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How to Give Your Blog Design a Spring Clean

How to Give Your Blog Design a Spring Clean

In this next instalment of the #TodayNotSomeday series on the podcast, we’re moving away from creating email lists, optimising signups, and creating autoresponder mailouts, and focusing on the first thing people see when they come to your blog: the design.

As you know, the series is working through challenges that help you do things today that you’ve been putting off, even though they have huge benefits for your blog in the long term. One of those things is design tweaks. You know the things that niggle at you that you never get around to – the font isn’t quite right, the sidebar needs work, your header could do with an upgrade – but you’ll sort them out one day. Except that day is today!

The way your blog looks, what it makes people feel, what it calls people to do is vital, and it has a huge impact on your blog and how it’s seen.

Today, with a little work on re-optimizing your design, you have the potential to turn more first-time visitors into long-term readers, you invite the reader to stick around longer, you up the chance of them clicking on affiliate links or advertising, comment more, investigate your ebooks, and have a higher chance of them seeing your offered services. All from just a few minutes’ work on your part!

In this episode I discuss the things you should do today that will help you achieve these gains. Of course it depends on what your aims are for the site, so the advice will be slightly different for everyone, but in general, we go through actual steps to optimise your sidebar, navigation, calls to action, and decisions about your entire design. I also share the top 5 things I think every blog should have to make their design eye-catching and user-friendly.

What changes will you make? Share your progress with the #TodayNotSomeday hashtag, and find the show notes for this episode here.

Further Reading:

 

Do it #TodayNotSomeday: Create an Autoresponder Series

Do it #TodayNotSomeday: Create an Autoresponder Series (and tips on how to rock it!)

Yes, it can seem like a lot of work on top of an already-overflowing to-do list, but creating an autoresponder series has huge potential to pay off for you in both the short and the long term. So this episode of the ProBlogger podcast is all about moving that “someday” plan to create a series onto your task list today.

It can take as little as an hour of your time, but can really ramp up traffic (and potentially daily profit!) for your blog.

In the last couple of episodes of the #TodayNotSomeday series on the podcast, we discussed setting up an email list (and how to grow it), and creating an incentive for people to sign up to it. Now we move onto how you can deliver fantastic content to your readers through it, via an autoresponder.

In this episode I discuss everything you need to know from “ok but what is an autoresponder?!” to their (many) benefits, the variety of content you could send, the flow of emails, how often to send them, tips to create mailouts that get high engagement, and of course how create an autoresponder series that’s successful. I want you to think about the journey you want your readers to go on, and how you will provide them with useful, practical info along the way.

Don’t forget to share your progress on today’s challenge with the hashtag “TodayNotSomeday”, check out the show notes here, and sign up to get your free trial month with Edgar (the sponsor of this series) here. Now get mapping!

Further Reading:

 

Build a Better Blog for 2016: Grab 50% Off Our Best Selling eBook This Week Only

31_days_to_build_a_better_blog_offer

Can you believe 2016 is only 24 sleeps away?

If you’ve been following along with the current series of ProBlogger podcasts, you’ll know this past few months for me has been all about getting things off my ‘someday list’ list and putting them onto my ‘today list’.

I’ve realised that there are a number of things in my own blogging here at ProBlogger that need to improve in 2016 and have spent the last couple of months preparing to make some big changes.

As I’ve shared that journey on the podcast I am really excited to see others joining in and getting serious about making similar preparations for a big year next year.

To assist in that journey I decided yesterday to do something that will hopefully help you get your blog in top shape for the new year.

As of today and for the next week only our best selling eBook – 31 Days to Build a Better Blog – is available for 50% off when you use the coupon code GOODBYE2015.

31dbbbgroup 3d books

This eBook (and the free bonus week) is designed to help you get your blogging into gear and to work on some key areas of blogging including writing great content, getting off your blog to find new readers and to build engagement with the readers who come your way.

31 Days to Build a Better Blog Has Helped Tens Thousands of Bloggers

The idea behind 31DBBB is simple. Every day for 31 days I give you a little bit of teaching and a challenge to do something simple that has the potential to improve your blog.

31DBBB started its life back in 2005 as a series of blog posts here on ProBlogger. That first year several thousand bloggers took the challenge. I repeated the series in 2007 with another 5000 bloggers joining in and in 2009 we hit 13,000 participants.

In 2009 I turned the series into an eBook and it quickly became the most popular eBook (or book) I’ve ever written.

Since that time we’ve launched a 2nd edition of the eBook and it’s sold over 21,000 copies, and worked through it as a 31 part podcast series, which has been downloaded just over a quarter of a million times.

I pinch myself that something I’ve created has been used so many times but what excites me most is the feedback from those who use it send me. I’ve lost count of the messages, emails and reviews I’ve seen letting me know how the series of 31 daily challenges and teaching have helped bloggers improve their blogs.

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I love that 31DBBB not only helps beginners but more experienced bloggers to find new energy and direction for their blogs – so it’s my pleasure to make it a little more accessible to more bloggers this week with a 50% discount.

To get the discount simply use the coupon code GOODBYE2015 in the checkout process. It’ll make the price $14.99 USD.

This discount lasts for this week only and will end on Monday 14 December. Get 31 Days to Build a Better Blog here, and don’t forget the coupon code to get your copy at half price!

How to Be a Lucky Entrepreneur: Are You Developing These 7 Habits?

Darren Rowse speaks at HubSpot's Inbound conference on the topic of "lucky" entrepreneurs and their 7 habits.

Image credit: Inbound

I was in the right place at the right time.

It was November 2002, and I received an email from a friend that changed my life in ways I could never have imagined.

Without receiving, reading, and taking action on that email, I would never have started blogging or built the business I have built.

I often reflect on this serendipitous start to the current chapter of my life – what would have happened if I’d not opened that email?
[Read more…]

Create an Opt-In Incentive to Increase Your Email Subscriber Numbers

How to Create an Opt-In Incentive to Increase your Email Subscriber Numbers // on ProBlogger.net

If you were listening to the previous ProBlogger podcast episode about my top tips for building your email subscriber list, you would have heard me talking about creating an opt-in as an incentive for people to sign up.

In this next instalment of the #TodayNotSomeday podcast, I’m going to talk you through exactly how to do that!

Creating an opt-in has the potential to significantly increase your subscriber numbers by offering something truly valuable in exchange for the reader’s email address. They are sometimes called lead magnets, and you’ll have seen them on plenty of other blogs and sites you visit.

Even though creating an opt-in and working on building your email list is one of the most important things you can do as a blogger, I know there are plenty of you who put it off to worry about another time. I know this, because I’ve done it myself! We’ve only recently started offering something similar on Digital Photography School despite being aware it is something I should have done much sooner.

You’ll also notice I don’t have a lead magnet or opt-in here on the ProBlogger blog, but you’ll hopefully see us get this task off our “someday” list in the new year.

Today’s challenge isn’t just for those of you without a lead magnet – if you’ve already got one on offer, you might want to consider upgrading or determining if it’s time to create another? Something more up-to-date, something that will appeal to a different audience, something specific to one of your site categories, or something that could boost your current list?

In today’s episode I also discuss why you should create an opt-in, and the potential it has to grow your blog. We go over how to deliver your opt-in, what format it could take, and how you can figure out something that incentivises your readers to sign up to your list and stay engaged. There is also the option of considering a longer-term strategy or offering as opposed to a one-off incentive, and I give a few ideas here. I also go through the purpose it needs to serve, how you can create your offering, tools and services I’ve used, and that all-important aspect: getting the signup!

So good luck with today’s challenge of creating an opt-in for your email list. What opt-in will you be creating? What will it be about, and how will you deliver it? Be sure to use the hashtag #TodayNotSomeday when you share your efforts to social media so we can see how you’re all doing.

Further Reading:

 

Top Tips to Boost Your Email List Subscribers Today

Top Tips to Boost Your Email List Subscribers Today - all secrets revealed on ProBlogger.net!

Welcome to the second episode of the #TodayNotSomeday podcast series, where today’s challenge is one I would prioritise above all others: getting people to subscribe to your email list.

I started using email as a way to communicate with my readers back in 2007 when I started Digital Photography School and my dad, an aspiring photographer, didn’t use RSS (which was the popular way of getting your content out to readers at the time). I realised he would be better off having posts sent to his email address, so I set that up and kept it on the site as a secondary subscription option for readers. Pretty soon the email list overtook our RSS subscriber numbers – today we have close to 900,000 subscribers.

But why worry about email? Why is it more important to grow than say, the number of people following you across your social media channels?

Mostly because it’s familiar, and used regularly by most. Nothing has come close to killing off email, and you don’t have to worry about algorithms, news feeds, and the fleeting nature of social media. It’s an incredibly successful traffic-driver, exceptional for selling (either affiliate sales or your own products), it’s good for building community, and it helps build your brand.

In today’s episode of the #TodayNotSomeday series on the ProBlogger podcast, I want to share what I think the three keys are to a successful email list so you can finally get going on building that thriving email subscriber community you’ve always wanted!

You’ll also find today’s challenge (don’t forget to use the hashtag across social media so we can support and keep each other accountable!), and also some of the email providers I recommend (including a couple of freebies), and tips on how to optimise your email list if you’ve already got one set up.

There are plenty of different ways to entice people to sign up, and you will find each of them will convert differently. This all depends on what calls to action you use, where you use them, and how you use them.

There are diverse opinions on this, but a few things I’ve tested really have significantly improved my signup levels, and I discuss all of those in today’s episode. I’ll cover everything from colours, benefits, incentives, and where we’ve had the most success putting our sign-up box and calls to action.

You can find today’s show notes here, and I look forward to seeing what you all share with #TodayNotSomeday!

Further Reading:

How to Overcome Fear of Speaking, Podcasting, Live Streaming, Webinars and More

How to Overcome Fear of Speaking, Podcasting, Live Streaming, Webinars and MoreIs fear holding you back from engaging in mediums like Live streaming, Podcasting, webinars, talking-head videos or even speaking at live events?

Over the last couple of years we’ve seen amazing opportunities open up to bloggers who are willing to embrace some of these mediums – but alongside the opportunities, I’ve noticed a rising tide of anxiety among some bloggers who while comfortable to put themselves out there on the internet through the written word are reluctant to jump in front of a camera or microphone.

For some the reluctance comes from lack of experience or skills, but for many of us it is fear that holds us back.

Speaking in public is often cited as the #1 fear that people have and this extends to many of these mediums.

Like to Watch and Not Read?

A few days ago I jumped onto my Periscope account to talk about how to overcome this type of fear so if you’re the kind of person who likes to watch rather than read – the first 10 or so minutes of this video is for you.

If you’re more of a reader…. read on below!

My Own Struggle with Fear of Speaking in Public

As a 16-year-old, I took a class in public speaking that taught me a lot of the skills needed to construct and deliver a good talk. I learned that I could do it and that I even enjoyed parts of the process – but nothing in that class taught me how to deal with fear.

So for the next 10 years, whenever I needed to speak in public (which was a regular occurrence as I worked for a decade as a youth worker and minister in a church) I would feel a growing sense of dread as the time to present approached.

Fear would gradually creep in and would usually raise its head in the form of questions like:

  • what if they don’t like me
  • what if I look stupid
  • what if I forget what I’m supposed to say
  • what if they think I don’t know what I’m talking about
  • what if I’m boring

I could go on… but I think you get the picture.

For a while there I tried to use this growing ‘fear’ as a motivating factor. It drove me to prepare extra well. I would spend days preparing even for a short talk so that:

  • they did like me
  • I didn’t I look stupid
  • I didn’t forget what I’m supposed to say
  • I did look like I knew what I was talking about
  • I wasn’t boring

It got to the point that when I had to give a talk I would become consumed by it for days and even weeks. I would practice it 10, 20, 30 times over and over again – trying to perfect it – all driven by not looking stupid.

My talks ended up being ‘good’…. but the fear didn’t go away. In fact, at times it got worse and when I started to get asked to speak at bigger events I would sometimes say no simply because it got too much.

Something needed to change.

How I Reframed It

One day as I worked myself into a frenzy of fear in the days before another talk it dawned on me that I was being incredibly selfish.

All the ‘what if’ statements that I dwelt on were all about me and how I looked.

All of that preparation that I did for each talk was also all about me and how I would be received.

While on some levels this motivated me to prepare it was actually a massive destruction from what my focus should have been on: my audience.

I decided to combat the selfish negative questions I’d been asking myself with questions that forced me to think about my audience.

Questions like:

  • Who will be in the audience as I speak
  • How will they be feeling?
  • What are their needs and struggles?
  • What are their dreams?
  • What is their pain?

Lastly I began to ask myself ‘how could this talk change their life for the better?’

A number of things immediately changed as I began to prepare for talks this way:

Firstly – the Fear started to Slip Away

I crowded out the negative self talk with talk that focused me in other directions.

Where I’d previously been focused upon myself and how I looked – I was now focused upon others.

Where I’d previously been focused upon ‘what if’ statements (things I couldn’t really control by the way), I had started focusing upon ‘what are’ and ‘what is’ statements.

Secondly – I prepared with different Intent

Previously I would spend many days on each talk preparing – but my preparation was all about looking polished, perfecting my delivery and finding the perfect words.

With the change of mindset I began to prepare with a whole different motivation. It became all about finding the best way to serve the audience.

I still put as much effort into the preparation process, but it became less about how it came across and more about how useful the information was, and how to craft it in a way to bring as many of the audience on the journey towards transformation as I could.

The preparation was less about getting a standing ovation or words of affirmation after the talk – and more about seeing people walk away ready to change their life in some way.

Thirdly – My Presentation came from a Different Place

As I began to think differently and then prepare differently I noticed that I also began to present differently.

As I let go of how I looked and focused more upon transformation in my audience I found myself speaking with more compassion and passion.

I would get up to speak not hoping to be polished and professional but hoping that what I had to say would change someone’s life.

Of course not every talk that I gave (or give) hits the mark – but I began to notice the way that my audiences responded to me changed. I got less ‘great talk’ comments and more ‘I felt like you were talking to me’ comments.

Audience members seemed to notice the shift.

Don’t Focus Upon What You’ll Get…. Focus on What You can Give

It’s so easy in the space we’re engaging in to focus upon the affirmation we’ll get from doing a Periscope or Youtube Video or Podcast or Blog post.

The ‘likes’, ‘shares’, ‘hearts’, smiley emoji’s and comments are all there staring in the face.

But as much as you possibly can – attempt to look past them to the fingertips behind the keystrokes and the human beings to whom those fingertips belong. Imagine their face and more so imagine who they are, what they feel, what they dream of, what they struggle with and who they are becoming.

Make that your starting place and I truely believer the content that you create will go to a whole new level.

#TodayNotSomeday: Create a Product

Have that thing you want to do someday? Do it today instead, and watch your blog and business grow!

Today kicks off the first episode of our 10-part podcast series about finally turning those “one day” dreams into today’s to-do list!

As I mentioned on Monday, these topics are focused on the ones I know most of you have on your someday pile of tasks, so during the month of December we will tackle them together, one episode at a time.

We will be sharing our progress on social media with the hashtag #TodayNotSomeday so you can follow along. These episodes are also sponsored by Meet Edgar, who have helped me this year with getting more organised with my daily tasks so I have the time to work on the bigger-picture plans (you can see more about how I use Edgar for all my social media here).

The first cab off the rank in the #TodayNotSomeday series is to create a product. It is one of the biggest things I kicked myself over for not doing sooner: once I got over two years of fears, self-doubt, lack of time, and low motivation, I finally launched my first ebook – and made $72,000 in the 10 days after its release. Don’t waste the same amount of time as I did!

In this podcast I will share a story that helped me realise that having a product to sell on your blog is so powerful not just for income’s sake, but also for connection, longevity, and authority. And why sell products, you ask? Well, I’ve got nine reasons why, which we’ll go through during the episode.

I also want to let you in on how I finally managed to break through all that was holding me back in order to create that first product, and some quick tips on how you fan find time to do it too. Grab a notebook and a pen and get ready to take the next step in chasing your dreams.

You can find the show notes here, and the hashtag again is #TodayNotSomeday – I’d love to see what you’re working on!

 

Further Reading:

How I Use Edgar to Increase The Effectiveness of My Social Media Strategy

Do you ever feel that all the work that you put into maintaining an interesting and useful social media stream is not getting the results it deserves?

I do!

I spend hours every week working on our social accounts. Finding great links to share, thinking about the wording of the updates, selecting or creating great images to go with them and then scheduling them.

The problem is that minutes after the tweet go out or an hour or so after the Facebook update goes out they cease to be useful and all that work stops paying off.

Today I want to show you a tool that I’ve been using this year that extends the pay off and makes the work you put into your social media much more worthwhile!

Meet my friend…. Edgar

This time last year after creating a video on how I approached social media I had a number of ProBlogger readers suggest that I check out Edgar – a tool that is great for managing social media updates.

The fact that I heard the recommendation several times within a couple of days made me curious, so early this year I decided to sign up and give it a go.

I was immediately struck by how powerful the tool was.

How Edgar Works

I’ve created a video below that walks you through exactly how I use Edgar – here it is.

For those of you who prefer to read…. in short here’s how Edgar works:

Note: you can currently get a month free trial of Edgar as a ProBlogger reader.

You set up two things before Edgar goes to work (and starts saving you a lot of time!):

Firstly – Edgar allows you to create a library of social media updates for Twitter, Facebook (pages, profiles and groups) and LinkedIn.

You save each update as a certain ‘category’ of content.

For example you might have categories for ‘evergreen blog posts’, ‘quotes’, ‘promotions’ etc. This takes no longer than scheduling a normal social media update.

Here’s a screenshot of some of the newly added updates that I’ve put into the ‘ProBlogger Evergreen Blog Posts’ category for my ProBlogger Twitter Account.

Edgar library

Secondly – You then set up a schedule for when you want updates to go out from each category and choose which social accounts they should go out to.

For example you might choose to have your ‘evergreen blog posts’ to go out on your Twitter account at 9am and 9pm every day and for them to go on your Facebook page at noon every weekday. Then your ‘quotes’ might go out on Twitter at 3pm and 3am and your ‘promotions’ might go on Twitter every Wednesday at 7pm.

Here’s a screenshot of part of the schedule of tweets for the ProBlogger twitter account:

Edgar schedule

You can set up as few or as many slots in your schedule as you like.

Then… Edgar goes to work and uses the updates you have put into your library to create a queue of updates that he’ll then start posting at the times and on the accounts you’ve set up in your schedule. The queue never runs out – it keeps repeating for as long as you leave it set up.

Here’s the next few updates that are scheduled in the queue for the ProBlogger Twitter account.

Edgar queue

Once updates go out, Edgar gives you analytics on how they perform in terms of how many likes, comments and shares they got – so you can see what updates work and what you might want to improve or remove from your library.

How I Use Edgar

Edgar works on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

I’ve chosen to use it mostly on my Twitter accounts at ProBlogger and Digital Photography School and it has completely changed the way that those accounts operate and the results have been fantastic.

Before Edgar both of those Twitter accounts were pretty embarrassing.

NewImage

I used them largely to:

  • have automated tweets go out every time a blog post or a job on the Job Board went live (the tweets had no images and were simply a blog title and a link)
  • the occasional personal tweet (when I remembered to put one out)
  • promotional tweets every time we launched anything

Both tweet streams had very little in the way of visual content and didn’t have much personality to them. I knew I could so much better and that the result was that we were not getting the traffic or engagement with readers on those accounts that we could potentially have received.

When I came across Edgar I decided that Twitter would be my first testing ground for the tool and began to create my library of tweets an to construct my schedule.

At first I only had a schedule with a handful of slots in it and my library only had 20 or so updates in it (mainly evergreen blog posts). I didn’t want my followers seeing the same tweets all day every day so I started slow.

Gradually over the last 10 months I’ve added more and more content to my library which has enabled me to add more slots to the schedule.

Today I have over 2400 updates in my library and Edgar posts hundreds of updates to different social media accounts for me each week.

I’m still careful to keep adding fresh content into Edgar every week to mix things up and do add extra content in each week manually (more timely tweets, community questions, polls etc) to mix things up – but I’m happy to say that I’m now proud of my Twitter accounts and the resulting extra traffic and engagement that the accounts have had makes the effort of setting Edgar up worthwhile.

An Investment Worth Considering

As I speak about in the video above Edgar does have a monthly fee (starting at $49 a month). When I first saw this it did make me think carefully about if I should sign up for it. That kind of monthly fee is not to be taken lightly. However as I thought about the amount of time Edgar could potentially save me and the increased traffic and engagement that it could drive, I realised it was an investment I needed to make.

In many ways I see Edgar as doing the work that I could have otherwise outsourced to a virtual assistant. But at $49 a month I suspect that Edgar is achieving more each month than I could expect to get from a person that I paid that much.

Edgar will not suit every budget and is probably more suited to some types of blogs than others. My blogs are largely full of evergreen content and so my social media accounts can likewise focus upon sharing that kind of content. If your blog is more news focused or needs to mainly be sharing timely content then it may not be as effective for you.

It’s also worth noting that while Edgar will in the long run save you significant time if you use it to the extent that I have – it does take some work to set up.

I’ve taken the approach to add in a 4-8 updates every day of the year so far. That’s about 10-20 minutes work per day for me to set it up. This has enabled me to get almost all of my evergreen content from my archives into Edgar.

Once I’m finished putting in that archived content I will be able to reduce my daily work in Edgar to less than 5 minutes a day (just adding in new fresh content). So it takes some work to set up – but has some serious long term benefits of doing so.

I would highly recommend Edgar. It is something I’ve been paying for all year and a tool I’ll continue to use going forward as a key part of my social media strategy.

Get a Free Month Trial Of Edgar

If you’re curious as to whether Edgar is a fit for you and your business Edgar Currently Is Offering a Free Month Long Trial. This is how I started out to assess it for myself and it gave me a good chance to test the tool on one of my accounts.

Disclaimer: I am NOT an affiliate for Edgar or Social Brilliant but Edgar is a sponsor of the ProBlogger Podcast. I want to be perfectly clear that I do have a sponsorship arrangement with Edgar for transparency’s sake but also want it to be clear that I’m a paid up user of Edgar and have been using it (and will continue to use it) every day since January of 2015.