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10 Ways To Stay Productive as a Work-at-Home Blogger

10 ways to stay productive as a work-at-home blogger - don't tell me you don't need these tips! On ProBlogger.net.This is a guest contribution from Larry Alton.

Working from home sounds like a pretty cushy job. You can wear whatever you like, eat as often as you want, text your friends, run errands, and be at home with your family, all while being employed. However, that list of things can often make it difficult to accomplish your work.

If you’re struggling to find a productive schedule as a freelance blogger, consider these tips.

Find Your Groove

Everyone has a groove that spurs productivity. Maybe you need to sit in your office chair with the lights off, blinds shut, and a fuzzy blanket on your lap. Or maybe you need to have a clear view of the sunshine and wear your lucky socks. Maybe your groove requires waking up and going straight to work without eating or showering. Everyone has a different groove, and if you find yours, you’ll find your most productive hours.

Dress Up

It’s pretty cool that you can go to work in your pajamas and fuzzy slippers, wrapped up in your Snuggie. However, that comfort zone may be your downfall. Wearing clothes that are too comfortable can often lead to a stronger desire to relax rather than work. Dressing up in your business professional clothing can help working at home feel more like working in an office, and you might find your productivity spike.

Manage Projects

Stay organized by managing your projects. Whether you write just one blog or you ghost write for 20, there are several tools you can use to stay organized both on the computer and off.

For example, there are software tools and apps that make invoicing, scheduling, and emailing extremely easy. Or if your projects aren’t very complex, you can use a simple white board to keep track of your daily tasks and mark them off as you go. Either way, stay organized to help you stay on track.

Remove Distractions

Email, cell phones, kids, roommates, pets, food, television—all of these are some of the most tempting distractions for freelance writers, and if you want to find productivity, you’ll get them out of the way. Go somewhere to work where you won’t be distracted by your surroundings, and set aside separate time to check your phone and email so that you’re not doing it during your most productive time.

Set Specific Work Hours

Scheduling your time is extremely important for having a constructive day if you make a schedule that works specifically for you. Choosing your own schedule is one of the better perks of working at home, after all.

When are your most productive hours? When do you work most slowly? Some bloggers have their most productive hours between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. Others have it from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Whatever time works best for you, make sure you build your schedule around that.

Make Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Goals

Both short and long-term goals do wonders for inspiring creativity and helping you stay productive. If you’re a work at home blogger, you’re probably goal oriented and deadline driven. Each day, write out your goals for your desired progress and tack it to your office wall. Similarly, define weekly and monthly goals that you’re constantly striving to achieve.

Log Out of Social Media

Social media is incredibly useful for promoting your writing and networking with others. However, when you’re supposed to be writing, it’s basically the antithesis of productivity. During your scheduled work hours, log out of social media. Better yet, block your favorite networks on your computer until a certain time or ask a trusted friend to change the password for you until you’ve finished your work for the day.

Make Time for Exercise

Sitting at your desk chair all day long not only contributes to lost muscle mass and definition, but it also makes you feel less alert and can contribute to lost productivity. When you stay stationary all day long, it can make you feel sleepier and fog your thoughts. Setting aside time for exercise on a daily basis can boost your efficiency by making you more alert and motivated, all while leading to a healthier lifestyle.

Eat Healthy Meals

Another thing that contributes to fatigue and lack of motivation is sugary, unhealthy food. These make it so that you don’t feel 100 percent, which makes it difficult to work efficiently. Healthy meals and reduced snacking on sugary treats can make you feel more alert and healthy, which enhances your abilities to perform your daily tasks.

Prepare the Day Before

As a work at home blogger, your schedule can fluctuate from day to day, but you can still benefit from preparing for your workload a day in advance. Write out all of the tasks you need to complete the next day and even a tentative schedule for completing them.

Furthermore, prepare yourself and your office space. You might set out your clothes or prepare your lunch. You might also clean up your office and pull out any resources you might need for the next day’s tasks. A cleaner, more prepared office makes it easy to go straight to work without worrying about a mess.

Further Reading: 5 Ways to Make Your Blogging Life Easier.

Productive blogging takes practice and a series of trial and error, but once you figure it out, the freer lifestyle is worthwhile.

How do you stay productive when goofing off is a more appealing option?

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

How One Couple Drastically Changed Their Life by Blogging

How blogging changed one average American couple's life / problogger.net.This is a guest contribution from Gina Horkey.

Two years ago, my husband and I were just like any other American couple.

We were both working in Corporate America, had a one and a half year old and another on the way. Our work schedules and commutes weren’t bad, we just weren’t doing work that we were passionate about.

Someone else was also raising our child. It could have been much worse – our son was maybe in daycare for 30 hours per week. And the provider was great! It just wasn’t what we wanted. Plus, with another on the way, daycare was about to get real expensive!

Since I’m not one to sit back and accept less-than-ideal circumstances, we decided to make some changes. Here’s our story of going from a dual income, Corporate America household, to a single earning one dependent on just my freelancing income. Buckle up!

Finding a Better Solution

Even though I was a financial advisor, we never thought it’d be possible for one of us to quit work and stay at home with our growing family. After a couple failed nanny attempts and the end of my pregnancy looming, we got desperate and finally entertained the idea.

My husband had always expressed interest in becoming a SAHD and my career was more promising at the time, so we set out to see if it was possible for him, the carrier of all benefits to quit.

By significantly cutting our expenses (cutting cable, reducing our dining out, raising our insurance deductibles, stopping our retirement savings, etc) we were just able to make it work!

Thank goodness we had the good sense to pay-off most of our debt the year or two before.

Fast Forward a Year

Our second child was going on a year old and Wade was enjoying staying at home. All should be well then, right?

Wrong. It should have been.

But I couldn’t help to acknowledge the growing discontent I was experiencing with my work. My clients were great and so were my colleagues. I just didn’t really enjoy talking and reading about investing, tax law or compliance all day long.

I tried to throw myself further into my career by enrolling in an accredited program and pitching a plan to buy into the larger practice. I began studying and we began talks to make it happen.

But then I realized it wasn’t what I really wanted. And I actually listened to myself for once.

Starting a Freelance Writing Side Hustle

So, I did what any other “normal” person did and turned to the world wide internet!

I explored my passions, my available options and started freelance writing on the side a little over a year ago. I secured an unpaid contributorship with The Huffington Post, got some samples by guest posting elsewhere and started my own blog.

I would get up every weekday morning at 4:30 and write for an hour or two before my family woke up and I had to get ready for work. I also had a four-day workweek at the time, so I used Fridays to work on my writing business as well.

I even hired a babysitter from time to time on the weekend to give Wade a break and get some time-sensitive client work done. It was fun, I saw the potential and I was committed to taking charge of my own career future.

All of my hard work and perseverance started to pay off. My income grew month-over-month and I figured out I really enjoyed this world of freelance. I had blogged socially for years, but this was the first time I was treating blogging like a business and reaping the financial rewards.

Putting In My Notice

Eventually things came to a head at work. I opened up about my freelance success and that I had changed my mind about what I wanted for my career future.

I was super nervous about it, but the conversation went better than I had expected. I had been an advisor for almost a decade at this point and with this particular practice for six years. We had a great relationship and I considered them almost like family. But it was hard to disappoint a father-figure!

Due to our great mutual respect, we worked out a plan for them to buy my small practice, for us to find my replacement (for the support duties I performed for the office) and that I’d have a long transition schedule to both train in said replacement and continue to build up my freelance career into a viable business that would support my family.

Becoming a Full-time Freelancer

Right around Christmas, 2014 I had my last day of work. I was now officially a full-time freelancer!

It was exhilarating and a bit frightening all at once. But now, six months later, I can happily say that I made the right decision.

I may work more than ever, but it’s work that I’m passionate about (I write, am a virtual assistant, coach newbie freelance writers and have a course to help aspiring writers for the web launch their own business in as little as 30 days). We also own our schedule, our time and choose how we get to spend it.

Better yet, we choose WHO we get to spend it with.

In Conclusion

Blogging changed our life.

We now decide our schedule, rather than our Corporate America jobs dictating it.

For us, it’s not about being rich or continuing to earn more money – it’s about defining and living out our own priorities, which just so happens to include spending as much time as we can raising our own children.

Want to know my favorite part of each workday now? Coming in for lunch with my family and laying my two toddlers down for their naps. I never would have been able to do that a year ago!

How would your life look different if you felt empowered to make big changes?
Gina Horkey is a writer for hire, with a background in personal finance. She also offers coaching services and really enjoys helping other freelancers gear up to quit their day jobs and take their side hustles full-time. Please stop by Horkey HandBook and say hello and download a free copy of 8 Tips to Start Your Freelance Career off on the Right Foot!

How to Drive Traffic to Your Blog Through Your Archived Material on Facebook

This is a guest contribution from Jonathan Goodman.

I love discovering systems that work in the background so you can focus on your blog.

What I’m going to detail is like the concept of compound interest.

At the beginning, the effects will be small  – but over time, as the system continues to work and you keep adding into it small bits, it becomes a monster.

It involves Facebook. And while much has been said about Facebook’s diminishing reach, it still stands as the best platform to find and gather a purposeful audience and promote a blog.

What I want to share with you isn’t how to spam. It’s not how to copy and paste a quote onto a pretty picture and hope that it somehow goes viral. And it’s definitely not how to steal somebody else’s video and upload it as your own. I want to share an intelligent way to generate a perpetual promotion engine.

A couple screenshots taken on a random day to show that I’m not some guy who just talks about this stuff. I use it to build my own site.

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But don’t get me wrong, this is not about vanity metrics like Facebook likes. It’s about email list growth.

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A good string of days for email growth, admittedly, but it does happen. 150-350 email leads per day, much of it from Facebook, is where the site sits at right now and each week those numbers continue to inch up.

So what is this magical system?

First, it’s nothing magical.

This is about embedding videos from your Facebook page on your blog. After showing you how to do it, I’ll describe the power with it for promoting your blog and gaining leads. Beyond that there’s a few details to generate more traction both on your videos on your blog.

First, the tech stuff

In order for the embed to render on a WordPress site, you’ll likely have to embed some code into your site. I’m technologically illiterate but sent this post from Facebook to my web guy.

From there, it’s easy. Here’s a walk through:

Step 1: Upload a video to Facebook (sharing a YouTube link won’t work. You’ll have to upload the video manually)

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Step 2: Navigate to the videos permalink page by clicking on the date just under the video’s name.

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Step 3: Click the “embed video” link on the bottom right side.

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Step 4: Copy the embed code that pops up.

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Step 5: Paste the embed code into the HTML editor of a blog post wherever you want the video to appear.

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On the top is the technical mumbo-jumbo and beneath it is how the video renders on your site. The above is from an article that serves as a good example of this system teaching how to fix butt wink in the squat.

Note: You can take any video from any page on Facebook and embed it into your blog the same as you’d embed a YouTube video. Not a bad idea but you miss the real value of these embeds.

Now that you know how to embed videos, let’s look at all the components of the video once it renders on your site:

The video will show two ways: One if it’s not currently being played, and one if it is.

If the video isn’t being played there’s three places to click other than the play button:

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Along with the clickable parts, the existing video views on the bottom left adds a level of social proof.

The video name – takes the user to the video’s permalink page hosted on your Facebook page.

Your Facebook page name – takes the user to your Facebook page.

The Facebook logo – takes the user to the video’s permalink page hosted on your Facebook page.

Note: All links open in a new window so don’t worry about it navigating the user away from your blog post.

If the video is currently being played there are five places to click other than the regular video navigation buttons:

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The video name – takes the user to the video’s permalink page hosted on your Facebook page.

Your Facebook page name – takes the user to your Facebook page.

A Facebook “like” button – The user can “like” the video right from your blog.

A Facebook “share” button – The user can share the video right from your blog.

The Facebook logo – takes the user to the video’s permalink page hosted on your Facebook page.

Now comes the ninja stuff

Facebook’s putting a big push on video. They autoplay all over your feed and spammy videos stolen by unscrupulous page owners are everywhere.

Before going further – don’t steal videos! I’m sure that you see other disrespectful page owners doing it. Not only is it illegal but you’ll also get shut down. It’s simply a matter of time. I’ll show you the different ways to get videos to use in a bit.

The first benefit to using video on Facebook is that it has a high organic reach.

You can then embed that same video into as many blog posts as possible. As you’ve seen above, each video embed has a number of different options to generate traffic for your Facebook page but also share and/or like your video directly from your blog.

Having a video embedded into your blog will also increase the average time a user spends on your site decreasing “bounce time.”

Facebook views your page as more valuable if users click a link from your page and stay there for longer. It’s also an important determinant for search engine visibility.

That’s not the fun part – this is:

In August of 2013, Facebook announced a change to its algorhithm called “story bumping.” Facebook’s old formula, while not completely known, was largely determined by something they called “time decay” — if your status update was more than a few hours old, there’s not much chance it would ever be seen again.

Story bumping changed things. If an old status update (i.e., a video) is getting new interaction, Facebook will selectively “bump” this story to the top of the news feed for people who haven’t seen it.

Both users of your page who didn’t see it the first time and new users who might be highly relevant to you based off friends of theirs who “like” your page.

The result is that old, archived (video) status updates that are getting new interaction can and do get “bumped” to new viewers. The result, well, looks something like this every time that you log in when you do it right:

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Two random screenshots of my notifications list for the page. In the second one you see 11 different things being shared within a 12-hour period.

And this process compounds upon itself. I can’t login to Facebook after leaving for a few hours without at least 40 new notifications (that’s 40 different things happening when I was gone. 100 people sharing one status update counts as one).

I should also note that all shares and interaction are not equal. Aim to share high-value materials and include a call-to-action to join your email list on almost every one.

Interaction is the name of the game. What I’m about to describe will get you interaction perpetually on old status updates. Archived materials go to work for you while you sleep finding you new readers and email subscribers.

Here’s why: Embedding videos into blog posts allows them to sit forever on your blog. A user who sifts through your archives and “likes” a video embed from a year ago could cause that video status update to “bump” in Facebook, thereby showing it to new users who then bump it more and give it new life.

Apart from hoping that old blog posts rank in search engines or users sifting through your archives, we also re-share old articles periodically on our page. An old article share with three Facebook embeds is like sharing four status updates at once.

Let’s say all get interaction and all have a call to action for a squeeze page at the bottom. Now you’ve got four status update sharing to four different audiences, all promoting your email opt-in.

How to Generate Videos to Use?

To share videos you’ve got to have ones that you own or have permission to use, obviously, but too often people scrape videos and upload them as their own without permission. Here are three ways to get videos to use:

Scrape your own YouTube channel: If you’ve got an existing archive of videos on YouTube, start systematically uploading them to Facebook one at a time. We do 6-10/week now. YouTube is Google property and Facebook will look at them as unique content.

Ask for permission: I never did much with YouTube, so asked a few dozen fitness coaches who had great channels to repurpose their videos at my discretion on my Facebook page. I’ve got access to over 2500 videos to use. In the video description I give full attribution with links to the owner’s materials and make sure to note whom the video belongs to and that it’s used with permission.

Film your own: For every article that you write, film a 1-2 minute video highlighting the benefits of the main points. Upload this video to Facebook first and embed it into the blog post.

After you’ve started to upload some videos, you can organize them into playlists on your video page as well.

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Some notes on the small details to get more out of your videos

Generally videos lasting 1-2 minutes work best. That said, I’ve had 10-minute videos that have done well, but they’ve got to be good.

The title and video description is where most miss the mark. A video simply uploaded to Facebook won’t drive a lot of email opt-ins or generate a lot of videos if you don’t do it right.

Write the video meta-data the same as you’d write a sales letter:

Title – Give the video a short, descriptive and punchy title.

Lede – Use 1-2 short sentences to hook the reader and expound upon the benefits that he/she will gain from the video.

Steps to solving (optional) – I’m not sold on the importance on this yet. We’ve got to do more research, but it doesn’t seem to hurt. Add a paragraph or bullet list summarizing the actionable steps gone over in the video to achieve the benefits in the title/lede.

Call to action – Tell them what to do next. I use a short line to first identify them as a personal trainer and then entice them to come to the PTDC’s about page (that we use as an email opt-in).

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“Set it and forget it” systems that work for you and get better with time are fun to discover. Facebook video embeds aren’t being used but can explode views on your website, generate a perpetual audience to your old material, and grow your email list.

I hope it works as well for you as it has for us.

Jonathan Goodman likes to think and experiment with better ways to “do” new media and live a fun, successful, and fulfilling life. He’s been called “Sun Tzu” buried under 40 layers of fun. If you want to know more about high-potency Facebook promotion, click here to claim a free guide to improve the reach of your status updates.

9 Habits of Bloggers Who Have Huge Audiences

9 Habits of Bloggers Who Have Huge AudiencesThis is a guest contribution from Jeff Foster.

If you’re just starting out as a blogger, you’re probably wondering how to grow your audience.

The good news is that there’s a lot you can learn from bloggers who have already built an enormous following – no matter what they blog about, great bloggers share a number of habits that make them successful. If you’re diligent about developing these habits yourself, you too can build an army of loyal supporters.

Let’s look at why highly successful bloggers truly connect with their audience:

1. They are Passionate About Their Subject

When you’re truly excited, it comes across in your writing – it arouses your audience and makes them feel that you have something worth saying. Don’t pick a blog niche just because there are lots of potential readers, write about something you truly care about, and readers will come flocking. In any case, if you’re not deeply passionate about your subject, chances are you’ll get bored and abandon your blog very quickly.

2. They Take the Time to Make Themselves Experts

People read blogs because they want unique insights and interesting points of view. If you just repeat what other bloggers are saying, then you’re not adding any value.

You need to take the time to become a true expert. If you’re passionate about your subject, this should be a labor of love – not a burden. Read widely and keep up with the latest news so that you have your finger on the pulse of your subject.

Engage in social media – not just your own blog – to build your knowledge and have meaningful discussions. By making learning a lifelong process, you’ll give your readers something that they just can’t get anywhere else.

3. They Create Incredibly Useful Content

Not only are top bloggers experts, they also give their readers genuinely helpful information.

Don’t just focus on expressing your own views – think about what your audience wants to know, and then give them this information.

For example, if you blog about cooking, ask kitchen equipment manufacturers for product samples. Then try these samples out, and tell your readers what you think. On the other hand, if you’re a fashion blogger, make the effort to go to real fashion shows and give your followers a first-hand account of what went on.

4. They’re Prolific

To grow a huge audience for your blog, you need to keep your readers coming back. Sure, it’s important to add new readers all the time, but if your existing audience is drifting away, then you’re fighting an uphill battle.

The way to build a loyal following is to produce lots of fresh content – every day if possible. This doesn’t mean you should write for the sake of writing – fuzz and fluff are useless. You have to deliver concise, insightful material on a regular basis – it’s tough to do this, but the more you try, the easier it gets.

5. They’re Motivated Self-Starters

The great thing about blogging is that you don’t have a boss telling you what to do – it’s also one of the biggest challenges.

No one is going to force you to sit down and write that next blog post, or tell you to go out and interview industry experts. What you do has to come from within yourself. Unless you can get up each morning and tear into life with a fresh appetite, you’re going to struggle. That’s why it’s so important to be passionate about your subject – if you believe in what you’re doing, then staying motivated is much easier.

6. They Know How to Manage Their Time

As a blogger, it’s so easy to waste time. There are countless ways to pretend to yourself that you’re getting useful work done. For instance, you may find it fun to play around with the latest plug-ins for your blog – but you need to ask yourself whether this is the best use of your time.

Successful bloggers look at their time as a precious resource – they plan ahead, schedule activities, and then do what they say they’re going to do. Everything in their plan is there for a reason. If something isn’t in the plan, it isn’t a priority.

7. They Persist

Even the most successful bloggers have setbacks. Not all of your blog posts will hit the mark, and you’re going to get turned down again and again by people you want to interview.

It’s easy to get discouraged, but to succeed you need to carry on. Talent isn’t enough – there are lots of skilled bloggers who don’t succeed because they can’t keep going when the going gets tough. The best bloggers are determined and won’t take no for an answer – if something doesn’t work, they just move on to their next great idea.

8. They Engage in Meaningful Dialogs With Their Readers

A blog isn’t a lecture. The best bloggers listen to their readers and create a dynamic community.

By responding positively to what their readers say, answering their questions, and engaging in meaningful conversations, they make their readers feel like they belong. This in turn creates a deep bond and a sense of trust – turning readers into impassioned supporters.

9. They Build Strong Relationships With Other Bloggers

Blogging isn’t a competition.

Great bloggers take the time to build relationships with other bloggers. They leave thoughtful comments, share other bloggers’ posts and even get in contact with them directly. If you do this, you’ll get amazing insights that you can share with your own blog readers. Equally important, connecting with other bloggers gives you exposure and helps you to build your audience. When you build a relationship with other successful bloggers, they’ll be the first to talk about what you do. Just make sure that you’re completely genuine. You have to truly care about what other bloggers are saying – otherwise you’ll just come across as engaging in cynical promotion, and they’ll spot you a mile away.

Jeff Foster is co-founder and CEO at Tomoson, the influencer marketplace. The platform allows bloggers and social media influencers to get paid for posting sponsored content, and lets businesses connect with targeted, niche audiences.

3 Growth Hacking Strategies for Bloggers to Quadruple Their Blog Traffic without SEO

This is a guest contribution from Anil Agarwal.

Who else wants more blog traffic?

Hands down, everyone wants it.

Unfortunately getting traffic to a blog is not easy. Every single visitor counts.

One of the hardest things for most bloggers is boosting their blog traffic. If you have a fairly new blog, it’s definitely a daunting task.

The #1 reason most bloggers quit is because they don’t see any growth in their traffic.

If you’re one among them, this article is for you! We’ll discuss a few growth-hacking tips to grow your blog traffic without actually doing any SEO. Are you ready?

What is growth hacking all about?

Growth hacking is the trending keyword phrase these days. It was first introduced by startup marketer Sean Ellis to redefine the startup marketing role.

Growth hacking is a method of achieving incredible growth by using non-traditional strategies.

In simple terms, growth hacking means driving measurable results by focusing on what WORKS! It is similar to 80-20 rule, identifying the 20% of your activities that will result in 80% of the gain. When you apply growth hacking, you’ll get more results in less time by focusing on the things that matter.

So how can you use growth hacking techniques to increase your overall traffic?

1. Reverse engineer your content creation

The simplest way to increase your blog traffic is to create more content, right?

Wrong.

Posting articles daily is simply not going to help. You need to write content that attracts more links, shares and comments from others. How can you do that?

You simply need to reverse engineer your content creation strategy. Instead of writing posts without thinking twice, it’s better to create content that is proven to work.

This is also known as skyscraper technique, it was the term coined by Brian Dean from Backlinko. And it is one of the most effective ways to increase your overall blog traffic.

Skyscraper technique involves in three steps:

  1. Finding link-worthy content
  2. Making it even better than the competition
  3. Reaching to the right people to get more buzz

Let’s discuss these three steps now.

Step 1: Find top performing content in your niche

I know that finding profitable keywords isn’t easy. But you can use tools like Buzzsumo for finding share-worthy content in your industry. Whether you know it or not, Buzzsumo is one of the best tools out there to help you come up with amazing content ideas. You can discover a lot of high-performing blog posts, videos, Infographics, etc using Buzzsumo.

Head over to Buzzsumo and enter the keyword phrases you want.

For instance, my favorite blog topic is “SEO marketing” and here it how to use Buzzsumo to find content that gets more shares and links.

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Instantly after entering your keyword you’re not only provided with lots of articles, but it also shows you the total number of shares including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

In the above scenario, we’re came up with excellent post ideas like “17 SEO Myths”, “15 SEO Best Practices” etc. All of these are great blog post ideas and you can definitely improve them by providing more data, creating Infographics, or doing expert roundups, etc.

On the left side, it also has some filters to help you find what type of content form you want (including articles, Infographics, videos etc).

Buzzsumo is not only free (although it has premium version) but it is amazing way to find high quality content in your industry.

Step 2: Make it even better (create timeless content around it)

Once you have a list of great content ideas that are proven to bring you results, you now need to make it even better.

One of the simplest ways to get more backlinks, shares and comments on your blog posts is to making your content a “one-stop source”. How can you do that?

If you’re posting textual format of contents on your blog, write detailed posts.

In one of his blog posts, Neil Patel discovered an “average content length for a web page that ranks in the top 10 results for any keyword on Google has at least 2,000 words.”

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Similarly, if you’re creating videos or Infographics, make them better by creating an appealing design. In summary, add something extra to the high performing content in your niche and make it epic.

Step 3: Outreach to the right people to get more buzz

Once you have epic content on your blog, it’s now time to reaching out to the right people in your niche.

How can you find out the people who are interested in promoting your content?

You can again use Buzzsumo. Here’s how. When you enter a keyword on Buzzsumo, it shows you who linked to the top content including the social sharers.

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Now, reach out to them. Connect them on twitter, find out their emails and start creating more buzz. You can also use tools like Majestic SEO, Open Site Explorer, ahrefs etc to find all of the links pointing to your competitor’s content. And when you reach out to them after creating a link worthy post, you’ll have more chances of getting links to your sites too by asking them without being pushy.

#2. Using content upgrades to boost your email list

Whether you agree it or not, email list is golden. Having a list of hungry email subscribers is an asset for every blogger.

Having an email list will not only increase your blog traffic but it will also boost your sales and trust with the readers. Email list is the second biggest traffic source for Neil Patel’s QuickSprout blog. And for most bloggers the same is true – email list is their top traffic source!

So why not invest your time wisely on building an email list instead of focusing on SEO? Instead of trying all the list building strategies under the sun, it’s better to go for one crazy idea that increases your list. Content upgrade is one such list building strategy that helps your boost your subscribers quickly.

What is a content upgrade?

A content upgrade is an extra bonus that is extremely relevant to your post topic.

For instance, if you’ve a popular blog post titled “10 ways to supercharge your SEO”, you could create something like “on-page SEO checklist” to use as a content upgrade to boost your email list.

A content upgrade looks something like this:

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How using content upgrades can triple your email list?

Content upgrades are usually given away for free to the blog visitors in exchange of their emails.

Content upgrades are extremely specific. Hence, they convert really well. If you want to convert normal website visitors into subscribers, start using content upgrades.

Do they work? Yes, they do.

Brian Dean gives away a post-specific resource on one of his most popular posts.

Did you know that he got a whopping 785% increase in conversions (compared to the previous month).

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That’s A LOT, right? That’s the reason why you need to start focusing on creating content upgrades for your top performing posts or pages.

So how to create content upgrades to increase your overall email list and traffic?

First off, find out five top-performing posts on your blog.

Create a list of posts that got more comments and shares. Also use Google Analytics to find out the top pages that are sending you more traffic from search engines.

Once you’ve the list of popular contents on your blog, you now need to create content upgrades. You can create a bonus, checklist, video or anything that adds more value to the current post.

And you can use tools like LeadPages, SumoMe etc to create content upgrades on your blog posts or pages to grab more email subscribers.

#3. Create an “after post” checklist to get more visibility

Did you know that you’ll get better results when you spend most of your time on promoting your content rather than creating it? Blog post promotion is to get more visibility on your blog posts.

If you’ve creating a great blog post, instead of sitting back and waiting for someone to find your content – it’s way better to create a content promoting routine.

After you publish a blog post, make sure to do the following:

Promoting on social media: Social media is the new SEO. If you want to boost your overall website traffic, be active on social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ etc. Almost every blogger on earth use these social media networks, so you’ll get more exposure for your blog posts if they have attention grabbing headlines.

Posting to forums: Find out the relevant forums in your niche and connect with the other bloggers. Share and comment on their links, and whenever you have posted something on your blog, make sure to submit your links. And ask for a feedback from other bloggers. This is the surefire way to get more visibility on your posts.

Submit to social bookmarking sites: Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious – all are social bookmarking sites that have huge readers. If your post does well on these sites, take it for granted that your overall search traffic will also increase overtime.

Leave comments on other blogs: Want to get more comments on your blog posts? Then, start leaving thoughtful comments on other blogs that are similar to your blog’s topic. Use their names while leaving comments and ask intelligent questions to spread your name across the blogosphere.

Here’s a great blog post checklist written by Pat Flynn, although it was written a couple of years ago – but it’s still worth following.

Spend 2/3 time on promoting “others” stuff and spend the remaining 1/3rd time on promoting your stuff. Why?

Everyone wants more shares, likes, tweets and comments. But most people don’t spend much time on promoting others. What happens if you spend most of your time on promoting others stuff instead of yours? Bang!!

You’ll get more attention from the bloggers. You’re also helping the community by promoting quality stuff on your networks like Facebook and twitter. Eventually, you’ll get more visibility, followers and shares on your own posts too.

So where do you go next?

Then see the results and watch your website traffic grow. Increasing traffic to a blog or website is not a rocket science. By following what works, you can dramatically boost traffic to your blog posts.

Check out the growth hack techniques mentioned above, pick anyone of them and start implementing.

The best part about using growth hacking to your content marketing strategy is this: you’ll get results really fast. They don’t take months to see the results. You’ll see the rewards within days or weeks.

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and apply growth hacking techniques to improve your blog traffic.

Do you have any more strategies that will increase website traffic without doing any SEO? Let me know if you’ve any more insightful growth hacking tips in the comments.

Anil Agarwal is the guy behind Bloggers Passion blog where he is helping readers in building their first professional blog and at the same time, helping them build high quality traffic to their blogs.

20 Tips for Better Business Blogging: How to Use Blogging to Generate Leads

Lead Blogging

This is a guest contribution from Zoe Uwem.

Blogging can be an effective lead generation strategy, if done correctly.

The majority of companies that hope to use content marketing to grow their businesses all understand that blogging is one of the most effective ways to go about it.

Big corporations, start-ups and even smaller companies are buying into it. Internet marketers, freelancers and agencies all use blogging as a means of generating qualified leads for their businesses.

Recent statistics show that B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not. In addition, marketers who give precedence to blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI.

In another report published on the Huffington Post, members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) went from agreeing that blogging has great value to listing out 12 benefits of business blogging.

Whether you’re running a sole venture or managing a big corporation, a business blog can work for you in generating leads, even when you’re sleeping or while on vacation in Zurich. There’s no paying for ad space, no paying of affiliate commission, and no offline networking which obviously takes more time and resources.

Not only can a blog serve as an evangelism tool for generating leads for your business, you can also use it to creatively position yourself as an expert in your field.

What’s more, with a blog you can:

  • Reach more customers through strategic content marketing
  • Get the word out about your offering
  • Boost company visibility or even ameliorate your brand image
  • Target a global audience
  • Expose your products and services
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Build loyalty

Blogging is also a great medium for encouraging customer interaction and enhancing engagement.

But, how do you make blogging work for your business? What are the things to do to bring all these benefits of blogging to bear on your business?

If you’d like to build a following for your brand, generate quality leads, and ultimately grow your business through blogging, here are 20 things you can do to pull that off successfully:

1. Start with a Plan

Business blogging, unlike regular blogging, is blogging with a purpose. You’re not blogging just for fun (or as a hobby) but, you’re blogging because there’s a particular goal you want to achieve—to generate leads and grow your business.

With that in mind, if you want to see results, then you need a solid plan in place.

A solid plan here implies setting SMART goals and devising doable strategies. It involves knowing what you want, who you want to attract (the kind of leads you want to generate), where you’re going and how you’ll get there.

Before even writing your first blog post, develop a blueprint with which you’ll meet your business blogging objectives.

There are a lot of factors that can affect your blog business plan, some of which include your target market, your niche, your business size and even your business goals.

So, when making a plan, remember to consider all of these in order to make your goals truly SMART.

Further Reading: Setting Blogging Goals: Why You Need Them, and How to Write Them

2. Blog from Your Business Website

For effectiveness, let your blog be an extension of your business website; this can be a subdomain or a subdirectory of your main business domain.

Subdirectory and Subdomain

Blogging from a separate domain may not produce much results because most site visitors coming from traffic sources like search engines and social media will first land on your blog. It’ll take extra work to get them to go over to your business website where your products and services are displayed.

On the other hand, blogging from your business website helps drive traffic to your product/service page, convert the traffic into leads, and ultimately drive long-term results.

3. Develop a Blogging Culture

By blogging culture, I mean a set of strictly followed practices that are well-thought out and tailored to help you meet your blogging goals.

I love to call this kind of practice “systematized blogging” because it entails following a set system consistently to achieve results.

This involves practices such as following a publishing schedule, planning an editorial calendar, concentrating on the same topic and so on.

Developing your own blogging culture will help you remain focused and help you meet your blogging goals fast.

You might want to follow general rules and tips spread across the blogosphere, but it’s always better to come up with your own rules to see what works for you and what doesn’t, well because all businesses are not the same.

Further Reading: 3 Ways Scheduling Will Make You a Better Blogger

4. Think Long Term

Even though you can get near-quick results from business blogging, it’s vital that you don’t lose focus on the long-term aspect of things.

Can the content you’re creating today still show up in search results five years from now? Or, are you putting up a subnormal body of words that Google will kick out in five months’ time?

Truth is, it’s always better to create evergreen content. It’s always better to think long-term because that’s how to get results that are worth your effort, time and investment.

Evergreen content can drive steady traffic, generate consistent leads and produce regular conversion for a long time.

hubspot quote

Create something that adds value, something that helps people, something that both humans and search engines love. This might even mean investing in great content (see our next point below).

Here are some quick do’s and don’ts of evergreen content by 60 Second Marketer:

Evergreen content

Related: How to Write Great Blog Content

5. Invest in Killer Content that Provides Value and Truly Helps People

Running a blog is primarily about helping people, providing them with valuable information, and answering their questions.

To do this effectively, you need good content; content that provides value. More or less, the quality of your blog posts reflects the quality of leads you generate from your blog.

Successful content marketing now depends on the content quality. To get this right, let your focus be on providing value rather than on selling something.

There are a handful of ways you can provide value to readers. One of such is by helping them solve simple problems that are related to your industry.

For instance, if you operate a marketplace for developers to sell their apps, see about providing the developers (your target customers) with content that can help them improve on their app marketing skills; see about helping them make more money through their sales by offering them tips on how to market their products effectively.

Invest your time, money and resources in truly valuable content. I recommend you hire a professional writer if you don’t have the time or aptitude to create such content yourself.

6. Market your Blog Like it’s the Only Thing that Matters

That’s because the success of your blog (and that of your lead generation campaign) largely depends on how many people know that your blog exists in the first place.

You may have the best content ever, but if nobody knows that the content is there on your blog, of course nobody will go there to read it.

Imagine standing in front of an empty classroom to deliver the best lecture ever. You’d be wasting all that time talking your socks off, right? And worse, nobody is listening.

That’s a bummer and that’s the same way it is when you publish the best content on a virtually empty blog, traffic wise.

This does not rule out having truly quality content on your blog. While having quality content on your blog is vital, it’s even more vital that you get the right people to come to your blog, regularly.

The number of people who visit your blog can determine the number of leads you generate, but not necessarily the quality.

There’re a whole lot of ways you can market your blog, but you have to be tactical and invest your time smartly by focusing only on those strategies that are worth your time and resources.

Guest blogging, advertising, social media marketing and blogger outreach campaigns are some of the strategies you might want to consider.

Growing blog traffic

It’s all about going for targeted traffic, driving them to your blog and getting them to become interested in what you have to offer. Period!

Further Reading: How to Find Readers For Your Blog

7. Practice “Diversified Blogging”

Just because written content is the most widely accepted type of content doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try out other types. Add some fuel to your blog with the help of images, videos, slideshares, infographics and the like.

Publishing diverse kinds of content broadens not only your audience, but also your reach because people will want to share your content on a variety of platforms other than on the traditional bookmarking sites.

Again, you may find that there might be people who prefer other forms of content to written content.

For instance, the chart below shows an increased demand for infographics:

Search demand for infographics

8. Have a Solid Conversion Strategy

As leads begin to verge on your blog, don’t let your blogging effort be in vain by letting them go without purchasing from you or at least leaving their details.

Have a solid conversion channel set up on your blog, for converting ordinary visitors into regular visitors and then into loyal readers and ultimately to purchasing customers.

Some of the best ways to do this are:

  1. Strategically placing well-written calls to action on your blog and website
  2. Collecting visitors details through a well-configured email optin box.
  3. Using every opportunity you have to link to your sales page/landing page from your blog
  4. Systematically integrating your services into your blog articles

To make this even more effective, offer an incentive. It could be a free trial or a truly useful resource that can help them in any way.

Whatever it is, just ensure that it’s attractive enough to reel them in.

A reliable conversion strategy is the tipping point between an ordinary visitor becoming interested in what you sell.

Conversion

Without a solid conversion strategy in place, your whole “blogging for leads” endeavor may not produce as much result as you’d expect, thus the importance of getting this step right.

9. Take Your Blog Seriously and Be Consistent

Want to generate serious leads from your blog without being serious? You can’t be serious!

It’s not all about setting up a blog and creating a solid business blogging plan, you’d have to sit up and be serious with your blog; you’d have to follow your plans and goals seriously in order to turn your blog into a lead-gen machine.

In my escapade as a professional freelance blog writer, I have come across dozens of abandoned business blogs. And, whenever I asked to know the reasons those blogs were abandoned, the blog owners, in general, would blame it on lack of time, no one to create content on a regular basis and all that excuses.

But the truth really is, those who abandon their blogs are not serious about blogging.

For a blog to produce results, you need to take it seriously.

Also, as one blogging to generate leads and attract clients, you have to be consistent, not just in your publishing frequency, but also in your blog topic.

You really shouldn’t be writing about catfish farming this week, and switching to writing about how you partied in an airplane last month.

Maintaining an considerable level of consistency not only show that you know what you’re doing but also show that you’re serious about it and so every other person should be serious with you, too.

No one will probably be serious and consistent in visiting and reading your blog if you aren’t serious and consistent with it yourself.

Further Reading: How to Get Serious About Blogging and Make It Work for Your Business

10. Optimize Your Blog for Search Engines

This is especially important if you’re looking to build a magnetic system that attracts leads to your business on auto-pilot.

One sure way to show up in search results is by regularly updating your blog with epic content. By continually publishing informative and actionable posts that are search engine optimized, your content will rank high on search engines thereby bringing more people to your website, which will ultimately earn you more leads, sales and revenue.

Statistics show that over 70% of buyers use search engines at the beginning of their purchase process.

SEO

Organic search traffic is of extreme importance. If you can build this system, then you will have a sort of always-on-duty marketing tool that’s available 24/7 to bring you quality leads.

11. Be Approachable, Helpful, and Friendly

Sometimes, it’s not all about providing great content. If you really want to create impact that can translate into leads and sales, you may have to condescend and relate with your audience at their level.

For instance, if a reader reaches out to you for help, maybe to ask a question, be kind enough to respond. I would even recommend you sometimes reach to some of them and bring them to the spotlight. This can be done by mentioning a reader in your post or even posting an intelligent question one of them might have asked and answering it there for the rest to benefit from.

One question to answer is, if one of your readers meets you sitting at McDonald’s, can they come up to you freely, without feeling fettered?

Be approachable; be sociable and you’ll find that you can gain more instead of being inimical.

12. Gather Feedback and Encourage Interaction

You want your business to be better than it was yesterday, right? You want to be able to provide your audience with exactly what they need, uh?

The best way to do that is to gather feedback, and there’s only one person that can provide you with genuine, practical feedback— your blog reader.

Continually improving on your approach, strategy and offering is important for remaining indispensable in the hearts of people, especially in today’s fast-changing world of advanced technology.

Gathering customer information and assimilating the same helps you to actually improve.

There are a number of ways through which you can gather customer information. For instance, you can conduct surveys, host live sessions, use in-product request forms, or even encourage them to send in their thoughts via email.

Beyond gathering feedback, you should also encourage interaction. One benefit of interacting with your audience is that it opens doors for opportunities and also gives you the chance to learn from them the things that really matter to them.

Interaction can be achieved through the comment sections of your blog and through social media.

13. Know Your Audience and Know What You’re Doing

Imagine blogging to generate leads without actually knowing the people that are following you. That’s not cool , right?

Sure!

Successful business blogging demands that you not only know the people that are following you but actually care about them.

Do you care about your audience? (Or more honestly, how well do you care about them?) Do you care about the way they respond to your articles? Do you care about the kind of information you pass across to them?

Yet more, do you know their demography? Do you know what they want, where they hang out at (good for promoting your content), what they like, the keywords they use when searching for your kind of product/service, their preferred method of receiving information etc.?

Or, are you just blogging blindly?

Having at least an appreciable knowledge of your audience is vitally important for successfully blogging for leads.

Know your audience plus

Beyond knowing your audience, get to know your stuff; know what you’re doing. Analyze your blog often and make improvement where necessary.

14. Make Your Blog the Hub, But Don’t Be Self-Centered

Your blog should focus on helping your customers (both current and potential) solve problems related to your industry/product. But unfortunately, too many business blogs have been turned into some kind of repository for press releases, company news, and other natters.

News about your company may be interesting to you and your team, but it’s not what will ultimately exert a pull on leads and keep them engaged.

Posting what they care about should be primary. Making announcements can come in second.

However, when it comes to publishing your company news, make your blog the hub.

For instance, if you have any announcement to make, don’t go over to Twitter and rant about it without first talking about it on your blog.

The information should actually emanate from your blog to other sources and not the other way round.

This forces people to visit your blog, encourages link-building which further promotes your blog.

15. Promote Your Product/Service

While sharing helpful and interesting information with your readers, remember the purpose of doing that—to generate leads.

So, in the midst of the valuable information you’re giving out, also strategically promote your business.

You can do this by:

  • Tactically integrating your services/product in some helpful blog posts
  • Displaying some of your important web pages prominently on your blog
  • Linking to your product page or landing page from epic blog posts that receive massive traffic
  • Advertising your services, products, events etc., on your blog sidebar
  • Regularly sending well-crafted marketing emails to your blog subscribers, or by at least remembering to end every email you send with a signature showing your name and company.

Promoting your product/service doesn’t mean asking for the sale, but mildly and continuously keeping your offering in front of people who may likely buy them.

16. Be Professional, But Add a Bit of Personality

It’s important to keep your blog professional, but did you know that readers are equally interested in knowing you as a person?

Don’t be that faceless, robot-like being behind the computer that’s always posting. You have a name, right? So why keep the default “Admin” as the publisher? Maybe a picture of you and your team will do over on a well-written Team Members page.

I know you’ve got awesomely actionable tips but, blog posts with a sense of personal touch tend to do great as well. So, once in a while share a little beautiful story about yourself to inspire and endear your readers to you. That way, they’re likely going to buy from you or at least become loyal visitors which is all good.

Emotional stories work pretty well at this. The charts will help you choose the right emotions to target:

Popular emotions

And another one:

emotions

17. Establish and Portray Yourself as an Authority

That’s because without being or presenting yourself as an expert, nobody may really listen to what you have to say.

Except your mom. And maybe your cat, too.

So, get your skates on, do epic content, talk like you invented that niche, guest blog on some top sites, get interviewed and they’ll listen to you.

Why is it important that people listen to you? Well, it’s because you can only get their attention when they’re listening, and getting their attention is essential for conversion.

Good news is, with a blog, you can set yourself apart, establish & portray yourself as an expert, and grab people’s attention through authoritative posts.

18. Encourage Your Readers to Share your Content

You don’t have to do the work alone; this is why you have to create viral content and have social sharing buttons on every blog post you publish.

When your readers share your content, other people in their network will see the content and head over to your blog, resulting in increased reach and more leads.

Social media and blogs generate real customers

To get readers to share your content, create content that resonate with them, kit out your blog with easy-to-use social sharing buttons, lead the way by sharing first, and openly ask them to share the content if they love it.

Related: 10 Quick Tips for Going Viral

19. Demonstrate Positive Results of Your Product/Service

Use your blog as a medium to demonstrate how remarkably awesome and result-oriented your product and/or service is.

This will egg people on to purchase from you.

You can do this by quickly sharing, in a blog post, a success story of how your product helped a person solve a problem. Case study articles are good for this, too.

Even more, you can interview some of your clients and publish the interview on your blog. You can also invite some of them to share their positive experience through guest posting.

People are more likely to buy from you when they see the positive results your product is producing.

20. Remember to Sell

A lot of businesses that blog to attract customers may end up selling nothing, not because the visitors were never interested in buying from them but because they never sold.

Unlike promoting your product/service mildly but continuously, here, you’re bold to ask for the deal. This shouldn’t be done every time but once in a while, lest you bug your readers.

Wrapping Up

Running a blog for your business holds many benefits especially when following business blogging best practices and the right steps to successful content marketing– developing your goals, building your audience, publishing creative content and so on.

business blogging

Beyond generating leads, you can nurture those leads and eventually convert them into buying customers.

This list of business blogging best practices is far from exhaustive, but if you’d be diligent enough to apply them, you’d be on your way to generating quality leads with a business blog.

Zoe Uwem is an entrepreneur, a successful freelance blog writer, copywriter, and a content marketing expert who is passionate about helping businesses generate quality leads, reach more customers and make more sales. Zoe writes for and helps companies spread the word about their businesses. You can hire him to write for you, too. Find Zoe on his website, ZoeUwem.com, or connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

2 Incredibly Innovative Ways to Draft a Spectacular Blog Post

typing hands

This is a guest contribution from Lorraine Reguly.

“Damn. It’s not perfect, but it’ll have to do.”

“Shit. I wanted it to be better than that.”

Have you ever felt that way before hitting the “schedule” or “publish” button?

I bet you have, during at least one point in your blogging career.

Writing is difficult for many people, and bloggers are no exception. Creating a stellar blog post is the goal, but drafting a blog post often takes a lot of time and frustration. Many bloggers know what they want to say, but just can’t seem to follow an outline or compose a post in a logical order on their first try.

Perfectionists, especially, suffer from this. I know this to be a fact, because I am the mother of all perfectionists! Not only am I a blogger, but I’m a writer AND an editor, too.

As such, I have pretty high standards, and I tend to edit as I write. Most of the time, it drives me crazy. I can’t stand making mistakes, and I hate typos with a passion. When I’m writing with a pen, the paper ends up looking like something a six-year-old might write, full of scribbles. When I’m writing on my laptop, the “backspace” key gets hit more than any other!

To tame my perfectionistic ways and combat overuse of that key, I’ve learned to approach writing by creating drafts first, using two incredibly innovative methods.

The first method is by using stream-of-consciousness writing. The second is by blindfolding myself.

Sometimes I even use the two together!

Innovative Method #1: Stream-of-Consciousness Writing

By definition, stream-of-consciousness writing involves writing down whatever comes to mind, ignoring typos, omitting periods, and basically separating the writing from the editing process. Stream-of-consciousness writing does not have to be logical or follow an order. Instead, rules can be broken and complete freedom from writing conventions should be had.

Psst. Let me tell you a secret. I don’t usually swear online. It’s a bit unprofessional, and the vulgarity of cursing often turns people off.

But guess what?

Swearing can attract people, too. Many people curse, and if they see you doing it, they’ll know you’re a real person, too.

Are you the same person online as off?

Do you “pretend” to be a little bit better, a little bit nicer, and end up being – or feeling – just a little bit phony instead?

With stream-of-consciousness writing, the best thing you can do is to be yourself, your TRUE self. Swear as often as you want. You can delete the curse words later. After all, that is what the editing process is for!

When writing this post, I thought of a few different opening lines.

Here’s an example of how I originally wanted to begin this article:

“Here we go again. More f@!*in’ advice from a damn guest poster.”

“Shee-iiit. She’d better deliver the goods.”

That is SO NOT ME!

But you have to admit, it IS kind of interesting. It also probably would have caused you to continue reading, right?

Either that, or it would have caused you to immediately move on to another post.

As you can see, I wasn’t willing to take that risk. Alternatively, for demonstration purposes, I included it in the body of the post. I wanted to show you that you can move things around when you are finished writing. Again, that’s what the editing process is for, and why posts such as how to edit your own blog posts have been written already!

Benefits of Stream-of-Consciousness Writing

1. You will not be burdened by the constricts of grammar and punctuation.

2. You will feel freer once you get into it.

3. You will appreciate and understand the difference between the writing process, the editing and the formatting process.

4. You can drop the F-bomb… as often as you like!

5. You won’t be judged on what you initially write.

6. You will get addicted to the freedom stream-of-consciousness writing affords you, and you will become more productive as a result.

7. The quality of your blog posts will improve! (Well, hopefully, they will!)

Innovative Method #2: Writing While Blindfolded

This is a great option for you if you tend to write and edit simultaneously – like I do!

To write while blindfolded, you would obviously have to be working at a computer in order to create a draft this way. I don’t know anyone who can write with a pen on paper while blindfolded!

To achieve the blindfolded state, there are many things you could do. You could simply take a scarf or a mask of some sort and cover your eyes, or create one using this template.

Closing your eyes isn’t enough; the temptation to peek is too great! By physically covering your eyes, you will be more conscious of the fact that you have to keep them covered in order to achieve your writing goal.

There are many other ways for you to “blindfold” yourself. You could take an old pair of sunglasses and paint them with nail polish so that you cannot see through them. You could tape paper over them. You could use a cut-up tea towel or pillowcase or some other soft material. If you have access to a dental or surgeon’s mask, you could cover your eyes instead of your mouth and nose with that. Get innovative. Make this exercise fun! Blindfolds come in many shapes and sizes!

4 Benefits of Writing While Blindfolded

1. You might feel a bit ridiculous wearing a blindfold, but the benefits that you will reap will be worth it.

2. You will have a better focus on your content, and won’t be distracted by any typos you see.

3. You’ll train yourself to write faster. Of course, you can improve your writing skills by learning how to type faster, too. ;)

4. You’ll have a greater appreciation for the various stages of editing and formatting a blog post.

Relevant links and images can be added when the bulk of your post has been written.

You can re-order the points of your post, fix the typos, and correct your grammar and punctuation then, too. For the third time, that’s what the editing process is for!

(If you need assistance editing your blog posts, you could always ask me for help. I’ve received recognition for my editing services from BookVetter, from a few authors, and from bloggers, and am rapidly building a plethora of testimonials from others for the quality of my services.)

Innovation Is Key

Innovation when writing can help you create better blog posts.

What other things have you discovered that have helped you write better?

Let’s discuss them in the comments.

Lorraine Reguly is an English teacher-turned-blogger who offers both writing and editing services to anyone in need. She has been a guest blogger on various websites, is an author, and is currently giving away a free blogging ebook. She can also help you turn your ebook into a print book! Visit Wording Well for more details.

Opening image of typing hands courtesy of Naypong and FreeDigitalPhotos.net, although altered with text by guest post author.

How to Prevent Black Hat SEO Techniques Against Your Vulnerable Website

door-green-closed-lock

This is a guest contribution from Dennis Rundle.

Black Hat SEO practices have been going on for years without any signs of slowing down.

Regardless of the efforts Google makes with the purpose to stop black hatters from attacking vulnerable websites, these tactics haven’t become obsolete. Black Hat SEO practices are usually performed with the purpose to trick search engines. Some of these strategies include doorway pages, keyword stuffing, and invisible text.

Doorway Pages as a Threat to Your Website

Doorway, also known as a bridge page, entry page or jump page, is a page that black hatters design for the purpose of gaining top positions in Google’s search results. This page seems relevant to the search engine because it contains the right keywords. It usually includes hidden text, which is stuffed with keywords and phrases that would rank it in the search results.

Who would be interested to attack your website with a doorway strategy? That would only rank you higher, right?

Wrong!

First of all, let’s clarify one thing: doorway pages are a black hat SEO strategy that won’t help your site on the long run.

When a hacker compromises your website, he will incorporate hidden spammy links that will redirect visitors from the search engine (which is listing this page) to illegal or malicious sites that steal credit card numbers, sell pirated software, offer fake luxury goods, prescription drugs, beauty products and slimming pills, or promote adult/gambling content. As an example, here is the comparison of the regular website of Hope is Life against the page that appears when you follow the link from Google search results:

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 12.08.13 pm

The techniques that hackers usually use for such purpose include creation of rogue files and directories, modification of existing files, or adding URL rewrite rules to server configuration files. If the webmaster isn’t diligent enough, these changes may remain active for a very long time. Since the hacker can place the rogue content outside of the host site’s file system, you won’t notice anything suspicious when checking the integrity of your website’s files.

Here is an example of a Google search that contains a link to a redirecting doorway page:

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As you can see, some of these results are hosted illegally on servers that have nothing to do with the keyword in question. The most common keywords that hackers include in such cases include target words such as price, buy, discount, prescription drugs, porn, casino, payday loan, bargain, cheap, free, review, cheap luxury, along with a branded keyword, such as zanax, cialis, viagra, Chanel, etc.

If you conduct a Google search for buy cialis or buy viagra, for example, you will see many doorways on hacked sites that won’t lead to their actual pages.

How to Check if Your Website Has Been Hacked

Cyber criminals have compromised a huge number of websites with the purpose to put their doorways to top search results on Google. In most cases, the hacked websites link to several doorway pages, so the black hatters increase the chances that the search engine will choose at least one of them to display on the first page of the results. This strategy is also useful if Google or the webmaster removes some of these doorways.

This situation puts your website under risk, since it can be a subject to a Google penalty, leading to loss of traffic and a lot of work to fix the damage. Since it can be tricky to determine whether or not your site has been a hacker’s target, you have to be more diligent than usual.

Here are few of the things you can do in order to detect a black hatter’s attack:

  1. You can find useful information on the Webmaster Central Help Forum. You will probably find the answers before even asking the question, but you can also ask for help from other webmasters if you don’t find a solution.
  2. Rely on Google Webmaster Tools, which enable you to set email alerts in case Google suspects that your website has been compromised. Keep in mind that the search engine may take a while before detecting suspicious actions against your site, so rely on this option only as a backup strategy. The Fetch as Google tool is very useful, since it enables you to find out what the search engine sees when indexing your site.
  3. You can (and should) set up a Google alert for the words site:domain.com. With this strategy, you can reveal suspicious titles and page descriptions of your web pages. Google will instantly notify you about any new content the search engine indexes. If something seems shady, you can take action without delays. You can set up such alerts on the Google Alerts.
  4. Try to locate new pages with unusual content or 404-error; they indicate that the search results probably direct to suspicious websites.
  5. Pay close attention to GWT alarms. Check the malware status of your website.
  6. Check the search results your website is listed in. Compare the pages you enter through Google with those you get with direct entrance in the browser.

How to Prevent Black Hatters’ Attacks

Prevention is always better than treatment. The best way to avoid unpleasant scenarios caused by a hacker is to make your website really difficult to compromise. These are the things you can do for such purpose:

  1. Use strong usernames and passwords

You simply cannot be negligent when it comes to your website’s security. Only your system administrator should have the permission to maintain the site. Never use default names for application administrators, since they make your website an easy target.

  1. Secure all administrative files

You need to use a website firewall in order to provide strong protection for your website. Firewall technology has come a long way since its beginnings, so you can finally find effective, but affordable options that will protect your website.

You can also use an integrity tool that will notify you about changes in the file system. If you are aware of all changes that are being made, you will immediately spot an attack. Also you could also ask for an advice from our professionals http://webmastersafeguards.blogspot.co.uk/

Remember: You need an efficient remedy

No matter how hard you try to protect your website against hackers, it may still become a target at any moment. If a hacker managed to achieve sneaky redirection, you are in danger of greater damage. This means that you need to have a backup plan just in case. If you perform daily backups of your website, you will avoid losing valuable files in case of attack.

Dennis Rundle is CEO of “Webmastersafeguards”, an internet geek, and security enthusiast. His goal is to promote fair and square rules for all websites and to eradicate malware.

3 Steps to Saving Time by Writing Social Media Updates in Batches

fashion-man-person-handThis is a guest contribution from Tom Van Buren.

Scheduling updates in advance solves a number of social media’s most frustrating problems. It gives your routine newfound flexibility, and it can even make you a better blogger. But there’s one hurdle that scheduling alone doesn’t take care of for you: those updates still have to come from somewhere, and that means you have to write them.

Part of the appeal of scheduling is that it stops social media from interrupting your life every time you want to post an update, but without a sound strategy for actually writing those updates, you might just be trading one type of frustration for another. This post will show you how to write social media updates by the batch, so you can more easily grow your fanbase and drive more reliable traffic to your blog.

Think about more than just your own traffic

Social media is an invaluable resource for driving traffic to your own website, but getting carried away can do more harm than good. Forty-five percent of users cite excessive self-promotion as a reason why they would unfollow a brand on social, which means your strategy has to be a lot more refined than just sharing your own links.

Break down your typical updates into categories by type, so there’s variety to the content you share. In addition to posting links to your own blog posts, for example, you might also use social media for posting tips, linking to useful content on other websites, sharing inspirational or funny quotes, and so on. (Quotes and tips in particular are useful for getting shares, which can help you grow your audience.) These categories will guide you through the next step of the batching process: actually writing your updates.

Save time by writing in blocks

If you regularly schedule your social media updates, you might already be writing them in batches – just very small ones. For example, you might set aside time every morning to write and schedule your updates for that day. While this works in theory, it prevents you from developing a big-picture strategy, and it isn’t saving you as much time as it could.

Use the categories you defined to write as many updates you can within a certain time frame (much like the longstanding Pomodoro Technique suggests). Take 20 minutes to write as many updates as you can promoting your various blog posts, then another 20 for tips, and so on. Writing as much as you can within a certain time period gives you the ammunition with which to load your schedule, and it helps you build and maintain creative momentum as you go.

Writing bigger batches like this may seem like a major time commitment, but think of it like making a weekly trip to the grocery store instead of going every day. It may feel like you’re spending more time at the store, but for as long as the groceries last, you’re not wasting time on things like planning meals, making your list, driving back and forth, unloading the car, and so on. Once the work is done, it’s done.

The amount of time these updates last will vary depending on how often you post, but there’s one final step you should take to make sure that you get as much out of them as possible.

Save your work and re-use your updates

Without the right plan, social media marketing can feel like a neverending zero-sum game – you work hard writing updates, but once you post them, they’re gone, and you start again from square one every time you run out.

This cycle of always starting over from nothing is a major waste of time and your work. If you’re posting to Facebook and Twitter five times a day each, you might be writing as many as 310 brand new updates every single month – more than 75 per week. That’s a lot of effort to put into a task that doesn’t add up to anything.

Instead, maintain a document that saves your status updates. (Spreadsheets are particularly useful, because they allow you to organize your updates by category.) Every time you write a new batch of updates, add it to your document, so that over time, you build up a library of updates from which you can choose ones to schedule. Eventually, you’ll be able to write batches less and less frequently, because you can choose from the updates you’ve already written.

Why post the same update more than once? In addition to saving time, there are two big reasons:

Most of your followers don’t see any given update

Every time you post an update to social media, you’re trying to hit a moving target – and no matter what network you’re posting on, that target is pretty small. Consider these statistics:

  • Most Twitter users don’t log on even once a day (and 40% log on less than once a week)
  • The average organic reach for a Facebook page is about 7%
  • 87% of LinkedIn users log on once a week or less

Only a very small segment of your audience is likely to see any given update you post on social media, so if you share the same thing more than once over time, it’s unlikely anyone will notice – and you never have to feel like you wasted time writing and scheduling a post that didn’t get any traction.

Evergreen blog content drives more traffic

New social media followers always have something in common: they’ve probably seen very few of your updates from before they started following you (if they’ve seen any at all). If they’re new to your blog audience, then they’ve probably been exposed to very little of your blog’s older content, too.

Your evergreen blog posts are literally as good as new to anyone who hasn’t seen them before. If you’re not continually promoting those posts on social media, they’re gathering dust in your archives and going to waste.

This is why it helps to categorize your updates and save them over time. Maintaining a growing stockpile means you never have to go back and write new updates promoting old posts – you can simply keep your existing updates that promote evergreen posts in rotation, so they’ll continue to drive new traffic. Neither your social updates nor your blog posts go to waste, and the work you put into writing both generates cumulative results over time.
If you schedule your social updates in advance, how often do you set aside time to write them? And if you haven’t tried scheduling before, what’s stopping you?

Tom VanBuren is the content and social media manager for MeetEdgar.com, where he writes about social media and online marketing.