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Top 15 FREE Internet Marketing Tools To Boost Your Online Business

This is a guest contribution from Kulwant Nagi.

Today, Internet marketing is evolving at a greater pace than ever.

Companies are pulling out all the stops to get more online exposure and, eventually, more customers. Using premium services for all the tools necessary for Internet marketing is not feasible for every business – that’s when free options come into play.

When I started my career two years ago, I was not aware of these tools, so I kept looking for the best and easiest ways to boost my business. I continued to add all the tools to my browser’s bookmarks for quick & easy access.

If you are one of the Internet marketers who is still banging their head against a brick wall to find free tools that can help you save your time, boost your productivity and ultimately bring some favorable results, then stay tuned for another 5–10 minutes. 

Here I am going to reveal 15 Internet marketing tools which I am personally using and getting huge benefits from.

15 Free Tools to Help Your Online Business

1. Content Idea Generator 

Being an Internet marketer, I can understand how difficult it is to come up with a great idea. Having writer’s block is one of the biggest enemies for all the Internet marketers.

When that’s the case, you can use this idea generator tool, which offers tons of creative ideas.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.13.35 am2. Pocket

I am deeply in love with this tool :)

Such a killer innovation that makes it possible to enjoy articles anywhere in the world.

Pocket can be added as an extension on any browser or downloaded as an app for all smart phones. You can install this app in your browser and save articles for future reading. All the saved articles can be accessed at a later time.

The app not only enables you to read articles, but also makes a great repository for all the best articles in the world. The articles you save using the Pocket app will be logged in your account and you can access them anytime you want.

Here is a screenshot of my pocket app:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.14.16 am3. BufferApp

This is great service for sharing your content on various social media websites. You can easily schedule your content on various social media and site and populate your content very simply, all from one dashboard.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.15.08 am4. HootSuite

If we talk about social media management, HootSuite grabs the top position on the list. This little tool helps you manage all your social media activities from one dashboard. 

You can schedule your tweets, Facebook status updates, Google+ shares and various other awesome things which are only limited by your imagination!

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.16.19 am5. Backlinks Checker

Moz and SEMRush are the best tools to use to check backlinks for any website. Although they offer only a few searches for free members, you can still find your competitors’ backlinks very easily.

6. Keyword Niche Finder 

Keyword Niche Finder is an awesome and easy-to-use software. It will let you come up with most profitable keyword(s) in your niche.

The tool will categorise your keywords according to different niches and will provide you with keyword suggestions for different niches of your keyword.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.17.30 am7. After the Deadline

This is a Chrome extension which will let you check spelling, style and grammar. It will check your spelling in real time, so you’ll never make the same mistakes again.

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Note: If you are a WordPress user, you can download this plugin here. 

8. Loading Speed Testing Tools

I love Google page speed and GTMetrix.

Both tools analyse websites to determine the loading time on your blog. Google gives priority to fast-loading blogs, so these tools will show opportunity areas on your blog to improve the loading time. After following suggestions given by these tools, you can improve your blog’s loading time dramatically.

See my blog’s speed here:

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Small SEO Tools

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Small SEO Tools is the best site I’ve come across in my blogging career.

They have included some of the best tools, free of cost. I personally use this site daily for different tasks.

They have tools like: 

  1. Plagiarism checker
  2. Article rewriter
  3. Keyword position
  4. Google PageRank checker
  5. Backlink checker
  6. Online ping tool
  7. Alexa rank checker
  8. Domain IP lookup
  9. Keyword suggestion tool
  10. Page speed checker tool

and at least 30 more tools to make your life easier.

10. Google Drive and Dropbox

I cannot imagine blogging without the help of Google Drive and Dropbox (As a matter of fact, I wrote this article on Google docs). Both are easy-to-use online tools where you can save your most important files and access them in any part of the world.

Google Drive continuously saves your data while you are still preparing a document so there is no need to worry if there is any interruption, like computer hangs or shutdown.

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Dropbox gives you 2GB space when you join. By referring your online buddies, you can get an additional 20GB of space at no cost.

11. Audacity

If you love to create podcasts on your blog or are thinking about starting to create them, then this is one of the must-have tools for you. 

Audacity comes with a fantastic interface which helps you to mix your audio files, cut down little portions, adjust volume and many other little tweaks to make your audio file more professional.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.21.26 am12. Email marketing software

MailChimp, MadMimi and Ininbox are three free tools which you can use to build subscribers on your blog.

They allow you to add a good number of subscribers, free of cost. They each have different tools that you can customise to your needs.

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13. PhotoPin

More than 60 percent of images on my blog have been downloaded from PhotoPin.

Photopin fetches free images from Flickr, which makes a great collection. In the search results, the first 10-15 images will be sponsored images, so you can skip those images and choose the appropriate images from the rest of the collection for your blog post.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.23.17 am

14. StatCounter

A killer alternative to Google Analytics, StatCounter will track each and every activity on your blog, like the source of recent visits, recent keywords, visitor’s location, visitor’s country, exit links, visit length, returning visits and many more awesome features that allow you to keep close tabs on your visitors.

You will get few lines of code which you can add to your blog and start tracking your visitors right away.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.23.51 am15. Asana

Asana is a teamwork management software which was primarily designed for internal email circulation at Facebook headquarters. But soon after that, they launched it to the open market and made it free to use.

Asana lets you assign tasks to your team members and keeps you informed about their activities. As soon as they finish the task assigned to them, you will get an email notification. This will not only help you to track your progress, but you will also be able to manage your team’s tasks very efficiently. 

Kulwant Nagi is an Internet marketing expert. He writes at BloggingCage.com where he shares blogging and SEO tips to help you make your blogging career awesome.

 

How to Create Your Guest Blogging Strategy [with a 5 step template]

This is a guest contribution from Toby JenkinsScreen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.08.01 amMy business partner Adam Franklin attended the ProBlogger Event on the Gold Coast in 2014, and returned fired up and with a whole heap of take-homes.  At the ProBlogger Event, Darren spoke of success being a matter of doing the ordinary things. Specifically, to start, put readers first, be useful, find your rhythm, create meaning, and persist!

This has inspired me to share this recent guest blogging story.

We’re not talking about guest blogging that Google frowns upon, but high-value blogging via influencer outreach. Guest blogging is a hot topic we’ve been asked a ton of questions about lately and with good reason.

If creating great content is the first step, then promoting your content is the crucial second step. Guest blogging is a powerful way to do just that as you get to write for a whole new audience!

As well as helping you dodge some of the key mistakes, planning your guest blogging strategy will help you find, evaluate and target the best blogging opportunities.

When I blogged for fellow Aussie blogger Jeff Bullas

Jeff Bullas was ranked #11 on Forbes list of “Social Media Power Influencers” and he accepted my post called 6 Critical Types of Social Media You Must Plan For. Here are some of the exciting results:

> Record Month

This post helped us hit a record month in website traffic.

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> Landing page visits skyrocketed

I had a call to action in the article and linked to our Negative Comments Response Template (for Social Media) landing page. Visits to this page skyrocketed and so too did email opt-ins.

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> 4000+ Social Shares

Jeff’s huge social media community, and particularly his Twitter following, meant that the post received a ton of social shares too:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.09.37 am

> 50 National Media Mentions

It caught the attention of Fairfax Media.  Finally, when we sent this post to our Bluewire News subscribers, a journalist replied and asked if I was interested in writing an op-ed piece for Fairfax Media (one of the largest media companies in Australia). Of course I agreed! 

So I wrote a more concise op-ed piece called “He’s been questioned by police” and it was published on the Sydney Morning Herald homepage two days later, and syndicated across all 50 online Fairfax publications and three blogs:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.10.20 am Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.10.37 am

For the SEO geeks, these 50 backlinks were from news websites with domain authorities ranging from DA38 to DA92 and I was fortunate to have a follow backlink in my bio.

Building backlinks, watching traffic spike and getting qualified subscribers are all exciting outcomes. I was genuinely surprised (and stoked of course!) that this article had struck a chord. 

You can see why guest blogging can be a powerful tool.

Why did we approach Jeff Bullas? 

Aside from being a Forbes Social Media Power Influencer, there were a number of strategic reasons why we asked Jeff.

In short, he has a hugely popular social media marketing blog, followers in excess of 250,000 and we had built a strong relationship with him over the years. We also knew he accepted high quality guest posts. 

I’d aspired to write for Jeff’s blog for a long time so I’ll use it as an example as we go.

How to create your Guest Blogging Strategy 

For the rest of this post I’m going to take you step by step through the Guest Blogging Strategy Template.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.11.26 am

(If you’re really keen you might like to download our free Guest Blogging Strategy Template and fill it out as you work your way through this post – if not, then just read on!). 

1. Brainstorm Your Targets

This doesn’t need to be a long, drawn out process. Take 15 minutes to brainstorm and list some of the blogs you’d like to write for. An easy way is to simply google blogs in your niche; for example “social media blogs” or “gardening blogs”.

Large or small, seemingly impossible or really easy, just get them down. Sometimes this can feel like you have waaay too many options. That’s ok – the next steps will help you prioritise your target blogs.

2. Research Your Numbers

> Domain Authority:

One of the fastest free ways to check domain authority is to use Moz’s Open Site Explorer tool:Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.11.58 am

Jeffbullas.com has a Domain Authority of 71/100 which is really strong. To put this in context, Google.com is 100/100, Forbes.com is 97/100, and Bluewiremedia.com.au is currently 46/100. From an SEO standpoint alone, a backlink from Jeff’s website would be really valuable to us.

The Mozbar plugin makes this step really easy by showing the Open Site Explorer info on any blog you visit:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.12.43 am> Traffic Rank:

For this use Alexa’s free traffic rank analytics tool:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.13.06 am

Result:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.13.45 am

Jeff’s website gets a ton of traffic which means that the article would be seen by lots of relevant people.

> Number of email subscribers in their list:

Jeff doesn’t actually publish his email subscriber numbers, but many others do:

Problogger: [or just look to right hand side of your screen :-) ]

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.14.26 am

BufferApp:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.14.53 am

Convince and Convert:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.15.28 am

Email lists are a great indicator that the time you spend writing your content will be rewarded when it is seen by a large relevant audience.

> Blog subscribers:

Searching through Feedly will allow you to get blog subscriber numbers:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.15.17 pm

> Twitter Followers:

Twitter followers are easy to find for Jeff. He has 246,000!

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.16.46 pm

> Facebook fans:

Facebook fan numbers are easy to find too:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.17.32 pm

As you can see getting these numbers isn’t a long process. In fact it could be a piece of research that you ask an assistant to help you with.

3. People and outreach

As a part of your research, find out the contact person for each blog and their email address.

> Strength of relationship

Jeff has built an incredible audience, following and reputation. We’ve deliberately got to know him over the last few years by interviewing him in person and on our podcast, following his work on social media and inviting him to speak at our Social Media Down Under conference.

Because we’ve known him for a long time and nurtured a relationship, Jeff was much more likely to trust our content and therefore to post it and share it with his audience.

> Outreach

Then it’s outreach time.  I wrote him a short email:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.18.22 pm

He accepted it, tweaked the title and posted it the next day.
The point worth emphasising here is that Jeff is a high-value, power blogger so without our long ‘getting to know you’ process our chances of acceptance would’ve been much slimmer. You’ll see it took years of proactively getting to know Jeff and this email was the final stage of following a deliberate process.  I’ve outlined all the steps in our Blogger Outreach Email Template. 

If you do get knocked back, don’t let it get you down, just read How to Handle Guest Post Rejection and get back on the horse. You can tweak the post and try again or submit it to a new blog.

4. Content and SEO

> How interesting is your content going to be to their audience?

Once you’ve determined that it’s definitely an audience you’d like to reach, then it’s crucial that you tailor your content for them. 

I thought my article on handling social media comments had a very good chance of being interesting to Jeff’s audience.

Please note: Ultimately making your content interesting to their audience is the single biggest factor in the success of your guest blogging. Understanding the different angles of your story that will enable you to tell it to different audiences is a deal maker and breaker. 

There are lots of ways you can craft your experiences and stories to fit different audiences.

For example, I wrote for a cloud accounting software business called Saasu and aligned our marketing content with financial reviews to make it more relevant:

How To Use Your Financial Reviews To Improve Your Marketing.

And another one I wrote for outsourcing giant oDesk discussed managing remote marketing projects: 10 Minutes Can Transform Your Remote Projects.

In order to make sure the post would be interesting to Jeff’s audience, I also reviewed what other articles had been written on comment handling on his blog to make sure it would add to their points and not just rehash them. I found an earlier post and linked to it in my article to demonstrate that I had done my homework. 

I also reviewed other guest blog posts to make sure my article would match the style.

> SEO

From an SEO standpoint, I made sure I had my bio linking back to our website, specifically where people can download our 33 free marketing templates and I had a call to action to download the Negative Comments Response Template.  I’d decided to target the keyword phrase ‘negative comments handling’ using the free Keyword Tool.

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 3.19.09 pm

5. Activity

Then it’s a matter of getting in, writing the article, hitting your deadlines and making sure you give yourself the best chance of success.

Hopefully this Guest Blogging Strategy Template can help you focus on the opportunities that will get you the best results, fastest. The little bit of research upfront will really prepare and help you to make the most of the effort you put into the guest blog post itself.

Comments?

What else do you look for when assessing guest blog opportunities? I’ll see you in the comments and the most informative commenter wins a copy of my book!

Toby Jenkins is an Olympic Water Polo player and co-author of Web Marketing That Works. You can download his 33 free marketing templates.

10 Quick Tips for Going Viral

This is a guest post from Jerry Low.

If you’re on the web, your site and blog are likely unique – but one thing all blogs have in common is the drive for new subscribers and increased traffic. In the past few years, we’ve learned about the power of going viral – every blogger’s dream. But going viral is not always something that you can plan… or is it?

Here are 10 ways to increase your chances of going viral and hitting blogger gold:

Square one: Know that it can be done

Going viral isn’t like catching the fabled leprechaun – it does exist. At square one, you’ll need two things to make it happen: (1) Great, unique content, and (2) Crazy awesome outreach and promotional skills.

Here’s the thing – 99 percent of us don’t have that fat wad of cash sitting around that huge marketing campaigns require. Additionally, with respect to #2, 99 percent of us don’t have access to insider information – which is why it’s very hard for the “little guy” to go viral.

Note: very hard does not mean impossible; it can be done if you are smart and hard working.

Take, for example, Richard’s post on Link building tools – the post, published early on in Clambr’s days, received 2,000 FB likes, 100+ Google+ +1s, and 300+ tweets… no chump change. Early on – with little expendable budget – done thanks to great content and great social media and outreach skills.

Tip 1 – Getting the basics done right

If your post isn’t easily sharable, the odds of it going viral are slim at best. The most basic element of going viral is ensuring that your content has easy pass through via clearly visible social sharing icons. Use a Click-to-Share plugin (as Garrett Moon suggested earlier) if it helps.

Beyond share-ability, you need to have your other basics aligned.

slow site speed

Image credit: Mashable.

For starters, make sure that you blog loads fast enough – slow loads lose visitors. Additionally, within your actual post, make sure that you have a clear call to action – if you’re wanting to go viral, make sure that you ask your followers and readers to share your content – clearly and visibly.

And finally, make sure that you have the SEO fundamentals down – your site and post need to be easy to find through search engines.

Tip 2 – Be trend leading

You can’t go viral if you’re saying the same thing as everyone else – you have a better chance of getting your content read when a topic is trending (and you’re on the forefront of it or offering a unique perspective).

It’s common sense why trending content gets higher click-through rates on social media; that’s the content people are interested in. But beyond the “Trending on Twitter” feed, you can also use Google trends to find search trends – from there, it’s about creating relevant, quality content on that topic.

Tip 3 – Write list posts

List posts are notorious for increasing SEO ranking – but they’re also notorious for attracting readers (why else do you think sites like BuzzFeed and Tumblr have exploded). This list format is appealing because of the unique topics, original insight, and easy readability. In fact, after analyzing 100 million articles, Noah Kagan from OkDork concluded that list posts receive more average shares than other types of blogposts. ‘Nuff said.

shares by content

Tip 4 – LOL, Win, OMG, Cute, Trasy, Rail, and WTF

No, I didn’t just walk off a high school campus. BuzzFeed has identified several specific content categories that most of its successful content fits into – the seven categories include:

  • LOL – humorous content
  • Win – useful content
  • OMG – shocking content
  • Cute – cute content (think fuzzy baby animals)
  • Trashy – ridiculous fails… typically of others
  • Fail – something that everyone’s frustrated with
  • WTF – strange, bizarre content

Beyond that advice, though, are the studies that suggest that positive content is more likely to go viral than negative content. For example, this study from U Penn that considers how emotions affect virality.

Tip 5 – Write long post

Bloggers often stick to the magic 500 words for posts – but did you know that, statistically speaking, longer posts with higher word counts are more contagious? Of course, correlation isn’t causation. In my opinion, longer posts tend to get more social media shares simply because the more verbose posts have an opportunity to offer more value to the readers.

The takeaway? Don’t cut yourself off for fear of exceeding 500.

 

Tip 6 – Not all social media shares are created equal

This one seems like common sense, but all too often, we count the number of shares, rather than the quality of them (talk to anyone measuring social media clip counts and you’ll get an earful on the topic). From the same study in tip three, Noah Kagan found that the average shares are generally higher if you manage to get more influencers to share your content.

In fact, having just one influential person share your content can result in 31.8% more social shares. Expound upon that by having five influencers share your content – this can nearly quadruple the total number of shares. Quality, not quantity.

Make a point to connect with – and build relationships with – influencers in your industry.

Tip 7 – Use visual content

People’s attention spans for web content are shockingly limited – and continuing to shrink. Again, we direct your attention to the success of sites like Pinterest or Tumblr that rely on minimal content with lots of images.

A bold, relevant photo speaks volumes to your viewer – so consider using a photo or GIF instead of a big old block of text. Need more reasons to rely on imagery? Here are 19.

Tip 8 – Don’t just focus on the big three

Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are undeniable social media giants – but there are plenty of other worthwhile social media sites out there. Take SlideShare, for one – this site gets about 120 million views each month. Or Pinterest which, as of July 2013, had more than 70 million users. That’s huge!

Tip 9 – Create videos

Video has been a huge asset in the marketing world since the TV era first bloomed. And, it has continued to grow. More than 100 million people watch videos online these days and, thanks to modern technology, it’s crazy easy and cheap to create unique videos yourself.

From instructional how-to’s to product overviews, vlogs, etc., the opportunities are endless – and if you aren’t taking advantage, you’re simply missing out. Need some incentive? Check out these 100 video stats and facts.

Tip 10 – Understand and segment your followers

You must understand who are your targeted audience and how they are using each social media channel. Yes, as a blogger you are likely working from the comfort of your home or office or local Starbucks. You do not have to sit down face to face with your audience.

But that does not mean you don’t need to know them.

Quick tips –

  • Think about your ideal reader – Who are they? Where do they live? What makes them smile? What makes them feel like they can’t resist clicking on that Facebook share button?
  • Study your competitors – Spy on their blogs, follow their hashtags and see what events or online hangouts they are attending.
  • Research your targeted audience via different media – Literature, interviews, movies, school programs, or even TV and radio shows. Is there anything you may turn into a great post or article?
  • Segment your followers and if possible, treat them differently – For example, readers on ProBlogger.net might be interested with blogging topic but not into WordPress tutorials (they could be using Typepad, Blogger, Tumblr, or even Square Space). To get maximum engagement rate, think of a way to feed personalized content to your followers.

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Conclusion -

While you can’t force your content to go viral (by definition, viral means other people are sharing your content with growing momentum), you can give it a boost so that it’s more likely to get picked up. Do these 10 things and you’ll be well positioned to take the internet by storm.

Have something I missed? Share it below in the comments.

Jerry Low is a geek dad who enjoys building web assets. You can get more of his blogging tips here

Looking to Guest Post on Authority Sites? Here’s How to Find the Best Blogs

guestpostThis is a guest contribution from

It’s no secret that getting your content published on the most popular and highly trafficked blogs in your niche can do a lot to grow your business. However, if you’ve ever tried to land these guest blogging spots, then you also know it’s not the easiest thing to do.

You need to first figure out which blogs are worth publishing on, and then you need to convince the blog owner that your content is worth publishing.

You see, there is a lot of competition to get published on popular blogs. If you want to grab one of these coveted spots for yourself, then you need to know the secrets of finding and getting published on the best blogs.

That’s what you’re about to discover how to do inside this report. Here’s an overview of how to find the best B.L.O.G.S. for guest posting:

  • Build a Presence: This is the little-known key to getting published that many people overlook.
  • Look for Suitable Blogs: In this section you’ll learn how to find plenty of guest blogging opportunities.
  • Optimize Your List: Not all blogs are created equal, which is why in this step you’ll cull your list to retain only the best guest blogging opportunities.
  • Get Published: Here you’ll find out tricks for getting published more often.
  • Send Inquiries: At this step you’ll find out how to get published on blogs that don’t actively solicit guest content.

Let’s get to it…

Step 1: Build a Presence

Here’s a little secret many would-be guest authors overlook: blog owners don’t want content from a “no-name nobody.”

Truth is, there are plenty of places for them to get this sort of content all over the web, such as from article directories. What’s more, plenty of “no-name nobodies” submit their content all day long to these blog owners.

You see, blog owners can afford to be selective. And when they publish content, they’re thinking about how it benefits them. Often they’re looking for two things:

  • Guest bloggers with big platforms, such as a big social media following. Guest authors often tell their followers about their publications, so this means a link back and some fresh traffic for the blog owner.
  • Guest bloggers who’re established experts. This goes back to not wanting to publish content by no-name authors. Blog owners would much rather publish articles from known experts in the niche.

So here’s the point: If you don’t yet have a social media following or you’re not yet an established expert, you need to get on that before you start submitting guest articles to the big blogs. Here are tips and guidelines to follow:

  • Get established on all the major social media channels. This includes Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. Be sure to present a professional image, including your full (real) name, a photo and mature posts. Many blog owners will research you, so you want to show you’re a real person on these social media sites.
  • Build a following. Merely getting established helps, because it shows you’re a real person (not a spammer). However, building a following is better because it shows the blog owner that you can offer something of benefit to them – fresh traffic.
  • Showcase your expertise. Next, you need to publish content widely online. This helps establish you as an expert, while also serving as a bit of social proof that yes, you would make a good guest author.

To that end, publish content on your own blog, publish on your friends’ blogs, write and publish a book (using Kindle and/or CreateSpace), release “special reports” in your niche and so on. Basically, you want to see a lot of good content come up when someone searches for your name.

  • Befriend the big players in your niche. Tag them on thoughtful posts via social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Write about them on your blog and leave a trackback. Engage in discussions with them on their blogs, on forums and on social media. Develop relationships with them, as not only will others see you as a solid part of the niche, but these relationships make it easier to get published on the blogs belonging to the big players.

You get the point – become a solid part of the niche, showcase your expertise, and demonstrate that you have something of value (followers, expertise, etc) to offer blog owners.

Once you’ve built up this presence in your niche, then you can move onto the next step…

Step 2: Look for Suitable Blogs

Now it’s time to find blogs which may offer guest blogging opportunities. For now, you’re merely making a list. Just a bit later you’ll find out how to cull this list in order to create a shorter list of only the best and non-spammy blogs.

So what you want to do is first think about the big players in your niche. If you’ve been working in your niche for any amount of time, then you should be able to produce a list of some of the most respected authors, bloggers, marketers and other influencers in your niche.

To help you brainstorm, add the following to your list:

  • People who get talked a lot about in the niche.
  • People with big platforms, like popular blogs, forums, newsletters or social media followings.
  • People who’re noted authors, including published books as well as newspaper or magazine columns.
  • Marketers with the top-selling products in your niche.

And so on – basically, list everyone who is a “someone” in your niche.

Once you’ve listed all the big players you can think of, then your next step is go to Google to uncover more of the big sites as well as the big players (AKA influencers) in your niche.

What you want to do is plug in several searches that are all closely related to your niche. Be specific with longtail keywords, as this will help you uncover the blogs and influencers which are most closely related to what you’re doing.

Example: Let’s suppose you’re interested in weight loss for women. Your searches might look like this:

  • Weight loss for women
  • Lose weight for women
  • Dieting for women
  • How women can lose weight
  • Tips for women weight loss
  • Get a bikini body
  • Safe ways for women to lose weight
  • Get rid of belly fat females
  • Female fat loss
  • Exercise tips for women
  • Dieting advice for women

Take note that the above examples tackle the topics from multiple angles by searching for synonyms both women (alternative females, but may also try ladies and girls) as well as dieting (alternatives include lose weight, weight loss, fat loss, etc). Google will display results that include synonyms (unless you put your search in quotes), but you should see slightly different results when searching for your own synonyms.

At this point there are two things you’re looking for:

  1. The top sites on the first two pages of Google for each search. Don’t look at the sponsored results, as right now you’re looking for top blogs that have earned their way in through good content (versus bought their way in with an advertisement).

When you encounter a site, click on it and quickly see if they publish a blog or content in any form, something which you could contribute to. If so, add it to your list.

Finally, take note of who owns these sites – these folks are some of the influencers in your niche. Which brings us to the second thing you’re looking for…

  1. The influencers listed on the first two pages of Google for each search. When you search Google, you’ll see photos of authors alongside their names at times. Add these people to your list as well.

Tip: You’ll want to begin building relationships with the influencers in your niche, as it will make it easier for you to get published on their blogs. You’ll learn more about how to do this just a bit later in the report.

Next, go back to Google and this time search the names of the influencers on your list. You want to see where these folks are publishing content online, because you may want to publish your content on these same sites, so add them to your list.

Be sure to check out their social media pages, as most influencers tweet or otherwise post about the places where they are publishing content. Obviously, you should also visit their websites, as they likely list their publications there as well.

The final part of this step is re-run your niche keyword search as mentioned above, except this time you’re going to specifically search for sites which accept guest articles. To that end, search for your main niche keywords (such as “women lose weight”) alongside the following types of keywords:

  • Guest article
  • Guest author
  • Guest article submission
  • Guest author submission
  • Submit articles
  • Submit guest articles
  • Submit blog articles
  • Submission guidelines
  • Guest author guidelines
  • Guest posting guidelines
  • Guest article guidelines
  • Guest blogging guidelines
  • Contributor submission
  • Contributor guidelines
  • Become a contributor
  • Submit article contributions
  • Submit your article
  • How to submit your article
  • Become a guest blogger
  • Become a guest author
  • Guest post
  • Guest posting
  • Guest blogging
  • Write for us

You’re likely to find some overlap as you go through these different searches, and that’s okay. Just keeping adding new sites to your list as you find them.

Once you have your list of possible sites on which you can publish, move onto the next step…

Step 3: Optimize Your List

You should have a pretty good list of possibilities at this point, but not all these sites are worth publishing on. Some of them are rather spammy. Some of them don’t have good content, so it’s not the sort of place with which you want your name to be associated.

So here’s how to cull your list:

  • Make sure the blog is in your niche. Sometimes a keyword search will uncover a blog, but the blog may not even be in your niche. It may be an article directory or content farm. You can cross these off your list.
  • Read the content to be sure it’s high quality. Would you be proud to have your name listed on this blog? Is the existing content high-quality, entertaining and useful? If so, keep this site on your list.
  • Look for popular blogs. Is there any indication that the blog is popular, such as several people commenting on each blog? Be sure that if there are blog comments, they’re relevant and not spammy. You might also compare sites using a tool like Alexa.com, which will give you an idea of how much traffic a site gets.

Note: Alexa is not a perfect tool, as it only counts visits from those who’ve installed their toolbar. As such, be sure that you’re only comparing similar sites – “apples to apples.” Comparing apples to oranges on Alexa won’t give you good results, because there may be some bias in that Alexa users may visit one type of site, but not another type of site… which would skew the estimated traffic numbers.

  • Cull the spammy sites. Some sites may possess the above characteristics, and yet they just look spammy. If it’s hard to read an article without being interrupted by ads everywhere (pop ups, ads in the content, ads in the side bar, etc), then it may not be the best place for you to post your content. Stick to the sites that present a balance of ads and content.
  • Check if links are “nofollow.” If you are interested in publishing on a site primarily for SEO linking purposes, then you’ll want to be sure anywhere you post allows the search engines to follow links. You’ll need to check the page source to be sure. If you’re using a browser like IE, then go to “View” and “Page Source” (other browsers have similar methods). Then search for a “nofollow” tag.

Note: If you’re not publishing for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes, then don’t worry about this step.

  • Find out if people are talking about the site. First, check Google to see how many people are linking to and talking about the site positively. Use “link:domain.com” as a search operator in Google, being sure to replace “domain.com” with the actual domain of the site you’re researching.bull1

Secondly, check social media. Are people retweeting and reposting articles from the site? That’s a good sign. Keep those sorts of sites on your list.

Once you’ve optimized your list by crossing off the spammy and other undesirable sites, then move onto the next step…

Step 4: Get Published

Now it’s time to get published. You’re going to start by picking the low-hanging fruit – this means submitting your content to sites which actively solicit guest articles. These are the sites you searched for when you sought out your keywords alongside search terms such as “contribute guest articles.”

Obviously, this also includes any other sites on your list that seek out guest contributions.

Here are the keys for getting published on these sites…

  • Read and Follow the Guidelines. The popular blogs in your niche get a lot of contributions and can’t publish them all. In many cases, the blog owners will initially sift through the contributions and immediately trash any of them which don’t adhere to the published guidelines. As such, be sure that you read and then follow the contributor’s guidelines closely.
  • Study existing content for inspiration. The second thing you want to do is study the articles that are already posted on the blog, and pay attention to the topics as well as the overall style of these articles. That’s because one good way to predict what type of article will get published in the future is to look at what types of articles are already getting published.

Example: Does the blog owner prefer conversational-style articles, opinion articles, academic research-type articles, tips articles or something else? Figure out what they like, and then model your article in the same style.

  • Offer something original. In other words, don’t put up the same rehashed content as everyone else. Instead, offer a fresh approach. For example, if you’re talking about a fairly common method for doing something, then offer your own “twists” and tips for making the method even more effective.

Another way to craft something original is to coin a new phrase of formula around a solid method. This report is an example, with its B.L.O.G.S. system corresponding to each step of finding suitable blogs and getting published. As you’ll discover in just a few moments, this report also offers a fresh approach because it includes an email template that you can put to work for you immediately to land guest publishing spots.

  • Create high-quality content. Your article should be both entertaining and very useful, so that readers can take action on it and see good results. You can also include graphics (such as infographics, illustrations, mind maps, etc) to add value to your article and make it more useful and attractive to both the blog owner as well as his or her readers. You can also pass the article by a good proofreader or editor to make sure it’s easy to read and in good condition technically speaking.
  • Give it a good title. Finally, be sure to add a good title to your article, perhaps one that promises a benefit or even arouses curiosity. A good title is essential because if your title doesn’t catch the reader’s eye (beginning with the blog owner), then you’re doomed before you even get out of the gate.

Example: A: Let me give you examples of “before” and “after” titles, where the after titles are spiced up and present a benefit in a more exciting way:

Before: 7 Weight Loss Tips for Women

After: The 7 Secrets for Quick and Easy Fat Loss Every Woman Ought to Know

Before: Improve Your Golf Swing

After: How to Improve Your Golf Swing Using One Weird Trick

Before: How to Negotiate a Used Car Deal

After: 5 Surefire Steps for Getting a Great Deal on a Used Car

Once your article is polished, primped and ready to go, then submit it according to the submission guidelines. And what if you’d like to post on a site that doesn’t actively solicit guest content? That’s where the final step comes in…

Step 5: Send an Inquiry

Just because a site doesn’t actively solicit content doesn’t mean they won’t accept it. You will likely need to be prepared for a high rejection rate, but don’t let that deter you – it’s well worth the effort if you do get published on a busy and popular site.

There are three things you need to do to increase your chances of getting published on these sites:

  1. Be prepared to submit extremely high quality content. See the tips in the previous section.
  1. Develop relationships with site owners. Simply put, it’s easier to get published on these sites if the site owner knows who you are. More about this below.
  1. Craft a compelling inquiry. Rather than directly submitting content to a blog owner, you’ll be submitting an inquiry. You’ll find an example below.

Let’s look at these last two separately…

Develop Relationships

At the very least you should seek to get on the radar of the big players in your niche, but it’s even better if you can develop friendships with them.

Here are five tips for making yourself known:

  • Join important niche discussions. In particular, join the discussions of which they’re a part of, such as discussions on their blog, their Facebook Group, their Facebook page and elsewhere.
  • Start up a personal dialogue. You might begin by tagging them when you talk about something related to their business on Twitter or Facebook. Once you have your foot in the door, then start up a private conversation.
  • Attend live events. This includes both offline industry events (such as trade shows or seminars) as well as online events such as Google Hangouts. Introduce yourself, ask thoughtful questions and get to know the big players on a personal level.
  • Blog about the big players (using trackbacks). This is actually another way to join a discussion – blog a response to it, and use trackbacks to point back to the blog post to which you’re replying. You may also blog about the big player’s products, ideas or anything else.
  • Become an affiliate. Finally, another good way to become known by the big players is to make money for them. Be sure to use the same name on your affiliate account as you use everywhere else so that the vendor recognizes you.

Again – the more known you are, the easier it is to get published on sites which don’t actively solicit content. Which brings us to the next point…

Craft an Inquiry

If a site doesn’t actively solicit content, then any articles you submit directly will likely go straight to the trash (as that looks presumptuous of you). For these sorts of sites, you need to send an inquiry instead. In some cases, even sites that actively solicit content will ask that you send an inquiry (or query) first.

What you need to is craft an inquiry that gets the blog owner excited about publishing your content. This means you should let the blog owner know why it’s beneficial to publish your content, perhaps based on your unique article, your established expertise in the field, and/or your ability to drive traffic to their site.

Let me give you an example inquiry. Please note that you should research each blog thoroughly so that you can craft an inquiry that’s personalized for each blog owner.

——————————

Subject: [Write a Personalized, Attention-Grabbing Subject]

Dear [First Name],

My name is [your name], and I run the [name/URL] website. The reason I’m writing today is to offer you the opportunity to get both free content for your blog as well as free, highly targeted traffic.

Let me explain…

What I’m proposing is to offer you an original, exclusive and high-quality article for your readers on the topic of [topic]. I’ve seen your readers [explain what you’ve seen them do – ask for this topic, show interest in the topic via the comments, etc], which is why I think they’ll be really pleased to see an in-depth treatment of the subject. You can see the article here [post link to article – should be a private URL, not accessible to the public. In other words, this article shouldn’t already be published elsewhere.].

The second benefit you’ll enjoy is free traffic coming into your website. If you publish this article on your site, then I’ll send out a link to my [number] of social media followers, [number] blog visitors and [number] newsletter subscribers. That’s free exposure for you.

To discuss this proposition further, or if you’d like content on a different topic, please contact me at [contact info]. I look forward to hearing from you.

[Sign off]

P.S. I enjoyed your discussion on [some recent topic] because [specific reason why you enjoyed it – prove you’ve done your research]. I think my article on [topic] will tie-in nicely with yours, and give your readers [some benefit]. Let me know what you think…

——————————

As you can see, the idea is to show the blog that you’re not sending out a cookie cutter form letter, while also letting him or her know the benefits of publishing your content.

Remember, getting a “yes” to an unsolicited request like this is easier if you’ve built relationships with site owners.

Now let’s wrap things up…

Conclusion

So there you have it: The five steps to finding high-quality sites on which to publish content, as well as plenty of tips for maximizing your chances of getting published.

Let’s quickly recap these steps:

  • Build a Presence in social media and elsewhere so that you become known in your niche.
  • Look for Suitable Blogs using special Google search terms.
  • Optimize Your List: Here you found out how to cull your list of blogs.
  • Get Published: This is where you discovered the tricks for getting published more often.
  • Send Inquiries: At this step you found out how to get published on blogs that don’t actively solicit guest content.

Now you have the plan – all you need is the content. And if you’re offering original content to dozens of blogs (which is well worth the effort), then you’re going to need a lot of content.

Now, I’d like to hear about your guest blogging success in the comments below. How do you find blogs for guest posts? I’m waiting at the comments section below!

 

Danny Adetunji is a freelance copywriter with over 5 years experience. He writes all things about copywriting and marketing at Thewolfofcopy.com. If you want to boost your revenue, turn leads into sales, retain more repeat customers, and generate more revenue from your online business, you should hire him!

 

 

 

4 Steps to Successful Product Creation Every Blogger Should Know (But Most Don’t!)

2015_01_30_probloggerThis is a guest contribution from Danny Iny.

You’ve heard it all before.

Yet another internet marketer has “taken the stage”, extolling the virtues of the newest “revolutionary” product or tactic that is guaranteed to blow the wheels off your competition and have you rolling around in hundred-dollar bills before your next electric bill comes due.

But you can only hear the proclamations so many times before you start to get skeptical.

Like, really skeptical.

So you tune out the noise and do your best to keep your head down, grinding away at the same old thing you’ve been working on for months.

Six months later, after spending countless hours and a lot of money that you really hope you make back in sales…

You end up with the same old outcome.

But what if there was a way to create the kind of success all those “Get Rich Quick” gurus are spouting on about?

What if it turned out to be a process that’s not only profitable, but also scalable and repeatable?

And… what if someone was finally able to crack the code?

Turns out, all it takes is a little bit of telepathy.

Step One: Tune In (Listen to What Your Audience is Broadcasting)

Now, before we get started and you get all excited (or disappointed) that this is (just) another get-rich-quick scheme… ;-)

…let’s get one thing straight: this process takes hard work – a lot of it.

If you don’t put in the work, that fat pile of cash isn’t going to just materialize all by itself.

The first step is to listen to your audience.

I can hear you already: “but, Danny! I do listen to my audience. I give them what they say they want, and they *still* aren’t buying anything that I offer!”

But, chances are that the way that you’re listening isn’t quite what it could be.

First, the good news – chances are that you are an expert in your field, and because you do listen to your audience, you have a good sense of your industry.

But, there’s also bad news – the likelihood is high that you have preconceived notions about both the industry and your customers, and these preconceptions are keeping you from breaking through.

Gather Data About Your Audience

There are a few different ways to collect information from your audience:

  1. Eavesdropping on Conversations

Even if you don’t have an audience, you can start listening to conversations around the web.

Eavesdropping is the same online as it is in person, and by finding out where your target audience hangs out, you can start to listen to and track the things that they say.

Are they active on Facebook groups or Twitter? Do they leave lots of comments on the big blogs in your industry? Are they involved in forums around your topic?

Pay attention to the exact words that they use to describe the problems.

  1. Taking note of email conversations

If you already have an established audience, you can use this to your advantage. It’s not a requirement, just an added bonus. FYI, this is the only step that requires an audience!

Take note of the things that your audience emails you about. Do they have specific issues or topics that they bring up regularly? Do many of your readers talk or complain about the same things?

And, if you’re feeling a little bit shaky about your connection to your audience, here’s a great ProBlogger post about building up your blog.

  1. Simple surveys

Whether you have an audience or not, you can create a simple survey to gather even more data.

And when I say simple, I mean simple: just two questions long!

The first question will be, “if you had 15 minutes to ask me anything, what would it be” – this question can be broadened (and clarified) by including a topic area, if you don’t have an established audience or are bringing people to your survey via advertising.

The second question will then be, “if I promise not to sell you anything, can I follow up with a phone call?”

(Hat tip to Ryan Levesque and his Deep Dive Survey process for the survey information in this section!)

  1. Informational interviews

Anyone who agreed to the phone call in the survey will then go on to do an informational interview with you.

The most important things to cover in these informational interviews are what challenges they are dealing with at the moment, and what they’re currently doing to solve the problem.

This is where you can really dive deep into the issue that your audience is having and ask clarifying questions, to get to the heart of what’s going on.

These interviews will last somewhere around thirty minutes or so, just long enough for you to gather the data you need, without being overwhelming to your interviewee.

Analyze the Data You Gathered

The next step after you finish gathering your data is to analyze it!

You’ll want to search through the information that you’ve been collecting, and look for patterns:

  • Is there a topic area that comes up often?
  • Are lots of people having the same (or a similar) problem?

Then, figure out how you can solve the problem. Is there a product or service that you can provide for them that would make a huge impact on their lives? What can you easily and dependably provide for them?

Step Two: Talk Back (How to Ask What Your Audience Wants)

Once you have figured out how to solve your audience’s problem, you might think that it’s time to retreat to your office and create the solution.

But, wait!

There’s still more to do, to make sure that your audience wants (and will pay for) the solution that you are ready to offer them.

Even if you started out the process without an audience, by now you have a list of people who have answered your survey and participated in your informational interviews.

You will present the offer framed as a response to their demand: “here’s this thing that you asked me for – guess what – I’m going to do it for you!”

You’re not actually selling anything at this point, but rather just gathering more feedback and validation about whether you will proceed with your offer or not.

If the responses that you get range anywhere in the “vaguely interested” to “crickets” range, it’s probably time to go back to the drawing board, to look through your data and see if there is a different direction that you can go.

But, if your audience responds enthusiastically, reaching out with grabby hands and shouting, “yes, yes, yes!! Gimme!” then you know that you are on the right track!

Only after hearing this enthusiastic response should you move on to the next step.

Step Three: Set off the Fireworks (Invite Your Audience to the Show)

If you’re not feeling completely comfortable with releasing something for sale on your blog just yet, check out this article about what to do before you launch a product.

The key to planning a pilot is to offer minimum viable richness: only as much as needed, and no more. There won’t be extra bells and whistles, no fancy software is necessary, and the first students will be early adopters – kind of like beta testers for a new software product.

Your early adopters will have access to the material for a fraction of what the eventual course will cost; this discount is in exchange for the feedback that they will give you throughout the course.

You will open up a brief registration window to sell your pilot course, in this order:

  1. Open the cart – Send out an email to your audience letting them know that you are offering the pilot.
  2. Send follow up emails – If you have trouble with the actual selling, head over here to grab a set of sales templates that you can swipe and use word for word in your sales process, on the house. But move quickly – they are only going to be free for the next couple of days!
  3. Close the cart – Once the registration window is done, close the cart!
  4. Decide whether to move forward – If your pilot only sold a few spots, it’s time to decide whether to move forward – did enough people sign up to make the experience worth it for both you and them?

(If only your mom and your Aunt Betty signed up, it may be time to refund their money and head back to the drawing board! Sorry, Aunt Betty.)

But, if you sold most of the spots, or even sold out, congratulations! You have validated that your offer is a good one, and that people will pay for the solution to their problem.

Now it’s finally time to make good on your promise, and solve their problem!

Step Four: Blow Their Minds! (Launch to Massive Success)

Even though this is only a pilot of your eventual product or course, you still want to provide an amazing experience for your students.

You want to create an educational experience that is efficient, effective and appealing.

You want to make sure that you teach only what your students need to know, and to be crystal clear and thorough in teaching the content.

One way to do this is to ask, “based on my students’ desired outcome, what do they need to know?”

You will want to build in small wins for your students, structuring the course content in such a way that your students are able to create a habit of succeeding!

You will plan your course material so that one idea builds on the ones taught previously, and you will run the program from a basic outline of the course.

The pilot course won’t be perfect, but it will teach you a lot about what can be improved for the eventual full course.

And, as long as you are delivering what you promised to your pilot students, the likelihood is that both you and they will learn a lot from the process!

Tying the Process Together

So now you have the full step-by-step process of how to launch a product from scratch, with almost guaranteed results.

You’ve learned how to:

  • Tune in telepathically to your audience;
  • Figure out how to solve their biggest problems;
  • Use their feedback to validate that they will actually pull out their wallets;
  • And, work with them to pilot the solution to success!

If you’re still feeling like you’re not quite ready, I’ll be hosting a webinar on Saturday, February 7 that will walk through the process in more depth.

By now you can see that it’s definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme. But, when used properly, this process can absolutely bring some cash in the door.

You now wield the power that those “Get Rich Quick” gurus only dream about.

That means it’s time to get out there and start collaborating with your audience.

They have a problem, and they need YOU to solve it!

Danny Iny is the co-founder of Firepole Marketing, and creator of the Course Builder’s Laboratory. If you want to learn more about this, you’re invited to attend a one-time only free training webinar that he’s hosting, teaching “How to Build and Launch a Blockbuster Product… Every Time!”

 

Why You Should NOT Start a Travel Blog

travelThis is a guest contribution from travel blogger Chris Appleford.

From the moment we made the decision to sell everything we own and travel the world indefinitely, we wanted to have our own travel blog. Went spent hours looking for the best templates, making lists of what blogs needed to be written when we ‘go live’, signing up to affiliate programs, reading other blogs to get travel and blog advice, coming up with the all important name, blah, blah, blah. We had high hopes that within no time we’d be seeing big numbers visiting our site every month and we’d have made our first dollar.

Well guess what? It turns out it’s not that easy. And guess what else? I’m questioning whether we should have started a blog at all. Everyone who starts a travel blog will tell you they’re “doing it to keep their friends and family back home up to speed with what adventures they’ve been getting up to”. But we all know that’s a load of garbage, right? Deep down they did it because they want to be ‘internet famous’ like Nomadic Matt, and fund their travels with sponsored posts, banner advertising, affiliate sales, eBooks, the list goes on. They want to be ‘location independent’, the great buzz phrase of blogging superstars!

But the reality is, just because you’ve decided to travel, doesn’t necessarily mean you should start a travel blog. And if I’m going to be honest, most of you shouldn’t. Here’s why…

Market saturation

Do you know how many travel blogs there are? No? Neither did I, but when I typed ‘travel blog’ into Google, there were 1.2 million hits. Are you as old as I am and remember watching the World Wrestling Federation when it was allowed to be called the WWF, with Hulk Hogan, The Iron Sheik, Andre The Giant and the ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage? There’d be 25 wrestlers in the ring at the same time and it was a Battle Royale until there was only one man left standing. That’s what travel blogging is going to like for you, except there are 1.2 million in the ring instead, and it’s not fake! If the aim of your blog is to make money and help fund your travels (be honest), then you’ve got some major competition. There are only 10 spots on the first page of any Google search, and if you think you’re going to be sitting anywhere near the top of the pile of a search query any time soon, you’re dreaming. Unless of course your blog is soooooo niche that you’re basically the only one in it! If you want to be duking it out with Nomadic Samuel, The Planet D, The Professional Hobo, or any of the other big hitters, then you’d better be prepared because it’s going to take a long time.

Time

How long are you travelling for? Six months? A year? If you’re going to be gone for anything less than two years, and you want to make decent money from your blog (and when I say decent, I mean enough to pay for food and accommodation), then don’t bother. I know, I know, there are a few success stories where people have started making decent money within 12 months of starting their blog, like Chris Guillebeau and his originally titled site www.chrisguillebeau.com. But they are few and far between. Have you read articles online that made you think, “yeah, I could do that?” Be honest, I did too, like ‘How I make $40,000 a month from my blog’ and ‘$72,000 in eBooks in a week – 8 lessons I learned’. Here’s the harsh reality: unless you’re willing to spend years building your audience, this is never going to happen for you.

Effort

To build an audience quickly, one of the thousands of tasks you need to do on almost a daily basis is write good articles. If you’re a good writer, you might be able to pump out a well-written, articulate piece of prose in about an hour or so. If you’re an average writer, it’s going to take longer. And if you suck, it’s probably not going to take you that long at all, which is why your article is going to suck and no one apart from your mum and dad are going to read it! Your article has to optimised up the wazoo…SEO, key words, outbound links, internal links, attention grabbing headlines, the right URL, meta data…I think my head is going to explode! And that’s before you even start promoting your posts. Triberr seems to be the ‘in’ thing, but does anyone actually click on those automatically scheduled tweets? You need to build your audience on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube (if you make videos), Vimeo (if you make really good videos), Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon…have I missed any? Probably, and of course you don’t need to be on all of them (I’m honestly not so sure Facebook is worth it any more), but whatever platforms you are on, developing those takes time.

Then there’s commenting on everyone else’s blog posts to generate inbound links, the holy grail of SEO! Not that these kind of backlinks are worth much, but they’re better than nothing. And of course, guest blogging, like I’m doing here on ProBlogger (thank you Mister Rowse for all eternity). The better the site you guest blog on, a) the better quality the backlink is, and b) the better chances of enjoying a little surge in popularity with the faint hope that some of them will stick (until they realise your blog sucks and go back to what they were doing before).

And I’ve just scratched the surface of what you need to do. I haven’t even mentioned things like research to keep up with the ever-changing world of blogging, networking, creating products to sell, pitching for paid media junkets, etc., etc.

Education

Do you know what SEO stands for, or any one of the thousands of other digital TLA’s there are (that’s Three Letter Acronym for those who don’t know)? I bet you’ve read about big bloggers who said they didn’t have a clue about blogging when they started but “with hard work and dedication I taught myself and made it to the top, and you can too”! Guess what, that was in 2006 when they said that, and hardly anyone knew about blogging back then. Now EVERYONE knows what SEO is, everyone is working their butt of to make sure every article they write, and every post and page they create, is optimised like crazy.

But as I’ve already mentioned, there are only 10 places on the first page of any Google search, and if you’re not on it, chances are you’re not going to be found by very many people. So I suggest you bite the bullet and pay for some education, do an online course and see what you think of blogging once you’re done. I did a course called Travel Blogging Success and really enjoyed it. My blogging improved out of sight. Doing a course may give you a buzz, or it may make you see the light and you explore other ways to make an income. Either way it will be money well spent.

Money

It costs money to blog. There are small startup costs like purchasing your domain name and buying a decent premium template. There are ongoing costs like hosting and cloud storage. There are educational costs if you want to get better, faster. I paid a few hundred dollars to do the Travel Blog Success course, and it accelerated my learning about 1000%. I may still have learnt how to blog had I not joined by just doing my own research, but this helped me improve my blog immediately. Then there’s the cost of time. You see, when you’re spending hours and hours, days and days, weeks and weeks, working on your blog, that is time you’re not spending on making actual money by doing something else. I have to make money while I travel, otherwise the bank will take my house back in Australia, so I get work on Odesk. But if I’m going to set aside time to work on my blog, then that is time I’m not working for a client and getting paid real money. It’s an important consideration that we sometimes forget.

What you miss when you blog

When you’re blogging, you’re not doing something else. Sounds obvious right, after all, we’re not Neo from The Matrix who seems to everywhere at the same time. So when I’m at my laptop bashing out another article that next to no one is going to read, and my two-year-old son is tugging at my arm begging me to chase him around the room, I’m missing out on that play time. Or I’m not wandering down the Champs Elysees at night in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Or I’m not watching the latest Quentin Tarantino movie I’ve been dying to see, or Skyping friends and family back home. The truth is when you’re working on your blog, you’re not doing something else you would probably rather be doing. You need to ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”

Some people just can’t write!

Ok, this is going to cause some people a little pain, maybe even dent the pride of a few people, but some of us were not born to put pen to paper (sorry, but I couldn’t think of a digital analogy about laptop keys and Microsoft Word)!

If you can’t spell, and don’t know how to use the built-in spell checker, you’re blog site is going to suck. If you can’t string a few words together in a coherent, engaging way, then guess what? Everybody together now…”your blog is going to suck”. Why would a company inject funds into you and your blog if you can’t write something that somebody else is going to want to read? They’re not, because any brand that a company sponsors is a reflection on them.

Be honest with yourself, if you want to make money from your blog but you can’t write to save yourself, then do yourself a favour and find other ways to make money while travelling. You don’t have to be Ernest Hemingway, but you can’t be Lloyd Christmas either (Google him).

Is there any hope?

No.

Just kidding, of course there’s hope! Where there’s an Internet connection, WordPress, and a will there’s a way. There are many, many success stories out there of people who make a living from their blog and the associated income streams they generate from it like guest speaking, digital products, and membership programs. But be honest and ask yourself the right questions before you plough time and money into your travel blog. How long am I going to be travelling for? What’s more important to me, keeping a travel blog or spending that time doing something else? Is there an easier way for me to make money while travelling? Do I suck at writing?

If you’re still keen to start that travel blog then I commend you. You’ve obviously thought long and hard about it, and are willing to put the time and effort into making it a success. From my research, it seems like any blog that is making serious money started around 2007, give or take a year or two. That gives you some idea of how long it’s probably going to take to start raking in those six and seven figure salaries.

In hindsight, we were on a hiding to nothing starting a blog about nomadic family travel, after all there are plenty of those like yTravel blog and Travel With Bender who are already firmly established in that niche. We would have been better off trying to get even more specific and targeting a smaller, but far more receptive and loyal audience. If there’s one thing that I’ll always be grateful for having started our travel blog, is that I now know what I must do to make my NEXT blog a success. Unless of course the brilliant readers of ProBlogger become loyal followers of Travelling Apples and send my monthly unique visitors numbers into the stratosphere!

You can follow our journey on our website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Happy travels!

 

3 Tips for Accelerated Blog Growth & Online Visibility

This is a guest contribution from Robert Kramers.

Discouraged with the amount of traffic your blog attracts? Maybe you’re looking for ways to engage more readers, build more business and build a loyal following?

Understanding a few effective strategies can help you attract the readers you want and get them to share your content, grow your readership and increase your overall visibility.

Here are the three super-effective blogging strategies for building your reputation online.

Find Blog Topics you Know have a Proven Record

The trick to publishing content that people share, is to base the content on something that has already worked in the past.

You can take a lot of the guesswork out of publishing content by researching what people have already enjoyed and improving on it.

Hereís a few ways you can do this:

Method #1: Examine a successful competitor

One of the best ways to work out what’s popular on a competitors website is to use Moz’s Open Site Explorer.

Let’s say you are in the social media industry and you’re looking for a topic for which you want to maximize the chance of success. You could throw a competitors home page URL into OSE, and view the top pages of their website.

  • Step #1: Find competitor who ranks well in Google search:

 

 

 

 

  • Step #2: Enter their home page URL into OSE

ose-search

  • Step #3: Click the ‘top pages’ link to the left of the page (pictured)

top-pages

  • Step #4: Scan the list of top pages on the website. You will often find some of their most popular blog posts in among the top few pages.

scan-results

Top pages in OSE are based on the authority of the page, which incorporates a number of signals including links from other websites and social signals.

In about 40 seconds of searching, I managed to find: 7 Mobile Marketing Stats that Will Blow Your Mind, which has a heap of social shares, tweets and Facebook ‘likes’ to go with it… It’s popular!

You now have a topic which you know people are interested in. Can you make it better? Add additional information or images? Rinse and repeat for other competitors and you’ve got a solid strategy for creating content you know people love.

Method #2: Work out whatís HOT using Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo is a tool which scans the web for content which has the highest number of social shares, based on keywords you type in to the search.

  • Step #1: Search for your topic

step1-buzz

  • Step #2: Scan the results and find popular topics

search-results

Enter more keywords in the search and find a gold mine of topics which have a proven record of success. All you need to do now is make it better, and get it in front of people. Theyíll share it!

Pro Tip: Find out who currently links to your competitors content and show them your more advanced and improved version. Chances are, they’ll either share or link to your content.

Blog Post Titles Matter HUGELY

A great headline can help your content stand out among the information overload. It tells your readers why they need to read your article and why it should be read now, rather than put in the ever-growing stack.

A compelling headline convinces a potential reader that your content is valuable and that theyíll get something out of the effort they put in.

Use effective verbs, and adjectives amplify the effect of your blog post title. You can test some of the common headline structures to see what works best with your audience.

Include keywords in your blog post title to help with your search engine rankings.

Unsure about which keywords? This guide might help.

Adding keywords to your headline is not just good for helping your website show up in Google, but it is also a proven method of increasing the click through rate (CTR) of your search engine snippet.

According to this, if I searched for “social marketing tips” in Google, I would be more likely to click this result (highlighted), than those below it because it’s a closer match to what I initially searched.

Aside from that, it has the most intriguing headline also.

google-twitter

Pro Tip: Make sure to include your popular keywords in your headline, to ensure your blog post has a better chance of ranking for related searches.

Deliver Great Content that Engage the Reader

In the past, obtaining visibility in search engines for your website was achievable with a few simple “SEO techniques”.

However, times have changed.

Google is more advanced and the number of shortcuts have significantly decreased. Search engines are getting better at analysing actual social signals, including shares, re-tweets, and links to your content.

Search engines use this information to determine where your content fits on the continuum of popularity and quality.

“Create something worth sharing and people will share it”.

In order to get this “social currency”, you need to provide something that readers actually want to read and share with people they know.

Blog posts that provide answers, advice, and inspiration to readers consistently generate traffic and can become cornerstones of a successful blog. And when you solicit your readersí, create discussion and get opinions you get them involved with creating and improving your content.

Specifically, consider these types of posts to engage and increase readership:

Craft Useful Answers to Specific Questions

Readers appreciate posts that provide real answers.

Present a solution or range of solutions that have gotten results, and then ask readers for their feedback. Any responses you get back will strengthen your post and help drive traffic. You may get positive and negative responses to your original answer and hopefully some additional creative solutions that readers can try.

Pro Tip: Reverse engineering common questions is a great strategy in itself for finding new blog topics.

Objective Advice / Shared Results

If youíve had success solving a problem, starting a new venture, or meeting a particular goal, share it.

Offer advice based on where you ran into problems or made mistakes. The goal is to provide inspiration to your readers and to make their path easier.

This type of content can add to your credibility as a blogger in addition to driving traffic. It puts you in the position of being the expert and gains the trust of your readers, especially if they are able to replicate your success based on the template you provide.

What strategies do you use to resonate with your readers and drive blog traffic?

Robert Kramers is an SEO consultant at E-Koncept. Want to learn more about increasing your website traffic? Sign up to his newsletter or follow him on Twitter.

9 Copywriting Rules To Create Hypnotic Posts Your Readers Will Love

Image via Flickr user Daniel Lee

Image via Flickr user Daniel Lee

This is a guest contribution from Hassan Ud-deen.

Your blog posts have a purpose, right?

You want your readers to take a specific action after reading your post. It could be to: like, share, subscribe, comment or just think about something. Either way, you’re aiming to elicit a response.

And It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a sale letter, a blog post, or an email.

If you aim to evoke any kind of response or action… you’re writing copy.

Funnily enough, most of the content marketing style writing you read now, is heavily influenced by copywriting principles that marketers (who violently squeezed the power out of every word to make their copy super effective or go to bed hungry,) used to sell to complete strangers.

So let’s revisit the raw “old school” copywriting roots of blogging/content marketing and discover the powerful principles used to make millions from the written word, and how they apply to writing popular posts today.

 

1 Put On Your “Blog Detective” Hat

In the marketing world, a hook is the one story, idea or feature that races out the screen and locks the reader’s attention in its jaws.

Copywriters would dig through sales literature, interview previous customers, and brush up on the history of a product. All in search for the one undiscovered piece of information that made a reader’s eyes jump out of their sockets.

Legendary copywriter John Carlton calls this putting on your “sales detective” hat and getting into a “Bogart-like” gumshoe frame of mind.

The same principle can be used to craft irresistible posts that spread like wildfire.

Jon Morrow is a perfect example of this. The only difference being that he wore a “blog detective” hat instead of a sales one.

Before his posts went viral on Copyblogger, he noted the number of comments on almost every post, analyzed the type of comments being made, and studied the social media statistics for years.

Jon’s thorough detective work allowed him to develop a deep understanding of the heart-warming dreams, worrying problems and crippling fears of the Copyblogger audience, resulting in posts that exploded with comments and shares.

If you want to write posts that go viral, put on your blog detective hat and study popular posts, dig through comments, analyze them, and look out for patterns.

You’ll find exactly what your audience wants to know, and be able to deliver hot content that they will love.

 

2 One Thing Successful Copy and Winning Posts Have in common

Highly converting copy and popular posts have one crucial element in common…

A magnetic, benefit-driven headline.

According to David Ogilvy: “On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar.”

That means if you’re headline isn’t up to scratch, your product isn’t going to sell, and you’re going to be bleeding money.

If you’re a blogger, your audience won’t be sold on why they should click on your links and your your post aren’t going to be read.

Take a look at the popular post section to the right here on ProBlogger.

My favourites are:

The Ultimate Guide to Making Money with the Amazon Affiliate Program

7 Strategies for Growing Community on Your Blog

Can You REALLY Make Money Blogging? [7 Things I Know About Making Money from Blogging]

Notice Something here?

They all promise an irresistible benefit to the reader.

We could spend hours discussing the anatomy of popular headlines, but there are two must- haves for injecting a hefty amount of stopping power into any headline.

  • Promising a mouth-watering benefit to the reader
  • Arousing the readers burning curiosity

If your headline does the two things above, that’s a good sign.

Looking for more ways to power up your headlines? Jon Morrow’s 52 Headline Hacks report is an indispensable guide

 

3 Strong Copy and Seductive Blog Posts Adhere To The Same Formula

Ever heard of the AIDA formula? It’s a known formula for writing sales pages, but it can also be used to quickly create high-power blog posts.

A- Attention. This is your headline and your opening sentence, where you’re looking to snag your prospects attention and quickly show that what you’re selling is beneficial to them.

If you’re a blogger, the only difference is that your readers aren’t paying you with cash.  They’re paying you with their time and attention, and you’re selling them on how reading your content will benefit them.

I-Interest. This is where you’ll pique the interest of your prospects. Nudging them further down your copy by weaving a relatable story or describing a painful problem that your product solves.

In your posts, this is where you’d seduce readers further down the page by sharing a story or arousing their curiosity and emotions.

D-Desire. Here’s where blogging and copywriting have a slight split.

In a sales page, this would be where you describe the benefits of your product and get your reader warm and runny over what you’re selling.

In your posts, this is where you deliver your content.

A-Action. After being swept off their feet by all the amazing benefits of your product, this is where you invite your prospect to take some kind of action. Usually to make an order, cut out a coupon or fill in a form.

As a blogger, after your readers are charged up and inspired by the content you’ve delivered. This is where you invite them to take action by commenting, subscribing or clicking on a link.

Blog posts and sales pages both have the same goal: To get the reader to take action, and that’s what the AIDA formula is designed to do.

So the next time you find yourself gazing at the ceiling with a blank page on your screen. Give the AIDA formula a try.

 

4 Long Post vs. Short Posts?

What’s more effective, long posts or short posts, long copy or short copy?

Joseph Sugarman answers the question perfectly: “Copy is never too long if the readers takes the action that you request. Therefore, it can’t be dull, it must be compelling, it must relate to the readers and, finally, it’s got to be about something the reader is interested in.”

This means that as long as you’re providing value to your readers, keeping them engaged, and relating to them… the length of your post is almost irrelevant.

 

5 Adopt the Gun to The Head Writing Philosophy

When John Carlton started his copywriting career, he had no source of income, savings for only one more month’s rent, and last a tank of gas in his battered car. (Not a nice place to be right?)

But instead of feeling panicked by his situation, he describes feeling eerily calm.

Why?

Because he had to create successful ads, or starve.

To do this, he treated each ad as if it was a life or death matter. Like their was a cold nozzle of a loaded gun pressed into to his head while he wrote.

So, how does one write when they have no choice but to create something that moves people to act?

  • You don’t take risks.

You rely on proven methods that you know will work. In the world of copywriting this means using proven structures, headlines and devices. Relate this to blogging, and it means using proven headlines, blog post types and topics to create hard hitting posts.

 

  • You be as clear as possible.

If your reader loses interest, you lose the sale. Similarly, if your post is boring; you’ve just lost a reader. Use simple language and aim to be as clear as possible.

 

  • You always provide a juicy benefit to the reader

In a sales letter, you communicate the benefit your readers will gain from your product.  In a blog post you communicate how your content will enrich their lives.

What can they expect to gain from your continuing to read your content?  Be sure to let your reader know or risk losing him.

Give yourself no option but to write stellar content, and you will.

 

6 The Most Powerful Word in Your Writing Arsenal

Is the word “You.”

Your readers doesn’t care about what you want. What your interests are, or what you like. However they care, very deeply, about what they want, like and find interesting.

Constantly relate everything back to your readers by use the word “you” generously in your writing. It’s about your reader, not about you.

 

7 Shock Your Readers Into Paying Attention

Another lesser-known copywriting trick used to craft hypnotic sales letters is to anticipate and answer objections before your reader can voice them.

Read any good sales letter, and you’ll notice every time the reader can ask a question, it’s answered immediately. This helps the copy flow and extinguishes any stress the reader may have.

You can do something equally powerful when writing your blog posts too.

In their book “Made to stick”, Chip and Dan Heath discovered that we all have a little guessing machine running inside our heads. It’s constantly trying to guess what’s going to happen next.

And as long as everything goes according to plan, people stay a little bored and disinterested.

A powerful way to snap people out their guessing trance, is to break their guessing machine by knowing what they expect you to say, and deliberately going against it.

So instead of anticipating objections for a product, anticipate what your readers expect to hear and say the opposite (or something they’re not used to hearing).

Take for example this post here by Carol Tice.

Carol predicts what the reader is thinking, and says the complete opposite. She simultaneously educates and shocks the reader. Instantly jolting their guessing machine and forcing them to pay attention.

If you want your posts to snap your readers into attention, attack their guessing machines with something unexpected. It could be unique advice, a controversial view or something that no-one else talks about.

 

8 Use Stories To Bond With Readers

Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic. They are ideally set up to understand stories- Roger C. Shank.

Stories stir feelings and charge you with emotion. Sometimes making you burst with excitement or flooding your world with sadness. Thanks to their extreme power,  they are a popular tool amongst copywriters.

A recent experiment by journalist Rob Walker set out to test the power of stories and how they can add value to almost anything.

Rob hired a group of writers to create emotionally provocative stories about unwanted, cheap thrift store items.

He then placed the items on ebay with the story in the description.

The results?

They sold $128.74 worth of abandoned thrift items for over $3000 dollars. An overall value increase of over 2,700%.

By using stories in your blog posts, you arouse your readers emotions and create sympathy and make yourself more relatable. You’ll also be able to cement ideas and information into readers brains with much more strength and clarity.

 

9 Electrocute Your Readers With Emotion

There’s a reason why sales letters describe painful problems, amazing dreams, and heart breaking stories to readers before mentioning their products.

Emotion.

Copywriters rub salt into readers wounds and paint pleasing pictures to charge people with emotion. They know the only way to get anyone to act and to pay attention, is to get their hearts to beat a little faster. To raise their body temperature up a notch. To make them salivate with desire. To make them feel.

In a special report by Jonah Berger and Katy L. Milkman called “what makes online content go viral” one of the biggest revelations was that content that evokes powerful emotions is more viral than content that doesn’t.

This makes sense. For people to take act, they have to feel.

So for people to actively share and promote your content, they have to be exploding with so much inspiration, ambition or hope that they can’t help but spread your message.

While there are a ton of ways to inject more raw emotional power into your writing, the best way is to charge yourself up with the emotions you want readers to absorb.

Get flush with anger. Get extremely hyper. Get insanely happy. Then, discharge your energy into your writing.

 

One Final Thing

All the tips in this post can do wonders when it comes to creating popular posts.

But, if there’s one thing that could render all the above tips combined utterly useless.

It’s value.

If what you’re write doesn’t bring value to your audiences lives in any way, no tip will ever help you create posts that readers bookmark and share.

How do you come up with killer content for your readers? Please tell me in the comments below!

Hassan Ud-deen is a freelance blogger and email copywriter who helps businesses use content to grow. You can find out more about him on his blog www.f-bombmarketing.com or if you need help with your blog posts or copy, shoot him an email or connect with him on Facebook.

Design Trends of 2015: How Your Blog Can Adapt

This is a guest contribution from Owen Andrew.

Since mobile internet began to overtake desktop internet usage in January 2014, there have been major innovations in website design in light of this trend. In general, websites have been opting for a simpler, mobile-friendly design. Maintaining a blog in such a fast-paced environment can be a huge challenge, but staying on top of trends is required for success. In order to keep your blog interesting and relevant in the upcoming year, there are five design trends to keep in mind when continuing your work in 2015.

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Image via shutterstock.com

Emphasis on Mobile

With so many people turning to their mobile devices when going online, it’s no wonder that many blogs have begun creating content that is easy viewable on smaller screens. While mobile used to be a consideration, for web-savvy designers, mobile is now the focus. If a site doesn’t work on mobile, you are now neglecting what is likely the majority of your audience, so start any web design process by focusing on mobile, and adapt that design to work on a desktop screen, rather than vice versa.

 Focus on Typography

Thanks to Google Fonts, a free package of various typefaces, and a recent decrease in typography package prices, there has been renewed interest in creating a unique look through higher-end typography. Typography is not only useful for creating a more beautiful, unified look for your blog or website, it can also have a large impact on the readability of your text– especially on mobile platforms. For example, fonts such as Verdana and Georgia have been shown to have the best readability on screens. Small touches such as typography can lend a lot to a site, and help it stand out among the competition.

 Minimalist Design

Because of the new emphasis on mobile, the web design landscape is expected to be much more minimalist than in previous years. The emphasis on flat designs and stripped-down icons will be more present in 2015. Apple, Microsoft, and Google have all embraced two-dimensional buttons and icons recently, and other websites are beginning to follow suit.

 Large Background Photos

A major web design trend in the upcoming year, large background photos have become popular because of their ability to fill in an otherwise sparse, minimalist site. This trend has been facilitated by an increase in bandwidth across the globe, and allows for scrolling sites filled with large pictures and lots of information. Using large background pictures is great for home pages, and when used with flat-design buttons lends any website or blog an expansive, elegant appearance.

 Expandable Menus

To accommodate the simpler look that is currently prominent in website design, bloggers and blog sites have started utilizing expandable menus in order to keep the blog decluttered and clean-looking. These expandable menus are often integrated with flat designs that use intuitive, minimalist icons rather than three-dimensional ones. These expandable menus are especially well suited for mobile, where they can stay out of the way of the text and media.

Blogging, especially for a living, is an extremely competitive field. Keeping up-to-date on current trends in design will enhance your content by supporting it with a cleaner, more modern look. The internet is estimated to contain more than 152 million blogs! Staying ahead of the curve on advances in technology and design will help your blog keep ahead of the pack.

Owen Andrew is a tech journalist and Apple enthusiast. When he’s not writing or drooling over the latest Apple announcement, he’s usually hanging with his kids and doing family activities. Feel free to give him a shout on G+ or Facebook.