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5 Ways to Grow Your Blog Without Relying on Google Traffic

This is a guest contribution from Jerry Low.

Google is a b*tch

Like so many things on the web, the world of Google is constantly evolving – and while that flex can lead to good things, it also creates a volatile environment for bloggers and websites that rely on their search rankings – which, is pretty much all of them.

The short of it is that, while 90 percent of internet experiences begin with search – but of those, only a small fraction will move beyond the first two pages of results. Needless to say, there’s a reason so many people have invested in SEO to boost their ranking – but that volatility we were talking about makes that a huge risk as all of that work and investment could go out the window overnight should the algorithm changed. Which has happened many a time.

Google Penguin threw the SEO world into frenzy… and you’d think we’d have learned. But they did it to us again in September with the Panda 4.1 update – so much so that some sites are seeing more than a 70 percent loss in search visibility. As ever, we don’t know exactly what the algorithm changes were – only that they work to better hone in on quality content.

You need Google-less approach to build blog traffics

All of this having been said, Google’s algorithms are constantly changing – so it’s important to build your blog’s success in other ways. You know that saying, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket?” Apply that here.

Relying solely on Google’s organic search to drive traffic to your blog is simply not a good business model – you need to diversify. In this article, I am going to share a few strategies that work well for me – these are the mainly how I quadruple my site traffics ever since it got hit by Penguin in April 2012.

Strategy #1: Blog Commenting

First off, commenting on blogs is quite possibly the most overlooked method for building blog traffic – mostly because people suck at making quality, meaningful conversation with strangers (myself included). However, blog commenting is a quality method for building traffic that also happens to be free – can’t argue with that!

Blog commenting, NOT spamming

Let’s back up for a moment – I’m not talking about dropping a link out of the blue or spamming the blog owner with a “nice post – thank you” comment… those aren’t relevant, nor will they get you anywhere.

I’m talking about leaving a quality, helpful comment that intrigues the blog owner and their readers, making them want to learn more about you – which means you need to give other readers a reason (in your comment) to learn more about you.

Effective blog comment marketing

There are two golden rules to blog commenting:

(1) Always write a quality comment – meaning, if you don’t have something meaningful to add to the discussion, don’t leave a comment (Read: Do not leave “Thank you – great post” comments… they’re useless); and

(2) Only drop a link where appropriate – don’t spam, no matter how tempting it may be; it will backfire on you. While not a golden rule, perhaps, it is important – if you leave a link, don’t just give your blog’s URL – instead, link to a relevant post of your own that contributes to the original post and discussion… that relevancy is key.

Real life scenario: Blog commenting done right

Here’s a great example of someone who has done it right:

problogger_comment

For starters, Mr. Miller goes into some detail, offering unique perspective relevant to the original post while also letting readers know about him and his relevancy to the topic. By sharing his own experience, he displays his own expertise in the search field, earning my attention and drawing me to learn more about him… so much so that I clicked on his Moz profile and now follow him on Twitter.

This is how it works… and did I mention that it’s free?

Strategy #2: Freebies marketing

This one is fairly straightforward – after all, who doesn’t like getting something for free?

You, the blogger, will provide readers with an incentive – something free in exchange for joining your email list, subscribing to a newsletter, submitting a giveaway entry… you get the idea.

However, not all freebies are good on their own – you need to think outside the box when you promote them so that you provide the public and other bloggers a reason to talk about your freebie and link back to your blog… the whole point is to get traffic, after all. Beyond that reason, you need to think like your audience – where does your target audience hang around? Where can you best reach them? Venue is just as important as getting your freebie out there in the first place.

Use freebies as a reason to reach out

Also, when you launch your freebie, don’t just sit on your laurels and wait for the visitors to come – you need to stay active, reaching out to influencers to let them know about your giveaway; otherwise, you’re leaving too much up to chance and missing opportunities.

As for your actual freebie – it doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg; what it does need to do is hold relevancy and value to your target audience.

For example, if you are selling your cooking ebook no your blog, you’ll likely want to stay active on mommy blogs or other cooking blogs where your target audience is likely to reside – giving away free recipes on those blogs is a great way reach that audience and intrigue them to learn more about you (and your own blog).

Real life scenario: Free icons at Web Hosting Secret Revealed

Another example – my core business at Web Hosting Secret Revealed (WHSR) is promoting hosting services.

Rather than squeezing into the crowded Google SERP, I’ve found better odds targeting web designers who likely have use for my hosting advice… to land a seat with that audience, I’ve created loads of freebies. Those loads of free icons? Yep – freebies targeted to my primary audience. The free icons actually earned substantial attention from the blogosphere, bringing in new visitors and social followers. If you’re interested, these are just a few of the blogs that featured our free icons:

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

Strategy #3: Crowd Sourcing Post

Crowd sourcing is a way of playing in the sandbox with the other kids.

You’ll leverage the reach of other bloggers, customers, business owners, etc., getting a seat in front of their audience for your blog.

The best way to get this moving is to invite others who could benefit from the cross promotion (or simply want their link on your website) to publish their opinions or tips on your blog. The get for them is that they get their own backlink while also getting to establish themselves with your audience – and, since they’re likely to want to share their being featured as an expert outside of their own site, they’re likely to share your post with their own audiences.

Real life scenario: How I did it?

For example, to create this crowd-sourcing post, I reached out to roughly 30 bloggers, asking for their past blogging mistakes. The response was overwhelming and led to tons of new traffic, social media shares, and blog mentions… for free!

Like I said – playing nicely in the sandbox with others.

Strategy #4: (Creative) Social Media Marketing

Social media is a no-brainer – it’s free and a great way to find and grow your audience.

That said, sometimes making that social media endeavor a winner is a bit of a puzzle.

Remember that quality content is key to social media marketing success.

Key to success: Quality content, timing, headlines, creativity, connection with influencers

Before you can drive traffic to your blog, you need to give readers a reason to follow you; the best way is to provide quality content. Take a stand and don’t be afraid to speak your mind – then, write a quality post about it. Here’s a great example from Sean Davis about his frustration creating web forms with Aweber. It’s relevant to a specific audience, it has a voice, and it’s identifiable – net, net; there’s a benefit.

Secondly, timing is everything. Your audience is bound to have peak times and low times that they use social media – time your posts accordingly by applying intel learned from Simply Measured free tools.

problogger_ajkohnWhile a book can’t be judged by its cover, that cover certainly catches eyes – so make a point to write interesting headlines. UpWorthy has a rule that, for each post, you should write 25 headlines – the idea is that your thinking will evolve and you will better hone your message as you let your ideas filter and play on one another. Whether 25 is your magic number, I don’t know – but I do like and stand behind the idea.

Next, don’t forget the value of images. Use as many as possible – not just to add color to your page or because “you’re supposed to,” but to actually add value and make your content more digestible and appealing. Ditch the clipart and instead look to infographics, flow charts, memes, and scenery – they’re evergreen and a great way to attract a social media following. Also, in my own experience, I’ve found that using tall graphics and writing meaty content improved my Google+ engagement rate by 8,400% in one of my recent posts… yes, that’s right; 8400%.

Finally, be fun and creative. Take the lead from AJ Kohn’s Google+profile… okay, yes – people follow him anyway for sound SEO advice, but I bet there are also many followers who were attracted by his beautiful scenery photos.

 

Strategy #5: Q&A Platforms

Forums are another great place to get a seat in front of your relevant, interested audience. The trick is to monitor ongoing conversations in your niche so that you can chime in when you have something helpful to say (and no, not every post is going to be an opportunity – but some will). You’ll need a good feed reader, such as Feedly, to make this work.

Not finding an exact fit or enough on-the-dot opportunities?

Create some custom content relevant to a particularly hot conversation. For example, if someone asks how to do something with .htaccess code, you could write a tutorial and post it to your blog – then, in the Q&A section of the site, respond to the requester with a teaser, linking them to your blog to get the full codes and demos. Odds are that if one person asked the question, others have that same question – and your forum answer and link will live on to advise them as well when the time comes.

Real life scenario: Where to start?

In terms of which Q&A platforms to use, I recommend Quora, Klout, and Yahoo! Answers – these are three of the best general Q&A platforms out there. If you are a publisher selling programming books, StackOverflow is right up your alley – at a minimum, ask your writers to stay active on the site. For travel bloggers, I highly advise staying active on Trip Advisor.

Bonus: Sponsor, speak at, or organize an event

Here’s something that lots of people overlook: you can market your blog offline. Events are a great opportunity to establish yourself as a leader in your space and to promote your blog in the process.

Real life scenario: ProBlogger Event

Take for example Darren who created Pro Blogger to fill a void. Initially created as a roundtable concept for bloggers, the event grew substantially in just two years – so much so that more than 30 speakers had access to an audience 550+ strong. Can you imagine getting to speak to a relevant audience of that size – and directing those attendees to your blog? That’s potentially 550 new hits in just one day.

15067474775_1d79f98176_o.jpg

Some events will invite speakers, whereas others take submissions. Do some searching and see what you can find – odds are there’s a relevant opportunity for you, but in the off chance there’s not, take a page from Darren’s book and launch your own. And when you do get that opportunity, don’t be shy – shamelessly shill for your blog, Pinterest boards, Twitter handle – you name it. Be a real resource and offer attendees a way to continue getting value from your experience.

What’s next?

One thing often overlooked: getting that traffic is only a part of the game – you still need to know what to do with it.

Remember that you’ll need to focus on maintaining that traffic – so focus on creating an ongoing conversation and way to continue the dialogue. Landing pages are key here, providing you a quick way to get information from and to your reader.

When your visitor lands on your landing page, make it clear what you want them to do – that could be signing up for your newsletter, following you on Twitter, commenting on your blog – the list goes on. The point is, be clear and direct – this is not the time to be coy. Also, take the opportunity to include a sign-up form that collects their email address; this is a seamless way to grow your brand and create remarketing opportunities.

There are plenty of ways to grow your blog’s traffic – without relying on Google. Better yet? Most of them are free!

Have a method I missed or questions about one I included? Please share your thoughts below.

 

Jerry Low is a geek dad who enjoys building web assets. Get his best blogging and growth hacking advice here.

Never Too Soon: Using Your Blog to Generate Sales During the Holiday Season

Another holiday season is fast approaching, and that means websites are scrambling to ready killer campaigns (or have already launched them) that will generate North Pole-sized sales. For those fortunate enough to have a wealth of resources at their disposal, this will mean lavish advertising campaigns that will feature them prominently on the most highly-trafficked sites on the net.

Those with more moths in their digital wallet than Benjamins will need to rely on other assets, one of their most prized ones being their blog. While blogging and SEO have always been valuable tools in the online marketing arsenal, the paradigm is shifting, and quality content is now more important than ever.

There’s two reasons for that. On the one hand, Google’s search engine has evolved to put less emphasis on keywords and more of it on other aspects of a post’s content and quality. These changes will continue to happen as Google’s crusade for an unadulterated Internet only increases. And on the other hand, search engines and SEO are no longer the primary method to attract eyeballs in the first place. Instead, social media and social sharing have become a prominent means through which content is found and consumed.

That, more than anything else, is why quality is king. While search engines can still be tricked, real people can’t; or at least not quite so easily. Your blog post has to strike a chord with readers, a powerful chord; a “this post was so cool I just have to share it with my friends” chord.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 11.59.00 am

At the same time, your post has to be a little self-promotional. It’s not entirely enough just to get people there, to read your post and depart. You need them to read your post, love it and share it themselves, but to also draw something from it and become interested in what you’re selling. That is a very difficult balancing act.

 

The Art of Sharing

 

 Firstly, you need to understand what content is being shared. Contrary to popular opinion about the attention spans of the internet hordes, long-form content is shared far more often than short-form. In fact, the longer and longer it gets, the more likely it becomes that it will be shared. Sharers clearly respect the effort put into longer pieces, and that effort is finally being rewarded by the internet.

 

Meanwhile, on the emotion front, readers tend to share awe-inspiring or humorous posts more than anything else. 46% of all shared posts were deemed to be either humorous, joyous, or amusing, and 25% awe-inspiring, according to a study conducted by OkDork. People want to share pleasing content, not something that will bring their friends down.

 

The easiest of those emotions to hit is probably humor. While it’s hard to inspire awe or joy in some subject matter, you can always sneak humor in (like I could put something funny in this bracket right here if I wasn’t so lazy; don’t be lazy!).

 

Tying it All Together With a Pretty Bow

 

In the end though, it all needs to tie-in with your product(s), encouraging your now-joyous readers to either look into other information on your website, return later for more information, or head straight to your checkout so your online payment processor (and hopefully you have a good one that won’t butcher that final, crucial step and will also be cost-effective for you) can rack up another sale for you. All of these are crucial to succeeding in an online sale. Your blog content can drive them there, but your inefficient and non- user-friendly shopping cart can drive them away just as quickly.

 

The content needs to be engaging, but also self-promotional. In this sense, your blog post should almost borderline on a sales letter masquerading as shareable content with a catchy title, a very personable (and personal) feel, and laden with humor. It should skillfully extol the virtues of your product or service in a way that feels fun and non-aggressive. Finding something shareable to talk about in your industry should be quite simple to not only come across, but to write about in an educated manner. After all, you are an expert in your industry, and your customers will surely think of you as such should you deliver consistently as both a content provider and retailer.

 

One possible way to pull this off is to compare your product to another comparable one, but not a direct competitor. Say you’re selling a motorized skateboard, instead of trying to attack other products in that niche, take a shot at regular skateboards instead with your blog post “5 Reasons Why Pushing a Skateboard with Your Foot is soooo 1990’s”.

 

You’ve just created an article concept with the potential to be a fun, viral success, while innocuously touting your own product and generating interest and potential sales for it. Congratulations. Now get to it; these blog posts (and the jokes in their brackets) don’t write themselves. Good luck!

 

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

Effective Planning for Video Content

This is a guest contribution from Robert Benoit.

Video production is a great way to engage and expand an audience, whether it is for a blog, website or business venture.

Whether you’re an established blogger or simply trying to break into film production, developing a video requires the consideration of some key pieces before, during, and after the green light process.

If you’re thinking of diving into video production, the following tips may give you the edge you need to create the best video content without spending more than you need to.

Establish a budget

  • You can only imagine how often people will go into the production of a video and spend more than they have. This can be a disastrous situation, it’s best to avoid it and be smart. You want the video you’re making to be the first of many, not the last, so sit down and decide on a set amount of money you’re willing to spend on the production. This will save time and money in the long run.
  • Bonus Tip: It is important to map out the length of the production to estimate how long it will take to film. Quickness and efficiency will be an essential component to this process!

Think about your audience

  • Based on your business or interests there has to be a certain audience you want to reach with this production. Are you a musician trying to send a certain message or a small business attempting to reach those in the public that would benefit from your product? No matter what the message or purpose, there is an audience waiting for you to grab their attention.
  • Therefore, it is important to think about your audience before deciding the content of your video to ensure it is a piece of content they enjoy and like. Think about their interests, behaviours and what they like about your blog or business and be sure to incorporate these into the video in some way. This helps to ensure the video is relevant for your desired audience and is something they find enjoyable and interesting.

Storyboard your ideas

  • A beneficial part of this process is storyboarding as it allows you to organize the story you wish to tell and how you can visually achieve it. By analysing your video content frame by frame before filming, you will have an idea of what pieces of it work and can redesign the ones that might not. How can you determine this?
  • Look at the still frames and think, which ones enrich the emotion and theme of the content. Those are the ones you definitely need to include in your video.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 10.40.09 am

Tools of engagement

 

  • While raw video footage is the skeletal structure of your project, video-editing effects are what allow the viewer to engage with the content and understand the overall message you’re trying to convey.
  • Remember the film “2001: A Space Odyssey?” Near the beginning of the film, ‘The Dawn of Man’ segment shows apes violently using bones to beat each other and then the bone is thrown into the air. Then the frame immediately cuts to a space satellite, four million years later! Kubrick makes a match cut from one time period to the next. What he’s trying to relay to the viewer is that humanity at one time was primitive and now views itself as technologically advanced.

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 10.41.52 am

 

  • An effect used largely in the “Star Wars” film franchise by George Lucas is the wipe effect. This is utilized when a scene ends where a line wipes the previous scene away on screen and simultaneously reveals the next scene.

Why use this effect? It can establish an emphasis on events taking place linearly, allowing for action to blend with more action in two different places.

Be original

  • The single, most important thing you can do to arrive at the best video content possible from a production is to be original. Standing out from the crowd and avoiding secondary ideas will show in the final product, presenting the world with a video that is unlike anything else is the goal of any video production. Never forget to keep in mind “originality” above all else.

Now it’s up to you to take the necessary steps towards your successful video production. Believe in yourself and do your best to enjoy the process from start to finish. Careful planning pre-production is key, if you want it to go as smoothly as possible and remember the purpose of your video and the audience it is being aimed at, at all times during production. Ultimately, originality and relevance are the two most important features of a video. As long as it is something relevant to your target audience that they haven’t seen before they are sure to love it.

Robert Benoit is an intern at Phink TV who is currently studying English Writing and Mass Communication at Assumption College. He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts and is currently studying abroad in London. His future aspirations include film production and professional scriptwriting, as well as a passion for developing creative works.

 

 

15 Quick and Easy Productivity Super-Hacks for Busy Bloggers

This is a guest contribution from Pooja Lohana.

Let’s face it.

As a blogger, you have a knack to find just one more task that needs to be done. Now.

Then there are times when you just don’t feel like doing that pesky little task – the more you think about it, the more you imagine the worst, and the more you procrastinate.

No matter what your situation, here are 15 productivity hacks that really work, well if you only try them.

And the best part? You don’t have to follow through each one – pick the ones that best resonate with you and run with it.

Sound good?

Let’s get hacking.

15 Quick and Easy Productivity Super-Hacks for Busy Bloggers

1. Use email templates

As a blogger, I receive a ton of email each day. Some are from readers thanking me for a post. Some even have a specific question that needs answering.

Depending on the type of email you receive, you can create templates so replying doesn’t take too much of your time.

For example, if I receive a “thank you” email, I acknowledge their reply with a simple two-sentence email.

If it’s a question-email, I flag it using Gmail’s red exclamation flag to answer at a set day in the week.

All my email is filtered to one Gmail address, so I don’t have to keep checking countless inboxes (and avoid those cPanel logins too!)

Last but not the least, if you write a lot of email templates, stick to the 5-sentence rule.

Why 5 sentences? According to Guy Kawasaki, less than five is usually too curt for a response, and more than five wastes time. I agree.

Of course, not all my emails are 5-sentence long. However for templates, that strategy works like a charm.

Oh and one more thing – try turning your email window off in order to focus better.

When I keep my Gmail tab open in the background, a notification pops up each time a new email arrives.

Bam… There goes my focus down the drain.

I’ve since decided to turn off any distracting windows and only kept important tabs open. Over time, it has saved me hours.

 

2. Create an editorial calendar

Unless you’re Seth Godin, there will be days when you don’t have anyting to say, or don’t have the time to come up with a stellar topic idea.

The solution? Create a simple editorial calendar so you’re never short of ideas. Old-school 2-column excel sheet will do. Or you can go fancy-pants and try an app like Gather Content.

If the idea of a calendar sounds too stifling, try keeping a log of ideas in your WordPress backend.

That’s what blogger Sarah Wilson does – at any point, she has about 20 draft posts ready to be used. When inspiration strikes, she creates a simple draft and works on them overtime until they are ready to launch. Neat, eh?

 

3. Re-post your evergreen content

You don’t have to produce epic content every time. Dig into your archives to find “evergreen” posts – the type that stay fresh and timeless from season to season.

Examples of an evergreen post:

  • Long list posts
  • Case-studies
  • How-tos
  • Collaborated posts
  • Tutorials and guides

Since evergreen posts tend to be long, you can break them into smaller chunks and repurpose them as a PDF report, an audio freebie, or a Slideshare presentation.

Get creative and post new bite-sized, snackable content for your readers. This is especially a great hack for those slow days when you’re too busy to post on your blog or social media.

 

4. Automate sending out your content

Following up from the last hack, a smart strategy is to create a series of email autoresponders or teaser emails for your old blog posts.

That way, even if you don’t have anything new to say, you stay at the top of your readers’ minds and new subscribers on your list are fed with good content.

 

5. Take the shortcut to mobile-responsive

Did you know that 82% people use mobile phones to check emails these days? What’s more, 42% of your subscribers will delete your emails if they don’t show up well on their phones.

Bloggers, clearly it’s time to go mobile-responsive with your content.

But you don’t have to go on a template-designing spree or hire external help.

Email marketing service such as GetResponse offers ready-made one-click responsive templates, so you don’t have to worry about how your emails show up on a smartphone or tablet, therefore saving you a ton of time.

http://www.getresponse.com/

source: Get Response

 

6. Unsubscribe ruthlessly

I have a simple rule – if more than 30% of my incoming email is announcements and newsletters from other people’s lists, I go on an unsubscription spree.

Of course, with Gmail’s Promotions tab, life has become easier and I don’t have to necessarily do that any more.

But still, if you’re a lover of clean inbox and don’t read a lot of e-newsletters, try Unroll.me to unsubscribe a bazillion times faster.

 

7. Use If This Then That

IFTTT lets you “put the internet at work for you”. Basically, it’s an app to automate your online life.

You can set trigger events that are based on cause and effect relationship (if this, then that). The events + triggered actions together form IFTTT “recipes”.

As a recipe example, once you add a new article to read in Feedly, you also have it saved in your Dropbox folder.

IFTTT supports many “channels” such as Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Dropbox, Evernote, Bit.ly etc. that you can use in your recipes.

Source: IFTTT

Source: IFTTT

8. Don’t be afraid to delegate

Back when I started as an entrepreneur and blogger, I wanted to do everything to perfection.

I thought no one else could do all those tiny tasks on my list better than I, because no one understands my business as much as I do.

Big mistake!

Turns out, there are people who want to help you. For example, if you hate composing and scheduling a month’s worth of Facebook posts, there’s someone out there who loves that and is a pro at it.

Fiverr and FancyHands are two places to find that “special” someone.

Remember, you can’t go at full speed 24/7. Decide which tasks really need your attention and which ones can be outsourced. That’s a sign of a real superman – after all, he needed a sidekick too, right?

 

9. Do a Pomodoro

You’ve probably heard of a Pomodoro. It’s a simple productivity technique where you work for 25 minutes followed by a 5-minute break. Since you “only” have 25 minutes to work, your brain can focus 100% as it creates a sense of urgency.

I use the Pomodoro Productivity app which has some neat settings to increase or decrease break times and sound settings. It also nicely syncs with your Google calendar to get a visual warning when a Pomodoro overlaps with an appointment.

 

10. Try Awareness

Awareness is another free and unique app that will play a Tibetan bowl “ding” every hour. It’s a gentle reminder to take a 5-minute break and get off that chair.

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11. Use Awesome Screenshot

If you’re like me, you want to take multiple screenshots for every post you write.

Awesome Screenshot is a super-helpful app that sits as a Chrome extension and can save you a ton of time.

 

12. Manage your stuff with Trello

I’ve only recently started using Trello, and kicking myself because I’m so late to discover it.

You can create Trello cards for your to-do tasks, ideas you want to implement or known issues to be solved. You can track progress of each one as you go.

You can also use it for your editorial calendar.

Here’s an example of a Trello in progress.

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13. Slam multitasking

Because it doesn’t work. Period.

One study even showed multi-tasking led to a loss of productivity by 40% because participants had to keep switching between tasks.

 

14. Chew gum

This one’s a weirdo in the list, but chewing gum leads to alertness and reduces occupational stress too.

 

15. Eat a banana

According to UCLA, a banana is great brain food that brings 25 grams of glucose (optimum) to your blood stream. Glucose is great to keep that active, productive, switched on state when you need it the most. Go bananas!

 

Your Turn!

You now have 15 super-hacks – some are easier than others. Now it’s your turn to take your pick.

Go, apply them and be a rockstar.

 

I know there are more super-hacks that I’ve missed. What’s your favourite?

Pooja Lohana is a freelance writer, ghost writer and online marketing mentor featured on Problogger, Firepole, JeffBullas, MarketingProfs, Hongkiat and more. If you’re an aspiring writer and want to become self-employed, create wealth and live a better life by launching your online writing biz, steal her free mini-course to make your first $1000 (and more) writing at home.

How Having a Strong Email List Can Land You Great Sponsorships

This is a guest contribution from email marketer Luke Guy.

How exactly do sponsors determine a price for ads on a blog? What would you consider the “golden standard” as for measuring how much a brand is worth or the size? There are many ways to do this. It’s important to know this so you can figure where to spend most of your time and building.

Here are general ways to determine brand size:

  1. Your follower numbers on social media
  2. Blog stas
  3. The size of your email list
  4. Social shares per article

These are the main ways sponsors determine on how much you’re worth, and the size of your brand, but which one should you focus most on? Coming from me, Luke Guy, you can almost guess, right? As you know, the email list is the best way to determine someone’s brand size.

I’ll explain why.

Social media with a large following was rare a few years ago, but now even grandma can have hundreds of thousands of followers. With it becoming so cheap now, you can buy fake followers for almost pennies. Many politicians are known for doing this to embellish the numbers -up to half of the followers have been known to be fake during presidential campaigns. So this is definitely not the way to measure someone’s brand size.

So what are other ways sponsors determine brand size?

Insights from the blog is a great way to measure traffic and to see how many people are viewing your blog. By simply taking a snapshot of your stats, you’d be revealing the traffic coming to your site. Gold, right?

Only thing is, the traffic numbers could change overnight. Let’s say you’re in a relationship with Google and it’s sending traffic to you like crazy. Your blog could be flooded at the time and things look really good. You bring home the amazing content and it sends you the traffic.  Such a beautiful relationship! But let’s say you burn the biscuits, forget the anniversary, or worse, you cheat with black hat SEO methods! Guess what? Google is leaving.  Your stats could drop overnight and you’re now seeing newbie traffic.

So yeah, I definitely wouldn’t depend on the stats of a blog alone. Even if it wasn’t based on Google, how could you guarantee these people would come back?

Keep reading.

Let’s go ahead and talk about the email list, is it the best way to determines ones size? I’d say it’s one of the greatest ways, if not THE best way to determine size. Why would I say that?

Well no one is going to buy 100k fake emails and then claim that as their list, you know how I know? That would cost $500 in Mailchimp fees per month. No one is going to go through that. No one would claim a list this size and it not be true. It would take one glimpse from the dashboard to convince the sponsors you mean business. Email list are the biggest way to convince sponsors.

Here’s something else to think about.

What is the best way to control traffic besides the email list? Besides paid ads, nothing. Also, what other way could you send a mass message and get 30-40% open rates? That’s 40,000 people who will be exposed to your message within hours (based on 100,000 email list). There’s no other way to control that kind of traffic. Organic search is super, don’t get me wrong, but that isn’t controlled. With the email list, you can control the how, when and where.

Combining All Three Is Best

If you have all three: Social Media, Email List, and Blog Stats. Why not reveal all three? The best way to get brand size is to combine all three of these. I know this. But if that email list is small and weak looking, the Facebook following of 50k isn’t looking very good right now, does it? Looks very fishy actually. So the email list brings credibility and the rest sweetens the deal.

By building your list, you’re showing your sponsors who you are and what you’re capable of. The size of your list is also the best way to catch eyes when applying for sponsors for your blog. So let me encourage you and start building that list. Make it a profit journey and learn how to grow that list while making money. Many ways to do this, but the biggest way is to simply use that traffic and send it to your site. Then from that site sell your services, do affiliate marketing, or my least favorite – adsense ads.

Ways to grow the list:

  1. Guest post and offer something downloadable (requiring opt-in).
  2. Try to talk with 5 people (via email) a day about your niche. Have your signature ready with a link to your opt-in.
  3. Include opt-in boxes on every page and post of your blog.
  4. Create an eBook that requires opt-in.
  5. Create a free program that requires email like Sumome.
  6. Talk about why people should join on social media

View 26 Ways To Grow Your Email List Like A Boss to get more ideas.

There’s one thing I know, and that’s people love to download things. It’s just in us to love this kind of thing. Another tool in my utility belt is how I see it. So offer something free like a plugin, program, or a series of educational emails, and start building the list!

When you give good reasons why people should download your free program (email required) the more likely they will. If it’s actually helpful, it won’t be long before you’re collecting emails automatically on a huge scale. Which is game changer.

But why go through this?

By building that relationship and collecting emails you’re building traffic. You do this by sending content-filled emails their way. You’re not pitching sales balls at them four times a week. Your sending them content-filled, and helpful emails. Send something amazing. By building this relationship you’re getting referrals and more sign-ups. The more sign-ups you get, the more traffic you can control and send your way. Once you your traffic get’s to a size, they will buy products from that site. All this can happen before the big sponsorship. So like I say, grow the list while making money. The more helpful you become, the more people will talk about you, the larger the list becomes.

So focus on that list and grow it like a boss. Get sponsored.

Luke Guy blogs at Lukeguy.com. He researches email marketing and loves to write about it. If you need further help with your email challenges, you can join him here! Or even hire him here to write for you. He has been featured on Search Engine Journal, Smart Passive Income, Jeff Bullas, Convince & Convert and a few others.

 

A Social Media Etiquette Guide You Might Find Useful

This is a guest contribution from Jennifer Landry.

What do you think of when you hear the word etiquette?

For most people, the term conjures up images of a relative telling them to chew with their mouth closed, or to take their elbows off the table. So what does it mean when it’s applied to social media?

In general terms, etiquette is a set of guidelines on how to behave properly around other people. While you might not have face-to-face interaction with all of your followers, the way you present yourself online directly affects people’s opinion of your brand. You might be surprised at the amount of companies, even the big ones, that don’t quite understand this simple fact and have posted inappropriate updates that made light of important events or misused certain hashtags. The simplest way to avoid this problem is to read over your posts before pressing publish. If you think it could somehow be misconstrued or you’re not sure what the hashtag means, it’s best to simply not post the update.

While you might know the basics of presenting yourself on social networks, you might not realize that there is a set of more nuanced etiquette rules for each of the different platforms. The infographic below outlines these unspoken rules for the most popular social networks. While not a complete list, it can help set the groundwork for how to post and interact with your audience.

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Jennifer Landry is a writer/journalist living in Malibu, California. 

How You Can Make Your Writing Twice as Fast by Making It 3x More Time-Consuming; Wait, What?!

This is a guest contribution from Karol K. You can read the first post in this series “The Power of TK in Content Writing and How it Can Help You” here.

Imagine yourself in the following scenario…

It’s a normal Tuesday and you decide to write a blog post. You start confidently with a blank screen, and after a minute or so, the first sentence is ready. But almost immediately there’s a problem.

“No, this doesn’t sound right,” you start thinking, so you correct a couple of words and read it back again. “Okay, this is better!”

Now you can†proceed to†the next sentence.

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Does this sound like you?

More importantly, do you see anything wrong with this scenario?

(Hint: the answer is yes.)

The big problem here is that trying to write and edit at the same time†results only in†prolonging the whole content creation process significantly.

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Better solution?

1) Write first.

2) Edit later.

3) Proofread even after that.

Yep, crafting a quality blog post is†a three-part process. And the absolute best solution is doing each part on a separate day.

Although it sounds counterintuitive (after all, why take three days to write a post if you can do it in just one), it does work. And it works exceptionally well.

Here’s why.

Writing and editing are two extremely different activities. Writing is 80 percent (give or take) creativity and 20 percent craftsmanship. Editing is the opposite.

Now, trying to do both at the same time forces you to switch between two different mindsets multiple times over. And even though you might be effective at each individual activity (editing or writing), it’s the switching that takes time, confuses you and costs you energy.

You will always be much more effective and much faster focusing on just one kind of task at a time.

Granted, I know that it’s much easier said than done and that editing as we write is a huge temptation. It feels like a†natural thing to do, even though it works against us. So here are 3†hacks†to help you write in peace, not disturbed by any editing urges:

1)

Don’t go back to re-read what you’ve just written. It’s a soft form of limiting your creativity and it slows you down significantly. Even if you end up writing the same paragraph twice by accident, it’s still something you can fix during the editing phase.

2)

Make†the red spellcheck underline your friend. The underlined words shouldn’t annoy you. They should be a testament to your creative method of†writing! Don’t correct them right away.

3)

Backspace is the one forbidden key on the†keyboard. Don’t erase, just write.

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At the end of the day, I guarantee that you will be much more satisfied having written two unedited 1000-word articles, than ending up with†just one edited article†that’s 800 words.

Or am I wrong?

Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a freelance writer, published author, founder of NewInternetOrder.com and a blogger at Bidsketch.com (delivering some cool freelance blogging and writing tools, advice and resources just like what you’re reading now). Whenever he’s not working, Karol likes to spend time training Capoeira and enjoying life.

Stat-Driven Tips on How to Pitch to Big-Name Publishers in Your Niche

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This is a guest contribution from Wil of Startup Bros.

What’s the best way to pitch a content idea to the big players in your niche? What do today’s top publishers look for in a contribution? Many of today’s biggest influencers get hundreds of pitches every week. How do you stand out from the crowd?

It’s a tough question to answer unless you’re the one who’s doing the sifting. So, the folks over at Fractl went straight to the horse’s mouth to find out what separates the good enquiries from the bad. After surveying 500+ industry-leading publishers, writers and editors over the course of three months, they found several interesting trends. As you continue reading, you’ll find out specific, stat-driven dos and don’ts to keep in mind during your next pitch.

Publishers Love Market Research

What should you write about? Fractl’s study showed that 39% of publishers put a premium on market research, especially if it’s exclusive. That means you should either put your own spin on somebody else’s study (like what we’re doing right now) or write about research that you’ve personally done. Doing your own market research is actually easier than you might think. Once you come up with some questions you want to answer, here are a couple ideas to get reliable data:

  • Ask your email list or social following to complete a survey about an interesting industry trend.
  • Do the same thing, but using a crowdsourcing tool like mTurk or Google Surveys.

There are two big R’s to remember when writing about market research – Relevant and Recent. For example, you wouldn’t expect to publish your research findings about people’s favorite new restaurant chain on TechCrunch. Similarly, you wouldn’t expect SEOmoz to publish yet another “10 Reasons You Should Be Doing SEO” post.

Make Your Contribution Easy to Digest

Fractals study shows that publishers like content that’s easy to absorb. For articles, that means that you should write with plenty of white space. Use bold and descriptive subtitles so that readers can get your message without consuming every single word of your content. Better yet, incorporate graphics or imagery into your contribution. Fractl’s study shows that non-text contributions are becoming more and more important. Over 36% of published pitches feature some form of mixed media, whether that’s an infographic, data visualization or something else.

Publishers Want You to Collaborate

This one is actually a bit surprising. It turns out that almost all top-tier publishers want to work with you to develop your contribution.

  • 70% of publishers want you to pitch an idea, not a finished piece.
  • Only 30% will consider publishing a finished article, and even then they’re picky.

For each publication you target, come up with three or four different ideas you can pitch them. This gives your publishers a sense of ownership because they’re participating in the creation of your content. Warning!You shouldNEVER mass-pitch a contribution to lots of places at once. That’s a good way to get your email address relegated to the junk folders of the top publishers in your niche.

When & How to Pitch Top Publishers

When and how do publishers like to be pitched? Fractl’s study turned up some interesting trends:

  • 81% of publishers want you to pitch by email.
  • 69% prefer to respond to enquiries in the morning.
  • Shockingly, only 9% of publishers respond to pitches made through social media.
  • Less than 1% of publishers want you to call them with your pitch… The rest adamantly hate phone calls.

In addition to never pitching over the phone, you should also avoid pitching during holidays. Unsurprisingly, most publishers don’t read pitches they get during their time off work.

How to Write Your Enquiry

By now you know what to write about, what type of content today’s publishers want, when and how to pitch your idea… Now all you need to know is how to write your actual enquiry email. Fractl’s study turned up a few surprising trends you can incorporate into your next pitch:

Subject Line Matters Most – 85% of publishers open or delete an email pitch based on its subject line, so this is the most important part of your pitch. Ideally you want your email’s subject line to be descriptive and engaging using only 6 – 10 words.

Keep it Short & Sweet – Once they’ve opened your email, 85% of publishers want to read a brief pitch of less than 200 words. Don’t waste time buttering them up or assuring them that their readers will love your post… Introduce yourself, make your pitch and get out. Your idea should be so intriguing that 200 words is all it takes.

Good Grammar or Go Home – This shouldn’t need to be said, but Fractl’s study revealed just how important it is. Apparently, 9 out of 10 publishers will instantly delete a pitch if they find spelling or grammar errors. So, triple-check your enquiry email before you hit the send button.

What Can You Do With These Stats?

Fractl’s study makes it clear that behind the big names are normal people with likes and dislikes just like you and me. If you give them what they want, they’ll return the favor. With these stats, you don’t have to be nervous or afraid to pitch the biggest publications in your industry.

You now have the knowledge you need to stand out from the crowd and cultivate mutually beneficial connections with the leaders in your niche. Now go out and start pitching!

My name is Will, and I’m a young entrepreneur and marketer living in Tampa, FL. You can learn more about me from the StartupBros About Page.

The Language of Selling – Are You Using It?

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This is a guest contribution from Richard Akhmerov.

Benefits, benefits, benefits. We’ve all heard that benefits sell, not features. Create needs, not wants. But this is all rehashed information. And no amount of reading will make you better at the following if you don’t practice it by trying.

But there is one thing missing from all of this marketing talk. And it has to do with the epicenter of marketing and copywriting. What creates the language of selling, and how does it work?

The language of selling is not a single language. In fact, every product, idea or service has a different language for selling. In order to find out the language your product is using, you need to live the product. But there are a few ways to make this easier to understand…

You can activate the language of selling by finding out the core buying emotions used with prospects of the product or service.

This can be accomplished in multiple ways. The most important thing to do is listen. Any category most likely has a forum associated with it. Whether it’s car parts, video games, weight loss, relationships, etc…

To find out the core buying emotions, you need to learn the language of these prospects. By surrounding yourself with prospects, you have the ability to listen to the way they talk, the way they discuss their problems, and the way they feel about certain subjects.

This is gold.

Few marketers go to these steps to find out what their prospects ACTUALLY want. Most marketers will sit there and guess as to how their prospects will react. This isn’t a powerful tactic, and will not generate huge results for your marketing efforts.

Remember, forums aren’t the only place to find networks. You can join Facebook groups, watch Youtube videos and read the comments, or go to established sites with a following.

Your prospects are located in the comments. And by reading them, you will quickly gain an understanding of what they’re looking for.

If you go on a tech site like Engadget or Gizmodo, you can quickly discover what is lacking from a certain product. These customers know what they want and what they’re looking for, unfortunately, few big companies spend the extra time to hear out their customer’s needs.

But it is all right there in front of our eyes. And this applies to any subject and any product.

For example, let’s say that you have a product in the weight loss category. You can visit more established websites and go through the articles. Most articles will have a comment section below…

Read the comments, and see how the customers react. You WILL find problems that are addressed but never solved. Here is your chance to change that by incorporating it into your product.

Find out the needs of your customers and solve them. Use their language to connect with them. Now you have a winner.

Richard Akhmerov is from Devore Agency, you can learn more great information by visiting the website.