” You say.

Right, but the combination of
the letters “T” and “K”
is much more practical
as it almost doesn’t occur
in the English language
naturally.

Therefore, when you’re going through your piece
during the editing phase,
searching for every TK
won’t get you any false positives
.

d3

How about you? Do you TK much?

Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a freelance writer, published author, founder of NewInternetOrder.com and a blogger at Bidsketch.com (delivering some cool freelance blogging and writing tools, advice and resources just like what you’re reading now). Whenever he’s not working, Karol likes to spend time training Capoeira and enjoying life.

5 Crucial Link Building Strategies After Google Panda 4.1

This is a guest contribution from Rizvan Ullah.

Many people have been affected by the chain of Google Panda updates which began to roll out in February 2011. With an influx of information readily available, it’s become more important to provide only the best results for those using Google while skimming through search results. Google has said numerous times that their mission has always been to be the best search engine providing users with solutions to everyday problems, questions, references, etc. However, people are finding clever ways to manipulate the search results affecting the quality of information presented within the search results.

Since much of the manipulation occurs by using deceptive link-building techniques, Google Panda was engineered to find ways to detect these factors and eliminate the websites using them. Just to give you a better understanding of Google’s efforts, they have been focusing on eliminating black hat techniques from February 2011-to-now where they rolled out the latest update recently.

Going forward you can rest assure that Google will continue to tweak their search algorithm to perform better providing more “high” quality results. I’ve always been a strong believer that the success of your website and/or blog has to do with providing “high” quality resources to your readers and using authentic link building techniques.

From my experience, there have been five crucial link building techniques that have stood the test of time and continue to provide high quality traffic to my blog WITHOUT being penalized by Google algorithm updates.

Let’s get started…

1.  Google Ranking Criteria

I’m very surprised at the amount of people that don’t read through what’s changing within the search algorithm because you’ll learn a lot about what direction Google is heading in. If you understand Google’s changing “ranking” criteria, it’s very simple to stay on the clean side of things. First, each time there’s an update, you can find over 50 resources that will provide you with a breakdown of what’s changed. You’ll notice Google Panda 1.0 when it rolled had tweaked a few things which are still relevant today. For example:

  • Eliminating low quality content websites which provide little to NO value to the reader. They compare “value” by comparing the user engagement usually pulled out of Google Analytics.
  • Eliminating websites which contain “thin” content pages. Much of the problem seen was that people would often create one high quality content page hoping to use that as their ranking page. All other pages on the domain would be low, or poor quality content.
  • Eliminating aggregated content websites which distribute content published on other websites or duplicated content. If you are building links from within duplicated content that can impact your rankings within the SERPs.

Since Panda 1.0, this has been the focal point on which Google is trying to improve their search results. Anyway, once you understand the direction in which the search algorithm is heading, you can start to take a proactive roll to ensure that you stay away from specific things.

Read over the Google’s Panda Trends to get a better understanding of how things are changing and what criteria you should follow when incorporating a link building strategy of your own.

2. Diversity In “Everything” Is Good

Thinking that eating salads is the only way to lose weight is the same as thinking “article directories” provide the only real authentic link building juice. However, if you sniff around and do research, you’ll uncover 5-6 awesome techniques that are legit and will provide value to your SEO efforts. The problem is, if you stick to only one method, then Google might think you’re NOT important enough. However if you find the line in between, you’ll be surprised at the value added. It’s true what they say, it’s not always about quantity but quality, and this applies to link building as well.

Over time, I’ve narrowed it down to 3-4 methods which have proven to be very effective…

Guest Posting:

One of the best ways to generate targeted traffic to your blog involves utilizing the traffic of top bloggers within the industry. As experienced bloggers get busier and are unable to create content regularly, they often rely on others to produce content for them. Guest posting opportunities is a great way to get your experienced noticed and you’re rewarded with a link back to your personal blog.

Follow these quick guest posting guidelines…

  • Find “guest posting” opportunities on relevant blogs
  • Make sure the content is high quality since it can lead to more guest posting opportunities.
  • Link to your relevant content within the post and make sure that link is relevant to your guest post.
  • Contact other bloggers directly to build a personal relationship with them. This can lead to further guest posting opportunities increasing the chances of link backs, traffic and user engagement.

Article Directories:

After the recent Google update, people are beginning to question the power of article directories. However, for me, they are still a vital link building strategy if utilized correctly. Here’s an awesome strategy I use:

Only publish content on the best article directories. Look for high PR, DA and PA websites which ONLY publish high quality content. It’ll be a great idea to choose websites which are moderated closely and only publish you’re content once within each article directory. Google has said numerous times it’ll penalize websites which have external and/or internal links from duplicated and/or aggregated websites.

High Quality Content:

When I first starting writing content, I didn’t pay any attention to link building and instead wanted to publish the best pieces of content available on the web. I figured if I published the best content, Google will automatically rank my page higher because it was in-depth and provided the ultimate solution to my readers. You know what…I was right!

When I look through my report, I’ve noticed I’m ranking for keywords WITHOUT any link building efforts. It was amazing what happened and I contribute my rankings to two things…

First, high quality content creates user engagement because I had more social shares then any of my competitors which ranked my content higher than them. When people tend to share your content, it increases the chances that people who own blogs will link back to your content.

Next, Having written content which is 2000+ words provided more leverage allowing me to diversify my keyword portfolio. I was able to increase the keyword density and include LSI keywords (latent semantic keywords). Matt Cutts, head of Web Spam at Google has said having LSI keywords within your content will enhance the flow allowing you to add more related long tail keywords. At this point, when Google indexes my content, it picks up on keywords both “targeted” and “related” improving my chances of ranking for of them.

Forums:

People have been interacting on forums long before sophisticated search engines like Google were created. User forums were the first ever information hubs which provided a Q&A interface. They are still very effective in providing solutions and if you can create a solid profile for yourself, you can benefit from the traffic. Once you’ve gained credibility, you’re given the opportunity to set up a “signature” located below your forum posts. Many of these are “do-follow” counting as a link back and can generate enormous targeted traffic.

3. Relevance is Important

After Google Panda, relevance is beginning to play an even more important role in link building. Google understands the importance of providing information which is organized and relevant to its users. The challenge is to be able to do this effectively especially with so many people using manipulative strategies that have worked in the past. Previously, it was about getting high authoritative links from high quality websites. It’s recently changed to getting high authoritative links from “relevant” high quality websites.

In the future, when building links, it’s important to pay close attention to the content on their website. It’s even more important to pay attention to the sites linking into the site you plan on building a link from. Consider link building a chain effect, meaning, finding websites not only relevant to you but a group of websites relevant to each other.

4. Anchor & Related Keywords

There have been many questions regarding “anchor” text and the correct way to use it within your content. Google has adopted a new strategy where head and/or anchor text no longer holds as much value as before. Google uses latent semantic indexing to relate phrases together so phrases like “small business web hosting” are the same as “corporate web hosting plans”. How come Google made this change?

People have been changing the way they search for information. They use long tail keywords and are becoming more specific. Google being able to relate phrases together allow them to provide more specific search results from a variety of search phrases. It increases the natural flow of the content and provides a more specific user experience.

What can you do?

It’s time to start mixing up your keyword phrases so that things look more natural in your content. For example, include both “targeted” and “related” keywords in your content to increase the diversity of the links. There are many tools that can generate variations of keywords from your “targeted” keyword. The easiest is to use Google search bar…

For example, when you type in the phrase “building a website”, Google automatically displays several related searches right below. Make a list because you can include them when creating your content.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 3.59.09 pm

5.  Don’t Follow Competitors, It Can Hurt You!

We all love competition because it keeps you motivated and it can provide you with valuable information. You can use tools to find the “link” profile of your competitors and use it to build your own backlinks. However, things are beginning to change and carving out your own identity is the way to go. Many of your competitors have been around for years and some might have used link building techniques that might be considered “black-hat” or flagged by Google. If you use these strategies today, it can have a huge impact on your rankings often causing a decrease of 30%-40% and/or even getting you banned from the SERPs (search results).

After Google Panda 4.1, it’s important to build your own brand which includes using strategies outside the box.

Many times link building is NOT what to do compared to what to do which is why you should try different things and stick to the ones which work well. For example, guest posting on relevant blogs can produce amazing results driving “targeted” traffic to your website. Next, you can decrease the websites you use to build links from i.e…

  • Focus on high authority websites with high PR
  • Focus on websites with higher than normal domain and page authority
  • Focus on websites which are relevant to your blog and/or website
  • Only build links from the best article directories
  • Only build links from the best forums

Before, the focus was on building links from as many websites no matter what their link profile, PR, reputation and relevance. Now, however,  it’s time you tweak your strategy. Start to pay close attention to the websites you publish content on or build direct links from. You’d be surprised how many of them can harm your efforts just because they have a poor link profile and are known as lower quality websites.

Just remember to think outside the box and try things which your competitors are NOT doing. This can help build your brand and add value to your blog in such a way that it will increase your rankings within the long-run. Here’s a great example:

Recently, I started to experiment with PBN (private blog networks) which consist of creating smaller “high” authority websites. The twist is that you purchase websites and/or expired domains which have already built their authority but the owner forgot to renew them. What’s does this provide for me…

  • A relevant domain with an established PR
  • A website with an established domain and page authority
  • A website which can provide awesome link power right from the start

It’s a great way to streamline the process of building a website from the beginning and one with a solid reputation. There is a strict criteria that needs to be followed when building these websites however if done correctly, they can provide awesome ranking power for years to come. I’ve been performing a PBN case study and the results have been pretty impressive. However, the point I’m trying to make is you need to try things that others aren’t. You need to tweak different strategies so that it’s both beneficial to you and does NOT raise any red flags with Google. Private Blog Networks are perfect as long as you’re adding value and NOT spamming.

Rizvan Ullah is the founder of Ranktactics, which provides internet marketers with tutorials on traffic generation, social media marketing, product reviews, and case studies. Learn how to create a profitable blog step-by-step from the ground up. Get started by reading his expert roundup post on effective link building techniques. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Things Bloggers Should Know Before Using Google Adwords

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 12.01.53 pm

This is a guest contribution from Jignesh Gohel.

Google Adwords has been the most popular tool for online advertising. It is easy enough to set, optimize and start reaping the profits. However, a few know that it can be a highly relevant tool for bloggers too. Many popular blogs are already using Google Adwords to popularize and monetize the sites. While you might already be using other advertisement platforms, Google Adwords opens new ways to rise to the top.

Adwords, as such integrates several different methods for advertising. Trying to get deeper, you can actually be astonished by the largely unnoticed tools that were right there in front of you all this time. Things like advertising on keywords with paid search, advertising on display networks including local news websites or YouTube, etc can be quite fulfilling. Remarketing is another way that Google Adwords leverages the power of paid searches and is considered the highest ROI variant of online advertising. While many bloggers believe that only organic content is the best way to get to the top, paid search too can lend a helping hand. Promoting your content with paid search marketing provides additional opportunity in content marketing. Google Adwords allows bloggers to create ads and generate paid traffic for blog, but with some underlying constraints. Google adwords has pre-defined policy and strict monitoring system which reject or even ban the advertisers who violate their policies. Here are few important policies for bloggers or content marketers.

Google Adwords policies to drive traffic

As said earlier, Google Adwords presents a great platform for blog promotion but also integrates several important restrictive policies

1. Arbitrage

Among the most important Adwords policies, Arbitrage doesn’t allow promotion of blogs that have specifically been designed for the showcasing advertisements. This is line with Google’s favor for unique, original and useful content. Excessive advertising makes your blog unsuitable to advertise with Google Adwords and in some cases; the account can even be suspended. If your blog or websites is primarily focusing on following types of content, it may come under radar of “arbitrage” policy.

  • Websites designed primarily for ads
  • Websites showcasing interstitial ads (pop up ads)
  • Websites with scraped content
  • Pre-generated and template content
  • Auto-generated and gibberish content
  • Websites involving deceptive navigation, indistinguishable content or malicious ads
  • Websites integrating ad keywords irrelevant to the core content

2. Bridge Page

Adwords doesn’t support websites/blogs with Bridge Pages. Also referred to as doorway pages, it means landing pages that automatically link up to a completely different site. This is the characteristics with most affiliate websites but aren’t Adwords compliant. As such, these are also the pages that offer the visitor with no/marginal content and are solely meant to redirect traffic.

3. Information Harvesting

Websites/blogs that involve content meant to collect personal information from visitors aren’t supported under Adwords. These would involve websites that offer “free gifts” in exchange for personal information or web pages harvesting sensitive information (bank account details, credit card numbers, etc) over unsecured connections.

If your website is not harvesting information but collect sensitive information from customer, you must install SSL certificate on your website. Google Adwords information harvesting policy strictly recommends that the information mentioned below should transmit over secure processing servers (https):

  • Debit and credit card numbers
  • Bank/investment account details/numbers
  • Wire transfer numbers
  • Checking account numbers
  • Social security, pension, national identity, driver’s license, health care or Tax ID numbers

If you blog is running on HTTPS, it also had added advantages in Google organic search result. You can easily get FREE SSL certificate from startssl or ssl2buy that can easily installed on your server by following these simple steps.

Tips for bloggers to adhere to Google Adwords policies

The primary goal of Google remains the same – to provide unique, original and representative content to its users. Adwords, as such integrates the same policies to make the experience on the search engine more comfortable for users. Bloggers who plan to be successful with Google Adwords need to:

  1. Use original and unique content as opposed to scraped ones
  2. Stop using intestinal and excessive ads
  3. Stop using blogs solely for the purpose of advertising
  4. Create campaigns with content relevant keywords and format
  5. Avoid trying to harvest user/visitor information
  6. Understand and follow Google adword policies strictly

Creating good content is always half the battle won. It is more important to get it to people who would consider it benefitting. Content promotion strategies integrated into Google Adwords for bloggers can get you ahead of your competitors. As such, experienced content marketers spend as much on promotion as they would on trying to generate the likable, linkable and sharable asset. Google Adwords seems to be a relevant tool that every bloggers should try.

Jignesh Gohel is Founder & CEO of online business consulting agency OLBUZ specializing in eCommerce, products and small business marketing. In his minuscule spare time, Jignesh enjoys nature photography and yoga. You can follow him on Twitter or reach out to him via Linkedin.

How Much to Charge for Sponsored Content – is This a Question You’ve Ever Asked Yourself?

For new (and even established bloggers) there’s a cloud of mystery in the Australian blogging industry around setting advertising rates. As the community manager for Blogger Connect, one question I get asked a lot is: “how many unique views do I need before I start advertising?”. Secondly, it’s: “how much do I charge?”. With no real industry standard, it is also a question asked around the world. On the flip side,  in this industry with no established guidelines, are brands just as much in the dark?

It’s not as cut and dry as looking at website and social media traffic to determine how much to charge. A blog that has 20,000 unique views per month doesn’t necessarily trump a blog that has 10,000 unique views. The blog with 10,000 UV may have a more engaged audience than the blog with 20,000 UV, which makes it a much better value proposition for the advertiser.

But are brands on the same page? Do they consider engagement rates in conjunction with unique views, or are they all about the numbers? Are bloggers respecting their worth, and are brands prepared to pay?

It’s these types of questions that led us to launch a poll on Blogger Connect to give bloggers more confidence in setting their rates, and brands insight into what bloggers are worth.

We polled both bloggers and PRs/brands about unique views, advertising rates and engagement levels, and the results to date are surprising.

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 4.37.26 PM

 

We asked bloggers how many unique views they had before they started advertising, and brands what the minimum unique views a blog needs before they will advertise with them. We also included an option for brands to indicate they don’t consider unique views at all when choosing which bloggers to advertise with.

In another question, we asked brands whether they consider engagement levels in conjunction with unique views when reviewing a blog, and 79% have responded with yes.

These results are heartening. At Blogger Connect we educate brands to not exclude the ‘little guys’ because smaller blogs with highly engaged audiences are of high value to their advertising mix.

Not only are brands indicating they are reviewing engagement levels of blogs (not just vanity metrics), 60% are willing to work with blogs who have unique views from 1000 to 3000. Brands are valuing smaller bloggers who have engaged audiences.

However, 45% bloggers believe they need from 3000 to 5000+ to start advertising.

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 3.24.59 PM

Now to the nitty gritty. As a benchmark, we asked bloggers if they had 5000 unique views, how much they would charge for a sponsored post. Equally we asked brands what the most they would be prepared to pay for a sponsored post with 5000 unique views.

Only 17% of bloggers would charge $300+, whilst 57% of brands are prepared to pay this. 32% of bloggers charge between $200 and $300, with only 9% of brands indicating they would pay that as a maximum. 51% of bloggers are charging less than $200, whilst 33% of brands are only willing to pay this much.

Key Takeaways for Bloggers

The poll results to date indicate brands have engagement levels on their radar, and it’s not just all about unique views. They are willing to work with smaller bloggers, and if you have an engaged audience, you may not need as many unique views as you think you do before you consider advertising.

Highlight your engagement levels in your media kit, and take them into consideration when setting your rates. Comments on blog posts used to be the holy grail of measuring a blogs engagement, but many communities are gathering around their social media platforms.

Whilst comments are still definitely worthwhile including, some additional ways to showcase your engagement levels are to include interaction levels on your social media platforms (i.e. ‘talking about this’ from your Facebook page), and page views (in conjunction with your unique views) and time on site from Google Analytics.

If you’d like to help to continue to bring clarity to the blogging industry, click here to have your say in the Blogger Connect Industry Poll.

Gaynor was a blogger for 5 years, and is now the community manager for Blogger Connect. She is dedicated to supporting bloggers to reach their full potential, educating brands on the growing power bloggers have with consumers, and setting industry standards for commercial blogger outreach.

Gaynor is also a social media and blogger outreach consultant, and social media course presenter for NET:101. She advocates social media as a means for organisations to establish strong communities around their brand, enabling direct engagement and long-term loyalty.

How Our eBook Launches Have Evolved (after 235,000 eBook Sales)

This week on my main blog – Digital Photography School – we launched our 24th photographic eBook (a guide to post production of portrait images) and it got me thinking back about some of the changes in my blogging since I started back in 2002.

Over the last five years I’ve completely changed the way that I monetise my blogs. Up until this point my focus had very much been about making money through advertising (with some affiliate marketing) but in 2009 I began to experiment with eBooks (read more on this evolution in my blogging income in this post).

Screen Shot 2014 09 22 at 2 09 08 pm

A Few Stats on our eBook Sales

  • On ProBlogger, SnapnGuides and Digital Photography School we’ve now launched 34 eBook based products (including two printable collections).
  • Last time I checked we’d made over 235,000 individual sales of these products.
  • This 235,000 sales includes quite a few ‘bundles’ of eBooks so the individual number of eBooks sold would be much higher.

To say that I’m happy I took a step out of my comfort zone and created my first eBooks back in 2009 would be an understatement!

I still monetise my blogs through advertising and some affiliate marketing – but to have this newer and larger income stream is a bonus (although, it’s worth emphasising, was a lot of hard work).

The Biggest Lesson I’ve Learned In Selling eBooks

While that’s a lot of products when you look at them all together I’ve learned heaps since 2009 when I launched my first two eBooks and have many many mistakes a long the way.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve had is that the ‘launch’ of a new product is super important.

Today I looked back on my first product launches and was amazed just how much the approach to launching our products has evolved.

Note: Next week we’ll be running a fuller webinar for ProBlogger.com members on this topic that will walk you through the way we launch eBooks on dPS and ProBlogger.

My First eBook Launch

In 2009 when I launched my first photography eBook I wrote about the launch here on ProBlogger. To save you the read – the launch was pretty simple.

Once the product was created and loaded into our shopping cart system with an early bird 25% discount we launched with:

    • an email to our newsletter list
    • a blog post
    • a handful of tweets and Facebook updates

emailing a handful of potential affiliates to ask them if they wanted to promote the ebook

  • halfway through the 10 days I mentioned it in our weekly newsletter – very subtly
  • 10 Days later I ended the launch I again emailed and wrote a blog post saying that the discount period was coming to an end.

 

The result in sales looked like this with two spikes of sales around the two emails/blog posts:

E book sales

I was pretty amazed by the launch – 4800 eBooks sold and an income of around $72,000.

I wrote about some of the lessons from this first launch in a post on ProBlogger after the launch – in that post I wrote about a few ways that I’d change it next time – one of which was to not only have an email at the start and end of the launch but more in the middle – to try to stimulate sales in the middle (and to change the shape of the chart from a U to a W).

This is exactly what I began to experiment in the launches that followed. In fact today as I look at a typical launch of an eBook things have evolved a lot!

Our eBook Launches Today

Typically now when we launch an eBook our launch happens over a 4-5 week period (as opposed to the 10 days of that first launch). This enables us to promote the product numerous times in different ways over the month.

Note: if we go for a five-week launch it usually means we have a week off in the middle of the launch – so after week two, we wouldn’t email on week three. We do this if a product is going well naturally just to let our affiliates have a bit more time to promote it.

Here’s a graphic from a recent talk that I gave that lays out what a typical launch might look like (click to enlarge):

Screen Shot 2014 09 22 at 8 51 34 am

You’ll notice some of the same elements as the first launch outlined above but see that we’ve added a few new things including:

Pre Launch

Preparing readers for what is to come can build anticipation and whet their appetite for your product. Also getting readers familiar with the author/creator of the product (if they are not already) is important.

Showcasing the Author/Creator

If the author is not you – the blogger – getting them involved on the blog during the launch is important – it can help you build credibility and gives you natural ways to mention the product. As you’ll see in the graphic above we involved the author in guest posts and interviews on the blog but there might be other ways to showcase them including webinars, videos etc.

Competitions

We don’t always do a competition but will sometimes introduce one in week two which puts anyone who purchases our eBook in the draw to win a prize. Note: this is something you’ll need to check your local regulations on as not all countries allow competitions that require a purchase.

Testimonials

Week 3-4 usually involves an email and/or blog posts that involved testimonials that we’ve received from readers who bought the eBook. This of course relies upon you getting them – we typically find them in reviews that people have written or comments people have left on social or on the blog.

Mix it Up

Each of the weeks have a different focus. So instead of each week us emailing the same message ‘check out our eBook’ we’re emailing some kind of update that gives a different message and hopefully hits a different trigger point to purchase.

  • Many of our readers simply buy everything we launch so week one is all it takes.
  • Others need an incentive of a competition so week two hits the spot.
  • Others like to see what others think about the product so the testimonials work best.
  • Others still just need the incentive of the price rising, a competition ending or a bonus offer finishing to get them to buy.

Minimise the Annoyance Factor

It’s also worth noting that if someone buys the eBook that we are able to stop them receiving further emails – so they’re not being emailed another 2-3 times about something they’ve already bought. We do this simply by putting any purchases of the eBook into a new list on Aweber and then excluding that list from the next emails we send.

It’s also worth noting that over the launch period I’m very conscious of keeping everything on the blog as normal as possible.

Over the launch we still do the same amount of regular blog posts, our newsletters continue to mainly be about sharing great tips and tutorials and the vast majority of our social media updates are not about the product.

This means anyone who is not interested in the eBook still can be engaging with us in the way that they always do – so as to minimise the annoyance factor.

What Have You Learned About Launching Products?

The way that we launch our eBooks has evolved a lot over the last five years and will no doubt continue to change. It’s also something that we no doubt do differently to others.

So… I’d love to hear what you’ve learned about launching products on your blogs? What have you tried that has worked well for you?

Using Visual Content to Increase Blog Engagement

1This is a guest contribution from Tom More of Slidely.com. 

Visual content is your secret weapon to boosting blog engagement. The blog posts of today demand fresh, eye-catching content that can be read and shared easily, which makes videos, infographics, photos, and slideshows a perfect companion to blog posts. People absorb information quicker and more intuitively from images than text and visual content attracts more engagement on social media channels. Additionally, visual content is extremely easy to integrate into your current blog posts, as well as add to your past posts. On your blog homepage, strong visual content can sustain new visitors attention so they are more inclined to explore your blog.  For these reasons and more, it’s clear that visual content partners great with blogs, but how will visual content affect your blog engagement?

Visual content increases social media engagement for your blog

Blog posts are a powerful content medium on their own, but a large part of their strength is their ability to be shared across social media channels easily. Blog engagement is largely built through social media because social media channels allow you to gain exposure, focus your posts to relevant audiences, and respond easily to those who comment on your posts. According to a study by HubSpot, posts with photos received 53% more likes and attracted 104% more comments than those without (via HubSpot).

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Sam Kusinitz / Hubspot

 

Visual content generates more click throughs

When you link to a blog post, attach a catchy visual to grab viewers attention and prompt them to continue on to the post. Photo posts can generate over 80% higher link click through than simple text and link posts, HubSpot reports. So next time you link to a post, do your best to add a picture or video that illustrates your point.

Visual content helps you reach your audience by saying more with less

As you know, brevity can be key when it comes to blog posts. Visual content conveys information succinctly and quickly, making it a great way to say more with less. Using photos to replace excess words is a powerful way to boost engagement. In fact, posts below 250 characters can boost your engagement by up to 60% (via Visual.ly).

Let visual content speak for itself. You can give an introduction and a call to action, but sometimes a standalone video or slideshow is more powerful than one with a lot of extra text. Once in awhile, save yourself time and effort by using visual content to your advantage to replace long text-based posts.

Visual content makes your blog memorable

Not only can audiences absorb your message quicker and clearer, but using visual content in your blogs can lead to better retainment of information. We often remember large amounts of information better when conveyed visually rather than verbally, and when you need to get across an important message in your blog, you don’t want to risk it being forgotten after you put in so much effort to create it.

Visual content is evergreen content

Evergreen content is highly valuable in the blogging world, because evergreen content that is not just relevant in the moment, but retains its value over time. This makes it one of the best types of content to build engagement over time because it can be shared and re-shared, resulting in many more chances for views and engagement. Visual content is evergreen because it has value in and out of context – in other words, even if your blog post becomes dated, the great photos or videos included in it can be relevant on their own, boosting traffic to your blog and shares for the individual video content.

If you are ready to get started with integrating visual content, here are some tips on using visual content in blog posts…

Remember while all types of visual content are powerful, not all are created equal. Different visual content mediums benefit different channels. For example, when it comes to social media sharing, the best engagement comes from photos, followed by videos and infographics. Slideshows are also on the rise as an engaging visual content medium because they can be used during live presentations or for online sharing.

You can see how we manage slideshows at Slidely:

Steve Jobs – Tribute by Slidely Slideshow

Additionally, when you post visual content matters too. According to Fannit, people are less likely to check Facebook during work hours, but morning is a peak time to check their newsfeed (via Social Media Today). When it comes to Twitter, engagement is higher on weekends than weekdays. For all types of social media, posting at night returns the least amount of engagement. What does this mean for you? Strategize with a posting calendar so you are consistently releasing visual-packed posts at peak hours.

Always consider your audience and use the medium most suited to them. Visual content is far less effective if it doesn’t match the audience it is intended for. Consider whether your target audience prefers videos, slideshows, or photos and then go heavier on this content (while still including a variety of different types). For example, travel bloggers often use photos for the majority of their visual content because travel photos can tell a story well, while business bloggers tend towards slideshows and presentations because their audience often wants a takeaway. Educators also often utilize slideshows and presentations, while a fashion blog is more likely to use photos. These are just some examples of how audience affects the type of video content.

Also, switch up the types of visual content you use. Photos are great for almost every blog post or hyperlink on social media sites, but it’s also important to include videos, slideshows, presentations, infographics, and moving graphics to keep your audience interested. No one wants to see the same type of content all the time, so vary what you present.

I’d love to hear – what kind of visual content do you feel works best for you?

Tom more is CEO and founder of Slidely, a popular creator of slideshows, videos and imagery.

Thinking of Rebranding Your Blog? Read This.

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Rebranding an established and successful business? Why would you do that?

For some, the risk of changing the name of something people have grown to know and love is too big. For others, the risk of being boxed into something they no longer feel much affinity for is even bigger.

No doubt it’s a scary leap to rebrand a blog – would people still read? Would a slight shift in direction upset the established audience? Would the to-do list of technical issues be too overwhelming? Would you lose all that Google love you’ve built up over the years?

At some point, if you’ve felt the rumbling undercurrent of wanting to make a change, you’ll decide those reasons are no longer enough to hold you back. And so you research new domain names, you design new logos, you test the waters. And you make the switch – your blog (and your online identity) is something new. Something more you.

Jodi Wilson did that on New Year’s Eve 2013. She took a blog she had lovingly nurtured for six years from online journal to a much larger online place of community and inspiration, and gave it a complete overhaul. Once a place to share the milestones and sleepless nights as a new parent, the blog had evolved into a new space of a woman finding joy in a simple, humble life. And Jodi felt it required a new look and name to reflect that.

One of the biggest factors in the name change was the fact that my blog was originally named after my son and his teddy – Che & Fidel,” she says.

“Che had started school in 2013 and all of a sudden his world was much bigger and I had less control. I didn’t feel like his stories were mine to share anymore and it only felt right to stop blogging about him, hence the blog name just didn’t resonate. As I wrote in my first post as PS: ‘Che & Fidel no longer resonated with me, I didn’t feel like it represented my blog or my intention. My days of sharing notable milestones and tales of sleepless nights were over. Instead I was using my blog as a means of exploring ideas and seeking inspiration. It was more about my experience as a woman than just my experience as a mother’.

“It wasn’t a decision I made lightly, either. To tell you the truth, my energy and enthusiasm for blogging was waning and I needed a boost, as a creative and a writer. I wanted to keep doing it, to keep enjoying it, but there were times when it was a hard slog – it was work.”

The hardest part, she says, was finding a new name that would encompass all the blog had come to be about. A name that would resonate with people, but most importantly, herself.

“I spent months exploring different names and, of course, checking whether the domain was available (it was really important for me to move to a .com). Funnily enough, the name was quite literally staring me in the face the entire time,” she says.

“In June 2013 I started a series called Practising Simplicity where I explored simple living. The series was as much about me exploring new ways of being as it was about sharing information with my readers. I loved writing it because it inspired me; it made me more mindful of my creative process, my parenting, my wellbeing. It wasn’t until mid-November, when I was reading through past posts in the hope of “finding” a name, that the idea came to me. Of course, it was perfect (and yes, the .com was available).”

Often a change in name can mean a change in blog direction, but mostly always means a change in logo and branding. Jodi says a new design for Practising Simplicity was “essential”, launching her blog in the new year with not only a new name, but a new web address, and a clean, simple, refined design that reflected her aesthetic and intention.

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It also comes with a not-so-small checklist of to-dos to ensure your readers are redirected with a minimum of fuss, your social media accounts are changed, and all the boxes are ticked (you can check out the one Tsh Oxenreider used when she made a similar change from her hugely successful blog Simple Mom into The Art of Simple).

Jodi saved a lot of time and heartache by getting it right the first time around: “I handed much of the technical work over to my tech guy Graeme - I knew it was beyond me and it felt only right to employ someone who knew exactly what they were doing,” she says.

“Graeme managed to redirect my Che & Fidel address to PS with ease – basically, if you go to my old address you automatically end up at practisingsimplicity.com - don’t ask me how he did it, I’m just glad he managed to work it out!  When it came to changing my IG profile – that was done with a simple name change in my profile. I contacted Facebook and requested they change the name of my page; which they did within 48 hours. I did the same for bloglovin’.”

But while the technical side of things can easily be taken care of, and you’re excited about a new change, new branding, and new direction – that doesn’t mean everything will go smoothly. Jodi said there was certainly some small fears on her part, but received wonderful support from her readers.

“I was realistic about the fact that there may be readers that wouldn’t appreciate the change. But at the end of the day I was making the change for me more than anyone else,” she says.

“I knew that I couldn’t keep blogging with heart unless I was proud of the space I was creating – it needed to be authentic, no ifs or buts.

“When I pressed “publish” on that first post I remember sitting back and marvelling at the fact that my humble online journal had become a website – one that earned me an income. It was a bit overwhelming to tell you the truth. Who would have thought? After I got over that I received a few very encouraging comments from long time readers. I exhaled.”

And the biggest fear of all for some – how will the readers react?

“With an incredible amount of positivity!,” Jodi says of her experience.

“They felt like the change was a perfect fit for my current content – the ultimate feedback. There was, of course, a few comments regarding readers’ dislike of sidebar sponsors but every comment was expressed with kindness which I’m incredibly grateful for. Each to their own!”

If you’re thinking of making the switch, Jodi has some words of advice for you:

“When you launch a new space there are always going to be hiccups. Be patient – they won’t take long to fix.

Also, if you’re considering making a change – do it! It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for my career. Within weeks of launching my new space I had numerous new sponsors who appreciated the fact that my blog was more “lifestyle” as opposed to “mumsy” and I continue to work with all of them. The new look also caught the attention of publishing company, Blurb, who offered me a book deal (six weeks after my launch!).”

You can find Jodi at her blog, Facebook, and Instagram.

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the gal behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

It’s been 2 Years Since I’ve Seen A Blog Training Program This Good

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It has been almost two years since I’ve found training for bloggers that I’ve considered good enough to promote as an affiliate.

I’m very fussy with who and what I promote (because there is so much hype and dubious practice in this space) but today have a recommendation for an authentic and valuable program that I know will help many ProBlogger readers.

The Short Story

The Elite Blog Academy is one of the most comprehensive blogging courses I’ve ever come across – and it’s available to enrol in with an early bird offer for just over 48 hours with the coupon code EBASAVE50 (which saves you $50).

Check it out here

The Longer Story

Ruth-Profile-2013-Rounded-735x1024Earlier this year after running a ProBlogger Training day in Portland I had opportunity to grab a coffee with Ruth Soukup. 

Ruth shared with me the story of starting her blog Living Well Spending Less in 2010. Like us all she made her share of mistakes but persisted with it and struggled on and four years later has built a blog with over a million visitors a month that generates her a full time income.

I was really impressed with both Ruth’s success but also the clear and strategic she applied to her blogging.

Numerous times as she spoke I wanted to take notes as she’d been experimenting with techniques I’d not come across before – particularly around Pinterest and social media.

At the end of her story I remember thinking ‘I wish we could bottle what you’ve done and share it with ProBlogger readers’.

No sooner than I’d thought this Ruth slid across the table a white folder with an outline for her Elite Blog Academy course. Yep – she’d bottled it!

The Elite Blog Academy: Enrolments Close in 48 Hours

Ruth’s Elite Blog Academy is literally her stepping you through her process for building a profitable blog in 12 wonderfully crafted lessons. You can learn more about it here (but use the coupon code EBASAVE50 to save $50).

The course is delivered through 12 fantastic videos, 12 very detailed workbooks, 16 helpful handouts, 30 assignments, a series of 4 live webinars with Ruth an a private Facebook Group where you can interact with Ruth and other attendees.

This course is practical and actionable. Really meaty stuff.

Update: if you’d like to hear what others are saying about it, check out this post I did on Facebook where a couple of ProBlogger readers have already chimed in with their experiences of previously signing up to Ruth’s Academy.

This course is not designed for the faint of heart – it requires work (as does successful blogging) and a willingness to really buckle down. That said, for those who are willing to do the work, it also comes with a 200% money-back guarantee.

Anyone who completes the course and has not seen measurable results in both traffic and income growth will get double your money back, no questions asked. That’s a pretty incredible promise, but it means that you’ve literally got nothing to lose. 

If you are ready to finally take your blog to the next level, sign up now to secure your spot here

Don’t forget to use the coupon code EBASAVE50 – it’ll save you $50 at check out. The code expires and enrolments close at midnight US Eastern time on 30 September in just over 48 hours.

PS: as stated above – I am an affiliate for this product but do so having checked it out and genuinely recommending Ruth it’s creator and the program itself.

Update: What to Expect

A few people have been asking for more information on what’s in the units. Here’s what I just shared over on Facebook to give you some insight into what to expect:

1. Start with Awesome – Learn the secret to successful blogging and master the 3 steps to starting with awesome. Understand what makes YOUR blog unique (and therefore marketable), and create the framework for a powerful platform that gets results.

2. Content is King – Discover why the key to a successful, popular, and profitable blog starts with amazing content, master the four essential strategies for creating content that rocks, and learn exactly how to FOCUS™—the secret to creating a killer blog post every single time.

3. Presentation is Everything – Uncover the three visual areas every blogger must focus on in order to be successful and learn not only why Pinterest is the most powerful marketing tool ever created,
and how to harness that power through creating the Perfect Pin™.

4. Grow Your Platform – Learn how to increase, diversify, and stabilize your platform through eight proven strategic growth strategies. Develop the confidence to promote your core message with an authority that draws people in, master field-tested techniques for networking and collaboration, find out exactly how to grow your subscriber list, and discover why good SEO really isn’t as complicated as everyone makes it out to be.

5. Social Media & Viral Growth – Uncover the mysteries of capturing and retaining viral blog traffic through social media and learn to determine which social media platforms are most valuable for your own audience. Find out the ten crucial steps to take if your blog post goes viral, then create comprehensive marketing plans for both Facebook and Pinterest in order to develop a cohesive social media strategy that gets results.

After that it gets more into monetising through ad networks, affiliate sales, private advertising and creating products.

Lastly it gets into working smart/efficiently and being strategic to grow your business.