Blog Tips from ProBlogger Guest Contributors

We Have Smart Homes and Smart Phones – What About Smart Blogs?

We Have Smart Homes and Smart Phones – What About Smart Blogs?

This is a guest contribution from Larry Alton.

Automation has become such a pervasive feature in our day-to-day lives that we hardly even notice it anymore, and in fact, we even rely on it. From simple things like automatic doors at the grocery store to the elaborate functions on our phones, automation makes life as we know it possible. Still, there are certain facets of our lives where we still expect to have to do much of the work, such as on our blogs.

As it turns out, many tools exist that can help you automate your blogging life and transform your plain old blog into a smart blog. Employing these new tools can help make you a more efficient blogger, increasing your productivity and helping you to use your time wisely. It’s time to get out of the past and embrace the technology of the future. As a blogger at points out, “We’re at the cusp of a decade where the impossible is starting to look very possible.” What an exciting moment in our technological evolution!

RSS Feeds and Creative Curating

RSS technology is a blog automation tool that may be more familiar than most. Many of us have personal RSS feeds that show us what’s new on our favorite sites and allow us to access this new content. But on the other side, as a blogger, how can RSS technology help you?

One way to employ RSS technology as a blogger is to create an automated RSS-to-email system. You can set up this system so that it sends updates to subscribers about new blog posts. To keep this from becoming overwhelming, one option is to set up this email so it shares monthly updates linking to your most popular posts. Readers opt in to the email and can then choose what content to read, and you don’t have to lift a finger.

Email Without the Effort

For many bloggers there are specific emailing tasks that have the potential to take up a lot of time. This is particularly true if you run a popular service-oriented blog or offer a submission feature. Whenever the content at hand can be reduced to a form letter, try setting up an autoresponder feature.

Autoresponder services work by sending preset email responses to particular addresses or because a message came from a pre-established site function, such as through your submit button. James McAllister from Help Start My Site uses autoresponders to effectively run his 7-day traffic building course. Because the course is always the same, he can preset the seven days of emails and have an autoresponder send those emails at the appropriate intervals, even setting follow-up emails for the next several weeks and months.

Managing Social Media Overload

If you’re a blogger, odds are good that you are also using a wide range of other social media sites, or at least you should be. In fact, well run social media profiles are absolutely vital, but as these sites proliferate, they can start to feel unwieldy. This is where Hootsuite Pro comes in.

What is Hootsuite Pro? Hootsuite Pro is a multi-function tool for managing all of your social media profiles from one place. Rather than having to move between sites and scroll through pages of updates, Hootsuite Pro brings your Facebook feed and Twitter posts and mentions, as well as any other social media sites you may use, all onto the same page. Even more than that, it allows you to schedule posts and messages in advance. This alone will save you hours of work trying to make your social media pages look appropriately active.

Set Up Submissions

One of the important ways bloggers publicize their content is by submitting posts to other sites that reprint or redirect to this material, such as Storify and Stumbleupon. Since this kind of syndication and submission should be a regular activity, automating this can be a valuable timesaver.

You’ll need some simple tools to do this kind of automating, such as IFTTT or Zapier. IFTTT stands for If This, Then That and it allows you to create a kind of recipe for your blog activities. By creating these recipes, your blog is able to carry out basic operations for you.

IFTTT not only handles submissions, but it can manage some of the same social media tasks that Hootsuite Pro manages. For example, IFTTT can be set up to change your profile picture across all social media sites.

These tools are just the start of an automated blogging future. It’s time to move beyond smart phones, and even smart houses, and embrace smart blog technology.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Five Apps to Help You Manage Your Blog

Five Apps to Help You Manage Your Blog on

This is a guest contribution from Cassie Phillips.

If you’re here at ProBlogger, I’m betting you already know writing a blog can be a useful endeavor for a number of different reasons. A blog can help you journal your life or collect ideas from other people’s blogs that will be useful in your life. It can be a powerful tool in helping you keep in touch with friends and family, or you can use it to meet and interact with strangers. It can be something personal to you or something used for your business. Whatever your reasons are, though, you might find it’s a bit tricky trying to keep on top of things and churn out relevant and interesting content to keep your readers satisfied. Never fear, though: there are plenty of apps out there to help you keep organized and on track with your personal goals on the go. Here are five apps you’ll want to remember to have:

1. The Platform App

Of course, the first app you’re going to want to have is the app for your platform, be it WordPress, TypePad, Tumblr, or whatever else. Even if you don’t plan to do most of your blogging from your phone or tablet, seeing your app there on your device can be a useful reminder to either get to work on the next blog or get it posted. On top of that, most better-known blog platforms have pretty great apps these days, making it easy to post from wherever you are, whenever you have a few minutes to kill.

2. The Taskmaster App

I don’t know about you, but for me, remembering when I should be blogging gets difficult sometimes. We have so many obligations in our day-to-day lives that remembering to write things up and post them can sometimes be a challenge. Even if you feel like you’re on top of everything and there will be no problem, it never hurts to have an app to set reminders for when you need to have things finished by. Wunderlist will allow you to make task lists for yourself, set reminders for when things need to be done, and generally just keep on top of everything you have to do, all in a clean, user-friendly design.

3. The Social Media App

If you’re trying to direct people to your blog—even if you’re just trying to get your mom’s attention and let her know, hey, there’s a new post!—you’ll likely want to turn to social media. The thing about blogging is, people aren’t always going to remember to check back to each of the dozens of blogs that they follow. But people often check in on what’s going on on social media sites. It can be a pain to update your status and tweet and go on Google+, etc. each time you post an update. But Buffer will allow you to post the same thing to multiple accounts at once. You can even schedule posts to go out at a later time and track interest in that post. This means it frees up some of your social media time and allows you to do more of the fun stuff of blogging.

4. The Web-Traffic App

Even if you’re not running your site for the purpose of creating revenue through clicks, it can be nice to know how many people are looking at your site. If nothing else, it’s a bit of an ego-boost, right—people actually want to see your site! But if you’re creating a revenue-producing website, it’s important to see how many people click on your site and where they’re coming from. Dashboard for Google Analytics does this in an especially sleek way, and it’s pretty cheap as well.

5. The VPN App

If you’re blogging on the go, you’re likely connecting to public Wi-Fi, whether at a coffee shop, on the bus, in downtown, or somewhere else—oh, the joys of modern technology! Grab the Wi-Fi Finder app to help you out with locating the nearest hotspots. But don’t forget to grab a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to protect your information and make sure you’re safe from potential hackers. Actually, there are a lot of things you should be thinking about when you’re connecting to public Wi-Fi. A good VPN will give you a more secure connection that better ensures that what you do stays private.

Although managing your blog may sometimes feel a bit overwhelming, given the right apps, you’ll find that you have no problem balancing your blog and the rest of your life. Whatever you’re using your blog for, you’ll find that these apps will integrate neatly into your workflow, allowing you to keep doing what you’re doing, in a more productive way.

Cassie is a technology and internet security enthusiast.

5 Pop-up Creation Mistakes You Have to Avoid for Better User Experience

This is a guest contribution from Abrar Mohi Shafee of Blogging Spell.

Do you build email lists in your website? If your answer is yes, the chances are high that you are using a pop-up to collect emails.

Why is that and not anything else? Because pop-up is proved to be one of the high converting methods for building list and seems pretty everywhere.

You don’t have to look further; our own Darren Rowse made a huge jump up in email opt-in rate by using a pop-up that raised from 40 new subscribers a day to straight 350 subscribers a day.

But over the years, pop-up has started to have a profound impact on user experience and turned into a very controversial topic itself.

If we ask the visitors, 95 out of 100 of them will say pop-ups are annoying. But if we ask the same to a marketer, he will confess that but must be thinking how he could miss the great conversion by pop-ups.

the most hated advertising techniques

Source: NNGroup

It looks like we are trapped between two choices. But there is a third choice that we usually miss out, and that can get us a good relief. That is simple:

Pop-up should be polite but converting enough.

So here my task is to guide you what are the mistakes that annoy people and how you can solve them to achieve that prestige for your pop-ups.

Mistake #1: Solely depending on pop-up

Is using pop-up itself a big mistake? Well, it can be literally.

To tell the truth, a pop-up can silently kill your blog if that is not well-optimized.

Matthew Woodward ran an experiment how pop-ups affect blog’s bottom line. He set up the pop-up to show up after 7 seconds. He noticed significant drops in the following three factors:

  1. Pages per visit decreased by 9.29%
  2. Average visit duration decreased by 10.20%
  3. Bounce rate increased by 9.02% (lower is better)

pop-up effect on blog

Subscribers generated via pop-up forms are not stable and have very low engagement rate that are no good for your website except just increasing the number of subscribers.

So if you decide to autopilot your list building solely on pop-ups and do not use any other method, you will not be collecting all genuine subscribers who could benefit your website.

Solution: You should not wholeheartedly depend on pop-ups and use some other methods to collect engaging and stable subscribers, and eventually reduce the annoyance.

A lot of working list building methods are available of which you can choose yours. According to Social Triggers, here are some of the high-converting placements for your opt-in form (excluding pop-up):

  1. Top featured box
  2. Top of sidebar
  3. Bottom of post
  4. Site footer
  5. About page
  6. Top sticky bar

In fact, you can grow your email list amazingly fast using the following formulas of list building:

  1. Content Upgrade
  2. Lead Magnet
  3. Call to Action

Mistake #2: Triggering pop-ups too fast or too slow

Timing is another big factor for your pop-up. If it comes too fast, it will greatly annoy the visitors, and if it comes too slow, it will lose a number of subscribers.

So what is the perfect timing? Some will say 5 seconds converts the highest and some 10 seconds, if not some other will say 30 seconds is perfect.

best time to show pop-up

Source: AppSumo

But my opinion is different. To turn a visitor into a loyal subscriber, you need to give him enough time to understand your website. Five seconds, 10 seconds and sometimes even 30 seconds is not sufficient to comprehend a site correctly.

What would happen if you pop-up between this times? You will experience relatively high bounce rate and low user engagement.

Solution: Unbounce suggests that a perfect user-optimized pop-up should come at 60 seconds after a visitor enters your site.

If it comes before that, you will significantly lose conversion. If it comes after that period, you will miss a large number of audiences to show your pop-ups.

So the best time for pop-up is 60 seconds which will allow a visitor has fully understood a website and make him commit genuine interest to become a subscriber, after all, reducing the risk of annoying by more.

Mistake #3: Not using any improved pop-up technology

Although timed pop-ups could be optimized for not to make annoyance, it still retain some percent of chances to annoy visitors.

Because it appears suddenly and could behave like a barrier to reading up a content. No one would appreciate seeing a barrier in their way, especially when reading something online.

What would happen if a pop-up distracts visitors from reading a content? The chances are high that they will leave the site, if not it will hurt their attitude towards the site.

Solution: Thinking about this matter, some user-improved pop-up triggering technologies has come out. The main prospective of these technologies is adjusting with user’s behavior and triggering the pop-up in the safest time.

Here are a few pop-up technologies that can be found in the latest marketing tools, and what you can replace with your timed pop-up to potentially take the annoyance level close to zero:

  1. Pop-up when a user intends to exit (aka exit-intent)
  2. Pop-up when a user reaches the content end
  3. Pop-up when a user reaches a particular element
  4. Pop-up when a user scrolls a specific percent of a page
  5. Pop-up when a user scrolls down and goes back up

Mistake #3: Not controlling pop-up showing frequency

How many times do you show up your pop-up in a browsing session? Well, you are of the belief that the more we show up pop-ups, the more we get signups, right?

But this time it won’t go along your perspective because the more often you show your pop-ups (for example, show up on every page), the more you annoy your visitors.

If you trigger your pop-up in every page in a browsing session, it will feel real over promotion, and you will get significantly low subscribing rate.

So what’s the best frequency?

Solution: You don’t have to push hard to get the better conversion rate. You just need to understand your audiences and trigger pop-up at the right time.

Asking a visitor to subscribe multiple times in a browsing session might not work well and feel irritating. So first you should limit your pop-up to maximum once each browsing session.

And how often to repeat the pop-up after someone closes that? Concerning the user experience, you should not show pop-up more than once a week to the same visitor, and more preferably once in every 15 or 30 days. (Prove)

Mistake #5: Tricking visitors to get stuck on the pop-ups

You know what, you can attempt to get unbelievable email opt-in rate just doing a few tweaks. How? Here is what you need to do exactly:

  • Trigger pop-up just when someone enters your site
  • Remove the close button from the pop-up
  • Don’t leave any option to skip the pop-up without subscribing

But the thing I forgot to tell you is that after doing these tweaks, don’t expect your visitors ever to return and the bounce rate will be apparently around 90%-100%.

Intentionally trying to stick people to a pop-up form is the worst practice and result into losing those visitors for forever.

Solution: If you are serious about building up your email list, be clear and transparent. Display the close button and make sure that can be easily seen.

You do not have to be tricky to increase email opt-in rate, but you have to optimize the following three elements of your pop-up:

  1. Convince people at first sight using the pop-up title. Use power words like Free, Secret, Discover, to create good impression.
  2. Be visually attractive because visual elements can convince someone to subscribe faster than anything else.
  3. Optimize your pop-up’s call to action and tease the visitors to subscribe using text and buttons.

Here is a sample of pop-up how to play with pop-up contents to hack readers mind for subscribing to your email list without doing anything tricky:

Source: Social Triggers

social triggers pop-up copy

Do you know the hardest truth about pop-up? It converts the highest, and it irritates the highest as well.

The best approach with the pop-up is attempt to convert high but staying safe. Before doing anything with it, just ask yourself will you personally love it as a reader? If yes, just go with it and if no, configure it to be likable.

So what’s your opinion about pop-ups and how you safely use them without hurting the user experience? I am pretty much interested to know it.

Abrar Mohi Shafee is from Bangladesh, an inbound marketer, blogger and founder of BloggingSpell. His areas of interests are content marketing, social media marketing, and seo. Need his help to be more productive in blogging? Grab his personal blogging toolkit.


Study Shows: Blog Posts Published on Weekends Get More Social Shares

This is a guest post from Lior Levin.

You work hard to create relevant, engaging content for your blog and you want to be sure that it has as many eyeballs on it as possible. Sometimes, getting the job done can be discouraging and leave you feeling like you are completely reliant on your audience to do the job by engaging with your post on social media.

But the successful brands who keep blowing up Facebook with huge numbers of shares aren’t doing so by chance. There are strategies and tips that can guide you on when to post to your blog, how to best engage social media and how to create a killer title that will have your post making the rounds on every social media channel.

Weekend is The King

If you run a blog featuring professional content, it seems like a no-brainer to publish your content during business hours, on weekdays. Yet a study done by TrackMaven last year of over 4,500 blogs showed that blogs that chose to publish content on the weekend received the most shares on various social media channels. In fact, even though only 13% of blogs were published on the weekend, they saw 18% of the total social shares gathered in the study.


Aim For Leisure Hours

As it turns out, there is negative correlation between when a blog is posted and when readers have time to properly digest it. Readers may see your new post pop up in their inbox or newsfeed at 10am, and as engaging as your title is, they may not be able to get to it in the middle of their busy workday. This means that regardless of your content (whether it’s professional, educational, financial etc) you need to time your posts to go live during your reader’s leisure hours if you want to maximize engagement and shares.

weekend 2

A Bold, Brilliant Title With a Question Mark

Speaking of maximizing engagement, an interest-catching title is a must to increase your clicks and shares. There are a few strategies that can guide you as you craft titles that are sure to turn views into clicks and clicks into shares. First off, make sure your title is highly informative and speaks to the specifics of what readers are going to find in your post. Secondly, use strong, vivid words and phrases that grab a reader’s attention such as brilliant, love, hate and “you won’t believe.”

Don’t be afraid to try alluring alliterations as well, readers rarely ignore such lively language. Third, consider using question marks in your post-title or perhaps consider phrasing your title in the form of a question altogether. Studies show that posts which contain one or more question marks receive social shares 46% of the time.

weekend 3

Highlight Value

It’s a loud internet, so you need to have posts that speak to the real value that your blog and brand have to offer. You don’t want to get a reputation for deceiving readers and followers with hype and promises that your blog post won’t deliver. Consider illustrating the value found in your post by using brackets at the end of your title such as: Major Marketing Mistakes [Free Printable] or What Do Your Readers Need From You [An e-book that will change your brand-strategy].

Knowledge is, of course, power and the more you use your metrics and data, the more you understand how and when to reach your reader.

Lior Levin is a consultant to an rss feed api service and also works for a company called ily who invented a new phone for kids.

If Blogging Were a Sport, Here are Three Things I Learned While Playing the Game

If Blogging Were a Sport, Here are Three Things I Learned While Playing the GameThis is a guest post from Laura Forde from Life of the Differently Abled.

When I think of blogging, I think of a sports stadium with a game being played on the field.

It truly doesn’t matter the sport in question for this analogy to work, what matters is this:

What matters is that the sport has many moving pieces and each one has an important role to play in the completion of the match. We are all required to play within the restriction of those rules, but for some of us those rules don’t cover our reality.

All my life I have played all sports with an adapted rule book. My set of rules were added to by my physical limitations that others simply didn’t have. Those extra ‘rules’ could have set me back, but instead they caused me to work harder, give more to the game and this in turn gave me a competitive edge.

An example of such an adaptation in sport is sledge hockey. For those of you unfamiliar with sledge hockey, it is adaptive hockey that follows the rules of international ice hockey, but the adaptation comes in, in terms of the equipment used. Because sledge hockey is played mainly by people with some form of mobility limitation they use a device called a sledge. It is a contraption that one sits in, and then propels themselves using pics attached to the non-shooting end of two mini hockey sticks (players have two sticks one for each hand)

Adaptive sport isn’t often about changing how the game is actually played, but more about making it accessible to everyone regardless of physical ability.

But back to blogging.

I started blogging knowing absolutely nothing about blogging. Would I sink or swim? To know I had to jump in! I took action and found I didn’t sink. Everything I have learned to date I have extracted from watching and learning from those who know how to blog.

The immediate thing that drew me into blogging was that I could play it as an adaptive sport. if I could type with my fingers even slowly or via a voice dictation software I had a way to play.

And in learning to blog, I learned something about myself and what makes me able to ‘play a sport and win the prize I seek’ despite the tougher rule book which is my lot.

The three things I have learned from blogging

  1. Believe in yourself and what you have to say
  2. Don’t let any fears stop you, especially fear of what others will think. Be yourself and serve from there
  3. And before you give up on anything in life that you truly want remember:
  • Believe in yourself because when you start believing in yourself, whatever your apparent limitations, others will take notice and start believing in you too
  • Go beyond your greatest fear
  • Be your best self

So tell me which of these three lessons have you found the most valuable to apply in your own life and where did you first learn it? Comment below.

Laura Forde is one of few bloggers who writes about life with cerebral palsy from a first hand account you can find her blogging at Life of the Differently Abled.

7 Crucial Parts of a Successful Outreach Strategy

7 Crucial Parts of a Successful Outreach Strategy on ProBlogger.netThis is a guest contribution from Jonathan John.

If you’ve been reading how-to blog and content marketing blogs for very long, then you’ve no doubt come across this buzzword: outreach.

Nowadays, all the big guns are talking about outreach and how it’s gonna revolutionize content marketing and take your latest blog posts from 0-100 real quick.

But what exactly is outreach?

Well, in short, outreach is the art of getting others to share or link to your posts. You’re basically leveraging other people’s blogs or social media followings to increase the popularity of your own.

And get this: the people who say that outreach is an effective content promotion strategy are 100% right. Outreach is a very powerful way to quickly get traction to your latest blog posts, an ideal traffic strategy for new bloggers.

That is, when you do it right.

In this post, I’ll discuss seven of the most crucial parts of a successful outreach strategy, and how you can leverage outreach to boost traffic to your blog posts.

1. Begin with the End in Mind

Before you begin your outreach process, you need to plan. You need to begin with the end in mind.

Ask yourself the following questions:

What are my goals?

Outreach is a great strategy to accomplish several things: increased traffic, more connections with influential people, better backlinks from quality sites, etc..

You need to know your goals (always try to write them down as well) before you start the actual process of outreach.

How much time do I have to dedicate to outreach?

Here’s the one pitfall of outreach. The impact from one successful outreach email (e.g. getting one blogger to share or link to your blog post) isn’t particularly high, especially in the short run. So in order to see significant results, you typically have to send out a lot of emails.

Case in point: Brian Dean from Backlinko emailed 160 websites to promote his post on Google ranking factors. Because of the backlinks and visibility he’s gotten as a result, Brian now ranks #1 in the SERPs for “google ranking factors”, which is by no means a low-competition keyword.


Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that you need to email 100+ people for every post you write. Due to time restrictions, that’s an unrealistic goal for many of us, particularly me.

But my point is that a successful email outreach strategy will take up a significant amount of time. So when creating a plan for your outreach strategy, you need to budget time appropriately.

2. Pick the Right Bloggers for Outreach

Here’s what doesn’t work in email outreach: randomly sending out emails to 100+ blogs that “seem” to fit your niche.

Picking the blogs you plan to do outreach to is a very delicate (and time-consuming) process. To be successful at outreach, you will need to spend time creating a list of blogs you’ll reach out to before each post is published (ideally before the post is even written).

Here are a couple ways to find the right blogs to reach out to.

Find Blogs that Have Linked to Similar Content

This method calls for Ahrefs Site Explorer, one of my favorite blogging tools. Site Explorer basically crawls the web to discover all the inbound links for a particular website or webpage.

So let’s say that you run a food blog, and your next post topic is on the dangers of excess soft drink consumption. A quick Google search will reveal several popular blogs that have written on a similar topic.


Pick one high-ranking post (I chose this one from Wellness Mama) and run it through Site Explorer to find the sites that have linked to the post.


You know that these sites have linked to a post on the dangers of soft drinks already in the past. Consequently, they are much more likely to link to your post on the same topic, provided that you ask nicely (more on how to do that later).

Find Influencers Who Have Shared Similar Content

This method works best with Buzzsumo, an incredibly popular content research tool. Buzzsumo allows you to see the exact people who have shared specific posts on your topic.

Let’s say that this time around, you’re on a digital marketing blog, currently writing a post on generating content ideas. You can use Buzzsumo to identify popular posts on this topic.


Buzzsumo then allows you to drill down and see exactly who has shared this post on Twitter.


Apply the same concept from the previous method here: since these people have already shared blog posts on content ideation before, they could be quite willing to do it again.

3. Do a Favor for the Influencer Beforehand

Email outreach is all about asking favors. When you send an email to an influencer asking for a tweet, a link, or a Google plus, you’re basically asking them for a favor.

Now, I want you to think back to the last time you did a significant favor for a stranger who’d come to you out of the blue.

No, seriously. Think about it.

Don’t worry, I’ll wait…

If you’re like me, then you probably can’t remember the last time you did so.

And guess what: the influencers you’re reaching out to probably can’t remember the last time they did such a favor, either. So when you ask them for a favor as a total stranger, how likely do you think you are to get the share/link?

Not very.

The key here is to make sure that by the time you send your email, you’ve already performed a favor or two for the blogger beforehand.

For instance, you could comment on 1-2 of the blogger’s latest posts. All bloggers love getting relevant comments on their posts, because comments prove two things to them:

  1. People are reading their content.
  2. People find their content engaging enough for them to take time out of their day to leave their thoughts.

However, DON’T just leave a generic “Great post, thanks for sharing” comment like a hundred others before you have already.

It’s easy for bloggers to see through this sort of comment; they know that it hasn’t taken any sort of real effort on your part.

Instead, leave a thoughtful, detailed remark about what you thought of their post — one that will set you apart from the other commentators to the post author.


Questions in particular make great comments because they coax a response from the post author. Besides that, all bloggers (you and I included) get an ego boost when people ask their advice.

A couple other things you could do is to share their post on social media or even link to it from the post that you are writing.

4. Write the Email

Here comes the difficult part: actually writing the email. You can find several email templates on the web for this step, but I recommend testing a few ones of your own to see which works best for you personally. What’s more, the email you send will also typically depend on what you’re asking for in your email: a link, a share, etc..

For instance, asking for a link from a well-known blog requires a very different email than a share request from an influencer with a mid-sized following.

But regardless of the type email you’re sending over, there are a few rules to keep in mind.

Keep it Short

Nobody wants to wade through a 50-sentence email when a five-sentence email would have done just as well. Least of all the busy bloggers who have a hundred-and-one other tasks demanding their attention.

I personally try to keep all my emails no more than five sentences long, although I’m often guilty of forgetting to cut down and instead sending in 6-7+ sentences. I’ve found that shorter = better 99% of the time.

Talk about What You’ve Done for Them

In my email, I typically reserve at one sentence close to the beginning to talk about what I’ve done for them (i.e. I linked to their post, shared it on social media, commented on it, etc.).

Always talk about what you’ve done for them before you discuss what you want them to do for you. Once the blogger realizes that you’ve taken the time to do something for him/her, they’ll be much more receptive to the request that’s about to come.

Be Informal, but Professional

You always want to be professional — especially if you’ve never emailed this person before.

There’s no need to be overly formal (ten dollar words won’t score you any points), but at the same time don’t let your inner-goofiness get too much out of reign.

Also, be sure to use their first name in your opening line (that way they know right off that your email is addressed specifically to them).

5. Contact via Multiple Channels

The biggest mistake I made in my early days of outreach was limiting my contact to one channel only: email.

While email is still the best way to get a response from share/link requests, it’s most effective when used in combination with other contact channels like social media.

Nowadays, whenever I send out an outreach email, I also tweet the blogger beforehand to let him/her know that I’m sending in an email.

This helps to create awareness of your coming email. Most influencers will be getting hundreds of emails per day, so it’s very possible that your email could slip through the cracks. When you reach out to them via social media before sending the email, though, they’ll be keeping an eye out for your email.

So instead of ignoring or overlooking your email when it comes in, they’ll instead think:

Oh yeah, this is the guy/gal who tweeted me about their coming email. I think he/she also commented on XYZ post I published a couple days ago. Hmm. I wonder what he/she is emailing about.

This contact strategy just plain works — I highly recommend that you try your best to get in touch via multiple channels (Google Plus, LinkedIn, or even Facebook can be good options depending on your industry). It’s helped me to nearly double my response rates, and I’m sure it will do the same for yours.

6. Time Your Contact Appropriately

I live in India — but since most of the bloggers I contact live in the US, UK, or Australia, I have to be sure that I’m keeping track of time zones. Otherwise, my email is likely to get lost in the pile of email that accumulates overnight.

I try to get my email in around 8-9 AM in the morning their time. That way, by the time they start their work day, my email is close to the top of their inbox.

I personally use Boomerang to schedule all my emails because I love its simplicity, but SideKickRightInbox, and Streak are popular alternatives.

For tweet-scheduling, I’m a huge fan of Buffer, but HootSuite is another excellent option.

7. Follow Up

The last step in the outreach process is to follow up. If your email doesn’t get a response within a week, I recommend sending either one email or one tweet as a reminder (not both).

I don’t recommend sending any more than one follow up, though; if a blogger hasn’t responded by then, it typically means that he/she isn’t interested in sharing or linking.

And if that happens (which it most certianly will), don’t worry about it. Just shake it off, and move on to the next blogger.

Wrapping Up

Outreach is a powerful content promotion strategy. It has the potential to take your latest blog post from 0-100 in no time.

However, outreach certainly isn’t an easy strategy to implement, and if you don’t do it correctly then you’ll end up spending a lot of time for little result. So the next time you’re promoting a post, remember these 7 crucial steps, and I guarantee your success rate will the better for it.

Do you have any questions about outreach strategy — or any tips of your own you’d like to share? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Jonathan John (@JRJohnWrites) is a freelance writer for hire and a digital marketing enthusiast. He helps business leverage the power of content marketing and blogging to increase traffic and boost brand authority. 

10 Ideas for Finding Blogging Inspiration

10 Ideas for Finding Blogging Inspiration on ProBlogger.netThis is a guest contribution from Larry Alton.

No matter what famous authors tell you, writer’s block is a real thing, and it’s not easy to overcome. If you’ve spent much time in the content creation world, you’ve probably done your fair share of staring at a blank word document, wondering what you should be writing next. However, that gets you no closer to your end goal. If you find yourself hitting a wall the next time a blog post is due, consider these inspirational tactics. 

Set Up Google Alerts

When in doubt about what to write next, stick to current news and events. By setting up Google Alerts, you can always be aware of the biggest trending news topics and subtopics. It also introduces you to new content sources and helps you stay informed about what’s happening with your niche in real time.

Subscribe to Similar Blogs

Be aware of what your competitors are blogging about. Monitor their latest topics by subscribing to their blogs. This will allow you to enter the current conversation rather than end it, which is what your bloggers really want.

The topics others are writing about will give you inspiration for your own blog and keep you up to date on current topics. However, beware of taking the same angle as a competitor. In most cases, you’ll want to take a different angle on the same topic so that you aren’t simply mimicking other blogs.

Post a Poll

Readers love to be given a chance to participate, and posting a relevant poll is a great opportunity to engage readers while gaining useful feedback. You can do this on both social media and your blog post. At least once a week, ask an interesting question and let the answers tell you what your readers want to read now.

For example, you might ask them what movie they watched last, what their greatest fear is, or any other question that could spur relevant content for your blog. If you have a vast readership, consider using a free polling service that will make collecting the results easy.

Invite Guest Authors

If you’ve really hit a wall with no immediate signs of recovery, get a guest blogger to post on your website. This will keep your readers entertained while you take some time to generate new ideas. There are several online tools you can use to find guest bloggers for your website at decent prices.

Take a Walk

Still can’t think of a topic? How long have you been sitting in your desk chair? Your prolonged stationary position is probably only stifling your creativity. The longer you sit staring at the computer screen, the more your brain begins to get sleepy, distracted, and burnt out.

Going for a walk or exerting some other form of enjoyable exercise will help you to be more awake and alert and give you the boost of creativity you desperately need to get writing again.

Blog About Mistakes

The general population loves to read about mistakes. It makes them feel human and allows them to learn a powerful lesson. We’ve all heard the old adage, “You learn more from failure than success,” and readers eat that stuff up. The next time you can’t think of a topic, reflect on a recent mistake you made and create a blog post based on that.

Talk It Out

Blogging is a solitary job, and you can gain powerful insights from talking with a friend or family member. Explain your problem and talk about some ideas you’ve considered or talk through what’s blocking your inspiration. Your friend doesn’t need to know anything about your blog or offer any suggestions. Simply talking about your dilemma out loud is an excellent way to spark creativity.

Write About a Controversy

Do you feel differently about a hot topic than many of your competitors? Address the controversy. Every niche has a subject that’s currently garnering both attention and fire. Don’t ignore what’s popular. Take a stance on the current hot topic and discuss the matter in depth.

Ask Questions

Furthermore, if there’s a controversy in your industry that you’re undecided about, ask your readers what they think. Begin by offering context on the subject and explain a few of your competitors’ viewpoints; then ask readers what they think. This is another great opportunity to engage with your fans, and it will help you come to a conclusion regarding this topic.


Get out of your office and into the world where you can view a world of interesting people making interesting decisions. Go somewhere where your target audience usually congregates, and observe their actions. You can gain a lot with your insights from this activity.

There are hundreds of things you can do to get out of a writing slump and inspire a topic that’s truly creative. One of those things might be entering a community where you can find inspiration for blog posts, network with other writers, apply for gigs, and learn more about your trade.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Can Launching a “For Beginners” Blog Still Work?

Can Launching a "For Beginners" Blog Still Work?This is a guest contribution from Karol K.

Here’s the thing. One of the prevailing myths around blogging is that the best way to start a new blog is to find a topic you’re passionate about, and then build a blog targeting a general, beginner audience interested in it.

For example, if your passion is WordPress then a (seemingly) good idea for a blog is something like “Beginner’s Guide to WordPress.”

Well, here’s the kicker … even though it might sound like a good idea, it actually isn’t.

In theory, you should be able to attract beginners and effectively be the first resource they encounter. But in practice, most of your readers will already be familiar with some of the big-name blogs in your niche by the time they even get to yours.

Those big-name blogs have all the power they need to sweep your target audience right from under your nose. They have the reputation, they have the brand and they have the social proof that beginners look for.

So what to do?

Is the “beginners” market so saturated that there’s no place left for you? Should you just abandon the idea of blogging entirely?

In a sentence: Of course not!

Let’s look into the possibilities that are still out there, and the specific things to do if you want to get into blogging.

Fork in the road – three paths to blogging

Taking the problem described above into account, there are basically three paths you can follow:

  • Launch a “for beginners” blog anyway. Hey, it will be difficult, but it’s not impossible, provided you have these two things: (1) a big budget to spend on promotion, SEO and other marketing-related things, or (2) a truly unique angle that has the potential to stick right from the get-go.
  • Launch a blog in a specialized area within the “beginners” niche. Using my previous example, a specialized area in “Beginner’s Guide to WordPress” might be a “Designer’s Guide to WordPress” – exactly what CodeinWP did when launching their blog meant for WordPress enthusiasts and pros.
  • Launch a blog focusing on more advanced aspects of the niche. Here, you’ll be going the completely opposite way and not paying much attention to beginner topics.

All of the above have their pros and cons, so let’s go over each and get a little more in-depth here.

“For beginners” blog

The main advantage of launching a “for beginners” blog is that creating content shouldn’t be very challenging. I mean, I know that bloggers have to be able to provide quality no matter who they’re writing for, but creating beginner content is always … what’s the word … lighter than creating advanced content.

It’s also easier to explain the purpose of your blog and probably convey its brand too.

Moreover, beginner blogs can usually utilize different content types more effectively than advanced blogs. For instance, it’s way easier to conduct an interview with a respected figure in the niche and prepare a list of questions that everyone can benefit from (not only advanced listeners).

On the other hand, the main downside is that making such a blog popular is next to impossible. Okay, maybe I’m a little too harsh, but let’s not forget that only a small part of blogs manage to attract more than 200 visitors a day, and the more competition you have, the more difficult it gets.

In order to grow such a blog, you’ll have to invest not only in good SEO, active social media promotions, massive guest blogging, but also in promotion through other online media channels like YouTube or podcasting.

Specialized “for beginners” blog

Launching a specialized “for beginners” blog shouldn’t be much more difficult than launching a standard one; although creating regular content can be a bit more challenging and will require more time.

However, one of the great things about such sites is that they become somewhat authoritative by default right from day one. For instance, if you title your blog “The Beginner’s Guide to Grilling Steak” then very few people will question your expertise in that space. It’s much more difficult to portray yourself as an expert in “all things cooking,” than it is in “all things grilling steak.” The same thing goes for most other niches too.

For example, this approach was neatly used by Ruben Gamez of Bidsketch when he launched a blog to get more people interested in his main product – project proposal software for freelancers. The main idea of the blog was to focus on topics related to project proposals and working with clients.

Such a strategy has made it easier to get the initial stream of visitors and build a core audience. In comparison, launching and growing a blog that simply talks about marketing or business would have been much more difficult.

Essentially, the more niche you go, the easier it is to find a small group of devoted fans. That being said, the problem you might encounter sooner or later is that building your audience can gradually become more challenging every month. You can simply start running out of audience, so to speak.

What to do when that starts to happen? Pivot. Start writing about other more general topics related to your niche. Your core audience will help you spread the word and reach new readers. Readers who would have never stumbled upon you otherwise.

Good SEO and other promotional methods are still important when growing a specialized niche blog (like they always are). So you will need to devote significant amount of your time to that. On the bright side, your hyper-niche idea is most likely to stick right away and resonate with a targeted visitor who’s actively interested in the topic.

Advanced niche blog

A good way to get a grasp on what an advanced blog should cover is to think about one of your passions and try answering the following question:

What were the things you were interested in once you were already 2 to 3 years into your passion? In most cases, this is the kind of topics that are perfect for an advanced blog.

Nevertheless, an advanced blog is probably the most challenging project to launch successfully from a content creator’s point of view. Advanced content is always the most time-consuming type of writing, and it needs to be 100 percent accurate with no room for mistakes (advanced audiences will quickly catch those).

Thankfully, you don’t have to publish new posts very often. Even once a week or once every other week will do just fine, as long as your content is extremely useful.

Just like with the other two types of blogs described here, good SEO is always the key ingredient. Luckily, the keywords for an advanced blog are usually less competitive and easier to target. Most of them are long tail keywords.

For example, two or three weeks ago I wanted to get some info on creating a grandchild theme in WordPress. The phrase I used in Google was something like “how to create a child theme of a child theme WordPress” … this is what we call long tail.

The greatest power of long tail keyword phrases is that when someone searches using them, they are almost 100 percent certain to visit your page if the title (more or less) matches their search query. Going long tail, as a searcher, is the ultimate desperate move. It simply means that you haven’t been able to find quality information with shorter queries.

One more cool thing is that the big and popular blogs in your niche are more likely to link to a blog that covers advanced topics. That’s because you’re positioning yourself as the “next step up” kind of resource. Comparing this to a scenario where you have yet another “for beginners” blog, there’s just no need for an already established popular “for beginners” blog to link to it.

Taking action

All three types of blogs have their individual challenges and pros and cons to tackle. But in the end, launching a successful blog is always a lot of work. I’m sure you’re familiar with Darren’s story on how he built his blogs.

Every project like this should start with a good plan. I hope that this post will help you craft such a plan and then put it in practice.

Lastly, what’s your opinion about blogging in “for beginners” niches? Does it still make sense to do it?

Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a freelance blogger and writer, published author, and online business figure-outer. His work has been featured all over the web, on sites like:,,,,,, and others. Feel free to contact him to find out how he can help your business grow by writing unique and engaging content for your blog or website.

5 Tips for Optimising Facebook Ads Campaigns

This is a guest contribution from Luke Moulton.

Blogging about something you’re passionate about? chances are there are others just as passionate as you, and chances are, a high percentage of these people hang out on Facebook and share the stuff they’re passionate about. Using Facebook ads to reach your target audience can get people Liking and sharing your content, and kick-start your traffic if you’re just starting out.

If you’ve dabbled with Facebook ads and not seen much success or traction, here are a couple of techniques to try to improve performance.

1. Laser Focus on Your Target Audience

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make with Facebook ads is to go too broad with their audience targeting. You probably have a good idea of your target demographic. For example: new mums living in Los Angeles. So when you setup a Facebook Ad Set, make sure you target your audience accordingly.

5 Tips for Optimising Facebook Ads Campaigns

Recently I was helping an Australian e-commerce client with his Facebook ads campaigns. He has a range of items that are season and weather-dependent. Digging into his campaigns, I found that performance varied for cities in the north of the country compared to the south. Given it was winter in Australia when he was thinking of advertising, he was wasting money trying to promote warmer climate items to those in the southern states (remember, we’re in the Southern Hemisphere). Segmenting his campaigns down into regions (such as cities or states) help him to target products according to the weather in that region.

2. Boost Facebook Posts that are already getting traction

You may already have a healthy bunch of Facebook followers who share and like your content. When you notice a new piece of content you’ve posted getting more traction than usual, this is a good indication that the content could be popular to a broader audience.

This is a great opportunity to broaden you follower base.

5 Tips for Optimising Facebook Ads Campaigns

The trick that will ensure you get maximum engagement for you spend is to boost your post to “Friends of people who like your page” AND share a similar interest to what you blog about.

Doing this means that the “Friends of people who like your page” will see a little social proof on the ads that appear in their news feed. And social proof is a powerful motivator.

5 Tips for Optimising Facebook Ads Campaigns

3. Test vastly different images

Facebook is a very visual medium and the right image can make a huge difference in engagement and clicks to your ads. When you setup a new campaign, make sure you test at least 2 different ads that are identical except for the image.

Try adding a call to action to your image, making sure you your copy takes up 20% or less of the image space, as specified in Facebook Ads terms and conditions.

4. Setup Facebook conversion tracking

Wether you’re building an email list or selling product, Facebook conversion tracking gives you the ability to see which audience segments convert better, therefore giving you the ability to focus on getting more of those people to your website.

Running a Facebook ads report with Conversion metrics will show you (for example) which age range are converting best.

5 Tips for Optimising Facebook Ads Campaigns

In the example above, Women aged 55-64 are converting the best and costing the least. If you see something like this as an on-going trend, it can be worthwhile separating this audience out into their own Ad Set so you can try to better tailor your ads to this demographic.

5. Rotate your ads

If you’re targeting the same audience on an ongoing basis, eventually they are going to get sick of seeing the same ads week in week out. Try to set a monthly schedule to refresh your ads, or focus more on promoting your better performing posts.

Luke Moulton is a digital marketer specialising in Facebook Ads campaign management. Checkout more tips on his blog at Plankton Digital.