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Top Tips to Let Go of Fear

Image via Flickr user audiolucistore

Image via Flickr user audiolucistore

This is a guest contribution from Jennifer Louden. 

What I’m about to tell you is the most overlooked key to being a successful teacher – as well as a successful business owner, parent, writer, athlete, and all around happy human being.

It’s the precursor to more sales, to repeat business, to turning customers into raving fans, to your ideas having a lasting impact on the hearts and minds of your students, readers, and clients.

It’s also how you unlock your own potential to thrive.

Really it can do all that, and more.

The secret? Feeling safe.

You can’t make decisions, take risks, or learn when your nervous system is on high alert. Your brain’s learning and decision-making functions slow or shut down. That’s why people click away from your sales page, stop attending your course, or never sign up for another one of your classes. They’re afraid. And they probably don’t even know it.

They’re afraid they won’t get it, they’ll look stupid, they’ll waste their money and time. In a nutshell: they’re afraid they’ll fail. 

You’re afraid too, and you signal your fear to your students and potential clients. Do you worry if you have what it takes to be a great coach/website designer/Pilates teacher? If anyone will buy your services? If you can keep learning and growing? We all have these worries!

This low-grade state of fear keeps you stuck, and it keeps your customers from buying and from growing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Safety is something you can experience – and offer – starting right now.

Nothing is Going to Eat You

My favorite in-the-moment safety move is to stand up, stretch, and exhale with a long “ahhhh.” Then I look around my studio and tell myself, “Nothing is going to eat me.” Yes, it makes me laugh, but it also signals to my reptile brain that a stressful day does not equal death. You need a similar trick up your sleeve to calm yourself in the moment of freaking out. Use mine or one of the many relaxation tricks you already know.

Make Feeling Good a Priority

Remind yourself that resetting your nervous system is not a luxury; it’s non-negotiable self-care, like exercise or drinking water. Become a devoted student of what relaxes you, both in the midst of a stressful situation and when you have an hour or a weekend to unwind. Weave more pleasure into your day – music, a tea you love, three squares of dark chocolate. Nourish your senses.

Extend Hospitality

Welcome your students warmly. At live events, greet people. Online, say hi (by name, if possible) as people dial on. I always include a short video welcome inside my online courses with a warm welcome, and I repeat info about how the course works for visual learners who might not read the welcome emails. Make it easy to navigate your website and sign up for your services; otherwise prospects feel dumb and unsafe, and they run away. Brainstorm simple ways to be a good host from the moment your customers and students come in contact with your business and you.

Where’s The Bathroom?

Clear driving instructions, sending the phone bridge number for each session, telling people what to bring to be comfortable – be meticulous in this area. Your customer is looking for reasons to back out. Making her feel safe by taking care of basics can feel like cheating – it’s so easy – but I’ve seen it prevent drop-outs, increase participation, and convert customers for life.

Include the Body

A few moments of calming yourself and your students or your client opens the space for learning and creates trust. It need not be woo-woo. You can joke that pro football players practice mindful breathing before the Super Bowl, then invite a few full, relaxed breaths and long exhales.

Preview Your Material & Review Parameters

I always want to skip this step because I think it’s boring. But many people need to know what’s going to happen next or they can’t relax. Remind them how long the session or class will be, when questions are welcome, how many revisions are covered in your contract, how long it takes you to answer emails, the nuts and bolts stuff. Do this often. You may think it’s overkill but that’s only because it’s obvious to you.

Less is More

One of the biggest shifts I see in teachers who take my TeachNow course (1006 students to date!) is understanding that information overload shuts down learning and hurts your bottom line. Too many teachers and business owners think being generous means flooding their customers with information and options. A big part of your job is making the hard choice of what to offer and in what sequence. Master this and your business – and impact – will soar. Discernment and focus is your friend.

I have a thousand more suggestions, but then I wouldn’t be following my own advice. I’ll stop here with this invitation: become curious about what feeling safe offers you and the people you work with. Investigate these suggestions and find your own ways to use safety as a path to growth. May it be fruitful!

Jen Louden is a best-selling author, speaker and teacher of teachers. She created the popular TeachNow course (1006 students to date!) for people who want to successfully teach what they love. Test drive TeachNow for free with the sample class, Dissolving Obstacles to Teaching Joyfully & Effectively

Getty Images vs Creative Commons and Privacy: What Bloggers Need to Know

This is a guest post written by Simon Schmid of iubenda.

Getty Images recently announced a new image embed feature that allows bloggers (and others) to access and use their vast library of images for non-commercial purposes. This rather remarkable change in policy by Getty Images shows that it’s ready to work with content creators and adapt to the times we live in.

Even WordPress also published an announcement post in which they share the details of Getty’s new offering and how easy it is to embed an image into your blog. There’s now a “</>” below every image in the catalogue that lets you effortlessly publish that particular image into your post (to be completely accurate and to quote from the terms for the first time, “Not all Getty Images Content will be available for embedded use, and availability may change without notice”).

How easy is it really over all though? And is it entirely without complications? Let’s review some of the most important clauses in theterms of the embed feature and we’ll do this by comparing this with another very popular image source (images under a Creative Commons license) for bloggers.

What can you use Getty’s embed for?

At first you must to be very clear about the fact that Getty’s model is the licensing of images. Therefore you will have to play by their rules and expect to do something for them in return. I’ve read comments on the WordPress announcement that communicated their leave from using the system as soon as ads start appearing. What I’m saying is, that this is something that might be in the works and something that you’ll have to be willing to give back in exchange.

“You may only use embedded Getty Images Content for editorial purposes (meaning relating to events that are newsworthy or of public interest).”

Using the “Embedded Viewer” you consent to use the images for editorial purposes only. Editorial purposes are in a very wide sense non-commercial purposes. This becomes more clear when you read the rest of the terms regarding the “Embedded Viewer”. It outlines that you may not use the images in any of the following ways:

  • (a) for any commercial purpose (for example, in advertising, promotions or merchandising) or to suggest endorsement or sponsorship;
  • (b) in violation of any stated restriction;
  • (c) in a defamatory, pornographic or otherwise unlawful manner; or
  • (d) outside of the context of the Embedded Viewer

Therefore the most important question that needs to be answered is the notion of “commercial”. What kind of use constitutes commercial use, and therefore exceeds the limits of what is allowed with the viewer? Is Here’s an official statement by Craig Peters that goes into detail and helps us at understanding non-commercial use:

Blogs that draw revenues from Google Ads will still be able to use the Getty Images embed player at no cost. “We would not consider this commercial use,” says Peters. “The fact today that a website is generating revenue would not limit the use of the embed. What would limit that use is if they used our imagery to promote a service, a product or their business. They would need to get a license.” A spokeswoman for Getty Images confirms to BJP that editorial websites, from The New York Times to Buzzfeed, will also be able to use the embed feature as long as images are used in an editorial context.

Compare these facts above to going with Creative Commons content instead:

Creative Commons: Creative Commons-licensed images can be used for any purpose, by anyone, anywhere. That’s as long as you follow the terms of that specific license. None of the CC licences outlines that a piece of licensed content may only be used for a specific purpose–editorial or otherwise.

Creative Commons II: NonCommercial in CC’s Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 means “not primarily intended for or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation” which naturally is a much friendlier definition.

Creative Commons III: the restriction of not displaying outside of the Embedded Viewer does not apply to CC-licensed content, in fact it expressly states that you are allowed to exercise the licensed rights in “all media and formats whether now known or hereafter created, and to make technical modifications necessary to do so”. This can be a deal breaker for things like image carousels or videos or the like.

One more very interesting fact is that Getty can revoke the access to the embedded imagery at any time: “Upon request, you agree to take prompt action to stop using the Embedded Viewer and/or Getty Images Content”. Creative Commons on the other hand declares their licensing to be irrevocable. This ensures that you don’t have to go back and make changes anytime down the road.

Let’s take a look at both solutions side by side:

What a Creative Commons embed looks like…
…links to author plus the right license.

vincentsl / CC BY 2.0

What a Getty embed looks like, yaaay well done…
…shows the viewer with the branding, some picture credits and the sharing buttons.

Apart from the very obvious branding that the embed gives you, we may have another issue that you should at least know about and isn’t immediately obvious. Embedding services like Youtube and others (like the embedding of your image) and even a like button open up another legal field: data privacy.

Looking at a page with Getty embed in Chrome’s cookie window.

What you can see in this window (Chrome’s developer tools, right click and then “Inspect Element”) are the cookies that this page sets with just the embedded image. There are two main elements. The first being the tracking by Getty’s embedding window, the other one caused by the social sharing buttons by Twitter and Tumblr, both also part of the Embedded Viewer.

So why is this so problematic? Essentially, an iframe like this allows their owner (Google, Facebook, Getty…) to make a connection. That connection is between the embedding site, their reader and the third-party host. Or how EFF puts it:

The third-party host can possibly get and log your IP address and the exact time of the request; information about the web browser you’re using, your browser’s version, your operating system, processor information, language settings, and other data; the URL of the website you’re coming from; and sometimes tracking cookies.

The way this affects you as a site owner is that the least you can do is to minimize legal implications and include a description of this data collection in your privacy policy. Above all in Europe there’s a stance by regulators that assumes that cookies may only be placed without user consent if services wouldn’t work without them. That’s not the case for social sharing buttons (mostly). The vague privacy policy posted on Getty’s site is cause for doubting the future use on a site that’s compliant with privacy laws around the world and most of all, in Europe.

Takeaway I: Getty is taking the right steps by making their images easy to use for editorial purposes, however there are still a couple of issues concerning their acceptable use policy (alleged first comments surfaced claiming that Getty Germany denied a blogger/freelancer the free embedding because of his blog being on the same domain as his freelancer page).

If you aren’t ready to accept some of the drawbacks described above, Creative Commons is more than an interesting alternative.

Takeaway II: the knowledge about Getty’s future data collection is murky at best. At least European bloggers should consider including statements about Getty’s iframe and the Twitter/Tumblr sharing buttons included in the iframe. There are a couple of resources out there that help you with crafting a privacy policy. We at iubenda make it really easy for bloggers to generate their legal document with a couple of clicks by simply adding the Twitter/Tumblr and Getty services to their privacy policy.

Addendum:

How to choose Getty Images for your posts

It’s really as simple as clicking on the “</>” provided below the images and then using the embedding code.

How to choose Creative Commons licensed images for your posts

It isn’t that hard to find CC-licensed pictures either, use one of the following methods below:

Resources used:

IIIIIIIV

Simon Schmid blogs at thegodfounder.com and works on iubenda.

44 Things Bloggers Should Be Delegating to Virtual Staff to Catapult Their Online Growth

Chris' internal team, based in Cebu City.

Chris’ internal team, based in Cebu City.

This is a guest post contribution by Chris Ducker.

One of the biggest pain points that comes up when I talk to bloggers about growing their blogs is that there simply isn’t enough time in the day to do everything they need to, to truly start to catapult the growth of their blog/s.

As someone that is all about productivity and helping other entrepreneurs achieve the ability to ‘buy time’ and inject that additional time into their businesses and lives, I’ve seen dramatic changes in not just productivity levels, but also income levels, after strategizing with content marketers on the way they can simply get more done by working with, and building a virtual team.

So, what I’ve decided to do is put together the following list to help you discover the different tasks you can outsource to virtual staff, along with the type of worker that would naturally handle those tasks, to make your delegation as easy (and pain free!) as possible.

I’ve included the different type of virtual worker in this list, because its important to understand that there is no one ‘Super VA’ that can do everything for you. If you want to experience real success in working with virtual assistants then you need to hire for the role, not for the task (unless of course you are literally just outsourcing a task that needs to be completed, such as a logo being designed!).

I’ve also broken the list up into five clearly different sections for easy digestion and additional brainstorming, as follows:

  • Research
  • Creation
  • Publishing
  • Promotion
  • On-Going Marketing

Remember, this list is not final in any capacity. Some of these tasks you might never get around to delegating, there might even more others that I’ve not included that you’d be rushing to offload, if you could.

Research

Making time to properly research and prepare for your content creation is an important part of the process. However, many bloggers simply don’t spend the time they sometimes need to get all their ducks in a row, before the ‘creation’ begins, because of time constraints, which is a shame.

1. Make a list of topic ideas in any niche, using Google Keyword Tool. (General VA, Writer, SEO VA)
2. Group similar topics and figure out if they can be turned into a series of posts, or even more – ebooks, etc. (General VA, Writer)
3. Figure out what TYPE of content should be created to serve the topic best. Written, audio, video, etc. (General VA)
4. Produce an outline for posts, videos, podcasts, or a rough storyboard for other type of content, such as Slideshare docs, etc. (General VA, Writer)
5. Find similar online content and create a ‘Likewise List’ to use later on, when promoting. (General VA)
6. Identify Facebook and LinkedIn groups, which can be used to promote and share content when published. (General VA)

Creation

A lot of bloggers and other types of online content creators have real problems ‘letting go’ of this part of the process. However, there are so many different tasks involved here that its simply impossible to be good at all of it.

I do want to say, however, that there is one thing that you should NEVER outsource – and that’s your actual CONTENT. Meaning, write everything yourself, shoot and record everything yourself. It’s your voice, your personality, your stories and experience that people are following you for, and tuning in for.

7. Edit video, including intro and outro bumpers and lower thirds. (A/V VA)
8. Transcribe the entire video file into Word, to use as blog posts, YouTube description, and more! (Writer, General VA)
9. Edit and finalize podcast session, including intro, outro, CTA’s and list episode mentionables. (General VA, A/V VA)
10. Transcribe the podcast episode for use as additional SEO content. (General VA, Writer)
11. Transcription into a free PDF download (General VA, Writer)
12. Create ‘Draft Post’ in WordPress, adding bold, italics, etc., to your pre-written content. (General VA)
13. Format the Post: Add H2 and H3 tags to sub-headings and sub-sections and bold, as needed. (General VA)
14. Find and add an image to the post, if needed. Best to use your own images whenever possible. (General VA)
15. Add image title, alt-text & caption into WordPress. (General VA)
16. Embed related video content. (General VA)
17. Capture video screenshots if required, then resize and insert them into the post if needed. (General VA)
18. Embed any audio, or podcast sessions if required. (General VA)
19. Put the post in the correct categories, and be sure to also include relevant tags. (General VA)
20. Optimize the post for SEO using the correct plugin’s. (General VA, SEO VA)
21. Create ‘Tweetable’ images to use on Facebook, etc. (General VA)

Publishing

After all that research and content creation, its time to share your work with the world. Not exactly super time intensive, but with some solid procedures in place, you will literally never have to do any of this stuff again.

22. Upload video to YouTube, with title, links, keywords, categories, as well as transcribed text. (General VA)
23. Add video to relevant playlist. (General VA)
24. Upload audio file to server, tagged and with podcast image attached. (General VA)
25. Final proof read for spelling, punctuation and grammar errors. (Writer, General VA)
26. Draft and schedule ‘Broadcast’ email in Aweber. (General VA, Writer)
27. Schedule post, or simply hit ‘Publish’. (General VA)

Promotion

Once your content has been published, promotion takes over. After all, there’s no point in spending all this time to solve problems and answer questions for your audience, unless you work just as hard in getting as many eyeballs on your work as possible.

This can be incredibly time-consuming in today’s very savvy, social world. The following list will get you moving faster than ever, all with the help of your virtual workers.

28. Share your content on your personal social media accounts, as well as your blog’s Facebook page. (General VA)
29. Share your content on related Facebook and LinkedIn groups. (General VA)
30. Schedule Tweets to go out every 6-hours for the next 48-hours after publishing content. (General VA)
31. Social bookmark the content on StumbleUpon, Reddit, Digg, etc. (General VA. Writer)
32. Contact anyone you mentioned in the content with a pre-written email, as they might like to share it. (General VA)
33. Comment on the Top 5 posts from your ‘Likewise List’. (General VA,Writer)
34. Wake up your Email List by sending that drafted ‘Broadcast’ message. (General VA, Writer)
35. Social bookmark any content commented on, helping to gain more traffic to the post. (General VA)
36. Share the featured image of your post on Pinterest, Flickr, etc., including a link back! (General VA)
37. Share infographic’s on the top distribution sites. (General VA)
38. Share PDF transcripts of your video, or podcast content to Docstoc, SlideShare, etc. (General VA)
39. Promote your SlideShare content on LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook in order to get homepage exposure. (General VA)
40. Post your ‘Tweetable’ images to all your social media profiles and pages, to promote clickthru’s. (General VA)

On-Going Marketing

There is a big difference between ‘promoting’ and ‘marketing’ in my eyes. Promoting is what you do to ‘get the word’ out there about something you’re in the process of, er, well, promoting!

Marketing, on the other hand is an on-going way to create opportunities and bring in traffic, opt-in’s and ultimately, business – this is exactly the type of area that a lot of bloggers take their eyes off of once their content has been published and initially promoted.

Silly move – why stop telling the world about your stuff? Keep doing it – whenever relevant, I say!

41. Add this recent content to your ‘Blog Bank’, for easy access when creating fresh content and linking. (General VA)
42. Build internal links to new content from your new archive. (General VA,SEO)
43. Create a summary of the content and include it on Tumblr. Add media and a ‘Read More’ link to original. (Writer, General VA)
44. Social bookmark the summarized content on Tumblr, as well as StumbleUpon, Reddit, Digg, etc. (General VA)

Conclusion

The big problem here is that a lot of bloggers are quite trapped in their ways of doing it all themselves. This is not surprising considering that starting, growing and running a blog is a pretty lonely caper, lets face it!

However, as you can see, the General VA role is the one person you need to start looking at bringing on full-time as soon as you’re able to. How much more could you get done, how many more posts could you publish, products could you create and events to could you attend if you had someone handling the majority of this for you?

I know a lot of bloggers haven’t ventured done the outsourcing road yet, so I’m happy to answer as many questions as you can fire at me, in the comment section below and if you’re attending the ProBlogger Event in August, I simply can’t wait to meet you in person – it’s going to be a lot of fun!

Chris poses with some of his VAs, based in the Philippines.

Chris Ducker is a serial entrepreneur, blogger, podcaster and speaker. He is also the author of the new book, Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive and Build Your Dream Business. You can follow him on Twitter.

5 Steps to Determine the Right Social Media Content for You

This is a guest contribution from Benjamin Taylor, of Eloqua.

At the core, one of the biggest goals of social media is to foster and maintain engagement.  Anyone can create a social media account, but one of the hardest parts is to determine what kind of content you should be sharing. It’s safe to say that you have a good idea of what your niche or market finds valuable, but that is only a piece of the puzzle. Really having a true understanding of content and what/how it should be delivered takes some work. I’ve outlined five steps below that will enable you to determine how and what kind of content to share, when to share, and more.

Guidelines

When determining what kind of content to share, there needs to be a criteria or guidelines on what is or isn’t good content. What I mean by this is, the content MIGHT be interesting and valuable, but so what? With social media, the purpose is to deliver value AND be social so if content is being shared but it’s not generating any sort of socialization, then how valuable is it really? You’re looking for content that has a high # of shares, likes, RT’s, comments, Ect. These are the factors you want to pay close attention to. If a post is creating conversation from all corners; B2C and C2C, then the post is a success and this is the type of content you want to strive and push for.

Listen and read

Before you know what kind of content to share, look at what others are sharing. Far too many times I have come across brands and pages that share content that THEY believe to be valuable, but in reality is not what their audience values. How many times do we really want to read about your latest company press release or how your product or service is the best?! If you had a friend and all they did was talk about themselves and how great they felt they were, would you really want to talk to them often?  The goal here is you want to share content that pulls people in, fosters conversation, and keeps them coming back. Okay, but how?  The first step is to search and listen. Look at where people are sharing the most content, the type of content they’re sharing, and what is generating the most interaction. This will be important in moving forward.

Categorize and Analyze

Okay, so you’ve been listening and have done your research into what’s going on in the social-sphere.  Now it’s time to analyze.  Digesting all your research into the type of content can be a little overwhelming, and even harder to analyze and deliver, so categorizing and organizing the data will help. You can use a basic program like Excel to help manage your information.

First, create categories for the type of platform the content is being shared on; Blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.  It’s going to be important to know where the interacting is occurring. From there, create categories for the types of posts; questions, sales driven, industry specific, photo, video, etc. From there, you can dive even deeper and create sub-categories, for instance if it was a picture: meme, company photo, industry photo, picture accompanied by article, picture accompanied with text, and so on.

Look at the times things are being shared too. Assign numbers for the amounts of interactions/shares it received to help determine the level of social power the posts had. By categorizing and quantifying your research, you will be able to notice trends and themes in the social-sphere.  This will enable you to have a much better idea of the type of content to share. Another bright side of doing all of this is you can create visual interpretations of your research and analyze what can be presented and easily digested by parties that are not directly involved with the project, such as higher level managers and clients.

Content Search

Now you have a good idea of the type of posts that are working the best and where they’re happening. Now it’s time to find to help and aid in your own content, so where do we go? One of the easiest ways to determine the topic for your next status update or blog post is by searching out various sources for information.  Some of my favorite places to find content ideas are

  • Industry blogs or websites: See what the hot topics are and what others are sharing
  • Your competition: What are your competitors writing about? See what they’re doing and make it better
  • YouTube: What videos are popular right now? How come?
  • Flickr/Pinterest: Visuals can lend a good hand in inspiration in what to share
  • News Outlets: What’s happening in the world?
  • Twitter: What are others sharing?
  • Facebook: What are others sharing?

Be mindful

So now you’re ready to start sharing content, you’ve done the research and analysis and it’s time to get social. There are just a few best practices that I think are important to be mindful of in any type of content you’re sharing. They are listed below:

Create goals or benchmarks: Determine your goals and what you value as a success for your social media campaign. Don’t set unrealistic expectations but go into it with an agenda and game plan of what you want to accomplish.

Monitor and analyze results: Take a look at what you’ve been doing, what has and hasn’t worked and push forward to improve your brand to take it to the next level of social media success.

Bolster your brand image: Make sure the content you’re sharing aligns with your brand in some way, and still says relevant to your audience. Ex: Your pizza business wants to be seen as the interesting and engaging pizza brand that is cool, not just the pizza brand that shares funny memes.

Share others content: You’re not the only one with great content, so is everyone else. Share their content, help them out, and extend your reach as well as theirs.

Be consistent: In order to keep your audience coming back, be consistent in sharing great content. Don’t over post but by posting daily, they know they can expect content from you.

Now if you follow these steps, you’ll be in a much better place to be creating and sharing creative, relevant, valuable and most importantly engaging content on your social media platforms. Don’t fall into the habit that so many others have and just skip by on social media…stand out and let your content be the voice!

Benjamin Taylor is a writer for Eloqua, an international online marketing firm that provides social media marketing and asset management software. His professional insights are surpassed only by his rugged good looks, quick wit, and personal charm.

7 Reasons You Should Pay the Haters

This is a guest contribution from Matt Cumming.

I Messed Up.

Okay, this is embarrassing, but not-so-long ago I signed up for Reddit and without too much thought I dropped a simple attention-grabbing title and link to an article on my website within the first five minutes. Yes, I hear you — bad form — but I wanted to test the platform out. Sure enough, within a few short hours I had a more respectable, long-term member jump on it, click the link, check my site out and then come back and publicly tell me exactly what he thought about my link-bait tactic.

But he didn’t stop at a short rebuke. He didn’t just say “hey, crap tactic” and move on. Instead he took the time to meticulously craft a long, scathing and deeply bitter essay that totally slammed me, the link title (which he referred to as ”[dropping] a turd in the punchbowl”), my book (which he hadn’t actually read), my understanding of marketing and my motives in general. Even if he was a fast-typing genius, it still must have taken at least half an hour of his precious time.

He Tore Me Limb From Limb

“Are you offering genuine illumination… or just dropping cherry bombs in the toilet like a misguided child?”

“…One cannot adequately express the titanic misunderstanding you’re attempting to propagate by screaming shit like, MARKETING IS DEAD on the cover [of your book] in some effort to manufacture sensationalism, as if that isn’t horribly insulting to any of the people who take this shit seriously… And if there’s one thing that irks me to no end, it’s charlatans and hacks who proclaim something that works as dead without actually testing it.”

“…Writing an ill-conceived reductive ass grab… It’s a hackneyed backslide into the shite that kills every good methodology available to the marketer who doesn’t forget the face of his forefathers.”

“…If you’ve never heard that before, you should go back to whatever misguided teacher didn’t disclose such a thing to you and either demand a refund or a complete re-education. Or go back to bed and figure it out.”

Initially I was shocked. Dismayed even. But then it dawned on me… It was a gift. Firstly, I realised that he probably had no sense of humour (the “Marketing Is Dead” text on the cover is quoted from article titles published on the Forbes, HBR and CNBC websites — not a statement I would ever make personally) and I felt sorry for someone who felt compelled to take life so damn seriously.

Secondly, whilst he was in the broader audience I was speaking to (people interested in marketing and branding), he was firmly entrenched in the ‘old school’ marketing philosophy — so he was NOT within my niche target audience. My book, Polarize, is intentionally a light-hearted, easy read for smart startups, small business owners, entrepreneurs and ‘growth hackers’ who want to make their brand more visible and effective in this very crowded marketplace. It’s about an innovative approach marketing (polarization), because the traditional marketing approach can sometimes be slow, expensive and simply not viable for some businesses.

“Traditional marketing wasn’t working. We were spending $300+ to acquire customers for a $99 service.” —DropBox (who then gained 4,000,000 users within 15 months without further ad spend)

Thirdly, his tirade confirmed my belief: that the ‘haters’ (detractors) can offer great value to a brand. This is particularly true when they’re not your ideal prospect (in a psychographic and/or demographic sense).

So I Paid Him

I paid him with my time and attention, I paid him with my thanks and compliments, I paid him with exposure by sharing his essay via social media, I paid him with a free copy of my book and I even paid him with my dollars (gifting him a “gold level” subscription to Reddit).

Should I do this for all detractors? Yes, but not always in the same way. If the complaint was about a specific problem with the actual product or service I’m offering, then I would certainly respond and thank them for alerting me to an issue that clearly needs reviewing, and I might pay them with a discount voucher or even a refund (if they’d purchased), but I would think twice about promoting it or making too much of a big deal about it on public channels. However, if the ‘hater’ was voicing opinions about the ethos of my brand — particularly something to do with the brand personality or psychographic preferences — then I’d be happy to respond, promote and even pay them in some way as a thank-you.

7 Reasons You Should Do the Same

1. They talk a LOT

The more people hear about you and see you, the more they feel like they know you… and consequently trust you. The way our brains work…  It’s the reason we still eat McDonalds (over a lesser-known local restaurant) despite everything we’ve heard and seen. Without trust there’s no sale, so what would you say is the value in that for you? It’s unknowable, but massive nonetheless.

2. They’re often passionate

It’s simple: passion is a sure-fire way together people’s attention. Get people’s attention and they’ll at least have a chance to decide if they want to consider your product or service. Without their attention in the first place, there’s no possibility of conversion. People have become adept at ignoring many forms of traditional marketing. Those people who we assume are ‘on the fence’, may actually be unaware of us — they haven’t had a reason to consciously consider our brands, let alone engage. Passion is a flag that flies high above the millions of humdrum, everyday conversations and interactions that otherwise occur.

3. They tend to be in your market

I’ve noticed that detractors often share a crucial commonality with the brands they’re ‘hating’ on — the target audience. This is particularly true within social media channels. If you can respond appropriately (with respect) to the ‘hater’ statements, you’ll have the opportunity to connect positively with that broader audience. They often provide contrast and clarity to your true niche audience about who you are NOT for (and thus making obvious that you are indeed for them).

4. They give you an open invitation to share

Nobody likes to be ‘sold’ to without permission, that’s clear. But a conversation is totally different. It gives you an opportunity to share the benefits of your product or service in response to a negative statement. In fact, often passionate detractors will voice things that other audience members won’t, so it’s not just the loudest detractor you’re speaking to — it’s all those on the ‘fence’ of indecision.

5. It’s WAY cheaper than advertising

Admittedly it is now possible to have a much higher level of targeting with your ads than in the past, but think about how you typically respond (or, more accurately,don’t respond) when you see a promoted post on Facebook, or a sponsored tweet within the Twitter mobile app? Unfortunately, poorly-targeted ads (which is the vast majority of them) have ruined it for smart marketers who know their real audience intimately. Just like the majority of ads in traditional media, our brains have tagged them as irrelevant and phased them out of our conscious awareness. So, with that in mind, it’s possible that a series of passionate public conversations might bring more genuine exposure and engagement than a ‘big’ ad campaign.

6. They can make you look good

Detractors sometimes make wild, accusatory statements that seem angry or spiteful. But a well-voiced, professional response from your brand contrasts against that ‘hater-speak’ and casts doubt in the readers mind about whether they should even believe what the detractor is saying at all. If you witnessed an argument on the street with one person throwing stones and screaming “You’re a dumb-ass idiot who knows less than nothing about anything!” and the other calmly responding with “I hear what you’re saying and see you feel strongly about that, but I do have a Harvard masters degree, so I’m not sure ‘idiot’ is completely accurate” — who would you believe?

7. They might be highlighting a grievous error

Sometimes detractors are the only ones who will give you honest feedback about an error you may have made. Such was the case for me and my mindless ‘link-bait’ mistake and I was genuinely grateful for such a clear reminder to carefully considerall messages — not just promotional, but casual conversational messages as well.

“The data has shown that brands with plenty of animosity can still succeed in a big way … Very polarizing brands like McDonald’s and Starbucks are far and away outperforming their less polarizing counterparts (perhaps the biggest worry is that people feel nothing when thinking about your brand).” —Gregory Ciotti, HelpScout

Of Course The Real Goal is To Create Tribes, Not Troublemakers

Putting your focus solely on turning people into detractors never a good idea in itself. Extreme differentiation — or polarization — is a better way to look at it. Make your message so sharp you cut through the noise and connect with your ideal prospects immediately. The result of polarizing your audience is that you’ll fast-track the decision your fence-sitters will invariably make at some point — “Should I commit, or should I leave?”.

The idea of speeding up this decision-making process is incredibly valuable to a startup, entrepreneur or small business who doesn’t have huge resources of time, money or patience. Those people ‘on the fence’ of indecision are costing your business in some way or another (unless you’re completely ignoring them of course). Wouldn’t it be simpler if, when people were introduced to your brand, they immediately became a passionate advocate — rather than having to gently romance them over time with the vague hope of getting them to like you enough to buy something?

The assumed downside of polarization is that if they’re not a ‘lover’, it’s likely they’ll become a ‘hater’. But is it really a true downside? Considering the 7 reasons above, I don’t think so.

“Polarizing your brand is a strategy with nothing but upside.” —Erika Napoletano, Brand Strategist.

 

As for the hater who tore me limb from limb? Well, he gave me a platform and an audience, then disappeared like vapour. It’s often the way… Perhaps he’s too busy reading my book to get back to me right now, or — having read it — he has decided to stay quiet just to spite me!

Matt Cumming, author of “POLARIZE: Fast-Track Marketing For Growth Hackers”, has over 15 years experience working with startups and businesses of all sizes as a designer, brand manager, web developer and startup consultant. See www.Polarize.cc for further details.

Conversion Case Study: How I Made $7115 From 85 Unique Visitors

This is a guest contribution from Marcus Maclean, of The Million-Dollar Case Study.

Image from DryIcons

Image from DryIcons

Over the years, I’ve created and sold several “how-to” information products online, but none have been as successful as The Million Dollar Case Study. Within days of launching the site, I made $7115 from the first 85 unique visitors.

Since then the site has continued to grow steadily, and I’m still amazed at the conversion statistics. Currently, the squeeze page converts at 67% and the video sales letter at 8.2%.

If you’re struggling to convert browsers into buyers, here’s the exact strategy I’m using. It works in any niche, but it’s particularly effective in competitive, popular niches.

First Off, Your Product And Market Are Everything

Without a doubt, the number-one factor in my success so far is the product and market. The reality is, people in the “make money online” niche are ready and willing to spend money on products they like. Case studies are generally popular in most markets, but especially so in the internet marketing sphere.

If you have lots of traffic but very few conversions, I would take a good long look at your niche and product or service. Ask yourself honestly, “Are there enough interested buyers around?”

If you’re not sure, I highly recommend paying a visit to the ClickBank marketplace to find out. Simply find the category you’re involved in and see if there’s lots of products with a decent gravity (more than 20-30). If there are, you’re in a good niche; if not, that’s your basic problem.

Ignore The Crowd

The single most important factor in improving your conversion rate is your sales letter. If it works, you have a license to print money. If not, again, you’re fighting a losing battle.

The good news is, it’s very easy to get a sales letter or video to convert, but the key is to go against the grain. Most internet marketers copy each other and that simply doesn’t work anymore.

This is the simple process I use that works very well:

First off, I interrupt the same old, same old. Most people expect to hear a long boring sales pitch or a hyped up motivational success story. So I do the exact opposite. I get straight to the point and reveal exactly what my product does, and more importantly, who it can help and who it can’t.

I’m honest about my intentions. I have no idea why most marketers “hide” the sale until later in the sales funnel, when all you have to do is let people know that you’re in business to make money. Everyone knows that anyway, and it makes it a lot easier to ask for the sale.

Authority, customer advocacy and hope are my most powerful weapons. I’m not afraid to assert myself as a leader, let people know that I have their best interests at heart (because I actually do) and inspire them to take action.

My product is unique, different and interesting. If you’re just another “me too”, it’s very difficult to stand out in today’s marketplace. That’s why I created a case study; instead of teaching people how to make money online, like most people do, I’m just showing what works.

Finally, I use an ultimatum. This strategy is controversial, but it works. I force people to make a decision by giving them a deadline to buy. If they remain indecisive or on the fence when the time limit expires, I simply take them off my list.

The Real Money Is Made On The Back End

Membership sales have steadily grown since launching The Million Dollar Case Study, and it’s nice to have a regular, passive income, but the real profits come from coaching fees.

The truth is, your front end offer very rarely makes much money, especially if you’re paying for traffic. So the key is to offer a high ticket product or service on the back end to make up the difference.

As long as you’re providing genuine value to your customers, and you’re being open, upfront and honest about your expertise and how you can help them, it’s a fantastic way to earn a living.

One Other Thing – I’m Passionate About My Niche

I’m a firm believer in selling products and services you care about, that you’d personally buy yourself. If you’re not successful online, that’s something you should definitely think about.

In the past I’ve sold products in the weight loss and search engine optimization niches. They sold well, but it was always difficult to motivate myself during the tough times.

Once I started doing what I loved, and selling products and services I believed in, it made my job a lot easier. And besides, your customers can pick up on your enthusiasm, so I believe this is one of the most important factors in determining your conversion rate.

And That’s It

As you can see, it’s not hard. If target the right market and sell what people buy, that’s 90% of the battle. Of course, split testing different elements on your page is important (headline, sub headline, benefits, testimonials, the call to action button and so on), but at the end of the day, if no one wants your products or services, you’re fighting a losing battle.

Marcus Maclean is the founder & CEO of The Million Dollar Case Study, a live video case study detailing exactly how he’s building a brand new million dollar membership website from scratch. To watch the case study unfold, click here.

3 Critical Questions To Answer Before You Take Your Blog On The Road

This is a guest contribution from Kelly Edwards.

If you’re a blogger, then there are many benefits that can be gained from getting out from behind the keyboard and attending real world events: from raising awareness, sourcing new talent, and increasing overall readership.

Of course, attending an event is an investment, particularly if you’re intending to travel and especially if you decide to present your blog via a stand – so you need to make it count.

road-trip.jpg


Question One: Is this event the right fit for my blog?

In recent years the number of blogging events has increased dramatically and events like the Problogger Training Day are getting bigger and better every year.

If you’re part of a blogging community then it’s very likely that you’ll discover a regular event being held to encourage the platform to meet. There are also publicised blogging events for all keyboard junkies, complete with networking and talks to help bloggers hone their skills.

Meeting with fellow bloggers may be immediately tempting but if your end goal is to increase readership within a relevant audience then you need to ensure that the audience is there in the first place. If you write about a particular niche subject, then attending a very broad event might not gain your blog the meaningful attention you’re hoping for.

There are many niche blogging groups that hold networking events or meet ups. If your aim is to look for relevant bloggers to work with then this is a lucrative field to find those within your topic of interest.

Relevant events don’t necessarily come from blogging platforms, depending on your niche. Blogs can promote themselves at real-world exhibits to increase readership. This could include beauty blogs at skin care conventions, business blogs at their local business exhibitions, and literature blogs at art festivals. By looking out for events that are relevant to your blog and will be attended by people who will be interested in your blog’s message, then you are more likely to gain a return on investment by attending that exhibition.

Question Two: Is my blog memorable and branded?

Does your blog have a brand? Do you utilise that brand throughout your promotional advertisements? Are you preparing a stand or stall that takes advantage of your unique identity?

Creating a brand from your blog can seem like a complicated task if you’ve never given it thought before but if you’ve taken time over the appearance of your blog then you’re likely to already have the beginnings of a style that you feel represents it.

Spend a few hours considering how you would introduce someone to your blog in two sentences or less. Each person you meet at this event might be seeing dozens of other people so consider what you can say or do to firmly affix your blog in their mind.

If you’re intending to have your own stand then think about what you can offer attendees so that they can fully understand what your blog is about. This might involve a tablet or laptop so they can physically look at your blog, perhaps a clearly visible web address and encouragement for people to give your blog a look on their smart phones (if you intend to do this then ensure your blog has an attractive mobile template). Promotional displays announcing your blog, URL and brand can also announce your blog on your behalf, attracting more interest.

Question Three: How do I know if it was worth all this effort?

Prepare for your networking event or convention attendance by coming up with a series of goals that you hope to work towards. These can be entirely unique to your blog but here are some general behaviours that you will most likely want to track:

  • People taking your business card
  • People signing up for your newsletter (if you have one)
  • People taking your flyers
  • Business cards that you receive from relevant parties

You can also assess these factors at the end of the day and over the coming weeks/ months:

  • New likes/followers on social media channels.
  • Increase in views on your blog.
  • New comments on your blog.
  • Increase in subscriptions/ member sign ups/ followers on your blog.

Your goals for attending an event may differ greatly from other blogs and it’s important that you properly assess and track what you hope to gain from attending. Though ensuring you achieve a return on investment is more complex via a blog than for someone selling a product, it is essential to measure the effectiveness of event marketing for your blog’s brand. Which of these ROI’s would make the biggest difference to your blog?

When you tie all these steps together you should end up with an event that is relevant to your blog, an idea for how to brand your blog effectively and a variety of ideas regarding how to track conversions and increases in traffic. Of course, this is only the first step.

Getting your blog out into the real world for the first time is just the beginning and even the most well-planned event is likely to have snags, problems and at least a dozen lessons that you’ll learn for next time. Improvements never have to end and you’ll soon find yourself a well-oiled event machine, always primed and ready with business cards and your elevator pitch.

These steps are a great guideline but every blog is different, so jump in with both feet and start planning. Which step will be most important to you and what has this post revealed about your blogs needs? Feel free to tell us your story in the comments below!

Kelly Edwards writes for Marler Haley and is passionate about promoting businesses however large or small, and offering her tips to succeed.

Are You Making These Mistakes With Your Guest Posts?

This is a guest contribution from Alex Strike, writer and blogger.

During my writing career, I’ve had the good fortune to have appeared on many cool and informative blogs and websites – but it hasn’t always been this way. Writing for blogs appeared to be not as easy as I at first thought, and I must confess that the more I learned the nuances of guest blogging, the more the fear ate at me.  There were a few moments when I just wanted to give it all up despite the fact I liked the process of writing itself. But there are no results without trying, and I’ve improved over the years I’ve been guest blogging.

Now as I look back, I can see my mistakes were so obvious and easy to avoid. If you are a newbie to the world of guest blogging, or you are going to start it in order to get your name out there, you should know and remember some of the unwritten rules to follow. I am here to share my biggest mistakes and help you avoid the same traps.

Give me more! More blogs! 

The first mistake: I wrote guest articles for everyone. Literally. I believed, that the more articles of mine were published – the better results they would bring to my websites. Every blog, even if it had low PR and DA, had a chance to get a guest article from me. Moreover, the majority of these blogs were full of ads, they had a bad content, awful (let’s be honest) design, and no social presence at all.

Remember: quantity does not mean quality. If you want to become a good and respectful guest blogger, you should always pay attention to blogs you are going to write for. The main aspects to pay attention to:

1. A blog’s traffic (it’s easy to check on SemRush): pay attention to all ups and downs, and the ideal variant is no downs at all (of course!). The great example of such a website is essay-all-stars.com:

screenshot-12. Is this blog clean? (How many ad blocks are there? How often is the content being updated? Are the comments moderated there?)

3. A quality of this blog’s content (just take a look whether all articles have affiliate links and are built to sell something or not. Never write for those websites, as backlinks from them will bring nothing good to your own blog).

4. Does this blog have a niche? It’s better not to write for those blogs that do not have any specific niche: it means they do not take care of their content at all. Yes, it will be much easier for you to publish your article at such blogs, where one article is about blogging, and another one is about selling TVs or e-books, but such backlinks will not bring you any good reputation at all. When I speak about reputation, I mean both your reputation as a guest author and the reputation of your own website for search engines.

5. What are this blog’s Domain Authority and PageRank? It would not be a good idea to write for websites with DA less than 30. As for PR, we all know that the bigger it is – the better, but I can say from my personal experience, that a big PR does not guarantee a blog’s authority: if you see, that the content of this blog is not good, but its PR is still high, the big chances are that this PR was created falsely.

A Topic? Whatever…

My next and very serious mistake was writing guest articles on ALL topics, even if they had no connection with the niche of my own blog. Example: my blog is about essay writing, but I write an article for the blog about fashion or concept gadgets.

Yes, these tech or fashion blogs were really good and informative; they were clean, they had high ranks, they were authoritative, but… my link did not look natural there, and search engines found it artificial as a result. Yes, it was unfair, because I KNEW all my links were naturally created by me, but… c’est la vie. The more such backlinks you have – the bigger your chances are to be banned by Google.

Who Needs E-Mails?

I am sure you know that many blogs or websites have a Contact Us page. Yes, it’s good and logical of course, but very often such a page looks the following:

screenshot-2

I must say, that when I contacted bloggers via such forms, only 1 out of 20 could give me a reply. Now I know that a good website will always share some exact contacts with its visitors (it may be e-mails of support teams, this blog’s founders, editorial teams, etc., but you will definitely find EXACT contacts there).

Hello Admin!

The very important moment of guest blogging is outreach and your pitches. And here was my BIGGEST mistake probably. Just take a look at the screenshot above, and you will understand what I mean.

Mistakes:

1. Too general (a blogger receives 100 letters a day. Why should he pay attention to yours?)

2. No names (do not be lazy, and read About Us pages of websites, as you can always find bloggers names there). I think you will agree, that “Hello John!” sounds much better than “Hello Admin!” (moreover, big chances are that this person is not admin actually).

3. No information about yourself. Always tell them who you are (but there is no need to describe every moment of your biography), give them some examples of your previously published works (links I mean) to see your writing style.

4. No pitches. Take a look at a blog’s content and try to provide a blogger with some posts ideas that would work well for him. Try to offer something up-to-date, exclusive or unusual, that was not published at other blogs 100500 times before. Take into account the general style of this blog: if it is known for its “Top 10…” lists, it would be strange to offer them something like “Dos And Don’ts Of Writing A Paper” for example.

Here is the example of my outreach letter for today:

screenshot-3

Certainly, you are free to create your own outreach letter that will work well for you. Just try not to repeat my mistakes described above.

By-line Is My Savior 

Yes, some websites allow you backlinks only in your by-line (author’s bio). I do not want to say that it is bad, but you can always use a chance to put your link to the body of your text, where it will look natural, and it will fit the content of this article itself.

One more mistake of mine was the usage of keywords as an anchor. Please, compare these two by-lines, and try to guess which one looks more suspiciously for search engines:

screenshot-4And

screenshot-5It is always better to promote your brand and make it recognizable, than use keywords to please Google (it is not as stupid as some of us still believe). Moreover, you can always use keywords in the texts of your article itself where they will look good and natural.

Summary

If you want to become a good guest blogger, always pay attention to WHAT you write and for WHOM you write. Proofread your articles (my sin is spelling mistakes, and I am still trying to defeat them all), try to provide only interesting content to your potential publishers, be polite, look and write professionally, and never be in a hurry!

It is always better to spend more time on writing and publishing your article at one cool and respectful blog than kill your precious time on writing a content and building backlinks that will not bring you any profit at all.

Alex Strike is a passionate writer of Lifehack and a blogger who writes on the topics of education, content marketing, writing, and lifehacks. You can always find more of Alex’s work on .

Content Marketing Smart – Why Your Blog Article is Just the Beginning

This is a guest contribution from James Scherer, of Wishpond

Image via Flickr user captainmcdan

Image via Flickr user captainmcdan

Monday: a couple hours of research, six hours of head-down writing, two (five?) coffee-breaks. End result: One 2000 word, comprehensive article on Facebook Ad best practices. Publish.

Tuesday: a couple hours of research, six hours of head-down writing…

Rinse. Repeat. Let’s rethink how we create content.

In this article I’ll dive into content marketing smart, not hard. I’ll discuss re-using your content in five awesome ways that will save you time, energy, and increase your content ROI in the new year.

Introduction to content marketing smart

Your blog article is just the beginning. Think about it as a river, and the rest of your content as streams coming off it. The source is great, but the streams spread wider and do totally different and amazing things.

Content marketing smart is all about using your existing content in creative, practical ways that save you time and energy but give you a great return on your investment.

Primarily, it’s about thinking outside the box to use your time more intelligently. Start with a well-researched blog article, and end with all types of content that generate brand awareness in different, exciting ways.

Why content marketing smart works better in 2014 than it did in 2013:

Every prediction article I’ve read (including the one I wrote) has talked about a shift in content. Here’s what’s happening: Google is rewarding social shares as much as it is link building.

Previously, Google’s search algorithm considered a link to, or from, your content as a vote in its favor. Longer blog articles could have a greater number of links, increasing their SEO. Yes, there were other factors, but link-building was at the heart of blog SEO for a long time.

With the integration of the Hummingbird Algorithm in August though, Google’s search mechanism changed. For the first time ever, the top of the SEO factor list was the number of Google+ social endorsements your content had. Links were still important, but the term ‘Social Media Optimization’ had attained a whole new meaning nonetheless.

What does this mean for your content?

It means you need to be producing visually appealing, socially shareable, bite-size pieces of content that people can love, share, and leave.

5 tips to optimizing for social:

  1. Introduce a social share toolbar on your blog’s page (this can increase content virality by up to 700%)

  2. Use bitly links everywhere you can, to encourage Retweets and shorter Facebook and Google+ posts (which have higher engagement than longer posts)

  3. Create appealing and eye-catching header images so your content grabs the attention of social media users

  4. Create a Pinterest Pin with the most interesting statistic from your blog article and put it on your ‘Amazing Stats’ Board

  5. Generate content that encourages Facebook Likes, social shares and comments. Is it witty, surprising, funny, thought-provoking, new, exclusive? Would you want to share this yourself?

Your five pieces of content:

  1. Comprehensive, well-researched blog article on a subject interesting to your readers

  2. Slideshare presentation built from blog research, case studies, or other sources

  3. Comments on Influencer’s content and on social platforms – keeps you in the conversation

  4. Infographic built from blog research, case studies, statistics, or other sources

  5. Ebook built from longer-form blog articles

1. Blog Article:

Put some serious time and energy into your blog articles. I’m talking 1800+ words (don’t worry, you’ll get more out of those 1800+ words than ever before).

Do your research; check out infographics and case studies from around the web; read academic journals (yes, I do this); talk to peers or experts, etc. Make them awesome. Make them optimized for search. Promote and syndicate the hell out of them.

I recommend a running-theme (it makes the ebook easier) for a few weeks. Try around five or six articles giving an in-depth look at a subject. For instance:

Article 1: Introduction to [Blank]
Article 2: [Blank] Design Best Practices
Article 3: A/B Testing Variables in your [Blank]
Article 4: 7 Mistakes to Avoid in [Blank]
Article 5: 5 [Case Studies] and What you can Learn from them
Article 6: Taking [Blank] to the Next Level with [Blank]

Fact-heavy, long-form articles are still wanted. There remains a sizeable audience for the comprehensive guides and 25-step how-tos. So you don’t get to stop writing them. Plus, they’re even more valuable now that you can re-use that awesome content in so many creative and interesting ways.

But really, do you want to do two hours of research, write for a day, publish, and then start all over again the next morning? Let’s market smart, not hard.

2. Slideshare Presentations:

If you’re just joining us, Slideshare is a free content-sharing website which makes your business’ presentations available to an ever-increasing number of users. Your business’ presentations are fully embeddable in your own blog and others. They’re easily downloadable, and Slideshare’s built-in social sharing tool makes the SMO easy. In fact, I’ve seen a few of my own Slideshare presentations with a better SEO than their original articles.

A few months ago you would have seen me taking an hour or two each day to force every one of my blog articles into a Slideshare presentation. The problem is, not every article lends itself to presentation format. Not every sub-heading has three bullet-points and an example image. I was pushing a square peg into a round hole and my content was suffering.

What I do now is find those blog articles I’ve written that naturally fit the format. Those articles where, without really noticing it, you’ve found 15 awesome statistics that surprised you and will surprise your readers.

Here’s what I recommend: Compile the data from one or two of your longer-form blog articles (statistics, facts, case studies, quotes, etc) and compile a couple of visually appealing Slideshares each week. Embed the presentations on your blog with a short description and promote it across your social channels.

If you’re interested in a more comprehensive look at Slideshare, check out How to Use Slideshare to Market your Business.

3. Comments on Influencer’s Blogs and Social Media:

Influencer Marketing Ammunition: For those unaware, influencer marketing is the practice of reaching out to online thought-leaders in your sector and encouraging them to help promote your brand’s content.

Every sector has influencers, it’s just a matter of finding them (try Klout, PeerIndex or Kred) and getting in touch. Contacting the right influencer in the right way at the right time can increase your blog’s readership (and your brand’s online profile) by ten-fold overnight. Really. It happened to Wishpond in July (thanks @MariSmith!).

Commenting is where re-using your blog content comes in. Try to comment on 2-3 influencer blogs each day. Use statistics and observations from your blog to write intelligent, insightful observations on articles with the same subject. Ask reasonable questions. Disagree in an informed and respectful manner.

Commenting gets your name in an influencer’s mind, so interactions on Twitter or Facebook will mean more. Asking for a share of your own blog will be better-received if they know you’ve shared and read theirs.

Social Platform Ammunition: Your blog articles are full of great quotes, statistics and factoids that lend themselves to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest posts. Use them!

There are a million articles out there about using social media to promote your blog, but how about using your blog to promote your social media?

Increase brand awareness with interesting facts and stats that engage the viewer. Use your article’s headers (you, or your graphic designer, spent quality time on them! Don’t just use them once) to grab the attention of your Facebook Fans. Remember, across all social platforms, posts with images get substantially better engagement than those without.

Don’t wrack your brain on a daily basis for engaging social media fodder, simply note down the fodder that you find in your blog research or the especially creative lines in your own writing.

4. Infographic:

I mentioned above that 2014 will be the year of bite-sized, visually appealing content. Again, this doesn’t mean that you get to stop writing articles. But it does mean you get to learn Photoshop.

Like with Slideshare, use the statistics from your blogs (maybe a few of your blogs) and create a visually-awesome, palatable infographic that communicates a ton of information in a beautiful and easy way. Infographics almost always generate more engagement than a blog article and are great for spreading brand awareness as people will pick them up, embed them on their own sites, and credit your business.

Yes, for many small businesses without a graphic designer infographics can be difficult. However, I’d urge you to experiment with free design software (if you can’t afford or don’t already have Photoshop, InDesign or Adobe Illustrator) like Gimp, Info.gram or Piktochart.

Remember to offer your infographics as guest posts on other blog sites (once you’ve posted it on yours). For social media marketers, try AllFacebook, Entrepeneur and Business2Community. And syndicate on sites like BizSugar, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Digg and Diigo.

5. Monthly ebook:

Ebooks are the end product of your content recycling strategy.

Once you’ve written five or six awesome blog articles on the same subject, compile them into a comprehensive ebook. This can be done with free software (even Powerpoint – just export as a PDF), but I really recommend InDesign – as your ebook will come out more professionally done and appealing to the reader.

Ebooks are really valuable pieces of content, worth more to your readers and your business than any other piece you create. They’re in-depth guides on their subject; something people can download and save to their computer and read and re-read for guidance and inspiration.

Because of their value (and the work required to create them) I tend to make my ebooks email-gated. Basically I create a landing page for each ebook I produce and ask visitors to provide an email before getting access to the amazing content I’ve generated. Because only people interested in my ebook’s subject matter will provide their email address, the process segments those emails for you – facilitating your business’ email marketing/sales funnel.

Conclusion

Hopefully you now have a better idea of how, and why, you can recycle your content. It saves you time and energy – allowing you to experiment with different formats of your own. Something I’d highly recommend, if you’re not already, is organizing your content into a content calendar. Calendars keep your different kinds of content sensible and timely. Try an ebook every month or so, two Slideshares a week, a bi-weekly infographic, and three blog comments a day.

Have you had success, or frustrations, with re-using content? Have you found it saves you time or requires you to wear too many hats? Start the conversation below!

James Scherer is a content marketer for Wishpond and author of the ebook The Complete Guide to Facebook Ads. Wishpond makes it easy to run Facebook Ads, create landing pages & contests, email automation campaigns & manage all of your business’ contacts.