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Are You a Creative Blogger?

This guest post is by Chris Kahler of bloggeritus.com.

It doesn’t take a genius to stroll around cyberspace and quickly find that the World Wide Web is littered with junk. There is a lot of “stuff” out there, most of which isn’t very good.

On the flip side, though, there are still many amazing gems hidden beneath the rubble. The magical ingredient that marks the divide is creativity. Creativity isn’t just part of a fairytale that only children believe in. It really exists, and is the one thing that will polish you into a masterful blogger.

The gems you will find online are from the few bloggers who have found their own creative abilities and applied them masterfully towards the many processes that grow a blog. They have their own special style that everyone instantly recognizes.

“Run of the mill” is a term used to describe work done by others who try to imitate someone else’s style—their work becomes obscure and much less effective.

Originality is not attempting to be different, but rather doing what you want to do the way you want to do it. Originality is only effective when approached with creativity.

A blog is created through many small steps, wouldn’t you agree? Depending on how you approach them, these steps can either produce “run of the mill” results and put your blog in the pile of rubble, or they can produce results of original creativity and polish your work to be one of the few gems to be found.

What are the benefits of creative blogging?

Blogging is a medium thriving on the expressions of originality. Those who can create their own unique style stand out.

You create your own style by being creative with your content and unique with your presentation. The creativity in your content will act as your originality, and over time your style will resonate with people.

For creating a unique style you must quit following trends, trying to fit in with specific groups, or attempting to fit a personality mold you weren’t made for; rather, embrace the idea of creative imagination and flow where you really want to be.

When you become creative with your ability to express your thoughts, your style will carve a path of its own.

As you practice being creative many drastic changes will occur in your life. Here are some of the more noticeable changes creativity can bring:

  • Creativity can reduce stress (if you learn to enjoy it).
  • It helps to unlock hidden potential in your brain.
  • Creativity helps rejuvenate your vigor.
  • It boosts your motivation.
  • It will help you build and maintain stronger focus on what you need to get done.

Another main benefit, which in my opinion is one of the best, is the fact that you will actually grow to enjoy the process of creating. There is a fine line between work and play that produces the most efficient results toward any goal.

Creators of great achievements walk along this line.

They understand the importance of focused objectives yet are able to have fun during the time they spend “at work” getting them accomplished.

As you learn to be more creative you will grow to enjoy creating just for the sake of it. Results are just results and shouldn’t be the focus of your efforts.

Creators focus on the creations, not the potential rewards

It helps to provide real value when your overall focus is applied in the right places. If you have a goal in mind that you want to reach, by all means remember it constantly.

However, when you find yourself in the trenches trying to make the life you want to happen a possibility, don’t work with possible results as your main focus for inner drive.

Disappointment sets in when you work for results. But even worse, your work will be totally misguided due to the lack of controlled focus for direction.

Now if you have a dream, which everyone should, do keep it in the forefront of your memory; when you visualize your expectant life and realize certain things must initially take place for you to get there, you will understand what’s next—you must create those “certain things” to help you move forward.

This is what visualizing is for—to help you prepare yourself for the skills you’ll need to gain and to give you a direction to begin creating that dream.

As you create your way through the smaller incremental steps giving you advancement towards the dream, make those individual processes your sole focus.

Creativity will help define a passion for you

Being creative will help to create a since of pride in you, yet the process of creation will always leave you humbled. The result of this is the constant urge to continue.

When you learn to enjoy the creative process and feel a great deal of satisfaction from your creations, that’s the birth of passion.

Creative passion is one of the most powerful driving forces for producing effective, high quality content in record time.

Furthermore, you will also strive to exceed any current “limitations”—this is just how the creative process is!

Applying creativity towards any kind of work you do will allow you to spark a new connection with what you’re doing, and your progress will grow positively.

No matter what side project(s) you are involved with, such as a blog project, some form of art you want to try out, or any other kind of objective—if you search out a creative aspect in it, you will see things in an entirely new perspective.

The best part of creativity: a new-found perspective

Creativity gives you flexibility without expectation. This gives you a full enjoyment for what you do.

As a creative blogger:

Rather than creating blog posts just for the rewards of blogging, you will find yourself stretching your limits to create the best post you can, just for the challenge of creation.

Rather than focusing on distant realities in your mind you will develop solid concentration on tasks that are enjoyable.

You’ll also begin feeling passionate for these tasks.

Also, a lasting impression for seeking creativity is the new mannerism developed for modeling the success of others.

Rather than seeing limits that seem to impose themselves on you when considering yourself in comparison with a notable leader, you’ll just see the distance as mere obstacles that you will overcome in increments … creative increments, that is.

The only steps separating you from the most established professionals are the many smaller and focused processes of creation, which have given these professionals every asset, tool, and skill they use to travel the path of achievement.

Your steps to becoming a more creative blogger

To become a more creative blogger is a very wise thing to do. However, it takes time and effort to establish and build a mind that leans towards creative thinking.

Here are the things you must do in order to be more creative:

  1. You must be more positive with your outlook on everything. For any situation, try to find the positive aspect or potential outcome. This is key for creative people.
  2. Stretch yourself past what you may perceive as limits. There is a simple mindset to consider for doing this effectively. You need to learn this mindset in order to expand your own abilities.
  3. Observe any professionals in your field or niche. Try to discern what makes their work different. Whatever it is that gives them a pizazz comes from creative thinking.
  4. Master the aspect of innovation. By learning how to take an idea and improve it you not only give yourself room to expand the originality of your own ideas but also can benefit from observing the professionals you admire.
  5. Practice the habit of writing every day. Writing a journal is one of the best ways to initiate a creative spark. A lot of ideas come to us every day, but only those who discipline themselves to organize their thoughts in ways that can be referenced are able to hold on to the good ones.
  6. Learn how to be flexible. Allow yourself to take on new ideas, allow yourself to question your inner beliefs, but don’t change who you are for anyone. Flexibility just opens you up to new channels of thought and is not meant to make you have a different belief system, only a more acceptable one for good ideas.
  7. Learn how to experiment. Experimenting is the essence of creativity. When you do something that’s different than everyone else, you will not know how the results will be. Learn to do this and improve from it.
  8. Learn to accept criticism and how to give criticism. Find positive results either from yourself or others who critically analyze what you do is a great way to make improvement.
  9. Above all, enjoy the process of providing quality content to the rest of humanity. You will grow as a passionate person and will establish a lasting legacy on this planet if you can do these steps.

Let creative blogging help you

As you can see, creative thinking isn’t something you can expect to master overnight. There is a lot of information pertaining to our imaginations, most of which we have yet to discover.

According to what I’ve gathered from modeling success and acquiring new skills is that those who balance their thinking by relying more heavily on creativity than average people tend to stand out as above average.

These people are the ones who establish influence, trust, and higher levels of success using originality and boldness—both directly gained through creative thinking.

Unfortunately space is limited here, I like to keep my posts from turning into small novels! However, comments are a great way of continuing this discussion.

In what ways do you think you are creative already? How are you working to improve your creativity?

Chris Kahler has recently discovered the definition of a creative personality. He has also discovered that there are a million things still left unsaid which you should know about. Maybe subscribing to his RSS feed is a good idea? He thinks so, oh and while you’re at it follow him on twitter as well.

Finding Your Passion For Your Ideal Business

This guest post is by Lori Meyer of listbuildingwithlori.com.

I wanted to chat with you about passion and how it can make or break your online business.

Most online entrepreneurs create squeeze pages and blogs that target desperate niches and people who are looking for answers to their problems. But how many of those entrepreneurs are truly passionate about what they’re doing?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is it that keeps me going?
  • What motivates me to do better?
  • What comes naturally to me?
  • What fulfills me?

I want you to be successful, and following your passion is one of the key steps to getting there.

The thing is, if you don’t believe in what you’re doing and you’re simply in this for the money, you’ll never build a solid, sustainable business, and you’ll never be fulfilled.

How can you make money doing something you don’t believe in?

For example, if you don’t like golfing and know nothing about it, you shouldn’t pursue any business that involves golfing because your website and content will lack passion and purpose, and your visitors will know it.

When you have a true passion for something, money doesn’t matter and time doesn’t matter.

Nothing will matter but indulging in your passion.

You’ve heard it said: “Do what you love.”  If you truly love what you’re doing, you will work passionately, willingly and fearlessly.

It’s easy to tell when someone is truly passionate about their business because they’ve taken the time to provide valuable, in-depth content for their readers.  Their passion shows in everything they do.  They go out of their way to over-deliver with amazing information.

Here’s the key, your passion, what you’ve been wanting to do forever, will lead you to your ideal clients:

  • to those who want what you’re offering
  • those who will come back again and again because of what you’re offering
  • those who will gladly pay for what you’re offering.

When you have found a business that makes you truly happy, that lights a fire under you and motivates you to want do better, you have found your passion.

  • You can work your tail off.
  • You can daydream.
  • You can hope for the best.
  • You can survive.

But, you won’t live until you follow your passion.  And once you’ve found it, go after it with gusto!

Here are some exercises that will help you find out exactly what your passion is.

First and foremost, you must:

  • remove any fear
  • remove any unforgiveness
  • remove any and all expectations
  • remove all judgements.

Now, grab a pen and paper and answer these questions (and please be honest!):

  1. What do you daydream about?
  2. What would you be doing if you could be a kid again?
  3. What motivates you?  Inspires you?  Makes you giddy-happy?
  4. What are you passionate about?

You must use that passion to speak to your subscribers. To infuse your writings with words that will go beyond the surface.

You need to speak their language.

You need to understand what it is they want and need, then use that same passion to give it to them.

To do this, you’ll need to work on yourself.  To be totally and brutally honest with what you’re doing and how you approach your business.

Your ideal client needs you to be passionate about what you do.

That beautiful glow you get when you do what you love will shine like a beacon in everything you do.

Fire is what people follow and passion is the one thing that will help you achieve the life, and business, of your dreams.

Lori Meyer is a full-time blogger with a passion for helping others succeed in their online business. Her blog, listbuildingwithlori.com, is dedicated to everyone wishing to move forward fearlessly with confidence and motivation.

What to Do When You’re so Boring You’re Boring Yourself

This guest post is by freelance writer Jocelyn Anne.

Have you ever finished one of your own blogs written by yours truly and finished the dang thing bored out of your own mind? To the point where it’s too painful to even re-read it for basic proofing?

Well if you haven’t, not to fear, your day is coming. It happens. All good things must come to an end, or so they say. Not that I’m saying you’ll be boring forever. It’s just a phase. Or something. Anyway. Here’s what’s up.

If you’re bored, your readers are bored. And if your readers are bored, they’re going to stop coming back—like, super-fast. Readers are finicky like that. While you may have faith that your temporary boredom is just a phase, and I may have faith that your last irritatingly boring post was just a fluke, other readers aren’t likely to be so kind. They flee boring like mad.

So, what this boils down to is that you don’t have a whole lotta time to dwell and wallow in your phase. Maybe a few posts (if you’re lucky). Boredom calls for desperate measures. You’re gonna have to ditch yourself altogether and become someone much newer and cooler and hipper than you are. Sayonara baby.

My favorite way to break the boring posting doldrums is to create an entirely new person. New alias, new pen name, what have you. I decide what I’ll look like (always some sort of super model, of course), what my past was like, where I’m headed in life and how many hundreds of dollars I’m getting paid to write this blog (it helps). Then I decide what I’m passionate about. Who cares if it’s even remotely relevant to what I typically blog about. Clearly neither I nor my readers can bear to read any more of that right now.

So. You’re a new person, with a new passion. If you’ve got guts, you can post as yourself. If you’re not so gutsy yet, post it as a guest blog. Bottom line, do whatever will allow you to have the most freedom and most fun. Be wacky. Be crazy. Be fanatical. It honestly doesn’t matter. What matters is that you regain a voice again. It could be a superhero, it could be a cartoon character. It could be your super sexy blonde neighbor with the Greek goddess tan you despise. It could be the nerd who lurks behind the recycling at the Piggly Wiggly. You get the point. Pick one and write about bananas. Or maybe boxes.

Now, depending upon the severity of your boredom “condition” you can decide how far to take this. Do you need an entirely new blog? Probably not. But if you feel like the one you’re on is just too far gone for recovery, then do it! Break a new and start afresh. Sometimes a new little WordPress layout is all it takes. If you think you just need to snap out of it, then more likely than not, a few posts will do the trick and bring back some pizzazz to the normal, every-day you. If you feel like you could slip back at any moment though, then instill something like Friday Fun Day and post under your alias once a week from now on. Your readers will develop a bond with the two of you and you’ll get to be you and someone probably a whole lot more exciting.

What will happen is that you’ll have fun. Believe it or not. I know, I know, sometimes blogging is torture. But this won’t be. You’ll have to use an entirely new area of your brain, an entirely new capacity of your humor and wit and your sass that probably hasn’t seen the light of day in far too long. And, especially if you post as a guest, you have no fear of consequences. There’s nothing that can touch you or harm you because whoever the nut is that wrote that piece, wasn’t you! Brilliant, eh? Write a couple pieces. Write until you regain the spark and vim and vigor you used to have in your area of expertise.

Now, while I suggested this idea primarily for those of you suffering from boredom, or at least for those of you making your readers suffer from your boredom, it’s actually not the only thing this handy-dandy technique is good for. It’s also awesome for the wanna-be-writer struggling with finding and settling on a voice. Heck, try out a new voice a week. Toronto Tom this week, Sweetly Sara next. (A gender writing voice mix-up is always interesting.) Once you find a voice you’ve fallen in love with, then step into your own. Claim your own name and attach it to the voice you connected with. This might even be helpful for Writing 101 when your professor hates everything you do.

And finally! It’s also grand for the blogger who desires to be controversial but hasn’t the backbone, the experienced blogger who needs some work improving his technique, the ancient blogger who’s been blogging for far, far too long and my personal pet peeve: the blogger who has seemingly forgotten that blogs once consisted of words and has since taken to posting irritating iPhone pictures of what he ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner instead. (Isn’t that annoying?!)

Perhaps you know of a blogger or two you could forward this article on to? I know I do.

Freelance writer Jocelyn Anne is an avid blogger and sometimes writes as Ella Stella if she’s getting dull.  But, right now you’ll find her writing about captivating uses for a portable air conditioner!

Ramit Sethi: I Will Teach You To Monetize (In 6 Steps)

This guest post is by Michael Alexis, producer of WriterViews.com.

They thought that I cared about making $300 or $500 a month. Honestly, I didn’t give a damn about that.
– Ramit Sethi, iwillteachyoutoberich.com

How many of your readers tell you that you have to monetize your blog? Do they call you crazy when you don’t? After three years of giving away free content, these are the exact comments blogger Ramit Sethi was getting from his readers. So, he surveyed his audience and from the results started developing systems and processes to monetize. After all, when you call your personal finance blog, I Will Teach You To Be Rich (IWTYTBR), you have a lot to live up to.

Ramit Sethi

Ramit Sethi, used with permission

Since then, Ramit has leveraged his blog’s popularity to display ads, run profitable courses, and launch a best-selling book. I invited Ramit to do this audio interview to find out exactly how he grew his blog, inspired the kind of readers that begged him to sell to them, and monetized in a way that creates lasting value.

Here, I wanted to explain the specific strategies Ramit used to monetize IWTYTBR, and spans from his earliest trials with display ads, to his recent success with video courses.

Don’t try to monetize too quickly

If it’s not going to cover my rent, then why do I care?
– Ramit Sethi, on why he doesn’t use display ads any more

Ramit suggests a wholesome approach to making money from blogging, and that means starting by truly understanding the world of monetization. Research the options, try out a few of them, and realize that your first three or four attempts are probably not going to be the level of success you want. Your options include ads, products, speaking, consulting or coaching, and they each have both direct and indirect costs.

For example, despite Ramit’s friends at Google saying all his traffic was going to waste, he didn’t want the negative perception that comes with display ads. When his friends persisted, Ramit decided to survey over 1000 readers and asked if they minded him testing some unobtrusive ads. With 81% of responses being yes, he experimented and found ads only brought in a few hundred dollars every month. So he stopped using them—it just wasn’t interesting money. In Ramit’s words, “If it’s not going to cover my rent, then why do I care?”

Offer value, then offer more value

I’ve always been a big fan of building value. Giving people 100 times before you even ask them for anything.
– Ramit Sethi, on building relationships with your readers

You know how some people are obsessed with SEO? Or getting the design of their subscription box just right? Or making their “buy now” button orange? Ramit’s obsession is providing so much value to his readers that they keep coming back for more. How do you create value with that kind of gravity? On a personal finance site, value means getting visitors to a post detailing step by step how to call their credit card company (with scripts and everything) that make their fees just melt away.

Ramit says when you show people how to get big results in a short amount of time, they become readers for life. How can you create that kind of value for your readers?

Don’t be afraid to sell

Honestly, that was one of my biggest fear moments in my entire blog career, because I was petrified of charging for content. I thought that people would not pay, and they would think I was selling out. I was legitimately afraid.
– Ramit Sethi, on how it felt to launch his first product

Maybe your first go at monetization will be a course, or an email subscription list, or affiliate links. Ramit did a collaborative ebook with a bunch of other bloggers, got it professionally designed, and called it Ramit’s Guide To Kicking A**. They sold it for $4.95. Sounds okay, right? A few vocal readers didn’t think so, and said things like “Ramit’s jumped the shark” and called him a sell out. Some of those readers even said they’d never come back to his site.

For $5.

Ramit expected to sell 100 copies in the first year. What do you think happened? He sold over 1000. That’s when he realized that people are willing to pay for value, despite the few outliers complaining about everything not being free. Ramit thinks of this as his turning point, “I realized there will always be people that complain and freeload”. Focus on providing great value for your real target audience. The readers who are engaged, willing to invest in themselves, and actively looking for solutions.

Sell your readers what they want

When the economy tanked in late 2008, nobody cared about investing. All they wanted to read about was how to save money.
– Ramit Sethi, on why he created a subscription product for money saving tips

Sometimes the information your readers are looking for isn’t what you usually write. Be flexible. Knowing that the world had recession on the mind, Ramit created a 30-day plan to save $1000. On day two the Wall Street Journal and MSN started writing about and linking to his series. With a huge influx of traffic, it was time to monetize.

Ramit’s friend Erica Douglass told him, “just make a subscription program, put it in an email, and have people sign up for one tip a week”. He called it The Scrooge Strategy and sold it for $8 per month. Hundreds of people signed up. What could you be writing about that your audience will pay for?

Make your product so good that it pays for itself

We collected 50,000 data points. So we know precisely what is holding people back, what is really helping them earn money on the side, and we used some very sophisticated psychological techniques to build a product that’s a leader in its space.
– Ramit Sethi, on how he developed a course about earning more money

Should you price your ebook at $9.99 or $14.99. It doesn’t matter. Make your products extremely detailed, and don’t show them to anybody. Visitors to Ramit’s site can’t even buy a product until they go through an extensive funnel – over twenty five pages. During those pages readers learn to identify a freelancing opportunity and find paying clients. Ramit says “I try to get them to make the cost of the course back before they even see the sales page.”

Another key is being really clear about who you want and don’t want as a customer. That’s right—there can be customers you don’t want. On IWTYTR, those people are the ones whose first question is “how much does this cost?” because they are obsessed with cost and not value. There are even people that Ramit refuses to sell to. He tells potential buyers straight out that if he finds out they have credit card debt he will refund their money, and they won’t be allowed to buy anything else.

Ramit’s ideal customer? Someone who says “show me three others like me who used your techniques to earn more money on the side”. Who is your ideal customer? How can you make your product pay for itself?

Don’t sell out

If someone came to me and said, ‘here is a really sleazy way to make $25,000′, I would turn it down in a second. If someone came and said, ‘send one email and I will give you $10 million’, I’d think about it. Everyone’s got a number where it gets really difficult.
– Ramit Sethi, on tempting offers

When you run a popular personal finance blog, all kinds of people want to pitch your audience. People selling investment products. People selling income opportunities. Don’t sell out. With IWTYTBR, Ramit isn’t building something that will just make money today, but that will be of incredible value tomorrow, next year, and 10 years from now. When you’ve worked so hard to build a relationship with your readers, there is no price you can put on their trust. Don’t sell out. It’s not worth it.

As we finished the “how to make money” part of our interview, Ramit shared one last thought. He told me “it’s important to think really long term, and think about your values. Do the right thing with your readers. Offer incredible value to your readers, and you will make more money than you can ever imagine.”

Michael Alexis is the co-founder and producer of WriterViews, a daily video series where accomplished writers share their tips, strategies and stories. Learn more about him here and follow him on Twitter at @writerviews.

The Pimp, the Grocer and the Hit Man: Magnetise Your Headings Using the Power of the Unexpected

This guest post is by Aman Basanti of Ageofmarketing.com.

In addition to death and taxes, there is another bitter pill you have to swallow as a blogger. It is that pimps, grocers and hit men all have an unfair advantage when it comes to commanding attention in the marketplace.

Be it an advert, a news story or a how to article, those who sell sex, food or danger attract more attention than the rest of us. Our subconscious minds are programmed to take note of these three things, and disproportionately assign attention to them.

Beyond sex, food and danger

So does that mean the rest of us are ruined? Does that mean that we are forever subject to the tyranny of the sex-selling pimps, food-flaunting grocers, and gun-toting hit men?

No. Because we have our own weapon for attracting attention and it is equally as powerful as sex, food, and danger.

What is this weapon of mass attraction?

The power of the unexpected.

You know what happens if we catch you smoking here at Southwest, don’t you?

“If I could have your attention for a few moments,” said the voice overhead. The passengers looked up to hear what exciting message the flight attendant had for them that day, only to realize that it was just another in-flight safety demonstration.

You know: “fasten your seat belts, place your tray tables in an upright position, don’t smoke on the plane and, in case of an emergency, follow the lights along the side of the aisle.”

One by one, the passengers started tuning out as quickly as they had tuned in, going back to reading their magazines, peering out the window or whatever else they had been doing previously.

Then it happened.

“If you haven’t been in an automobile since 1965, the proper way to fasten your seat belt is to slide the flat end into the buckle,” unexpectedly announced the attendant. Suddenly the tired old message to fasten your seat belts sprung to life.

So did the one to follow the lights along the side of the aisle.

“And as the song goes, there might be fifty ways to leave your lover, but there are only six ways to leave this aircraft: two forward exit doors, two over-wing removable window exits, and two aft exit doors. The location of each exit is clearly marked with signs overhead, as well as red and white disco lights along the floor of the isle. Made ya look!”

As for the “don’t smoke on the plane” part, the attendant had a way of spicing that one up as well.

“Speaking of smoking, there’s never any smoking aboard our flights. You know what happens if we catch you smoking here at Southwest, don’t you? You’ll be asked to step out onto our wing and enjoy our feature movie presentation, Gone With The Wind.”

And just like that the flight attendant had attracted the attention of everyone on board. Even the most indifferent passengers were listening intently and smiling. Most importantly, for our purposes here, she did it without implying sex, showing food or threatening danger.

What was her secret?

The flight attendant’s secret

At the heart of her feat was the use of the unexpected. We all know what an in-flight safety demo is meant to look like. We have an existing pattern and picture of that situation. What the attendant did was to break that pattern. She used humor, which in itself works because it makes unexpected connections, to challenge and change, and thus draw attention to, the tired old demonstration.

As remarkable as the flight attendant example is, however, it is not instructive of how most bloggers can use it on their blogs. To understand that we have to look at the Freakonomics Formula.

The Freakonomics formula for writing killer headlines

Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s books, Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics, have sold over 5 million copies worldwide. Apart from being controversial and insightful, what make the books attention worthy are their catchy chapter titles. By pairing two unrelated entities and connecting them in some way relevant to the message of the chapter, the authors create magnetic titles.

Here are some of the chapter titles from their books:

  • What Do School Teachers and Sumo Wrestlers Have in Common?
  • How is the Ku Klux Klan Like a Group of Real-Estate Agents?
  • How is a street prostitute like a department-store Santa?
  • What do Al Gore and Mount Pinatubo have in common?

The titles work because you do not normally associate teachers with sumo wrestlers, nor prostitutes with department store Santas. They break existing patterns of association, evoke curiosity and result in, as the flight attendant put it, the “Made ya look!” phenomenon.

So if you want your blog posts to stand out give them catchy blog post titles using the Freakonomics formula. Find two entities and create an unexpected connection between them.

Here are some more examples to get your mental juices flowing:

  • 5 Things a Bad Dog Can Teach You About Writing Good Copy
  • How Are Entrepreneurs Like Young Children?
  • What do Charles the Great and Genghis Khan Have in Common?
  • Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
  • 5 Diseases I would Pay Money to Get
  • 3 Ways to Impress Your Partner by Being Less Romantic
  • 5 Ways Porn Created the Modern World

Have you used magnetic headlines on your blog? How did they do at pulling crowds to your content?

Aman Basanti writes about the psychology of buying and teaches you how you can use the principles of consumer psychology to boost your sales. Visit www.Ageofmarketing.com/free-ebook to get his new ebook—Marketing to the Pre-Historic Mind: How the Hot New Science of Behavioural Economics Can Help You Boost Your Sales—for FREE.

The Secret Fairytale Magic to Irresistible Blog Posts

This guest post is by Amy of Harrisonamy.com

From Jack and the Beanstalk, to Little Red Riding Hood, to Cinderella, fairytales have been enchanting audiences for thousands of years. They are constantly being retold, modified and even made into blockbuster movies. Despite their apparent simplicity, they enrapture and engage audiences time and time again.

Copyright Arto - Fotolia.com

By using the following five key elements of a fairytale, you can harness the secret storytelling magic to write irresistible blog posts and keep your readers coming back for more.

1. Create desire

Every fairy story starts with some desire. Whether it’s Cinderella wanting to go to the ball, a poor man wanting to be king, or a girl taking some food to Grandma’s house, the story starts with a desire for something.

No enchanting tale starts without some kind of hope, dream, want, or wish. Even if it’s the wish for things to stay the same, the characters have to want something.

So how does this relate to your blog? Well your customers are reading your articles because they also want and are hoping for something, whether it’s entertainment, advice, or tips on a particular subject.

One of the best ways to stimulate that desire is by using your headline to show them that you have something they will want. For example:

  • 7 Ways To Go To The Ball If You Are A Beautiful But Poor Step-Sister
  • The Best Way To Get To Grandma’s House While Avoiding Wolves
  • How To Get Your Magic Beans To Grow In Just 2 Days

2. Overcome challenges

In every good story, there’s some kind of challenge or obstacle and your blog readers are experiencing the same thing.

The challenge is usually stopping them achieve what they truly desire. Red Riding Hood had to face the wolf, Cinderella had to get past her wicked step-sisters and Jack had to try and get round the giant to get his treasure.

So what is it that your blog readers desire and what is their ugly step-sister, wolf, or ogre that stops them? Perhaps your blog readers desire more traffic but are confused by the different methods to attract more readers. Or perhaps they want to write a novel but are getting stuck with writer’s block.

When writing a blog post, ask yourself what challenges come between your audience and what they desire, and how you can help overcome them.

3. Give them a hero to help

You might not be a woodcutter, a fairy godmother, or a king, but on your blog, you are your reader’s hero!  Heroes have experience, knowledge, and special skills, and your blog is the perfect place to show your readers that you are the right person to help them on their adventure by:

  • explaining how you’ve done something that they want to do
  • pointing out mistakes you’ve made on the way so others can avoid them
  • giving them shortcuts and tips to get results quicker than learning first hand.

If your audience grows to see you as their own fairy godmother of marketing, crafts, or blogging, they’ll want to keep coming back for more.

4. A transformation

Fairy tales always include some kind of transformation. It might be a pumpkin into a chariot, or a wolf into an old lady, but the most popular transformations are the ones that satisfy our desire for the fairytale ending.

So we love Cinderella becoming a princess, or Aladdin becoming a prince, and your readers are also looking for a positive transformation when they visit your site.

For example, after reading your blog post:

  • Can they do something they didn’t do before?
  • Do they feel better and inspired, or not so alone?
  • Do they have access to resources that will give them results?

Try and give some form of transformation, and your reader is more likely to not just enjoy your post but bookmark it and come back to it again and again.

5. A happy ending

Most fairy tales have happy endings. Now that doesn’t mean every blog post you have has to end on a high note, what it means is that your reader should be satisfied that they got what they were looking for.

So if they were coming to your blog for satirical remarks on celebrity relationships, then a photo casebook of embarrassing shots of the latest A-list couple is going to be their happy ending. If others are looking for mediation advice, finding out how to turn their office into a centre of calm is going to be their happy ending.

Consistency in delivering to your audiences expectations is important when writing a blog. You are essentially writing stories every time that you publish and just as we want a happy ending when we decide to read a fairy tale, your customer wants that same consistent experience when reading your blog.

Now it’s over to you. Are you already using these five fairytale elements, or do you have a different approach in writing irresistible content? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Amy is a copywriter for entrepreneurs and in addition to writing for clients, she coaches others to smash through their copy obstacles and get their message out to their audience. She provides free copywriting and content marketing advice on her website Harrisonamy.com

Sell $20,000 Worth of Your Next Ebook

This guest post is by Sarah Mae of MarketandSellYourEbook.com.

Marketing is the act of buying or selling in a market.

Where is your market?

Do you have one? Do you own one? Do you shop at one? In the new world of invisible wires where connections are made 24/7 all around the world, the starting place for successful marketing begins at your market … your space … your platform.

How is your platform looking?

Once you have established yourself as an influential voice in your market (your blog, other blogs you’ve created, social networking, conferences, meet-ups, etc.), then you can expect to sell at least $20,000 worth of ebooks if you do a few simple but significant things (assuming the ebook has been written, edited, and is ready to go with content people need).

Have a slammin’ cover

People judge a book by its cover, if it weren’t so people wouldn’t be hiring designers to create something magnetic for the cover of our words .. .we want to draw people in. My advice? You must have a professional looking cover, so unless you’re a graphic designer (and a good one), hire someone. I recommend Insight Blog Design (brilliant, easy to work with, affordable).

Involve your community in the ebook process

The more you involve your community, the more your community is going to want to be a part of what you’re doing. Some things you could do to get your community excited about your ebook:

  • Have them come up with the title or subtitle of the ebook.
  • Ask for their tips on the subject matter and include the best ones in the ebook.
  • Ask their opinions on things regarding the ebook.
  • Have them vote on the cover (two choices).

Get your ebook on Kindle and Nook

Have you read this? Digital sales are dominating—take note and get on the ships that are delivering! If you aren’t tech savvy, hire someone to format your ebook to Kindle and Nook. You have to do this if you want to be a serious contender in the game. Some tips:

  • Make sure to fill out your author profile with your blog/s and Twitter handle … also, a nice picture.
  • Before you tell the world that you’re on these platforms, make sure you have reviews (you’ve got to ask!).

To get your book on Kindle, go here For Nook, go here

Send your ebook to your friends and network community

Ask your friends to read your ebook, give you a quote if they like it, and leave a review on Amazon. Also ask if they would be willing to review it on their blog and/or host a giveaway.

Prepare a community … that you’re a part of

You need to set up a website dedicated to your ebook that includes:

  • a one-liner at the top that effectively describes your ebook and makes it desirable
  • quotes from people who have read it (try and get quotes from well-known people/bloggers)
  • a call to action—”Buy the Book!”—with links
  • pages: about the book, about you, people involved (link love is good), sample chapter, forum, blog, reviews, and anything else you can offer that benefits your community
  • a video of you talking about your ebook—this is no time to be dull (unless that’s what people like about you)! Also, keep it to two minutes or you’ll lose people!

You also need to set up a Facebook fan page and Twitter hashtag or handle.

  • Get your Facebook page up and ready with your ebook picture, description, and links—you will need to be involved in the community for it to work—leaving quotes, interacting, starting discussions, etc. Always answer questions!
  • Have a hashtag ready to go (that isn’t being used at all) and if you will work it consistently, a Twitter handle as well—you need to interact with your community!

Create a video

It’s all about connection. You want to make a connection with your audience, your community. A video allows people to hear and see you, your expressions, your passion, and your heart for what you have written. Creating a thoughtful video (not something just slapped together) will significantly increase your reach and your sales. Tips:

  • If you’re selling your book using E-junkie, use their YouTube branding to get more traffic to your ebook website.
  • Make sure to put the whole URL of your ebook website in the description—make it the first thing there.

Price it right

There are tons of opinions on how you should price your ebook, and you can utilize Google to find them all out. My opinion is that you should consider your audience and then make a decision. My audience is made up of mostly stay-at-home moms, so I decided to price my ebook at $4.99 (also, no weird numbers please, like $4.97 or $6.93—simple is always better). My reasoning? Who doesn’t have five bucks?

Build buzz

The minute I decided I was going to put out an ebook, I began to talk about it and get my readers involved. Build excitement. Read Top Things I’ve Learned in Selling an Ebook, by Tim Ferriss.

Launch!

This is the fun part! You have worked hard and are ready (albeit nervous) to get your book out “there”! Here’s what you need to do:

  • Have a launch day celebration with giveaways. I contacted companies and had them donate to the release of my ebook. I used both of my blogs to launch, and had different giveaways for each. Giveaways and fun build excitement and spread the word.
  • Be everywhere. You’ve got to get (and keep) your ebook in front of people. Ask bloggers to do reviews and/or giveaways (get tons of these … and don’t stop). Guest post. Perhaps even pay for advertising on strategic sites—but only if they write a post along with an advertisement. The posts are gold.
  • Give your ebook away. Free is always good. I gave my ebook away free for one day only to anyone who would spread the work via social media channels. I gave over 2000 away for free, but this proved to be the best decision I could have made. You’ve got to break through your own sphere of influence. Giving away my ebook by having others spread the word everywhere in the online space broke through. I gave away over 2000, but I’ve also sold over 11,000.
  • More freebies! What can you offer that will reward those who have purchased your ebook? Think “free printables” or “extra chapters”, “bonus material,” etc. Have a readers-only downloads page.
  • Find a way to keep your ebook fresh. For example, my ebook has challenges in it. I listened to the feedback from readers, and decided I needed to have easier challenges for those in a different stage of life. I created the new challenges and then made them available for free to those who purchased the ebook. Be creative, and listen to your readers.
  • Find a way to make your ebook work in groups. The power of groups can make your ebook go viral. Can you put together a group challenge of some sort? A book club with questions (that you perhaps put on a reader downloads page)? Again, think creatively.
  • Pay attention to what bestselling authors do, and then do it. Look at @garyvee and @tferriss—brilliant marketers.

What tips can you add from your experience launching and selling your own ebooks? Add them below!

Sarah Mae is the author of the new Ebook, “How to Market and Sell Your Ebook – Everything You Need to Know to Make Money with ePublishing” and the bestselling ebook “31 Days to Clean—Having a Martha House the Mary Way You can follow Sarah Mae on Twitter @sarahmae or on her blog, LikeaWarmCupofCoffee.com.

Lovely Little Leaps of Faith

This post was written by the Web Marketing Ninja—a professional online marketer for a major web brand, who’s sharing his tips undercover here at ProBlogger. Curious? So are we!

For most people, spending money isn’t an automatic thing.  You’ve worked hard for your money, and when you’re about to part with it, you want to believe your hard work will actually mean something.

Copyright malcam - Fotolia.com

This meaning doesn’t need to be a logical thing—it can be completely emotive.

But with the inherent desire for meaning, there’s always a little voice inside us looking for a reason not to spend our cash.  As bloggers and online marketers, we’re often our own worst enemies.  With some of the tactics we use, we’re basically handing a megaphone to our readers’ little voices, and encouraging them to scream, “Get the heck out of here!”

When I’m evaluating my own work, or that of others, I often refer to these as leaps of faith. The bigger the leaps of faith you expect your customers to make, the less likely they’ll be to make them. Let’s look at ten of the most common, and see how you can make them lovelier!

Not making it clear what your blog is about

Some say three seconds, some five, and some ten—but so often to I come across blogs that I can’t even figure out in five minutes!  If a user’s thinking, “I don’t know what this site is about,” how could you expect them to give them your email address, or their money?

Not communicating what’s going to happen

Our fear of the unknown is strong. Chances are low that I’ll give you my email address or my credit card number if I have no idea what’s next in the process.  If you’re collecting email subscriptions, make sure your reader knows what they’re singing up for; if it’s a ebook download, make sure they know as soon as the payment is made that they’ll be emailed instructions on how to download; if it’s a physical product, tell them the fulfillment process up-front. This is simple stuff, but it’s important.

Making people feel like you’ve gone back to 1999

Design isn’t that important, right?  Wrong.  If your website looks like it was built in the 90s, then all I’d say is you’d want to have some pretty awesome content.  You’re blogging on the web, so it needs to looks like it fits here.  I doesn’t need to be a work of art, though—good is enough.

Not showing people how secure you are

If your readers or potential purchasers feel in any way that giving you money is going to compromise their information, they’ll scamper. Use PayPal as one payment option—it’s widely regarded as secure. Use Visa and MasterCard logos and “secured by” messaging to show that your site and checkout processes are secure.

Making people jump through hoops

More clicks makes for fewer sales. Equally, the more convoluted you make your sales process, the more clients will drop out.  We’re busy people with short attention spans, so only ask for the information you need to complete the transaction—ask for all the nice-to-haves later.

Breaking down before their very eyes

If your sales process breaks somehow, only the most motivated buyers will tell you about it. And by the time you realize, customers—and their money—will have left for somewhere else.  Make sure your key buying processes are bulletproof from reliability, validation, accessibility, and cross-browser compatibility perspectives.

Not showing safety in numbers

We like to buy in crowds—it makes us feel safe and secure.  If 10,000 people purchased your product and they’re all okay, then I’ll see the purchase as low-risk, and I’ll buy.  As a matter of authenticity, show real numbers rather than a figure you made up.  Users are pretty switched on to those kinds of errors now.

Not showing the past or the future

If you have a lengthy sales process, which for some products is a must, then make sure you show people the journey, so they know where they have come from and how far there is to go.  It puts the process (its length and level if intensity) up front, and keeps users motivated, as they know there’s an end in sight.

Asking for too much too soon

Passwords are a common factor in this point. Unfortunately, too many people use the same password for every site and service they use, so asking for a password on a small purchase can be like asking people for access to their bank accounts. On the flip side, people will likely trust you pretty quickly if you ask for a password, but there is a time to do this, and it’s after you’ve proven your worth to them.

Looking, talking, and thinking small

There’s nothing wrong about being small, but you can make yourself bigger buy showing you keep pretty good company.  It might be mentions in mainstream press or from larger personalities, or perhaps just showing you keep good company.  Be small—but only when it works in your favor.

I had a conversation with friend this week about a checkout process that, after three attempts, I simply couldn’t figure out. He mentioned that it was complicated because the tax rules in his country were complicated. I responded with the same comment I say to everyone:

Don’t make your customers’ lives hard just because yours is

After 30 minutes of exploring different options, we found a way to make it work—you always can.

… and that’s the real secret to lovely little leaps of faith.

Stay tuned for more posts by the secretive Web Marketing Ninja — a professional online marketer for a major web brand, who’s sharing his tips undercover here at ProBlogger.

Is It Time to Hit the Reset Button on Your Blog?

This guest post is by Joseph of Blog Tweaks.

Don’t worry, nearly every blogger knows the story. You’ve been writing for six months or more, but haven’t seen a significant increase in traffic. Some of your posts have have been successful, but the majority have gone unnoticed.

Quite frankly, you’re ready to quit.

But should you?

No. Don’t give up just yet.

Why you shouldn’t give up yet

Did you know that most professional bloggers weren’t successful with their first blogs? This list includes Darren Rowse, Jon Morrow, and Johnny Truant.

With so much to learn in the first year, it’s almost impossible to start a successful blog on the first try.

But you also learn a lot in that first year. You learn how to write better posts and how to craft compelling headlines. You learn how to use Facebook and Twitter for promotion, and how to work the technical side of WordPress or Blogger or whatever platform you’re using.

After a year of blogging, you’ve got a lot invested in your blog. If things are going rough 12 months, it’s not time to quit just yet.

So what should you do instead?

Hit the Reset button

Instead of giving up on your blog, you should hit the Reset button.

It’s not that your blog isn’t any good—you just didn’t know what you were doing when you started. This is the case with most bloggers.

When starting, they don’t know what they want to write about, and they don’t know how to write for an audience. Most people don’t even know how to write a simple post or headline.

It makes sense that you wouldn’t be successful with your first blog. Does a magazine owner start a successful magazine without any experience? Of course not.

Magazine owners start successful magazines after being in the industry for a decade or more. After years of experience, they’re ready to start a publication. That’s what the first year of blogging is all about—gaining industry experience.

So now that you have some experience, how do you use it to run a successful blog? And what do you do if your current blog isn’t performing as well as you’d like?

Here’s what to do—instead of giving up, hit one of the two blog Reset buttons.

Reset button #1: the Refresh button

If your blog is good enough, you may be able to get away with hitting Reset button number one—the Refresh button. This means cleaning up the clutter, giving your blog a new look, and planning for the future.

To refresh your blog, mercilessly delete any weak or unnecessary posts. After this, take a serious look at everything else on the site. If there are any tags or widgets that are creating clutter and adding no value, get rid of them. All of them.

Widgets shouldn’t just take up space. If you can’t think of what value that they add or if they take away from something important, it’s time for them to go.

Here’s an example: Do you really need a calendar widget for your blog? Do people actually use it? And even if a handful of people do, should it really sit above other important sidebar elements like your subscription widget?

The answer is no. It’s got to go. If there’s anything else like this, it needs to go as well.

The goal is to have a clean, uncluttered site that doesn’t distract from the steps that you want people to take. That means reading your posts, subscribing for future posts, clicking on ads, or anything else that is really important for you.

If there’s anything that doesn’t fit into one of these important categories, it needs to be removed. Immediately.

After cutting out the unnecessary clutter, the next step is to refresh your blog’s look. This is the time to invest in that premium theme you’ve been looking at. They’re usually around $80 and totally worth it.

If you want people to take your blog seriously, you need a professional looking site. To get one, invest in a premium theme.

This is how to hit the Refresh button. If your blog needs more help than this, it may be time for the Eject button.

Reset button #2: the Eject button

It’s possible that your blog is in worse condition than the refresh button can help with. When you started, you really didn’t know what you were doing. Your blog was totally an experiment, and you don’t even like your topic any more.

In this case, you need to hit Reset button number two—the Eject button.

If you’re really tired of your blog and you know you’re ready to start over, now is the time to do it. Hit the Eject button and get out of your blog while you still can. It’s time to start over.

The harsh reality is that you have a limited amount of time to write for your blog. Everything you write needs to be creating value for the reader and needs to contribute toward your long term goals. If you feel like your blog is headed in the wrong direction, don’t just try to wash it up a bit—get out as quickly as you can.

If you do, don’t quit—start another blog. Take some time to decide what you really want to write about, and then get to work.

Pick a topic that will get you going in the direction that you want to go. Then, start a self-hosted WordPress blog with a premium theme that will give you the flexibility and look that you need to create a professional impression that readers will take seriously.

After getting these pieces in place, it’s time to start writing again. Go ahead, make that keyboard work.

A fresh start

Don’t worry, it’s okay to start over. A fresh start in a new direction may be exactly what your blog needs. You may not realize it, but most bloggers have done it already. Most successful bloggers didn’t start out with the site that they’re currently writing. Most of them hit one of these two Reset buttons.

So what do you think? Is it time for you to hit the Reset button?

Joseph recently started Blog Tweaks which specializes in helping bloggers reset their blogs. Check out the site to see how you can get your blog tweaked.