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3 Secret Weapons I Used to Launch My Fulltime Blogging Career

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This is a guest post by Jeff Goins of Goins, Writer.

“I’d like to be a writer,” I told my friend one day when he asked what my dream was. “But that’ll never happen.” And I quickly went back to moping around, waiting for my big break.

At the time, I was working for a nonprofit as a marketing director, secretly wondering what it might be like to write for a living. Little did I know how close I was to my goal.

My was staring me right in the face the whole time. I was just blind to it.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer,” Harriet Tubman once said. “Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

That’s absolutely true. Your dream lives inside you, not somewhere out there. And instead of waiting for someone to come along and give you permission, you need to realize that you have everything you need to do this right now.

So let’s look at what you already have at your disposal and how I launched my own full-time blogging career using these same tools.

Secret Weapon #1: Listen to Your Ache

Have you ever felt jealous of someone else’s success? Of course you have. You’re human, aren’t you. But don’t feel bad. Envy isn’t always a bad thing, if you know how to use it.

Being jealous of what someone else has or has done is a sign of somethign you don’t have. You’re not living the life you dreamed of, not making the money you want, or simply not getting the credit you think you deserve.

Left unchecked, those feelings of missing out can get nasty really quickly. But when properly channeled, they can be a means to you discovering what you’re meant to do.

Here’s what I mean.

What bothers you that you see in the world? What problems in your industry or social ills do you see that you think should be fixed? When you see someone publishing their words or getting paid to pursue a passion, does it stir something in you? Does it make you a little angry, even a tad frustrated?

Good. Listen to that.

All dreams begin with frustration. But they don’t end there. It takes a person of action to do something with that feeling. Because really, frustration is just a surface emotion. It’s just pent-up passion with nowhere to go.

So pay attention to what makes your heart ache. When you’re feeling frustrated, remember it’s a sign of what you’re missing out on. It means you need to get to work.

Secret Weapon #2: Take the Long Road

Once on a webinar, I heard Darren Rowse say his first year of professional blogging had only made him something like $30,000. When I heard that, it sounded like a dream come true.

His intentions were to set our expectations low. He explained how hard he worked, staying up late and getting up early, how difficult it was. Not everyone can make six figures in the first month was his point. He was trying to keep us grounded. But it gave me hope.

I didn’t want fluff. I wanted someone to tell me exactly what I needed to do to pursue my dream. And for some reason, telling me it was going to be difficult and not very rewarding made it real. It made it attainable.

Sometimes, you have to hear someone else describe the life you long to live before you can begin to visualize it yourself.

Darren’s words spoke to the frustration I felt. They made me realize I was going to have to work hard if I wanted to live my dream and that patience was going to be an important factor in my success.

When I started my blog, I was determined to not worry about stats for the first two years. I would just write. The audience would come as my craft grew. If that took years, so be it. Six months later, I had more traffic than I ever could have imagined—hundreds at first, and then thousands of daily readers.

It would be a long while before I’d start making money, but still, seeing it was possible changed everything. Right around that time, my wife and I decided to start a family and began counting down the days until our son would be born.

At that same time, I started to hatch a plan for how I could make money with my blog.

Secret Weapon #3: Don’t Neglect the Past

When you decide to go full-time with your blog, you may be tempted to make the biggest mistake most dreamers make. You may think that dreaming is about looking forward.

It’s not. Dreaming is about looking backward and remembering what it is you have always loved to do. “Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it,” Parker Palmer wrote, “I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”

So before I could even figure out what I wanted to sell, I was going to have to figure out what value I had, what strengths I possessed that could benefit someone. And the answer to that was buried deep in my past.

“Jeff,” my friend said to me that day I announced my dream was to write, “you are a writer. You just need to write.”

He was right. I had been writing. All these years. In various capacities. But somehow, it just didn’t feel like enough. I didn’t feel like enough. But when I heard those words, I knew they were true.

Maybe, I thought, before we can do something, we have to become someone. Activity follows identity. It was a simple principle but one I’ve come to embrace in all areas of life.

What that meant for me was looking honestly at my life and identifying what strengths I had to offer. I had spent the past seven years as a marketing director and before that as the leader of a music group.

I couldn’t remember a time in my adult life in which I hadn’t been working with creative people. That was a bigger clue than I first realized. Maybe, I thought, I could do that online.

So I gradually turned my new blog, which had been more of a leadership blog, into a writing-focused resource. First, I tested out posts on writing to see if they appealed, and I was amazed at how much people connected with the content.

What Derek Sivers says is true: “What’s obvious to you is amazing to others.” The secret to discovering the value that you offer the world is hidden in the strength you’re probably taking for granted.

The Finish Line

A year after starting my blog, I launched my first eBook on writing and made $1500 from it.

A few months later, I launched an bundle product and made $16,000 in the first six weeks.

Several months after that, I launched my first online course, Tribe Writers, and made $25,000 from it.

By the end of that year, I had made over $150,000 blogging.

I couldn’t believe it. This was my dream, and it had come true in ways that completely astounded me.

But the truth is the process took two years from start to finish, plus another seven years of preparation. It required all those things Harriet Tubman mentioned: passion, patience, and strength.

If you’re going to come face to face with your dream, you’re going to need them, too. You’ll have to:

  1. Turn your frustration into passion.
  2. Be willing to take the long road, understanding that good things come in time.
  3. Embrace your past, using whatever strengths you’ve accumulated along the way and putting them to use.

Yes, it will take time and it won’t be easy. But the good news is you don’t have to sit around feeling frustrated or like you missed out. Everything you’ve done up to this point has prepared you for what you’re about to do.

Now, it’s up to you to get started.


Jeff Goins is a full-time blogger at Goins, Writer, where he shares tips on writing, creativity, and making a difference. His latest book, The Art of Work, is all about discovering your calling.

7 Commonsense Tips to Improve Your Next Expert Roundup

expert roundupThis is a guest contribution from Neil.

Are you wondering why your expert roundups are not living up to your expectations? Why you are never getting the level of response some other people are getting?

After all, the idea behind creating an expert roundup sounds foolproof on paper.

  1. Get eminent experts to answer a question for you.
  2. Gather the responses and publish the ultimate answer to that question.
  3. Get your experts to share the content and then leverage their audience to get a viral post.

There is no way you can fail!

But the reality is a bit different.

My first expert roundup (January, 2015), featured the likes of top guys like Rand Fishkin, Neil Patel and Yaro Starak. In terms of quality, it was great. But it got me only around two hundred shares and a few backlinks.

Disappointed by my failure, I felt that “expert roundups” are overhyped. I looked around to get some expert roundup tips.

After a while, I realized that there was no flaw core idea of an expert roundup. The problem was in the execution of it. Actually, I was so excited about the roundup, that I overlooked certain things, which are just common sense.

Today on Problogger, I would like to share these commonsense tips so that you can organize a better expert roundup.

Do keyword research to focus on the right terms

You may create the grandest expert roundup (in terms of quality). You may even generate tons of backlinks. But unless it is properly targeted, it will never fulfill its potential.

By proper targeting, I mean that you should target the right terms or keywords for search engines. After all, the backlinks and shares that will get showered upon your roundup must help it to generate organic traffic.

If you have not chosen the right keywords, then what is the point? Your backlinks may help you rank #1 for your keyword, but if people do not search for that term, it is of no use.

In my last expert roundup, I made this mistake. The overall topic was good. It was about “blogging mistakes made by top bloggers”. I was quite sure that new bloggers would be very interested in learning about it.

But I did not consider the fact whether users would be using the same term in the search engines.

As it turned out, the main keyword “blogging mistakes” did not have an appreciable search volume. Even if I had been able to rank for the keyword, the benefit would have been minimal.

Ultimately, I got around this by naming my blog pos “19 expert blogging tips to avoid blogging mistakes”.

But this is not the right way to do it.

The approach should be very simple. Try to find the hole in the available information. Once you have found something that is asked a lot, but not answered well, you have struck gold.

Now you need to grab the topic and do a little keyword research to get the right term to use in your question. There are only two factors that you need to consider:

  • The keyword should have at least moderate search volume.
  • The keyword should not be too competitive.

In case you have already committed the error of choosing a low search volume topic, you have to improvise. Re-frame your question so that it includes good keywords.

To get the best out of your keywords, make sure that you use the keywords in the title of your post (obvious thing). A huge chunk of your backlinks will have the title of your post as the anchor text. Including your keyword in the title will go a long way in helping you to rank for that keyword.

Increase your reach by approaching more people

An expert roundup always results in a quality piece of content. But for the person conducting the roundup, there is much more to it than just the content. As the host blogger, you are banking on the expert’s reach to spread the word about your roundup. You are dependent on the expert’s popularity to have an influence on your roundup.

The idea behind an expert roundup is to leverage influence of the experts. Your aim is to ride the influence of your experts to gain as widespread popularity as possible. So it is pretty commonsense-the more experts you have, the better it is for you.

More experts mean more followers. More experts mean that your content will get shared to a wider audience.

So the message is very clear. Get in as many experts as possible.

And it is beneficial to the experts too. If your expert roundup does really well and ranks high in the search engines, each one of the experts will also be on the receiving end of a highly relevant and quality back link.

POINT TO NOTE: get in as many “experts” as possible. Here, “experts” is the crucial term. I’m not asking you to include just anybody in your expert roundup to fill up the numbers. There no point in doing that. In fact, doing that will dilute the experience of your expert roundup.

Finding experts is simple:

  1. Do a Google search with your niche’s keywords.
  2. Find experts on existing roundups by searching: “keyword” + expert roundup.
  3. Find highly followed people on social networks.

Get people to respond by gradually building trust

So now it is clear that you need to get as many experts as possible to participate in your expert roundup. But obviously, it is easier said than done.

Experts are busy people. They get tons of e-mails and expert roundup invites. They cannot respond to all of them. To get answers, you have to do the obvious things:

  1. Approach them with a short and concise e-mail.
  2. Pose a question that is interesting to them.
  3. Pose a question that is relatively easy to answer and so on.

But the easiest way to get someone to respond to you is to build trust with that person.

Imagine for yourself. If you are in a rush, you may skip over an e-mail from an unknown person. But if you know that person, you will be compelled to at least have a look at the e-mail. You will try to respond to the person it possible.

Same thing happens with the experts (and for any human being). It is human psychology. One can easily say no to an unknown person but rejecting a familiar person is harder. Our subconscious always tries to maintain and honor preexisting relationships.

Your task: build familiarity with the expert before approaching with the invite.

Simple ways to build familiarity:

  1. Follow the expert on social networks.
  2. Comment and discuss on the expert’s blog.
  3. Send a “thank you” email for a helpful blog post.

Use a deadline to get more responses

Not using a deadline was a big mistake for my last roundup post. I thought that the experts, being busy people, may not appreciate the idea of being given a deadline.

But I was wrong! It is always better to specify a deadline for submission of expert entries.

There are two reasons:

Firstly, deadlines promote actions.

An expert may read your email but if you have not mentioned a deadline, he or she may postpone the reply. And in that process, the busy expert may forget about your e-mail altogether.

On the other hand, if you do specify a deadline, the expert may reply immediately or at least mark the email to be replied before the deadline.

After all, itís a good deal for the expert. The expert is getting a highly relevant back link in exchange of a simple answer to a question. That is why, using the deadline works. The deadline serves to remind that the chance to get an easy back link may be gone soon. Thus it promotes a prompt reply.

Second benefit of using a deadline is that it will demonstrate your professionalism and seriousness about the expert roundup. Without it, some people may think that you are not sure about how and when you’re going to post the expert roundup. That may lead to loss of interest in your expert roundup.

Moral of the story: Use a deadline. 7 to 10 days is good in my opinion.

Have higher expectations from the experts

If your expectations are low, you’re most likely to be getting the same. This is one blunder I committed while conducting my first expert roundup.

I was not sure whether the experts would have time to look into my question and answer it. So, I tried to make it easier for them by saying that even a single line opinion would be fine.

MISTAKE!

I was doing an expert roundup and it deserved expert comments.

I understand that it is not reasonable to expect the experts to write long explanations. But a single line opinion conveys hardly any value.

Suppose I ask someone about his/her biggest mistake as newbie blogger and the person responds “not doing this or that”. It is a technically correct answer but it hardly adds much value. A little explanation is expected at least.

So settle for a middle ground. Writing 50 to 100 words does not take too long and is quite reasonable to ask for.

So nowadays I write:

A short 50-100 word opinion would be fine although you can elaborate your experience if you like.

Here, I am using the word “short” to make it seem easy to the experts but at the same time I am also specifying them the minimum length I expect.

Coming back to my story: I failed to specify this minimum limit in my first roundup post. As a result, few experts did provide single line opinions. But obviously, the mistake was mine. It was me who said that “even a single line opinion would be fine”. And this is one big problem in asking your expert on Twitter. That is why I always prefer e-mail.

That said, I’m very grateful that most of the experts did leave longer and valuable comments on my expert roundup. And this also tells you that the experts are also okay with writing a few words.

Don’t be shy to ask for a “proper and meaningful” expert opinion on your roundup.

Use author bio to allow users to connect with experts

When you’re conducting an expert roundup, it is essential that your readers connect with the experts. Not everyone will know all the experts. You must give them a reason why they should listen to the expert.

For example, I know Darren and the great work he has done with Problogger. But a new blogger may or may not know (although it is unlikely). Without knowing about Darren’s expertise in blogging, a new blogger may not pay heed to his advice. That is why it is essential to do a short introduction of your expert.

Writing a short author bio is a nice way to do it. Just a couple of sentences are fine. Tell who the author is and a little about his/her achievements and specialization. This will give enough reasons to your readers to listen to a particular expert. And this will also allow everyone to appreciate and value the comments made by the experts.

Here is a sample:

Darren Rowse is one of the first bloggers to blog about how to make money blogging. He is the man behind the hugely popular blog Problogger and popular books like “Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income”. He is regarded as one of the foremost authorities on blogging.

Promote more or more to get the most out of your roundup

Last but not least, put serious effort in promoting your expert roundup.

Creating a highly informative and useful expert roundup is only half the battle. If you stop there, it is no good. After all, you have invested so much time and effort in producing an amazing piece of content. Why stop when it is the time to reap the rewards?

Promote your expert roundup like crazy.

  1. Start with your expert panel. Show them your gratitude for taking out time to participate in your expert roundup. E-mail all your experts letting them know that the post is up. Thank them and ask them to share the content. Not everyone will share it but some of them will.
  2. If your experts do not reply back, remind them after a couple of days. Talk to them on Twitter and let them know.
  3. Promote your post on Twitter, Google plus and Facebook.
  4. Use hashtags to make it easier for people to find your post.
  5. Mention your experts on twitter and google plus. Here is a template that you can use:

    Tip no #: “Insert tip here” -By @expertname <Insert link to post>

  6. Share multiple times on your social networks: the day of posting, the day after posting, one week after posting.
  7. Share your post on social bookmarking sites. Encourage your readers to share your post on social bookmarking sites. Reach out to friends and acquaintances and ask them to share your post.
  8. And obviously, do not forget the e-mail list. You can write a couple of e-mails to build up anticipation for to the roundup post. This will ensure a better response from your email list subscribers.

These are just some ideas. Be creative and find out more ways to promote your post.

Are you ready for your next expert roundup?

So, I have shared my tips for creating a better expert roundup. These expert roundup tips work great. Now, it’s your turn – apply these tips and let us know how your next expert roundup goes. And if you have your own secret tip, feel free to share with us in the comments section.

Neil test drives new blogging tips and strategies on his blog and then lets you know what works. He shares his blogging experience on Blogician and you can read his first expert roundup at blogging tips for new bloggers.

Building Your Audience From Zero to Traction

This is a guest contribution from Brian Casel.

If there’s one common thread among many of those who build successful businesses online, it’s this: They’ve been able to build an audience, which has helped them gain traction and spread value with a farther reach.

But what if you have no audience yet? Zero subscribers. Little to no traffic. How can you get started, when nobody knows who you are?

I was there about 18 months ago. My blog received less than 20 visitors a day. My newsletter did not exist. I had been blogging for years, but couldn’t connect with an audience, let alone create a product they might buy.

Since then, I’ve turned it around by embracing a three-step strategy I’ll share with you today. As of this writing, my newsletter is up to 5000 subscribers, the blog receives hundreds of visitors per day, and my course has sold multiple five-figures since it launched four months ago.

These aren’t groundbreaking numbers. But to me, they represent the difference between blogging as a hobby (where I was at a few years ago), and meaningful part of my business today.

Now—I’m sure you already know the mechanics of building an audience: Blog posts. Landing Pages. Email lists. Autoresponders. Yadda Yadda. Those are the tools and tech, and there plenty of resources where you can find the right ones for you.

But those things won’t actually get people to stop, take notice, and give you their email address because they want more.

So how do you do that, when you’re still unknown?

Let me break it down with four important concepts:

  • Your “Who”
  • Their “Why”
  • Resonate
  • Exposure

Your “Who”

The most important thing in building an audience, or marketing a product, is to know who you’re writing (or selling) to. The more you know your audience, the easier it is to resonate with them. (tweet that)

But how can you possibly know who your target audience is when you don’t have an audience yet?

A lot of advice out there tells you to hunt for your audience. Do keyword research… Analyze buzz trends on social media… capitalize on current news headlines. They’re telling you to spot a herd of people and catch that wave.

To me, this always seemed like a monotonous and uninspiring way to create content. So I never followed this advice.

In fact, I’m pretty sure none of the folks that I subscribe to — who happen to have very large audiences — never followed this advice either. Probably for similar reasons. They just didn’t want to.

This brings me to my first point: You get to choose your who.

Your who is the person you care about and the person you genuinely want to help. They’re probably a lot like you. Maybe you’re further along in your journey, or maybe they’re further than you. Either way, you guys are probably on the same path.

Do this:

Give some thought to who you want as your readers / listeners / subscribers. This part is totally up to you. At the end of the day, if you don’t care about the people you’re writing for, then you won’t be able to help them, which means you won’t get very far anyway.

In my case, I was a freelance web designer, and I transitioned to a products business. So I decided the my who are my peers — freelancers and consultants who work on the web and want to transition to a products business.

By the way, lots of different people will stumble across your site over time. The vast majority of them won’t be your who. Only a small slice of those new visitors are. Those are the ones you want as subscribers and they’re the ones who you want to see again. So focus your attention on them.

Their “Why”

Finding your who is up to you. But creating content that resonates with them is not.

Now you need to reconcile your who with their why.

Everyone is on a journey. Everyone wants to get to a destination that is different and better than where they’re currently at. This is always changing. For everyone.

If you asked me 10 years ago where I wanted to go, I would have said I wanted to find my career path, and meet a girl.

Five years ago? I wanted to get more clients, and find a home for my wife and I to settle down.

Today? I want to build my products business so my growing family can live comfortably and travel.

Next year? Who knows…

How would your people answer that question? What is their why?

Do this:

Set up a welcome email autoresponder sent to every person who joins your email newsletter. Here’s a screenshot of the email I send to every new subscriber who joins my newsletter:

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 11.21.23 am

Keep that welcome email short and to the point, which is: Ask your new subscriber, “where they want to be one year from now?” I recommend adding, “What’s your biggest hurdle holding you back?”

In the beginning, you won’t have many responses. That’s OK. You’ll get plenty of replies over the course of year.

The fun part is to watch how your audience’s why changes over time. Your understanding of it will change too. The more in touch are you are, the easier it is to write things that help them get ahead, and the more likely your posts will resonate.

Writing stuff that resonates

So you know who you want to be reading your blog, and you’re in touch with the journey they’re on (their why). Now how do you actually speak to that, and create content that truly resonates?

I found a very simple method: Just answer questions.

Every blog post / podcast episode / video / whatever you create should be your answer to a question that your people are seeking an answer to. They have a very specific problem, and your post is the solution. In fact, it’s the best solution they’ve come across in a very long time.

That’s what it takes for a blog post to resonate.

Do this…

Start every new blog post with a question. Have you noticed that the first few paragraphs of this article contained several questions? The idea for this article literally came from a question that one of my subscribers asked me a few weeks ago.

Here are some places I go to identify questions that I could answer in new articles:

  • Questions people ask me when replying to my newsletter.
  • Questions people ask me when I’m out at a conference.
  • Questions that come up in forums and communities that I hang out in—particularly the ones that I feel eager to hop in and answer.
  • Questions found on Quora and Reddit, and similar question/answer sites.

Spend an hour and come up with a list of 5 (or more) questions that your people are asking. Make sure they’re questions that you’re eager to answer. I’m sure there are many that fit this criteria for you.

Exposure

Now I don’t want to give the impression that if you simply write great content that could resonate with the right people, then it will.

It probably won’t.

Unless… you get exposure in places where your people are already hanging out.

Here are the common “tactics” that most people focus on. These have never worked for me:

  • Cold email a popular blogger and cleverly include a link to your new post, in hopes they might tweet it. I tried it. Sometimes it gets that tweet. Great… For a minute. I stopped doing this because I hate the idea of “pushing” my stuff on someone who didn’t ask for it. Plus, they’re super busy and I want to respect their time.
  • “Go viral” on Hacker News, Reddit, Digg.com. I have submitted posts to these a handful of times. Maybe twice my hit the front-page for a while and brought a spike in traffic. Almost none of those folks ever subscribe and return.
  • SEO Keyword Optimize my posts. Have some of my posts done well in search engines? Sure. Do I know how or why that happened? Not really. My goal when I write is to help my people get ahead, and hopefully get them to subscribe so they’ll come back again. SEO traffic typically doesn’t play out this way. The channels I’ll list below do.

So here’s what has worked for me, and what I think you should focus on when you’re just getting started:

Answer questions in forums

I suggest focusing on just one or two online communities that you personally feel connected to.

Find a question you’re eager to answer and post the best response you can possibly fit in the reply box. Then finish by including a link over to your blog post on that same topic.

Don’t simply reply by saying “Good question, I wrote a whole article on it: LINK”. You should actually answer the question right there in the forum, then provide the link for more. Build credibility and earn their trust with your thoughtful reply, then invite them to your site for more.

Case Studies

Readers love hearing about real-world examples of a problem being solved. You still want to be sure you’re answering a question, but your answer (or solution) can come in the form of a case study.

I found that these types of posts tend to get shared and passed around a lot. One of my post popular articles from last year on my System For Selling, where I covered how we set up Trello as our CRM, and our process for handling inbound sales leads. This continues to get passed around, and even wound up getting mentioned on Trello’s blog!

Podcasting

While you won’t get thousands of listeners overnight, podcasts are much less competitive and easier to reach people than a new blog. There simply aren’t as many podcasts as there are blogs.

I also found that podcasts seem to build a more intimate relationship with your audience than readers of a blog. Plus, it’s fun!

Paid acquisition

I wouldn’t recommend this if you’ve never managed an ad campaign before. But if you know you’re way around Facebook ads or Twitter ads, then you might try it as a way to jump-start your email list. Point this traffic at a landing page for a free, educational resource, that is highly relevant to the people you want to reach, and the topics you write about.

I’ve had better success with Retargeting ads, since those are seen by folks who have already found you through organic channels first, but maybe didn’t opt-in to your list on their first visit.

Related: Tips and Tricks to Nail Facebook Advertising With Jon Loomer
The Lowdown on Facebook Advertising, and What We’ve Found Works Really Well

Return Visitors

Now, to be clear: The ideas I just listed above won’t bring in tidal waves of traffic. They’ll be more like drops and splashes. That’s OK for now. They’re only intended to get things going.

What will really move the needle are getting those first visitors to return and to share your content. That’s where your email list comes in.

Here are some ways I found work well attracting those first subscribers to your email list:

  • Offer a free resource, like an email course, highly relevant to your people’s why.
  • Point everything to the free resource: Bylines on your guest blog posts, link to it from your Twitter profile, mention it when you go on podcasts, this is your “gift” that you’re proud to share with anyone who might benefit from it. So promote it.
  • Include bonus content on some of your posts. For example, in my System For Selling post, I offer the exact setup instructions for anyone to download when they subscribe to my list.

The small breaks

As I’m sure you can tell, none of this audience-building stuff happens overnight.

The reality is it’s a long series of “small breaks”. A high profile Retweet. A guest post opportunity. An invitation to be on someone’s podcast. All of these add up and build exposure over time.

Some might see these as “lucky” breaks. But I see them as inevitable opportunities that arise when you repeatedly put yourself out there, serve your audience, and stick with it!

Brian Casel was a freelancer who turned productized business owner. Today he writes his newsletter and blog to help you do the same. Get Brian’s free email crash course on Productizing Your Service.

The 3 Building Blocks of a Blockbuster Blog

This is a guest contribution from digital marketer Pratik Dholakiya.

Whether it is to pour out your musings in black and white, or to promote your business among your target audience, or even to create a record of important events that future generations can look back at years later, the reasons for blogging are as numerous as there are blogs on the internet.

The-3-Building-Blocks-of-a-Blockbuster-Blog

Of the millions of blogs currently online, a very tiny handful can claim to have any real level of success. Success can be measured in readership, virality, monetization, and many other different interpretations based on the primary purpose of the blog itself.

What Your Blog Needs to Be Successful

Here we’ll take a look at what it takes for a blog to be successful from the perspective of building a strong reader base and earning revenue from one’s blog.

1. Pick a Blogging Platform That Gives Your Blog Wings

A blog that you intend to build and nurture for years to come ought to be strong enough to bear the vagaries of time and tide on the internet.

By this, I mean your blogging platform needs to be easy to use, a pleasure to browse through, while simultaneously offering the right level of security to prevent any mischievous hackers from breaking in.

Trouble is – once you start looking the mind-boggling variety of options available – WordPress, Tumblr, Medium, TypePad, and more – will soon confound any beginner.

So before you dive headlong into creating a bunch of blog posts on the first platform that you stumble upon, here are a few basic metrics you must compare these platforms on:

  • Ease of use – Does it take you forever to even figure out how to open the blog editor? Is the reading experience painless? Is it mobile-friendly?
  • Customization – Doe the platform allow you to personalize your blog? Can you install plugins, change the themes or layouts, or even write your own CSS and HTML code if you so please?
  • Security – How secure will your data be? Will the subscriber email IDs that you’ll collect from your blog readers be safe and sound? How easy is it to back up your blog?
  • Cost – Is it completely free? Does it need you to buy hosting separately? Can you afford to pay for hosting?
  • Storage Space – How much free data storage is offered by your platform? Would you need to keep upgrading your storage every now and then? Would you need to move to a completely new platform when you run out of space?

Matt Banner of On Blast Blog has put together a very handy comparison of the best blogging platforms currently available. Weigh your options very carefully before you arrive at a decision.

2. Craft Each Post Like Picasso Giving Birth to Cubism

The best way to build a blog that really resonates with readers is to write about a topic that you are an expert about.

You don’t have to write about some complicated technical field, just because it’s in vogue. Are you a good cook? Start a recipe blog. Love to tinker with your car? Share your automobile expertise with the mechanically challenged people in the world through a blog.

Take Neil Patel’s QuickSprout blog, for example. Patel is a SEO and content marketing wizard, and he writes primarily about his core competence in his blog. His complete ease with the stuff he writes about and deep knowledge of his domain are reflected in every single post that he puts up. This particular post answers the question “How long should an ideal blog post be?”

Patel turns this rather mundane question into a detailed, well-researched and scientific analysis of different post lengths and their impacts on readership, conversions and shareability. By quoting live data points like the one below, Patel makes his post educational, interesting and highly readable.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 12.02.35 pm

Source

And that is exactly what a blog needs to be successful – valuable content that is important to its readers, presented in a sharp, yet easy-to-digest manner.

Why, the best bloggers have readers forking out good money to read content that a lot of others give out for absolutely free – that’s the power of strong writing combined with solid research!

3. Make Your Blog Findable – By People and Search Engines Alike

Creating fabulous content and leaving it to fend for itself is doing a gross disservice to your blog and to potential readers out there.

To begin with, make sure you stick to one central topic in each blog post. This topic would typically be something your users really care about.

How do you find out what users want to read? By using tools like the Google Keyword Planner, KeyWordTool.io or the Moz Keyword Analysis Tool, you will discover the most popular keywords that users are looking for in your specific domain. Write dedicated posts about one or at the most two keywords – thus automatically making your content keyword rich.

Optimizing your on-page SEO is another critical part of having your blog discovered. Invest in free (or paid, if you can afford them) SEO plugins like Yoast or All-in-One SEO, which optimize various aspects of your page without too much manual effort from your end. If you want to take your on-page SEO a notch higher, make your meta data work for you.

Spend time on creating great meta descriptions for each post that will inform your reader what your post is about straight from the search results page.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 12.02.51 pm

Make it a habit to cross reference posts on your blog in new posts that you write, and link to them – this increases visibility for old content and makes it more authentic from the point of view of a search engine.

A key platform that you MUST harness to promote your blog is social media. Put up links to your latest blog post on social networks like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn depending on what type of audience you’re targeting. Organic posts on social media can only take you so far. If your budget permits, create a serious advertising plan on social media platforms to market your blog.

Related:
Tips and Tricks to Nail Facebook Advertising
The Lowdown on Facebook Advertising, and What We’ve Found Works Really Well

One of the first steps you need to take once your blog is live is to work towards collecting a strong subscriber list. A prominent subscription widget on every page accompanied by maybe a lightbox message as the reader moves to exit your blog are good options to start quick. All it takes is one email to your entire subscriber base to jumpstart your readership.

Take up speaking opportunities at local events in your field to widen your audience and raise your reputation in your niche. Attending workshops related to your field exposes you to experts who can help you through both information and contacts from their industry networks.

In Closing

Data shows that 77% of all internet users read blogs.

With half the world’s population now online, that makes it 2.3 billion people who form your potential audience.

Equal portions of hard work and digital marketing savvy tempered with a dash of patience result in a smash-hit blog. Give it a shot. Your blog will thank you for it.

Pratik Dholakiya is the Co-Founder and VP of Marketing of E2M, a digital marketing agency and MoveoApps, a mobile apps development company. Pratik has contributed on sites like Moz, Fast Company, Social Media Examiner, KISSmetrics, and Content Marketing Institute to name a few. He’s a ‘must follow’ SEO expert according to Search Engine Watch and has been named one of the top content marketing influencers by Onalytica. He’s passionate about fitness, entrepreneurship, startups and all things digital marketing.

How to Create Awesome Content From Your Next Event Experience

Image via Flickr user richard.scott1952

Image via Flickr user richard.scott1952

This is a guest contribution from trade show expert Peter Symonds. 

Over the last few years, content marketing has grown from a marketing tactic used to generate publicity and inform customers, into an essential strategy for promoting any startup, SME or large company online.

The basics of content marketing are fairly simple: publish great content that solves your audience’s most common problems, informs them of the latest developments in your industry or teaches them something new and helpful.

Coming up with the strategy is often straightforward. Coming up with the content, on the other hand, can be tougher. From startups to small businesses, many companies’ content marketing campaigns burn out due to a lack of ideas.

If your business exhibits at trade shows or appears at other events, you have a great opportunity to get new content ideas – as well as detailed interviews – from the attendees and influencers you interact with during the event.

In this guide, we’ll share four techniques that you can use to create amazing content for your company blog, YouTube channel, guest blogging campaign, or other content marketing strategy from your next event.

Learn your target audience’s biggest pain points

The most effective company blogs discuss their audience’s pain points. Pain points are issues that your target audience is struggling with – inefficiencies in production or marketing, for example, or problems collecting payments from their customers.

Understanding your audience’s pain points is the key to closing sales and, online, an essential element of creating engaging content that your readers don’t just scan and close, but truly connect with and share.

Use your next event as an opportunity to learn more about your audience’s top pain points by interviewing people who visit you, or the people you meet. Ask them what issues they currently face, what they’re struggling with and what they want to improve.

Prospects are usually eager to answer questions and engage in conversation, unlike online. A quick and simple interview performed on 50+ prospects at a trade show, conference, or networking event will give you greater insight into your audience’s pain points than a month-long online customer survey.

Once you understand your target audience’s pain points, you’ll have a deeper level of understanding about what they want to read, listen to and watch. Dedicate each new blog post to a different pain point and you’ll command attention online.

Take note of the 10 biggest pain points mentioned by your target audience. Break each point down into smaller, highly-focused topics to fill your editorial calendar for the next few months with engaging content.

Build a network of influencers and content promoters

Events can be great places to meet prospective clients and customers. They’re also great places to meet people in a similar situation to you – startup founders and marketers eager to grow their businesses, often through content marketing.

12 months ago, online helpdesk startup Groove had a company blog full of engaging, interesting content. They also had virtually no readers – a situation that many online businesses and startups can certainly relate to.

Groove now has one of the technology startup world’s most popular blogs, with over 1,000 shares on their average blog post and hundreds of thousands of readers. Their promotional strategy was simple: build a network of influencers and promoters.

Building an influencer list over email takes a lot of time. At a trade show, however, it takes only a few minutes of conversation to get to know someone within your niche or industry and discuss how you can work together to promote each other’s content.

Reach out to other marketers and entrepreneurs at your next event and build a list of influencers. Afterwards, invite everyone to a private Skype group, email list, or online community to promote each other’s content via social media.

It only takes a few retweets and status updates to give your next blog post the traction it needs to reach thousands of readers. Focus on building your network at your next trade show and you’ll never worry about content promotion again.

Ask your customers about their favourite blogs and websites

Knowing what your customers struggle with will help you discover new topics and trends to write about. Knowing what your customers already like to read will show you exactly where you should be promoting your content in the future.

From industry forums that attract your target audience to popular blogs that could be major marketing platforms for you, chat to your customers about what they like to read online and you’ll discover hundreds of content ideas and opportunities.

Over the last year, many technology companies have discovered that the “biggest” blogs and aggregators – places like TechCrunch and Hacker News – aren’t quite as valuable as they thought. They send lots of traffic, but rarely is it qualified.

Smaller blogs and communities, on the other hand, are often highly responsive to good content. While they don’t send as much traffic as the big names, the traffic is highly qualified, focused and genuinely interested in learning more.

Don’t just use your next trade show or conference as an opportunity to discover new content ideas for your business – use it to discover where your customers hang out online and the topics they like to read about.

Interview influencers and thought leaders in your industry

Connecting with influencers – entrepreneurs, scientists, columnists, authors and the other well-known people within your industry – is tough. They’re often too busy for the phone, unresponsive via email and surrounded by assistants and other people.

At a conference or networking event, however, many of your industry’s most recognisable names will be far less defensive. They’ll be interested in learning more about your brand and may even provide a short interview about themselves or trends in your industry.

Many marketers are scared to ask for an interview with an established person. The most common fear is that asking for an interview is too selfish and self-promotional – after all, it’s incredibly helpful for your brand’s reputation and credibility.

Most influencers benefit just as much from a video interview for your company blog or YouTube channel as you do. It gives them a new audience, new exposure and the publicity they need for their careers. It benefits both of you in the same way.

Before your next event, reach out to your industry’s influencers via Twitter or email (here’s a helpful guide to getting them to notice your emails) and try to set up an interview. You may be surprised by how many positive responses you receive.

More content ideas

  • Invest in photography – you’ll be surprised how much you can use high-quality images from the event in company literature, on your website, on social media and even for link building
  • Conduct a quick industry-relevant survey of visitors to your booth – use a prize draw as incentive to enter and use the findings to create a press release to promote awareness of your business.
  • Create a time-lapse video of the traffic to your booth throughout the day to document your trade show experience
  • Live blog or Tweet the events of the day as it unfolds using the official event hashtag, offering key tips to those who couldn’t make it
  • Publish a round-up post of 10/25/100 key takeaways from the event and ask the organisers to promote it via social media
  • Make your blog posts more visual and interactive by embedding Tweets, Instagram images and Facebook posts from the event

Are you getting the most from your event attendance?

Events are great opportunities to generate leads and close deals. However, if you think of them purely as sales-focused events, you could be missing out on blog and video content that could strengthen your brand and help your company grow.

Are you really getting the most from your attendance? Treat your next conference or trade show as a sales and content opportunity, and you’ll walk away with both a stack of names and business cards and enough great content ideas to last for the next 12 months.

Peter Symonds is a trade show marketing expert from Display Wizard. For more practical tips on how to increase the ROI of your trade show marketing, download the Display Wizard Guide to Exhibiting at a Trade Show.

 

 

5 Advanced Techniques I Use To Make Money On My Blog

 

This is a guest contribution from blogger Erin Bender from Travel With Bender

Similar to the background story of many bloggers, my blog was born into this world because a friend asked me to write one.

In 2012 I commenced a worldwide open-ended nomadic adventure with my husband and two children, and blogging seemed like a great idea. A blog was the perfect vehicle to share our stories to everyone I cared about back at home without the need for endless repetition.

Have a blog and are thinking of earning an income with it? Erin Bender of Travel With Bender shares her 5 Advanced techniques to Monetize Your Blog on ProBlogger.net

It wasn’t until I met another blogger a few months later that she revealed to me a secret. A secret so potent that I may be strung up for revealing it now. But I have to. I can’t stay silent.

You can make money from your blog. Gasp!

And so for the past three years I have experimented with multiple strategies all stemming from this one spark. Today I want to share with you a taste of the wealth and knowledge I’ve gained.

So buckle up. This is one ride you are going to want to bookmark.

Before I get started: my blog is focused on travel, but these same strategies can work for most industries: technology, fashion, food, finance, kids and more.

These particular strategies I’m sharing are not the typical steps most newbies read about, such as monetizing with AdSense, or the Amazon affiliate program. You really need a lot of traffic to make a decent income from AdSense. I’m talking about making a full-time income without needing hundreds of thousands of visitors each month.

The starting point to monetizing your blog is your audience. Few people will give you money just because you’re awesome (wouldn’t that be cool!). They will do it because you have a decent sized (and relevant) audience and you know how to wield your influence. So once you have built your followers on social media, newsletters subscribers and regular visitors, how do you turn those into an income stream month after month?

5 Advanced Techniques I Use To Make Money On My Blog

1. Content Creation: When A Brand Asks You To Write For Them

Content creation takes place in many forms from freelance article writing, to video blogging, to expert guides, and more. Perhaps you didn’t think about reaching out to those promotion partners you’re working with. Take travel for example – a free press trip as a source of fresh new content on your own blog is great, but when you can also create valuable content for the brand’s blog or magazine, then that’s when you can ask for payment.

Sometimes the brand may be hard to convince up front. However once they see your own blog post, go back to them again. If they’ve loved your work and you’ve developed a strong rapport, often they will be want you to write for their publication.

2. Photography: Offering A Brand Your Images

So this may not be for everyone, but if you are taking killer shots then you should be working it. Offer the brand you’re working a fixed package upfront, which includes 5 or 10 royalty-free images. If you have examples of photos other people have already purchased from you then the sales pitch is much easier.

Most brands are in constant need of high quality photography of their product, service or destination, and your offer can make their life easier. If your forte is in video, then this same approach applies to video editing too.

3. Product Reviews: When A Brand Wants You To Be Honest

Payment for product reviews is not about buying a good review.

So let me start with a few cautions – to make your life easier, choose products you already know or think you will love. Keep reviews honest. Let the brand know of any complications or negatives upfront to see if they have a response and offer to publish those responses alongside the negatives you’re highlighting. Then ask for payment.

You are not being paid for your gushing assessment; you are asking payment for the exposure you are providing to their product or service.

We generally maintain a minimum value threshold for product reviews, and if there is an item value under that amount then we require payment. Think about all the work it took to grow your social media following and now you are receiving delayed payment for that hard work.

Have a blog and are thinking of earning an income with it? Erin Bender of Travel With Bender shares her 5 Advanced techniques to Monetize Your Blog on ProBlogger.net

4. Competitions: When A Brand Wants To Give Stuff Away

Running a competition is a smart technique for generating new social followers and making your readers feel great, but it takes a lot of time. Time to set it up, promote it each day, and pick a winner. Time you could be paid for.

Similar to the product reviews, there may be a minimum payment threshold of items to give away, but if that is not met, ask for payment. The brand has approached you, because they want to reach your audience that you have worked so hard to build. Don’t feel like it’s worth anything less than what you are asking.

If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at Gleam, it makes setting up a competition a breeze.

5. Brand Ambassador: When Long Term Relationships Take The Next Step

When we started our nomadic journey I purchased travel insurance. I then reached out to them after a year and suggested writing for their website. We worked like that for another year. After two years they approached me to expand the relationship, which we built into a brand ambassadorship.

A brand ambassador role can encompass many tasks, but the main task is to promote the brand you’ve partnered with so you want to make sure it’s a product or service you believe in, and one that is a tight fit for your audience.

Tasks might include writing about them occasionally within your regular blog posts, writing for their blog, social media promotion, competitions, event attendance and more. Some ambassadorships are in exchange for products, others may generate a monetary compensation. Each arrangement is unique and requires negotiation to achieve a win-win situation.

I sincerely hope I am still alive after revealing these secrets of the trade. If you dare to share, what ways are you make money from your blog?

Erin has been travelling with her husband and two children since May 2012. It’s an open-ended, unplanned, round-the-world trip discovering amazing places for families. They have stayed in hostels and 5 star luxury resorts, travelled on scooters and cruise liners, danced with leprechauns and cuddled tigers. Nothing is out of bounds or out of reach for this remarkable Australian family. You can find unique family travel insights at her award-winning travel blog, follow her on Facebook, Pinterest or catch her tweeting on Twitter.

5 Psychological Blocks that Stop Bloggers Going from Good to Great

This is a guest contribution from Dr Alice Boyes.

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Image via Flickr user Alessandra

 

Blogging is a world of infinite opportunity, but sometimes what’s holding you back is you. Check out these common problems and some suggested solutions to help you kick it up to the next level.

1. Imposter syndrome. 

Imposter syndrome is when, despite your accomplishments, you still feel like a fraud.

As a consequence, you might: avoid networking with people who objectively are at or slightly above your level, avoid reaching for certain opportunities, and avoid pitching yourself. You might imagine other people thinking “Who does s/he think she is?” if you were to approach them.

When you don’t see yourself as a successful, professional blogger you’re less likely to act that way. For example, you may find you’re not regularly stepping up to larger and larger opportunities as your blogging career progresses. Therefore, imposter syndrome can sometimes become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Solutions:

  • Evaluate the objective evidence of your accomplishments.
  • Remind yourself that even if you feel like an imposter, it’s just a thought and having a thought doesn’t make it true. Even if the thought doesn’t go away, if you recognize it as just a thought, you can remove any negative impact.
  • Give yourself self-compassion for how you feel.
  • Ask yourself what you’d be doing differently with your blogging if you didn’t have a sense of imposter syndrome, and do that.

 2. Avoidance coping

Avoidance coping is when you avoid doing the things that objectively should be your highest priority. For example, you avoid writing a pitch to speak at an important industry conference, even though you see it as your best, current opportunity to make a big break through.

Avoidance is usually driven by anxiety, and/or feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of doing something for the first time. You might notice yourself keeping busy doing lower priority tasks but avoiding the tasks you feel intimidated by that could really help you level up with your blogging career.

Solutions:

  • Be mindful of when you’re doing less important tasks too often (e.g., checking stats) and put some limits in place for how often you do these tasks. You can use apps like Stayfocusd to help you.
  • Keep your to-do list simple. Make a point to clearly identify what your number #1 task is so that you have no excuses for not getting it done.
  • Keep a balance between working on everyday tasks like pumping out new articles, and the the types of tasks that could dramatically advance your blogging career.

 3. All-or-nothing thinking

An example of all or nothing thinking might be that you think you need to create witty, Pinterest quote-pics for every single one of your 500 past blog posts. A more achievable option might be that you do this for 10 of your most popular posts.

Sometimes we fail to see decent, middle ground options and get overwhelmed by the “perfect” but unacheivable option.

Solutions:

  • If you feel overwhelmed by something you know you “should” be doing, then scale the task back to the point it doesn’t feel overwhelming. Choose only the part of the task that you think will give you the highest ROI.

4. Running your willpower tank to empty

With blogging, there are a virtually unlimited amount of things you *could* be doing to enhance your success. In reality, it’s impossible to do all of these things. If you find yourself trying to do too much, you’re likely to get caught in the trap of not seeing the big picture and therefore focussing on the wrong things. For example, you’ve committed to blogging everyday and it’s so time consuming that you don’t step back to analyze whether that frequency is actually the most effective.

Solutions:

  • Take micro-breaks throughout the day. Part of the allure of being a blogger is being able to take 5 minutes to sit outside in the sun, anytime you want. Use that opportunity!
  • Take some longer breaks away from the computer e.g., an overnight trip away. Physically getting out of your home environment will help you interrupt your pattern of being constantly attached to your computer, and help you step back and refresh your perspective.

 5. Unwillingness to tolerate knock backs

No matter how well prepared you are, or what great pitch emails you write, there will be times when people say “No” to you, give you critical feedback, or flat out don’t respond.

You don’t need to turn yourself into a robot who is insensitive to these things, but you do need to be willing to tolerate the resulting uncomfortable feelings. You might find yourself ruminating (overthinking) about criticism you receive or mentally rehashing what you could have done differently. If you are prone to rumination, then learn some strategies for dealing with it (my book has a whole chapter full of them).

Solutions:

  • Expect a 50% success rate rather than a 100% success rate. If your success rate when you try new things is much higher than 50%, you’re probably aiming too low.
  • Accept your sensitivity rather than fighting against it. Allowing yourself to experience your natural reactions and using simple strategies like quick mindfulness meditations, helps negative feelings pass quickly.

For many more practical tips like these, check out my book (and the endorsement from Chris Guillebeau).

What are your best tips for dealing with those times when you are holding yourself back from doing things you know you should?

Dr Alice Boyes is author of The Anxiety Toolkit: Strategies for fine-tuning your mind and moving past your stuck points (Perigee), emotions expert for Women’s Health magazine (AU), and a popular blogger for PsychologyToday.com. You can get the first chapter of her book for free by subscribing to her blog updates here.

 

 

How to Get Top Bloggers to Share Your Content and Boost Your Traffic.

This is a guest contribution from copywriter Robin Geuens.

Can I ask you a question?

When you published your first post, did you think youíd get lots of traffic? Did you think that everybody couldn’t wait to comment on a job well done? Did you?

I know I sure did.

But then reality kicked in.

In reality, you publish your first article and nobody reads it. Instead of receiving floods of traffic, you look around and realize your blog is located in a desert with not a single drop of traffic in sight.

The thing is, you’re not alone.

That desert is littered with abandoned blogging dreams. You’re surrounded by people who started out excited, but gave up because there was no one to appreciate their hard work.

Now Imagine this

Imagine what would happen to your motivation if you saw people sharing your articles and discussing what you said right off the bat.

Do you think you’d keep going?

I’m pretty sure you would. It would make things a lot more fun.

Most blogs die because people don’t know how to get that initial piece of feedback. They’re so busy writing, that they forget to do the one thing that matters most as a beginner:

Putting your content in front of people that can make a difference.

You see, when you create good content and you put it in front of the right people, it could get the initial burst of publicity it needs to become popular.

But reaching out to big bloggers can be pretty scary when you start out. You’re opening yourself up to being rejected by the people you admire.

Not fun.

So how do we overcome this?

Simple: you include them in the process.

When you include them, you both get something out of it. You help them position themselves as an authority, and they help you promote your post.

You help them, they help you. Networking 101.

Now, one thing I want to make clear before we get into the tactics is that you have to make sure it’s a win for both of you. Don’t just reach out to influencers because you need someone to promote your content. Make them look good, promote them, and they’ll gladly help you.

Also, don’t try to apply all these techniques all at once. Pick one and apply it. I’ll provide a cheatsheet at the end so you can look at the other techniques whenever you want to.

5 techniques you can apply right now

There are a couple of ways you can get influencers to share your content. The first and easiest one is:

1)Include them in a roundup

Roundups are great because they’re fairly easy to make and they’re really popular. You can make a roundup of the best bloggers, the best articles, or even the best quotes.

They’re great for a promotional point of view as well because they give you a ton of opportunities to reach out.

Here’s a good example: In his post, Robbie Richards made a list of 80 online marketing experts you should keep an eye on in 2015.

He put a lot of time and effort into making sure the reader and the expert got a lot out of it.

Roundup Example

A couple of things to note

  1. He added a link to their site.
  2. He picked three articles you should read.
  3. He added a link to their twitter accounts

All these things make it easier for readers to get to know these bloggers.

The next thing you do is contact every single expert on your list and let them know you included them in your roundup. You’ve got a really high chance of getting your content shared if you do.

Shared by influencers

2) Ask for a quote

Another way you can include influencers in your post is by asking them for a quote.

I love this technique because:

  • You’re building relationships with people you admire
  • You learn something
  • The credibility of your article goes through the roof
  • The experts get to position themselves as an authority and share their knowledge with a new audience

The key to making this technique work is to be very clear with what you want to ask. Asking a marketing expert “how do you become good at marketing?” isn’t going to cut it. It’s a vague question that will get you a vague (or no) answer.

A while ago I was writing a post about why people don’t trust landing pages. To make the article better, I asked experts what their best tip was. Here’s the email I sent them.

“Hi (blogger)

I know youíre busy so I’ll keep it brief.

I’m writing an article about 10 reasons why people don’t trust landing pages ( too much hype, pop-ups, cringe worthy stock images,…) and wanted to show my readers how the pros do it.

If you could give someone one tip to improve the trustworthiness of their landing pages, what would it be?

Of course, I’ll include a link to (blog).

Thanks in advance and have a nice day!
Robin”

One of the people I emailed was marketing legend Neil Patel. He got back to me within a day with some great advice.

Neil Patel Advice

Once the article was done I emailed him to check if I there was anything about his quote that he wanted to see changed (after all, it’s his advice).

Later that day he tweeted the article to his 110k+ followers on twitter, which resulted in a nice spike of traffic to my new blog.

Traffic results from one tweet

One important thing to note is that you need to have systems in place to convert that traffic into subscribers. I dropped the ball on that one and lost out on a couple of them. Lesson learned.

3) Apply an influencer’s advice and show them the results

The best way you can make an influencer look good is to take their advice, apply it, and show them the results (preferably good ones).

It’s a great feeling when someone takes your advice and has success with it.

To do this, go to your favorite blog and look for any “how-to” content you can apply. Here are some examples from Problogger:

You could read that last article, apply it, and show Darren how applying his advice got you more comments. You could even turn it into a guest post.

Let me give you a real example. A couple of months ago I read a post by Brian Dean from backlinko. His article was about how to create content that gets a lot of traffic. I thought it was great so I tried it out.

When my article was done and I did everything Brian had explained, I sent him a quick email showing him the result. Hereís the email and his reply.

Email Brian Dean

4) Interview them

Interviews can be a good way to get your name out, but there can be a bit of a barrier to start doing it. Not everyone is comfortable interviewing people, let alone the people they look up to.

If you’re a little uncertain about it, I’d suggest starting out with just asking for advice like I talked about earlier. It’s a smaller, less intimidating form of interviewing.

A good example of someone who used interviews to build up his following is Andrew Warner from mixergy. He interviewed a ton of people, from marketing legend Seth Godin, to Tim Ferriss, to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

He’s become one of the most connected people on the internet. He learned a ton from talking to all these people and we get to learn with him.

A great way to get big names on your interview is to ask them right before they launch a new product or course. This gives them the chance to promote their new project and you get to ask them questions.

5) Reach out to people who liked similar content

Sometimes the simple and straightforward ways are the best. Just reaching out to people is one of those things. It might not be an exiting technique (it’s a bit boring to be honest), but it works.

Here’s how

Go to Buzzsumo and look for highly-shared articles around your topic. Make sure the articles are closely related to yours. Once you’ve found an article, look at who shared it.

For example, let’s say you created an article about landing page tips.

Finding sharers on Buzzsumo

Next thing you do is email or tweet the people who shared it and let them know that you’ve written an article they might like. You can send them something like this:

“Hey (name)

I noticed you tweeted about (name of the article).

I really like that article (thank you for sharing!). I actually created a more in-depth article about the same topic. I’d love to hear what you think of it. Here it is (link)

Again, thank you for sharing cool stuff

All the best

Robin”

I used this technique with my very first article. I sent about 30 emails and nine people shared it, which is not too shabby. Keep in mind that you’re emailing people out of the blue. Not everybody is going to respond or share your post.

What you should do next

The time where you could build a blog all by yourself is gone. You either have to find a way to work together with people bigger than you, or you’re going to have to spend a lot of time promoting your content.

I know all these techniques can be pretty overwhelming, so here’s what I want you to do

  1. Pick one technique you like and try it out.
  2. Let me know in the comments how it went.
  3. Keep this cheatsheet close so you can quickly check out the other techniques.

Good luck!

Robin Geuens is a copywriter who likes to help you write better emails, create better copy, and make awesome landing pages. You can find him at his blog, Conversionbase.

How Compassion International Uses Blogging to Save Lives

This is a guest contribution from Caitlin Gustafson.problogger - caitlin gustafsonI imagine a dirt road with boys playing with a lonely old soccer ball in the warm sunshine. A little boy with dark brown curls chases the ball, his worn sneakers kicking up dust from the street.

I don’t know if that’s what life is really like for Janair, my sponsor child from Honduras. But every time I get a hand-written letter in crayon, or I see a new picture of him, it’s what I imagine.

Compassion International is a non-profit organization that works in 26 countries around the world and is one of the few organizations that holds a 4-star rating from CharityNavigator.

Compassion was doing content marketing before it was in vogue and they consistently outperform other similar non-profits in their efforts. Though Compassion International uses many methods of content marketing, including video, Pinterest, direct mail, and email, a huge part of their success is tied to blogging.

According to Content Marketing Institute, 61% of Non-Profit marketers use content marketing, but only 35% say their efforts are effective. I’d venture a guess that the marketing team at Compassion International is within that 35%.

Company Blog

Every few days, Compassion International posts new stories to their blog. Some are communicated from field specialists, those who work directly with sponsored children and world relief projects. These are stories of heartbreak and hope for a brighter future. Some are inspirational pieces written to encourage sponsors to have more involved relationships with their sponsored children. Other stories are written by sponsored children who have overcome poverty through Compassion programs. Occasionally you will hear from a sponsor who tells how their involvement in Compassion has changed their life.

What makes the blog so engaging is how they manage to tell a story in each update. All of these are all personalized stories from people directly involved in their relief programs. They aren’t lists of ways to alleviate poverty, and individual blog posts aren’t likely to rank for any keywords in a Google search.

Somehow I doubt ranking for specific keywords is the intent with this blog. Instead, it’s a compelling collection of stories that keeps readers coming back, engaged, and committed to Compassion’s relief efforts.

 

A Network of Bloggers

Not only does Compassion keep an active blog that gets great engagement on social media and more, they have a network of over 350 affiliate bloggers to amplify their message to new audiences. Some of these bloggers are big names with lots of followers, such as author Ann Voskamp, or popular musical artist Shaun Groves. Compassion offers monthly assignments or writing prompts that bloggers can incorporate into their content calendars if they so choose.

Through this program each blogger is given a sponsor affiliate code and they can track how many children are sponsored through the links they use on their website. It’s a different rewards program than many affiliate networks, which reward bloggers with commissions or free product based on sales. Instead, this rewards program directly benefits the blogger’s sponsor child through family gifts that help impoverished families buy extra food, clothes, chickens, etc.

 

International Blogger Trips

Every so often, Compassion takes groups of sponsors overseas to meet the children they support. Bloggers often come on these trips and write about their experiences and encourage others to sign up and sponsor their own children using affiliate links. Myquillyn Smith from Nesting Place and Christy Jordan from Southern Plate are two popular bloggers that have taken part in such trips. Their stories have inspired many readers to sponsor their own children through Compassion International.

 

What Does This Mean For Me?

As a blogger, your website might not be dedicated to AIDS relief or ending poverty. So if you’re wondering how you can translate Compassion’s blogging success to your financial planning site, here’s my suggestion: readers want stories. It’s never been clearer that the most successful brands, advertisements, and blogs are the ones that tell a story. Ikea Spain’s Holiday commercial last year wasn’t about their furniture. It was about families and togetherness over the Holidays, and told as a story.

Lifestyle bloggers like Joy Cho, Joanna Goddard, and Kendi Skeen are popular because they connect with their readers through stories. KendiEveryday is a style blog – but readers love when she talks about her business ventures into opening her own clothing boutique. OhJoy is a mommy blogger that connects with readers by incorporating her recent pregnancy story into her regular blog content, like her “how to dress the bump” in each month of her pregnancy.

A blog about financial planning can be exciting if you can use it to tell readers how you got into the business of stocks and IRAs. Could you tell a client’s success story? Incorporating these stories into your regular blog content can only benefit your blog in the long run as it builds that personal relationship with your readers.

Caitlin Gustafson is an Online PR Specialist for Web Talent Marketing with a focus on content marketing and social media. You can find her blogging and tweeting about her two favorite things: digital marketing and travel.